The Top 10 Debuts of the 2014 Detroit Auto Show
The Detroit Auto Show might not open the international auto show season, but it does hold the distinction of being the first show of the calendar year. Frequently, it serves as the coming-out party for new cars and trucks that will make the wait for spring and summer that much more difficult. The 2014 edition is no exception, though there are also some enticing vehicles that don’t mind the odd dusting of snow. Here, in no particular order, are the 10 vehicles making the most massive marks in Motown.
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is by far the fastest and most competent base Corvette in history. So for the last year or so, the question on everybody’s lips is, “How much more amazing will the new Z06 be?” As it turns out, the C7-based Z06 is pretty freaking amazing. The bulging hood conceals a supercharged, direct injected 6.2L V8 projected to pump out at least 625 horsepower and 635 lb.-ft of torque. Power reaches the rear wheels through either a 7-speed manual transmission or a brand new, lightning-fast-shifting 8-speed automatic. And in case the regular Z06 isn’t enough, you can order it with the Z07 package that bundles (barely) street legal tires, carbon-ceramic brakes and even more extreme and functional aero appendages. Be afraid, Supercar Establishment. Be very afraid.
Subaru WRX STI
While the styling of the new Subaru “Don’t Call Me an Impreza” WRX has been widely criticized for substituting the concept car’s plate-covering steak with a steaming pile of sizzle, it still has all the ingredients needed for a fun-to-drive roadgoing rally car. And that’s even more true of the new WRX STI. Does it look pretty much identical to the regular one except for the badges and big-honkin’ wing? Yes. Is the 305 horsepower 2.5L turbo flat-four under the scooped hood carried over from the old STI? Looks that way. However, this latest iteration of Subaru’s top performer does include a driver-controllable center differential (a U.S.-spec WRX first, if memory serves), and you can get it in the classic blue-with-gold-wheels color combo.
Porsche 911 Targa
In 1967, when Porsche introduced its first 911 Targa, there were whispers that the U.S. government would soon be outlawing traditional convertibles and roadsters on safety grounds. As a result, all Targas through the 964-series featured a solid metal “basket handle” roll hoop, wraparound back window (or a folding fabric setup on early models) and a lift-off solid panel that bridged the gap between the roll hoop and windshield header. Now, after a break in which the 993, 996 and 997 generation 911 Targas had essentially giant glass sunroofs, the 991 Targa is bringing the model back to its roots…kind of.
See, the greenhouse area certainly looks like that of a first-gen Targa (right down to the brushed-aluminum-clad basket handle), but removing the center panel is a very different affair: Press a button and the bubble back window lifts up, and the roof panel is swung up, back, and down behind the rear seats before the back window gracefully flops back into place. Heavy and complicated? You betcha! But considering you can only get it with AWD (the 350 horsepower Targa 4 or the 400 horsepower Targa 4S), it isn’t exactly back-to-basics to begin with, is it? Prices will start at $101,600 when sales begin this summer.
Kia GT4 Stinger Concept
Aside from a couple fun turbocharged models, Kia doesn’t have much to offer the leadfoot demographic (unlike corporate cousin Hyundai, which offers such tasty treats as the Veloster Turbo, Genesis Coupe and Genesis Sedan R-Spec). That could change in the near future if the GT4 Stinger Concept is any indication. This small 2+2 coupe features rear-wheel-drive and a detuned (to “just” 315 horsepower) version of the 2.0L turbo inline-four that powers the Kia Optima Pirelli World Challenge race car. It also has perforated A-pillars for improved outward visibility, though chances are they wouldn’t show up on a production version. And we really, really hope a production version shows up, because why should Toyobaru owners have all the fun?
Lexus RC F
When Lexus uncovered its rear-drive RC sport coupe at the Tokyo Motor Show a few months ago, we reckoned it was a credible threat to competing two-doors like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe, Infiniti Q60 and even the BMW 4 Series. Now Lexus has the likes of the Audi RS5, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe and, yes, the new BMW M4 in its crosshairs, and the ammo the Japanese luxury leader has loaded is the RC F. Essentially a successor to the sedan-only IS F, the RC F houses updated versions of that car’s snarling 5.0L V8 (producing 450+ horsepower) and 8-speed automatic transmission, plus the brand’s first torque-vectoring differential. Flared fenders, an automatic rear spoiler and an evolution of the IS F’s stacked tailpipes are just some of the giveaways that this isn’t the garden variety V6-powered RC.
Audi Allroad Shooting Brake Concept
We like the Audi TT, and we like shooting brakes (i.e. sporty two-door station wagons). So the fact that Audi is apparently previewing the third generation TT as a jacked-up shooting brake is all kinds of cool. The Allroad Shooting Brake Concept combines the latest VW/Audi 2.0L turbo inline-four and an electric motor driving the front wheels, and a second, more powerful electric motor powering the rear wheels. Total system power is 408 horsepower and 479 lb.-ft of torque, which Audi says is good enough to fling this dream machine to 62 mph in 4.6 seconds. Does this mean the new TT will be available as a shooting brake, or a hybrid, or both? Not likely, but we’d certainly be interested if it was.
Cadillac ATS Coupe
The Cadillac ATS Sedan has quickly asserted itself as the biggest thorn in the BMW 3 Series’ side, and the new ATS Coupe is fixing to make life miserable for the 4 Series. It uses the sedan’s two optional engines (2.0L turbo four and 3.6L V6, the former having an extra 35 lb.-ft of torque over the sedan’s and its optional 6-speed manual transmission) and most of the same styling cues. The big difference, of course, is found in the middle of the body, where each side has one substantial door (with no window frame) and a B-pillar hidden behind glass. It may not be quite as striking a design as the fastback CTS Coupe or ELR, but it sure is pretty…
When your full-size pickup truck has been the best-selling vehicle (among cars, trucks and all other subspecies of automobile) for the better part of the last three decades, you don’t approach a major redesign the way Shia LaBeouf owns up to his mistakes; nah, man, you sweat every last detail to make a standout product and give yourself the best possible chance of staying on top of the heap. And that’s precisely what Ford has done with the latest F-150. Sure, there are some noteworthy changes under the skin (fully-boxed frame made from high-strength steel, cushy car-like cab with available 8” in-dash touchscreen, and a powerful-yet-efficient engine lineup that includes an all-new EcoBoost 2.7L twin-turbo V6), but the biggest change is the skin itself: Much of the cab and cargo box are fabricated from high-strength aluminum alloy, resulting in a decrease in weight over an equivalent 2014 model of as much as 700 lbs. This king definitely isn’t abdicating his throne anytime soon.
With the CLA-Class now occupying the bottom of Mercedes-Benz’s product line (at least here in the U.S.), there’s now room to move the C-Class upmarket in terms of both size and content. And the new fourth generation C-Class certainly does both of those things, looking very much like a scaled-down version of the new S-Class. And while bigger than its predecessor in nearly every dimension, it’s actually about 220 lbs. lighter. Initially, just two models will be available to American buyers: The C300 (with a 241 horsepower 2.0L turbo four) and the C400 (with an all-new 329 horsepower 3.0L turbo V6), both with the company’s 4Matic AWD system. Expect rear-drive versions (and a diesel model) to come a little while after the initial models’ September on-sale date.
Toyota FT-1 Concept
Toyota may sell the Scion FR-S as a Toyota outside North America but, aside from that, there hasn’t been a dedicated rear-drive sports car wearing the Three Ovals since the last third-gen MR2 (known in Japan as the MR-S) left the factory in July 2007. Yes, there have been many rumors of a Supra revival since then, but thus far they’ve amounted to a whole-lot of nothing on the production car front. But if the FT-1 Concept is any indication, there might be some fire with that smoke after all. Though there’s no discussion of what theoretically powers this beast, the designers at Toyota’s Calty studio in our old stomping grounds (Newport Beach, California) made sure to give the FT-1 the classic long nose, short deck proportions that were hallmarks of the 2000GT and all four generations of Supra. And if you’d like to see it in motion, just fire up your PS3, as it’s currently available as a free download for Gran Turismo 6.