Hardcore Lexus RC F Track Edition wows Detroit Show

Lexus RC F 2019 Track Edition

The updated Lexus RC F has debuted at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, complete with a hopped-up, be-winged Track Edition. What has Lexus done to kick its BMW M4 rival into shape?

Beauty in the eye of the key-holder

Lexus RC F 2019 Track Edition

Well, it’s certainly not softened up the styling. The RC F still features the marque’s aggressive ‘Predator’-style schnoz, with a bit of added chin and snarl to denote sporting intent.

The lights are updated, with single-piece units at the front and a cleaner design at the back. The RC F, for the most part, looks the same. It remains a visual tonic to some and just a bit fussy to others.

Lexus RC F 2019 Track Edition

Under the skin of the standard car, bushes and mounts have been tightened to sharpen up the chassis. New, specially-designed Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres are said to reduce understeer, improve lateral grip and be more durable. Launch control now comes as standard, too – you’ll get to 62mph in 4.5 seconds with it engaged.

The lovely old V8 remains and is up on power slightly. An increase of 5hp gives the 2019 RC F 472hp, while torque is up by 6lb ft to 395lb ft. We’d wager the fundamental rev-happy character goes unchanged and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

What’s new for the Track Edition?

Lexus RC F 2019 Track Edition

There’s no mistaking the Track Edition for anything else. That massive carbon rear wing, heat-treated exhaust tips, carbon bonnet, black wheels and satin paint are a dead giveaway for the more track-honed model.

Lexus RC F 2019 Track Edition

The fixed wing takes the place of the active item on the standard car and is said to reduce drag while increasing downforce by 26kg. As you’d expect of a track-focused model, weight is down – in this case by between 70kg and 80kg.

A major focus has been put on unsprung weight, with a view to improving driving feel. As a result, carbon ceramic brakes are standard for the Track Edition, as are new GT3-inspired 19-inch forged BBS alloy wheels. All in, that helps lop 25kg off the unsprung weight at the front alone.

Lexus RC F 2019 Track Edition

Elsewhere, carbon fibre helps fight the paunch, including that enormous bonnet and the roof panel.

An exotic-looking exhaust is made of titanium and helps save even more weight. It should make for a spectacular musical accompaniment, too, given the 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 remains.

Lexus RC F 2019 Track Edition

What’s the RC F like on the inside?

Inside, the pleasing ‘1990s hi-fi’ aesthetic remains. Lurid leather and ‘F’ badges make sure you never forget you’re in the quick one.

The Track Edition doesn’t appear to rob the standard car of any of its luxo-barge credentials.

Lexus RC F 2019 Track Edition

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1979 G-Class cast in amber

Wild and wonderful on display at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Wild and wonderful on display at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show

Detroit 2018 kicked off the best year for American truck fans since the invention of Bigfoot. Ford, Chevy, and Ram all debuted brilliant new models, while gorgeous SUVs from Mercedes, Lexus, and Nissan wowed our senses.

More correctly the North American International Auto Show, Detroit showcased the best of automotive design, engineering, and passion. Concept vehicles raised the bar for years to come in terms of beauty. Efficiency, never a buzzword, nonetheless continues to improve year after year.

These are a few of our favourite vehicles on display at the Detroit motor show.

Lexus LF-1 Limitless

Lexus LF-1 Limitless

The design of Lexus’s flagship LF-1 Limitless concept is governed by a “molten katana” language, that of liquid metal fusing to a traditional Japanese sword. From almost any angle, it’s easy to imagine a master swordsman shaping the crossover out of soft metal. So yes, we get it completely.

The Limitless is named for the limitless powertrains it could possibly use, like hybrid, plug-in hybrid, petrol, all-electric, or even a fuel cell. By 2025, Lexus wants to have an electric version of every one of its models.

The interior is a minimalist, button-free zone, as befits the future. Lexus has further cleaned up the cockpit by placing all vehicle controls on the steering wheel: paddles for acceleration and braking, and buttons for park and reverse.

Nissan Xmotion interior

Nissan Xmotion interior

The exterior of Nissan’s latest concept vehicle is striking enough, but the interior could very well be a work of future art.

The six-passenger, three-row SUV is called Xmotion (pronounced “cross motion”), and Nissan says that it was inspired by the way that traditional and modern Japan live together as one. It may sound like a heady concept, but Nissan has fully expressed it.

The cabin is meant to evoke a river and is awash in scarlet, the colour of energy; white, the colour of purity; and black, the colour of contrast. A hand-crafted centre console runs the length of the cockpit, constructed of wood using methods usually reserved for building temples. The under-dash is wood as well, slatted to let ambient light waft through.

In the console, a touchscreen display contains the vehicle controls. Occasionally, koi will swim across the screen. The dash-mounted display runs almost the full width of the cabin and displays relevant data and nav information. Delightfully, the koi swim there, too.

Brilliant.

Toyota FT-4X Concept

Across the board, the new direction of Japanese SUV design is exhilarating. Toyota is finding its voice and personality with its small SUV concepts, the FT-AC that debuted in L.A. and the new FT-4X, of “Future Toyota, four-wheel drive crossover,” shown here.

The four-door, all-terrain ute has big tyres, big arches, big approach and crossover angles, and absolutely giant style. Designed to be a casual, everyday vehicle rather than a serious off-roader, the FT-4X nonetheless looks adventure-ready. Toyota calls the style “Rugged Charm,” and emphasises that it “places value on simplicity, capability, durability and Toyota lineage.”

In the cabin, door handles double as water bottles, armrests proffer USB connectivity, and there’s even a compact sleeping bag that hides between the front passenger seats.
We absolutely love it.

Hyundai Veloster N

Hyundai Veloster N

Hyundai’s delightfully weird Veloster is all-new for 2019, and it with it comes an evil twin: the Veloster N. This is, if you like, the i30 N for America.

We are fans of the build quality, fun personality, and value for money that Hyundai packs into its vehicles, and we genuinely liked the previous Veloster as a car. Not necessarily as a sports car, but still.

Now, with the N, we may just get to see what Hyundai can really do in the performance world.

Under the bonnet is a much hotter version of the 2.0-litre found in lesser Velosters, packing 275 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The suspension has been reworked and features fancy electronic bits. The whole kit and kaboodle was honed to perfection at the Nurburgring.

Sadly, there are no plans to sell the Veloster in the UK.

Hyundai Ant Man Veloster

Hyundai Ant Man Veloster

This spectacular bit of purple wonderful is the latest Hyundai Veloster all dolled up for its starring role in the upcoming Marvel feature, Ant Man and the Wasp. While unfamiliar with the comic book it’s based on, we’ll go just to see more of this wild Hyundai.

While the flames, side pipes, and wide stance may all just be for show, the Korean manufacturer is hoping the chase scenes in the film will highlight the all-new vehicle’s speed and handling, as well as bring it into view of a new segment of car buyers.

We have a sneaking suspicion that Hyundai would make even more noise by offering the Ant Man styling package on new Velosters. We would certainly buy one.

Other Hyundai vehicles will be making their Hollywood debut in Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man and the Wasp, which will be released in US theatres on July 6, before landing in the UK on August 3.

Infiniti Q Inspiration

Infiniti Q Inspiration

The new Infiniti Q inspiration concept vehicle is gorgeous to look at both inside and out. Relatively minimalist, the vehicle is meant to announce the manufacturer’s new design language for advanced powertrains.

Infiniti’s version of the future involves a clean, clutter-free interior that allows the driver to focus on the task of driving, but also showcases advanced, nearly-autonomous technologies that delegate the more mundane piloting tasks to the car.

Under the bonnet is Infiniti’s production-ready variable-compression-ratio four-cylinder engine, tightly packaged to liberate designers “from the constraints of powertrain architecture to realise a spacious interior.” The new engine technology is said to combine the power of a turbo with the efficiency of a diesel.

1979 G-Class cast in amber

The Jurassic nature of the original G-Wagen was proudly on display as Mercedes-Benz celebrated the release of the all-new 2019 G-Class.

The display is made of 44 tons of resin cast around an honest-to-goodness 1979 Geländewagen inside, the first year of the civilian model. The block was cast over a 90-day period and gained about three centimetres a day in height. The final dimensions: 10 feet high, 18 feet long and 8 feet deep.

After Detroit, the cuboid will be displayed in other markets in step with the new G-Class launch. After that, we hope it finds a permanent home in our offices.

In the meantime, we’re off to watch Jurassic Park… again. No idea what provided the inspiration…

Ram 1500

Ram 1500

Does this truck look like a hippy to you?

The latest Ram 1500 is a technological marvel, reaping the rewards of advances in engineering and materials science. The new models are lighter, stronger, and more capable than ever. They’re shockingly aerodynamic, slipperier than a Ferrari F50 thanks to active airflow management and exhaustive wind tunnel testing.

Perhaps most the most amazing thing, though, about the rugged big trucks is that they are hybrids. Yes, that’s right, like a Toyota Prius. Well, they’re mild hybrids, technically, and the system is called eTorque.

The standard V6 engine benefits from a motor generator in place of the traditional alternator and stores energy in a suitcase-sized, 300-watt-hour battery pack. The system provides extra torque during acceleration, up to 90 lb-ft at low engine speeds. The extra power provides invisible operation of the automatic stop/start system. The batteries also charge during regenerative braking, even further advancing efficiency.

In Hemi V8 form, eTorque is optional but adds a gargantuan 130 lb-ft of twist. The system works in tandem with cylinder deactivation to conserve even more fuel.

The best part of the system is, though, is what it represents: hybrid drives being used for the best of all possible purposes: more power in big trucks. And that makes hybrids cool enough to finally lose the last of their hippie reputation.

Original Mustang Bullitt

Original Mustang Bullitt

As the story goes, the 1968 Mustang GT390 with a VIN number ending in 559 starred in the movie Bullitt. It was one of two immortal muscle car icons to take place in the greatest car chase ever filmed. Steve McQueen, the King of Cool, drove the car himself during shooting.

After movie life, 559 changed hands a few times before finally falling off the radar in the late 1970s.

As the 50th anniversary of the movie Bullitt drew near, interest in the car waxed and it finally surfaced, perfectly unrestored and unmolested, with every scrape and bruise intact.

As part of the release hype surrounding the 2019 Mustang Bullitt, itself one of the hottest and most desirable cars we hope to drive this year, Ford displayed both vehicles together. If you are not tearing up at the thought of this, you are simply not a car person.

Don’t miss the chance to see this truly one-of-a-kind piece of American history.

GAC Enverge Concept

GAC Enverge Concept

The biggest surprise of the show was the Enverge concept vehicle from Chinese manufacturer GAC. The electric vehicle is loaded with what software developers call “vapourware”, such as a battery pack capable of propelling the vehicle 370 miles between charges, and wireless charging that restores 60 percent of the car’s range in just 10 minutes. For comparison, a Tesla Model S, the most advanced electric car on sale today, has a range of 265 miles and takes 20 minutes to recharge to 50 percent.

Nonetheless, the Enverge is wildly futuristic and endlessly entertaining. There are interesting details all over the vehicle, such as headlights that pop out to become floodlights and side windows that are actually virtual reality screens.

The most important detail of the Enverge, however, is what it represents. While vehicles built in China have been quietly on sale in the States for awhile now, GAC will be the first manufacturer to sell Chinese-branded cars in the US.

The manufacturer is working towards an agreement with Fiat-Chrysler to begin selling its vehicles through their dealer network. Sales are expected in 2019.

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Detroit Motor Show 2017

Detroit Motor Show 2017: in pictures

Detroit Motor Show 2017Detroit has seen hard times, but it’s still America’s Motor City – and home of its most important car show. We reveal the cars and trucks making headlines at the Cobo Centre, from the bold Audi Q8 concept seen here to Kia’s exciting new sports saloon.

Audi Q8Detroit Motor Show 2017

The Q8 concept previews Audi’s forthcoming SUV flagship – due in 2018. It’s sleeker than the current Q7, with a sweeping, coupe-style roof. Powered by a petrol/electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain, the 450hp Q8 will hit 62mph in 5.4 seconds.

Inside, the Q8 boasts four luxurious Nappa leather seats, plus an advanced version of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit with graphics projected onto the windscreen. Battery-charge time is two hours, with an all-electric range of 37 miles. We reckon the Range Rover should be worried…

Kia Stinger GTDetroit Motor Show 2017

Kia wants to sex-up its image, and a brawny, V6-engined sports coupe is a good way to do so. The 370hp Stinger GT will take on the Audi S4, BMW 340i and Mercedes-AMG C43 when it arrives in Europe in late 2017.

The Stinger GT’s platform comes from Hyundai’s Genesis luxury saloon, but with a stiffer chassis for sharper handling. Buyers will have a choice of four engines, including a four-cylinder diesel. But it’s that 167mph twin-turbo V6 we’re really excited about.

Volkswagen I.D. BuzzDetroit Motor Show 2017

What? Yet another VW Microbus concept? Yes, but this one stands a good chance of being built – and let’s hope so. The all-electric I.D. Buzz uses Volkswagen’s new scalable MEB platform. Quoted power output is 369hp and range is 373 miles.

The eight-seat I.D. Buzz can also drive itself. Push the steering wheel and it disappears into the dash as the car slips into ‘I.D. Pilot’ mode. This uses cameras, lasers and radar sensors to detect other road users. Oh, and the rear seats turn into a bed, so you can nap while the I.D. Buzz does all the hard work.

Lexus LSDetroit Motor Show 2017

With dramatic looks influenced by the LF-FC concept car, the new Lexus LS luxury saloon debuted at Detroit. As you’d expect, it will be available with petrol/electric hybrid power, but the big news is a hydrogen fuel-cell option – following the lead of parent company Toyota and its hydrogen-powered Mirai.

While other companies such as Volkswagen bet on electric power, Toyota/Lexus hopes hydrogen will be the fuel of the future. The LS may emulate the LF-FC, with in-wheel electric motors for dynamic four-wheel drive.

Mercedes-AMG GT CDetroit Motor Show 2017

Taking pride of place on the Mercedes stand at Detroit is the Mercedes-AMG GT C. It’s the coupe version of the GT C Roadster, revealed last year. Slotting in between the GT S and GT R, the GTC’s 4.0-litre twin turbo V8 produces 550hp – the same as the soft-top version.

That means 62mph in 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 197mph – even quicker than the GT S seen here. It’s 35kg lighter than the Roadster, while the rear track is 57mm wider. The GT C will initially be launched as an Edition 50 special edition, celebrating 50 years of AMG, featuring black chrome trim and two paint colours: Designo Graphite Grey Magno and Designo Cashmere White Magno.

Audi SQ5Detroit Motor Show 2017

Alongside Audi’s Q8 concept at Detroit is this sporty little number: the 354hp SQ5. It’s powered by the same 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 as the S5 – a departure from the old model, which was diesel-only.

That power accelerates the near-two-tonne SUV to 62mph in 5.4 seconds, helped by its all-wheel-drive system. There’s also an optional rear Sport differential, which divides torque across the rear axle. Combine this with Sport mode for school-run heroics.

Ford BroncoDetroit Motor Show 2017

The original Ford Bronco was never sold in Europe, but it was a popular no-thrills 4×4 on sale in the USA for 30 years from 1966 to 1996. Although Ford hasn’t taken a concept Bronco to Detroit, it has revealed a Bronco graphic on its stand – with the words ‘coming in 2020’ underneath.

The firm hasn’t revealed much more information on the new Bronco, although it has hinted that it’ll be a rugged retro 4×4 with genuine off-road ability. It’s also said it’ll be a global vehicle and, although a decision hasn’t been made, it could be sold in the UK. Fans of the classic original are suitably excited.

Infiniti QX50Detroit Motor Show 2017

This attractive SUV is the new Infiniti QX50 concept. It follows the QX Sport Inspiration seen at the 2016 Beijing Auto Show, but is closer to being a production-ready rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Lexus NX. It could be exactly what Nissan’s premium brand needs to boost its image in Europe.

Power comes from Infiniti’s clever new 2.0-litre VC-T turbocharged petrol engine, which the brand is claiming will have the efficiency of modern turbodiesels. The QX50 concept also features clever autonomous tech – but the manufacturer says it’ll work with the driver, rather than taking over entirely.

Porsche 911 GTSDetroit Motor Show 2017

The controversial new flat-six 911 has now been given the GTS treatment: meaning an extra 30hp over the regular Carrera S (and 20hp more than its predecessor). Unfortunately, Porsche decided against revealing the GTS in the metal at Detroit, so you’ll have to settle for this press photo.

As you’d expect, here are a wide range of GTS models available: coupe, cabriolet or Targa, and two- or four-wheel drive. Oh, and you can choose between seven-speed manual or PDK auto gearboxes.

Volkswagen Tiguan AllspaceDetroit Motor Show 2017

Good news: from summer 2017, you’ll be able to buy a Volkswagen Tiguan with a slightly longer wheelbase and seven seats. That extra practicality means it’ll be an interesting, German alternative to the likes of the Nissan X-Trail.

It’s difficult to spot the external differences between the Allspace and the regular Tiguan, but anoraks will spy a 110mm longer wheelbase (the overall car is 215mm longer), while the bonnet and grille are also revised.

Flower power: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept revealed at Detroit

Flower power: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept revealed at Detroit

Flower power: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept revealed at Detroit

Ever wondered what a modern-day Volkswagen hippy van would look like? VW clearly has: hence the 2001 Microbus concept, the Bulli of 2011, last year’s Budd-e and, finally, the I.D. Buzz – set to be revealed at this year’s Detroit Auto Show.

With a push for eco-cars following the Dieselgate emissions scandal, now could be a good time to bring back flower power, this time in the form of an all-electric bus.

Based on an extended version of the firm’s new scalable MEB platform, the I.D. Buzz boasts a combined output of 369hp and an electric range of 373 miles. Naturally, it’s packed with autonomous functions: push the steering wheel and it disappears into the dash as the Buzz slips into ‘I.D. Pilot’ mode.

This decouples the steering column and uses laser sensors to detect other road users, while cameras, radar sensors and ultrasonic sensors monitor the van’s surroundings.

Flower power: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept revealed at Detroit

Inside, there’s room for eight people, with the front seats able to turn around and face the rear passengers once it’s in autonomous mode. The second row of seats can fold down and be used as a table, while the rear seats can be turned into a bed for overnight stays once the Buzz is stopped.

With a wooden floor, fancy coloured lighting and movable cushions, the interior is more homely than you might expect from a Volkswagen of the future.

There’s also a clever augmented reality head-up display. This projects virtual images from 23 to 49 feet ahead of the car – with the effect being ‘astonishingly realistic’, says VW.

Couldn’t the I.D. Buzz look a bit more… retro?

Flower power: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept revealed at Detroit

“The I.D. BUZZ is not a retro design on 22-inch wheels,” explains VW’s head of design, Klaus Bischoff.

“We have taken the logical next step forward in development, using what is in all likelihood the most successful design of its kind in the world. The entire design is extremely clean with its homogeneous surfaces and monolithic silhouette. The future and origins of Volkswagen design DNA combine here to create a new icon.”

There are some retro touches: the iconic ‘V’ on its front-end, for example, but the round headlights have been replaced by slim LED lights. These mimic the gestures of the human eye, says Volkswagen, allowing the Buzz to communicate with other traffic. When it’s parked up, the eyes appear closed, opening up to greet drivers and passengers.

When awakened, its lights ‘open’, while accelerating causes them to adopt a more aggressive look. During autonomous driving they truly act like eyes, looking in the direction the car is planning to turn.

Is the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz actually going to be sold?

Flower power: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept revealed at Detroit

The company is aiming to launch its first car on the new MEB platform by 2020, and these could be autonomous by 2025.

Does this mean the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz will make production? Not necessarily – and certainly not without a great deal of revision, as you’d expect as technology progresses.

The Detroit Auto Show kicks off today, so stay tuned for all the latest from the Cobo Centre.

Detroit Auto Show 2017

Detroit Auto Show 2017 preview

Detroit Auto Show 2017The annual North American International Auto Show opens at Detroit’s Cobo Center next week and many of the big auto makers are planning some significant reveals.

Here’s a preview of the cars set to star at Motor City’s international auto show – but keep coming back, as you can be sure there will be a few surprises in store too…

Audi Q8

Detroit Auto Show 2017

This is how you do a luxury SUV coupe, hopes Audi. Promising teaser sketches of the upcoming Q8 suggest a four-door, four-seat model the firm argues will define a new full-size luxury SUV segment (although the Range Rover Sport may have something to say about that). Audi’s newish design chief Marc Lichte has overseen this: will it deliver the more expressive Audi style we’ve been promised for some time?

BMW 5 Series

Detroit Auto Show 2017

The new BMW 5 Series saloon makes its North American debut after its press launch in Europe late last year. We already know it’s an exceptional car to drive, with a particularly impressive interior, so expect plenty of attention – particularly as BMW has cannily revealed US prices ahead of the show: buy a 530i from $52,195.

Chevrolet Traverse

Detroit Auto Show 2017

Finally, it looks like GM is revealing a redesigned Chevrolet Traverse at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show. The current car dates back to 2009 and this long-awaited new one will launch before the year is out. Said to be much lighter than today’s car, the three-row model will ride on a version of the GMC Acadia platform. This means it should drive well and feature plenty of modern tech.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

Detroit Auto Show 2017

Rumors are rife that Chevrolet will reveal the wild Corvette ZR1 at Detroit. Sitting above the Z06, it could top 700-horsepower and easily be the most extreme front-engined ‘Vette ever. Remember, the upcoming C8 Corvette will switch to a mid-engine layout…

Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Vehicle

Detroit Auto Show 2017

Ford has, to date, only confirmed we’re getting an upgraded Fusion hybrid autonomous development vehicle at Detroit. The LIDAR sensors are more smoothly integrated and it’s another step towards the first self-driving Ford going on sale in 2021. But will the blue oval also have a surprise in store? It wouldn’t be the first time it’s saved the show-stopper until the day of the show itself…

GAC Group

Detroit Auto Show 2017

Chinese firm GAC Group is back in Detroit, after last appearing in 2015. Back then, it debuted the GS4 SUV (pictured above), and the firm says it was the sheer amount of coverage it received for that car which convinced it to return. So what’s it got for us this time round?

GMC Terrain

Detroit Auto Show 2017

The rugged GMC Terrain is expected in 2018 guise at the Detroit Auto Show. And not before time. Far smoother and lighter but even more capable, spy shots indicate we’ll have a less boxy look than today’s car (pictured above). It will be based on the same platform as that used in the impressive new Chevy Equinox.

Honda Odyssey

Detroit Auto Show 2017

The fifth generation 2018 Honda Odyssey has been confirmed for Detroit, with the Japanese firm releasing a sleek-looking teaser sketch. Built in Alabama, Honda’s promising “innovative features”. It will use a version of the impressive Pilot/Ridgeline platform so may finally offer all-wheel drive.

Infiniti QX50 Concept

Detroit Auto Show 2017

The current Infiniti QX50 is tired. It looks out of place alongside sleek new models such as the Q60. That’s to be fixed at Detroit, where we’ll get our first look at the all-new QX50 mid-size SUV. Ignore the ‘concept’ bit in the name: the production version won’t look much different. It’s so much of an improvement, Infiniti would be mad to radically alter it, right?

Kia GT4 ‘Stinger’

Detroit Auto Show 2017

Kia has been teasing its new GT four-door sports car for weeks. Possibly called Stinger, it’s going to be fast: a sneak-peak video confirms 0-60mph in less than 5.1 seconds. It’s also apparently been Nürburgring-proven – under the leadership of a man called Albert Biermann who Kia poached from BMW M a few years back…

Lexus LS

Detroit Auto Show 2017

The ageing LS luxury is finally replaced at the Detroit Auto Show, and not before time. The current car dates back to 2006. Derived from the same high-tech platform seen in the promising LC500 luxury coupe, expect a V8, a hybrid V8 and maybe even a hydrogen version. Oh, and tech. Lots and lots of tech.

Mercedes-Benz GLA

Detroit Auto Show 2017

The Mercedes-Benz onslaught continues with a facelifted GLA crossover. As with other models in the family such as the revised CLA, changes won’t be major, but they’ll neaten the little compact and maybe make the crazy AMG version even faster.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

Detroit Auto Show 2017

The big Mercedes-Benz Detroit show stand debut is the new E-Class Coupe. Much smoother and smarter than the current car, see it here ahead of the 2018 car’s summer debut, in 329-horsepower E400 V6 guise. The lack of a central B-pillar suggests the cabriolet won’t be far behind.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe Night Edition

Detroit Auto Show 2017

A special edition S-Class Coupe? You bet. Think moody colours including a matte grey option, plus black accents and mean 20-inch AMG alloy wheels. The Night Edition badges are as stealthy as the finish of the car. This Benz got attitude.

Pixar Cars 3

Detroit Auto Show 2017

Disney is coming to Detroit! Pixar is creating a special display and has scheduled a press conference to reveal one of the models from the upcoming Cars 3 movie, scheduled for release this summer. We’ve already seen the trailer: will we find out more at Detroit about just what’s in store for Lightning McQueen?!

Rinspeed Oasis

Detroit Auto Show 2017

The Wacky Rinspeed Oasis is a CES special headed to Detroit that mixes futuristic tech with an indoor garden. Yes, an indoor garden. The city car for 2030 will drive itself and generally be more like something you’d see in a movie set in the future. Check it out to see if the cars of tomorrow are something you’re looking forward to.

Toyota Camry

Detroit Auto Show 2017

The Camry is set to get radical! At least according to this teaser shot of the rear fender it is. A North America favorite, this is a bold move by the Japanese firm, but in keeping with recent trends that have seen the Prius reinvented and the radical C-HR crossover cause a stir in Europe. Given just how many people buy or lease Camrys, this is a Detroit biggie.

Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Detroit Auto Show 2017

Like the new Tiguan but wish it had more space and seats? At last, Volkswagen has listened. A three-row seven-seat version will debut in Detroit. Called Allspace in Europe, it is – whisper it – built in Mexico, is 8.0 inches longer than the five-seater and at last answers cries from customers that they need more room.

Volkswagen ‘new Microbus’ concept

Detroit Auto Show 2017

Is Volkswagen finally going to make a modern Microbus? Or will this concept version, derived from the MEB electric car platform that underpinned last year’s I.D. concept, be just that – a concept set to gather dust? We hope not. All eyes on the beleaguered brand to see if it finally is going to bring back the 60s icon with a contemporary zero-emissions focus.

This is how Ford wants to change your life – even if you’re not a customer

This is how Ford wants to change your life – even if you’re not a customer

This is how Ford wants to change your life – even if you’re not a customer

You visit your friendly Ford dealer, buy a Fiesta, and have little else to do with the company for the next X amount of years until you go and trade it in for a new model.

That’s pretty much how the average customer’s relationship works with Ford – and, indeed, any car brand. The only time that changes is if you buy a particularly problematic car and spend more time returning to your dealer than you’d really like.

But Ford wants to change that. It wants to be part of your everyday life – interacting with you on an almost daily basis. And not by selling you a duffer.

During its press conference at this week’s Detroit Auto Show, CEO Mark Fields revealed that Ford owns 6% of the $2.3 trillion annual global automarket market – but 0% of the $5.4 trillion transportation services market. That includes things like buses, taxis and ridesharing.

Fields said: “We’re kicking off the next transformation of Ford – advancing from being an auto company, to an auto and a mobility company.”

Cornering just a tiny sector of this market by branching out into things like parking and car sharing could work out to be massively profitable for Ford.

Fields added: “People keep talking about how the auto industry is going to be disrupted by the tech companies. And our approach is, we’re going to disrupt ourselves.

“We want to grow our core business, and love that business, designing, developing, manufacturing and marketing terrific cars, SUVs, truck and electrified vehicles. But we also see a huge opportunity in growing our business in the emerging mobility market.”

Ford’s executive chairman Bill Ford told journalists: “If you look at our heritage, my great grandfather changed the way the world moved with the Model T in very fundamental ways. So we have the same opportunity now, in a very different era, with very different challenges in front of us.

“The opportunities we have in front of us are very different than what my great grandfather faced, but the notion of providing mobility to people around the world, that’s not new to us. But what’s clear to us is that no one company can do this by themselves.”

This is how Ford wants to change your life – even if you’re not a customer

So how does Ford suggest it’ll work? Say hello to FordPass – a service available to anyone, including people who aren’t Ford customers.

Users get access to FordGuides – ‘personal mobility assistants’ available 24 hours a day. Similar to Vauxhall’s OnStar service, you can phone the FordPass call centre and get assistance in finding parking, getting directions or avoiding congestion.

Download the app and get access to car shares, reserve parking spaces and receive rewards from partners – including parking companies such as Parkopedia and fast food chains including McDonalds.

If you do own a Ford with SYNC Connect (set to be launched in the new Edge, arriving in the UK later this year), you’ll also be able to use the app to locate, lock, unlock and even remotely start your car.

And, following in the footsteps of Hyundai with its Rockar stores and Tesla with its, er, Tesla stores, Ford aims to open a number of outlets in shopping centres – known as ‘FordHubs’. But unlike other manufacturers, their aim isn’t to sell cars – traditional dealers will stay for that.

Instead, they’ll be places anyone can call in, learn more about Ford as a company and its transportation options, and generally interact with the car manufacturer slash transportation service provider.

The service launches in April 2016, with FordHubs opening up in four major cities around the world – including New York, San Francisco, Shanghai and London.

Fields concluded: “From a customer standpoint, great experiences lead to long-term relationships. And from a business standpoint, it will drive greater loyalty, bring new consumers and accelerate Ford in becoming a serious player in mobility services.

“Today is the start of the next generation of Ford. Becoming an auto and a mobility company.”

NAIAS 2016

The exciting new cars of the 2016 Detroit Motor Show

Lexus LC 500It’s one of the big shows of the automotive calendar: held in America’s Motor City, the NAIAS Detroit Auto Show is now in full swing.

From weird concepts to ready-for-sale production cars, join us as we check out the cars on display at the 2016 Detroit show.

Lexus LC 500

Is this enough for you to cancel your Porsche 911 order? The Lexus LC 500 is powered by the firm’s high-revving 5.0-litre V8 engine, producing 467hp and capable of covering 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds.

First teased by the Lexus LF-LC concept of 2012, the LC 500 will take on the might of Mercedes-Benz and BMW when it goes on sale next year.

Volvo S90

The Volvo S90 is one of the most attractive cars on display here at Detroit’s Cobo exhibition centre. You wouldn’t have said that about a Volvo a few years ago. It’s Volvo’s rival to the BMW 5 Series and a replacement for the dated S80.

The S90 is set to be as ground-breaking as the latest XC90 SUV. With semi-autonomous driving features and a T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain, the S90 could offer stiff competition to the likes of the BMW 5 Series, not to mention Mercedes-Benz’ new E-Class.

Porsche 911 Turbo/Turbo S

With the controversial move of turbocharging its entry-level 911 models out of the way, Porsche can concentrate on facelifting the hairy-chested Turbo and Turbo S.

Power from the twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre flat-six engine is up by 20hp in each model – with the Turbo S now boasting 580hp. It’ll hit 62mph in just 2.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 205mph.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Along with official teaser shots of the interior and a myriad leaks of the exterior, it’s not a big surprise to see the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class here in Detroit. Packed with clever connected technology such including ‘Car-to-X’ communication, the E-Class can exchange information with other vehicles on the road and receive warnings of obstacles in the road and traffic jams ahead. An optional Remote Parking Pilot lets you use an app on your smartphone to get the E-Class in and out of your garage.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class will be powered by a choice of two diesel engines when deliveries start in May 2016, with a plug-in hybrid confirmed for later in the year.

2017 Ford Fusion

The new Ford Mondeo has hardly been around two minutes in the UK. But buyers in the US got it a whole two years before us: badged there as the Fusion, it’s now ready for a facelift.

The big news is a new range-topping Platinum model – America’s equivalent to our Vignale, with 19-inch alloys, premium leather and a new honeycomb grille. There’s also a new Sport model, packing 325hp from its 2.7-litre V6 Ecoboost engine.

BMW M2

BMW first released pictures of its M2 back in October, but we’ve seen it in the metal for the first time at Detroit. It boasts 370hp from its turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six and, when paired with the optional dual-clutch auto ’box, will hit 62mph in 4.3 seconds.

When it goes on sale in the UK in the spring, the BMW M2 will cost from £44,070 and rival the likes of the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45.

Infiniti Q60

First shown in concept form at last year’s Detroit Auto Show, the Infiniti Q60 is a sleek, executive coupe set to rival the BMW 4 Series and Audi A5. The production version has been revealed in Detroit, featuring a Q50 front-end but curvier rear.

It really is a stunner, the Infiniti Q60. But the top-line engine sounds promising, too. It’s a 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo petrol, with buyers getting a choice of two power outputs: 300hp or 400hp. It’s the first production model to get the engine (which debuted in last year’s concept). We predict a hybrid powertrain will follow.

Mercedes-AMG S65 Cabriolet

The hot Mercedes-AMG S65 Coupe went on sale at the tail end of 2015, but the performance division has chopped the roof off for Detroit 2016.

Despite almost an extra 175kg in mass, the turbocharged 5.5-litre V12 engine accelerates the cabriolet to 62mph in the same time as the coupe – just 4.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited as standard to 155mph, unless the buyer pays to fit better tyres and increase the maximum speed to 186mph.

Mercedes-Benz SLC

For its mid-life facelift, the Mercedes SLK is being renamed. It’ll now be known as the ‘SLC’, and has appeared in public for the first time at Detroit. The most obvious change is the diamond-style front grille.

Two new engines bookend the range: the entry-level 156hp SLC 180 and the hot 367hp AMG SLC 43. In between these come 184hp SLC 200 and 245hp SLC 300 petrols, plus a 204hp SLC 250d diesel.

Honda Ridgeline

The Honda Ridgeline has never sold in massive numbers – and that’s unlikely to change, unless everyone starts buying smaller, softer pick-up trucks.

With a quad cab and short load bed, the Honda Ridgeline is powered by a 3.5-litre V6 engine combined with a six-speed automatic gearbox. It’ll be ready to take on the likes of the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado when it goes on sale in the US later this year.

Ford F-150 Raptor

This is the new aluminum-bodied F-150 Raptor, a frankly bonkers take on the America’s popular F-150 pick-up truck.

The 2017 F-150 Raptor has shed around 230kg. It’s following Ford’s EcoBoost philosophy, with a V8 engine swapped for a smaller, turbocharged V6. It’s expected to produce around 450-horsepower.

Chrysler Pacifica

The pretty Chrysler Pacifica, unveiled at Detroit, is a renamed version of the popular Town & Country. Chrysler has strong hopes for this minivan.

Power comes from a choice of two powertrains: a 3.6-liter V6 producing 287-horsepower, or the same engine detuned to 248-horsepower and combined with an electric motor.

Infiniti QX60

OK, this isn’t a huge deal – the Infiniti QX60 SUV has received a mild facelift for the Detroit Auto Show. Its revised looks bring it into line with the Q50 sedan – with its new headlights being particularly noticeable.

Buyers get a choice of a 3.5-liter V6 petrol engine producing 265-horsepower, or a hybrid combining a supercharged four-cylinder with an electric motor, producing 250-horsepower. Four-wheel-drive versions are available, but it’s front-drive as standard – with the steering tuned for 2016.

Genesis G90

Believe it or not, this luxury saloon is a Hyundai. Actually, it’s not – it’s the first model being launched under Hyundai’s new premium sub brand, Genesis.

The G90 is a replacement for the Hyundai Equus and will come with a choice of three engines: a 311-horsepower 3.8-liter V6, a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 producing 365-horsepower, and a potent 5.0-liter V8 carried over from the Equus, giving out 419-horsepower.

Volkswagen Tiguan GTE Active Concept

This is a rugged off-road version of the plug-in hybrid Volkswagen Tiguan, which itself was revealed at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show. Ground clearance has been increased by 45mm to improve its capability off road.

VW says “off-road design elements of the body are technically feasible as options for production cars.” While we don’t expect a production-ready off-road Tiguan to be launched anytime soon, we expect you’ll be able to toughen yours up, should you wish. There’s a new 9.2-inch infotainment screen, too – and that could be arriving in production cars as soon as this year.

Audi H-tron quattro concept

This is Audi starting to taking hydrogen vehicles seriously – we wonder what’s brought that on? A more stylish alternative to the Toyota Mirai, the H-tron combines an 150-horsepower fuel cell with an electric motor capable of a temporary 135-horsepower power boost.

It’ll hit 62mph in ‘less than 7.0 seconds’, says Audi. It’s not clear whether the H-tron concept previews a bespoke production model, or whether an existing vehicle would be converted with a hydrogen powertrain.

Chevrolet Bolt

General Motors has revealed its new electric car, after teasing it at CES last week. It’s a huge deal: costing $30,000 (around £21,000) and giving a range of 200 miles. Could be the car to convince America that electric cars are the future?

The Bolt is powered by a 60-kWh battery pack, and can hit 60mph in under 7.0 seconds. Its styling has more than a hint of BMW i3, we think.

Fisker Force 1

Henrik Fisker, the man behind the electric Fisker Karma of 2011, is back with a new sports car. The Force 1 features carbon fibre bodywork the naturally aspirated 8.4-litre V10 engine from the Dodge Viper. It’s getting a huge amount of attention here at the Cobo centre.

The Force 1 hits 60mph in 3.0 seconds and keeps going all the way to a reported 218mph. Production is expected to be limited to 50 units, with a price tag of around £185,000.

Lincoln Continental

Lincoln revealed its luxury Continental concept at the 2015 New York Auto Show, and now the production version has made its debut in Motor City. The styling has remained largely unchanged – but it would be a crime to lose that bold stance and ‘out of my way’ mesh grille.

The interior of the Continental takes inspiration from private jets, with 30-way adjustment for the electric front seats. Power comes from a 3.0-litre Ford Ecoboost V6, producing around 400hp.

Infiniti Q50 Red Sport 400

No, it’s not a production-ready Eau Rouge (the concept Q50 fitted with a Nissan GT-R engine). But this Q50 still has 400hp from a twin-turbocharged V6. That’s exciting, right?

The Q50’s brand new twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre engine replaces the old Nissan 3.7-litre unit. Performance should rival the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 – let’s hope it comes to the UK.

Acura Precision concept

Acura is Honda’s luxury division in the States (like Toyota’s Lexus). This dramatic Precision concept gives us an indication of how future models might look. Apparently saloons are set to be a priority.

Saloons don’t excite auto show punters, though (not as much as the NSX, which also wears the Acura badge in the States). So the Acura Precision concept is an sleek sports coupe, with a beefy rear end and hawk-eye headlights.

Kia Telluride

This is Kia’s vision for a full-size SUV and we have to say we rather like what we see. It’s called the Telluride and it showcases a three-row, seven-seat premium SUV to sit above the Kia Sorento. In other words, Kia has its sights set on the Range Rover…

OK, so the styling gives it the look of a Volvo XC90 from another dimension, and we doubt the rear-hinged back doors would ever see production, but it’s impossible not to love this. Kia says the Telluride is ‘anything but a utopian fantasy’, but says there are no plans to bring the Telluride to production. Boo.

Buick Envision

If you really like the look of this Chinese-built crossover we have some bad news for you: it’s not coming to the UK.

The American-engineered SUV will sit between the Buick Encore and Envision in the US. Power comes from a 252hp four-cylinder petrol engine, while the Encore’s almost-premium cabin seems to have gone down very well in Detroit.

Dodge Ram 1500 Rebel

We still love the Dodge Ram 1500 Rebel. It went on sale in 2015 and features an increased ride height, 33-inch Toyo tyres and 17-inch alloy wheels. The blacked-out grille is a departure from Ram’s ‘crosshair’ design.

Inside, the Dodge Ram 1500 Rebel features seats finished in red and black, along with Toyo tyre tread patterns that match the Rebel’s actual footprint. While a 3.6-litre V6 engine is available, it’d be rude not to choose the full-fat 5.7-litre HEMI V8.

GMC Canyon

GMC calls the Canyon the ‘only premium midsize pickup’, claiming it is easier to manoeuvre than a larger truck and more capable and versatile than any rival midsize pickup. The big news for 2016 is the addition of a Duramax diesel engine – the first time this has been offered in a midsize pickup.

The GMC Canyon is facing renewed competition, in the form of the new Honda Ridgeline and the revised Toyota Tacoma. It remains to be seen whether or not the likes of a 2.8-litre turbodiesel engine, Apple CarPlay and the availability of a sliding rear cab window will be enough to see off the threat from Japan.

Infiniti Q60

Detroit 2016: new Infiniti Q60 coupe arrives at last

Infiniti Q60Infiniti’s badly ageing Q60 coupe (née G37) has finally been replaced, with its shapely all-new successor debuting at the 2016 Detroit Motor Show.

Boasting Infiniti’s new-era design previewed by several earlier concepts, the new Q60 will provide a stern challenge to the BMW 4 Series Coupe, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe and Audi A5 range whose owners it will need to win over.

Infiniti Q60

Infiniti’s thus not messing about: it’s launched in 400hp 3.0-litre V6 twin-turbo guise, with the new VR30 engine claiming one of the best power-to-efficiency ratios in the class.

A rear-biased all-wheel drive system is promising, although the regular 208hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo still drives the rear wheels instead of the less-driver-pleasing fronts; it can thank being based on the Infiniti Q50 for that.

03_Infiniti_Q60

That’s why it inherits the Q50’s rather disappointing interior, albeit lavished with latest gen connectivity, safety and infotainment tech.

Alongside the Q50-derived suspension of the standard Q60 is a new ‘Digital Dynamic Suspension’. Dampers are electronically adjustable and it’s backed up by the second generation of the drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering system.

Trust us, says Infiniti, it’s better this time: feel and feedback are enhanced and “significant” changes make it more communicative (and hopefully less weird-feeling).

Infiniti is, like Lexus with its new LC 500, ambitious. “The Infiniti Q60 conveys a powerful elegance through its daring design, and has the performance credentials to match,” said Infiniti president.

“The Q60 will affirm Infiniti’s leadership in the premium sports coupe class.” Bold claim. The Q60 looks good: will the reality square up?

Kia Telluride

Detroit 2016: Kia Telluride hints at new luxury SUV

Kia TellurideKia has revealed a bold concept called Telluride at the 2016 Detroit Motor Show that it says “suggests styling of a possible future premium large SUV”.

A signal of Kia’s desire to move ever-upmarket, the Telluride could preview a Kia rival to the Audi Q7 or Mercedes-Benz GLS – and certainly has styling bold and striking enough to make an impact.

Kia Telluride

More broadly, it also signals a desire to evolve Kia’s overall design language now the much-heralded Peter Schreyer styling overhaul has run through the full range.

Despite calling it “purely conceptual”, Kia’s surprisingly open on what the Telluride represents: it’s a three-row, seven-seat, full-size SUV that would sit above the existing Sorento (its current range-topper) in the model line.

Fascinatingly, Kia even reveals it’s based upon an existing platform (a stretched version of the current Sorento).

“While there are currently no plans to bring the Telluride to production,” says Kia, it “has a history of delivering production vehicles that bear strong resemblance to preceding concepts, and Kia’s large SUV is anything but a utopian fantasy.”

That makes it pretty much odds-on to us.

Telluride inside

Kia Telluride

It’s unlikely the rear-hinged back doors would make production, but there’s little to suggest the rest of it is not viable. Purposefully bold and upright, the rectangular grille, bulging wheelarches and glassy windows would go down very well in its key U.S. market, we’re certain. After all, it was designed there.

Kia Telluride

Inside, there’s a tech-laden cabin with lots of infotainment screens in the front and a fancy ‘Swipe Command’ touch-sensitive band for the second row: swipe commands control the media played through the high-end Harman Kardon audio system (or Harma Kardon headphones).

And under the massive bonnet? Again a ‘near-future’ PHEV powertrain combining direct-injection 3.5-litre V6 and electric motor: 400hp is made up of 270hp from the engine and 130hp from the motor.

All seems to point quite clearly to a new Kia luxury SUV range-topper coming in a year or so…

Lexus LC 500

Detroit 2016: Lexus LC 500 luxury coupe revealed at NAIAS

Lexus LC 500Lexus has revealed its new LC 500 2+2 luxury coupe at the 2016 Detroit Motor Show, the car with which it’s hoping to sway well-heeled Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe buyers.

And on looks alone, Lexus could be onto a winner. The new LC is a very striking and shapely coupe that successfully brings to production the bold lines of Lexus’ well-received LF-LC Concept of 2012.

Lexus is betting big on it. No less than Akio Toyoda himself is banking on it: “The new LC 500 coupe’s proportions, stunning design and performance make a strong statement about our brand’s emotional direction and will increase Lexus’s global luxury appeal.”

New architecture

Lexus LC 500

The LC 500 is based on Lexus’ new global architecture for luxury cars, dubbed GA-L. All future front-engine, rear-wheel drive Lexus will be based upon this.

It has a low centre of gravity, masses have been centralised and occupants’ hips and legs are lower than ever. Even the overhangs have been shortened – and Lexus says it’s used run-flat tyres to improve packaging (and make space for the battery that’s been relocated from the engine bay).

It doesn’t quite achieve perfect weight distribution, but 52/48 front/rear isn’t bad.

The familiar super-high-revving 5.0-litre V8 from the RC F and GS F is used here, in 467hp guise. Lexus is targeting 0-62mph in less than 4.5 seconds, aided by the first use of its all-new 10-speed automatic gearbox.

Yes, 10-speed.

Dynamic interior

Lexus LC 500

Inside, Lexus has poured over details such as the size and angle of the steering wheel, feel of the paddleshifters and detailing of the dashboard structure.

Tadao Mori, chief designer, said: “At an early stage, the designers worked with the engineers to understand their vision for the LC 500’s driving dynamics, and they incorporated this into the design.

“This was one of the first projects where designers were closely involved in the dynamic engineering development, so we could understand the driving goals and support them with the car’s design.”