Motoring | News

Detroit motor city madness

With more than 50 world debuts, the Detroit motor show is not one to miss. Here are a few of the goodies that will be on display

  • By Imran Malik, Features Writer
  • Published: 11:00 December 27, 2012
  • Wheels

Cadillac ELR
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • The Cadillac ELR is being kept in the dark for now but it won’t be long before it’s in the limelight.
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It’s show time in Detroit! Well, not yet, but it will be during the middle of next month. America knows how to put on a good show, and we expect Motor City to be buzzing when the world’s biggest and best carmakers arrive at the one million-square-foot Cobo Center in Michigan. Over 50 debuts (the majority of which will be global premieres) are expected — way too many to bring you details of on just two pages, so we’ve narrowed it down to the cars you really shouldn’t miss.

Cadillac ELR
Back in the day, Cadillac was known for its huge engines and lavish interiors. The latter hasn’t changed, but the engines sure have, or will, if the ELR concept is anything to go by. What we have here is the first range-extender Cadillac. Hmm, that sounds weird when you say it out loud. We guess it really is a sign of the times. It’s not all bad though. The ELR, which is based on the Converj concept (which debuted at the 2009 Detroit motor show) is basically a luxury, two-door, fourseat coupé version of the Chevy Volt and Vauxhall Ampera.

The design will likely feature the same Voltec range-extender powertrain found in those two. President of GM North America, Mark Reuss described the ELR as “a luxury coupé featuring extended-range electric technology.” He forgot to mention it looks hot too — we can tell that just from the teaser images. The electric propulsion system will be made up of a T-shaped lithium-ion battery, an electric drive unit and a four-cylinder engine-generator.

The 148bhp electric motor has a range of 80km. When the battery runs flat, an 85bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine kicks in. The ELR will be built at General Motor’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant late next year. Yes, we’re excited.

Chevrolet Corvette C7
We haven’t been this excited about a car since perhaps the Aventador, but we’re getting rather tired of the teaser series for the 2014 Corvette C7. It’s becoming worse than those Hollywood sequels. The first one is usually good, but by the fourth installment, you’re fed up. But, as this is the Vette that we’re talking about, we’re prepared to accept anything about the new model that GM throws our way.

First it showed us a bit of the exterior, which includes a refreshed logo (what was wrong with the old one?) and then we were teased with footage of the gauge cluster and some of its suspension. The third installment focused on the interior (something the Vette never seemed to manage to get right), but not once have we been privy to the exterior in the series. However, the final teaser will go live on January 10 — three days before it is unveiled in all its glory on the 13th at the show.

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There have been many renderings of what it’ll look like, but what’s for certain is that it is going to be two or three generations ahead of the current car. Not a surprise really, as the last two generations looked kind of alike. Not that there’s much wrong with the C6. We fully expect the new Corvette to redefine the sports/muscle/supercar segment, especially since it won’t break the bank and will offer more than enough bang for the buck. This is going to be a massive car for GM.

For a start, the aluminium-built Chevy with a front-engine, rearwheel drive platform, will boast a new 5.5-litre V8 (still a pushrod…) with 450bhp and direct injection. Torque will top 610Nm. The manual transmission will feature seven forward gears (like the latest Porsche 911), while an eight-speed automatic should also be available. The base C7 will be great, no doubt, but just wait until the new Z06 is launched. As for the competition, well the M3, Shelby GT500 and SRT Viper had better watch out. The latter better save up some of that venom — it’s going to need it when it tackles the mighty ZR1…

Ford F-150
General Motors may have just unveiled their 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra fullsize pickup trucks, but that is old news to Ford. There are rumours that the automaker is planning a surprise reveal of a concept for its redesigned 2015 F-150. The two Chevys are evolutionary designs, but the new Ford will be revolutionary. It’ll be built extensively of aluminium to help cut weight by more than 300kg from the vehicle in order to improve fuel efficiency.

Ford is aiming for a 15 per cent improvement over the current F-150, which is rated at 12 litres-per-100km. How so? By using a new line of turbocharged V6 engines that will use Ford’s EcoBoost technology, which are under development. The new generation F-150 is expected to go into production in late 2014.

Lexus IS
Joining the next generation of Infiniti’s G series premium saloon will be the all-new 2014 Lexus IS, and it is bound to be a looker. How do we know? Because it’s inspired by the LF-CC concept and will feature design cues from the LFA. The new IS will be closely styled to the LF-CC, which was displayed at the Paris motor show a few months ago. It should provide the base for a new IS Coupé model.

But back to the new saloon (the first redesign of the IS since the 2006 model year), Lexus says it has been completely remodelled. It will feature Lexus’ prominent spindle grille design, while the wheelbase should be similar to the outgoing car. The front overhangs seem to have grown by a few millimetres, and safety technologies will have undergone an overhaul.

Not much else is known about the new IS, but the V6 range may be expanded with an efficiency boosting four-cylinder option. A hybrid version is also likely.

Toyota Furia concept
Competent but boring. That might be the image Toyota has, but calls from CEO Akio Toyoda asking the company to inject more excitement into its line-up, seem to have been answered. Well we hope so anyway, andjudging by the teaser images and video of the Furia concept, this could be just the shot in the arm the carmaker needs.

Not much is known about the saloon, except that it features a carbon fibre rear spoiler and diffuser with trapezoidal exhaust. Its profile resembles a Corolla (a car very much in need of a redesign), while the headlights sit further out from the honeycomb grille. We’d love it to be a rear-wheel drive sports saloon to compete with the 2014 Chevrolet SS and not an electric or hybrid, which it’s rumoured to be. We’ll know for sure, whatever it is, in a few weeks time. Stay tuned!

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