Motoring | News

Detroit round-up

The first major motor show of 2013 has come and gone but, with all sorts of shiny new metal on display, it's left a lasting impression

  • By Imran Malik, Features Writer
  • Published: 12:20 January 27, 2013
  • Wheels

Cadillac ELR
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • The ELR marks Cadillac’s entry into a brand new segment.
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Back in the day, it used to be about the big three — GM, Ford and Chrysler. But that’s clearly not the case anymore as just about every major carmaker under the sun got in on the act during the Detroit motor show, the first major show of 2013. This year’s event was packed full of global launches, with the biggest and most hyped easily being the Chevrolet Corvette C7.

We brought you details of that 6.2-litre V8 monster in last week’s issue, but there was so much more to talk about — from world premieres to the latest production models and of course, some truly wacky concepts to boot. Not to mention the booth babes, who deserved a spread of their own. Here’s a little look at some of the rides that stole the show.

CADILLAC ELR

Cadillac’s long-awaited ELR plug-in hybrid possesses almost all of the visual pop of the gorgeous Converj concept, making it eye candy at its very best. This striking range extender is based on its Chevy Volt sibling, and had the C7 not been around, then we bet this thing would have made all the headlines. It’s a visual treat, but there are those who wince at the thought of an environmentally friendly Caddie; it goes against everything that made the ‘US Rolls-Royce’ such a great. Ah well.

Powered by a 16.5kWh lithium-ion battery with a range of up to 56km (on electric mode) and a 1.4-litre petrol-powered electric generator, it produces 207bhp and has 400Nm of torque. Combined, you’ll be able to cruise for over 480km. The T-shaped battery can be recharged using a 240V outlet in four and half hours.

Cadillac has included paddle shifters on the steering (which will mimic downshifting through the use of the car’s regenerative braking system), but the ELR will be a one-gear affair. Equipped with electric power steering and HiPer Strut front suspension, the ELR also features safety equipment including Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert and more. Inside it boasts carbon fibre and leather-trimmed upholstery, chrome accents and LED ambient lighting. This isn’t just a Volt in wolf’s clothing…

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NISSAN MURANO

It’s been a decade since Nissan took the wraps of the Murano — the perfect time then to reveal another concept crossover to give us a glimpse of the firm’s future design direction. Called the Resonance, it is expected to be the next-generation Murano when production begins.

Featuring a bold new grille and Juke-inspired boomerang headlights combined with the ‘floating’ roof and “provocative” lines, the Resonance is more aggressive and athletic than the current Murano. The concept has an all-wheel drive hybrid powertrain with a 2.5-litre petrol engine coupled to an electric motor, but Nissan hasn’t divulged any details on the powertrain options for the next-gen Murano yet.

According to Francois Bancon, Nissan’s division general manager, product strategy and planning, the concept is supposed to be energetic and engaging. We’re not about to argue otherwise. We’re fans of the edgy design and would love nothing more than to see this green lighted just the way it is. Go on Nissan; dare you!

VOLKSWAGEN CROSSBLUE

Volkswagen has turned its attention to its SUV range after kept itself busy filling niches within its various segments. There were no new SUVs from VW since the Tiguan joined the Touareg back in 2007, and now Wolfsburg has revealed a new mid-size crossover concept.

The CrossBlue concept, built on the same MQB platform that underpins the group’s other models like the Golf and the Audi A3, will go against the likes of the Dodge Durango and the all-new Nissan Pathfinder. At 4,986mm long, 2,014mm wide and 1,732mm tall, the concept features six individual seats across three rows. However, Volkswagen says the production version will be a proper seven-seater with a three-seat bench in the second row.

The CrossBlue gets a plug-in hybrid powertrain that mates a 190bhp diesel motor with 54bhp front and 114bhp rear electric motors. This, coupled with a DSG dual-clutch, results in a total system output of 305bhp and 700Nm of torque and a 0-100kph time of around seven seconds. It should return 2.1 litres-per-100km.

At full charge, the CrossBlue can do up to 33km in all-electric mode, while the potential combined range is an impressive 1,060km. VW has indicated that the crossover will be initially aimed at the US market. Bring it over here too, please.

HONDA URBAN SUV CONCEPT

Honda is also planning on growing its crossover line-up with this interesting-looking concept called the Urban SUV. At just 4,300mm long, 229mm shorter than the carmaker’s existing CR-V, the concept certainly looks production-ready. However, we bet the large alloys and the LED headlights are going to be switched with more cost-effective and real-world-friendly units.

Shame that, because they were our favourite features but we hope the hidden rear-door handles make it to production. The production version will highlight fuel efficiency and flexible interior space with the Magic Seat from the Fit hatchback an integral part. Honda will build the Urban SUV at its new plant in Mexico but is remaining tight-lipped about powertrains for now.

TOYOTA FURIA

You’re looking at your next Toyota Corolla. Well, not really. Once all the concept details are diluted down to bean-counter spec, the next-generation Corolla might end up looking like whiteware, but seeing as Toyota’s taken some adventurous steps lately (86 sportscar, namely) there’s reason to believe that this Furia concept is safely previewing the styling direction of the Japanese giant’s next volume-seller.

The concept is longer, considerably wider, and slightly lower than the current Corolla, with a 100mm-longer wheelbase freeing up interior space. Those dimensions are expected to remain for production, but you can forget about those 19in alloy wheels.

The design study’s styling cues that should make it on to the production model include the aggressive new front fascia with narrow headlights, the swept windshield, sloped roofline and slightly more flared wheelarches. It’s also safe to say the concept’s LEDs will be kept, but Toyota’s adventurism will certainly stop short of green-lighting the Furia’s carbon-fibre accents around the wheel wells, rocker panels and rear valance.

FORD ATLAS

America’s best-selling vehicle for three decades isn’t even a car. It’s a truck, and it’s always been a Ford F-150 truck. So while we were busy drooling all over Detroit’s Cobo Hall once the sheets came off the C7 generation Corvette Stingray, a much more important vehicle was being readied just across the show. This Ford Atlas concept will become the 2015 F-150, and it could single-handedly carry Ford into prosperity if the Blue Oval can maintain or increase its 650,000 annual F-150 sales. And that’s in the US alone…

So what’s so cool about the Atlas anyway? Most importantly, the pick-up truck will house next-generation Ecoboost turbo V6s, promising fuel-economy gains of up to 20 per cent and reduction of CO2 emissions of up to 15 per cent. Neat Active Grille Shutters and Active Wheel Shutters clean up the car’s aerodynamics on the fly and a drop-down front spoiler lowers at highway speeds to improve underbody airflow.

Ford’s next F-150 will also feature hidden cargo ramps, LEDs everywhere, a useful 360-degree camera and a design that screams “Get out of my way!” negating the use of your high beams and thus saving you literally thousands.

HYUNDAI HCD-14 GENESIS

One of the hottest looking concepts at Detroit? For sure. The Hyundai HCD-14 four-door coupé is a glimpse of the new Genesis saloon. It isn’t just very pretty; it packs ‘advanced 3D gesture-based technology controls’, spirited dynamics and a direct-injected 5.0-litre V8. There’s more than a hint of the Audi A7 here but we’re not complaining — that’s a beautiful car.

But will Hyundai be able to sneak sales from its German rival? Well if the production version was to look anything like this, then yes. We love the look of this concept, especially the suicide doors and the lack of a B-pillar. The front end is as dramatic as you can get, while the sharp crease along the shoulder line is a nice touch.

The cabin features eye-tracking and gesture recognition to allow drivers to work the climate controls, satnav and infotainment without their hands leaving the wheel. Scary.

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