The Big Four domestic manufacturers believe they have turned the corner…

2015 Chrysler 200: Chrysler’s answer to the mid-size sedan challenge from the likes of the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord. Due later this year.
2015 Corvette Stingray: The all-new Corvette Stingray—the seventh generation, or C7, as it is known, scooped the North American Car of the Year award at the Detroit show.
2015 Corvette Stingray: The all-new Corvette Stingray—the seventh generation, or C7, as it is known, scooped the North American Car of the Year award at the Detroit show.
2015 Corvette Stingray: The all-new Corvette Stingray—the seventh generation, or C7, as it is known, scooped the North American Car of the Year award at the Detroit show.
2015 Ford Mustang: The Mustang has won the best production car award at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. It will arrive in dealerships worldwide in the fourth quarter of the year.
2015 Porsche Macan: The German performance car manufacturer’s all new entry level crossover-sport ute.
2015 Porsche Targa4: The design pays subtle homage to classic versions but a very contemporary engine powers it. The options are a 3.4 litre with 345 horsepower or a 3.8 litre with 395 hp.
2015 Porsche Targa4: The design pays subtle homage to classic versions but a very contemporary engine powers it. The options are a 3.4 litre with 345 horsepower or a 3.8 litre with 395 hp.
2015 Acura TLX prototype: The production model will replace the TL and TSX this summer. The TLX. designed by Acura’s California design studio, will be available with a 2.4-litre I4 engine or 3.5-litre V6.
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe: The Coupe is an all-new car, based on the popular new ATS sedan. Should be in dealerships by the summer.
2015 Ford F150: Ninety-three percent of that new body is made from an aluminum alloy similar to what the US military uses in its M2 Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees. A new 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6 option is added to the engine lineup and it features auto start-stop.
2015 Honda Fit: The new fit gets a 1.5-litre, direct-injection four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmission. Fuel consumption is estimated to be a miserly 7.13/5.74 L/100km (city/highway).
2015 Hyundai Genesis: The all-new, second-generation Genesis Sedan offers luxury at sticker price in the low $40,000 mark. The engine options are a 5.0-litrer V8 or a 3.8-litre V6.
Audi All Road Shooting brake concept: Based on the forthcoming TT, this concept uses the S3’s 2.0TFSi engine of 292hp. It also gets a hybrid motor between the engine and the S-Tronic transmission.
BMW i8: A supercar in eco-clothing. The i8 is a hybrid electric car set for launch this summer.
BMW i8: A supercar in eco-clothing. The i8 is a hybrid electric car set for launch this summer.
Fiat L: This Fiat L crossover, based on the popular 500, is ready for the beach.
John Cooper Works MINI 01: Yet another iteration of the BMW-produced sub brand. This souped-up version of the new MINI will make it to the production line.
KIA GT4 Stinger 01: It’s a 2+2, rear-drive coupe with a detuned version of the 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder. No plans for production, says KIA. Nobody believes that!
KIA GT4 Stinger 01: It’s a 2+2, rear-drive coupe with a detuned version of the 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder. No plans for production, says KIA. Nobody believes that!
Lexus LF-NX: This concept previews the look of the next small SUV from Lexus.
Lexus LF-NX: This concept previews the look of the next small SUV from Lexus.
Lexus RC 350: A 3.5-litre, 450-plus horsepower V6 engine will power the RC350.
Nissan IDx: This rear-wheel-drive IDx concept, which resembles the olf 510, will likely go into production in 2016.
Nissan Sport sedan concept: A new design direction for Nissan, offered just before the new Maxima is revealed.
Toyota FCV: A hydrogen fuel cell powered car, expected in late 2015.
Toyota FTI: This wild, sporty car draws inspiration from the now defunct Celica and Supra.
Toyota FTI: This wild, sporty car draws inspiration from the now defunct Celica and Supra.
Toyota FTI: This wild, sporty car draws inspiration from the now defunct Celica and Supra.
Volkswagen Dune concept: A dune buggy version of the popular VW Beetle.
Volvo XC Coupe concept: This crossover from Volvo may just see the light of day.

Detroit…

As goes the North American International Auto Show, so goes the industry to which it provides such high profile.

Every year at this time, journalists from around the world descend in their thousands on this former industrial powerhouse, now economically depressed Michigan city. The Driveway team has just returned and we all agreed there was an air of optimism on the show floor that we haven’t witnessed for some years. Representatives of the Big Four domestic manufacturers believe they have turned the corner and the fellow scribes appear to agree that the North American brands have been revitalized.

Yours truly has been a fan of Honda’s premium Acura brand. All solid performers but in recent years the design team has let the range down with uninspiring looks. The 2015 Acura TLX Prototype unveiling suggests the team is out of its uninspiring funk. This performance-luxury sedan, which will launch this summer, looks fresh and sporty. It will replace the TL and the TSX and will be the design leader as new models are revealed during the next few years.

TLX customers will be able to choose from two-wheel and all-wheel drive configurations; two high-performance, highly fuel-efficient new engines – 2.4-litre in-line four and 3.5-litre V6; two new advanced transmissions; and the next generation Acura Super-Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) dynamic performance and handling technologies.

2014 Cadillac ATS coupe
2014 Cadillac ATS coupe
2015 Acura TLX prototype
2015 Acura TLX prototype
Audi All Road Shooting Brake concept
Audi All Road Shooting Brake concept
Toyota FT1 concept
Toyota FT1 concept
Volkswagen Dune concept
Volkswagen Dune concept

Audi showed of its compact crossover concept, unimaginatively dubbed the All Road Shooting Brake concept. It’s based on the forthcoming TT, this concept uses the S3’s 2.0TFSi engine of 292hp. It also gets a hybrid motor between the engine and the S-Tronic transmission.  The market for the wagons is not big on this side of the pond but this could be a game changer.

It combines the elegant lines of a wagon with the wide and higher stance of an offroad capable vehicle.

“The show car combines sex appeal, highly efficient e-tron-quattro technology that produces 300 kW of power yet only consumes 1.9 l/100 km of fuel and cutting-edge electronic applications,” says Audi board member Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg.

The 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe is based on its sedan sibling and should be available by mid-summer, starting at the mid $30,000s.

The base power plant is a 2.0-litre, turbocharged inline four-cylinder, generating 272 horses, and a 3.6-litre V6, 321 hp is also available.

Interesting little feature: because coupes typically have large, long doors, the reach behind the shoulder to grab the seatbelt can be a stretch. The ATS Coupe has motorized carriers to “hand” the seatbelt to the driver and front passenger upon entry.

The Toyota FT-1 coupe concept caused a stir among those hungering for a return to the days of the Toyota Celica/Supra. Company officials were coy about whether it will go into production but judging by the media attention it will.

The Volkswagen Beetle Dune has a rugged off-road look, largely due to the raising of the body by 50 mm and the addition of 19-inch wheels with large tyres.

Just like the old days, the new Beetle features a rear-mounted ski-rack. The concept is actually a return to an idea from January 2000, when VW showed the New Beetle Dune concept in Los Angeles.  That was a flight fancy, this concept is built on the current production model and the German manufacturer is looking for the nod to proceed from Beetle buyers.

Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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