“In recent years, compact cars have heavily featured but there was none of significance launched here…”
“Heck, even funnyman Jerry Seinfeld couldn’t miss the Acura NSX reveal as he sat in the front row awaiting its presence…”
Within moments of pulling out of a parking lot in the 2015 Cadillac CTS 3.6L AWD, its pristine crimson coat was soiled by the elements. And of course, salt, dirt, grime and all that isn’t amazing about winter in Toronto.
Nevertheless, its smooth and comfortable ride didn’t disappoint along the arduous and incredibly four-plus-hour drive to Detroit, Michigan for the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS.)
I would soon trade in the coziness of heated leather seats – and steering wheel – for a pair of not-so-cozy leather shoes and roam the showfloor to check out what’s hot, cool and what sparkles amidst the industry’s top cars. It would only make sense to start with Cadillac’s latest offering when it comes to their “V” series cars.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show in late 2014, we met the ATS-V – the smaller brother of the mid-sized four-door I drove to Motown. Now, get ready for a performance sedan that will knock your socks off.
Arriving late in the summer of 2015, the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is ready to take on its German competitors (like the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG) with a whopping 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque.
The all-new third generation sedan is the most power-endowed product the brand has ever created.
But aside from power, you’ll have the luxury of the third generation Magnetic Ride Control to not only blast you through the corners with grace and poise, but with the comfort of being able to drive it around town, or between cities/countries without sacrificing an enjoyable ride. Road or track, I’ll take this one for a spin any day.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated reveals of the last few years from the Japanese automaker, Acura, comes in the form of the NSX. The acronym, which stands for New Sports eXperience, rolled out onto the stage to a frenzy of flashes from the crowd. Heck, even funnyman, Jerry Seinfeld, couldn’t miss the reveal as he sat in the front row awaiting its presence.
While pricing hasn’t been released yet, it’ll likely be north of $150K.
But, for that price, you get a vehicle that not only delivers gargantuan power, but one that is hybridized thanks to an all-new power unit. That unit is a twin-turbocharged, 75-degree DOHC V6 engine with a 9-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) and three-electric motor Sport Hybrid system. Not to mention Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), so it’s a perfect supercar for all seasons.
Speaking of electric motors, Chevrolet gave us a preview of the 2016 Volt. With a longer EV range and a lighter body, not to mention a new design, this plug-in hybrid is sure to win even more hearts over. Highlights include an EV range of up to 80 km, a new two-motor drive unit, which is now up to 12 percent more efficient and 45 kg (100 lb) lighter than the first-generation drive unit, and a new 1.5L range extender, designed to use regular unleaded fuel, offering a GM-estimated combined fuel consumption rating of 5.7L/100km.
Lexus NXB Concept Bike
Completely changing gears, atop one of Lexus’ sparking vehicle at their stand was a concept bike that caught my eye. Not only because it was totally out of place at an auto show, but also because it looks so cool. NXB stands for Neo Xtreme Bike and comes with a Lexus original carbon frame, carbon wheels and a KYB inverted suspension up front. Even if it never is ridden, I still like the idea of a zero-emissions commute on something as interesting as this concept.
Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept
For a zero emissions commute that doesn’t require muscles but rather a motor, the Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept is another step in the brand’s commitment to the electrification of automobiles.
It’s still a concept, but it embodies the philosophy of giving drivers over 300 kilometres of range out of one charge, without charging a premium for it.
The concept’s technological prowess can be linked with an App in which you can control various vehicular functions like starting the car from your smartphone. Additionally, it even incorporates the concept of automatic park-and-retrieval technology, which enables the driver to exit the vehicle and tell the Bolt EV concept to park itself – and when errands are completed, the Bolt EV concept can be summoned to return to the owner’s location. Sounds ideal to me!
“The VW Golf won car of the year, following on the heels of World Car of the Year and Motor trend Car of the Year awards, and the Golf is a finalist for the Canadian Car of the Year…”
There’s a buzz in motor city because the car industry has roared back in the US and 2014 was another record year in Canada.
Ford GT (photos above)
There is no question the Ford GT supercar stole the show at the media preview in Detroit. The mid-engine heart powering this carbon fibre and aluminum 2-door beauty is a new twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 with over 600hp. What really stunned the crowd was the fact Ford has already committed to building the GT, it will be for sale late in 2016. The car displayed is essentially a production model, not a far-reaching concept car. The carbon fibre passenger cell and bodywork, along with aluminum suspension components will help return one of the best power to weight rations in the business. The best part is the design that looks fast standing still, thanks to a teardrop shape and aggressive aerodynamics and functional wings and spoilers. Ford is using the GT as a technology test to help implement features like carbon fibre in all new Ford models to come.
Since we love SUVs in North America, it was logical for Audi have the world debut of the three-row Q7 SUV in Detroit. This all-new model is slightly smaller than the outgoing model but it actually offers more interior space for passengers and cargo. The design also makes the Q7 look much less imposing. The biggest news is the reduction in weight; this new Q7 is 325kg lighter than the older model, which is a whopping number, making it roughly 26 percent more efficient. Shortly after the Q7 arrives at dealerships a plug-in diesel hybrid model will be introduced that can deliver the equivalent of 1.7L/100km. Styling is much more sophisticated and the interior has the all-new dash and MMI system that was first introduced in the soon to arrive Audi TT.
Lexus GS F
Another trend at the Detroit show was the introduction or very powerful cars. Lexus introduced the latest “F” performance model called the GS F. Based on the GS mid-sized luxury sedan, the GS F takes things to a much more aggressive level, with a 467hp 5.0L V8 engine pushing all that power through an 8-speed automatic to the rear wheels. Lexus hopes this 1830kg sedan will be lean enough and powerful enough to attract buyers of cars like the BMW M5. With standard 19-inch wheels framing orange Brembo brake calipers and featuring a Torque Vectoring Differential, Lexus thinks this Nurburgring tuned sedan is a more than enough to take on the German dominant brands. Styling is dramatic and functional with a lower and wider stance than the regular model.
The Detroit show always starts with the announcement of the North American Car of the Year. This year the VW Golf won, following on the heels of World Car of the Year and Motor trend Car of the Year awards, and the Golf is a finalist for the Canadian Car of the Year. The Golf is turning heads because of the very refined driving dynamics, class-above interior and powerful and efficient engine choices. The price will also win over buyers, thanks to the production coming out of Mexico; the starting price is $18,995. The Golf features a new 1.8L direct injection and turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, an optional TDI diesel or the more powerful GTI and Golf R models. The Golf is on sale now.
2015 Toyota Tacoma
The Detroit-three automakers might have the lion’s share of full size pickup sales but it’s the Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup that rules the road, outselling the competition two-to-one. Announced at the Detroit show is a heavily updated Tacoma with a new 3.5L V6, replacing the old 4.0L V6, plus either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The engine features direct injection technology and should vastly improve fuel economy. The chassis has been strengthened and the interior updated to today’s standards. The tailgate now has a locking feature and a soft open for easier use, plus the optional cargo bed cover can be secured as well. Also shown was the TRD off-road version, which is a big seller for Toyota and for 2015 it has a crawl feature to aid in off-road adventures, plus a go-pro camera mount to capture all the action. With these updated the latest Tacoma is sure to remain dominant.
After the excitement of the 2014 North American International Auto Show, I was looking forward to the long and painfully boring drive back… my wish was not yet coming true…
The digital road sign above warned: “Changing Roads Ahead. Do not rely solely on GPS.”
I felt like it was speaking directly to me as I had suffered anxiety ever since Driveway editor Keith Morgan climbed into the Jeep Cherokee and we left downtown Detroit, heading north to Toronto.
North, ahem, yes. The tunnel to Canada was a stone’s throw away from our launch point.
I was thinking it would route me the same way I got down to Motown, via Windsor and through the tunnel.
Why the GPS didn’t? I’m not sure. Clearly it knew something we didn’t.
Needless to say, the mechanical woman’s voice echoing through the premium speakers certainly did give us a scenic tour of the area. And by scenic I mean, she guided us through some rather dodgy areas, characterized by poorly maintained roads, broken down buildings and dejected looking people.
After the excitement of the 2014 North American International Auto Show, I was looking forward to the long and painfully boring drive back. (That’s before Keith hitched a ride, honest.) My wish was not yet coming true.
Finally, we were on some sort of highway. But no signs to a border popped up for miles and miles. We even pulled over a couple of times in the all-new 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited to check our smartphones to see if we were heading in the right direction.
We were, but I guess I was just looking for a sign. A sign that said “Canada” on it.
But no, we got this instead: “State Prison Nearby. Do NOT Pick Up Hitchhikers.”
Keith and I looked over at each other and laughed nervously.
Oh gosh, what have we gotten ourselves into?
Regardless, we were in it together, so it was bound to be eventful.
I forgot to mention, my fuel was getting low, too, and I had a flight to catch out of Pearson. No need to panic, I think.
When you’re in these kinds of situations, you say things that you normally wouldn’t say.
“I will be so happy when we are back in Ontario,” is a phrase not often uttered by a B.C. resident. But it fell from my lips.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?
The one thing that remained steadfast and calm throughout the craziness was the Jeep Cherokee.
The leather-trimmed seats were plush and comfortable to sit in for hours on end.
When I started veering off the straight and narrow – aka out of my lane – the lane departure warning would gently lead me back into place.
And since it was frigid outside – Ontario and Michigan in January is anything but tropical – features like a remote starter, heated seats, a heated steering wheel and dual climate zone controls keep occupants toasty warm.
Not to mention there was a generous amount of power being delivered from its 3.2L, Pentastar V6 engine, which is rated at 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque. It’s then linked to a 9-speed automatic transmission.
And with 4×4 capabilities, I was ready to brave the winter conditions, on bare roads or not.
Luckily, it was a beautiful day, with few clouds in the sky and clear roads.
Things were looking good.
Then it happened. A sign. A sign to Canada nonetheless. Looks like we’d been routed through Sarnia. I was doing a little happy dance on the inside.
Did I doubt the GPS’s ability to lead? I sure did. Then again, it’s not out of my character to question authority. As we handed the CBSA our passports, all I could think about was finding a fuel station before we got stranded.
And yes, I was very happy to be in Ontario. But I’d be happier when I knew I was on a plane to Vancouver. Yet, I was thoroughly enjoying my time in the Cherokee, quirky styling and anxiety aside.
It had an ability to somewhat calm my woes due to its temperate nature. The quiet cabin allowed for wonderful conversations, whether it was with myself, with the GPS or with Keith.
In addition, I managed to learn a lot from road signs. I will not wholeheartedly rely on the GPS and will not pick up hitchhikers in Michigan.
The GT4 Stinger provides a possible and highly provocative glimpse into Kia’s future…
Flocks of international journalists roamed the floors of COBO Hall in downtown Detroit on the occasion of the 25th annual North American International Auto Show.
With a plethora of automotive goodness under one roof, it’s hard to narrow down which ones to focus on. After all, there are concepts, production vehicles and much more. And there are a lot of them.
To kick things off on my list, let’s start with some concepts.
Ah, MINIs. For over a decade, they have been romping the streets and causing people to smile, whether driving them, sitting in them or watching them.
At the NAIAS, the masses were introduced to the MINI John Cooper Works Concept. Not a whole heck of a lot of information was released but you can bet your bottom dollar that it’ll be fast. There are large air inlets, 18-inch wheels and the unmistakable MINI silhouette and face. It’s built as much for the road as it is the track. Did I mention it’ll be fast? Until the production vehicle is produced, we will just have to be patient and wait for pricing, specs and all the fun stuff.
Kia certainly drew the crowds when it came to their GT4 Stinger Concept.
According to Kia, the “GT4 Stinger was conceived by the “gearheads” in Kia’s Irvine, Calif., design studio, birthplace of iconic concept vehicles such as the Track’ster and Cross G.”
The rear-wheel drive, 2+2 sports car, had a powerful stage presence. And also packs a healthy dose of 315 horsepower from a turbocharged, 4-cylinder powerplant.
The Korean carmaker mentions that there are no pending plans to bring this particular car to market, however, Kia has a history of delivering production vehicles that bear a strong resemblance to the concept that preceded them, and the GT4 Stinger provides a possible and highly provocative glimpse into Kia’s future.
And if it’s the future we’re after, it looks good.
Moving from fantasy to fiction, we have the Honda Fit.
It’s a spectacular little car and has been a popular selling vehicle in Canada. And it’s all new for 2015.
Up front, the Fit sports a new grille and headlight design. Around back, there are rear reflectors and LED taillights run along the hatch with a chrome tailgate garnish and rear diffuser.
Furthermore, Honda keep’s their exclusive Magic Seat, which offer multiple configurable seating positions. Translation, the Fit provides an unrivaled 52.7 cubic feet of cargo space when the second row seats are folded flat.
It also gets a bump in horses. Included is an all-new direct-injected 1.5-liter DOHC i-VTEC engine producing 130 horsepower and 114 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s an increase of 13 horsepower and 8 lb.-ft. of torque in comparison to the outgoing engine.
The VW Golf R is no stranger to Canadians. It has been sold here in the Great White North for the last couple of years. But they’re kind of like the tooth fairy. You hear about them, but you rarely see them. Why? Because they were sold in limited quantities. Meaning only a few hundred were allocated for Canada.
But I’m hoping such is not the case with the upcoming 2015 Golf R. Making its debut at the show, you can liken it to a donut. A donut that is fat free, calorie free and has sprinkles on top. Yes, it’s just that delicious.
The all-wheel drive 5-door has plenty of appeal. But with the option of outfitting it with a 6-speed DSG with paddle shifters (it was previously only available with a 6-speed manual,) it might just reach out to a few more takers. That’s if we can get our hands on them. Oh, and there’s an allotment of 290 horsepower, too. Yum.
Speaking of cars with four cylinders and all-wheel drive, the Golf R has some competition lined up in the form of the Subaru WRX STI.
With a 305 horsepower horizontally-opposed turbocharged boxer engine, multi-differential controllable all-wheel-drive system, and a six-speed gearbox, those looking to take shortcuts off the beaten path can do it. And do it in style.
The Corvette won the North American Car of the Year award, exactly a year after it debuted…
The motor city was abuzz at this year’s Detroit Auto Show. The car industry is roaring back in the US and we have record sales in Canada, so there are many new products for all segments of the market.
The performance Corvette Z06 got its name back in the 1960s when customers could order a high performance “Z06” package that delivered a track-ready Corvette.
Today, Chevrolet is still delivering track-ready Corvettes, now they come with the Z06 name. The all-new 7th generation Corvette Stingray was unveiled last year in Detroit and it won the North American Car of the Year award, exactly a year after it debuted. This year it was all about Z06, featuring a 625hp all-new supercharged engine with an all-new eight speed automatic transmission and for the first time the roof panel is removable for open air driving. Using the same all-aluminum platform as the regular Stingray, this new car is lower, with bigger tires and brakes, more cooling inlets and in initial testing, is the fastest Corvette Chevrolet ever made.
The Z06 will be available in the early part of 2015.
Any new F-150 is a huge deal for Ford, as it is the number one selling truck in Canada for the past 48 years and the best selling vehicle overall.
The big news is that the all-new F-150 is now constructed using lighter high-tensile steel in the chassis, and high strength aluminum alloys in the body, mostly the trucks box. This combination contributes to a 318-kilogram reduction in weight, helping to make the truck stronger and much more fuel-efficient. There will be four engines available from a base 3.5L V6 to a 5.0L V8 and two Ecoboost engines, a 2.7L and 3.5L V6. Ford did not have specific fuel economy numbers but there will be a significant improvement over the existing truck. Other improvements include an improved tailgate stepladder that folds away easier and power locking and folding tailgate.
The New 2015 F-150 will be available later this year.
Some might remember the Chrysler Sebring sedan. That nameplate was retired and rebadged as the Chrysler 200.
This all-new Chrysler 200 is light years away from that old platform. In fact, it uses the same Alfa Romeo platform found under the Dodge Dart and impressive Jeep Cherokee. The strong points of this platform are excellent on-road manners with a quiet interior and superb handling. There will be a 2.4L 4-cylinder engine with 184hp or the optional 290hp 3.6L engine found in many other Chrysler products. The Chrysler 200 will have front wheel drive or optional all wheel drive, derived from the same system used in the Jeep Cherokee. This will provide Chrysler with a unique offering as most other manufacturers stick with two-wheel drive. The interior features the Uconnect computer interface system and is covered in soft-touch materials and supportive seats.
Look for the all-new Chrysler 200 to arrive in late spring and starts at $22,495.
Porsche 911 Targa
One car that pulled big crowds was the new Porsche 911 Targa. We all know what a Porsche 911 looks like; they have been modifying the same basic shape for over 50 years.
What this new Targa has is a retractable roof system that will stop traffic. At the push of a button the whole rear of the car releases and the centre convertible roof is stored underneath, then the rear section is again attached. The back panel incorporates a wrap around rear window, making a distinctive statement while keeping the overall design of the car intact. Previous Targa models had either a removable centre panel of a glorified, oversized sunroof, this new model is the best of both.
Starting at $115,900, all Targa models will come with AWD and will arrive this spring.
Mercedes Benz C-Class
The C-Class is so important to Mercedes brand in North America that they held the world debut of the C-Class here, plus it is their number one selling car. Arriving later this spring and summer, this new compact sedan is a longer and wider and uses a combination of high-tensile steel and aluminum components to shed 100kg for a 20 percent reduction in fuel economy. An all-new turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder is the base engine with 235hp. The optional 328hp 3.0L V6 is the other power plant initially. The highlight is the more dynamic looking exterior and superb interior. The dash is stunning, featuring a touch screen iPod type screen mounted on the back.