January 05, 2015 12:00 AM
Sporty cars to roar into Detroit
Last year, the aluminum-bodied Ford F-150 pickup dominated the Detroit auto show’s headlines. This year, it will be sporty cars.
Acura, for instance, will unveil its reborn NSX, which has been off the market for about a decade. Cadillac is showing a 640-hp CTS-V. And three convertibles will be in the spotlight: the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, the Buick Cascada and a BMW 6-series variant.
Pickups will get their due, though. Nissan is unveiling a redesigned Titan, Ram is showing a freshened 1500 and Toyota will have a redesigned Tacoma.
Let’s not forget the green crowd. Chevrolet is showing a redesigned Volt plug-in hybrid, Hyundai is unveiling hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Sonata and Mercedes-Benz is debuting the 2016 C350 plug-in hybrid. And Acura’s NSX belongs here, too, with a hybrid powertrain.
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Detroit global debuts
Acura NSX sports car, likely a 2016 model
2016 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
2016 Audi Q7 crossover
3 2016 BMW 6-series variants
Buick Cascada convertible, likely a 2016 model
2016 Cadillac CTS-V sedan
2016 Chevrolet Volt
Hyundai Sonata hybrid and plug-in hybrid, likely 2016 models
Lincol MKX midsize crossover, likely a 2016 model
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
2016 Mercedes-Benz C350 plug-in hybrid
2015 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop sporty car
2016 Nissan Titan full-size pickup
2016 Toyota Tacoma midsize pickup
Infiniti Q60 car
Ford is targeting the automotive enthusiast crowd this year. The company recently announced a global performance team that will comprise 12 vehicles by 2020, including the Focus RS. The RS isn’t expected in Detroit, but the brand may show off high-performance versions of other vehicles, such as an F-150 Raptor, Mustang GT350R and Ford GT.
Honda’s next-generation fuel cell vehicle concept will make its North American debut, following its world debut in November in Japan. The sedan, slated to reach showrooms in Japan in March 2016 followed by a launch in the U.S., is expected to travel more than 300 miles on a single tank of hydrogen and seat five people — one more than Honda’s second-generation fuel cell vehicle, the FCX Clarity.
BATTLE OF THE BRANDS
Hyundai will unveil hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Sonata midsize sedan, which are likely 2016 models, plus a surprise third car whose identity brand executives declined to disclose.
Infiniti will show the Q60 concept car in Detroit that represents the next move in its brand makeover.
The sports coupe concept points to the replacement for the Q60 coupe and convertible. The current Q60 uses the architecture of Infiniti’s older G-series car, the former G37 coupe. Based on a teaser image circulated by Infiniti in December, the Detroit concept follows the design direction of the Q50 sedan, which launched in 2013 to begin replacing the G.
The third Lexus model to receive its high-performance F-brand designation will make its world debut. Teaser photos from Lexus suggest that it will be a version of the GS sedan.
Lincoln sales surged with the introduction of the MKC compact crossover last year, and now the brand is redoing its midsize sibling, the MKX. The MKX concept debuted in April in Beijing, a nod to how crucial China is to Lincoln’s growth plans. The production version to be shown in Detroit is designed to appeal to consumers in China and North America. The MKX is expected to go on sale as a 2016 model.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe
The 2016 GLE Coupe, a derivative of the four-door M-class crossover, has four doors and a coupelike roofline. It debuts at the show and goes on sale in August. The GLE Coupe will compete primarily with BMW’s X6, now in its second generation.
The GLE Coupe will be produced at the Mercedes-Benz factory near Tuscaloosa, Ala. It is the first vehicle with Mercedes-Benz’s new nomenclature. All crossovers will be called GL, and the E links its size to the E-class sedan.
Mercedes also is using the Detroit auto show to introduce the AMG Sport line, which offers fewer performance features at lower prices than AMG vehicles. The GLE 450 AMG Sport and the C450 AMG Sport will be at the show.
Mercedes will also show the 2016 C350 plug-in hybrid, a world debut.
The John Cooper Works Hardtop sporty car will debut with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 228 hp. The 2015 model accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.
Nissan will unveil the long-awaited new-generation 2016 Titan pickup at the show, in advance of its market debut late this year.
The full-size pickup is perceived as a key piece of future business for Nissan in the United States, where the Titan’s sales have slipped. This year, Titan sales are expected to come in below 15,000.
But Nissan will step up Titan marketing with the new version, which will offer a Cummins V-8 diesel engine and more body configurations.
Porsche will debut two variants of existing models, sources say. Porsche declined to provide details.
Ram brand boss Bob Hegbloom told Automotive News in October that the brand would show a freshened 2016 Ram 1500 at the show. The freshening was described as a “minor update” at the brand’s five-year product plan outlined in May.
Tesla will show the Model S with all-wheel drive, which has been introduced to the press. Reports are circulating that Tesla also could show a new nameplate, the Model X crossover, but Tesla declines to reveal its plans.
Toyota will have the world debut of its redesigned 2016 Tacoma midsize pickup. It will compete with two midsize pickups from General Motors, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, which were redesigned in 2014.
Volkswagen is expected to show an SUV concept that points at a new nameplate that the brand badly needs to boost sales in the U.S. VW confirmed last month that an SUV concept is set for Detroit, but released no further details.
Reuters reported that the vehicle would be a five-passenger variant of the seven-passenger SUV to be built at VW’s plant in Chattanooga starting in late 2016.
Ryan Beene, Nick Bunkley, Lindsay Chappell, Mike Colias, Diana T. Kurylko, Gabe Nelson, Jaclyn Trop, Larry P. Vellequette and Amy Wilson contributed to this report.