I guess I didn’t figure my vehicle debuts correctly as I wrote about 14 yesterday but only have 9 for today’s post. No wonder it took so long. Read on below for Kia through Volkswagen (there weren’t any cars that started with “Z”) and come back later this week for the Best and Worst from the show and an in depth review of the new Corvette.
2014 Kia Cadenza
Add “sophisticated” and “elegant” to the most overused words at this year’s show. If you weren’t paying close attention you would think every manufacturer was targeting the exact same consumer. Tom Loveless introduced this tasteful re-skinning of the Hyundai Azera and mentioned it offers a “number of premium features we’ve never offered before”. The “tiger-nose” grille is starting to grow on me and the overall package is trim and simple, just like a larger Optima should be. While the LED Taillamps have a similar lit-appearance as many other vehicles, the DRLs in the Headlamps used a BMW-esque light pipe in a totally new shape.
2014 Lexus IS
Welcome to the “boldest expression yet of (Lexus’) spindle grille”, at least according to Mark Templin. And if that weren’t enough the press release says this is also Lexus-first independent L-shaped Daytime Running Lights (DRL). However, I am not sure if Nike is going to sue for patent infringement for the swoosh. Overall the new design is substantially more aggressive than past IS iterations. There are a lot of interesting design details although they don’t all seem to work that well together, the front lamps and grille area is especially busy. The lower sill sweeps up at the back culminating in a line that defines the Tail Lamps. The interior features a more driver-focused design and takes its inspiration from last year’s LFA Concept. In addition to the F-Sport, there will be a IS350 Sedan, IS350C Convertible and IS300h Hybrid model (read about the IS 300h here).
Lincoln MKC Concept
Want to take a guess how important this new small SUV will be to Lincoln? The press conference featured no less than Bill Ford, Jim Farley and Allan Mulally – something not even the Ford brand managed. Bill Ford stated that Lincoln was not intended to be all things to all people, but “everything to a select few”. Jim Farley asked “Does the world really need another luxury car company?”. And Alan Mulally answered that they had “the right plan and the right product”. The MKC is attractive and it marks the first time the new grille design looks at home. Maybe it is a matter of proportion, or perhaps Max Wolff finally found a product that wasn’t too far along for his influence. Either way we are all hoping that the production version looks like this because we have lost enough brands.
Mercedes pulled out all the stops as Bruce Hornsby, Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson helped Dieter Zetsche roll out the new line of E-Class models. We say “line” of E-Class models because in addition to the 4 body styles there are 10 engine driveline combinations, including a new 4 cylinder diesel coming to the US in the E300 BlueTec that is expected to deliver phenomenal fuel economy of 4.1 l/100km (57mpg). Zetsche opened the conference by thanking Hornsby and comparing Mercedes to Steinway, however “our engineers in AMG wouldn’t have a clue how to tune a piano”. The amount of variations increases as there are trim levels with the star in the grille and others with the star on the hood. The sedan and wagon share a more conservative appearance, “Stylish, Efficient, Intelligent”in Mercedes-speak. While the more aggressive coupe and convertible models are “Passionate, sporty, intelligent”. Inside the all-new vehicles feature a two-tone dashboard, a large color display in the center console and “exquisite materials”. I am partial to the AMG of course as Zetsche promised it “needed all 4 wheels to get all that horsepower on the road”.
The award for most design-speak in a press conference may well go to Andy Palmer for his introduction of the Resonance Concept. This new concept was developed under a global design team headed by Shiro Nakamura and is the first vehicle to display the “Nissan-ness” that will find its way across the entire model lineup. The Resonance was a co-winner of the Best Concept vehicle from Eyes on Design and starts with a “V-motion shape” on the grille. The headlamps “resonates with a unique boomerang design providing a look that is confident and expressive” and “in profile, the energetic character line shows counterpoints of dynamic fluidity and pure edginess”. In closing the floating roofline produces “sophisticated harmony”….enough already. Don’t get me wrong, we really liked the interior of this crossover concept which delivers on its promise of a VIP interior, we are just not sold on the exterior.
Tesla Model X
Toyota Corolla Furia Concept
The C-Segment is crowded and competitive and having a product that stands out is getting harder and harder. Bill Fay swiveled the privacy panels away to debut the concept that hints at future Corolla design direction. The Furia portends to keep the Corolla’s position as the top seller in the segment by its “ferocious look and a fury of energetic design elements”. Although the presentation alluded to “pushing the envelope on interior styling” there was no chance to see the interior. Outside the flat black paint around the wheel arches gives the impression the wheels are even larger than the 19″ on the concept and contrast the “Fuego Furioso” paint color. And the lit Tail lamp graphics are unlike any other car in the segment. The only real question is will these design elements make it to production or will Toyota return to their conservative roots?
“This isn’t green, this is green and mean” Bob Lutz – read more about it at Green Car Design.
Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept
Looking very German and Grand Cherokee-ie at the same time (VW says “a marriage of clean, timeless Volkswagen design language with the masculine character of an American SUV”), the CrossBlue Concept gives an indication that Volkswagen’s sales goals in North America should not be dismissed. The CrossBlue Concept is built off the MQB Modular Transverse Matrix components set and has a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain. A true mid-sized SUV (it is about the same size as a Ford Explorer), it features 6-seats in a “sophisticated, spacious, flexible, and elegant interior space”. The exterior design team was lead by Marc Lichte and features stainless-steel for the lower body cladding in addition to the liberal use of horizontal character lines as is current Volkswagen DNA. The grille, for example, contains 2 aluminum struts which continue into the headlamps to make the vehicle appear wider than it really is (again, almost identical to the Ford Explorer). The CrossBlue concept is exactly the right type of vehicle for the U.S. market,” said Jonathan Browning.
That concludes our list of the 24 hottest and most significant cars and trucks that were shown at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Later this week we will review the Best and the Worst of the show, with comments from The Stud and also do an in-depth review of the new Corvette.