Has the Mojo Returned? NAIAS 2014 L-V

Yesterday we covered all the intros from Acura through Kia.  Today we return to cover the rest:  Lexus through Volvo.  So without further ado, let’s get started……
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Lexus RC Coupe

2015 Lexus RC-F    Photo: Ingo Rantenberg

2015 Lexus RC-F                                                                                                               Photos: Ingo Rantenberg

Sporting perhaps the largest spindle grille to date, the RC-F expands the range of the RC Coupe that debuted in Tokyo.  Designed to go head-to-head with BMW’s M4 and Audi’s RS5, the F model comes to town with an 8-speed transmission and more than 450 horsepower which betters the BMW and likely the Audi too.  

IMG_8700Design-wise the nose looks very heavy from the profile view and more than one designer friend had very strong opinions about the grille (many posted their critiques on their facebook pages).  It seems the opinion of Japanese marque grilles is a constant – if Acura improves theirs, someone else has to make theirs worse.

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Personally, I have a bigger issue with the lighting.

The Nike Swoosh is just a bit too much for me.

And the shape is just a little too reminiscent of the FT86.

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 Mercedes C-Class

2015 Mercedes C-Class   Photos: Ingo Rantenberg

2015 Mercedes C-Class                                                                                        Photos: Ingo Rautenberg

Mercedes press conferences in Detroit typically feature a pop singer.  Last year we had Bruce Hornsby bringing us the new E-Class, this year we get Kelly Rowland and the new C-Class.  One thing is clear, while Audi may still be the style leader from Germany, their lead is shrinking.  And it is not BMW that is catching them…. it is Mercedes.

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The new C-Class is sophisticated and attractive, both inside and out.  This C-Class is more sculpted than the outgoing model, with concave and convex side forms and pronounced character lines.  The end result is a more fluid design and a more aggressive front end – it looks all business.

Mercedes S-Class Coupe Concept

Mercedes S-Class Coupe Concept     Photo: AACS

Mercedes S-Class Coupe Concept                                                                                                            Photo: AACS

Even though the S-Class Coupe Concept debuted in Frankfurt last year, we had to wait until Detroit to see this stunning concept in person.  We can only hope the Coupe Concept is an indication of the design direction of the next production S-Class coupe (more commonly known as the CL-Class).DSCN9726

Inside the concept is as stunning as outside.  The simple yet elegant dash shows a graceful sweep across the front of the passenger side.  Materials are top-notch as well with a silk headliner and calf-skin seats.  The “Killer Music Tech” MoodGrid music software is an interesting feature which promises to instantly create a playlist from millions of musical choices.  Considering the car I would imagine the default is classical.

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept                 Photo: AACS

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept                                                                                                                    Photo: AACS

While it was clearly called a concept, a designer friend at Nissan promised the Sport Sedan was very close to the next Maxima.  If true it will go a long way towards cementing the Maxima as the world’s true 4-door sports car.

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept      Photo: Ingo Rautenberg

Nissan Sport Sedan Concept                                                                                                Photo: Ingo Rautenberg

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This concept is a further iteration of Nissan’s V-Motion design language.

Boomerang shapes abound;  Up front you see it in the lower half of the grille.  In the back you see the inverted shape in the rear decklid garnish.  And you see it in the general of the headlamps, something first seen on the Z.

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Inside the interior is stunning. You can check out the pictures by clicking this link here.

Overall a nice effort.

Here’s hoping the floating roof makes it into production.

Nissan IDx Concepts

Nissan IDx Nismo Concept   Photo: AACS

Nissan IDx Nismo Concept                                                                                                               Photo: AACS

My choice for the best concept is the IDx Nismo.  It was likely my favorite even before the show opened as it was introduced at Tokyo last year.  Looking like a cross between a modern 510 and a mid-70s Celica (sacrilege!) the concept is exactly what I was looking for last year – I ended up with a BR-Z but only because this vision wasn’t available.

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Supposedly these cars are undergoing the business case analysis phase.  I would be happy to contribute and go ahead and put down a deposit.  My preference would be a 4 cylinder of around 200-250 horespower, 6-speed, rear wheel drive, limited slip and not much else.  No nav system, no traction control,  just tell me where to send the check.

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Nissan IDx Concept   Photos: Ingo Rautenberg

Nissan IDx Freeflow Concept                                                                                                      Photos: Ingo Rautenberg

2014 Porsche 911 Targa

2015 Porsche 911 Targa Photo: AACS

2014 Porsche 911 Targa                                                                                                                                  Photo: AACS

I have never been a fan of the new Porsche – it just seems fat to me.  But the new Targa changed my mind – it looks right even if the Targa bar was the wrong material (brushed stainless anyone?).  Then I watched the whole top mechanism operate and I was like WTH?.  The idea was correct, the execution questionable.  Click this link to watch.  OPPORTUNITY WASTED!

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2015 Subaru WRX 

Subaru WRX STi   Photo: AACS

Subaru WRX STi                                                                                                                                       Photo: AACS

The 2015 Subaru WRX STi gets my vote as the biggest disappointment of the show.  We knew when we saw the Impreza at the LA Show that it was going to be rather bland.  At least the wing is awesome, the paint color correct and the wheels are gold!

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Toyota FCV Concept

Toyota FCV Concept Photo: AACS

Toyota FCV Concept                                                                                                                       Photo: AACS

Please see our report at Green Car Design

Toyota FT1 Concept

Toyota FT-1 Concept Photo: AACS

Toyota FT-1 Concept                                                                                                                             Photo: AACS

According to Kevin Hunter, President of Calty Design Research, the FT-1 is Toyota’s “spiritual pace car”.  According to the numerous other journalists it is the next Supra.

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“The FT-1 is a dream-project for a designer and car enthusiast like myself,” said Alex Shen, Calty’s Studio Chief Designer.   Showing the latest in Toyota’s Vibrent Clairt design language, the car is intended to demonstrate Toyota design studios relying less on consensus.  DSCN9671

The sweeping shapes and curves are also intended to be “beautiful solutions to dirty air”.  The sensuous shape makes you feel a little dirty just looking at it.

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Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept

Volkswagen Dune Concept Photo: AACS

Volkswagen Dune Concept                                                                                                                       Photo: AACS

The last redesign of Beetle was intended to bring a more masculine feel to the car.  Many feel like it did so while losing some of its appeal.  The Volkswagen Dune Concept brings a lot of it back.  Now if they will only make an all wheel drive open top version I think we will have my girlfriend’s next car picked out.                           

                                                                                                

2015 Volkswagen Golf R

2015 Volkswagen Golf R Photo: AACS

2015 Volkswagen Golf R                                                                                                                      Photo: AACS

290 horsepower and 6-speed DSG.  Yes please!

Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion Concept

Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion Concept        Photo: Volkwagen

Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion Concept                                                                                 Photo: Volkwagen

Please see our report at Green Car Design

Volvo XC Coupe Concept

Volvo XC Coupe Concept     Photo: Ingo Rautenberg

Volvo XC Coupe Concept                                                                                                               Photo: Ingo Rautenberg

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Please see our report at Green Car Design

About Frank Schwartz

Frank Schwartz is the founder of CarFriend.me and Advanced Automotive Consulting Services, partner in The Middlecott Sketchbattle Experiment and serial entrepeneur. A long time automotive enthusiast, Frank started reading car magazines at the age of 8 and has spent 30+ years working inside the automotive industry. In his spare time Frank races with the Sports Car Club of America, spends time working on his numerous project cars and supports many local charities.
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