The North American Internation Auto Show in Detroit is open to the public today. I was there for the networking-and-presser hell that are the media days. If you’re interested in the show, or braving the Detroit cold to head to Cobo, here’s some impressions.
After the numerous difficulties plaguing automakers and the economy in 2009 and 2010, the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit was an attempt at resurgence. Everybody tried to come out swinging. Chrysler’s 300 redesign shows promise, keeping the heritage they have established; while Ford continues converging its lineups around the world with its “One Ford” mantra. GM, too, shows promise with the official reveal of the Buick Verano, Chevrolet Sonic and more.
Continue reading our highlights from the 2011 North American International Autoshow in Detroit.
Audi showed the handsome, predictable and possibly bland redesign of the A6. Non-edgy must be the fashion this year, though. The A6 even garnered the 2011 EyesOn Design award
Bentley showed off the redesigned (honest, it’s redesigned, even if it does look nearly the same) Continental GT. There’s a new sheriff in Bentleyville, too. Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen formally passed on the keys to the company car – a 1930 Bentley 8 Litre – and the company (oh, and the Bugatti helm, too) to his successor, Dr. Wolfgang Dürheimer, effective in February.
Under Paefgen’s care, the original Continental GT took off like a shot, so Dr. Dürheimer is going to have to pull a rabbit out of his…hat to wow us.
First official close-up look at the 1 Series M Coupe, and it is sharp. I am nervous for BMW’s sake, that they will price this one off the charts and into more dangerous territory. With MSRPs beginning just below $50k, a car this small is aiming for an equally small audience, figuratively and literally.
The North American debut of the refreshed 6 Series was anticipated. Hopefully this refresh will give BMW the boost they’ve been hoping for in the German Buick Riviera segment.
Speaking of Buick, here’s the Verano – A dulled-up Chevrolet Cruze. An attractive example of modern badge engineering, GM has a huge challenge ahead of it to price this one right. Upscale materials on the inside make the Verano luxurious, but this is not the stereotypical cavernous Buick. The goal is to attract 20-30 somethings to their brand with this one, but I’m not convinced the Verano is enough.
SCCA-spec CTS-V Racer…need we say more??
We will anyway.
The CTS-V R reportedly retains 80 percent of the road going version’s components. Set to debut in the 2011 season, we have no doubt it will dominate like its predecessor. Start waving your flags now.
From the ho-hum Sebri…er…200 to the newly redesigned 300, Chrysler is hoping you will accept its new post-recession image. The new 300 maintains the shapes that made its predecessor famous, but in a way, it lost its edge. Don’t get me wrong, it is an obvious design evolution, but the smoother edges and the softer profile compromises the bold, brash presence of the original.
The real win for Chrysler is in the interior. Noticeably upscale, the interior feels like an expensive watch. The gauges are much nicer and evoke the sort of luxury that you would expect out of the Chrysler nameplate and still maintains a differentiation with its brother from Dodge.
Speaking of which…
Mopar purists gripe that the original Charger was a 2-door and this generation is not true to that.
Interestingly, Dodge marketed the first Charger as a muscle car for the man with a family. Modernize the Hemi and add a couple extra doors, and not much else has changed in 30+ years, except the engine they call a Hemi is really a wedge with splayed valves and even the lamest 2011 Charger will run rings around the piece of crap that boomers fondly recall and Gen-Xers remember as a flying orange icon.
The redesigned Charger is much more handsome in person. It is easy to see the design influences from the 1999 Concept Car and the heritage of the Chargers of the 60s and 70s. The beltline is lowered and the interior goes from worst to first.
Not much exciting here…
That is, until you see Chrysler’s answer to Ford’s wildly popular Raptor, the Ram Runner. Straight from running in the desert – and it shows – the Ram Runner is a worthy adversary for the Raptor.
Ready to buy one?? Not so fast!
Unlike Ford, you can’t go to your local Chrysler/Dodge dealer and pick one up. Instead, you need to get a standard 1500 Ram and get to ordering Ram Runner parts from the Mopar catalog. That’s okay, while the Ford boys are fiddling around with Raptors that are magic off road and garbage on the street, the Ram Power Wagon gets the job done for the grown-ups.
If any domestic automaker can claim supremacy over the recent recession, it is Ford. Never mind those debt obligations, Ford managed its own turnaround without first going bankrupt, and things are looking better now than two years ago.
Touting “One Ford”, Bill Ford and company explained the vision of a global lineup. The new electric and hybrid Fords, including the new global Focus, shows that Ford is serious about affordable green technology pushing the future of the auto industry.
Possibly the only sexy Leuxs, the sleek LFA was lonesome on a pedestal in the midst of the rest of the more mundane Lexus offerings. Midde of the road sells a lot of records, though.
In a time when the Daimler board recommended Mercedes skip the NAIAS, Dr. Dieter Zetsche’s conniving moustache advised a return.
It’s hard to make a bad entrance with this SLS AMG E-Cell. The all-electric super car is slated to enter production in 2013. With more and more people looking to “green” technologies, many automakers ignore form when it comes to hybrid and alternative energy. Case-in-point: the Toyota Prius. Mercedes started with form of the SLS – which is gorgeous – and added the function of an all-electric powertrain. Mercedes has cemented their place in alternative energy in automobiles with the SLS AMG E-Cell.
Making its grand re-entrance to the NAIAS, having snubbed Detroit for the last couple years, Porsche showed off the 918 RSR. Read our take on the 918 RSR here