Hot on the heels of a positive sales year for the North American industry, the 2014 North-American Auto Show has regained much of its former form, generating a real upbeat buzz, albeit tempered by a realistic sense of practicality.
Although there was plenty of eye candy and a few flights of pure fancy, most of the big news at this year's show involved the introduction of important new production vehicles, such as the Ford F-150, Chrysler 200, Honda Fit, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Hyundai Genesis, to name a few/
Following is an alphabetical listing of some of those vehicles, both production and concept, that we considered to be highlights of the show:
> Acura TLX prototype –
> BMW M3/M4 –
> Cadillac ATS Coupe –
Coupe version of award-winning ATS sedan is intended to compete with Audi A5, BMW 4 Series, Infiniti Q60 and Mercedes-Benz C Class coupes. It is powered by either a 272-horsepower turbo four or a 32-horsepower V-6.
> Chevrolet Corvette Z06 –
> Chrysler 200 –
Chrysler's all-new, Alfa-Romeo based 200 sedan signals the potential for a return to relevance in the mid-size sedan class. Generic good looks, a much upgraded interior, a choice of either four-cylinder or V-6 engines, a nine-speed automatic transmission, available all-wheel-drive and a host of advanced safety and connectivity features put it right in the mix with its key competitors.
> Ford F-150 –
Perhaps the most important new vehicle in the show in terms of market impact, the next-generation version of Ford's perennially best-selling F-150 pickup shakes things up with a near all-aluminum body structure – the first in the pickup class – that reduces overall mass by about 330 kg.
> GMC Canyon –
The Canyon is GMC's sibling to the Chevrolet Colorado, introduced at the Los Angeles auto show last November, marking GM's return to the mid-size truck market for the first time since 2011.
> Honda Fit –
The new 2015 Honda Fit is larger more powerful than the model it replaces but it's also lighter and more fuel-efficient. Honda says it also features a more flexible interior. It will be built in Mexico rather than Japan, potentially resolving supply constraints on the earlier models.
> Hyundai Genesis –
The second-generation of Hyundai's award-winning Genesis luxury sedan introduces the brand's new “Fluidic Sculpture 2.0” design language. The car is powered by either a 311-horsepower (est) 3.8-litre GDI V-6 engine or an optional 420-horsepower (est) “Tau” 5.0-litre GDI V-8. An HTRAC active AWD system will be offered as standard equipment on all models in Canada.
> Infiniti Eau Rouge Concept –
Infiniti's Q50 Eau Rouge concept is a design study for a possible high-performance variant of the Q50 sedan, which is said to draw inspiration from Formula One. It features big wheels, a hunkered down stance, Formula One-inspired aerodynamics, bespoke carbon fibre bodywork that includes include a front splitter, rear diffuser, side sill skirts roof and door mirror casings, and a premium cockpit with more carbon-fibre inside.
> Kia GT4 Stinger –
> Lexus RC F –
> Mercedes-Benz C-Class –
The all-new C-Class, Mercedes' best-selling car worldwide, employs lightweight design concepts that trim its mass by up to 100 kilograms, class-leading aerodynamics and new fuel-efficient engines, all in the aid of reduced fuel consumption. But it elevates the luxury class and adopts such S-Class features as its Intelligent Drive assistance systems and optional air-sprungsuspension.
> Mercedes-Benz S600 –
Mercedes-Benz adds to the S-Class's allure with a new top-of-the-line S 600 model, powered by a V-12 biturbo engine. It is available exclusively in long wheelbase form, with a luxurious package of equipment and appointments.
> Nissan Sport Sedan Concept –
The Nissan Sport Sedan Concept is the third in a string of auto show concept vehicles that began with Nissan Resonance at last year's Detroit show and continued with the Friend-ME, at Auto Shanghai 2013. The Sport Sedan Concept, which is said to apply real sports car performance standards and new design philosophies to a 4-door seda, completes the trio, defining the design direction we can expect to see in future Nissans.
> Porsche 911 Targa –
Porsche's new 911 Targa is the successor to the legendary Targa line that originated back in 1965. In its latest iteration it reprises the 'Targa bar' design of the original, combining it with a fully automatic roof system. Both Targa 4 and Targa 4S models will be offered, arriving in Canada this summer.
Having introduced the 2015 WRX sedan at Los Angeles, Subaru completed the package in Detroit with its 2015 WRX STI performance flagship model. Powered by ay 305-horsepower, 2.5-litre, turbocharged Boxer engine, it debuts a new four-door wide-body design, built on a stiffer chassis with a rally-bred drivetrain and all-wheel drive handling that is unique to this model.
> Toyota FT-1 –
Just as Mercedes-Benz did with its Vision GT concept at the Los Angeles auto show, Toyota has taken a virtual design its CALTY studio did for theSony PlayStation video game, Gran Turismo 6, and turned it into a full-size concept car. Toyota says the design builds on the company's long sports car heritage, which extends back through the MR2, Supra and Celica to perhaps the most spectacular of them all, the 2000GT
> Volkswagen Dune –
VW's Dune concept is said to show the potential for a possible production version of the Beetle ever. It features a ground clearance, a la Subaru Outback, and an all-terrain look that channels VW Bugs of times past. Under the skin is production R-Line Beetle running gear with a 210-horsepower, turbocharged TSI engine, six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic transmissionand front-wheel-drive with XDS electronic differential lock.
> Volvo Concept XC Coupé –
Volvo says the design of its new Concept XC Coupé inspired by the design of modern, high-tech sports gear, which is lightweight in design and makes use of high-performance materials. Several orange details and exterior graphics combine with use of matte rubber mouldings covering the rear of the car to give it something of a sport shoe look.