As one of the oldest motor shows in the world (first held in 1907), Detroit will be host to one of the most significant shows this year, showcasing new models by American, Japanese, Korean and European manufacturers. Below is a list of notable unveilings at this year’s show.
Nissan will unveil the next-generation Pathfinder concept, which although technically a concept, is more than likely going to give us a very clear indication of what the 2013 Nissan Pathfinder will be like.
The new Pathfinder will move away from the Navara framework and make use of a Monocoque chassis (unibody) for a car-like feel. Reports suggest the next-generation mid-sized SUV will be increasingly geared towards city life rather than off-road ability, with Nissan supposedly revolutionising the Pathfinder brand to act more like a larger Murano than a Navara-based SUV. This is likely to attract more buyers to Nissan’s legendary SUV, which sold 2318 units in Australia in 2011. Nissan will also display the e-NV200 small van concept.
As one of the big three Detroit-based manufacturers, Detroit will be a big show for Ford, with the next-generation Ford Fusion taking centre stage. To Australian buyers this may not seem significant on the surface, but based on the company's One Ford global vehicle strategy, the new Fusion will give us an excellent indication of what to expect from the next-generation Ford Mondeo. The current Mondeo was one of the best-selling medium-sized cars in Australia last year.
The new Fusion is set to take a lot of its design direction from the recently launched Focus and Escape, as well as the Ford Evos concept (pictured) that was unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show.
The Korean giant will use the Detroit motor show as the launching pad for its Veloster Turbo. The hot hatch, which has already been confirmed for Australia, will make use of a 1.6 T-GDI powerplant. That should mean outputs of 152kW and 265Nm of torque. The standard Veloster will be powered by a 103kW/167Nm 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine.
The Big T has the NS4 concept to showcase at this year’s show as well as the production version of the upcoming Prius C hatchback.
The NS4 is yet another hybrid, although details are scarce at this stage. We suspect it will compliment the existing Prius, Prius V and Prius C by adding sporty appeal. We certainly hope it’s not just a sporty looking car, but also has the power output to match.
Mercedes-Benz / Smart
The all-new SL Roadster is slightly longer than the existing model but will also be lighter thanks to an all-aluminium body (which means an overall weight reduction of around 150kg compared with the outgoing model). The SL Roadster will arrive in Australia in the third quarter of 2012.
The E300 and E400 hybrids see the first application of an electric motor in an E-Class. A 2.1-litre turbodiesel (E300) and a 3.5-litre V6 (E400) will be synced to a 20kW electric motor. Mercedes-Benz Australia is still working out the finer details of a potential launch of the hybrid models in Australia. We will also see the production version of the new ML63 AMG, which will land down under around the same time as the SL Roadster.
Smart will showcase a rather interesting pick-up concept called For-us. Going by the limited pictures, the For-us features a rear tray for storage and is similar in size to the For-four.
General Motors-owned Chevrolet will showcase the Sonic RS, which hints at a potential Holden Barina SRi. Although confirmed for sale in North America, Holden currently has no plans to launch the vehicle in Australia but may consider introducing the model following the reaction in Detroit.
If it was to go on sale, the 1.4-litre turbo (103kW of power and 200Nm of torque) would compete against the Volkswagen Polo GTI and the soon to be released Suzuki Swift Sport. Two other concepts are also expected to make an appearance on the Chevrolet stand.
Dodge sold 2703 vehicles in Australia last year (up from 1917 in 2010), and 2012 should see the brand further strengthen its position with new product. The Dodge Dart compact sedan, which replaces the Caliber, will be a model to watch out for at this year’s show.
Lexus has spent the past two weeks teasing images of the new LF-LC concept, which looks like a proper two-door rear-wheel drive sports car, something the Japanese company lacks in its line-up (with the exception of the super-expensive LFA).
The Lexus LF-LC can be best described as a cross between an IS250 and an LFA. Although given we’ve seen a few hybrid badges on teaser images, we suspect this will be a sporty hybrid. The LF-LC may signal the re-release of the SC coupe, which has been out of action since 2010.
Honda / Acura
Honda is expected to show off a reworked Accord Coupe concept, which will be a good reflection of the new-look Accord sedan expected by mid-2012. The updated Accord should signal a turn around for the struggling Japanese manufacturer, which has endured negative initial impressions for the new Civic sedan and CR-V.
On the other end of the scale, the company's luxury brand, Acura, is likely to make a big deal about the next-generation hybrid NSX, which should be on sale within three years. The NSX should be the start of Honda’s revitalisation as a sporty brand.
BMW’s MINI will add yet another model to its expanding line-up with the addition of the MINI Roadster. The soft-top two-seater will make use of the tried and tested 1.6-litre petrol engine.
Little is know about Audi’s crossover concept scheduled for Detroit.
Volvo will use Detroit as a launching pad for its hybrid line-up and strategy.