Along with some hugely anticipated concept cars from BMW, Hyundai, Honda and Toyota, a swathe of new production model debuts from the likes of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus will be fighting for the limelight with some 50-odd other vehicles due to be unveiled alongside new generations of American icons from General Motors and Ford.
Here’s CarAdvice's take on what to look out for at Detroit.
Audi SQ5 TSI V6
Pleasing fans and intimidating rivals, the 260kW/470Nm Audi SQ5 TSI V6 combines Audi’s Q5 SUV with a 3.0-litre supercharged petrol V6 powerplant resulting in performance figures of 5.3 seconds to 100km/h and a top speed of 250km/h – proper sports car territory. Joining the left-hand-drive-only petrol SQ5, and keeping the power theme going, will be the likely unveiling of the Audi RS7 Sportback, updated Audi R8, and recently seen Audi RS5 Cabriolet.
Bentley Continental GTC Speed
Claimed to be the world’s fastest four-seater drop-top, the 460kW/800Nm all-wheel-drive twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12-powered Bentley Continental GTC Speed is guaranteed to draw a crowd at Detroit. Accelerating from 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds while providing the supreme luxury of a full Mulliner interior, the convertible version of the Bentley Continental GT Speed ensures that those with enough coin will be more than satisfied with the British marque’s latest release.
BMW 4 Series Coupe concept
Revealed at the end of last year but set to make its first public appearance at Detroit, the BMW 4 Series Coupe concept is likely to mirror the final production version of the two-door variant of the BMW 3 Series sedan when it reaches European showrooms in late 2013, before being joined by a convertible version in the months to follow. Sitting alongside the new BMW Coupe at the German manufacturer’s show stand will be the coupe-inspired BMW X4 sports crossover concept, updated BMW Z4, and recently unveiled BMW M6 Gran Coupe.
Cadillac ELR hybrid coupe
Intended to change the way people think about luxury and electrification, the Cadillac ELR coupe is effectively the production version of the Cadillac Converj concept (pictured above) that debuted in Detroit in 2009. Employing a hybrid powertrain, with technology shared with the Chevrolet/Holden Volt extended range electric vehicle, the plug-in Caddy is due to start production from late 2013.
Chevrolet Corvette C7
A hugely exciting car for US locals, the all-new seventh-generation Chevrolet Corvette sports car will definitely be a showstopper at the Detroit event. With a previously revealed 6.2-litre Gen 5 small block LT1 V8 engine that’s expected to churn out 335kW and 610 Nm, the Chevrolet Corvette C7 is set to be the quickest, most powerful and most fuel efficient standard Corvette ever, with General Motors estimating a 0-100km/h time of less than four seconds. Continuing the classic American theme on the Chevy stand will also be the new Chevrolet Silverado pick-up.
Ford F-150 concept
While as yet unconfirmed, rumours abound that the 13th generation of the classic Ford F-150 pickup will break cover in Detroit, showing a new look and new technology, most notably the use of lightweight aluminum. A lighter platform would be a significant step towards making the American behemoth more frugal while also improving performance.
Honda MDX concept
The US reveal of the third-generation Honda MDX comes with extra excitement for Australian fans of the premium large SUV – first launched in Oz in 2003 – as Honda Australia has already confirmed its interest in the model. With seven seats and a possible petrol-electric drivetrain, the new Honda MDX could present a fresh rival for the Lexus RX450h. The Jazz-based Honda Urban concept is also set to make its world debut at the show ahead of its expected arrival to our shores in 2014/2015 when it will compete with the likes of the Ford EcoSport, Holden Trax and Mitsubishi ASX.
Hyundai HCD-14 concept
Providing a preview of the upcoming second-generation Hyundai Genesis sedan, the Korean manufacturer says the Hyundai HCD-14 concept will display spirited driving dynamics as well as the latest in 3D gesture-based technology controls. Already spied testing, the new Hyundai Genesis looks likely to target the luxury ‘four-door coupe’ market, which is currently the realm of luxury models from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen.
Infiniti Q50 sedan
Replacing the Infiniti G series sedan and introducing the luxury Japanese brand’s new Q/QX naming structure, the Infiniti Q50 is to be powered by a range of Mercedes-Benz-sourced engines – a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, a four-cylinder diesel and a 3.0-litre V6 diesel – as well as an upgraded version of Infiniti’s tried and tested naturally aspirated 3.7-litre petrol V6 powerplant. Due to go on sale in Australia in late 2013, the Infiniti Q50 will join the G37 Coupe and Convertible, M sedan and FX SUV, now to be known as the Q60, Q70 and QX70 respectively.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
Facelifted for the new model year, the revised Jeep Grand Cherokee promises exterior changes to the grille and bumpers, improved interior quality, a shift away from the previous model’s five- and six-speed automatic gearboxes in favour of an eight-speed transmission, and an optional diesel engine for the US market. The refreshed Jeep Grand Cherokee should arrive in Australian showrooms in mid 2013.
Lexus IS sedan
Detroit presents the opportunity for Lexus to finally reveal the long-awaited third-generation Lexus IS sedan to the eager public, and with a new edgy design that takes much from the Lexus LF-CC concept, the new Lexus IS range is sure to be a much discussed show attendee.
With two brand new twin-turbocharged Ferrari-built engines powering the all-new all-wheel-drive Maserati Quattroporte, the sixth-generation of the luxury sedan brings enough grunt to the table to see 0-100km/h come up in 4.7 seconds before hitting a top speed of 307km/h – the second fastest terminal velocity for a Maserati production car behind only the V12-powered MC12 supercar. Due to reach Australian showrooms in the third quarter of 2013, the new Maserati Quattroporte will happily carry the Italian marque’s tradition of class and performance into the future.
Staying impressively true to the Concept Style Coupe first seen at the 2012 Beijing motor show, the Mercedes-Benz CLA compact ‘four-door coupe’ is sure to have people flocking to the German luxury car maker’s Detroit stand. Based on the same platform as the A- and B-Class but longer than a C-Class, the Mercedes-Benz CLA should slot between the models from a price perspective when it hits dealerships in late 2013 joined soon after by the all-wheel-drive CLA45 AMG. The auto show will also be the official debut of the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class in sedan, wagon, coupe and convertible guises and the recently revealed 410kW/720Nm E63 AMG variant.
Mini Paceman John Cooper Works
The oddity that is the Mini Paceman John Cooper Works – a performance model of a less practical three-door version of the larger more practical five-door Mini Countryman – will make its world premiere in Detroit, giving the world a look at what is likely to become Mini Australia’s most expensive standard production model. With a 160kW/280Nm (300Nm on overboost) turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine helping the Mini Paceman JCW reach the 100km/h mark from standstill in 6.9 seconds before hitting a top speed of 226km/h, all while being able to deliver fuel consumption of 8.0 litres per 100km combined, the raised-up rollerskate has definitely earned its Chilli Red stripes.
Nissan Versa hatchback
The US domestic market’s Nissan Versa hatchback, previewed by the Nissan Invitation concept (pictured above) seen at the 2012 Geneva motor show and differing from Australia’s own new Nissan Pulsar – itself seen at the 2012 Sydney motor show and due to go on sale later this month – is likely to be based on the all-new Nissan Note recently launched in the Japanese manufacturer's home market. The new hatch will be vying for attention alongside the Nissan Resonance concept, a car already pegged as the replacement for the now more than five years old Nissan Murano SUV.
While no official announcement has been made, speculation of a new Shelby EcoBoost model being unveiled in Detroit has been ever increasing since comments regarding the automotive industry going completely towards small capacity turbocharged engines were made by the company’s vice president, Gary Patterson. What will definitely be on the Shelby stand is a 2013 Shelby Super Snake with a new wide-body option said to allow for rear tyres measuring as wide as 355mm.
Very few details are known about the upcoming Toyota Furia concept other than that it is said to be an “exciting new sedan” and – judging by the limited teasers – it has LED headlights and tail-lights and a smattering of carbonfibre parts including a rear lip spoiler. The potential for a sporty four-door alternative to the two-door Toyota 86 is a tempting proposition. Stay tuned.
Volkswagen Passat Performance concept
While not a new Passat R or Passat R36 replacement, and based on the US domestic market variant not Australia’s European-based model, the Volkswagen Passat Performance concept will provide a glimpse at the newest generation of the German carmaker’s 1.8-litre four-cylinder TSI engine. Said to churn out 184kW of power and with a dual exhaust, revised headlights and tail-lights, and 19-inch wheels the Volkswagen Passat Performance concept could also be joined at the show by an all-new US-built seven-seater SUV.
CarAdvice will bring you all the latest news from NAIAS as the covers start coming off in the coming days.