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The Detroit motor show, one of the most iconic and important events on the international automotive calendar, has wrapped up for another year. As always, CarAdvice was on the ground soaking in the concepts and production cars stealing the limelight.

As with each motor show we attend, we wanted to give you an insight into the cars we loved and those we didn’t love as much.

This year, it was Matt Campbell, Mike Costello, Mike Stevens and Paul Maric representing CarAdvice.

Do you think we were right with the hits and misses, or is it our opinions that are the biggest misses of all?

Let us know in the comments below.


Matt Campbell, in Detroit

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Best production car: Kia Stinger

I’m not completely sold on the styling of the Kia Stinger – the light line on the rear quarter and the chintzy looking strakes behind the wheels and black fiddly looking vents on the bonnet cheapen it a bit for me. But otherwise, phwaorrrr! Looks like an Audi A7 that regular money can buy. I won’t believe the hype about it being a Commodore SS converter until I drive it, and I can’t wait to do that.

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Best concept car: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz

Being a journalist with a Sydney mortgage, I can’t, and probably will never be able to, afford my dream VW split-window Kombi – but the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept van gives me hope that in five years time I might be able to go one better. This cute and charming concept was my number one pick because it backs up VW’s claims about building an I.D. family in the coming years.

Please, please, please build this car, VW – it doesn’t even need to have autonomous tech. Hell it could come with a naughty diesel and I’d buy it!

Honorary mention: Audi Q8. An aggressive new flagship SUV that doesn’t have a stupid slopey roofline – that’s more like it! Muscular and masculine, and in the Bombay Blue hue on the showroom floor, it was somehow also really pretty.

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Biggest miss: The buzz of the Detroit show

If the German contingency (Audi and VW in particular – obviously they’ve got some goodwill to win back) hadn’t shown up, there would have been a couple of Chevy SUVs and an updated Ford ute to talk about. The rest would have fallen by the wayside, and while the Fiat Chrysler Jeep family showed up, there was no fanfare or excitement to speak of at their stands.

I’ve been in this game for about seven years now, and Detroit, baby, you’re getting old, and the people are growing cold (not just because it was -9c outside). This show needs a shot in the arm. Maybe combine it with CES?


Mike Costello, in Detroit

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Best production car: Kia Stinger

The Kia Stinger won me over from the get-go. Kia isn’t above poaching big-gun designers and engineers from Germany (Peter Schreyer from Audi, Albert Biermann from BMW M) to fast-track its development, and that approach has manifested in the Stinger.

A beautifully styled rear-drive liftback with a 270kW twin-turbo V6 engine, an in-house eight-speed automatic and a cabin with more than a hint of Mercedes-Benz, it’s a genuinely desirable, reasonably affordable and easy-to-own luxury car. Moreover, it’ll change perceptions quicker than it jumps off the line.

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Best concept car: Audi Q8

Marc Lichte is exerting his influence on Audi’s design now. The Q8 concept shows its German rivals how to make a sports crossover look well-proportioned and sexy, and it sets the template for a much more exciting styling direction for the Ingolstadt marque.

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Biggest miss: Fiat Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler made a big announcement in Detroit: a US$1 billion investment into its Michigan and Ohio production facilities, and plans to make the Jeep Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer and a ‘Pickup Truck‘ – likely to be the dual-cab ute based on the next-generation Wrangler.

But where were the new cars on stage? Detroit is FCA’s home show, and its American brands had little new product excitement on hand. Once upon a time it dominated the headlines here, but this year was too quiet for comfort.


Mike Stevens, in Detroit

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Best production car: Kia Stinger

Hooly dooly. I love every inch of it. Well, almost all. It’s a little busy here and there, although I really have no problem with that red band poking out of the tail lamps.

But, come on. It’s good looking, and whatever its minor failings, I have to love this simply for seeing an automotive underdog making such a massive leap into a high-pressure, all-eyes-watching segment. I really am looking forward to a spin in this thing.

It’s a silly name, though. A stinger ought to be a nimble and compact little MX-5 rival. But, hey – that’s not going to stop people buying it. I hope!

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Best concept car: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz

What’s not to love? Well, for me, anyway. My obsession with autonomous cars is matched to a beautiful retro-inspired design that makes all the right moves.

The way the steering squircle (well it’s not really a wheel, is it) gets itself out of the way when in autonomous mode, and the obvious comfort-focused design of the rear space, and that little throwback hippy gnome on the dash… too cool.

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Biggest miss: Chevrolet Traverse

Rather thankful this isn’t coming to Australia. It looks cheap and won’t age well.

And, funnily enough – after having seen it in the flesh for the first time in Detroit – I’m actually glad we’re getting the Acadia and not this unit. It’s actually rather charming, in a brutish way.


Paul Maric, in Detroit

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Best production car: Kia Stinger

While it’s a stupid name, it’s a stunning car. In person it cuts some sweet, sleek lines and it rounds that off with sensational performance from its engine.

According to some, it’s a car destined to steal sales from Holden’s outgoing V8 passenger car range, but for me, it’s a huge sign of things to come from Kia.

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Best concept car: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz

Easy. It’s the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz. In person this thing looks absolutely sensational. While they’ve done a million and one combi concepts, let’s hope they actually follow through with producing this one!

Fingers crossed.

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Biggest miss: Mercedes-Benz GLA

I’m with James Wong (below). The GLA-Class update was pretty boring. I realised by accident that I had walked past the facelift, thinking they had the old car on the stand. It looks virtually the same and the interior still looks pretty average.


Curt Dupriez, in Detroit

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Best production car: Kia Stinger

For fresh, production-ready metal with a potential Australian release, it’s been slim pickings on the floor at Cobo Hall. A turbo-petrol Audi SQ5? Yawn.

I’m not nearly as excited about the Kia Stinger as some of my colleagues but the big, rear-driven, five-door does look a watershed moment in South Korean motoring. A car deserving of the anticipation, if only to see whether its healthy on-paper credentials can convert into inspired practice.

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Best concept car: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz

Much like the production stuff, properly interesting concept cars were few and far between in chilly Detroit. While there’s nothing terribly surprising about yet another reloaded ‘Kombi’ or anything innovative about the (largely fanciful) ideas it presents, there’s still some good old romance in a slick-looking, futuristic microbus.

Mint this baby in metal underpinned with contemporary parts bin engineering and you’ve got my money, Volkswagen.

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Biggest miss: Toyota Camry

Ouch, my eyes! Inside and out, the redesigned volume-seller is utterly terrible, an incoherent mess of overwrought misadventure and inherently archaic styling.

From the side skirts to the switchgear nothing about this car appears derived from the forefront of car design and it takes a certain talent to make a complete redesign look all the part like a particularly hashed facelift. Makes the current Camry look handsome – and that takes some work.


James Ward, in Melbourne

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Best production car: Kia Stinger

Easily the Kia Stinger. Sharp and aggressive looks backed up by big numbers and a fun platform – all wrapped up in a big fastback body. It’s the 6000SUX we didn’t know we wanted!

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Best concept car: Infiniti QX50

You can’t help but like the VW I.D. Buzz concept, but I have to give kudos to Infiniti for the QX50 concept. This design works well as a mid-sized SUV, and some of the detail elements are just lovely.

If only the Infiniti concept designers were the Infiniti production designers… Come on guys, translate these cool show cars into your real production cars. (Although the new Q60 coupe is a decently faithful effort!)

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Biggest miss: Subaru WRX STI

Updated Subaru WRX STI. Look, I love the STI, but the front of that thing, which looked so promising in the teaser photos, is just a mess of plastic honeycomb covers. Why, on a rally-bred performance sedan, would you run fake intake and cooling ducts?

If you don’t need the breathing, swap back to the old, giant fake fog lamp covers at least. Nice wheels though.

Plus, for a US auto show… where were the new Jeeps? No Wagoneer, no Trackhawk, no new Wrangler let alone the Wrangler ute. What are you waiting for?


James Wong, in Melbourne

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Best production car: Kia Stinger

I love my Kias, and the Stinger liftback is the kind of car the Korean brand needs.

With rear-wheel drive, twin-turbo V6 power and a sexy silhouette, the Stinger promises to be a cracker when it lands in Australia later this year. I cannot wait to drive one.

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Best concept car: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz

The Volkswagen I.D Buzz concept is the kind of #throwbackthursday moment manufacturers need to have more often.

I love the adaption of the old-school Kombi’s styling and shape in this futuristic, electric and autonomous people-mover concept. Let’s hope the production version stays true to this preview. Retro-future-chic-cool

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Biggest miss: Mercedes-Benz GLA

Normally I’m pretty good with noticing changes with facelifts, but the revised Mercedes-Benz GLA range looks pretty damn similar.

One new engine, very minor changes inside and out, it wasn’t really the change I was expecting given the company was teasing it through their social media channels like it was going to be a big deal. The new wheels on that off-road pack show car looked nice though.


Rob Margeit, in Sydney

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Best production car: Kia Stinger

It’s hard not to like something that defies convention. And let’s face it, a large, five-door, rear-wheel drive sedan is not exactly in vogue with manufacturers right now. And it looks a million bucks, with its German-design influenced silhouette and interior.

This could be the car that lifts Kia from Hyundai’s poor second cousin to mainstream attention.

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Best concept car: Volkswagen I.D. Buzz

I just want one. I was probably conceived in and old split-screen Kombi (Dear Mum, please confirm) and have enjoyed a love affair with Wolfsburg’s venerable workhorse over several generations and family ownership experiences. And what better way to reintroduce an old Volksy favourite than with an electric powertrain.

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Biggest miss: President-elect Donald Trump

The larger-than-life soon-to-be President of the United States has been slinging barbs across the US car industry, both during his highly-publicised election campaign and subsequent victory.

He’s fired warning shots at both General Motors and Ford and he’s spread misinformation, via Twitter, that has seen share prices for GM fall slightly (before recovering).

For the man who made fake news a thing, it’s time he shut up, or, at the very least, stick to the facts about the car industry.

MORE: all Detroit motor show news coverage

ALSO! Catch our team discussing the show in this week’s CarAdvice podcast, including an interview with Holden communications manager, Sean Poppitt. Tune in right here.

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