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    William Maley
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    Report Card: 2014 Detroit Auto Show

      Which Vehicles Made The Grade At The North American International Auto Show In Detroit?

    The theme of this year's Detroit Auto Show was all about performance. A number of the showings from BMW to Subaru were high performance models of varying degrees. But there were some other surprises to make their way into the show. Which ones made the honor roll and which ones need to see me after the show? Its time for a Cheers & Gears' Report Card.

    Acura TLX Concept: B-

    This was a model I was excited for because I wanted to see how Acura would combine the TL and TSX. The results as shown in this thinly-veiled concept have me worried. Most of this comes down to design as it reminds of the ILX in a bigger package. Not sure if that what's Acura had in mind with design. On the plus side, two new engines and the company learning that transmissions came come with more than six gears shows that Acura is heading on the right track.

    Audi Allroad Shooting Brake: C

    Meh. Should be said this could be a preview for what the next TT could look like.

    2015 Audi Q3: B+

    Finally! The Q3 is coming to the U.S. very soon. I'll admit that out of all the compact luxury crossovers, this is the one that I have been looking the most forward to. Hopefully the RS Q3 will make the journey to the U.S. as well.

    2015 BMW M3/M4: B+

    I'm not quite sold on BMW making the M series of vehicles more the 'look at me!' personality. But I do have to say I like what the company did with going back to their roots in a way with the inline-six and weight-loss measures. Wonder what Mercedes and for that matter Cadillac have up their sleeves?

    2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe: B

    Not quite as polarizing as the CTS coupe, which is a good and bad thing if you ask me. Good on Cadillac having the 2.0T and 3.6L as the engines. Not so good is the new emblem. It looks awful.

    2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06: A+

    Lets see, a supercharged V8 with "at least" 625 horsepower and 635 pound-feet of torque. Check.

    A choice between a seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. Check.

    Three different packages to keep the Z06 planted to the ground. Check.

    Tadge Juechter saying "“if you could afford the old Z06, you’ll be able to afford the new Z06.” Check.

    2015 Chrysler 200: A+

    Yes, the design of the 200 is mashup of about 15 different vehicles. But you have to admit that the new 200 is far beyond the current 200 and the vehicle that we dare not speak its name of. Throw in the Alfa-derived platform, unique all-wheel drive system, and the availability of the 3.6L V6, Chrysler could have a winner here.

    2015 Ford F-150: See Me After The Show

    Ford, I like that you're taking a big risk with the F-150 by using aluminum. I also like that you announced a smaller EcoBoost engine to join alongside the 3.5 EcoBoost. But the design of it is well... ugly. I'm not sure if having the new F-150 look like a Tonka truck that has take a lot of steroids is what you're trying to go after here.

    2015 GMC Canyon: A-

    Finally, we get to see GMC midsize truck. I think it looks a little bit better than the Chevrolet Colorado. My only concern is, will GM's new midsize trucks jumpstart the market again?

    2015 Honda Fit: B

    While not the most exciting subcompact to look at, Honda focused on improving some of the key things that make the Fit a compelling choice in the class. Cannot wait to get my hands on one.

    2015 Hyundai Genesis: C+

    One of the comments really summed up my thoughts on the new Genesis: "Nice car, but leaves me with an empty expectation that there should be something more. Not sure what, but it is missing something."

    Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Concept: Incomplete

    It might pack 500 to 600 horsepower under the hood. It might have some clever changes. It could go into production within the next few years. But other than that, the Eau Rouge is just a fancy body kit and some nice interior pieces. Hence why it doesn't get a grade.

    Kia GT4 Stinger Concept: A+

    Best Concept at Detroit Auto Show? Yes. Possibly could see something like this going into production in the future.

    2015 Lexus RC-F: A-

    Still quite not sold on the styling of the high-performance RC coupe. However with the 5.0L V8 engine making more than 450 horsepower does draw me back in. Also, I want to shake the hand of person who decided to swap the joystick controller to a touchpad for the infotainment system.

    2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: A-

    I can't believe that I'm writing this, but the C-Class has to be my dark horse of the show. I wasn't expecting much out of Mercedes' other compact sedan, but the introduction of the CLA has given the luxury maker some breathing room to do some interesting things. Only concern: How much is it going to cost?

    2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG: B+

    Why would anyone buy this? Why wouldn't anyone buy this? Very excited for this model since it will be the closest we get the A45 AMG for awhile (maybe ever).

    Nissan Sport Sedan Concept: A

    If this is what Nissan has in mind for the next Maxima, sign me up. Also Nissan, would you please consider all-wheel drive if you're planning to have that 300 horsepower or so.

    2015 Porsche 911 Targa: C-

    Another 911 model, this time with a convertible top that isn't a top! Yeah... Moving on.

    2015 Subaru WRX STI: B-

    Has the same problem as the standard WRX: design isn't as aggressive as the concept shown at New York last year. Hope the drivetrain can help this one out.

    Toyota FT-1 Concept: A+

    Still cannot believe this is a Toyota at all. Maybe the beige-ness is beginning to slowly wear away from the brand. Also big props to Toyota's CALTY Design center in California for getting the chance to do this concept. Well done.

    Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept: D

    More Dune, Less Beetle Volkswagen.

    Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion Concept: C

    This would have received a lower grade were it not for the clever tricks and technologies Volkswagen used in this concept. I wouldn't be surprised if future Volkswagen vehicles have some these features and that the BlueMotion nameplate comes to North America.

    William Maley is a staff writer for Cheers & Gears. He can be reached at william.maley@cheersandgears.com or you can follow him on twitter at @realmudmonster.

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    I agree with most of what you post here except the following:

    Subaru WRX STI should be no higher than a D if that. The car looks too much like a Camry and no changes to the power train. This car should be 400HP and far more radical than it is.

    Porsche is over rated, should be a D, nothing new here just warmed over left overs.

    VW Beetle, I think is a F as they failed to deliver a dune buggy.

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    I love the new C-class, the S-class looks and powertrains are great. The only thing I don't like is the nav screen that sticks up form the dash.

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    I think the Dune concept is promising. If they build it with AWD, it would be killer. I like the LEDs that suggest tow hooks. The new F-150 looks great, IMO. You can bet it will continue Ford's light truck dominance (literally, with all that aluminum.) As far as the Toyota WTF-1 goes, hey, the Ambiguously Gay Duo called, they want their car back. The Cadillac ATS coupe is what a lot of us have been hoping for. It is Cadillac's redemption in our eyes, after the hideous, fat-assed CTS coupe. I do agree that the Honda Fit is much improved, and I hope the 6 speed manual makes it a more relaxed highway cruiser, while allowing it to give better fuel mileage relative to others in its class. The new Fit interior is far above the current car.

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