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Report Card: 2014 Detroit Auto Show: Comments


William Maley

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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 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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    • By William Maley
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      In a memo that was sent to sponsors today, organizers of the show said that the TCF Center (formally known as Cobo Hall) has been designated as field hospital by Federal Emergency Management Administration [FEMA] for the next six months.
      "The health and welfare of the citizens of Detroit and Michigan is paramount. TCF Center is the ideal location for this important function at this critical and unprecedented time,” NAIAS executive director Rod Albert wrote in the memo obtained by the Free Press.
      The news was confirmed by ABC affiliate WXYZ after speaking with the chair of the 2020 show, Doug North.
      "The North American International Auto Show is officially canceled. TCF is working with FEMA to use the center to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak," said North.
      Ford and General Motors also confirmed the cancellation to The Detroit News.
      Michigan is becoming one of the hardest hit states with COVID-19. State officials announced today that there are 4,650 confirmed cases and 111 deaths linked to COVID-19. Wayne County, where the show takes place has the highest numbers of the state - 2,316 confirmed cases and 46 deaths.
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      Source: Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, WXYZ
    • By William Maley
      This year was to be the final Detroit Auto Show to take place in January before the big move to an indoor/outdoor festival of sorts next June. Despite a number of manufacturers announcing they would not be at the show, there was some hope for there be to a surprise. Something that would allow the current incarnation of the show to go out with a bang.
      That did not happen.
      It was thought that Chevrolet would roll out the long-awaited and rumored mid-engined Corvette. But those hopes would be dashed as rumors came out that the project would be delayed up to six months due to a problem with the electrical system. It also gave Toyota a sigh of relief as the Supra wouldn’t be overshadowed by the Corvette - see the Ford GT eating up the attention from the Acura NSX a few years back.
      Even with the anticipation of the Supra coming to Detroit, there was nothing that could be described as being memorable. Most of the vehicles that were revealed seemed to be somewhat phoned in.
      We knew a lot about the Supra including how it would look and what would power it before it arrived on stage. CEO Akio Toyoda actually mentioned in the press conference that it was “one of the industry’s worst kept secrets.” The refreshed Volkswagen Passat was eclipsed by news that a second plant and 1,000 jobs would be added at Chattanooga, along with becoming a sponsor for U.S. Women’s, Men’s, and Youth National teams. Infiniti’s QX Inspiration concept didn’t actually appear at the presentation. It was stuck in the lobby of Cobo Hall due to some sort of malfunction.
        The announcement talking about Ford and Volkswagen’s new alliance? The stage appearance was canceled late on Monday. Instead, we got a conference call and press release providing the details. The big talking point at the show wasn’t about the show. Over the weekend, a water main broke which put most of Downtown Detroit under a boil water advisory. This caused a lot of headaches for visiting media and automotive executives as would have to use bottled water to brush their teeth or wash their hair (this was something I heard a few people mentioned on the show floor). Luckily, I saw this new before heading down to the show and brought a couple liters of water with me to use for tea and brushing my teeth.
      But the water main break serves as a good metaphor for this year’s Detroit Auto Show. It felt a bit discombobulated with a number of manufacturers being MIA and organizers trying to figure out what to do. There was also a noticeable lack of energy surrounding the show. Going into the media center at Cobo, I was expecting to be filled with various journalists and other media. To my surprise, it looked and felt the second day of the show where there was a surprising amount of open space to sit down and begin working. Being on the show floor was the same story. I was amazed at how easily I was able to get photos of cars that had been unveiled only 20 to 30 minutes without having to fight a number of people to get a decent shot.
      There is a lot riding on the move to June next year with organizers planning something like the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K. There promises to be the ability to ride and drive various new vehicles, self-driving vehicles being demonstrated on public roads, “dynamic vehicle debuts,” and much more. A number of automakers and executives have praised this move.
      "I always thought it made sense for Detroit to showcase itself when the weather's nice. All the international press comes here in perhaps our worst weather month of the year. I don't know how many rodeos we can have coming down the street in January,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford earlier this week.
      I wished that shared the same enthusiasm as a number of people with the show moving to June. Call me skeptical or cynical, but I get the feeling that the move will not solve the issue that face a number of automakers; making the case to spend the money to attend another show. A recent piece in Wards Auto says it costs more than million dollars to hold a 25-minute press conference according to sources.
      “…due to exorbitant rates for sound and video production, lighting, drayage, special effects, food, drink and union labor to set up chairs, lay carpet and build ramps for drive-on vehicle unveilings.”
      The past few years have seen more and more automakers hold their own events off-site as they are not only cheaper but allows them to control the message.
      “We can go and create an atmosphere on Sunday night at the Garden Theater for less money and for what we think is an equal or better return on our investment,” said Terry Rhadigan, executive director of communications at General Motors to Wards Auto.
      I think back to a conversation I had last year on the show floor with a friend. I was mentioning how I was feeling somewhat bored and he asked how many Detroit Auto Shows I had attended.
      “I think this is my fourth or fifth,” I said.
      He paused for a moment before saying that was usually around the time someone begins to feel burnt out and wanting something exciting to happen. This popped into my head while walking around the show on Monday as nothing really grabbed my attention in terms of new debuts. There were some bright spots such as Kia Stinger GT police vehicle from Australia and the Toyota Yaris WRC on the show floor. But aside from these and few other vehicles, I felt a bit down. Maybe I had grown weary of the show itself and the noticeable departures of various automakers only compounded it. Or maybe this was the manifestation of a trend that the auto show I had come to know was coming to an end and was only beginning to realize it.
      2020 will be an interesting year to say in the least as organizers begin a new chapter in the auto show’s legacy. Whether it works out or not remains to be seen.
      Pic Credit: William Maley for Cheers & Gears

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