Tag: NAIAS 2011

By on January 13, 2011

Audi’s A6 was one of the bigger single-model unveilings at this year’s NAIAS, and was rewarded with the “Eyes on Design” award for best production car design, beating the Bentley Continental GT, BMW 6-Series Convertible and Hyundai Veloster. The new A6’s dimensions are hardly changed from its long-serving predecessor, but the stance is closer in line with Audi’s current, long-hooded look. Audi hasn’t released fulls specs for the US market, but the 2.0 TDI version will weigh in around 3,472 lbs thanks to more use of aluminum. That engine will make 177 HP, and is the most efficient option in a global engine range that tops out with the 300 HP 3.0 TFSI supercharged V6. If Audi doesn’t bring the diesel stateside, our most efficient option will likely be the A6 Hybrid, which adds 45 HP and 156 lb-ft of electric power to the 2.0 TFSI engine. That option gives the A6 fewer than two miles of EV range, but allows it to use electricity at speeds up to 62 MPH… and is visually almost indistinguishable from gas-only variants (the silver model in the gallery is a hybrid). Oh, and those LED headlights that everyone instantly latches onto? Optional.

By on January 13, 2011

One of the most pervasive memes that seemed to unite the independent thinkers covering the North American International Auto Show was that this year’s Detroit extravaganza offered “no surprises.” The lesson of this  “Detroit Consensus”: clearly the motoring press doesn’t spend much time in the current, unloved Chevy Aveo.

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By on January 13, 2011

Poor Professor Higgins! On he plods/Against all odds! Well, he had a tough job: changing a girl from the proverbial wrong side of the tracks into a prim and proper member of society. I had a simpler task in mind. I wanted to make sure that my hairdresser/girlfriend/bodyguard, the infamous Vodka McBigbra, could legitimately attend all this year’s auto shows with me. She actually works pretty hard at the events, lugging the Steadicam and obtaining everything from AA batteries to front-row seats so I can keep my Kiton jackets free of wrinkles, but a few of the shows don’t permit “assistants”. Publish or perish is their motto. Not a problem. I decided to make an authentic automotive journalist out of her. How tough could it be?

Meanwhile, our friends at General Motors were working on a not entirely dissimilar project. They’d identified some “bloggers”, given them all-expenses-paid trips to Detroit, and led them on a two-day adventure where they would be fed plenty of talking points to uncritically reTweet along the way. It isn’t cheap to fly people from the coasts to the Midwest, put them up in a top-notch hotel, feed them, and keep them entertained, so naturally GM would want to make sure they got their money’s worth.

The stage was set for a titanic contest. Sure, the playing field wasn’t level. After all, I’ve never gone bankrupt, the UAW doesn’t control my labor supply or my finances, and I didn’t design the 1984 Eldorado. Still, the plucky underdogs from the RenCen had a few tricks up their sleeves to even the odds…

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By on January 12, 2011

Having earned its place in the American market by launching focused products at its biggest segments, Honda’s 2010 sales performance proved the danger of chasing niches. In his remarks at the North American International Auto Show, Honda’s John Mendel insisted that

sales of the sporty and stylish CR-Z are also exceeding our expectations with sales of more than 5-thousand vehicles in the first four months. It’s great to see our customers embrace this vehicle … and our effort to push hybrid technology in a sporty direction

but besides proving that expectations for the CR-Z were extremely low, it’s hard to see what he meant. Expectations for the 2012 Honda Civic, on the other hand, are considerably higher.

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By on January 10, 2011

Direct injection. Dual-clutch transmission. 40 MPG highway. Three doors. 2,580 lbs. A $17k-ish price point. That might just be one of the most unconventional sets of numbers to come out of this year’s NAIAS, and the Veloster is certainly one of the more unconventional cars to launch here at Cobo. From a more cynical perspective, it is based on the Accent platform, rear headroom seems a bit cramped, the third door seems a bit unnecessary, and its marketing is a bit overly drenched in Gen Y-centric nonsense (also, official EPA numbers aren’t out yet). Still, the Veloster is a huge step from the Tiburons that came before it, and it adds an intriguing new facet to Hyundai’s American assault.

By on January 10, 2011

Rather than host its event at a booth-side stage, Ford booked the Cobo Arena for its highly-produced (yet not without its stumbles) presentation. It began with the usual corporate propaganda, centering around the “One Ford” theme and highlighting the Blue Oval’s global operations. Then Alan Mulally zoomed into the middle of the arena in a 2012 Focus ST and, to gales of spontaneous sycophantic applause, began introducing the K-Car-like range of future products based on Ford’s Global Compact platform.

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By on January 10, 2011

How’s this for a way to kick off a car show? The Porsche 918 RSR looks tastier than the complimentary breakfast that preceded its launch this morning, all gullwings and gleaming sidepipes. Its direct-injected V8 makes 563 HP at a dizzying 10,300 RPM, and electric torque-vectoring motors on the front wheels add a combined 150 kW, for a total power output of 767 HP. Porsche says the interior is more “gentleman’s racer”-oriented than the 918 Concept… but what gentleman makes his consort sit atop the energy-storing flywheel that replaces the passenger seat? And don’t get us (specifically Jack Baruth) started on the copious 917 references in Porsche’s promotional literature. Still, this Porsche is hard not to like… right down to the giant orange “Hybrid” splashed across its rear wing.

By on January 8, 2011

In this age of non-local communities, it’s amazing to be able to make connections with car enthusiasts the world over. Still, there’s nothing like making a personal connection with those who share your passion. In that spirit, and as promised, TTAC invites its community of readers and commenters to come down to the Detroit Beer Company this Tuesday (January 11) at 6:30 to meet TTAC’s NAIAS team. I will be joined by our Detroit staffers Michael Karesh and Ronnie Schreiber, as well as the infamous Jack Baruth at the downtown brewpub for an evening of beer, grub and car chatter. If you’ve got a spare moment, we’d love to have you join us.

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