German cars among big debuts at 2013 Detroit show
| Martin Bensley |
DETROIT/Berlin (dpa) – This year’s Detroit car show could hardly have come at a better time for German carmakers, who are on a roll as stateside sales hit new highs.
Significant debuts from Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are among the flood of new metal at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), where thousands of journalists and analysts flock to spot future trends in the car industry.
CEO of Volkswagen Martin Winterkorn (above) and Rupert Stadler, Audi’s chief executive (below) speak at a press
conference head of the Detroit North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), in Detroit
Some 50 new cars or models are being shown in US specification for the first time at the show, now in its 25th year.
The expo is home turf to the North American industry’s key players, and General Motors will be pulling the wraps off the closely guarded seventh edition of the iconic Chevrolet Corvette on Sunday, a day before the show opens to the press. Public dates are January 19-27.
The first car expo on the industry’s annual calendar, Detroit sets the pace for the whole year along with Geneva in the spring. This year also sees Europe’s most important show, the biannual Frankfurt IAA event in September.
Daimler has announced record sales of 1.42 million cars worldwide in 2012, and company head Dieter Zetsche said he was delighted with last year’s performance, particularly in growth markets such as China, Russia and the United States.
Volkswagen boosted US sales last year by 35 per cent to nearly 440,000 units.
One of the key previews in Detroit is the face-lifted Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The saloon gets a range of mid-cycle revisions and fresh engines, including new turbocharged petrol units.
The tweaked E models say “Auf Wiedersehen” to the familiar four-headlamp look, which has been a feature since 1995. Now with twin headlights, LED side bars and new radiator grilles, the new Mercs have a less fussy appearance.
They are crammed with state-of-the-art technology, developed for the range-topping S-Class limos due out later this year.
The final production version of the new Baby Benz based on the A-Class, the CLA coupe, is also set to weigh in. Teaser pictures of the tuned AMG version have cropped up on the internet.
The sporty car takes a host of styling cues from the redrawn A-Class, one of the stars of last year’s Geneva show.
BMW’s four-door M6 Grand Coupe will turn heads, along with a concept version of the M4 Coupe.
The latter is a clever move to squeeze more profitability out of the popular two-door 3-Series variant by moving the model up-market and making it more expensive.
The elegant, five-seat M6 Grand Coupe aims to steal sales at the top of the market from Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
The feisty supercar from the company’s hot M department can be distinguished from more mundane 6 Coupes by a revised kidney grille and a deeper front bumper with dramatic cooling ducts.
The Z4 roadster gets a new look, too.
BMW is pitching the latest variation on the Mini theme and the most potent to date.
The John Cooper Works (JCW) edition comes as standard with a breathed-on 1.6-litre, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, which delivers 218 horsepower. The hot hatch benefits from the Mini’s ALL4 all-wheel drive system.
Not be outdone, Volkswagen-owned Audi is fielding the 2014 version of the R8, with a range-topping V10 complete with new seven-speed transmission and upgraded LED lights. New, as well, is the open-air clone of the R5 coupe with a beefy 450-hp, 4.2-litre V8 engine.
Its sprint from 0 to 100 km/h is completed in 4.9 seconds.
Cadillac is much bigger at home than overseas, and the General Motors luxury brand is keen to show that it is keeping up with the times in the rapidly recovering US car market.
A Chevrolet Volt-derived electric car, the ELR, breaks cover following the acclaimed XTS sedans and sports coupes revealed last year.
Japan’s Lexus will be trying to grab some limelight with its all-new Lexus IS series and a re-jigged Infinite M-series saloon now known as the Infiniti Q70.
Europe’s car manufacturers are all scrambling for a share of the huge Chinese market, mostly by building local production plants or entering into joint ventures.
Meanwhile, China’s home-grown models are getting more sophisticated, as shown by the Guangzhou Automotive Group Co (GAC).
China’s sixth-largest carmaker is due to exhibit in Detroit for the first time.
The company’s sole passenger car is based on the Alfa Romeo 166 platform and bears an uncanny resemblance to the highly successful North American version of the midrange VW Passat.