Best of the 2012 Chicago Auto Show
Though it occasionally battles for the limelight against other, more lavish affairs, the Chicago Auto Show managed to hold its own this year boasting a handful of key appearances that made a lasting impression. Chief among them were some of the biggest little game changers currently lurking on the horizon, like the Kia Track’ster Concept, Hyundai Elantra and 2013 Volkswagen Beetle. The former is the newest brainchild of Kia’s California Design Center and is somewhat of a “supercharged Soul,” if you will. Underpinned by the Soul platform, the Track’ster was upfitted to hang with – as the name would imply – track stars, and includes a race-ready 250hp powerplant and sleek, eye-popping trim. Likewise, the Hyundai Elantra also turned heads with the debut of two- and five-door variants of the bold sedan (Elantra Coupe and Elantra GT, respectively). Both are expected to expand the reach of the impressively styled four-door and the Coupe is likely to weaken a lot of enthusiasts’ knees with the aggressive lines and sweeping roofline. In fact, one of the Coupe’s key competitors may well be our other compact favorite: the 2013 Volkswagen Beetle. Of course though the VW’s styling may be a touch more sedate, it’s definitely no less promising. It’s the same body style initially glimpsed last year in New York, but now it’s picked up a 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine and a purported 29/39 mpg. Not necessarily outstanding, but we’ve been waiting for the diesel wave to hit our shores for a long, long time and a diesel Beetle is just the thing we’ve been missing.