Top Ten Studs – Detroit Auto Show: As the largest auto show in North America, at least by manufacturer involvement and coverage, the Detroit Auto Show normally has its share of studs. This year the place was crawling with noteworthy cars, and there are a few honorable mentions that we couldn’t pick because Detroit wasn’t the official first-time debut. That’s why you don’t see the stunning Buick Riviera Concept (debuted in Shanghai) or the excellent Honda CR-Z Concept (debuted in Tokyo) or the absolutely droolworthy Mazda Taiki (also Tokyo) on the list. Sorry they can’t be on the list guys, but hey, we had to cull the field somehow.
by Keith Buglewicz
Photo credit: MyRide Staff
Audi R8 V12 TDI Concept
Super cars often have racecar credentials, such as style, suspension, technology or, most importantly, the engine. So if you’re Audi, still riding high on the introduction of your V-8 powered R8 exotic sports car, what do you do for an encore? How about stuffing your monstrous racecar-derived 6.0-liter V-12 diesel under the clear engine cover? With 500 horsepower and an amazing 738 lb.-ft. of torque, it has the potential to catapult the R8 from mere exotic to timeless legend.
Cadillac CTS Coupe Concept
General Motors deserves props on a couple of levels with the CTS Coupe Concept. First, the car itself. Look at it. Drink it in. It builds on the lines of the CTS sedan currently causing a fuss wherever it goes, and makes them better. Will they build it? Save your pennies starting now to get one of the first. Almost as impressive as the car itself is the fact that GM was able to keep it a secret until it was actually driven onstage. We’d be remiss if we didn’t give honorable mention to the stunning 550-horsepower CTS-V, but the coupe...nice.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
With this car, GM says to the rest of the sports car world three simple words: Bring it on. After all, Chevrolet has built the most powerful Corvette in history by any measure. Everything about the ZR1 is amazing, from its 620 horsepower supercharged V-8 engine (that’s a minimum power estimate, by the way), to the extensive use of carbon fiber, to the aggressive cues that take the styling to the next level. Why the General chose a dark gray color and practically hid the thing in a corner is beyond us, but the bare chassis hanging nearby was very cool indeed.
Dodge ZEO Concept
While a lot of the news coming out of the new Chrysler corporation is a little dim, to say the least, the Dodge ZEO (Zero Emissions Operation) Concept was a bright orange flame that caught our attention in all the right ways. From the innovative scissor doors, big glass roof and sport wagon body to the cool sloping center stack and, of course, the lithium-ion battery pack that’s good for 250 miles and 7-second 0-60 mph times, there’s a lot to like. But one of the coolest features is the chrome Dodge crosshair grille treatment, which is almost subtle here save for the blue backlighting, a nice touch.
2010 Fisker Karma Plug-In Hybrid
There’s a lot of talk about luxury cars with environmental angles on them...BMW’s been showing us hydrogen powered 7 Series for years now. Yet here’s Fisker, a small coachbuilder, teaming up with Quantum Technologies for the first plug-in hybrid luxury sedan. The look is somewhere between Aston Martin, BMW Z8, Alfa Romeo 8C and a few other cars, but it looks striking in its own right. With a range of up to 650 miles, sub six-second 0-60 times and a 125 mph cruising speed, it has the luxury and performance credentials to back up its looks, regardless of how it’s powered.
Hummer HX Concept
OK, we asked. Seriously, walked right up to Steve Kim, design manager for the Hummer HX Concept, and he told us that no, it wasn’t modeled after the Warthog military vehicle from the video game Halo. Instead, this E85-burning off-road machine is designed to take two people and their stuff as far as it can into the wilderness before running out of fuel. With a high-tech V-6 engine, removable body panels and unique looks that deftly play off Hummer styling cues without making it look like a miniature version of any existing vehicle, the HX is one of the coolest trucks at the show.
Ever since Hyundai announced the Genesis concept car a couple years ago, with the intention of entering the luxury segment, we’ve been waiting to see if the final product held up to the standards of its competition. Although we have yet to turn a wheel in the Genesis sedan, we have to say that we like what we’re seeing. The styling is spot on, maybe a little derivative, but luxuriously proportioned with not a line out of place. The interior is awash in visual and tactile pleasures, and the promised 375 horsepower from the V-8 engine will likely delight our sense of inertia, too.
Lexus LF-A Roadster
There was no fanfare accompanying the LF-A Roadster’s debut. No choir of singers, no jugglers or guitar players. Just a striking red sports car sitting at one corner of the Lexus display. Maybe Toyota ate up the dog-and-pony-show budget with its concepts and debuts. Maybe Lexus is just banking on the car’s good looks to draw attention. If it’s the latter, it worked. Specifics are few, but a 500-plus horsepower V-10 engine resides behind the front wheels ahead of the passenger compartment, and a top speed of 200 miles per hour awaits when the car eventually goes into production.
Mazda Furai Concept
For the past year, Mazda has unveiled some of the most beautiful concept cars we’ve ever seen. The Furai is the culmination, and it’s a runner, too. As in, it ran 160 mph at Laguna Seca shortly before the Detroit show. It looks like it’s going about that fast just sitting still on the stand. The swooping lines hide a purebred racecar chassis powered by, of course, a rotary engine. Yet the detailing on the body is astounding, with the leading edge of every swirl and curve you see on the front and rear lit from within. Imagine what it would look like at night.
Usually when a company releases a sketch of a car before its unveiling, it serves as a notice to be disappointed. The real car can never live up to the low-slung lines of the artwork, right? Wrong. Mitsubishi’s Concept-RA wowed us in person, and the sketch didn’t really do it justice. Looking a little like an Evo, a little like an older Eclipse and a little like an Audi R8, the RA is a showstopper. With a 2.2-liter turbocharged diesel engine, all-wheel drive and that sleek coupe bodywork, we feel like we’re looking in the Eclipse’s not-too distant future. Please, let it be true.