2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Introduction
Yeah, we got just as revved up as everybody else by the glittering concept cars at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show; with their wildly angular headlights, outré styling language, enticing instrument panel schemes, and promises of a bazillion horsepower from a 1-liter engine running on tofu. (OK, we made up that last part…)
Thing is, most of those concepts will never ever see the floor of a dealership.
Allow us please to recall your attention to the Dodge Tomahawk motorcycle from the 2003 Detroit Auto Show. The one featuring the 500-horsepower V10 engine from the then current Viper model? Yeah, with four-wheel steering, an estimated top speed of 420 miles per hour, and a 2.5-second zero to 60, the Tomahawk incited tremendous lust.
But it was wasted lust; and lust is a terrible thing to waste.
Which is why we reserve our lust. Or, said more precisely, we save our lust and lavish it upon vehicles more likely to give us an opportunity to fulfill it. In other words, when we go to auto shows, we look at the concepts sure—but more from a cerebral perspective. We consider what they portend for future production models in terms of styling details, interesting technologies, packaging concepts, and etc.
But we don’t let them anywhere near our pleasure centers.
We save our unbridled “gotta drive it” lust for the stuff we know will be in a dealership within the next 12 months. And so, here are the ten cars from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show we consider worthy of lusting for.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Bentley Continental GT V8 S
When Volkswagen took on responsibility for Bentley Motors, the company showed the world what its intentions were for the storied brand with its first all-new model, the Continental GT. A 12-cylinder, all-wheel drive, extremely luxed-up two-door coupe, the Bentley Continental GT was, in every way, a worthy platform for the nameplate. As much as we enjoyed driving that car, when Bentley introduced a version of the Continental GT with a lighter V8 engine in its nose, we found the handling improved tremendously. Of course, if you pay any attention to the way they do things at Bentley these days, you knew that first V8 was just a teaser, a more potent one was certainly waiting in the wings. And so, the 2014 Detroit Auto Show marked the North American debut of the Bentley Continental GT V8 S. We say North American debut, because the car got its world debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September of 2013. For this version, Bentley’s development people have fitted a pair of turbochargers to the 4.0-liter V8. Output is 521 horsepower and 502 ft-lbs of torque. The GT V8 S Continental’s zero to 60 is quoted at 4.3 seconds and top speed is in excess of 180 miles per hour.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: BMW M235i
Essentially the replacement for the BMW 1-Series models, the BMW 2-Series hews to the company’s new nomenclature designation of two-door cars starting with even numbers, (to wit, 2-Series coupe, 4-Series coupe, and 6-Series coupe). When the 2-Series cars come to market later this year, they’ll be offered in two flavors. The base model will be called the 228i, and if you know your BMWs, you know this means it will be powered by the company’s 240-horsepower, 2-liter turbocharged inline four producing 258 ft-lbs of torque. That’s all well and good—nice even. A car this small with 240-horsepower should be quite a delight, particularly since the turbo four already motivates the larger 4-Series coupe with such verve. We’re certainly looking forward to driving it. But the one we’re lusting after is the M235i. This one’s firing six force-fed cylinders to the tune of 322-horsepower and 332 ft-lbs of torque. Now that’s going to be one fast Bimmer baby! A six-speed manual transmission will be the standard offering in both cases, while BMW’s excellent eight-speed automatic will be an option for the shiftless.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: BMW M4/M3
With both the new sedan and coupe versions of the cars formerly known as the BMW 3-Series on the road, now comes the moment we’ve all been waiting for—the launch of their new generation M versions. When you say BMW M3, even people who don’t know anything about cars feel a certain stirring south of their borders. (In their right feet you deranged people!) A dream car from the get-go, BMW’s M3 has always been the benchmark in its class. The success of the model spawned imitators from every other maker trying to compete in the luxury sports arena. In other words, this is one highly significant car we’re talking about here. Or, in this case, two highly significant cars, now that the coupe has a separate M4 designation—in keeping with the new nomenclature structure at BMW. Still though, underneath, both the M3 and the M4 have quite a bit of commonality. Last generation’s V8 has been scrapped in favor of a twin-turbocharged inline-six producing 425 horsepower and 406 ft-lbs of torque. What’s more, they’re lighter as well; brandishing a host of new aluminum and carbon fiber reinforced plastic components. This should make the new M-cars considerably quicker than the ones they replace, as those models only had 295 ft-lbs of torque and weighed some 175 pounds more.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Cadillac ATS Coupe
Looking like a cross between the ATS sedan and the XTS sedan, but in a coupe body, the new Cadillac ATS coupe is one very handsome piece. If you’re reading this list in order, you’ll recall BMW gets 240-horsepower and 258-ft-lbs of torque out of its 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four. For the ATS coupe, Cadillac gets 272 horsepower and 295 ft-lbs of torque. So, good looking, check; powerful, check; and, at right around 3,400 pounds, fairly lightweight too—check! Driving our lust is the expectation this new ATS will be a strong performer. There is a six-cylinder option as well. The Cadillac’s 3.6-liter normally aspirated V6 makes 321 horsepower and 275 ft-lbs of torque. Yes, the turbo car will be lighter and quicker, but theoretically the V6 will be faster. All-wheel drive is offered as an option, and buyers can choose either a six-speed automatic, or a six-speed manual. Also on the performance front, Cadillac’s magnetic suspension system can be had along with Brembo brakes. And yes, sometime within the next year or two you can reasonably expect to see an ATS-V, but they have yet to tell us when that will be.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Chevrolet Corvette Z06
If you never got a chance to drive the C6 Corvette ZR1, take heart, by all appearances, the new C7 Z06 pretty much blows it away. While official performance numbers have yet to be released, Chevrolet spokespeople are coyly touting “at least” 625 horsepower and 635 ft-lbs of torque from the 6.2-liter supercharged V8—which, not coincidentally, is pretty much exactly how the ZR1 was configured—except that car’s engine made 638 horsepower and “only” 604 ft-lbs of torque. The rear drive Corvette will be offered with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, which is actually lighter than the six-speed automatic in the Stingray. The other transmission choice is a seven-speed manual. The aluminum frame employed by the Z06 is shared—more or less—with the one used in the racing C7.R, which was also introduced at the Detroit Show. Looking like it will eat children and small pets, the Z06 has significantly larger flares on its fenders than the Stingray, as well as larger cooling vents. Those flared fenders also cover wider tires and wheels than the Stingray employs. Carbon ceramic brake rotors will be offered as part of the optional Z07 package. Magnetic suspension and an electronic limited slip differential are standard equipment. The lust for this one is so palpable, if you breathe deeply, you can probably smell it. Of course, it does also beg the question; if this is the C7 Z06—good Lord—what is the C7 ZR1 going to be?
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Chrysler 200
Yes, we know this one isn’t an out and out performance car like the others on this list, but it’s so much prettier than the car it replaces, how could we leave it off? Further, we’re hoping it signals a new era of styling for Chrysler models in general. The 300C, while certainly a handsome piece, is getting a bit long in the tooth. It’s time for a fresher direction. And happily, where everybody else is seemingly looking to imitate a large-mouth bass with the face of their new models, the Chrysler goes sleek and subtle, and as a result, will definitely stand out on the road. The profile of the car picks up on the four-door coupe thing so prominent now, and while it’s not yet a cliché, it is getting close. But we’ll give the Chrysler a pass because it’s executed so nicely. Planted on an Alfa Romeo platform, we’re hoping they let the European ride and handling dynamic remain intact. Power is coming from 184-horsepowr, 2.4-liter inline four producing 173 ft-lbs of torque (sorry, no high protein turbo four to see here). The ‘big” engine will be Chrysler’s Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, delivering 295 horsepower and 262 ft-lbs of torque. All-wheel drive will be the only powertrain for the V6. A nine-speed automatic routes power to the drive wheels.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Hyundai Genesis
First off, the look of the car reflects an even more premium look than the outgoing model enjoyed. It’s also boasting nicer interior materials to go along with the more premium exterior appearance. On the tech front, the next Genesis is coming to market with Google Glass integration, as well as Apple’s Siri-powered Eyes-free mode. And while all of that is mostly geared toward the intellectual side of our brains, the 420-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, with some 383 ft-lbs of torque well within in its capability envelope, well yeah—we’re big-time lusting after that. An eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is routing that power to the rear wheels just like God intended. If that number sounds familiar, it’s because the engine is carried over from the current Genesis. Ditto the V6 option with 311 horsepower and 293 ft-lbs emanating from 3.8-liters of displacement. All-wheel drive is to be offered with an electronic torque split function. Hyundai went to the Nurburgring with the new Genesis to calibrate its suspension system. For an added bit of insurance, the engineering team brought along a group of development people from Lotus engineering too. The result being one can expect the 2015 Genesis to find its way down a twisty road pretty well.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Lexus RC F
First of all, let us say, this is a car you’ll have to see in person. The pictures are good, but when you see it in the metal as it were, you get a whole new appreciation for just how good looking this new Lexus high-performance coupe really is. All of those angles, lights, and vents come together in a way wholly reminiscent of those concept cars we talked about in the introduction to this posting. Except, in this case, they’re building it. This is the production version of the car, not some fanciful concept. A lot of what the Lexus team learned from engineering the LFA supercar can be found in the RC F. The carbon fiber roof and the active rear spoiler are but two examples of this. Gas filled shocks, ball jointed stabilizer bars, torque vectoring, and Brembo brakes all make the RC F’s equipment list. Exact output numbers for the 5.0-liter V8 have yet to be announced, but we’re told we can safely expect to see more than 450 horsepower and some 383 ft-lbs of torque. The Lexus eight-speed transmission routes thrust from the engine to the rear wheels. Naturally, a pair of paddle shifters is included. An evolution of the LFA’s instrument panel changes displayed instrumentation according to the drive mode selected.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Porsche 911 Targa
A convertible that isn’t exactly a convertible, the Porsche Targa is an answer to a question we’re surprised anyone asks—other than the fact it’s become something of a Porsche tradition. After all, the 911 has a perfectly serviceable convertible iteration. So, we ‘re kinda wondering why you’d want a version that would lower the roof, but leave the rear window in place—again other than because of the fact it’s a Porsche tradition to offer a 911 Targa. This time, the rear window automatically raises and the roof slips neatly beneath it into a storage compartment. The driver does it all at the touch of a button, without leaving their seat. We realize this posting is supposed to be about cars we lust after, and certainly any Porsche 911 belongs on the list. However, in our eyes, this Targa model is bit on the gimmicky side. While we sincerely appreciate the accomplishment it represents, we’re having a bit of trouble getting truly enthused about it. In fact, we’re kinda asking…why? The Porsche 911 Targa will be offered with both rear- and all-wheel drive.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Subaru WRX STi
The high-powered version of Subaru’s rally-bred sport sedan is here at last and we’re genuinely excited about it. Yes, we can already hear the strident voices decrying the relative conservatism of the look of the car, but to our eye, it’s a lovely piece. Other than the look of the car, the car though, if you’re familiar with the STi, you won’t find any real surprises in terms of the powertrain. We’re looking at a 2.5-liter turbocharged horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine good for 305 horsepower and 290 ft-lbs of torque. An electronically controlled limited-slip center differential manages power transfer among all four wheels. There are also limited-slip diffs between the front and rear wheels so you get side-to-side torque management as well. In steady-state operation the STi’s driveline feeds 41 percent of available output to the front wheels and 59 percent to the rear. Subaru’s SI-Drive powertrain management system returns, offering the driver three driving modes; normal, Sport and Sport Sharp. The suspension and braking systems are upgraded from the standard WRX setup to cope with the additional power. By the way, if you’re harboring dreams of driving the Subaru, you’ll have to be left-foot adept because a six-speed manual transmission is the only offering.
2014 Detroit Auto Show: 11 Cars Worth Lusting For: Volkswagen Golf R
First of all, yes, every picture you’ve seen of the Golf R from the Detroit Show has been of a two-door hatch. But VW of America’s people insist the version going on sale here, as a 2015 model, will be a four-door hatch. Which, of course, lead us to misplace some of our lust because the two-door looks so much better than the four-door to us. Plus, it speaks a lot more loudly to our performance-oriented sensibilities when it comes to a superfast Rabbit. Those same VW spokespeople tell us we can expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 290 horsepower and 280 ft-lbs of torque from the 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine the Golf R will harbor beneath its hood. The all-wheel drive system will be fed by the buyer’s choice of a six-speed manual gearbox, or (our personal favorite) VW’s excellent six-speed direct shift dual-clutch gearbox. The Golf R’s zero to 60 is being quoted at around 4.7 seconds with the DSG, and 5.1 with the manual transmission. The all-wheel drive system is capable of sending 100 percent of the engine’s output to the rear wheels should the situation demand it. It also features what VW is calling a cross differential lock, capable of compensating for understeer in fast corners. The adjustable shock absorbers of VW’s dynamic chassis control system will be offered as well.