We kind of get the feeling that 2011 is going to be a big year for automakers. We don’t have a tangible explanation for it, but there’s something about the air this year that feels like the next 12 months will be filled with more ups than downs and, hopefully, a lot less recalls than 2010.

We’re barely a few days into the new year and we’re already getting excited over the first major event for 2011, the North American International Motor Show. All the happenings will take place at the Cobb Center in Detroit on January 10, 2011 so we felt it was an opportune time to provide a heads-up of what to expect when the floor opens.

The list of vehicles we’ve included on the list are cars that have officially - and unofficially - punched in their tickets for Detroit. Some cars that will appear are still being withheld for suspense purposes, but what’s the fun in having a preview if we can’t dig up the cars that want their presence to be a surprise?

Either way, we’ve included all of these models so head on over past the jump to see which cars to expect when the NAIAS opens its doors next week.


Audi A6

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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The folks from Ingolstadt will be trooping to Detroit with a car that a lot of people have been waiting for: the 2012 Audi A6. The luxury sedan will come with a number of engine options - two gasoline and three TDI units – to choose from. Aesthetically, the A6’s design language was inspired by both the A7 and A8 models, making it an ideal option for those who prefer the widely-regarded Audi luxury without forking over the extra amount to get an A7 or an A8.

Chrysler 300

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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Its predecessor drew a lot of controversy for having a design that looked eerily similar to a certain British luxury car. This time around, the new Chrysler 300 won’t be having that problem anymore, thanks in large part to a number of exterior and interior updates that include a new front grille, redesigned headlamps with LED lights, new taillights, and numerous chrome inserts. That and the 3.6-liter V6 engine that produces 292 horsepower should make the new 300 an appealing car. History would say otherwise, but Chrysler is hoping to rewrite it with the new 300.

Volkswagen NMS

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior Drawings
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As many may very well know by now, Volkswagen is packing up the Passat in the US and jettisoning it back to Germany. To fill that void, Volkswagen will be bringing its new baby to Detroit, the ever-so-originally named ’NMS’ (New Midsize Sedan). While we don’t expect that name to stick, we do know that this new vehicle is being made exclusively to cater to our palettes. Details on the car are slim at best - Volkswagen did release design sketches - but expect it to be more aggressive looking than the Passat, because, well, we like our cars to look mean.


BMW 650i Convertible

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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BMW will have a number of vehicles on display in Detroit with the most significant being the long-awaited 2012 BMW 650i Convertible. Powered by a 4.4-liter V8 engine with a direct injection and turbo-charging technology, the 650i Convertible is capable of producing 400 horsepower between 5,500 and 6,400 rpm with 450 lb/ft of peak torque between 1,750 and 4,500 rpm.

The top-down 6-Series follows the Concept 6-Series Coupe, which was unveiled at the LA Auto Show, as the newest 6-ers from our friends at BMW.

BMW 1-Series M Coupe

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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Another hotly-anticipated BMW that will appear in Detroit will be the 1-Series M Coupe. The newest wunderkid from BMW’s M Division will be outfitted with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six engine, capable of producing 340 horsepower mated to a six-speed manual transmission. True to its nature as a pure bred sports car, the 1-Series M Coupe will not have any automatic transmissions. Joyrides not allowed, so they say. The 1-Series M Coupe is a sports car in every sense of the word.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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Mercedes-Benz always comes dressed for any event it’s attending and the 2011 NAIAS is no different. One car that’s expected to get its share of admirers will be the new C-Class, which has been dressed up with some new exterior and interior touches. The most important thing to note about this car are the powertrains under its hood, which are expected to be a 1.8-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 201 horsepower and a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 variant with 300-something ponies.


Hyundai Veloster

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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In the days leading up to the NAIAS, Hyundai has been teasing a two-door sports hatch called the Veloster. We’ve yet to see the car in all its glory and instead, settled for teaser photos here and there (one even showed an out of place third door). However, come next week, we’ll have a better idea of what Hyundai’s new sports hatch will look like. For now, what we do know is that the Veloster will be powered by a 1.6-liter gasoline direct-injection engine that has an output of 140 horsepower and a fuel economy rating that Hyundai estimates to be around 40 mpg.

Chevrolet Sonic

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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No, Sonic the Hedgehog didn’t get a car named after him, although it would have been cool if he had. The Chevrolet Sonic isn’t actually a new car by definition - it used to be called the Aveo - but the folks over at Chevrolet seem to think that a name change was in order. So the Aveo was out and the Sonic is now headed to Detroit.

Chevrolet is looking into putting in a number of different variants, including four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines with variants ranging from 1.2-liter versions with 70+ horsepower all the way up to 1.6-liter versions with 115 horsepower. It’s not the fanciest or most powerful car to go to Detroit, but for anybody looking at an affordable vehicle - it’s only $12,115 - that can take them from Point A to Point B, the Chevrolet Sonic just may be the car that’s destined to be in their garages pretty soon.

Toyota Prius v

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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Toyota’s Prius family will be welcoming a new member with the unveiling of a slightly larger Prius - a wagon, we heard - that’s reportedly going to be called the Prius v. Not much is known about the new Prius variant except that it’s going to take the shape of a wagon, which means a flatter and longer roofline compared to the hatch version. Other Prius models are also scheduled to be in attendance, including a Prius-badged concept car that Toyota has been very careful on keeping under wraps, at least until the lights come on in Detroit.

Volkswagen Golf-R

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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With sports hatches becoming more and more popular in the US these days, it’s become obvious that European automakers have been trying to grab a piece of the proverbial pie by sending their sports hatches to the other side of the pond.

One of these high-powered hatches, the Volkswagen Golf R, which has been raking in the dough in Europe for over a year now, is set to debut to the North American crowd at the NAIAS. With a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 265 horsepower, the Golf R immediately becomes a tempting option for Americans who prefer their hatchbacks to be of the small but terrible – powerful – type.


Jeep Compass

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview High Resolution Exterior
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With the advent of GPS, the compass is fast becoming an outdated form of navigation. Don’t tell that to Jeep, though, because they’re Detroit offering is being aptly called the Jeep Compass.

Ironies notwithstanding, the new Jeep SUV is expected to complement Jeep’s flagship SUV, the Grand Cherokee, in the race for SUV supremacy for 2011. Powered by a number of engine options, including a standard 2.0-liter World Engine that produces 158 horsepower and a more powerful 2.4-liter World Engine that produces 172-horsepower, the Compass has chosen the NAIAS to be the setting for its grand unveiling.

GMC Sierra All Terrain HD Concept

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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The 2011 NAIAS wouldn’t be the same without the hulking presence of GMC. To our good fortune, the General’s performance truck brand is torquing up for Detroit with the Sierra All Terrain HD Concept. With a menacing 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 engine that produces 397 horsepower and 765 lb/ft of torque, the new Sierra is all business all the time. Don’t be surprised if a mastodon of a pick-up with a five-foot, eight-inch Crew Cab/short box body configuration stares anyone down at showroom floor. For everyone’s own safety, don’t stare too long.


2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so they say. If that’s the case, then those attending the Detroit Auto Show can judge whether this dressed up BMW X3 M model will be the prince or pauper of the event. No performance upgrades have been given to this X3 M – BMW’s M Division already put in the work on that area – although it’s going to come with a sportier appearance. Among the additions include revised bumper and sills, as well as a new set of 20” wheels.

That’s about it, really. We’ll just have to see it up close to be able to judge the SUV’s new aesthetic appearance.


Lamborghini Gallardo Bicolore Special Edition

2011 Lamborghini Gallardo Bicolore special edition Exterior
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Seeing as the Lamborghini Gallardo will follow the Murcielago into the sunset, it only seems fitting that Lamborghini is working on a number of special edition versions of the supercar to remember it by.

At the Detroit Auto Show, the Sant’Agata bulls will be introducing one such SE model called the Lamborghini Gallardo Bicolore. It’s not the first time Lambo has dipped into the SE well for the Gallardo, having done so back in 2005 when they released 250 models of the car with a two-tone paint finish with black trims. This particular SE Gallardo will be based on the LP560-4 model, which means that performance-wise, it’s going to come with a 5.2-liter V10 engine that produces 560 horsepower.


Porsche’s Supercar Concept

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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The last time Porsche attended the NAIAS, nobody had heard of Justin Beiber and Twitter wasn’t born yet. Seems like an eternity ago, right?

For the first time since 2006, Porsche will be in attendance and the Stuttgart-based automaker is bringing a surprise supercar concept with them. The water coolers have ran dry on rumors regarding what car it’s going to be, but recent whispers have suggested that it could very well be a race version of the 918 Spyder Concept. We’ll keep our fingers crossed on that one. Regardless of what car they’re bringing, one thing is evidently clear: Porsche is coming back to the NAIAS with a bang.

Kia KV7

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview
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South Korea will be well-represented at the 2011 NAIAS. In addition to the Hyundai Veloster, it’s sister from another mother, Kia, will also bring its own concept vehicle to the fold - the cleverly named KV7 Concept. Featuring gullwing doors - on a crossover, no less! - the KV7 Concept is the latest example of Kia’s new aggressive and out-of-the-box approach to building their future models. Details on the concept crossover is still being withheld at the moment, but expect that this vehicle will be far from the conservative types Kia used to roll out in this neck of the woods.

Honda Civic Concept

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior Drawings
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Talk about a car that’s being left to our imaginations. Japanese automaker Honda is headed to the NAIAS with a rather peculiar concept vehicle, one that’s for their celebrated Honda Civic. We had no idea that the Civic could also have a concept form given how popular it is all over the world, but apparently, Honda has a little surprise in store for us. Not much was shared about the concept with the exception of one design sketch - it looks a lot like a Honda CR-Z - so we’re going to keep or eyes and ears open when Honda pulls the covers off of the Civic Concept.

Chevrolet Amp

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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Now that the Chevrolet Volt has finally come out on the market after almost five years of testing, development, production, and repeated merry-go-rounds of the three, Chevy is reportedly on the books at the Detroit Auto Show with their latest electric wonder car, a new crossover based on the Volt that will be called the Chevrolet Amp.

Although the name is far from a done deal, the Amp is reportedly going to look a lot like the Volt MPV5 that showed its mug at the Beijing Auto Show last year. No word yet on whether it’s going to be a production-ready model or a concept, but either way, we’re not going to push our luck. Chevrolet is heavily invested in the Volt right now so we doubt if their workforce will be able to split the carries between the Volt and its new big brother, the Amp.

Ford Escape Concept

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview Exterior
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A new Ford Escape will be strutting its stuff at the Detroit Auto Show that is expected to take the reins from the current Escape crossover moving forward. The new Escape is going to be tagged a ‘concept’ for the event and will be based on the same on the same aesthetic look of the new Focus. No word yet on what kind of powertrain it’s going to have, but rumors have suggested that it will also be sharing its engine with the Focus. If that’s the case, then expect it to come with a 2.0-liter direct-injected 4-cylinder with an option of seeing an EcoBoost variant soon thereafter.

MINI Paceman Concept

2011 Detroit Auto Show Preview High Resolution Exterior
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Speaking of going out of its comfort zone, MINI is certainly no stranger to that. Often regarded as the quirkiest brand this side of the solar system, MINI is going to Detroit with a concept vehicle that’s another one for the books. Called the Paceman, the new crossover coupe concept is reportedly getting a John Cooper Works 1.6-liter twin-scroll turbocharged engine that produces 211 horsepower and 192 lb/ft of torque. More importantly, it takes the look of the Countryman, only with a larger tailgate. A few years ago, the words ’MINI’ and ’large’ couldn’t be put in the same sentence. These days, well, let’s just say, "it ain’t Kansas anymore, Dorothy."

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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Show Comments


  (300) posted on 10.27.2011

It was really a nice auto show! How, I really love the line ups of the cars here in Detroit! They are all perfectly awesome and striking that everyone would surely love to have for themselves.

  (647) posted on 04.5.2011

I have watched the show, and I would say that it’s great. I got to see those future lineup cars, and it was fun. I hope to see those cars on the roads! 

  (762) posted on 01.11.2011

yes the’ve already revealed it but for sure you need to prepare your benjamins.. you wont get this one on sale of course.

  (570) posted on 01.11.2011

cool, it’s really nice to hear that the 2012 buick will go on sale on fourth quarter of the year. can i wait to test drive one.

  (347) posted on 01.10.2011

Some of these concepts never made it to production, for example, take a look at the gorgeous and modern interpretation of the Lamborghini Miura.

  (321) posted on 01.10.2011

In case you’ve forgotten, the Veloster is based on Hyundai’s long-running concept, due to reach production, according to previous reports, as a 1.6-liter four-cylinder hatch/coupe rated around 140 horsepower and 40 mpg.

  (444) posted on 01.9.2011

this is mad, car has been totally transformed into something that looks even more out-of-this world than the original Enzo.

  (692) posted on 01.6.2011

One of those may be the e6 all-electric crossover built by Chinese manufacturer BYD.

  (776) posted on 01.6.2011

Electric cars will be efficient and worth buying ONLY when equipped with a superflywheel and ultra capacitors for extended range like on the front wheels of a porche model.

  (89) posted on 01.6.2011

The NMS sounds very promising!

  (101) posted on 01.6.2011

I suppose the Honda Civic concept will not be a drawing on a large board smiley Looking forward to it!

  (70) posted on 01.6.2011

I hope you will have some posts with images and launches from the show!

  (111) posted on 01.6.2011

Honestly I was hoping for more changes. At a first look everything looks as I know from the past 1-2 years ago. Be creative people!

  (45) posted on 01.6.2011

The Prius is just ugly smiley They should get inspired from the colleagues at Honda! Lately much-much better looking cars they made...

  (151) posted on 01.6.2011

Lately I have seen Ferrari trend to move forwards to Porsche look, and now Porsche getting closer to ferrari in terms of exterior design.

Love the new VW lies, finally a mature shape, I hope they will implement them in the future Golf!

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