2015 Detroit Auto Show: Best in Show
As all the champagne glasses have been emptied and spotlights have been downgraded to regular indoor lighting, the 2015 edition of the North American International Auto Show is now welcoming regular folks instead of hungry journalists hunting for each and every press conference and its subsequent car launch. Unlike other editions, this year it was probably the most surprising in terms of premieres, mainly because the general consensus spoke about a very Ford-centric car show. Sure, there were plenty of worth-mentioning world premieres from every other American carmaker stables, with GM showing its 2016 Chevrolet Volt and the bonkers 2016 Cadillac CTS-V, while the 2015 Chevrolet Bolt Concept stopped a reasonable amount of presses as well.
The truth of the matter is that Ford pretty much stole the show, with the GT Concept even outshining the much-expected production version of the 2016 Acura NSX, while the 2016 Mustang GT350R and 2017 Ford Raptor were more than worthy sidekicks. With that being said, a number of other carmakers also brought a fair share of worthy premieres. Alfa Romeo showed everyone their all-new 2016 4C Spider, ready to complement the coupe version in being the first new Alfas in a long time to be officially available in the U.S., while Buick showed a very cool-looking but sadly futureless 2015 Avenir Concept.
Even though most trucks aren’t actually meant to be beauty queens, Nissan brought a somewhat visually-challenged new Titan in Detroit, but its Cummins V-8 with 555 pound-feet of torque will probably be more than enough to keep people from saying that it looks like a Chinese copy of the Ford F150. Speaking of new vehicles falling from the ugly tree, Audi premiered the all-new Q7 SUV, which comes packed with technology and a gigantic loss of weight to counteract its less-than-stellar looks, while Mercedes-Benz brought the 2016 GL63 Coupe to steal some sales from the latest BMW X6M. There were plenty of other cool or less-than-cool novelties in Detroit, but we figured we’d just choose the five best-of-show vehicles in the following list.
Click past the jump to learn which cars we find the best of show this year.
Lexus’ first foray into the performance executive sedan segment, the all-new GS F may look like a futuristic concept but is actually very much production ready, with the model being the fourth car in the so-called "F" line to be launched in recent years. Powered by a high-revving, naturally aspirated, 5.0-liter V-8 that is shared with the RC F coupe, the new Lexus GS F is far from breaking any records in its segment, whether talking about power or performance, but it should make up for that with its crazy exterior look.
With 467 horsepower and 389 pound-feet of torque on tap, its powerplant can work using either the Otto or Atkinson cycle in order to curtail some of its thirst for fuel, while an eight-speed automatic from Aisin is in charge of transmitting those numbers toward the rear wheels via a standard Torque Vectoring Differential. No official performance numbers have been revealed as of January 2015, but those driving M5s and E63 AMGs shouldn’t feel too worried anyway.
Following a hype that seemed to last decades, the second-generation Acura NSX was finally unveiled in Detroit, bringing with it a number of premieres of its own. First of all, unlike its predecessor, the new NSX was developed by mostly American engineers and it will be manufactured at a special facility in Ohio, of all places. Second of all, unlike other hybrid performance cars, the new NSX comes with not one, not two, but three electric motors to augment its internal combustion engine.
Speaking of which, the new Acura supercar is powered by a mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged V-6 and three electric motors, bringing its total output to "over 550 horsepower" and essentially making the model all-wheel drive. We are still waiting for official performance numbers or pricing, but both should represent some pretty good surprises in their own right.
Even though it lost two cylinders compared with the first generation, the 2017 Ford Raptor seems to be more bad-ass than ever just by looking at it, but also comes with a number of improvements that should make everyone forget the monster, 6.2-liter V-8 from the current model. Although no official figures are available as of January 2015, Ford promises that the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 powering this Baja truck for the road will deliver more horsepower and torque than the current Raptor’s 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque, naturally aspirated, 6.2-liter V-8.
Since the smaller engine also comes paired with an all-new, ten-speed transmission, fuel economy figures should be much improved, especially since the new truck should weigh 500 pounds less thanks to the heavy use of aluminum in its construction. With an even more rugged suspension and the strongest frame in the entire F-150 lineup, the new Raptor should set the bar rather high when it goes on sale in late 2016.
By far the most hardcore production Mustang ever built, the new GT350R also comes with a number of premieres for the Blue Oval, the Mustang and even for carmakers in general. Its most important piece is obviously its engine, a naturally-aspirated, 5.2-liter V-8 with a flat-plane crankshaft, which should be capable of more than 500 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque. Another feather in the GT350R’s car is its carbon-fiber wheels, which make Ford the first major carmaker to introduce them as standard equipment.
In the pursuit of shaving as much weight as possible, the Shelby GT350R comes with no air conditioning, no audio system, no rear seats, no carpets, no backup camera and not even exhaust resonators. These result into a car that is 130 pounds lighter than the Shelby GT350 Track Pack model and in yet-to-be-stated numbers that should shame a lot of high-performance cars. If any Mustang was ever appropriate to be used on a technical circuit against established sports cars, this is it.
Representing the surprise of the year for plenty of folks, the Ford GT is probably the worst thing that could happen to the 2016 Acura NSX, as it completely outshined what was supposed to be the biggest premiere in Detroit. Featuring a rather Italian-looking but downright brutal exterior, the new Ford supercar previews a 2016 resurrection of the GT nameplate, just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Ford victory at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Painted in a lovely light blue and with what Ford says 95 percent of the design features to be found on the production version, the Ford GT Concept is powered by a twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V-6 with "at least 600 horsepower." Paired with a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission, its performance numbers should be more than enough to make people forget about the disappearance of two cylinders from under the rear canopy. Still a year and a half from entering production, the new Ford GT is said to be partnered by a racing version, which should signal Ford’s return at Le Mans in 2016.