• 2015 Detroit Auto Show - Preview

    With the Detroit Auto Show just a few weeks away, we decided to put together a little preview to show you what we can expect at the show.

As we bid farewell to 2014 in a flurry of champagne toasts and fireworks, we also look forward to the promises and possibilities of a new year. No, we aren’t talking about another shot at those broken resolutions. We’re talking about the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, also known as the North American International Auto Show, scheduled to kick off January 12, 2015. Considered by many to be the most important industry event this side of the Atlantic, we’ve already been treated to a multiplicity of rumors, teases, and full reveals ahead of the big sheet pulls. All the leading manufacturers will make an appearance, and as the first major press gathering of year, you can be sure there will be plenty of huge announcements and surprises in store.

In this preview, we’ve gathered some of the most exciting news surrounding the NAIAS, with developments coming from Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Acura, Volkswagen, and GMC, to name just a few. We’ve got the lowdown on the updated and the up-and-coming, from compacts to pickups, crossovers to sports cars. For example, there’s the 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350R, a hardcore track-oriented version of the sixth-generation pony car, or the debut of the new Tacoma, one of the most popular and reliable trucks ever made. There’s also Acura’s resurrection of the NSX, which bristles with technology and a good deal of hype, and the second-generation Chevrolet Volt, which is the bowtie brand’s revised entry for an accessible plug-in hybrid. The 2015 Detroit Auto Show is already shaping up to be one of the most exciting car events in quite some time, so hit the jump and inform yourself.

Updated 1/12/2015: The Detroit Auto Show is upon us, so we decided to brush the dust off of our preview article and update it with a few new cars that we were not aware were coming to The Motor City.
Click past the jump to read our preview of the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Where is it and when is it?

2015 Detroit Auto Show - Preview
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The 2015 Detroit Auto Show will be held at the Cobo Center, which is located at One Washington Blvd., in downtown Detroit, MI. The show is open to the public January 17th through the 25th. Tickets cost $13 per adult, $7 for seniors and children, and are available for purchase here.

Transportation to the center is available via the Detroit People Mover, an elevated rail system that makes connections to restaurants, bars, and other downtown attractions for $0.75 per passenger. Click here to view the railway schedule and route. Alternatively, parking is available at the Joe Louis Arena at 900 West Jefferson, the Cobo Roof Deck at 625 West Congress, and the Millennium Garage at 432 West Congress. Discounted airfare to the show is available via Delta - learn more here. The weather in Detroit at this time of the year is very cold, with highs expected at 33 degrees F and lows around 20 degrees F, so dress appropriately.

Press Conferences and Events

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With several days of press action in the lead up to public access, there is a LOT going on. These are the critical reveals, when automakers finally spill the official beans on that model you’ve been waiting so long to hear about, plus the industry events, where emerging trends are discussed and the best are recognized with awards. Check these lists to make sure you stay up to date on the latest news from Detroit, and stay tuned to TopSpeed for all the important tidbits:

Press conferences schedule (big reveals and official details)

Event schedule (industry discussion and awards)

Muscle Cars

Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R

When Ford lifted the curtain on the sixth-generation Mustang in 2013, performance enthusiasts worldwide were thrilled, heaping mountains of praise on the latest iteration of the blue oval’s iconic sports car for its wide range of engine options, independent rear suspension, and muscle-bound exterior design. Now, it looks like Ford is ready to unveil its latest super-powered version of the new Mustang with the Shelby GT350R.

Building on the already potent GT350 that made its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2014, the R is expected to be lighter, faster, and tuned specifically for track usage. We presume there to be bigger aero on the outside, six-point harnesses on the inside, and even more power from the naturally aspirated, 5.2-liter V-8, which already rolls out over 500 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque in the non-R trim GT350. According to Road&Track, you should also expect a six-speed manual and a specially tuned limited-slip differential. We’re thinking 0-to-60 mph in less than four seconds, not to mention handling capability heretofore unseen in a Mustang.

Green Cars

Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt
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The Volt was originally launched in 2010 as General Motors’ first volume-production plug-in, subsequently winning a variety of awards over the next several years. Not to be left behind in the ever-evolving world of green passenger cars, Chevrolet used extensive input from current Volt owners while developing its second-generation.

This next Volt will come with an all-new Extended-range Electric Vehicle (EREV) propulsion system, which includes a smaller battery pack, drive unit, and a revised, high-compression, 1.5-liter petrol engine, plus an overall curb weight that’s had about 100 pounds shaved off. The result of all these revisions is an expected 12-percent increase in overall efficiency. Moreover, we’ve heard rumors that the next generation Volt will be $10,000 cheaper than the first gen, putting it at around $25,000 from the dealership. If this speculation is eventually confirmed, additional federal tax credits will see total cost for the Volt fall to just under $20,000.

Coupes, Sedans and Convertibles

Buick Velite

GM Trademarks "Velite" Name High Resolution Exterior
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Buick says it’s bringing an “important new addition” to Detroit, and while that is essentially just corporate speak for “please hype me,” we can lift the veil a bit to see just what it might be suggesting.

For the past 10 years or so, Buick has been hinting at the release of a two-door convertible called the Velite. We’ve seen concepts, but not much more. Now, however, support for the idea that this “addition” is indeed the aforementioned roadster seems to be piling up. Rumors have been whispered that Buick will come to Detroit with a new convertible, but the most damning piece of evidence is GM’s recent patent application for the term “Velite”.

If the rumors are indeed true, we expect a rebadged Opel Cascada to appear come January. Built on the Delta II platform, this European special is equipped with three different engines in five different trim levels. These include a turbocharged, 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with 118 horsepower and 148-pound-feet of torque and a turbocharged, 1.6-liter four-cylinder topped out at 197 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. There’s also a turbo, 2.0-liter, diesel engine with up to 192 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Should the Cascada make it to these shores as the Velite, we’d expect a couple turbocharged 1.6-liter four-banger options to choose from.

Note: Photo is of the Opel Cascada

Luxury Cars

Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sport

2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 Exclusive Renderings
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Mercedes is looking to show up in Detroit with several new semi-performance models hot off the presses from its skunkworks division, AMG. First on the docket is the C450 AMG Sport, a sedan designed to fill the gap between the standard C400 and much more powerful C63 AMG. Accomplishing that feat is a projected 3.0-liter, V-6 engine with an estimated 375 to 400 horsepower. Not only will the C450 come with a ton of power, rumors persist of an all-wheel-drive 4MATIC version as well.

In addition to the C450 AMG, Mercedes is also expected to bring a high-powered coupe-crossover, possibly dubbed the GLE Coupe AMG. As a competitor to the BMW X6 M, the GLE Coupe is built on the standard M Class platform, but with a swept back exterior, short rear-end, a 544-horsepower engine, and all-wheel-drive.


Chevrolet Trax

2015 Chevrolet Trax High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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The Chevrolet Trax first made its debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show, but with the subcompact SUV crossover set to arrive in dealerships soon, the bowtie brand thought it sensible to put it on display one more time.

Aimed at a young buyer looking for a small crossover that still offers the high-stance and cargo space of an SUV, the Trax starts at a sensible $20,000. For the money, you get a turbocharged, 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with 138 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque, which yields 26 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. The transmission choice is limited to a single unit: a Hydra-Matic 6T40 six-speed slush box. While the drivetrain is not exactly pant-wettingly exciting, there is available all-wheel-drive, plus a cornucopia of interior features, like leather seats, seven-inch infotainment screen, OnStar 4G LTE with WiFi, Sirius XM radio, navigation, and Apple’s Siri Eyes Free software. For a young buyer looking for a crossover with car-like gas mileage, SUV stance, and tons of features, Chevy might be the way to go.

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe High Resolution Exterior
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BMW is often credited for creating the coupe-crossover niche segment with the X6. In response, Mercedes has dropped the curtain on the new GLE Coupe, divulging the official details several weeks before its public debut in Detroit.

The coupe-crossover philosophy is simple: take a large, high-stance SUV, and add the swoopy lines of a coupe by shortening the rear end curving the roofline. Throw in a drivetrain capable of motivating all that mass to a decent performance spec, mount a huge amount of rubber to keep it glued in the corners, and the result is a physics-defying highway bruiser.

Mercedes followed this formula to a tee: the exterior is swollen with sporting intent draped over SUV-like proportions, the top-range engine is a biturbo, 3.0-liter V-6 producing 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, the transmission is a nine-speed auto, 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system is included, and standard 21-inch lightweight alloy wheels at the corners come wrapped in high-performance 275/45 tires up front and 315/40 tires in the rear. Inside, there’s leather and Alcantara upholstery, sports seats, high-end infotainment, aluminum, wood, or carbon trim, and all the other technology bits Mercedes is known for.

As the first real X6 competitor, the GLE Coupe certainly appears to be a stout performer. But with additional coupe-crossovers entering the market, it’ll be up to BMW to make the next move. Where will the niche go next? Perhaps even more performance? More girth? For now, we’ll have to wait and see.


Toyota Tacoma

2016 Toyota Tacoma Exterior
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After about 10 changeless years, the new Tacoma is finally making its debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Over the previous two generations, Toyota made a ton of sales with this unflappable pickup, and now its time to see what it plans to do to improve it.

Teasers so far have only led to a few small slices of the exterior and a mountain of speculation. Here’s what we think we’ll be seeing in a few weeks time: an upgraded exterior with a larger front grille, plus the “TACOMA” stamped lettering on the tailgate. Like the Camry, the interior should be upgraded with improved materials, plus features like Entune infotainment software, USB ports, and a 110-volt outlet. The current engine options, a 4.0-liter V-6 with 236 horsepower, and 2.7-liter inline-four with 159 horsepower, are both in desperate need of a change. We’re thinking more power from both the V-6 and I-4 configurations, with possibly a diesel option, and maybe even a hybrid as well. The transmission should gain a gear to at least a six-speed.

All the photos and videos from Toyota thus far have featured some degree of off-road excitement, which is par for the course in truck promos, but still, we should expect some really nice capabilities in the dirt, especially from Toyota’s tuning division, TRD.

GMC Canyon Special Edition

2015 GMC Canyon High Resolution Exterior
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After a few brief years on the sidelines, the GMC Canyon re-emerged at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show to a great deal of fanfare and praise. The latest model comes with three different engines, including a 2.5-liter inline-four, 3.6-liter V-6, and, new for the 2016 model year, a Duramax, 2.8-liter, turbo-diesel four-cylinder. There’s either a manual or automatic option for the transmission, both of which are six-speeds, plus the requisite four-wheel-drive system. When combined with the automatic transmission, the 2.5-liter engine can achieve up to 27 mpg on the highway, which is impressive for a midsize truck. Throw in an improved interior, which comes with a standard 3.4-inch infotainment screen, optional navigation, available leather, and tons of other techy options, the Canyon represents a fresh, refined approach to trucking. Unfortunately, the launch for the Canyon saw a sizable hiccup when a recall was issued for faulty airbags.

To help move past this, GMC is bringing a special-edition Canyon to Detroit in 2015. Details on what makes it so special are non-existent, but if we were to guess, we’d speculate minor aesthetic tweaks like new wheels and an exclusive paint scheme, plus maybe some kind of off-road focused feature (like a winch).

Performance Cars

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

Alfa Romeo will officially launch the 4C Coupe in the U.S. today, and it is bringing the 4C Spider along for the ride. Check out the reveal video above.

Acura NSX

2016 Acura NSX Exterior
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Way back in the stone ages of the early 90s, Acura unleashed the NSX on the world, and it was good. Combining exotic looks, a high-performance engine, handling refined by Ayrton Senna, cutting-edge technology, and bulletproof reliability, the Japanese automaker had a real hit on its hands. Then in 2005, the NSX was discontinued, putting an end to the vehicle considered by many to be one of the best Japanese sports cars ever made.

Now, here we are, about a decade later, with the resurrection of the NSX only a few short weeks away. The pressure, you could say, is mounting.

With such large shoes to fill, Acura’s parent manufacturer (Honda) is once again relying on the formula of a spacey exterior merged with advanced performance technology to draw in customers. Spy shots and teasers have revealed the majority of the former, with a large front splitter, LED headlights, vents, inlets, and aggressive profile lines. Leaks around the latter point to a twin-turbo, 3.5-liter V-6 engine, mated to no less than three electric motors; one for each wheel up front, and one for the back.

This information leads us to conclude that the new NSX will power all four corners using Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH AWD) system through a dual-clutch seven-speed transmission. Total combined output from this hybrid is expected to be 500 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque, which will translate into a run to 60 mph in less than four seconds and a top speed of 180 mph. As a competitor to the wickedly-quick Audi R8 and tech-laden BMW i8, the NSX is reemerging at a time when the term “cutting-edge” is both elusive and transitory. We’ll soon see how it makes the cut.

Ford Focus RS, Ford F-150 Raptor, Ford GT Successor

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 High Resolution Exterior
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We’ve grouped these three blue oval products into a single gaggle of Ford speculation, as details on each are either sparse, second-hand, or both. First, it was recently announced that the traditionally Europe-only Focus RS will indeed come stateside. This 2016 model will represent the next generation with a new drivetrain, as early reports indicate an enhanced version of the 2.3-liter, EcoBoost turbo four found in the Mustang, which should produce roughly 330 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. Expect a six-speed manual gearbox, plus, for the first time, the possibility of all-wheel-drive.

Next, according to Car and Driver and Road&Track, the new F-150 Raptor should also break cover in Detroit. With a demeanor well suited to tackling the Dakar rally, the Raptor is a high-performance off-roader with tons of suspension travel, tires capable of handling any loose surface, and a 400-horsepower V-8. For this new version, we’re expecting a lighter chassis, even more power, and higher capabilities.

Last, but certainly not least, there are persistent rumors that a successor to the Ford GT will also make an appearance in Detroit. With overall sales improving and demand for high-powered sports cars on the rise, such a move may be well timed. However, Ford will need to prove that this revival is more than just a good-looking throwback- it’ll need to come with the performance, and more importantly, the reliability, to hang with a range of solid competitors in the segment (most notably, TopSpeed’s Performance Car of the Year, the Chevrolet Corvette Z06). If Ford does pull the trigger on a project like this, we expect it to come bearing a boosted, high-strung variant of the flat-crank V-8 found in the Shelby Mustang GT350, and both a manual and quick-shift paddle gearbox for transmission options.

Earlier this month, Ford broke the news that its new performance tuning house, dubbed Ford Performance, would combine SVT, Team RS, and Ford Racing into a singular organization. The new skunkworks division is already tasked with creating 12 new performance models in the next five years, possibly including the new Focus RS, the Fiesta ST, and F-150 Raptor. If you love fast Fords, break out the party hats, because it looks like Detroit will kick off one very exciting new era for the blue oval.

Note: Photo is of the Ford GT40

Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop

2015 Mini John Cooper Works Hardtop Exterior
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The Mini JCW Hardtop is here with a redesigned body, roomier cabin and a ton more power. Check it out at TopSpeed.com.

The MINI may have grown in proportions since the name was sold to BMW, but thankfully, horsepower has also increased to support the extra girth. Now, MINI is releasing the most powerful model ever developed, labeled the John Cooper Works Hardtop. For those of you who don’t know, John Cooper is a name that harkens back to the earlier 1960s British Mini, when the lightweight, front-drive platform was used quite successfully as a rally racer. With a history and name to live up to, the turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-four in this MINI has an extra 20 horsepower and 29 pound-feet of torque, raising output to 228 and 236 respectively. That means it’ll blitz to sixty mph in 5.8 seconds, all with that trademark MINI nimbleness in the handling.

Complimenting the more powerful engine is either a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Stylistically, there is a new grille, large front air inlets, and a few JCW badges, while the interior comes with bolstered sport seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and additional JCW branding. There are even selectable driving modes (“Green”, “Mid”, and “Sport”) that affect acceleration, steering, shifting, and engine note.

Pricing is unannounced as of this writing, but given the upscale features and big time brand recognition, we expect a rather steep outlay for this particular hot hatch, especially compared to something like a Fiat 500 Abarth.


2016 - 2018 BMW M2 Exclusive Renderings
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After debuting the 2 Series at last year’s Detroit Auto Show, the Germans are back with their M2 high-performance variant. Sporting the customary bulging fenders and hard coupe appearance found throughout the M lineup, the M2 is expected to come bearing extensive carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) componentry. A hallmark of the new i8, CFRP is that magic combination of high strength and low weight, perfect for a platform like the M2.

To realize speed capabilities worthy of an M badge, we expect an upgraded version of the twin-turbo, 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine powering the M235i, with output rated somewhere around 400 horses. Rounding out this performance package should be a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which will render a 0-to-60 time of a smidge over four seconds, placing the M2 neatly behind it’s bigger and badder sibling, the M4. As BMW’s entry-level sports car, this $55,000 autobahn stormer is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Lexus GS F

2016 Lexus GS F Exclusive Renderings
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Recently, Lexus Group Vice President Jeff Bracken told WardsAuto that the Japanese automaker is planning to debut “at least one, if not two new models” at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show. One of these is believed to be the new GS F. As a competitor to the venerable BMW M4 and Jaguar XF-R, Toyota’s luxury brand better come packing when it finally makes the big reveal, but as early indications would suggest, Europe might have something to think about.

Described as the four-door equivalent of the Lexus RC F, the GS F is expected to receive the same 5.0-liter, V-8 engine with an estimated output of around 500 horsepower, along with a close-ratio, eight-speed automatic transmission. Traction is maximized via a torque-vectoring differential in the rear, plus high-performance tires on 19-inch alloy wheels. Other sporting intent cues include four-piston calipers clamping down on slotted rotors, which are cooled by functional bumper ducts. There’s a raised hood to accommodate the large engine, subtle aero enhancements, and a quad exhaust in the rear. The inside is treated to sport seats, aluminum-rimmed gauges, and a new steering wheel. Also, carbon composites are expected to help shed weight.

We’ve seen plenty of valiant attempts at ousting established high-end vehicles like the aforementioned Bimmer and Jag, most of which fail. Will this beast from the east be any different?

Concept Cars

Infiniti Q60 Concept

2015 Infiniti Q60 Concept
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In a bid to play with big timers like the Audi A5 and BMW 4 Series, Nissan’s luxury brand, Infiniti, is thinking about revamping its upscale Q60 sports coupe by bringing a concept version of the up-and-coming 2016 model to Detroit. Speaking to MotorTrend at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, Infiniti Executive Design Director Alfonso Albaisa described the concept as “very, very, very, very close to the next Q60”. We don’t know exactly what that means, but we can speculate that the Q60 will retain its original 3.7-liter V-6 engine, which is good for 330 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque in the current trim. However we wouldn’t be surprised if there were a few more performance tweaks added to stay ahead of the Germans. Hybrid power is also a possibility, with a slightly smaller 3.5-liter V-6 paired to an electric motor for some nice economy when cruising, or insta-torque when overtaking. We think hybrid power for a car in this segment would be great; while it would complicate the drivetrain, it would also extend the usability of Nissan’s internal combustion V-6, an engine that, in our opinion, could use a refresh. So far, details have been kept tightly under wraps, but we do know one thing for certain: that’s a rather attractive roofline in the teaser.

Volkswagen Concept Crossover

2013 Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe Concept High Resolution Exterior
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With a U.S. product lineup composed of mostly compacts and hatchbacks, Volkswagen might be looking to expand its SUV and crossover offerings with a new five-seat concept vehicle. According to Reuters, anonymous sources have leaked the German automaker’s plans to create a crossover prototype based off a proposed seven-seater SUV.

Given the immense popularity of these types of vehicles, the move would not be a surprising one — VW is expected to offer more than six new SUVs and crossovers in the next few years. Currently, American VW customers in this segment can choose between either the Touareg or Tiguan, but the company has confirmed its intentions to create an SUV even larger than the former, as well as a coupe-style variant of the latter. However, to standout in a crowd as big as this one, VW will need to produce a product that is both distinct and innovative. We’ve already seen one example, the CrossBlue Coupe concept pictured above, at the Shanghai Auto Show in 2013. Whether or not that particular sports hybrid, which came with 409 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, will have any bearing on this new concept remains to be seen.

Note: Photo is of the Volkswagen CrossBlue Coupe Concept

Jonathan Lopez
Jonathan Lopez
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