The 2018 Detroit Auto Show got the automotive year off to a bang earlier this week, with car companies eager to show off their latest contenders and give us a glimpse into the future.
This year’s show was big on variety, from sensible entry level sedans to muscle cars, trucks and swoopy concept cars.
In case you missed any of the action, here are some of the highlights.
Ford Mustang Bullitt
With all this sometimes-mind-numbing talk of automation, mobility and electrification that’s been dominating the industry headlines these days - along with the fact that seemingly every car company wants to launch a gazillion new soulless SUV derivatives in the near future - it was quite refreshing to see some old-school muscle hogging the limelight again.
Ford got Steve McQueen’s granddaughter Molly to introduce the 2019 Mustang Bullit, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic car chase movies of all time with retro styling touches and a 5-litre V8 tweaked to deliver 350kW and 570Nm.
And the old Bullitt..
But the real nostalgia overload came when Ford drove the original 1968 movie car (that McQueen piloted) onto the stage, thereby ending a 40-year mystery about the film car’s whereabouts.
Because we can!
Mercedes-Benz was also feeling a little on the nostalgic side, so to celebrate the birth of the all-new G-Class, the German carmaker audaciously submerged a 1979 model into 44 tonnes of resin. Waste of a good classic SUV or a cool time capsule? You be the judge.
New G-Class has its work cut out
Inside the halls, Mercedes pulled the covers off the new G-Class to much fanfare. With a slightly smoother and more elegant interpretation of that iconic blocky design, a completely modern cabin and a raft of clever offroading tech, the 2018 model straddles the lines between premium SUV and old-school bundu basher.
Hardly a Trump card
Chinese carmaker GAC signalled its intention to enter the US market in 2019 by showing some of its latest products, as well as the stylish Enverge concept car.
Only thing is, GAC sells its cars under the Trumpchi brand name in China, but the latter will have to be changed for the US market given how similar it sounds to a certain controversial motormouth.
Scenery in a digital world
Among the flashy and futuristic concept cars at Detroit was Nissan’s XMotion Concept, which it describes as a design exploration for a “potentially groundbreaking compact SUV”.
The interior, inspired by Japanese landscapes, boasts seven digital screen portions, including a digital 'room mirror' built into the ceiling, while the vehicle’s functions can be controlled by eye movements or gestures.
Infiniti finds Inspiration
There’s clearly no shortage of design inspiration in the gorgeous Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept, with its sweeping roofline and smart, minimalistic interior.
It’s also rather smart beneath the bonnet, where you'll find Infiniti’s new VC-Turbo engine that features a multi-link conrod of sorts that can continuously adjust the engine’s compression ratio to prioritise economy or performance, depending on the driver's desires at the time.
Lexus still knows no limits
The Lexus LF-1 Limitless Concept shows that Lexus has no intention of toning down its daring design philosophy.
Inspired by liquid metal and Japanese swords, the LF-1 shows the latest evolution of the carmaker’s styling language while also pointing to a future SUV flagship that would slot above the current RX.
Most exciting of the production cars was Hyundai's new Veloster, which still sports a quirky two-plus-one asymmetrical door set-up, albeit in a more muscular and less controversial wrapping.
Fittingly the redesign ushers in a potent 205kW N-badged flagship, although buyers can still opt for the 'regular' 150kW 1.6-litre turbo model pictured above.
Sensible shoes get smarter
Back in the real world, Kia was out to prove that 'sensible' compact sedans needn’t be a snoozefest.
The all-new Cerato boasts a more upscale design inside and out, although we’re still waiting for a turbocharged derivative to be announced. The Cerato is expected to reach SA around the third quarter of this year.
Jetta gets its green card
The other Corolla rival making a Detroit debut was VW’s new Jetta which, as the looks might imply, is aimed squarely at the American market. VW won’t even sell this one in Europe, nor South Africa for that matter.
Slotting onto VW’s MQB platform, the seventh-generation Jetta has swelled in size and brings VW’s latest digital goodies into the cabin, for what it’s worth.
Aiming for SUV chiefdom
Jeep has given its Cherokee a nose-job, replacing its controversial split-level headlight design with a more conventional look that should prove more palatable to buyers in this segment.
The revised SUV also gets a 2-litre turbopetrol engine option, borrowed from Italian sister brand Alfa Romeo.
Big bakkies all the rage
Let’s not forget the two big ‘bakkies’ that made their debut at the show, both ready to challenge America’s best selling vehicle, the Ford F-150.
The new Chevrolet Silverado (above) has shaved off 200kg in its latest iteration, while adding some fancy gadgets like a remote control tailgate and head-up display.
Fiat Chrysler’s Ram brand showed off its redesigned 1500 pick-up truck, which gains mild hybrid technology but retains the option of an old-school Hemi V8.
Oh, and a rumour out of Australia suggests that Ram might produce a right-hand-drive version for that market as well as SA.
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