Audi Allroad Shooting Brake Concept
After the Nanuk and the Sport Quattro, you’d think Audi would smarten up and actually give us a concept that would go into production. Have they done it this time? Sort of. The Allroad Shooting Brake concept “combines the core values of TT, quattro, and allroad” and is the basis of the upcoming Audi TT. Apparently based on how the presentation went this concept sounds as if it is nearly identical to the upcoming Audi TT, which is good I guess. One of the most talked about things is the digital dashboard, which we saw at CES 2014, which is a good thing. Confirmed so far is a hybrid powertrain that is rated for 402hp and 480 lb-ft. of torque via front and rear mounted electric motors. Audi has already confirmed that they will be releasing a Q3 SUV, which is basically a smaller Q5, but when asked about a potential Q1 no statement was made.
BMW has gone mad with it’s current naming schemes. First off there was only a 3- and a 5- series to worry about. Something happened to the 8-series and the 7-series stagnated for a while. Then we got the 6-series which was a 5-series with 2 doors removed, and BMW thought they should do the same with it’s other cars. So they took the 3-series and removed 2 doors, to make the 4-series (as counter intuitive as that is) and the 1-series got the same treatment. So here’s how the BMW landscape looks: 1-series (4 doors), 2-series (2 doors), 3-series (4 doors), 4-series (2 doors), 5-series (4 doors), 6-series (2 doors), and so on and so forth. Don’t even get me started on the availability of “gran coupe” versions of the sedans because it’s utterly pointless. Anyways, there’s a new M235i out and it’s coming to North America.
With the M3 and M4 releases out of the way, BMW finally attended to giving ///M versions to it’s other models. We used to have the M135i but that is now the M235i for whatever reasons, I can’t figure out. Anywho, Americans apparently really liked the compact sports car so now we have even better small compact sports cars. Power comes from a 3.0L straight six (BMW is famed for these) that is rated for 326hp and features both supercharging and direct fuel injection. A six-speed manual is standard but you can get it with an automatic with paddle shifters.
Chevrolet C7 Z06
Good news America, General Motors has finally used its common sense and given us a maniacal, yellow monster of a car! If you weren’t already convinced that the C7 Stingray was a good car to start with, then now is the time to change your mind. The Z06 will come in three models with each getting varying levels of performance and aero goodies (the priciest one being the Z07). The philosophy was always to take the previous gen’s highest performing car and trickle those attributes down to the next Z06, and that is what they have done. The C7 Z06 is 60% stiffer than the C6 ZR1 yet features the same suspension and tires. The engine is an all new, supercharged LT4 V8 featuring variable valve timing and cylinder shutoff, which should be good for economy. Power is right up there with the best of the best, with numbers of 625hp and 635 lb-ft. of torques. If you already couldn’t tell, the Z06 also has a bunch of aero to aid its performance and yes, they are all functional. Two transmission options are available: a seven speed manual and an eight speed automatic (though it’s not a ZF box so don’t know how good it will be).
Sticking with Chevrolet, we finally have a car that enthusiasts have been waiting to see for quite a long time, and finally we don’t have to look at camo’d up teaser cars. Alongside the Z06 reveal is the reveal of the GT-spec C7-R, which in essence picks up where the already competitive C6-R left off, and makes many improvements. First off, the car has been updated to meet the new TUSCC guidelines; that means everything from chassis design and safety to power output and efficiency. The C7-R is set to debut at the first official TUSCC race in a few weeks, where it will battle it out with GT3/GTE spec cars (Porsche 011, SRT Viper GTSR, BMW Z4). The C7-R features a tuned 5.5L V8 based on the base LT4 Stingray platform, and was developed alongside the C7 Z06 (which should be obvious given the aero). Also expect it to return to European endurance racing such as Le Mans, where we will get to witness the classic Aston Martin-Corvette duel, among my personal all-time favourite rivalries.
Is it just me or does it look like Chrysler just asked Dodge for a Dart and then just hit the “enlarge” button on a photocopier? Anyways, the new 200 will feature a 3.6L V6 rated for 295hp, mated to a nine-speed (yes you heard right, nine) transmission with standard all-wheel drive. The alternative powertrain is a 2.4L engine with FWD standard. For once, the 200 is actually a car that you’d want to own (which should be expected eventually, especially with what they did to the 300 over the years). Four models should be available for purchase: LX, Limited, 200S, and 200C. Price is to start at $22K and top out at $26K.
I’m not much of a truck guy so I don’t know why I put this on the list, but it’s next alphabetically so I guess I’ll write a bit for it. Ford’s been on the ball this year with new releases and updates, with the obvious ones being the new Mustang. However, the F-150 light truck platform has also seen its share of new goodies. Parden me Ford, but this truck looks massive but I guess you make up for it if it really is less massive in the weight department. Although not similar to their Atlas concept that everybody loved, the new F150 does have EcoBoost available to it (alongside the current V6 and V8 in the outgoing F150); stronger steel and more aluminum has been used in the chassis (total of 700lbs of weight savings). Much like the Mustang, the F150 gets a lot of toys as well; parking cameras, remote power tailgate, 400W outlets, an 8” infotainment center, etc. The F150 will be available in XL, XLT, Lariat, Platinum, FX4, and King Ranch trim levels.
Uhg. Again? Oh well, it’s next on the list so here we go (I believe it’s the last one). The Colorado is supposedly going to be a huge contender in this segment of the truck market, and it apparently takes some cues from the Sierra. Much like any other truck, it comes in multiple different cab styles and the interior apparently got a leather and faux-carbon fibre treatment. Also noted is that the Canyon features a touch infotainment system… and other stuff I can’t be bothered to write about.
Ever think to yourself that the current offerings from Hyundai didn’t look bad enough already? Well think that no longer! The updated styling for 2015 has been unveiled and unsurprisingly, it looks worse! I really have nothing much more to say about Hyundai’s “Fluidic Design 2.0” so…
Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge
The Q50 has been around for a while now, but there are some people who claim that this “performance” sedan just doesn’t get their adrenaline going. Fear not, Infiniti has heard your pleas and has hinted that if they build this vaporware “Eau Rouge” spec Q50, it will surely have over 500hp and 600 lb-ft. of torque at its disposal. As a subsidiary of Nissan, and with credentials like being partnered with RedBullRacing, I don’t doubt that they could be capable of this feat. They have not specified what engine will be put into the Q50ER, but they have a huge variety to choose from; all that we do know is that it will be a “v-cylinder engine” whatever that means. Also, excuse me Infinity; I know your parent company is Nissan, but why does it look like you just stole stuff off of the R35 GTR? Don’t get me wrong, back in the day when people were putting R34 GTR parts on the Nissan Stagea it was awesome but now… wait no, it’d be awesome if they actually did it with the Q50. Please make it happen. EDIT: GOOD NEWS! The Q50 Eau Rouge has been ordered into production! Final numbers are still pretty sketchy, but the "at least" 500 hp has been confirmed and Infiniti's mission objective of being Japan's luxury brand lives on! I still want one really badly.
Kia GT4 Stinger Concept
Exciting news from Kia, which is surprising because nothing exciting usually comes from them. In short, this is the Toyobaru fighter you’ve always wanted (Mazda’s Miata never really hit the mark and Alfa Romeo’s 4C missed it completely). Think of it as the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, but Kia-ized… if that makes sense. The GT4 Stinger Concept is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged inline 4 cylinder, rated for 315hp and mated to a six speed manual transmission that sends all the power to the rear. If they can price this 2+2 competitively against the GT86/BRZ/FRS, then I think we have a real winner here. Kia emphasizes that this will be coming to the public domain very, very soon. (Also it’s named Stinger and is yellow because honey bees are yellow and have stingers. I kid you not)
Mercedes is at it again, with another styling update to their current line of offerings; though for the C-Class, it goes beyond just aesthetical changes. Yes, the C-Class looks like an S-Class that went through a photocopier on the “shrink” setting, but it is also 220 lbs lighter than the outgoing mode, making it officially the lightest car in its segment. Lots of aluminum was used in this chassis in key areas such as the fenders, hood, trunk, and roof. The base (C180) weighs in at 2,888 lbs, down from 3,108 lbs in the outgoing C108. However, these are European spec models so expect North America-bound cars to be a tad heavier (because of the stricter safety regulations and whatnot). For reference, the competitors are still heavier than the new C-Class; both the BMW 3-series and Cadillac ATS are 3,300 lbs and up whilst the Audi A4 and Infiniti Q50 are 3,500 lbs and up.
Mini John Cooper Works Concept
The upcoming Minis haven’t been that impressive if I’m honest with you… they took away the center speedometer which was always important for a Mini and after that, I just kind of lost interest. But oh well, there’s a new John Cooper Works version now and hopefully it won’t be an utterly disappointing and overpriced model like the last one. As a car that slowly grew from the tiny car it once was to an utterly massive car that was nearly the size of a VW Golf, the performance hasn’t seen as significant of an improvement. Now however, a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder (co-designed by BMW) is available and is rated for 189hp and 207 lb-ft. of torque (for the Cooper S; no Works spec engine was announced).
Nissan Sports Sedan Concept
With the R35 going EOL and with the announcement of the IDx and BladeGlider concepts, I guess it would be a challenge for Nissan to top themselves at the next international auto show. Have they done it? Kind of. Both the Maxima and Altima lines have staggered, and similar to Datsun as a whole, Nissan needed to do something about it. So now we have the new Sports Sedan Concept. This will probably be the next sedan Nissan releases, as they’ve hinted at it for a while. It clearly takes design cues from the BladeGlider and I think it looks pretty handsome. If it uses the engine out of the Juke-R (as amazing as it is), I think it would be a great sell. Though, the blacked out pillars that were first only associated with the GTR are now being incorporated into nearly every new model and it’s getting kind of old.
Porsche 911 Targa
Yup, Porsche is bringing back the Targa style to its 911s (type 991); that’s great and all, but when are you going to give us a 991 GT3RS. Anywho, this Targa uses a super trick automatic roof that is different from the sliding glass used in previous 911s (type 997). The new system is fully automatic and features a metallic accent hoop which pays homage to various historical 911s, or something. Looks like the Targa will only be for the C4 and C4S trim levels, but no word on if it is final or not.
Most of you have already come across the new SRT Viper, and despite the QC issues and the fact that it hasn’t performed as well as we might have expected, not much has changed to date. If you came here looking for a new Viper to suddenly emerge… no dice. SRT has instead only announced a new colour; “Stryker Green” which obviously pays homage to “Snakeskin Green” of Vipers past. Still, it looks quite “stryking” to be honest; SRT really hit the nail on the head with the styling.
Ever since Nissan revived the GTR, the entire world wondered when the other JDM icons would finally make a return. Honda hinted at the NSX replacement for a long time, but nearly a decade has passed and we still don’t have a VTEC dragon. The only real JDM challenger to come out after the GTR was of course the LFA, but that was priced stupidly high and was selling at a loss. Of course, Lexus is owned by Toyota so think of the LFA as a scouting party, what up Starcraft reference. Toyota has even hinted that it will be revealing a new sports car very soon, what with the partnership with Subaru to bring the GT86/BRZ to market and the announcement with BMW to use their inline 6 engines for “future sports cars” (RIP 2JZ). The time has come, and the FT-1 looks promising (though there is no mention of whether or not this will be commercially available in the future).
First off, FT-1 is an abbreviation for Future Toyota…. 1. The project started 20 months ago as a collaboration between Toyota’s CALTY design studio and none other than Polyphony Digital, the studio known for its renowned success with the Gran Turismo series and the design of the R35’s UI. Much like Nissan’s CEO, Toyota’s CEO also has a broad history of racing expertise and wanted a new sports car flagship to unleash onto the world. The FT1 takes obvious design cues from past Toyotas such as the legendary Celicas and Supras of days past, whilst featuring design cues from the LFA and 12C (P1) among others. You can also see in-house inspiration from Toyota’s past F1 cars (before they dropped out) as well as their WEC-spec TS030 race car. The exterior was designed as if the car was sculpted by air, and that’s where Polyphony comes in; Toyota used their GT5 concept to aid in the overall design of the car, which incorporated a 3D virtual design alongside a 1:1 size clay model and … it worked (GT6 was not finished at the time, so that’s why Polyphony used GT5 instead).
Volvo Concept XC Coupe
Volvo hasn’t really given us anything new recently, and Polestar has yet to impress us the same way that ///M or AMG have, but I guess this is something… right? The XC90 that this concept resembles will be available with a T6 Drive-E engine rated for close to 400hp, which should be good I guess. The orange parts make it go faster, obviously.
VW Beetle Dune Concept
Ever think the Beetle looked a bit childish, even after the new Porsche-inspired update? Me too. This might change your mind though. Inspired (maybe) by the Baja Bug, this car looks like it could obviously handle whatever off-roading you throw at it. And the good news is that it might be heading to showrooms in the future. For some reason, VW claims 23 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, with a 0-60mph time of 7.5 seconds. Power comes from VW’s 208hp turbocharged engine mated to a DSG transmission with an electric differential, ‘cause you need that when you’re going offroad.
VW Passat BlueMotion
If you’ve ever been concerned about hurting the environment and wanting to drive a boring car but didn’t want a Prius, then the VW BlueMotion line has always been the next best choice. Without any electric assistance or diesel power, BlueMotion has been capable of 42 MPG which is impressive. Powered by a 1.4L four-cylinder engine rated for 150hp, this car also features cylinder de-activation which isn’t common for this sort of platform. The BlueMotion screams efficiency and low resistance, as seen in the 7 speed DSG transmission that will coast whenever power isn’t needed.
VW CrossBlue Concept
Those of you who followed the show last year will recognize this one. Yes, VW is once again fielding their CrossBlue Concept which is a seven passenger SUV targeted at the United States. It relies primarily on a 190hp diesel engine, but also features two electric motors (54hp in the front and 114hp in the rear); total output is supposedly 516 lb-ft. of torque. Key is 2016. Personally, I think VW is missing out on a huge opportunity; instead of giving us another SUV, just give us a modern Microbus. I still see a lot of them around where I live, and it’d be awesome if they brought it back (there is a cult following afterall).