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Magic in Motown: Editor's Picks from the Detroit Auto Show

Howard Walker

Kia’s GT4 Stinger Concept

Kia’s GT4 Stinger Concept - North American International Auto Show - Editor's Picks of best in show from Howard Walker

Sports car lovers dream of fun drivers like this. A skinny-light, sexy-styled, rear-drive coupe with a 315-horse turbo four banger, six-speed stick and a sticker in the mid-$20s. Kia’s GT4 Stinger Concept may have a dumb name, but it checks all the right boxes. The Korean auto maker’s California design studio came up with the coupe’s gorgeous wrapper which has more bulges than Kim Kardashian in Spandex, a front end with flavors of Audi’s R8 and a very Volvo-esque rear. At 2800 pounds its a waif, which should mean fab performance. But stop salivating; right now it’s just a concept.


Cadillac ATS Coupe

Cadillac ATS Coupe - American Luxury Automobile - North American International Auto Show

There’s no rocket science here. Just like Caddy’s previous-gen CTS sedan spawned a two-door coupe, the smaller ATS sedan would also go two-door. But there’s just a soupçon of disappointment; after the rakish, razor-edged CTS Coupe, this ATS version is about as visually exciting as a cube of tofu. It’s like something the design team put together at ten-till-five on a Friday afternoon. Yes, it’s pretty, but it could have been so much more. And what’s doubly disappointing is that with the introduction of the ATS Coupe, Caddy says there’s no need for a CTS two-door. Not fair.


BMW M4 Coupe

BMW M4 Coupe - North American International Auto Show

The rocket is back. And about time too; we’ve missed ya. In the same way that BMW’s new coupe and convertible versions of the 3-series are now branded ‘4s’, so it is with the M Coupe. But gone is the previous naturally-aspirated 4.0-liter V8. In it’s place is a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 rated at 425-hp - 11 more than the old V8 - with a whopping 406 lb-ft of torque available from just 1800rpm. That’s an impressive 111 lb-ft increase.  Standard shifter is a manual six-speed with an available seven-speed dual clutch auto. Expect 0-to-60 sprinting in around 3.9 secs. They’ve also hacked around 150 pounds from the weight of the old M3 which should do wonders for the new coupe’s handling. Expect it here by late spring.


Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Mercedes-Benz C-Class - Howard Walker's ten best cars from the North American International Auto Show in Detroit

Anyone who thought that Mercedes’ perky ‘Priced-From-$29,995’ CLA would rob sales from the best-selling C-Class may want to take a look at this all-new C. And think again. This stunning sedan is now a Mini-Me version of the flagship S-Class featuring many of the S-Class’ cool styling cues. Gaze at it head-on and you could easily be mistaken that you’re looking at an S. I love the new headlamps with their sliver of LEDs, the gaping lower intakes and the long, long hood and short rear deck. It’s more accommodating too thanks to an extra three inches between the wheels and extra 3.7 inches overall. Initial engine offerings include a 235-hp turbo 2.0-liter four for the C300 and a 329-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 for the C400. Stateside sales start in the fall.


Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Concept

Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Concept - Automotive Editor Howard Walker's 10 Best Cars from the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit

If you’re Infiniti and a key sponsor of the hugely-successful Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team, you too would want some of the team’s pixie-dust to rub-off on your production cars. So put your hands together for the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge Concept. For those scratching their head, Eau Rouge is an infamous corner at the Spa Francorchamps race track in Belgium. Why they didn’t simply call the car the Q50 Red Bull I don’t know. Based on the stock Q50, this so-called concept features a myriad of go-faster body add-ons, like a carbon fiber roof and side skirts, carbon splitters, new bulging steel fenders, and huge 21-inch alloys. No word on the motor under the hood, but Infiniti hints at a honking V8 with over 500 horses and 600 lb-ft of twist. We say “bring it on”.

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February 2015