2014 Detroit Auto Show: The Dozen Biggest Debuts Of Cars Coming To A … – Forbes

Posted: Saturday, January 18, 2014
The 2014 Detroit auto show is host to 61 global debuts. Ford had a huge display, shown here, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Mustang. (Credit: Ford)

The 2014 Detroit auto show is host to 61 global debuts. Ford’s massive stand, shown here, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Mustang. (Credit: Ford)

Performance cars supplanted alternative-fuel vehicles as the main attraction at this year’s North American International Auto Show. But just because automakers are busy unveiling fast and powerful machines like the BMW M3 Sedan, Chevrolet Corvette Z06 and Lexus RC F doesn’t mean they’re ignoring fuel economy.

Quite the contrary. The BMW M3 has a downsized engine that is 25 percent more efficient than last year’s while offering more torque. The all-new 2015 Ford F-150 pickup, which obviously isn’t a performance car but is a fuel-chugging powerhouse of a different kind, drops a whopping 700 pounds and adds a new twin-turbo V6 engine to cut fuel economy (Ford has not released full mileage data yet).

“For the first time, with this redesign, the F-150 is actually positive to its fuel economy regulatory requirement,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s group vice president of product development, speaking at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference, during the second press day of the Detroit auto show. Until now, Ford has had to sell one small, fuel-efficient car for every F-150 it sold,  just to offset the pickup truck’s negative fuel economy. That’s not the case anymore.

Considering that Ford sells millions of F-150 pickups— it is the country’s best-selling vehicle for many years running—this change will have a far greater impact on overall fuel consumption than, say, the relatively smaller number of Fusion Hybrids Ford will sell by comparison.

Other potential game-changing vehicles revealed in Motor City include Chrysler’s new 200 and Hyundai’s remade Genesis. Both sedans seek to elevate the image of their respective brands by bringing new levels of performance and luxury.

Of the more than two-dozen world debuts at the Detroit auto show, here are the 12 production vehicles destined for showrooms that promise to have the biggest impact on their companies and the industry overall. (After already making such a big splash as simultaneous unveilings across the globe, we left off the 2015 Ford Mustang, even though this technically is its first appearance at an auto show.)

2015 BMW M3 Sedan & M4 Coupe

Albert Biermann, vp and head of engineering for BMW's M division, next to the 2015 BMW M4. (Credit: Matthew de Paula)

Albert Biermann, vp and head of engineering for BMW’s M division, next to the 2015 BMW M4. (Credit: Matthew de Paula)

The M3 has been split into two lines for 2015. The sedan continues to be called the M3, while the coupe is now called the M4. Both lose weight and gain torque from a downsized engine that is turbocharged to deliver even more power. Beneath their aluminum, carbon-fiber and steel bodies, these two look a lot like true race cars. The question is: How well has BMW tamed the noise, vibration and harshness that comes from using hardcore, track-oriented technology?

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

Andrew Smith, Cadillac's executive director of design, presenting the new ATS Coupe at the Detroit auto show. (Credit: Cadillac)

Andrew Smith, Cadillac’s executive director of design, presenting the new ATS Coupe at the Detroit auto show. (Credit: General Motors)

Cadillac has its sights set on outdoing BMW’s new 4 Series with this two-door version of the ATS sedan. The base four-cylinder turbocharged engine has nearly 14 percent more torque than its four-door counterpart. A six-cylinder is also available. Enhancements like a robust engine cooling system, limited-slip differential and Brembo brakes prove that Cadillac is serious about track performance. The ATS Coupe goes on sale this summer.

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06

GM CEO Mary Barra and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden check out the 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 in Detroit. (Credit: Chevrolet)

GM CEO Mary Barra and Vice President Joe Biden check out the 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06 in Detroit. (Credit: General Motors)

We’ve all been waiting for it, and Chevy did not disappoint. This new high-performance version of the seventh-generation Corvette promises to exceed the performance of even the mighty ZR-1 from the previous generation, which thus far has been the most powerful and pricey production Vette in history. The new Z06 features an all-new 625-horsepower supercharged V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission. Look out Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche.

2015 Chrysler 200

The 2015 Chrylser 200 has a more sophisticated look than the model it replaces. (Credit: Matthew de Paula)

The 2015 Chrylser 200 has a more sophisticated look than the model it replaces. (Credit: Matthew de Paula)

Designers made this new midsize sedan so svelte that it actually looks like a compact car in person. Reviews on the show floor were mixed, but there’s no arguing that inside and out, the new 200 is far more sophisticated than before. Chrysler is hoping that exclusive features like a nine-speed automatic transmission, said to help achieve 35 miles per gallon highway, will help it compete in this highly contested category dominated by Ford, Honda and Toyota. Expect to see it in showrooms during the second quarter.

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