Best of the ’15 Detroit Auto Show: Where are they now?
As we look forward to January’s annual auto class reunion at Cobo Center, our minds wander to last year’s graduates. The best of the best. North American International Auto Show, Summa Cum Laude. The Detroit News’ Top Ten.
Where are they now?
Is the hunky Acura NSX as fast as it looks? Did Chevy Bolt change its name to not be confused with the Volt? Are we sipping drinks in the back of that self-driving Mercedes yet? Here’s the skinny.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Acura NSX
NSX cultists waited breathlessly for the second coming of the production supercar after the concept was unveiled at the 2012 Detroit show. They got it in 2015 ... and are waiting again until the $150K-plus, 2017 model arrives for sale next spring. A fortunate few auto enthusiast mags got a taste of the all-wheel-drive hybrid at Sonoma Raceway this fall and the reviews were, well, electric. A few details to whet your appetite: mid-mounted twin-turbo V6 mated to electric motors producing 573 horsepower and 476 lb-feet of torque; 14.5 inch Brembo brakes; quicker zero-60 than the Ferrari 458, Porsche 911 Turbo, or Audi R8. Pant, pant.
2. Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
The topless 4C is the most fun you can have with your clothes on. Like an oversized go-kart, its stiff carbon-fiber chassis can be thrown through corners with abandon. Not to say it’s perfect. The blown 1.7-liter engine has serious turbo lag, and stowing the cloth-top in the boot takes up all your trunk space. The first Alfa to hit U.S. shores, the 4C will share the ’16 stand — and stares — with the new, 505-horsepower Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio sedan.
3. Chevy Bolt
That’s Bolt with a “B.” Not to be confused with the Volt sedan, the all-electric crossover Bolt concept wowed the 2015 show and will be in production trim inside Cobo. Spy shots of the Bolt reveal shared design cues with the Volt. With Tesla’s Model 3 delayed — indeed, Tesla will be AWOL at the NAIAS — the Bolt can lay claim as the first 200-mile range electric under $40K.
4. Toyota Tacoma
After GM’s Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon tried to take back the small pickup segment in 2014, Toyota unsheathed a thoroughly updated Tacoma last January. Where the GM twins offer city slickers something smaller than a Silverado aircraft carrier, the Tacoma is the off-roader’s pickup. With the Tacoma’s 32-degree approach angle, you can scale the face of Mount Rushmore. Toyota has maintained its 50 percent share of the hot segment — which is about to get more crowded with offerings from Ford and Nissan.
5. Ford GT
The sizzling GT blew the roof off Cobo in 2015. Where recent Ford icons like the Ford F-150 and Edge have emphasized green fuel efficiency, the GT sees only red. Ferrari red. It aims to devour the Italian stallion at LeMans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its first conquest there. The racer will first compete in January at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Expect the $175K production version in late ’16.
6. Ford F-150 SVT Raptor
While the GT aims to be King of the Track, the Raptor will rule the dirt. Sporting the same lightweight aluminum skin as the F150 pickup, Raptor will otherwise bulk up on shocks and suspension steroids to better assault the Outback. Like GT, Raptor will come with a bonkers, twin-turbo V6.
7. Mini Superleggera
Mini Cooper will ignore the Detroit Auto Show in 2016. Fortunately, it won’t turn tail on the sexy Superleggera concept it showed in ’15. The two-seat sports car is a radical break from Mini’s traditional, rolling shoebox. If the British car press is to be believed, the Superleggera will arrive in 2019 with a hybrid drivetrain and all the cool features — shark fin and Union Jacks embedded in the tail-lights — that made our hearts thump.
8. Mercedes F015 autonomous vehicle
While Google’s marshmallow car hints at a practical, self-driving future, luxury makers are exploring more eccentric variations. Audi boasts a self-driving race car and Mercedes debuted an F015 concept in ’15 that looked like something out of Woody Allen’s “Sleeper.” A living room on wheels, the F is designed for relaxation around a table with floor-to-ceiling screens broadcasting your social media. Or something. No production plans yet.
9. Mazda CX-3
Americans don’t like compact hatchbacks. So automakers called them “subcompact SUVs” and now they sell like hotcakes. Buick Encore, Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade. The Mazda CX-3 is the best-handling hatch — er, ute — of the lot. The same size as a Mazda 3 sedan, the stylin’ CX-3 has brought ZOOM ZOOM to SUVs. Just don’t try to tow your boat with it.
10. Cadillac ATS-V, CTS-V
V is for VROOM. The Cadillac ATS-V achieved what no one thought possible — parity with the best-handling sedans on the planet, the BMW M3 and M4. But it’s the CTS-V that will make your palms sweat. Ever wanted to try a four-door Corvette Z06? The CTS has the same supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8.