Held in the Cobo Hall, the North American International Auto Show 2015 saw a number of genuine surprises, especially for performance car fans. Here’s my pick of the new metal.
Undisputed star of the show is this, the Ford GT. Gone are the retro looks of the old car, replaced with stunning, almost futuristic styling. I could probably spend a good hour looking at this in person, it’s covered in interesting aerodynamic features like the arc that joins the roof and rear wheelarch. It isn’t all mouth and no trousers either, a twin turbo V6 with over 600 bhp will mean over 200 mph and 0-60 in less than 3.5 seconds. Weight shouldn’t be an issue either due to a part carbon fibre, part aluminium construction.
After years of teasing, Honda finally unveiled the production version of the new NSX. Like the Ford above, it gets a twin turbo V6 although here it’s boosted by 3 electric motors to give a total of 550bhp and 4WD as well. Being an NSX, it should prove as easy to drive as a Civic day to day but with serious performance when you want it. Honda have played it fairly low key with the exterior, a trick that has worked pretty well for the Audi R8, one of this car’s big competitors. The BMW i8 has shown hybrids can be a hoot, can Honda pull off a similar trick here?
Alfa Romeo chopped the roof off the gorgeous 4C coupe to make this, the Spider. Thanks to the clever carbon fibre construction, it weighs only 10 kg more than the hardtop and shouldn’t go all floppy like convertibles so often do. Even in crushed budgie yellow it’s still a looker, the big question will be whether Alfa can tame the slightly wayward handling of the coupe on UK roads. If they can sort that, the Porsche Cayman and Boxter should be very worried. After all, every petrolhead should own an Alfa once, right?
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the ‘crossover coupe’ seems here to stay. Mercedes are aiming directly at the BMW X6 with its GLE coupe, offering a slightly less ostentatious take on the niche within a niche. At least the AMG fettled GLE 63 will be bloody quick courtesy of a 5.5 litre twin turbo V8 with an outrageous 585bhp. 0-60 takes 4.2 seconds, faster than some serious sports cars.
Ford were on a bit of a roll at Detroit, they were also revealing the second generation F150 Raptor. Being American, there’s no diesel under the bonnet, instead there’s a petrol 3.5 litre V6 with twin turbos. Exact power hasn’t been announced but it will be more than the old model. That had over 400bhp and the new model is over 200kg lighter, so expect performance to get a lot more exciting. Suspension travel is huge and incorporates racing style shocks to allow the truck to blast over rough ground at over 100mph should you want to. Sounds like a blast.
The stylish 911 Targa has received the full GTS treatment including more power and a host of visual upgrades. It may be heavier than the convertible and offer a far less open experience but I can’t help but love the retro rollover bar and ridiculously complex roof mechanism. If you haven’t seen it in action you need to check it out on YouTube. Now.
Like previous generations of the Mini, a John Cooper Works variant has been released for the 3 door hatchback. Power is up to 231bhp, 40 or so more than the Cooper S so thankfully it comes with upgraded Brembo brakes covered with new lightweight wheels. There’s new bumpers and sideskirts too but no proper limited slip diff, this could mean putting all that power down could get messy, and not in a good way. Economy is still good though, the automatic version will do nearly 50 mpg. Don’t be too surprised to see a 5 door JCW later in the year.
Chevrolet seems keen to get in on the growing electric car market judging by this, the Bolt. Their aim was to design an affordable (£20k after government rebates similar to the UK) and practical hatchback that could manage 200 miles on a single charge. Unlike the BMW i3, the Bolt is fairly conventional, if not unattractive to look at and certainly seems a viable production reality. Even with petrol at the cheapest it’s been in years, electric cars are becoming ever more tempting. This could be a real contender if it goes on sale.
Compared to the Bolt, the stunning Buick Avenir was significantly further away from production but still gives us hope for the currently beige American brand. The team of designers have taken inspiration from Buicks past and created a thoroughly modern luxury car. A long bonnet and rear set cabin add a bit of athleticism while some artfully placed creases give an elegant side profile. An efficient V6 channels its power through a 9 speed dual clutch gearbox and 4WD. This could be the jump start the company’s image so desperately needs.
OK, so it isn’t a new car but I couldn’t help but include this glorious BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’, a nickname it gained from the big wing and other aerodynamic additions. Sure, there are SUVs with more power than this but none have its racing pedigree. In the 70’s these were a force to be reckoned with. Despite looking like it was built yesterday, this very car was successfully campaigned in America, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1975. It’s no slouch even now, it may ‘only’ have 440bhp from its 3.0 straight 6 but there’s just 1000kg to push around. Sounds phenomenal too.