2015 BMW M4
2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe
Kia GT4 Stinger Concept
2015 Volkswagen Golf R
BMW M4, Cadillac ATS Coupe, Kia GT4 Stinger Concept & Volkswagen Golf R. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Jeff Wilson and Jacob Black

The 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit marks not only the 25th anniversary of this storied exposition, but also what is sure to be looked back upon as a bounty year for motoring enthusiasts.

Where many of the recent automotive premieres have featured largely practical cars – interesting hybrids, alternate fuel concepts, city cars or SUVs – this year proved to be an indication that passion still runs through the veins of car companies and buying public alike.

Consider the following manufacturer presentations as proof that this is a sign of good things in the industry:

BMW launched a new M-car.

Cadillac presented a new sports coupe based on the excellent ATS

Nissan’s press conference centred on a sports sedan while sister company Infiniti presented a high performance rendition of its Q50 sedan

Subaru introduced us to its new WRX STI sport sedan

Kia presented a rear-wheel drive sports coupe concept that looks fairly viable

Volkswagen gave us a new Golf R

And even Toyota and Lexus – two companies synonymous with conservative, practical means of pragmatic conveyance splashed out on two heart-stopping sports machines

Indeed times are good.

So out of all of the celebrations what were the highlights for me?  Here are my favourites of this year’s show:

1)   Concept Car:  Toyota’s FT-1 holds so much promise for what the next Supra could be, that I can’t help get excited about it.  It’s imposing yet gorgeous and the concept seems complete enough (minus the lack of an actual engine) that it really could point to a future halo sports car for Toyota.   Come on Toyota, how about you show us your version of a 911 and Corvette competitor?

2)   Performance Car:  Speaking of Chevrolet’s hot new sports car, there’s an even hotter version now and it’s the Z06 (or as I named it after seeing it, the Zed-Ohmygod-Six).  Not only does the new supercharged beast turn the aesthetics dial past eleven, it does so with the performance numbers too.  625 hp.  635 lb-ft of torque.  ‘Nuff said.

3)   Truck or SUV:  While it’s the easy choice to pick the new Ford F-150, I didn’t find it to be that much of a revolutionary departure over the old truck.  The Cadillac Escalade however – darling of basketball players, rap stars and suburban moms all over the continent – is new and improved inside and out.  As dignitaries were shuttled in and out of the Show in various interesting vehicles, I noticed a new 2015 Escalade amongst the current generation ‘Lades and the new one really stands out.  Not a radical departure from the old truck, mind you, but the styling updates keep it in line with the rest of the new Caddies.  Plus the interior is beautifully finished and feels like only a slight step down from a Range Rover.

Toyota FT-1 Concept2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z062015 Cadillac Escalade2015 Porsche 911 Targa
Toyota FT-1 Concept, Chevrolet Corvette Z06, Cadillac Escalade & Porsche 911 Targa. Click image to enlarge

4)   Common Sense Car:  Last year’s Honda Fit is a pretty darn good car.  It is a packaging marvel, decently fun to drive and efficient.  The new 2015 Fit is shorter in length yet has considerably more rear seat room.  Plus the new direct injection 1.5L engine puts out more power and best of all, a six-speed manual is available too.  Now, if Honda would just give us an Si version to compete with Ford’s Fiesta ST I’d be really overjoyed.

5)   Best Pleasant Surprise:  The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class has gone from dowdy and dated to dapper and desirable.  The interior of the new C is especially fetching with its interesting lines, materials and textures.  Plus, Benz innovation is evident too with features like the magic expanding “basket” feature in the trunk.  If the driving dynamics are up to snuff, this car could represent a real contender for top of class crown.

6)   Car I Most Wanted to Simply Drive Home:  Despite more than a few laps around the show over a couple of days, the one car I could never pass by without stopping, staring and photographing is Porsche’s new 911 Targa.  The current 911 is one of my favourite cars to begin with, but that classic, silver basket-handle targa top I find just achingly cool.  The blue hue shown on one of the two displayed cars is stunning under the intense show lighting too.  I’d find a set of modern Fuchs wheels and have the coolest semi-retro machine around.

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