January 17th, 2011

The cars that mattered from NAIAS

This week saw motor city turn on the spot lights at the American International Auto Show to allow pretty girls to pull the sheets off some fresh metal. There wasn’t as much action as some European motor shows but here are the five cars that really mattered from the show floor.

Porsche 918 RSR

Easily the car of the show and a sign of what racing could look like in the future. We always knew that two heads were better than one, so strapping an electric flywheel to a race cars V8 then wrapping it in gorgeous design makes perfect sense to us. You can read a full unboxing of the 918 RSR here.

Cadillac CTS-V Coupe SCCA Race Car

While on home turf Cadillac thought that it was a good opportunity to throw the covers of the Cadillac CTS-V Coupe SCCA Race Car. The CTS-V is the closest thing America gets to a hot European track car, so adding a big wing, some huge vents and some colourful stickers onto it and letting it loose on the race track is the next logical step. Cadillac have developed an upgraded version of the car by joining ship with Pratt & Miller – an engineering firm from New Hudson Michigan which has specialized in motorsports. Unfortunately Cadillac didn’t take the wraps off the specs of the car, but with the standard road car kicking out 556hp I am sure they can’t be too shabby. We will just have to wait until the first Sports Car Club of America World Challenge GT race which begins March 25-27 in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Prius c Concept

If you go into the Google machine and type in ‘first generation Prius’ you will be confronted with one hell of an ugly car. With hybrids being taken a lot more seriously nowadays their aesthetics need to be just as up to scratch as the tech inside them. This Prius c Concept (with c representing a “city”-centric vehicle) is meant to appeal to young singles and couples who want an eco-sensitive, high-mileage, fun-to-drive Prius. It looks way better than the original Prius but whether it can keep up with those claims will have to be seen in 2012.

In other news the Prius is now becoming a brand all on its own. With Prius now universally being the synonym for hybrid car Toyota have capitalised on this by planning to make a whole line of Prii. Also unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show was the Prius V which is a Prius with seven seats mainly for the American market. It looks like a normal Prius but with a ‘semi-lob-on’ so we have refused to put it in this post. We will leave it up to you to type Prius V into the Google machine if you really want to see it.

Hyundai Curb Concept

For 2011 to be a cool ‘urban’ member of society marketing departments want us to drive a small 4×4′s like the Nissan Juke or this, the Hyundai Curb Concept. Using “Fluidic Sculpture” you don’t really know where to start to look at the Curb concept. With a massive front grille and angular headlights it is a bit of an attack on your eyes. This isn’t helped with the huge side panels and minimal side glass and huge 22-inch five-spoke wheels wrapped in saffron-colored tread pattern.

Under the bonnet is Hyundai’s new 1.6-liter Gamma inline-four, but with a turbocharger giving it around 175 horsepower. Combined with a dual-clutch transmission, the Curb is efficient enough to achieve around 30mpg around town and  40 mpg on the motorway. Whether the Hyundai Curb ever makes it into production will have to be left to the test of time. But with the American market loving cars like the Pontiac Aztek, the sky could be the limit for this quirky concept.

Mini Paceman Concept

I will keep this one brief. It is a MINI Countryman with two doors. It is powered by a John Cooper Works-fettled 1.6-litre twin-scroll turbocharged engine that puts out 211 horsepower and 192 pound-feet of torque. It has a six-speed manual or automatic gearbox. This great engine and gearbox combo doesn’t really come to much though. It will be so heavy with the four-wheel drive system that it won’t have the driving prowess that we have come to love from a MINI. Shame.

Words: Rowan Horncastle