Sunday 25 February 2018

Models expected to thrill at 2017's Detroit Motor Show

Focus on Detroit

Audi's Q8 Concept
Audi's Q8 Concept
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I asked the question last year and I think it is even more relevant this time around.

Is the Detroit motor show being increasingly overshadowed by the global consumer electronics and consumer technology trade show (CES) that takes place every January in Las Vegas? (It is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week).

Even more pertinent to those of us on this side of the Atlantic: does Detroit hold a warning for the major shows in Europe?

Last year I attended Detroit, courtesy of Ford, but I'll be honest - I couldn't find much to get excited about. The real stories were all about new technologies, and they had mostly come at that stage from the CES.

This year is shaping up along fairly similar lines.

The show, the first of 2017, will have debuts from Mercedes, Toyota, Kia, Lexus and Chevrolet, among others.

Mercedes always do a big number at Detroit and their E-Class Coupé will be one of the stars, no doubt.

They will also have the face-lifted GLA - a key rival for the excellent BMW X1. There are changes to the outside and ride height is increased.

Also expect to see the daring new Kia GT - especially after the company put out a teaser showing the sports saloon doing 240kmh at the Nürburgring.

One of the more exciting models will be Audi's Q8 concept.

Due in 2018, it is a rival for the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE. It will share engineering with the Q7 on the brand's MLB platform. While much the same size as the Q7, its slanting rear roofline means headroom at the back will be affected.

There will be a spread of turbo petrol and diesels (V6, V8) as well as a hybrid version. The Q8 will be a four-seater and naturally will have the most up-to-date autonomous driving functions.

Sister company Volkswagen will unveil a concept for a self-driving electric minibus at the show.

It is a new model from the I.D. family and based on the Modular Electric Drive Kit (MEB).

The I.D. idea shown at the Paris Motor Show in September is for a new generation of connected, electric vehicles. Volkswagen say the latest I.D. concept will be able to drive fully autonomously in the future.

And there is much anticipation on the Lexus front where a new LS is expected to be presented.

BMW will show its new 5 Series but I've already driven it so, to be honest, it is hardly ground-breaking stuff, is it?

And Infiniti is revealing its QX50 concept ahead of a Detroit debut as well as some of the new technology it will highlight.

Obviously there will be a fair amount of US firsts and debuts, but who outside of the US is that interested in the new Camry? Or a new version of the track-focused Chevrolet Corvette ZR1?

Or a new US-market Odyssey from Honda?

Chinese car maker GAC Group will be there with its models.

As will the Rinspeed Oasis - but only after being officially revealed earlier at the CES in Las Vegas. See what I mean about priorities?

The point I am making is that while it will show new models, there doesn't seem to be the all-important element of technological breakthrough or thrust that we expect at Frankfurt or Paris.

Okay, there will, among others, be a final version of the Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace but it's hardly earth-shattering stuff, is it?

Maybe organisers need to re-think the format, big time.

A show of this size should have a real wow factor. It should set an agenda for technology. It doesn't.

But CES does and that's increasingly where the focus lies.

And that is why Detroit is, maybe, a lesson for all shows, manufacturers and consumers as cars increasingly become computers on wheels.

Indo Motoring

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