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Top 10 highlights from the Detroit auto show


1. Ford F-150

Sitting in the darkened half of the Joe Louis Arena, watching Ford’s glitzy but not over-the-top reveal of the 12th generation version of the best-selling vehicle on the continent, Chrysler Canada president Reid Bigland sat on the edge of his seat. Also the CEO of the Ram brand in the U.S., and head of Chrysler U.S. sales, Bigland witnessed the unveiling of a novel bed-integrated ramp to ease the loading of ATVs and bikes, 360-degree view capability to ease reversing and towing, a powerful 400-watt, 110-volt outlet inside and a remote locking tailgate – all new class exclusives for a vehicle that’s led class sales in Canada for 47 years.

2. Toyota FT-1

Nobody called it the next Supra on the show stand, but many called it that afterward – and it’s seriously hot. When was the last time anyone said that about a Toyota? This is still a concept, though the fact that it will launch digitally this week for Gran Turismo gamers suggests there may be production plans. Toyota didn’t reveal technical specs for the car; the company just wanted folks to go gaga over its reputation-shredding look. Mission accomplished.


3. Cadillac ATS Coupe

Sure, the hearts of all performance enthusiasts went aflutter for Chevrolet’s barbarian 620-plus horsepower Covette Z06. More practically, Cadillac’s fine-handling ATS two-door sedan arrives this summer to battle the new BMW 4 Series and Audi A5/S5 lines. The ATS Coupe will offer rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, its shapely exterior complementing slightly upgraded versions of the sedan’s turbocharged four- and six-cylinder engines.


4. Chrysler 200

Chrysler hopes the new, slick-looking, mid-size sedan will finally propel it to mainstream family four-door relevance. Arriving this spring, a standard nine-speed transmission, rotary dial shifter and advanced all-wheel drive system are part of the package, all using the Italian underpinnings of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Luxury-worthy safety systems include lane departure warnings, full automatic parking – parallel or either end in – plus adaptive cruise control and a forward collision warning system, the latter two of which can reportedly bring the car to a stop.


5. Kia GT4 Stinger concept

The GT4 Stinger concept may seem to be a version of the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, but Kia is adamant that there are no plans to produce the 315-horsepower, rear-wheel drive, 2+2 sports car concept. Powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, it makes considerably more juice than the similarly sized turbo four in the aforementioned Hyundai, but is sized closer to the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ.


6. Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Still the company’s best-selling car in Canada, even after less expensive models such as the B-Class and CLA launched in the past two years, the next-generation C-Class hits the market in more upscale form, adding in interior refinements that will separate it from Benz’s smaller B and CLA compacts. The iPad-like screen sticks out from the top of the dash, looking like a maxi-sized one versus the iPad Mini-like screen on smaller Benz four-doors, but equally tempting to try to rip off and take with you. A touch pad above the circular controller can be used to key in letters and numbers – in any language. Options will include an air suspension, and a self-parking system.


7. Honda Fit

The Honda Fit brings an updated but still unique subcompact hatch to rival the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent. Though Honda unfortunately won’t offer the hybrid powertrain that’s available in Japan, at least at the spring launch, Honda will offer a CVT as well as a centrally mounted gas tank. Along with the retained folding and flipping rear seats that can helpfully move themselves out of the way, Honda has managed to add 4.9 feet of extra interior space into this package.
AP Photo

8. Lexus RC F

The sexy Lexus RC F was unveiled in RC concept form at the Tokyo auto show, and will hit the market as a new range-topping V-8 sports car for Lexus. Like other Lexus models – okay, only one, the IS-F – the F signifies fast, offering the brand’s most powerful V-8 ever, with more than 450 horsepower.

AP Photo

9. Porsche 911 Targa

Alexander Pollich, CEO of Porsche Canada, admits that the last 911 Targa was basically a C4 coupe with a panoramic roof, so he was happy to see this Targa unveiled. Its roof disappearing act could qualify as a 17-second ballet – with the entire rear glass and assembly rising up and down into the motorized raised trunk, there’s an undeniably mesmerizing hydraulic grace to it all. Traditionally, the all-wheel-drive-only Targa has generated between 10 and 15 per cent of sales, said Pollich, but with the unique ‘basket-handle’ roof and trick top, it’ll be a unique offering when it arrives this summer, starting at about $116,000 for the 350-horsepower Targa 4.


10. Nissan Sport Sedan Concept

The non-award for most boring name went to Nissan with the Sport Sedan Concept, but its look is much less yawn-inducing than its moniker. With a front-end that mimics the aggressive nose that is on the Pathfinder, the Nissan SSC not only offers an advanced preview of the next-gen Maxima, but also foreshadows common design elements on other future models, says Nissan, including the V-grille, “floating” roof and boomerang-shaped headlights.

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