In the wake of two hectic days of previews for the Detroit auto show, featuring 5,000 reporters ogling some 40-odd new models from around the world, one thought stands out: Go bold or go home.
The best new models and concepts started with strong ideas and identities that came through at a glance. The weakest shared a lack of unique vision — too many parts that looked like they were swiped from better vehicles.
The good news? Four of the five best will hit the road — while the majority of the worst will remain safely confined to the auto show circuit.
1. Ford Fusion
Like anything popular, midsize sedans can get boring fast. The new Fusion, which Ford will sell in other countries as the Mondeo, looks anything but. Ford managed to give the Fusion better fuel economy for similar power; the interior also takes a leap ahead. No new concept drew as much attention.
2. Acura NSX
It’s rare to get a true “supercar” concept at any show, and rarer still from Honda’s luxury arm, which has suffered from a run of disappointing models. The hybrid drive of the NSX concept was the only major break with the tradition set by the original — and Honda vows it will build something very close to this in three years.
3. Cadillac ATS
General Motors’ new compact luxury sedan took thousands of engineering man-hours to assemble, including numerous trips to Germany’s famed Nürburgring track for chassis tuning and new engines, because GM wanted an honest competitor to the BMW 3 Series. On paper, they got it.
4. Lexus LF-LC
I spent 20 minutes at the auto show just staring at the Lexus LF-LC, a concept roadster Lexus isn’t expected to build. It’s a shame, because it’s the rare piece of complex, modern automotive design that works as a whole piece. Put this body with the engine from the Lexus LFA supercar, and you’d have a classic.
5. Porsche 911 Cabriolet
The convertible version of the new Porsche 911 made its debut in Detroit, and it was more than just fitting a fabric roof, building a lighter, more fuel efficient car that’s also more powerful. There’s a reason Porsche has never sold more cars than it does today.