The Wheel Deal

Fixing you up with life in the fast lane.
Posted: January 12th, 2010 | By Thomas Falkiner

NAIAS 2010

I spent the last 12 odd hours walking around the 2010 Detroit Motor Show with my camera and a pair of calloused feet. The weather outside may have been foul, well below freezing I’ll have you know, but some of the cars lurking in the aisles were seriously hot. To be honest I could ramble on all day (or is it night?) about most of the automobiles I saw illuminated beneath their psychedelic display lighting, but these are the well-sorted few that managed to catch my eye the most; the top dogs of this year’s show.

New Ford Focus

Ford Focus:

This is the Blue Oval’s first global car to be developed under the American firm’s “One Ford” design philosophy ; a stylish C-segment machine that plans to dominate sales on continents around the world. Combining excellent handling characteristics with bold new styling cues, this third-generation Focus is by far the most competitive car to come out of the US after their auto industry took such a tumble in the beginning of 2009. A sure winner for Ford, the new Focus is one of the sweetest cars of NAIAS 2010.

Audi A8

Audi A8:

While the old A8 seemed to lack that vein of coolness that ran through every other Audi product, the latest incarnation of Ingolstadt’s range-topper is very much in a league of its own. Its nose, for instance, is a thing of beauty and that big chromed cheese-grater grille gives this luxury limo some serious ocular presence. Matched with an interior that’ll give even the evergreen BMW 7 Series a proper run for its money, the new Audi A8 looks well on its way to redefining the premium luxury sedan segment.

VW Compact Coupé

Volkswagen Compact Coupé:

Two years ago Volkswagen gave us the impeccable Scirocco hatchback and now they’ve just unleashed the new Compact Coupé Concept; a svelte little three-door sedan that seats four adults and looks like it just rolled off a racetrack. Set to be implemented into the world’s motoring market when VW deems the time to be right, the Compact Coupé utilises hybrid technology and comes with both a 1.4 TSI and 20-kilowatt electric motor beneath its bonnet. This combo allows it to sprint to 100km/h in just 8.6-seconds.

Honda CR-Z

Honda CR-Z:

A modern throwback to the Honda CRX that shredded tar back in the ’80s, the new CR-Z hybrid proves that Earth-conscious motoring need not be dull, drab or unexciting. Combining sporty exterior design cues with an interior that’s equally flamboyant, the CR-Z is powered by a 1.5-litre i-VTEC engine paired with Honda’s Integrated Motor Assist hybrid-electric system. Together these systems throw out a combined output of 122 horsepower; good enough to introduce some fun into the hybrid segment. Toyota Prius? Yawn…

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Convertible

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Convertible:

In a motor show dominated by compact hybrids, it was great to see Mercedes-Benz living le dolce vita with their much anticipated E-Class Convertible. Endowed with a folding cloth roof that can be stowed in no less than 20-seconds, the ravishing E-Class Convertible features AIRCUP technology that helps to keep your hairdo in place at high speeds as well as the new AIR-SCARF neck warmer that’s been built into the headrests of the two front seats. Engine wise you can expect this topless Merc to come in both V6 E350 or V8-powered E550 guises when it eventually goes on sale in May 2010. Both these engines will be mated to seven-speed automatic transmissions in order to optimise both fuel efficiency and drivability.

Be sure to read this Sunday’s Business Times for a more in-depth look at the true champions of this year’s NAIAS show…

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