Detroit is not done fighting. The bruised and battered Motor City has looked down for the count in recent years, but the town and the industry that made it look like they’re getting some of their punching power back. It certainly appeared that way at this year’s North American International Auto Show. We’ve already told you it’s the best NAIAS in years, a show filled with exciting debuts, intriguing technology, and fuel-efficient cars that are actually cool. But don’t just take our word on it. From January 17 to the 25th, you can see for yourself, when the show opens to the public.
With nearly every manufacturer coming out swinging, one should note that hitting this year’s show floor is an all day affair. But if your time is limited—or you just can’t make it to the Cobo Center—we present you our biggest winners of the show.
Best Design Concept: Buick Avenir
Ok, maybe you’re saying, “THAT’s not a Buick,” but we’re happy to report it really is. French for “Future,” the Avenir flagship concept has no confirmed path to production, but needs one, stat. Sporting front-end cues from its Cadillac cousins, the elongated sedan flows into a Bentley-redolent tail—yet manages to be very much its own, unique design. Buick claims the car’s interior was inspired by nature, though it includes almost too much man-made technology to list; home/garage communication links, 4G LTE connectivity, seat-mounted screens, and an ionic cabin air filtration system are just the beginning. Great job making us question you again, Buick. Now build it!
Best Production-Ready Concept: Infiniti Q60 Concept
Infiniti’s former G of a sport coupe—now the Q60—has been long overdue for a refresh. If the newly unveiled “Q60 Concept” is it (and we’re hearing it’s really close), the wait has been worth it. Expect this visual stunner to have a constant crowd of gawkers, but just go ahead and push your way through wherever you can—it has no bad angle. Already a formidable aesthetic opponent to competitors like the BMW 4-Series and Benz’s C-Class, expect the Q60’s new twin-turbo V6 engine to also hold its own on the runway.
Best in Technology: Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury in Motion Concept
The culmination of Mercedes-Benz’s driver-assist technologies, and then some, this polished bean of an autonomous car is the most oddly intriguing concept on the show floor. With double doors spread-eagle, F015 represents an open-armed welcome to the future. While equipped with driver controls, the real point of this car is to swivel around, kick up your Marty McFly Air Mags, and allow yourself to be whisked off to somewhere that—in the future—you probably won’t need to go.
Best Teaser: Bentley Bentayga SUV
It’s been a while since the Bentley Gods promised to answer the prayers of 2 Chainz. But now, after much speculation, things are getting real. Officially deemed the Bentley Bentayga, the SUV is now set to arrive in 2016. Curious about the name? The brand’s Chairman and CEO, Wolfgang Dürheimer, breaks it down like this:
“The natural world, along with the company’s founder, inspired its name. Crowning the Northern Hemisphere, to the north of Bentley’s birthplace in England, is the dramatic beauty of the Taiga, the world’s largest transcontinental snow forest. To the south, the rugged peak of the Roque Bentayga in the subtropical Canary Islands draws attention from all directions and a challenging climb rewards with spectacular panoramic views of a rich and diverse landscape.”
Enjoy that long-winded explanation, as you won’t learn much more in the booth—though you could try to throw down a deposit. Just be aware that, according to Automotive News, there are already some 4,000 buyers ahead of you.
Best Model Update: Porsche 911 Targa GTS
Our only gripe with the recently crowned 2015 Playboy Car of the Year was that the wonderfully tuned Carrera iteration didn’t come in Targa variant. Luckily we didn’t mouth off, as our friends at Porsche seem to be in our heads lately. Now equipped with the robo-roof that could have won the award on its own, the Targa GTS is officially our complete package 911. Go watch it open, then close, then open, then close again. It just never gets old.
Best of Show: Ford GT
We must confess that after a pre-show preview, we were ready to hand the top prize to Acura’s new NSX. And then she came along. By now, you’ve no doubt caught ample glances at the curvy, blue beauty that is the next generation Ford GT. In a matter of days, it has oversaturated virtually every news outlet and social media feed, and we still want more. Developed in a highly restricted basement area of Ford’s Dearborn, Mich. Product Development Center, the once highly rumored supercar is real, and coming to market in 2016. Powered by a twin-turbo Ecoboost V6, the GT is expected to churn north of 600hp out of a very track-worthy chassis; aligning it with more than a few Italian and German wares. We still think the NSX is a great runner-up, but in its own town, Ford wears this year’s NAIAS crown.
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