DETROIT is the traditional start of the motor industry year, with the US car firms taking centre stage. Julian Kirk and Steve Moody report on the show. Pictures by Peter Burn
Chrysler Group: US firm plans UK onslaught
CHRYSLER Group bolstered its ambitious plans for success in the UK market when it took the wraps off two new production cars that will be coming our way.
Detroit saw the unveiling of a new Grand Voyager people carrier, alongside the first showing of a production version of the Avenger saloon from sister company Dodge.
The all-new Grand Voyager arrives in the UK next year, featuring a new look outside and in, plus a range of updated petrol and diesel engines.
The firm also displayed the Nassau, a luxury coupe concept based on the 300C model. Chrysler wants to move away from the traditional exterior proportions of American cars, and the Nassau points to a future look for the firm.
At Dodge, the Mondeo-sized Avenger was unveiled. With Chrysler Group’s aim to increase sales over the next few years, it will be looking to the Avenger to capture some fleet business in the upper-medium sector.
The Avenger, although styled like an American muscle car, shares its engines with the new Chrysler Sebring, which means it will get fleet-friendly rather than performance engines, in the shape of 2.0 and 2.4-litre petrol, and Volkswagen-sourced 2.0-litre turbodiesel units. It is likely to be priced from around £16,000 when it goes on sale in the autumn.
Elsewhere on the stand, the Trailhawk Concept gives us a few clues as to how next year’s new Jeep Cherokee will look. The concept debuts a new front-end treatment and the distinctive headlights and grille will influence styling on the production car. Also expect to see the pronounced wheelarch blisters make it through to production.
HONDA’S Accord Coupe Concept (pictyred) may not be coming to the UK, but the car does hint at the look of the next-generation Accord saloon due next year.
The aggressively-styled concept features a far more dramatic front-end treatment than the current UK model.
Elsewhere on the Honda stand, and unlikely to make many fleet choice lists, is the Acura Advanced Sports Car concept – a glimpse of what the production Honda NSX replacement may look like. The concept is powered by a V10 engine mounted in the front and is rear-whel drive.
VOLVO will launch a sister SUV to its successful XC90 in 2009, taking on the BMW X3, Land Rover Freelander2 and forth-coming Audi Q5.
Called the XC60, the concept points to a bolder, sleeker design future courtesy of British designer Steve Mattin and, show glitz and concept interior apart, this is how the final car will look.
The XC60 Concept uses the 265bhp 3.2-litre six-cylinder petrol engine used in the S80 and XC90, but has been optimised to use bio-ethanol fuel.
Volvo believes the market for premium small SUVs will have dramatically expanded by 2009, and will be hoping to replicate the success of the XC90 in the larger sector.
THE US brand continues its quest for UK sales with the unveiling of a new CTS which will be available in right-hand drive form for the first time.
A rival to the Audi A6 and BMW 5-series, the CTS comes with a choice of rear or four-wheel drive and three engines – General Motors’ new direct injection 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine offering in the region of 300bhp, an older version of the unit producing 258bhp and a 2.8-litre V6.
UK deliveries are expected in summer 2008.
CHEVROLET used the Detroit show to premiere its latest thinking in the field of alternative fuels. It displayed the Volt, a saloon car concept powered by a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine that can run on E85 bioethanol, allied to an electric motor.
The electric motor can deliver up to 40 miles of pure electric driving power, while the petrol engine helps replenish the battery while on the move.
The Volt can also use a hydrogen fuel cell stack in place of the hybrid unit.
WHAT the world really needs is a huge four-seat, four-door convertible – and Mercedes-Benz is just the company to fill that niche.
Its Ocean Drive concept is essentially an S-class convertible and is based on the S600 – meaning it packs the twin-turbo V12 engine offering 517bhp.
However, it won’t make production reality as a Mercedes-Benz – the firm will instead launch a convertible version of the CL coupe. But the Ocean Drive could make production, badged as a Maybach.
ANYTHING Mercedes-Benz can do, Rolls can do better. The Phantom Drophead Coupe, to be built at Goodwood in England, is a production reality and will cost in the region of £260,000 when deliveries begin later this year.
IT had to happen.
After investing millions of pounds in winning the Le Mans 24-hour race last year with the R10 V12 diesel, Audi has revealed a production car fitted with a similar engine.
The Q7 V12 TDI uses a 6.0-litre TDI unit offering 500bhp and 738lb-ft of torque. Audi claims it will return an average of 23.7mpg, despite being able to rocket from 0-62mph in just 5.5 seconds.
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