Red, white and – well, more red actually. Not the colours of the American flag, but the colours of pretty much everything on show at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show. Perhaps rouge is this colour of choice for motor show cars?
As the first big event of the year, the North American International Auto Show offers the chance to spot trends we might see for the rest of the year. It also has the potential to prove if the US market is still obsessed with making the biggest stuff possible.
Pickup trucks are getting more outrageous
If there’s one vehicle that sums up the US automotive market in one fell swoop then it’s the pickup truck. But 2016 seems to be the year that manufacturers have truly gone XXL with their offerings.
Ford’s latest version of the F-150 Raptor was launched at the Detroit show a year ago but, twelve months later, it’s already been tweaked. Now there’s a SuperCrew version of the 3.5-litre EcoBoost powered machine so you can fit even more people or stuff inside. Although persuading people to get in the back as you make use of the new Terrain Management system in mud, rock or even baja mode might be a challenge!
Not to be outdone, Nissan premiered the Warrior concept version of its Titan X.D truck, again just one year after showing off the regular production version. With a 5.0-litre Turbo Diesel V8 engine, race-derived suspension parts, and a smattering of carbon fibre body panels it’s a formidable sounding proposition. Whether it becomes a reality remains to be seen.
Not quite as dramatically-styled as the Ford or Nissan, Honda is concentrating on practicality with the all-new Ridgeline. With a design that focuses on things which really matter to pickup buyers, like hauling sheets of plywood or drywall flat in the loadspace, or a 540 watt sound system mounted in the truck bed to improve your tailgating experience. Could it just be a little too sensible for its own good?
ESM has been to the Goodwood Festival of Speed before – the last time back in 2012 – but this year was a little different.
It started with a letter from the Earl of March inviting ESM to the Festival of Speed as a fully fledged member of the media. It ended with driving almost 700 miles in 30 hours in order to spend just one day there but, when the Earl of March invites you, it’d be rude not to make an appearance.
In Festival of Speed tradition, we’ve broken the galleries down into batches. This first one covers the cars of the Moving Motor Show, while the second and third will include the iconic racers and findings from around the festival respectively. The Moving Motor Show has become a big part of the Festival of Speed, giving the public the change to pilot a wide range of cars up the famous hill climb course. So from the meagre, to the mighty, all the below could be driven.
The annual SMMT Test Day is often described as being like Christmas for motoring writers, with a huge range of cars available to drive on the demanding Millbrook test track. So, is it really the automotive journalism nirvana it’s meant to be? You bet. With this being our first time at the SMMT Test Day, ESM didn’t quite know what to expect. Driving onto the famed mile straight at Millbrook – including some banked corner action – certainly got the adrenaline racing, ever so slightly. That was raised more, as the minibus pulled into the steering pad, covered with over 170 cars from almost 40 manufacturers. The deal at the SMMT Test Day is quite simple; which makes it even more special. Approach a friendly PR/media representative from a marque, ask if a car is available, and then be handed the keys after a quick check of your name badge. Be it 1.0-litre Suzuki Celerio or Rolls-Royce Phantom, the process is the same. That is what makes it an amazing experience.
As such, ESM made sure to try as many cars as we reasonably could in the time we were there. We managed twelve in the course of the day, with the option to drive direct rivals back-to-back hugely valuable. Time with each car is, relatively, limited if you want to make the most of what’s on offer, so the below are more initial impressions, rather than a full detailed road test. With the number of cars driven, we’ve broken this down into three parts:
Lexus RC F What car to learn the formidable Millbrook Hill Route in? A 5.0-litre V8 coupe, with 470 bhp and rear-wheel drive of course. Fortunately, despite the power on offer, the RC F wasn’t too intimidating on the tight twists and turns. It’s certainly quick, has an excellent eight-speed automatic gearbox, and sounds superb. However, you’re also reminded of the 1,800kg kerb weight under braking, and there’s a little bit of confusion as to whether it’s more muscle car than pure sports car.
Inside there are obvious hints of the revered Lexus LFA in the shape of the centre console, and it’s as high-quality as you would expect. We’d question the choice of red-leather seats in a blue car, and Solar Flare orange would be our obvious pick of paintwork colour. The RC F is a curious car, and one we would love to spend more time in to figure out fully. There’s obvious talent beneath that coupé body, and one that seems to offer an interesting alternative to the BMW M4.
ESM Rating 8.5/10
Stats: £59,995, 5.0-litre V8, 470bhp/390lb-ft torque, 0-62mph 4.5 secs, 168mph top speed (more…)
As the first major event on the global automotive calendar, the North American International Auto Show sets the scene for the rest of the year to come. Yes, there’s a definite US-centric bias to a lot of the offerings on show, but many of the new cars will also be available globally. Check out the key trends below:
Blue is definitely the colour for promotional cars
Last year at Geneva we noted that blue had replaced brown as the paint colour of choice for cars on display at motor shows. At Detroit, things got turned up a level, with virtually everything painted bleu this year. Ford even went to the extreme measure of painting its new performance models all in the same shade of Liquid Blue for their Detroit show stand. From Fiesta ST to F-150 Raptor and, obviously, the new GT everything was the same hue. It’s worth noting that Liquid Blue isn’t a production paint colour so, despite being teased by it, you can’t pester your local dealer to deliver you a Focus ST wearing that shade. Notable exceptions to the blue-ness were the new Acura NSX in red, and Cadillac who painted their ‘V’ series performance models white.
The V6 is the new V8
Again, this trend is primarily represented by Ford’s offerings, but it’s quite a significant one. The new GT supercar packs a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, where once lived a supercharged V8. The F-150 Raptor has also ditched the 5.4 and 6.2 litre V8s from the previous generation, again favouring a boosted 3.5 litre V6. Only the Shelby GT350R Mustang seems to have emerged from Detroit with all eight cylinders still intact. The EcoBoost unit has, of course, already arrived in the regular Mustang model. (more…)
The 2015 Detroit North American International Auto Show has been a pretty good one, to say the least. We’ve seen two brand new supercars, and a host of other special new models rolled out. It might seem like we’re repeating ourselves, but it really is good to see the US car industry returning to form. Here are our photo highlights from this week:
Rather than just dip into the regular big book of paint clichés, Lexus decided to take a slightly more different tactic with the forthcoming RC F coupe when it came to picking colour names.
In a thoroughly modern Web2.0, social media, #trend way, it asked Facebook to come up with a name for the distinctive orange hue. From the hundred suggested – knowing Facebook probably only about 12 were legible or legal – the name ‘Solar Flare’ was picked as the winner. We like, but then it is bright orange so we’d like it at EngageSportMode even if it was called ‘Satsuma Surprise’ or something. No Dulux, you’re not having that last suggestion!
Set to go on sale in the UK at the end of the year, ‘Solar Flare’ will become a genuine colour choice for buyers of the RC F. Whether anyone is brave enough to tick the box for it is another question! We hope they do, as it suits the 450 bhp V8 coupe pretty damn well. But, knowing UK buyers, everyone will probably plump for dark blue or black. Sigh.
The last Lexus coupe was ESM’s beloved LFA with its wailing V10 engine. We’re hoping the RC F can capture some of the spirit of the LFA when it finally hits the road, although it might not be able to recreate the spine-tingling sound it makes.
We’ll be honest, Lexus isn’t really a brand we pay a lot of attention to here at EngageSportMode. Maybe it’s that Alan Partridge connection; perhaps it was those CT200h adverts with Kylie Minogue, or it could be that their cars just lack that ‘soul’ we look for. However, things are a little bit different when it comes to the LFA:
We make no bones about it; we love the Lexus LFA at ESM. From the epic wailing V10 engine, to the triple exhaust tailpipes and aerodynamically sculpted side repeaters, we love it all. The difference with the LFA is the fact it was built virtually by hand, by a team of dedicated engineers at a rate of only one car per day. Compared to the ‘processed’ or ‘manufactured’ image often associated with Lexus, the LFA was by contrast crafted.
The result was a supercar with the soul of a hand-built exotic (more…)
It’s been a busy week at the 84th Geneva International Motor Show with a number of launches and debuts. We’ve covered a lot of it here on EngageSportMode already, but here’s some our photo highlights:Audi S1 Sportback, RS4 Nogaro Blue special edition, new TT and TT quattro sport concept all on show. (more…)
EngageSportMode couldn’t be at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show but, fortunately, it knows some people who are. So with the press days now out of the way, what are some of the highlights from the 2013 Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung?
Below are some of the stand out new cars announced at this year’s show. Some are purely concept cars to set new directions and garner interest, whilst others are production ready. Click the photo for bigger images.