Updated: January 16, 2013 6:29 PM | By AFP

Highlights of the Detroit Auto Show



The North American International Auto Show, the annual fest in the hub of the US motoring industry, was full of new life this year.

Manufacturers rolled out some impressive new models, and reinvigorated old ones, hoping to battle for better position in the revived US market and the booming Chinese one.

Much of the action was in the luxury segment, as car builders vie for the high margins they can earn from well-paid Americans and China's nouveau riche.

Here are the show's highlights:

-- CORVETTE: The all-new Corvette, branded the Stingray to evoke the 1963 model, but with styling that evokes Italian supercars while still retaining a bit -- see the back end -- of the Chevrolet identity. At first glance it was not so different from the Ferrari F12 sitting a few steps away, its own design accommodating a few American muscle car lines. The test will be on the track: the Corvette sports 450 horsepower and carbon fiber based weight reductions, and the base model hits 100 kilometers an hour (60 miles per hour) in four seconds flat.

"This car is the reason I work at GM," General Motors executive Mark Reuss said.

-- BMW: The German titan introduced a spanking new 4-series coupe, an aggressive, low-lying sports car longer and wider than the 3-series. Still in concept mode, it doesn't look far from being ready to roll.

-- AMERICAN LUXURY: GM's Cadillac Division and Ford's Lincoln should be doing well, given the strength of sales of Europe's luxury car makers. But they have been slipping, and both pushed to reverse that with new premium vehicles. Lincoln showed its MKC compact crossover concept, targetting Mercedes-Benz's GLK350 and the Audi Q5. Cadillac introduced its fuel efficient hybrid coupe, the ELR, with a 300 mile (480 km) range on one charge. Cadillac rang up a victory when its ATS sedan, launched last year, garnered North American Car of the Year honors in Detroit.

-- TRUCKS: Chrysler's beefy Ram 1500 won the honors of North American truck of the year at the show, but Ford garnered more attention with its Atlas concept pickup, featuring snazzy new electronics for guiding the driver in tight situations and energy-saving wheel hub louvers, among other innovations. Meanwhile GM introduced an all-new Silverado, also with new fuel efficiency measures including a variable displacement engine, that could steal a march on the market-dominant F-150 as Ford fans wait for the Atlas' new tricks to make it to the market.

-- KIA: South Korea's automaker continues to insist it wants to play with the big boys: it unveiled the 2014 four door sedan, the 3.3 liter, six cylinderCadenza, its push into the premium car segment. Its line follows those of European sports sedans, and it offers the leather seats and chrome and wood trim, and full connectivity, made obligatory by those already occupying the luxury space.

---SHELBY: The original American muscle car maker released an 850 horsepower wide body version of its GT 500 Super Snake. But its real new star was the Shelby Focus ST, a four cylinder pocket rocket based on the Ford Focus and aimed at the tuner culture, recalling the 1980s when the late motoring icon and company founder Carroll Shelby surprised everyone with a move into the four cylinder market.

-- TOYOTA: Its Corolla standby under assault from cheaper rivals, Toyota pivoted to offer the super-sporty Corolla-based Furia concept, which if taken to production would carve out a new space for the staid-but-reliable Japanese giant.

-- INFINITI: Aiming to mount a challenge to the German luxury giants, Infiniti launched the Q50 sports sedan with lines that will vie for the hearts of Audi-lovers. All of its cars in the future will begin with Q, as it seeks to pull into the first tier of premium cars.

-- MERCEDES BENZ: the German giant teased with the introduction to only a select few of the all new CLA "avant garde" hyper-streamlined small sedan, a more youthful, sporty move that takes aim at Audi and BMW lovers. The new car will be released in the United States later this year.

© 2013 AFP

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