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Detroit motor show 2009 — Detroit 2009: Amber - 2009
Not green, not hot. Some of the real world stuff the Detroit exhibitors seem to think you’ll be driving in the next few years. They’re probably right, too.
Audi Sportback concept
Despite the V10 R8, this potential CLS rival was definitely he most interesting thing on the Audi stand. Don’t be fooled by the word ‘concept’, it’ll be a real car by next year and called A7. Expect slightly less pronounced wheelarches and a higher roofline, but other than that it’s pretty much as you see it. Almost. Show car has a V6 TDi with fancy exhaust-cleaning tech but the real thing will have all the usual drivetrains and Quattro options. V10 S7 anyone? Yes please…
Er, where is it? This one didn’t actually make it to the Detroit show but Mercedes treated us to an off-site preview ahead of its proper unveiling at the Geneva show later this year. It’s a completely revised version of Merc’s top-seller with five new engines - three turbodiesel and two turbo’d petrols. Tech developments are plenty, but the headline improvements are all about economy - Merc’s BlueEfficiency kit means the new E-Class range is nearly 25 percent cleaner than the old one. But you won’t be interested in that - instead, it’ll be the quirky square front lamps on your mind. Like ‘em? We’re not sure.
Folding hard-top replaces the old Z4’s soft top: two-piece electrically-operated system that raises or lowers in 20 seconds. Also gets 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol out of the 335i - 302bhp, good for a 0-60mph time of 5.1 seconds with double-clutch gearbox (also a first). That’s almost as quick as the current Z4M Coupe. New Drive Dynamic Control allows driver to alter throttle and steering response, stiffness of ride, traction control and gearchanges. No word on new Z4M yet.
Subaru Legacy concept
Bit of a shock, this one - it’s a Subaru design that seems, well, perfectly in proportion. It’s a concept that previews next year’s Legacy and if it makes it to production without a single whack from the ugly stick we’ll be happy indeed. Power is from a 3.6-litre engine and - you guessed it - four-wheel drive, but the word is that smaller engines are likely for the European markets. Expect an estate and almost off-road Outback model too.
Top marks for entrance on this one - after a build up of thumping house music the new Mini Cabrio burst through a wall of fake ice to make its first appearance. In reality, though, the car is less dramatic - think Mini MkII with a soft roof. Familiar new-model upgrades apply: 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine instead of old supercharged unit, either 125bhp Cooper or 175bhp Cooper S. Cooper S will do 62mph in 7.5 seconds and return 44mpg. Folding soft-top will go up or down in 15 seconds at speeds up to 20mph. There is a new pop-up rollover hoop, however, and a ‘Openometer’ to record the amount of time you spend driving with the roof down ‘to measure your visual coolness’. Not cool really, though, is it?
Kia Soulster concept
We thought this concept might be a coupe, but we thought wrong. It’s a funky little convertible/pick-up thing that is rumoured to have a big tick for production. It’s a two-door four-seater with a split roof that’ll expose the front and rear passenger spaces. Bad news is the roof is a manual one, which might mean Citroen Pluriel-like nightmares if the sun comes out.
Soft-roader previewed by Provoq concept last year and closely related to Saab 9-4X. It’s shorter than the old one and, surprise, much more economical - engines are V6 and V6 turbo instead of V8 alternatives. No hybrid power here, though.
Volvo S60 concept
We’ll have something on this later today…