VOLKSWAGEN'S quirky modern take on the humble Kombi, racy looks for the Toyota Camry and South Korea's muscular European-esque Stinger were the unlikely spotlight grabbers in America's "Motor City".
Following the worldwide trend, there weren't many surprises at this week's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
There were notable absences from Bentley, Ferrari, Tesla, Lamborghini... and there was no chance of seeing former Volkswagen Group emissions compliance executive Oliver Schmidt. He was arrested by the FBI while trying to catch a plane back to Germany from Miami International Airport in Florida.
Also no sign of the reincarnation of the Jeep Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, despite being on home turf. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles merely revealed plans for a $1billion investment in its Warren and Toledo plants, yet its brands were bereft of anything to get the blood pumping.
There was limited fanfare as manufacturers trumpeted their new and future plans, with Toyota and Lexus securing most spectacular honours in their 180-degree amphitheatre where the Camry and LS limousine were launched. Here are some of the highlights:
While officially called a multi-purpose van, we know it as the Kombi. Called the ID Buzz, this futuristic offering would please the hippie movement once synonymous with this genre.
There are zero emissions from the all-electric van, which has a range of 600km. At a charging power of 150kW, it takes about 30 minutes to charge up to 80%.
Unlike Kombis of old, the eight-seater is no slug. The 0-100kmh time is five seconds and it has a limited top speed of 160kmh.
The driver can even turn the seat around, take a rest and still keep travelling with an automatic driving mode. Gently push the steering wheel and it disappears into the dash. Groovy.
It doesn't have conventional instruments either.
Key information is instead projected onto the head-up display into the driver's field of vision - in 3D, in virtual format onto the road.
The chances of the Buzz going into production may be slim, but the automatic "pilot" mode is slated for release in 2025.
All eyes were on the stunning Q8.
An impressive offering that will join the marque's growing SUV contingent - which starts with the soon-to-be-launched Q2 - the 5m-long, near-production-ready plush concept has 630-litres of boot space, air suspension and 23-inch rubber. Unquestionably desirable looks too.
It was showcased with a 330kW plug-in petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain that can propel it from 0-100kmh in 5.4 seconds.
Inside, it's designed to make passengers feel as though they're in a sailing yacht with neater and cleaner appearances. There are large touch-screens to help reduce the need for buttons.
Forecast to arrive in Australia by 2018 and priced at more than $110,000, it's likely to rival the Range Rover's Sport and Mercedes-Benz's GLS.
One surprise was the unveiling of the new SQ5. The vehicle revealed featured a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol, but most likely we will still get the diesel - which is faster and less thirsty.
Without doubt, the Stinger was the production car star. Arriving by September, the powerplant options will include a turbocharged petrol and twin-turbo V6.
Expected to be priced between $40,000-$50,000, the striking rear-wheel drive sedan will lure many new buyers to the brand, which has awesome fastback looks and refined internal finishes.
Literally on-song with a jazz-inspired rendition of Black and Gold and showing three-pointed stars do actually matter, Mercedes showcased its E-Class Coupe and revised GT range.
Arriving in the third quarter this year with three petrol engines and one diesel option, the E-Class Coupe follows the tyreprints of the C-Class and S-Class offerings. Adding a new coupe derivative, the Mercedes-AMG GT C (sitting above the GT S and below the hardcore GT R) will be sold as the 50 Edition.
In more good news, the basic V8 in the GT gets 10 extra kilowatts, while the GT S has a 9kW jump (to 384kW) and torque rises 20Nm to 670Nm. The new GT C will have 410kW of power and 680Nm of torque, with claimed 0-100kmh acceleration of 3.7 seconds.
The flagship LS sedan, arriving here in early 2018, was unveiled with a world- first 24-inch colour head-up display and automatic pedestrian swerve function that aims to apply the brakes and steer away from a human in a potential collision.
It will be powered by a twin-turbo, 3.5-litre V6 engine that channels its 310kW and 600Nm outputs through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
While this new model sounds the death knell for Australian manufacture of the Camry, the styling is edgier and more sporting than anything we've seen before.
Using Nascar fanfare to help push the brand's sporting credentials in Detroit, the 2018 Camry will arrive late this year in the $30,000 range and available with three engine choices - the carry-over four-cylinder, new V6 petrol and a petrol-electric hybrid. That will also signify the end of the Aurion nameplate.
Equipment will include a 10-inch colour head-up display, electronic parking brake, an 8-inch infotainment display and there is also up to 30 litres of extra boot space.
This could be the car that sees Infiniti become a true premium force in Australia.
In desperate need of a bona fide mid-size SUV, the QX50 promises to be a real force if and when it reaches our shores in 2018 - although there was no confirmation of right-hand drive at this week's show.
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