Cooley On Cars
The hottest cars of the 2014 Detroit auto showCNET's Brian Cooley visits the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to get a peek at what car makers are planning to launch in the next year.
-There you have it, a new era of Built Ford Tough. -The biggest story is, the technology of materials, they pulled some 700 pounds out of the weight of the F-150, much of it by having an aluminum body. Just about everything you see on the outside of the vehicle is now aluminum. That's a big change for the truck market. The other third or so comes out of a high-strength steel being used in the ladder frame, which is tougher, lighter, but less sort of bulky as the steel goes, but there's still steel underneath this guy. Now, when you take 700 pounds out of your vehicle, you get to do some interesting things with how you power it, including this headline grabber, a 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost that means direct injection and turbo charging. This is seen as heresy by some in the truck world where anything below a V8 is seen as just not enough to move a proper truck, but this is a small displacement V6 on top of just having too fewer cylinders than tradition. What we're seeing here is an engine that is yet to have its horsepower or economy specified that will come later as Ford gets closer to late 2014 release, but notice, this guy has got standard auto start/stop technology that's also interesting in a full-sized pickup, although it's defeatable readily in all-wheel drive mode or at any time because truck demands can be so different than regular car. Ford Mustang wasn't unveiled here, but we got our first really good look at both body styles and that new engine choice that is raising a few eyebrows. Ford has done a real major redo on this car. It still looks like a Mustang clearly, but it's less parodic if you will. It doesn't have that kind of big haunches and squared-off-face look, although it's much wider in the back now in actual measurements compared to the previous vehicle which gives it a more interesting stance and perhaps better road dynamics as well. Now, if the body of the new Mustang is different, it ain't nothing compared to this new engine. This is a new entrant, a 2.3-liter turbocharged inline-4. They haven't had a turbo 4 in a Mustang since a limited production SVO back in the mid-80s. This is big news. They haven't published horsepower numbers on it yet, but guess around 300, a little bit more than that. This is also an engine that's gonna slot in the middle of the line. The base engine remains a 3.7 V6, and of course, this jug, the big boy, the 5-liter V8. That's iconic. They could never get rid of that. Porsche unveiled the Targa version of the new 911. It's the first Targa that articulates the entire rear glass window up and away to automatically stow the top. It starts at 100 grand and is all-wheel drive only. Truly a car for all seasons, if not all budgets. Chrysler has been struggling to really compete with the Accord, Camry, Fusion, Sonata, and Malibu, that may change now with the new Chrysler 200. -This new look is pretty indicative of Chrysler's new design language. They've got the textured grille that's integrated in the headlamps with the floating Chrysler badge up front. It looks a little third-generation Subaru Impreza to me, but it's a good-looking car and it's also very aerodynamically styled. Now, this 200 S model is the sportier of the two models that were unveiled today, the other one being the 200 C. This one is gonna have a lot of black trims, sport-tuned suspension, and what not. There's some interesting things happening under the hood of this vehicle. The new 200 is available either as a 2.4-liter Tigershark inline-4 engine that's gonna put out 184-horsepower or with the Pentastar V6 that's gonna output 295 horsepower. That's what you're gonna want under the hood of the sport model. Now, both of those engines are gonna be made it to a single option 9-speed automatic transmission. That's a lot of Ford gears and Chrysler says that's gonna help you get really good fuel economy without having to sacrifice a lot of performance. -The new seventh generation Corvette got huddled up in a Z06 edition with a big new V8. They can assume several positions, cylinder-wise. This guy will do a minimum of 625 horsepower -- it's probably gonna be more than that when it hits the market -- and some 635-foot pounds of torque. Now, here's where that prodigious power comes from. An all-new V8, they call the LT4, next to its cousin, the LT1, no slouch either. They did a couple of things here I wanna call out. First of all, dry-sump design. There is no traditional oil pan down there, allowing it to have a shorter undercarriage. The oil is pumped in and out under pressure, instead. And they've also got a very compact blower here, sitting almost entirely in the valley between the heads. Between those two dimensionally reducing feats, they've ended up with a very compact engine that they can allow to sit lower in the bay of the car that does good things for driving dynamics. But note that brawny motor has actually got some lean and green built into it. It's got cylinder deactivation to run in three different modes -- four-cylinder, eight-cylinder without the blower engaged, and eight-cylinder with the blower engaged. I'll be curious to what kind of MPG numbers they can score out of something so overpowering. But perhaps the coolest tech actually came out just ahead of this car with something called the performance data recorder. It grabs forward video and overlays it with a variety of selectable driving telemetry. It's the first time a carmaker has built in what's traditionally been a specialty aftermarket toy. BMW's 1 Series moved up, not really moved out, making room for the new 2 Series, not quite as big and expensive as the 3 and this one is coupe only. From the sides and three-quarter views, here's what I see. It still has kind of that tragic truncated ramp of the 1 Series, but they got rid of that sad mouth scallop on the side that made the 1 looked like it was melting and bending in the middle. Overall, it's a car with a little more presence, but they can still bring it at a price that's going to be in the zone of folks who would never spend 40 on a car. That's a hot zone because Mercedes' recent introduction of the CLA has been on fire and that car starts at just a tick under 30 before destination. So, all the Germans are rushing to do something cheaper. Now, I'm in for the M235i which is the hotrod model of the two they'll have, the inline-6 that everyone knows and loves, but the car I think that's gonna be really interesting is that guy. The 228i with a 2-liter turbo 4 that puts out 240 horse, gets to 60 in 5.4 seconds, and still delivers 23/35 MPG. Overall, to me, that's a great story, and again, a car that's gonna be starting somewhere around $33,000. And what is that? The Toyota FT-1 concept makes even the hottest of the past Supras that looked like a rental car. -This car is a signal, kind of a shot over the bow that Toyota has returned to dramatic styling, has returned to the kind of sports cars that they had with the Celica. In this car, we see a lot of aerodynamic features such as these huge air intakes in front to feed the engine these air vents on the side to add cooling to the brakes. We have this big spoiler in the back. It looks like it will come up or down depending on the speed of the car. We even have a transparent cover over the engine, that's sort of a Ferrari kind of thing. We've got red valve covers. You can even see the strut brace on the top here. And on the cabin here, we have a head-up display and a little panel above the dashboard. This will show the driver's speed and engine speed and stuff like that, and Toyota has also put a couple of little displays at the top of the steering wheel. Here, we get to see what mode the car is in, whether it's in Sport mode or Normal mode and also what gear it's in. Of course, all of this is kind of for show. This is actually not even intended for production. You can drive it in the Gran Turismo 6 video game. They've got a version as downloadable content, so you can put it on the track and try it out. Apparently, it handles really well in the game, but we won't be able to try that on the road. -Finally, if you've always thought of the Mercedes C Class as just too starter, check out the baby S class that it's become with the new model. Here's the 2015 that is free to fly now that the CLA occupies their $30,000 price point. This guy is coming upscale. Notice, they make you very obvious of that with that S Class-style front nose and very curvaceous styling, not the kind of pedestrian entry level look the C Class has often been cursed with. In the cabin, you're gonna find a lot of niceties from really high-end finishes and [unk] which this car didn't always have to a finger handwriting recognition pad you'll see on this car, kind of a tablet shape center screen in the main head unit. This car doesn't say mid or low scale anywhere. Engines will include a 235-horsepower, 2-liter turbo inline-4, or a 329-horsepower 3-liter V6. They are gonna make a wagon version of this, but because they hate me, they're not gonna bring it to the U.S. This car comes out in September of 2014. Pricing will be locked in around then.