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While electric mobility has been a recurring focus at motor shows around the world, key themes in Detroit this year at the North American International Auto Show are most certainly performance and luxury. This was particularly obvious at Audi where the stars of the stand were the RS 7 Sportback, RS 5 Cabriolet, the new R8 and the SQ5.
“The Audi RS 7 Sportback was designed with America in mind”, says quattro GmbH chief Frank van Meel. Though it will be sold elsewhere, the market where Ingolstadt chose to first unveil its new 560 hp RS-car may likely also be its largest when it finally goes on sale.
Audi design boss Wolfgang Egger walked us around the car and pointed out some of the differences between it and the recently launched RS 6 Avant. The car foregoes the large fender arches of the Avant. The RS 7 is more elegant, and Audi didn’t want to change that character of the car by adding aggressive wheel arches. Even still, great new RS elements like optional carbon fiber trim, the ‘quattro’ script grille insert and unique honey comb stitched leather seating surfaces make this new model unmistakably one of the hottest RS cars going.
The other first-timer on the Audi stand was the SQ5. Though TDI versions of this S-crossover are already on the roads in Europe, this new petrol-powered version is new with its 354 hp version of Audi’s 3.0 TFSI. Even better, it is expected to be in American dealerships by the end of the year.
Of course there was plenty more to see on the Audi stand. This is the first time either the RS 5 Cabriolet or new R8 have been seen. Red examples of each were among the mix new Audis – many of these fitted with a cadre of tailored interior options from Audi Exclusive.
Outside of Audi, the biggest story in Detroit was the Corvette. Though Chevy showed off a new pickup and trucks are big business here, the all-new Corvette stole more of the spotlight. The new car resurrects the ‘Stingray’ nameplate. It also adopts an aluminum chassis for all Corvette models going forward. No doubt driving dynamics have been improved, as has the car’s interior where material quality appears to have been raised… though perhaps still not yet on the level of tailored craftsmanship of some of its European competition.
And speaking of European competition, Audi wasn’t the only marque with such a focus. Bentley had a new convertible version of its Continental GT Speed, Porsche a new Cayenne Turbo S, and Mercedes-Benz launched their latest E63 AMG sedan complete with all-wheel drive!
If performance was one major theme at Detroit, the other was luxury. Luxury and near-luxury brands made headlines with significant new products or concepts. A name change at BMW has a new 4 series coupe replacing the iconic 3 series 2-doors of past, and it was fittingly shown alongside the new Z4. A change in nomenclature was also in play at Infiniti where a new Q50 sedan replaces the outgoing G37.
For Lincoln and Acura, similar strategies see these brands moving toward the small crossover segment. Both marques showed concepts, dubbed MKC and Urban Concept respectively, though each will likely morph into production models in short order.
Finally, there were a few electric models that made headlines, and each will be entering the luxury segment that Audi calls home. Upstart Tesla showed off the 7-passenger Model X with unique rear gullwing doors that is technically a concept though likely also to morph with little changes into a production car.
Cadillac also showed off their upmarket take on the existing Chevy Volt. Dubbed ELR, its overall package is both decidedly more premium and aggressive than its cousin from Chevrolet. In the meantime, it’s said to go 300 miles per charge.
While the health of the American economy may be showing some life, few television pundits seem ready to call it a full-blown recovery. If the luxury cars segment were a measure though, it would seem manufacturers from around the world know something the pundits do not.
Messe-Highlights aus Detroit
RS 7 Sportback
Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert in l/100 km: 9,5**;
CO2-Emission kombiniert in g/km: 220**
Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert in l/100 km: 6,7-6,6**;
CO2-Emission kombiniert in g/km: 177-174**
RS 6 Avant
Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert in l/100 km: 9,6**;
CO2-Emission kombiniert in g/km: 223**
RS 5 Cabriolet
Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert in l/100 km: 10,7**;
CO2-Emission kombiniert in g/km: 249**
**Angaben zu den Kraftstoffverbräuchen und CO2-Emissionen sowie Effizienzklassen bei Spannbreiten in Abhängigkeit vom verwendeten Reifen-/Rädersatz.
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