Article and photos by Megan Green
Porsche 918 RSR
At a 6:30 a.m. press conference in snowy Detroit, the press gathered around in anticipation of the first reveal of the day. With smoky fanfare, Porsche rolled out their 918 RSR , a high-end hybrid sports car. The best of the 2010 Spyder concept and 911 GT3 R hybrid were combined to create the fluid yet powerful two-seat coupe powered by a V8 mid-engine. Two electric motors on the front axle contribute as well as store power while braking, utilizing its flywheel accumulator – taking the place of a second seat to the right of the driver. On the console, modern touch technology is eschewed in favor of rocker switches. Finishing aesthetic touches include brown leather bucket seats and steering wheel, wing doors, with the body painted a cool blue accented with bright orange racing stripes and brake calipers. It’s just a shame that the 918 RSR didn’t stick around for more admiration during the public show days.
Buick teased us for weeks before NAIAS with leaks of photos of the new 2012 Verano compact luxury sedan. The car debuted in a sedate brown, accented with a black chrome waterfall grille and boasting creamy heated leather bucket seats and wood trim within. To differentiate itself from other compact sedans, e.g. the Chevrolet Cruze, Buick is emphasizing the quietness of the car created with triple door seals, forged alloy multi-spoke wheels to cut down on road noise, as well as laminated glass and sound insulation. This is not your grandpa’s gas-guzzling landboat though – the Verano is also equipped with On-Star technology, Bluetooth, XM Satellite Radio, and touch screen navigation, to start. Currently with an Ecotec 2.4L engine with approximately 177 horsepower, Buick is estimating 31 mpg (highway) and 22 mpg (city.) Manufacturing of the Verano will be kept in the U.S. in Onion Township, Michigan.
Big Three Ponies
Chrysler, Jeep and even FIAT were all sporting Mopar customization on the show floor. The standout for me (and the many attendees crowding around it on the first public day) was the white-with-blue-stripes 2011 Challenger SRT-8. Dodge is really working on the interior details on all of their cars, and it shows. While the dash is still a little plain and plastic, the seats were oh-so-comfortable.
Within view from the Challenger’s front seat were an impressive array of Mustangs and Shelbys. Ford has a dynamic presentation with a bright red Boss. If you get your “Ford passport” stamped, you might even be picked from the audience to sit in the front seat with a professional race car driver on the 2012 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Dyno Pull.
At least three Camaros were on display, one of them the convertible that debuted in L.A. last November. There are also two Corvettes, one a conservative but beguiling light metallic blue. All are open to inspect and sit in, and there is also a chance to get a 3-D photo of yourself jumping next to one.
Believe the hype. After two dismal, anxious shows in 2009 and 2010, this year’s display is full of energy, hope, and ideas in Detroit.
NAIAS Detroit is open through Sunday, January 23 at COBO Center, downtown Detroit.