Car Shows

5 Best/Worst of the NAIAS

As the North American International Auto Show rolls into it’s last week, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best and 5 worst things from the show floor.

5 Worst

1. Chrome Wheels

Audi SQ5 2

Chrome wheels were, by far, the worst thing at the Detroit Auto Show.  For some reason, Audi felt the need to try to bring chrome wheels back into popular culture by showcasing them on new models.  Audi’s SQ5 and RS7 both featured the shiny shoes.  The problem with chrome is that it’s just too flashy for most cars.  Today’s new models come off the line in a multitude of colors and finishes.  Let’s not bring chrome back.  Please.

2. Lexus IS350 F Sport’s Face

Lexus IS 3

The new Lexus IS350 F Sport is not a bad car, and from some angles it isn’t even a bad looking car.  One of those angles isn’t from the front.  Don’t look at its face.  This modern-day Medusa has too many character lines and design cues to count.  It’s as if the babysitter hired to keep the Lexus design department in check fell asleep on the job.  Nobody told them to stop, so they didn’t.  An extra vent here, some Nike swoosh LED lights there, and maybe throw in some extra creases for good measure.  I’m not sure that the IS350 F Sport can be a good enough car to get over it’s face.  Luckily the non-F Sport IS is much more acceptable.

3. “That guy” from the BMW Press Conference

BMW That Guy

I arrived at BMW’s pres conference 45 minutes early and snagged a front row seat.  I expected to get some good pictures, as there wouldn’t be anyone or anything between me and the press conference.  That was, of course, until “that guy” showed up, walked right past the throngs of media and photographers lined up to get a clear shot, and stepped in front of the barricade.  He proceeded to make it into almost every picture that I took.  Karma struck when he walked head-first into the camera boom arm, but the damage had been done.

4. Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept

Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept 1

The Hyundai concept looks like something straight out of Batman: The Animated Series.  This isn’t why its on the 5 worst list.  It makes the list simply because I don’t think there’s a place in the industry for a concept car like this.  There were lots of concept cars in Detroit: the BMW 4 Series and the Ford Atlas Concept, for example.  These concepts are near-production ready designs that showcase some new technology that may not make the final production version.  But concept cars like this HCD-14 showcase technology that is just in its infancy in a design that would never make it into production.  Is it glitzy?  Sure.  Is it worth it?  Not really.

5. Cadillac ELR

Courtesy of Michelin Media

Courtesy of Michelin Media

The Cadillac ELR makes the least-worst spot on the list for one reason.  It’s a Chevy Volt.  That’s it.  It’s a two-door, amped-up (literally), limited production Chevy Volt.  Yes, it looks better and will be far more luxurious, but it’s still a Chevy Volt.  Cadillac took an opportunity to announce the ATS-V on the heels of the ATS being announced as the North American Car of the Year, but they wasted it…on a Chevy Volt.

5 Best

5. Volvo S60 Polestar Concept

Volvo S60 Polestar Concept 1

BMW has M, Audi has Quattro, Mercedes has AMG, and now Volvo has Polestar.  Sort of.  Polestar is the almost-in-house tuning arm of Volvo.  Their parts can be found in the C30 Polestar edition, but they weren’t primarily responsible for designing and building it.  The Volvo S60 Polestar was completely designed and built by Polestar.  The concept is essentially fully functional and ready for production; a “please let me drive it” concept, if you will.  We say build it.  Please.

4. Mercedes E63 S AMG

Mercedes E63 AMG 2

The Mercedes E Class has been around since 1953, which is long enough for gravity to have some effect.  The latest E Class has some serious jowls, but this is the 5 best list, so clearly it has something more to offer.  The E63 S AMG is an impressively powerful sedan clearly aimed at M5 and S6.  But it has one option that none of its competitors can offer in the United States.  The E63 S AMG Wagon is the best wagon the American dollar can buy.  For that, it earns a spot on the 5 best list.

3. Ford Atlas Concept

Ford Atlas Concept 2

Ford offers the Atlas Concept as the future of the F Series lineup.  It’s an impressive looking truck that made an even more impressive entrance.  Technology like “active wheel shutters” that improve aerodynamic efficiency at speed may not make it into the final version, but a new  EcoBoost engine most definitely will.  The close-to-production concept made waves on day 2, which is why it makes the 5 best list.

2. Audi RS7

Audi RS7 1

The Audi RS7 is the stealthier and sexier looking RS6, if that’s even possible.  560hp, all wheel drive, and a sub 4 second 0-60mph time make it a formidable foe.  The RS7 would have made this list no matter what, but the fact that it was  a surprise reveal gave it extra points in the voting.  In today’s online world, so many people are vying for any scrap of new or unreleased information that many reveals get spoiled.  Audi’s “magic” reveal of the RS7 was not spoiled in any way, making the end result that much more appealing.  Why didn’t it get all the way to #1?  Chrome wheels didn’t help.

1. Chevrolet C7 Corvette “Stingray”

Corvette Stingray 1

The C7 is 100% Corvette.  Some enthusiasts are wary of the extra vents and the loss of round tail lights.  There are also some new things that old school ‘Vette fans might complain about.  With gearbox ideas borrowed from Porsche (7 speeds), traction control ideas borrowed from Land Rover (5-setting control knob), and an emergency brake much like that of an Audi (electronic), there certainly is a lot that needs getting used to.  We think the new rear end finally takes care of the plastic rear end of the C6 that could be flexed with a finger.  The added interior improvements, like optional competition seats, fix another major flaw of the outgoing model.  Overall, we think it’s a well-deserved refresh that keeps the Corvette competitive in the world of 21st century sports cars.  For that, it gets the #1 spot.

-Christopher Little

Recap: 5 Best/Worst of the NYIAS 2012

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