2014 Detroit Motor Show round-up: the good, the bad and the meh

The launches, junkets and press days for this year’s Detroit Motor Show are over. So, armed with a stiff, refreshing drink and the cold, harsh light of day, it’s time to review all that was good, bad and just meh at this year’s show.

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/acura-tlx-prototype-spells-the-end-of-honda-accord-euro-probably-4412>Acura TSX Prototype</a>
Acura TSX Prototype

Replacing the bigger TL and Honda Accord Euro-based TSX, the new Acura TLX looks good, but will that be enough to sway Americans and Canadians away from handing over their cheques to BMW, Audi or Mercedes-Benz? Or even to Lexus or Infiniti? Meh, we hear them say.

[Read more here...]

Image credit: Acura

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/audi-allroad-shooting-brake-concept-is-a-300kw-1-9l100km-hybrid-4344>Audi Allroad Shoting Brake Concept</a>
Audi Allroad Shoting Brake Concept

If you can mentally change the three-door hatch body into a coupe, you've just got yourself the next generation Audi TT.

For us, anyway, the external design is on the meh side. But the interior, which eschews the central entertainment/nav screen, is a really good peach.

[More on the concept car here...]

Image credit: Audi

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/f22-bmw-2-series-coupe-leaked-m235i-coupe-looks-the-goods-3666>BMW M235i coupe (F22)</a>
BMW M235i coupe (F22)

The F22 2-Series coupe is around the same size as the E46 3-Series coupe from the turn of the century. It also does without the stunned look of the related 1-Series hatch and the awkward front-end treatment of the F30 3-Series and F32 4-Series.

For those reasons alone it's very much on the good side of the ledger.

[More on the 2-Series here...]

Image credit: BMW

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/f30-bmw-m3-sedan-f32-m4-coupe-has-3l-twin-turbo-straight-6-4082>F30 BMW M3 sedan</a>
F30 BMW M3 sedan

Goodbye V8! Hello twin-turbo straight-6. That's the main story of new cars. That, and the fact that the coupe and cabrio are now branded as the M4.

If BMW were to give the world an M2, the M3/M4 twins would very much be a meh.

[More on the M3 and M4 here...]

Image credit: BMW

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/cadillac-ats-coupe-american-for-bmw-4-series-4404>Cadillac ATS Coupe</a>
Cadillac ATS Coupe

The Cadillac ATS is sharp looking BMW 3-Series competitor, and with the launch of the ATS Coupe it'll also take the fight to the 4-Series.

Good news for those in America looking for a stylish alternative. Now about that brand baggage...

[More on the ATS coupe here...]

Image credit: Cadillac

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/c7-chevrolet-corvette-z06-466kw-861nm-engine-7-sp-man-or-8-sp-auto-4372>Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (C7)</a>
Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (C7)

Fitted with a supercharged 466kW/861Nm 6.2-litre V8 the new Corvette Z06 is faster than old model's acclaimed ZR1 version.

Great news for those who like their performance cars American.

[More on the Corvette Z06]

Image credit: Chevrolet

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/2014-2nd-gen-chrysler-200-leaked-has-9-speed-auto-with-rotary-dial-4286>Chrysler 200</a>
Chrysler 200

For the newly minted Fiat-Chrysler entity the Chrysler 200 needs to be a hit, even a modest one. Most of Chrysler's profit stems from the Jeep SUV range and Ram pickup truck, so the company needs to broaden it range of successful vehicles.

Given the visual similarity between it and the related Dodge Dart, as well as concerns about space in the rear, the 200 may well indeed turn out to be bad news for Chrysler's outlook.

[More on the not-for-Australia Chrysler 200...]

Image credit: Chrysler

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/13th-gen-ford-f-150-powered-by-2-7l-4-cyl-3-5l-v6-5l-v8-4347>Ford F-150 (13th generation)</a>
Ford F-150 (13th generation)

By far and away the most significant car to be launched at this year's show. The F-150 is the best selling vehicle in the US and generator of a significant proportion of Ford's US profits.

By switching to an aluminium body and saving up to 320kg, the F-150 will consume less petrol. Arguably this single change is more significant to the environment than a Prius that's able to eke out an extra 0.5L/100km. Although we could just as well question whether most F-150 buyers need a truck that big to begin with...

The F-150 is very definitely in the good column.

[More on the next version of America's best selling vehicle...]

Image credit: Ford

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/6th-gen-ford-mustang-coming-to-oz-2015-2-3l-4-cyl-5l-v8-only-4023>Ford Mustang</a>
Ford Mustang

Okay, so it formally debuted last year in various locations around the globe. But this was the pony car's first true public outing.

It's coming in 2015 to Australia to give Ford a RWD muscle car and help soothe some of the pain of letting the Falcon go.

It's good that we're getting another affordable rear-wheel drive performance vehicle. Not so good that it coincides with Ford's departure from local manufacturing, however.

[More on the pony car coming to Australia...]

Image credit: Ford

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/gmc-canyon-is-the-butch-alternative-to-the-chevy-holden-colorado-4330>GMC Canyon</a>
GMC Canyon

Given that it shares much of its oily bits with the Holden Colorado, as well as the American Chevy Colorado, the Canyon should be quite a capable "mid-size" ute (sorry, pickup).

Unfortunately for it, it'll likely get crunched by a lot of meh from American consumers because it's not really that mid-size anymore and not cheap enough to lure people away from their full-size pickups.

[More of the Canyon doing its thing in canyons...]

Image credit: GMC

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/2014-hyundai-genesis-sedan-looks-sharp-handsome-desirable-3659>Hyundai Genesis sedan (DH)</a>
Hyundai Genesis sedan (DH)

Who would've thought in the days of the Excel that Hyundai would produce good looking and desirable cars. Less alone a rear-wheel drive luxury sedan with a V8?

Hyundai will test the limits of its brand when the second generation Genesis sedan makes its way down under. Until then we'll mark this down as good for progress.

[More on the sharp suited Genesis sedan...]

Image credit: Hyundai

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/2014-lexus-rc-f-coupe-has-5l-v8-with-over-330kw-450hp-4291>Lexus RC-F coupe</a>
Lexus RC-F coupe

It looks the goods and should handle decently too, but it will need to do a lot right to convince people away from their BMW M4s and C-Class AMGs.

We think it's rather good on face value, but it's likely that the buying public will think it (or Lexus) is still too meh.

[Fire up more news on the V8 RC-F...]

Image credit: Lexus

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/x156-mercedes-benz-gla45-amg-entirely-predictable-265kw-hot-mini-suv-4256>Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG (X156)</a>
Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG (X156)

It seems a little churlish to rag on a mini-SUV/tall-hatch that's got a 265kW turbocharged engine, but the GLA45 AMG seems a little uninspired to us. After all there's already the CLA45 AMG and A45 AMG.

Let's mark it down as a bad, because the CLA45 and A45 do the performance thing better, and with a bit less awkwardness and pretension.

[Fast forward to the GLA45 AMG...]

Image credit: Mercedes-Benz

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/w205-mercedes-benz-c-class-has-led-lights-google-street-view-4113>Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan (W205)</a>
Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan (W205)

It looks like mini-S-Class and it's bigger than before (remember when the C and 3 were, you know, compact?), but the new C-Class finally has an interior worthy of its price point.

It's good purely on the strength of the interior alone.

[Zip through to the C-Class' lovely new interior...]

Image credit: Mercedes-Benz

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/nissan-sport-sedan-concept-previews-next-us-maxima-future-design-direction-4379>Nissan Sport Sedan Concept</a>
Nissan Sport Sedan Concept

It's a pointer to the next generation US Maxima, as well as the styling of future Nissan sedans. But we can't escape the fact that for something labelled Sport Sedan rear-wheel drive would be nice.

It's nice, but it'll likely be toned down for production. So, meh.

[Will this be the sportiest Maxima ever? Find out for yourself...]

Image credit: Nissan

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/f56-mini-john-cooper-works-concept-looks-great-but-few-details-4123>Mini John Cooper Works Concept (F56)</a>
Mini John Cooper Works Concept (F56)

It'll be brisk and it'll handle well, those things we'll take as givens, but remember when Minis were, well, mini?

It's both sad and bad that BMW can't justify a smaller Mini in the style of the Rocketman Concept, but instead decides to churn out a dizzying and confusing array of ever larger, fatter and interchangeable Mini models. Time for a name change to Maxi, maybe?

[Have a gander at the Mini with maxi-sized performance ambitions...]

Image credit: Mini

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/991-porsche-911-targa-4-and-4s-stays-to-true-to-classic-wraparound-form-4365>Porsche 911 Targa 4 (991)</a>
Porsche 911 Targa 4 (991)

We could flog that old Porsche horse and complain about their styling and engineering mantra of "same, same, but different".

This time, however, they've given us something truly cool. A trick roof mechanism for its 991 991 Targa. Just check out the video below, it's so good:

[Unzip the new Targa...]

Image credit: Porsche

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/subaru-wrx-sti-has-227kw-393nm-2-5l-turbo-gold-alloys-optional-4411>Subaru WRX STI (GP)</a>
Subaru WRX STI (GP)

Ugly can be a virtue if the car's quick and relatively affordable.

That said, we wouldn't feel so meh about it if Subaru hadn't teased us earlier with the lovely WRX Concept.

[Race over to the new WRX STI...]

Image credit: Subaru

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/toyota-ft-1-may-look-like-the-next-supra-4359>Toyota FT-1 Concept</a>
Toyota FT-1 Concept

It looks good. No! It looks great. But the FT-1 could turn out to be the automotive equivalent of vapourware.

If it is going to spiritually replace the long dead Supra, it seems it will be a few years away, because Toyota's not giving us any info about what's powering the damn thing. Not even vague pie-in-the-sky numbers.

[Does the FT-1 spell a future filled with exciting Toyotas?]

Image credit: Toyota

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/volkswagen-beetle-dune-concept-points-to-possible-off-road-beetle-4306>Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept</a>
Volkswagen Beetle Dune Concept

It looks good. Heck, it's even close to looking great. And we'd never thought we'd say that about a New Beetle.

But the Beetle Dune has one fatal flaw: it's front-wheel drive. That means it can't even drive over its namesakes. Unequivocally bad then.

[Get stuck with the new Dune...]

Image credit: Volkswagen

<a href=http://www.betweentheaxles.com.au/volvo-xc-concept-hints-at-xc90-replacement-maybe-a-v30-successor-too-4069>Volvo XC Coupe Concept</a>
Volvo XC Coupe Concept

Beautiful in that slightly warm Swedish minimalist way, the XC Coupe previews the look of the next XC90.

That said we're just a little a meh after all the teasing from Volvo.

[Snuggle up to the XC90 preview...]

Image credit: Volvo

Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]