Great expectations at annual US motor show
Volkswagen’s star attraction at Detroit is the CrossBlue all-wheel drive concept, which is heading for production at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant in North American next year.
The seven-seat CrossBlue is the biggest vehicle by far to come from Volkswagen’s sparkling new MQB architecture. It will be 5m long and 2m wide – pretty big considering it shares the Golf’s underpinnings.
It will be powered by three different engine ranges, including a plug-in diesel-electric hybrid with 700Nm of torque and capable of pushing the six- or seven-seater to 100km/h in seven seconds.
While Volkswagen insists it’s a concept, insiders say it’s serious about taking on all-comers in the US and the Tiguan is just too small for American buyers while the Touareg is based off a very expensive platform (also shared with the Porsche Cayenne and the Audi Q7).
No date for the CrossBlue’s arrival has been set, but VW insiders say it may be 2015.
The heart of the powertrain is a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid that will find widespread use in the VW range by 2014-2015.
The annual North American International Auto Show exhibits an industry – in the US at least – that is off life support after a few touch-and-go years when various automakers pulled out and some threatened to go elsewhere.
More than 50 concept cars and production models were revealed, including new pick-up truck designs from Ford and General Motors, a revamped Mercedes-Benz E-Class and a next-generation Chevrolet Corvette.
US sales ended 2012 on a strong note. So automakers are unveiling their latest models with high expectations.
AUDI:Having rolled out new versions of its big volume models over the past couple of years, Audi is in Detroit to promote performance tweaks for the existing line-up. In addition to a mild face-lift of the R8 supercar, a convertible version of the powerful RS5 coupe was shown, an S-Line performance version of the Q5 crossover and an RS version of the large A7.
BMW:As has been regularly reported over the last year in Motors, the popular 3 Series coupes are being revised and spun off into a new 4 Series line. The new car is longer, lower, wider and curvier. The carmaker is also showing a 560-horsepower M version of the 6 Series Gran Coupe.
CHRYSLER:With little actual news in terms of metal, the company’s marketers turned to conjuring up special packages for existing models like the 300 saloon.
The latest is a Motown-theme version with a sound system enhanced for rhythm and blues and preloaded songs by Motown stars.
FORD:The long-running game of crosstown one-upmanship continues as Ford rushes to greet General Motor’s new pickups with a sneak preview of its still-percolating 2015 F-150.