A top 5 list of the coolest or most interesting cars from NAIAS 2014 – what could be better?
Every auto show has its winners and losers, but this year the Detroit Auto Show had many more of the former than the latter. In my two days that I spent walking the Cobo Center, I took over 700 photos, and I feel as if I was barely able to scratch the surface. It would take tens of thousands of words to describe all of the good, the bad, and the ugly that was put on display. Instead, this top 5 list will show you the vehicles that I thought were the true standouts of NAIAS 2014.
5. 2015 Ford Mustang
You can’t really talk about this year’s Detroit show without mentioning the new Mustang. Sure, it was revealed a couple of weeks before the show, but for much of the automotive press, NAIAS 2014 was the first time the new pony car was truly put on display live and in the flesh. I’ll be the first to tell you that I thought the 2015 Mustang was horrible when I saw the leaked photos that I wrote about at the beginning of December, but after seeing it in person, I am a fan. The reshaped greenhouse is curved and modern, but not so much that you can’t tell that it’s a Mustang. The nose, while originally an issue to my eye, really comes together well – especially on the convertible. Some of the subtle details are incredibly well done, too. Namely, the three diagonal strips that make up the side markers. They remind me a lot of the tail lights of the New Age Mustang from the late 1990s-early 2000s, a cool and subtle mod to an often forgotten generation of Mustang. The interior is top notch, too. The only thing I take issue with is the rear styling. It’s a bit strange on the coupe, and I think that the GT model should have the famous pony logo instead of the bland looking “GT” they decided to include, but that’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a new badge.
4. Cadillac ATS Coupe
The ATS is what Cadillac has been missing from its lineup for years: a proper competitor in the mid size luxury sports segment. As such, it has quite tough group of cars to compete against, such as the BMW 3-series and the Mercedes-Benz C class. So far, the sedan has been quite a success for Cadillac. Lighter than a 3-series, three great engine choices, a manual transmission option, and available all-wheel drive make the ATS a strong contender in its segment. Now with the addition of the coupe to the ATS lineup, Cadillac is filling out its model portfolio quite nicely. The coupe is downright sexy. Its uniquely American hard edged styling from the Art and Science design language of Cadillac translates well to the coupe form factor, just as it does with the CTS coupe that came before.
As with the ATS sedan, interior quality is top notch, and available CUE infotainment makes the ATS coupe a technological powerhouse. Looking for a more pure and performance-oriented driving experience? GM and Cadillac have the car for you with the 2.0 liter turbocharged ATS Performance. Order it with a 6-speed manual transmission and you’ve got one of the most entertaining driver’s cars on the market today.
As an aside, the new ATS Coupe is also the first production vehicle to wear Cadillac’s new crest badge.
They’ve ditched the wreath in favor of a wider and more prominent crest that is reminiscent of the early 1950s emblem. While originally, it seemed foolish, I can agree with the change. The new crest symbolizes history and rebirth of Cadillac simultaneously. With the new CTS, Escalade, ATS, ELR, and now ATS coupe – a rebirth is certainly occurring at GM’s flagship division.
3. 2015 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
Subraru has a long and proud history of World Rally Championship success, and the Impreza WRX STI is the car responsible for it. They’ve been absent from the series since 2008, but this car is rumored to be the homologation special for the FIA-regulated series. The 305 horsepower turbocharged boxer 4 cylinder engine and signature Subaru all-wheel drive are present, and of course a new 6-speed manual transmission is included. Other performance goodies that hint at the STI’s racing aspirations include a special sport tuned suspension, 4-piston Brembo brakes, and an all new Active Torque Vectoring system that’s able to allow for improved vehicle control and cornering speeds by applying additional braking to the inside front wheel to neutralize steering input. The new WRX STI is certainly looking like it’ll be a serious track terror.
The car on display at NAIAS was one of 1,000 STI Launch Edition models with special interior pieces, WR Blue Pearl paint, and gold painted BBS forged alloy wheels. If I were to get a 2015 STI, I’d definitely have to get my hands on one of these bad boys.
2. 2015 Corvette Z06
The new Z06 is a performance powerhouse. It’s the Corvette designed to be a track terror. The new Z06, when equipped with the track-focused Z07 performance package is faster than the previous generation ZR1. That’s a big BIG deal, considering that the ZR1 successor hasn’t even been announced yet. It’s also the first Z06 to have a removable targa roof and an available automatic transmission, and an 8-speed, no less. The 7-speed manual gearbox is still standard equipment, though, so no matter what your driving style, there’s a Z06 for you. The new supercharged 6.2 liter LT4 engine is said to deliver “625+” horsepower thanks to its 1.7 liter Eaton R1740 TVS supercharger. With massive 14.6/14.4 inch carbon ceramic brake rotors (15.5/15.3 inch for the Z07 package), the Z06 can stop just as well as it can go. Official weight figures haven’t been released, but with a new aluminum chassis and revamped engine, you can bet that the 2015 Corvette Z06 will be lighter than the outgoing ZR1, which had a curb weight of 3,353 lbs.
It’ll also come with the same Performance Data Recorder as other 2015 Corvettes, which basically gets you a built in dash cam for your Corvette so you can improve lap times, become a better driver, and push your track-ready Z06 to its limits – or yours.
I already did a complete and in-depth feature article on the 2015 Corvette Z06 last week, which you can read here, but it’s still worthy of the top 5 list because it’s just that good.
1. Kia GT4 Stinger Concept
This is probably the most intriguing of all the vehicles unveiled at the show this year, and very deserving of #1 on this top 5 list. If you were to poll automotive enthusiasts across the Internet and ask them for a wish list in a performance car, you’d probably get something very close to the GT4 Stinger.
- Rear wheel drive
- Manual transmission
- Turbocharged engine
The GT4 Stinger was penned by the group at Kia’s Irvine, California design studio. It’s a 2+2 sports car with 315 horsepower and a 6-speed manual transmission, and it’s also gorgeous. The GT4 Stinger is meant to showcase Kia’s forthcoming design language, and if that’s the case, the future looks bright for the Korean automaker. Unfortunately, if the car goes to production, those wild headlights are unlikely to follow. Likewise, the wheels, which are made from carbon fiber, would also likely be dialed down a bit and formed from aluminum.
The interior was difficult to see, because the car was never opened during the show. However, through the glass you could see the shifter for the manual transmission, as well as the interesting “floating” gauge cluster. It looks futuristic, and I’m in love.
When it comes to the outside, the basic shape is great to look at. It exudes youth and athleticism, which is something the Kia brand has been working on for quite some time with their previous concept cars. There’s not a whole lot of information on this car, but if it were to go into production in the near future and keep its RWD platform, it would likely be on a shortened version of the Genesis platform. Or, perhaps more ideally, Kia could be working on their own smaller RWD architecture. This car would compete against cars like the Subaru BRZ and Toyota FR-S as affordable RWD sports coupes. As far as the automotive enthusiast community is concerned, that’s definitely a good market to have more competition in.
So what do you think? Those are my top 5 most interesting cars from the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Was something you wanted not on the list? Did I get it wrong? Spill it in the comments!