Motown Magic, part 2

These days the auto industry has its mojo back and is firing on all cylinders. And at this week’s Detroit Auto Show, it showed off its new swagger by pulling the wrap off an array of terrific new metal. 

   From a new small Cadillac, to a brand new version of Acura’s NSX supercar, to a super-sleek Lincoln sedan, Detroit was rockin’ with newfound excitement.

   After two days of walking the show, kickin’ tires and talking the talk during the media preview, here’s my pick of the 10 Best (six through ten) of what’s new in the Motor City.


6  Ford Fusion

 2013 Ford Fusion - The Wheel World's Top 10 from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show

Here is, without a doubt, the most important automotive newcomer of 2012; a car that is going to set a soaring new benchmark in the family four-door sector, one that will have Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, VW and Chevy wondering what hit them. Yes, this new Fusion is that good. Even without driving it, I’d buy one for the looks. Ford has blatantly copied Aston Martin to create a front end that screams “expensive”. But it doesn’t stop there; the whole car is super-classy and full of crafted, elegant detailing. Add to that a new line-up of high-economy four-cylinders – the upcoming Hybrid promises 47mpg city and 44 highway – and it will be hard to resist. It goes on sale this fall with pricing from the high teens.


7  Cadillac ATS

2013 Cadillac ATS - Howard Walker's Top 10 from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show 

While it’s just plain naive for Cadillac to start coo’ing that its new compact-sized ATS sedan is “the new BMW 3-Series fighter” – mark my words, it won’t be – it’s still a sweet package. Smaller than the CTS, it features GM’s new rear-wheel-drive Alpha platform with power from either a 2.0-liter 270-hp turbo-4 or 3.6-liter 318-hp V-6. It’s good-looking too, with a bold CTS-style front and rear, though the base 17-inch wheels scream “entry-level”. No prizes for rear-seat space either. It goes on sale this fall with prices   starting in the high $20s.


8  Porsche 911 Cabriolet

 2013 Porsche 911 Cabriolet - The Wheel World's Top 10 from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show

The good Herr Doctors at Porsche certainly don’t hang around. The all-new 911 hasn’t even gone on sale yet and they’re showing off the new drop-top Cabriolet version. No rocket science, or folding metal roof, here; Porsche faithfully sticks with its cloth top, which now retracts in just 13 seconds and at speeds up to 31mph. The Coupe goes on sale next month with the Cab following in time for summer, with prices starting at $108,950.


MINI Roadster

 2013 Mini Roadster - Howard Walker's Top 10 from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show

Arguably just as sexy as the new 911, but a whole lot more affordable, is Mini’s latest super-Cooper, the two-seat Roadster. Based on the funky and, to my peepers, rather ugly Mini Coupe, the cloth-top Roadster is much more lovable, with its pert, rounded rear and raked screen. Don’t confuse it with the Mini Convertible – this one has no rear seats. And you raise and lower the cloth top D-I-Y-style. Three versions will be on offer – base 1.6; 1.6 Turbo S; and John Cooper Works, with prices from $20,050. Too cute.


10  Volkswagen Beetle E-Bugster

 Volkswagen Beetle E-Bugster concept - Howard Walker's Top 10 from the 2012 Detroit Auto Show

With the drop-top version of the new VW Bug still months away – they can’t build enough of the new hardtop versions down in Mexico – Volkswagen offered a little teaser with this concept Bugster. With its raked-back, cut-down windshield, removable carbon fiber top and big, blistered fenders covering cool 20-inch rims, the Bugster looks a blast. Of course, VW couldn’t resist giving it the requisite “green” credentials, equipping it with electric power. In place of the rear seat, there’s supposedly a bank of lithium-ion batteries and rear-wheel-driving electric motor to give a zero-emission range of 100 miles. Maybe VW should skip the e-power and lift-off top and build the Bugster as a cool coupe to rival the new Mini Coupe. 

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