Honda’s big announcement at the Detroit show was the new Ridgeline pick-up truck that continues to feature a monocoque construction rather than the body-on-frame construction of most others. The previous model was ungainly and awkward, but this latest version is a big improvement, although its clean lines and ‘crossover front-end’ are not at all rugged looking. This new model has a number of interesting features like a two-way opening tailgate and hidden storage under the load floor.
Acura revealed the ILX, a stunning concept car in a beautiful shade of red. This quite large, pillar-less four door was as dramatic as it was beautiful. Strong feature lines, bold shapes and many interesting details, make this a strong contender for the best concept at the show. Bright trim pieces sweep up across the A-pillars onto the roof towards the centre of the car, flowing seamlessly into the formed rear window. The high mounted stop lamp is like a spear extending over the backlite – quite unique. The taillamp and exhaust outlet shapes and dramatic and complement each other on the Kamm tail. The interior is equally strong with four bucket seats separated by a prominent center console, a rectangular steering wheel, a surprisingly small instrument cluster and the inevitable large central infotainment screen. There is not much chance that this concept will make it into production, but this could signal a breakout for Acura design going forward – something they badly need!
Frankly, the Toyota display was rather boring and very similar to last year. The only vehicle that was new and interesting was the Kikai, which is a crazy cartoon of a car, but it is fun to see what happens when you let designers run free!
On a more serious note the Mirai (which means Future) is here! Toyota will sell 200 of its fuel cell vehicles in Southern California during 2016 at a price of $57,500. Of course they are all spoken for already. Toyota showed two special versions of the Mirai, one of which had an experimental flat panel roof antenna that will provide much improved communication with satellites. The second was a gull wing two-door concept with cool chrome wheel covers.
The FCV plus (previously shown in Tokyo) is not intended for production, but it is a vision the future of fuel cell cars with electric motors at each wheel and wildly futuristic appearance inside and out.
Toyota’s youth brand, Scion showed a very interesting concept called C-HR. This small coupe actually had four doors, the rears being cunningly disguised to maintain the coupe appearance. The car features big (21 inch) wheels, strongly emphasized wheel arches and very interesting front and rear lights – the rears appearing to float above the quarter panel.
Stop the presses! Toyota just announced that the Scion brand will be dropped in August of this year. Apparently the slow sales of the brand can no longer be tolerated and the Scion products will be folded into the Toyota line-up where appropriate.
Lexus debuted two interesting cars at the show. First was the LF-FC, which is a large four-door concept with fuel cell power. The proportions of the vehicle are excellent, with elegant lines, a strongly sculptured bodyside and dramatic lights front and rear. Like the Acura ILX there are no door handles – great for the design, but perhaps not so practical…. The large air intakes, plus the sharply angled headlights and running lights further dramatize the now familiar and very prominent “spindle” grill.
The LC 500 could be seen as a more realistic and practical version on the exciting LFA coupe, but it is actually the realization of the LF-LC concept shown here in Detroit 4 years ago. It will be the flagship of the Lexus brand when introduced in 2017 with lots of power and a beautiful design. Even the obnoxious spindle grille looks somehow better on this svelte design, framed as it is by the intricate front lights and air intakes. The rear lights are not so pleasing, with blank white lenses when unlit and elongated spears going in two random directions. We love the exhausts, however, and the unusually strong feature lines embracing the exhaust outlets and the license plate that sweep towards the center of the vehicle.
The Nissan display was an exercise in contrast. On one side was the IDS concept, which is an autonomous, ‘zero emissions’ EV four door sedan; while on the other was the Titan Warrior pick up concept, the rock crushing opposite to the “tree-hugging” IDS. Like many concepts these days, the IDS features a pillar-less suicide door set up. The design is much more pleasing than the homely Leaf, but it may be a little too extreme for production. The “buck-tooth” grille, as well as the front and rear lights, are evolved from the current Nissan look. There are some new features, like an illuminated Nissan badge at the rear and a messaging system across the base of the windshield! This would allow the driver to say things like “After you” to pedestrians or other drivers. The potential messages have the imagination running wild!
The Warrior truck concept is well executed, with all the right macho elements. It further reinforces Nissan’s determination to gain more market share in this important US segment. With its recently introduced new version of the Titan pick-up – which now comes with a V8 Cummins diesel engine – they could do just that.
The Infinity QX30 crossover had been shown as a concept a year or so ago and more recently announced for the US at the Los Angeles show. It is faithful to the original concept and should be nice addition to the Infinity Range.
Also revealed at the show, was the Q60, a two-door coupe version of the Q50 sedan. Again, it is very close to the concept unveiled at last year’s show and succeeded in being both elegant and sporty.
Rounding out the Japanese exhibitors, Subaru presented the Impreza Sedan Concept. In common with most of the Subaru line, the concept didn’t try to be outrageous or futuristic, but it was a clean well executed design, with some nice fresh touches that should work well for Subaru, assuming that something like this reaches production.