RSportsCars Automotive Editor
While much ado has been made about a scaled-back Detroit North American International Auto Show, a bear market auto industry did not prevent car makers worldwide from unveiling some nasty new concept sports cars.
At this year's Detroit auto show, the focus is on eco-friendly performance. Some envirocar buyers demand sub-10-second 0-60 times, and some exciting new concept cars should be just the ticket, should they make it to production.
Here's a look at some of the sporty Detroit concept car highlights. Stay tuned at RSportsCars for more info on these trick concepts as the auto show progresses.
Audi Sportback Concept - Rakish Design, Big Diesel Torque
Audi's Sportback concept performance luxury "fastback" 4 door coupe design is a significant departure from what we've been seen from Audi as of late. The Sportback concept carries sharper corners and a deeply sloped rear greenhouse that calls to mind the Mercedes-Benz CLS.
Power comes from a 3.0 liter V6 turbodiesel outputting 225 horsepower and a tire-melting 406 lb-ft. of torque, put to the wheels through a 7 speed S-Tronic dual clutch automated manual. Internally the Sportback concept car is everthing we like about an Audi, and the new design is a welcome change of pace.
Looking about as production-ready as anything at the show, save for some shiny auto show concept dressings, expect to see the Audi Sportback relatively unchanged at dealerships before long.
Volkswagen BlueSport Concept - Dear VW: Build it. Now.
The VW BlueSport Concept roadster is the manifestation of months of rumors about a new open-top sports car coming from VW. Apparently at Volkswagen, blue is the new green. The BlueSport packs a mid-mounted 2.0 liter turbodiesel good for 180 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. Considering the BlueSport Concept weights in at a featherweight 2600 lbs., this should provide greater punch than say, a Mazda MX5, while still returning great mileage with low emissions.
VW says the BlueSport Concept returns an EU-method 35 miles per gallon in average driving conditions, and up to 62 mpg in optimal conditions with the Eco button engaged. Styling is a refreshing change from competing roadsters from BMW, Porsche, Audi, Honda and Mazda; far more attractive than the Volkswagen Eos.
The most pressing question left by the BlueSport's introduction: Why aren't we driving it already?
Cadillac Converj Concept - The Cadillac of Electric Cars
Rumors and good business sense pointed at a Cadillac version of GM's Chevrolet Volt, and the Cadillac Converj concept is a rough approximation of what that car could look like. More importantly, the Converj is exactly what that car should look like.
The Detroit Auto Show is the big dance for struggling American car companies, as the consumer has fallen out of love with big, heavy, fuel-guzzling vehicles that have become the last bastion of American car sales. GM is out to prove that the Americans can meet or exceed Japanese and European car companies when it comes to hybrid electric concepts with real everyday power.
The Converj concept uses the same E-Flex drivetrain as the Chevrolet Volt, though in a much more visually interesting sports coupe package. If major details from Detroit's Converj concept make it to a Cadillac production car, the General should expect a smashing success.
Dodge Circuit EV Concept - Less Lotus, More Mopar
It was no secret to the automotive press that the Dodge EV Concept shown in the summer was nothing more than a Lotus Europa with a new all-electric drivetrain. Still, the Lotus/Dodge EV Concept managed to shake up the car world by outputting near-Viper performance numbers by taking the tried-and-true Lotus formula of low weight with big usable power and putting an emphasis on the power.
The new Circuit EV Concept shown at Detroit has received a nose job and some new rear flanks, making at least some of the bodywork unique to Dodge. The Circuit EV concept retains the 200kW electric motor and is good for a 13 second quarter mile.
Like all the fancy concepts shown at Detroit, though, the Circuit EV will do absolutely nothing good for Chrysler's bottom line unless we see a form as a production car. Time to get to work!