Pending double-dip recession or not, 2012 promises to be a bumper year for new car launches if the debuts at the Detroit motor show are anything to go by.
The highlight is the new Ford Mondeo, but there’s plenty of glamour and new technology too. We’re reporting live from the Detroit motor show; here's our rundown of the key launches so far.
The long-awaited spiritual successor to the Honda NSX supercar will receive its public debut, albeit in concept form. The Acura ILX Concept is based on the Honda Civic and is Acura’s first ever hybrid, and the RDX Concept will replace the current version of the crossoverAcura NSX ConceptAcura RDX and ILX
Audi’s fleet favourite, the A4 has received a mid-cycle facelift, which is much needed in light of the excellent new BMW 3 Series. Continuing the marque’s fearsome new model offensive is a SUV concept, the Q3 Vail.
Demonstrating Bentley’s commitment to improve its performance and economy by 40 percent is the Continental GT V8, alongside its convertible companion, the GTC V8. It might give 2000cc and four cylinders to W12 engined variants, but it doesn’t lack any of the drama.
The all-new BMW 3 Series is the most polished all-rounder in any class, offering a fluidity of drive and understated elegance not previously available in the small executive segment. And a hybrid will expand the car's appeal further. BMW has also announced a manual gearbox will be available in the M5.
The Buick Encore – or Vauxhall Mokka as it is expected to be branded in the UK – is a compact SUV similar in size to the Skoda Yeti and Nissan Juke. Two- and four-wheel drive variants are expected to be offered when it goes on sale later this year.
Cadillac says the ATS is a serious attempt at cracking the dominance of German cars in the junior executive saloon segment. The rear-wheel drive ATS will feature two- and four-wheel drive variants, but only petrol engines will be offered from launch.
The Sonic RS is Chevrolet’s late debut in the hot hatch market. Although it is still unconfirmed for the UK – where it would be badged as Aveo – it would serve as a welcome halo model for the brand. Three concepts have been debuted too.
The first fruit of the Fiat-Chrysler merger is the Dodge Dart, a compact four-door saloon based on a modified version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta architecture. The other end of scale is represented by the Dodge Charger Redline, which is a showcase of Mopar performance kits which will be available later in the year.
Arguably the most important debut at the Detroit motor show is the Ford Fusion – a model which will become the Mondeo in European markets – the fourth global car heralded by the One Ford programme. The stunning looking C/D segment car has been previewed in last year's Evos concept, but buyers will need to wait until 2014 to find out how it drives.
The Honda Accord Coupe might be a distant memory for British buyers, but continues to sell well in America. It is likely to be the first in a line of Accord concepts which will end with an all new production saloon model.
Hyundai’s product offensive continues at an alarming rate with the Veloster Turbo and Genesis Coupe. The hottest Veloster yet will rival the Volkswagen Scirocco and offer around 210bhp from a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. A revised version of the rear-drive Genesis coupe will see power from its 3.8-litre V6 boosted to up to 350bhp.
The LF-LC is a 2+2 coupe which Lexus is considering to put into production and shares several design elements with the LFA supercar. A revised version of the Land Cruiser-based LX570h has received attention from Lexus’ design team, with a new front end for the body-on-frame SUV.
Lincoln’s parent company Ford is desperate to move the luxurious brand up market again, and has invested heavily in new and facelifted models which will launch over the next two years. The first are the MKZ saloon concept, which shares its new platform with the forthcoming Ford Mondeo. The MKS saloon and MKT crossover will also receive a mid-life facelift.
The sixth-generation Mercedes SL promises refined performance when it goes on sale next July. Receiving its world debut, the SL will be up to 140kg lighter than the outgoing model despite packing a range of technological advances. Mercedes will also join the hybrid revolution in Detroit, with the debut of the E300 BlueTec diesel-electric saloon and a US-only E400 petrol hybrid.
The Mini Roadster is the sister car to the Coupe and increases the marque’s drop-top offering. The strict two-seater will rival the Mazda MX-5 and features a fabric roof to lower the car’s centre of gravity for improved handling.
Nissan is injecting sleeker lines into the next-generation Pathfinder SUV, but the car will still offer drivers the rugged ability of the current car. An electric version of the NV200 commercial vehicle has also received its public debut.
With a fabric and composite folding hood, the 911 cabriolet is claimed to offer improved aerodynamics, refinement and a roof-up look that echoes that of the coupe more closely.
The For-us is a compact zero-emission pick-up concept is part of Smart’s plan to expand its line-up, although no decisions have been made on its future as a production vehicle. The For-us’s platform is roughly the same size of that underpinning the forthcoming For-four, which is being co-developed with Renault.
Toyota describes the NS4 as an “advanced plug-in hybrid concept”, but is likely to feature new Hybrid Synergy Drive technology which will be shared with Lexus. It will appear alongside the Prius C, which receives its North American debut.
Following the launch of the Touareg hybrid, the Jetta is the next model for hybridisation. It will be powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged engine coupled to an electric motor. The E-Bugster is two concepts in one - it previews the next Beetle cabriolet as well as offering a peak at the electric drivetrain destined for the wider Golf family from 2013.
The Volvo XC60 Plug-in is a strong statement of intent to launch a plug-in hybrid in North America, Russia and China, as well as the first look at the first unit from Volvo’s new family of engines.