Currently reading: 2018 Detroit motor show: report and gallery
All the news and action from the first major motor show of the year

As motor shows go, Detroit’s North American International Auto Show of 2018 has been one of the strangest in living memory. 

In a sense, the local daily press’s simplistic forecasts were spot-on: this was an extraordinary combination of high profile, million-selling American truck launches (count ‘em: Ford Ranger, Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram and Lincoln Navigator, sort of) accompanied by the biggest, boldest promises yet that a crop of autonomous and electrified American cars are just around the corner. They’ll be with us so soon, in fact, that in barely four years Ford promises to have blown $11 billion in putting them on owners’ driveways. Or starting to at least.

In truth, this show could almost have been called Ford’s Detroit. The Blue Oval not only promised to double its spending on new-age cars by 2022, but revealed a revolutionary decision to produce a cohesive strain of “performance” electric cars — starting in 2020 with a sporting, Ford Mustang-influenced SUV called Mach 1 — and moving on through its most iconic models with the same approach. 

Ford Mach1 confirmed as hot electric SUV

For this second generation of electrified cars it has boldly decided to ditch the idea, embraced by most other mainstreamers, of making battery electric cars and hybrids out of otherwise undistinguished smaller cars. They’re money-losers, according to Ford, whereas larger and higher value icons — done right — have better hopes of being sustainable in the market place.

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Not that Ford was abandoning traditional performance. It showed two Mustang headline grabbers - a briefly-glimpsed, new generation, fastest-yet 700bhp GT500 that will pop out in 2019 and bring the Shelby name back into Ford’s fold, plus the much more complete (and much more affordable) Mustang Bullitt to commemorate Steve McQueen’s famous film launched 50 years ago next October. It even unearthed one of the two original Bullitt Stangs to embroider a great story.

Among other performance cars, Ford had a 335bhp V6 turbo petrol Edge ST that even Europe won’t be getting; we’ll have to be content with a semi-sporty ST-Line diesel that'll be announced in a couple of months at Geneva.


Read our review

Car review

Can the Mercedes-AMG CLS 63 S provide sensationally entertaining, as well as civilised, executive transport?

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Facelifted Ford Edge revealed to American market 

There’s no getting away from the fact that without the American Big Three, all of which do big business in and around Motown, the 2018 Detroit show would have been painfully thin — to the extent that the organisers had to generously donate a tennis-court sized piece of real estate to the Indycar organisers, who used it to screen repetitive videos and do lots of shouting about season opening dates. 

VW had a new American Jetta on hand which they clearly want to use to bury as much bad news as possible in the US (just as they’re dropping that model in Europe). Mercedes used this show to unveil a new Mercedes-Benz G-Class (as they now insist on calling it; although it's still the 'G-Wagen' to some of us) and to extend its AMG model line-up. Here, alongside the gigantic Americans, was another big, tough car. The theme was unmistakable.

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Infiniti had a nice concept called Q Inspiration that presented a wholly calmer design language that concentrated on full surfacing and fine proportions; it gave much hope for their future. They also showed the slightly crazy Prototype 9 faux-’30s single-seater I’d been hoping to see in the flesh: and with it came news that they’re thinking of removing the speed limiter (set at a miserable 75mph) to give it a proper run.

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Infiniti Q Inspiration concept shows dramatic new design direction

The only determined Chinese presence was that of GAC, whose cars looked like competent, slightly updated Vauxhall Cavaliers, but whose executives made an admirably determined case for their cars to be taken seriously in the US. They must have found the audience for their launch speeches gratifyingly large, given that the people-content of the old Cobo Hall was low this year. I kept looking for familiar faces: not many.

It’s quite clear that Detroit, which grew rapidly through the ’80s as it was embraced by the big Europeans, is now having a hard time from other American shows held in more welcoming locations (Los Angeles, New York) at better times of the year. Especially, it feels a new threat from the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show, held a week earlier and widely touted by car chiefs in recent years — former Ford chief Alan Mulally was at the head of the pack — as “where it’s at” for the car industry. (Interestingly, a few of the latest gang demurred this time, dismissing it as “a widget show”.)

Anyway, Detroit is being pulled hard in two directions. Many big Europeans — JLR, Aston Martin, Volvo, Ferrari team al — won’t be going any more. Their hearts are in California. The big Americans, whose HQs are just down the street, have clearly decided this would be the wrong time to desert Motown’s show, just as wider Detroit is impressing the rest of the US with its regeneration. It’ll be fascinating to see how the competing trends play out in the longer term.

Steve Cropley 

2018 Detroit motor show: as it happened

Honda showed its next hybrid model - the Insight, which marks a huge departure from its two preceding generations. Take a look for yourself. Infiniti previewed its design direction with the oddly grille and exhaust-less Q Inspiration concept, too.

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Ahead of the show, the Ford Mustang Bullitt was revealed, with 475bhp and a 163mph top speed, on the 50th anniversary of the legendary film. 

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Rachel's spotted Hyundai's old trick with the new Veloster: "Ways to give a new car attention: do a full-size hot-rod-styled version."

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Steve's impressed by Toyota's ability to make other people's projects work... "It'll soon be a year since this eye-catching Toyota FT-4X concept popped up to show us how great a funky little Land Rover could look if allowed to prosper. The Japanese have a habit of showing how good other people's projects could look. Fact that FT-4X is being shown again must mean they like it back at the Toyota nerve-centre."

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Things are drawing to a close in Detroit, but before the last stories from our Detroit team's interviews appear, take a look at this afternoon's action above.


The Detroit team is trying to get last photos of the most important models, but there's one problem: "GAC stands out at Detroit for being one of the few car makers that still think it’s appropriate to have show girls on the stands, making it impossible to get a clean shot of its new saloon!"

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The domestic manufacturers are (mostly) conspicious in their absence, says Steve: "There's room for concern about declining support for this show from non-US manufacturers. This tennis court space dedicated to promoting Detroit's Indycar race in June..."

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...and reminisces about the grandeur of the reveal location: "The G-Class reveal was in a spectacular location, the old Michigan Theatre, which was faded yet magical. Particularly poignant because it was also on this site that Henry Ford built his first ever car. Now that's some impressive history."

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Rachel's been chatting with Dr. Z about the G-Class: "Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche said a hybrid G-Class would arrive before a pure electric version of the off-roader, recognising the difficulties of extreme off-roading with a battery in the flooring. That said, he added that other electric SUVs in the brand would have off-road capabilities but not as advanced as that of a model like the G-Class.”


Steve's been reading again: "Throwback to the Detroit Free Press headline on the first morning of the Detroit motor show. Tempted to send them a message from London: You guys don’t know the half of it!"

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A quartet of reveals as the day reaches its peak - Hyundai has revealed the not-for-Europe Veloster, Jeep has revealed its less odd-looking Cherokee facelift, Kia has given us a hint at the next Ceed with the Forte saloon, and Acura is gunning for the BMW X3 with the RDX. BMW has brought the X2 along for its first public outing too. 

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The future is foody according to Ford, says Steve Cropey: "Here's what self driving looks like from a Ford point of view. Fusion (Mondeo) arrives. You tap in the last four numbers of your mobile, there's a fanfare, the window opens, and your pizza is offered. People apparently prefer this to the 'performance' of having to deal with a delivery driver. No tipping is a big thing, too."

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"For such a small show, the Detroit motor show this year is pretty diverse - think back to the SUV-dominated shows of 2017, and although there's a large SUV segment of Detroit, you've got quite a mix this year." Jimi says. Although, that said, there's not been a single new EV - concept or otherwise - making its debut. 

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The original Bullitt car is quite the star of the show, says Steve: "Owner of original Bullitt hero car, Sean Kiernan from Nashville. Car has been in his family since 1974. Plans to keep it just like this. Very fit mechanically. Insurance value is in the millions, but the car was bought by his dad for $6000!"

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More Cropley low-down on the Ford F-150: "Ford are taking big pains to make sure Yank truck buyers don't think the new mid-sized Ranger pick-up is merely the South African edition Europe gets, though the two look very much the same. "This about designing and building specifically for the American customer," says Todd Eckert, Ford sales chief, who claims same tough testing regime for US Ranger as F150."


Steve has stumbled across a retro-insipired gem: "Fascinated by Infiniti’s Prototype 9, faux '50s single seater seen at Pebble Beach last year. Insiders say they might take in limiter off (presently set at 120 km/H) and let it do some serious speed. In US, probably. That's where Infiniti makes hay."

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Rachel's a fan of Infiniti's design direction: "Infiniti’s Q Inspiration looks very promising for the future of the car maker’s design. Under ex-BMW design boss Karim Habib, gone are the awkward angles of old, and in their place is a sleek yet original shape."

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Speaking of SUVs, Steve's got the inside line on why we're not getting the Edge ST: "Rumour mill says Ford half-considered an Edge ST for Europe but pulled back because Edge is big and cumbersome compared with everything else with the badge they sell in Europe, and might muddy the ST waters."

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Oh look, an SUV concept - Nissan has just revealed the Xmotion. It's autonomous, and unlike many SUVs launched in recent years, takes the form of a proper, high and hardcore mud-plugger. Take a look. 

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News just in - the four-door AMG supercar will be revealed in March, at the Geneva motor show.


"Audi has a pretty big stand at the show despite showing nothing new. Demonstrates the importance of being present in Motor City even without new metal." Although debate is rife about whether Detroit can hack it as a motor show, with so much domestic competition. 

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The fast SUV craze passes the UK by with the Edge ST, says Steve: "Ford's new Edge for Detroit has the same exterior and interior improvements as updated Euro version we'll see at Geneva in March, but we won't see either the 335bhp turbo V6 or the ST model they're showing in Detroit. Our only engine option will continue to be the diesel, and we'll see an ST-line edition."

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Rachel's scoping out the non-debut cars of Detroit: "BMW’s M3 CS stands out on the BMW stand. Given America’s love for performance sedans, i imagine it’s a key market for the car."

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Steve's getting some important insight into Ford's domestic market strategy: "Ford says US Ranger will made in Michigan (for 2019 model year) in response to recovery in demand for 'smaller' pick-ups (US Ranger sales used to hit 300,000 in the 1990s). Lots of equipment includes impressive FX4 4wd drive package, but model structure designed to hold prices back from still-dominant F150."

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"The launch of Mercedes-AMG’s new hybrid 53 range should not be overlooked. This is a brand famous for cars with rumbling V8 exhaust notes and brutal handling – that it’s now turning its hand to efficiency-boosted powertrains suggests a change of tune, one that you’d have to think will have to lead to a full EV model in the not too distant future…" says Sam Sheehan. 

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Lexus’ LF-1 Limitless concept is dividing opinion in the office, having just been revealed. The flexibility of its platform for ‘limitless’ powertrain options is promising. The typically (for Lexus) out-there styling is raising a few eyebrows, though. 

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Racking up those steps, Steve heads over to the Ford/Lincoln stand, where a car formerly described by Mark Tisshaw in its concept form as 'simply one of the nastiest, most vulgar looking cars I've ever seen' sits, in production guise has caught Steve's eye: "Just ran into David Woodhouse, head of Lincoln design and head of all Ford Group global design. Huge job - more than a dozen studious across the world. Was looking at new (recent) Expedition-based Lincoln Navigator (huge, plush and amazing - motto "Quiet Luxury”). Let it never be forgotten that David Woodhouse started his career by winning a design competition in Autocar when he was a starving student. Now, clearly, doing great things."

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Part of Detroit's illustrious automotive heritage stand sentry at the entry, notices Steve: "A couple of old snotters in the foyer remind us of old Detroit - a Chrysler 300C and Plymouth Fury, to be precise."

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Back at the show, Rachel's checking out the G-Wagen close up: "Mercedes has an obligatory muddy G-Class on its stand to showcase how capable it is as off roader. The new model now has a 10cm improved wading depth too, at 70cm."




"The G-Class reveal was in a spectacular location, the old Michigan Theatre, which was faded yet magical. Particularly poignant because it was also on this site that Henry Ford built his first ever car. Now that's some impressive history."


Last night's G-Class unveiling took a surreal turn, says Rachel, "When Arnold Schwarznegger turned up and started talking about how he'd got more muscular as the G-Class had got more muscular... he also gave Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche a cowboy hat."

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So what else has been happening? Well, there’s a new Ford Mustang Bullitt, announcement of an EV SUV performance car from Ford too, the facelifted Edge and Edge ST, while over at Mercedes, the G-Class (one of Detroit’s most hotly anticipated show cars) was revealed, along with the Mercedes-AMG 53 range, Volkswagen unveiled the new, not-for-the-UK Jetta, and Infiniti whipped the covers off the Q Inspiration concept. Quite a busy show already. 


At the other end of the automotive scale, there's the Honda Insight. Rachel's impressed: "The new Honda Insight looks much more appealing than the old. However, it’s not due to come to UK, unfortunately."

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The Mercedes-Benz G-Class was revealed last night, ahead of the show-floor mayhem. Rachel was there to witness it all: "At the G-Class launch, Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche told the audience how the G-Class was close to his heart because it was the first car he'd worked on in R&D back in the eighties. Showing a picture from the time of him with the car, he joked: "Only one of us still looks like we did back then.""


Rachel's exploring already - "The Volkswagen Jetta has already been revealed here but it’s still under wraps at the show."

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And we're off - Steve's had a peek at local newspaper headlines too: "Detroit Free Press sees this year's show as a mix of "truck wars" and lots of progress on driverless and autonomy. Obviously there's more, but that's their take. Their intro imagines Henry Ford (Ford founder), Alfred P Sloan (GM founder) and the Dodge Bros (in effect, the FCA founders) walking into this year's show and seeing a gigantic division - between cars directly related to what they invented, and autonomous cars they never dreamed of..."

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12:58pm UK time (06:58am Detroit time)

Welcome to the Autocar live blog for the 2018 Detroit Motor Show. Our team in Detroit is made up of News Editor Rachel Burgess and Editor-In-Chief, Steve Cropley. Back over in our Twickenham headquarters are Editor Mark Tisshaw and Senior Staff Writer Sam Sheehan taking care of the news, Editorial Assistant Sam Jenkins doing all things social media, and Staff Writer Jimi Beckwith taking on the role of master of ceremonies for the Live Blog. The action is just about to kick off in Detroit, so stay tuned. 

Detroit motor show 2018: the cars

Acura RDX prototype

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Honda's US brand is showing an SUV prototype that represents the brand's next-generation RDX. It takes inspiration from the striking Precision Concept and its futuristic cabin.


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BMW’s new small SUV gets its first official outing at the Detroit motor show, despite being revealed ahead of the Los Angeles motor show. The SUV, targeted at young people, is penned to go on sale in the UK in spring. 

Ford Edge facelift

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Ford's largest SUV on sale in Europe - but far from the largest SUV it makes - has been given a refresh, and an ST version for the US market. It shows us exactly what the facelifted Edge will look like, in about a year's time. 

Ford Mustang Bullitt

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Ford has revealed the latest iteration of its Mustang Bullitt; the 475bhp and a 420lb ft of special edition paying tribute to the famed film car on its 50th anniversary. Green paint, iconic wheels, Bullit badge, 8-ball gearshift, and 475bhp.

GAC saloon and EV


Chinese brand GAC is determined to get a foothold on the European and American markets, and is displaying a renewed assault on the US market in Detroit, with a saloon and an electric concept, details of which haven't yet been revealed. 

Honda Insight

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The Insight is back - well, for the US market anyway. It's also far more conventional than the distinctly Prius-flavoured predecessor, being a traditional saloon shape. Honda promises that it won't be saddled with the compromises traditionally associated with hybrids, either.

Hyundai Veloster

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Hyundai's sporty coupé is being shown in its second generation, although we won't be getting it in the UK. It'll also be the second model to get an N variant after the Hyundai i30 N.

Infiniti Q Inspiration concept

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Infiniti will continue its efforts with its variable compression ratio with the concept demonstrator of its future design language, named Q Inspiration. 

Jeep Cherokee


Jeep has brought its facelifted Cherokee to the Detroit motor show, where the car is being shown in public for the first time. It's another with a far more conventional look, ditching the split headlights from the current-generation car for simple, single units. 

Lexus LF-1 Limitless concept

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Lexus has shown a glimpse of its Detroit-bound concept and described it as a "luxury flagship". The image gives little away, except a light-bar tail-light cluster, a split spoiler and coupé-like roofline. It could preview an SUV-coupé akin to the BMW X6

Mercedes-AMG 53 range

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AMG’s first hybrids will be the 53 range, made up initially of the CLS 53 and the E53 Coupé and Cabriolet models. Each gets 429bhp from a 3.0-litre straight-six engine coupled to a 50kW electric motor. 

Mercedes-Benz G-Class

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Mercedes is bringing its venerable off-roader in its newest form to Detroit as the first outing since its renewal. We have a pretty good idea of what it'll be like already, because it’s not set to change much from the old one. 

Toyota Avalon

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Toyota is revealing its next-generation Avalon, which is the brand's flagship saloon model in America. It's said the car will get a new design that, at this stage, is only previewed by a preview picture of a headlight.

Volkswagen Jetta

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The Jetta probably won’t come to these shores - Volkswagen just trimmed it from its UK line-up - but in the US it’s a strong seller, so the brand is displaying the new one at Detroit

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Cé hé sin 15 January 2018


Interesting to see that the semi-official reason for not selling the Edge ST on this side of the pond is that it's too large and cumbersome to be regarded as sporty here. The other reason is of course that nobody buys even a diesel Edge and they're hardly going to fall over themselves to get a petrol turbo.

Has anybody ever seen more than one Edge?