Opinion: The Numerous Premiers at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show

2014 Detroit North American International Auto Show 2014 hooniverse

Typically here at Hooniverse, we try to attend the big auto shows, but it is not always possible. This year we were not able to make the North American International Auto Show, a.k.a. Detroit, and if it wasn’t for Steven Lang’s guest posts, we would have no coverage at all.

That won’t stop us from spewing our useless and pointless opinions, however. Below are our own thoughts on some of the production (concepts are for kids) vehicles that premiered at the show, and other random stuff. Pictures are either manufacturer supplied or blatantly stolen borrowed from our buds at Autoweek and Autoblog.

We will discuss the WRX STI, 911 Targa, Corvette Z06, Lexus RC F, Caddy ATS Coupe, Hyundai Genesis sedan, Honda Fit, BMW M235i, M3, and M4, Benzito GLA45 AMG and C-class, Ford F-150, GMC Canyon, Chrysler 200, VW Golf R, and the Acura TLX. See what we have to say and give us your thoughts.

2015 Subaru WRX STI


305 horsepower and 290 torques. I understand the whole power under the curve thing and not the peak value, but seriously, that’s it? What is this, 2005? Six-speed manual is good. Super magical AWD system with all kinds of settings that only the IT professionals buying this car will understand is also good. Lack of hatchback is not good, but the STI vehicles have typically been big-winged sedans so quit your whining.

-Kamil Kaluski

With the arrival of this new sedan-only STI, the previous hatch seems like a mean trick. Now you love this, now it’s gone. Gone too are the unequal length headers and with them the boxer growl, in the name of more power and greater efficiency. But considering the identical peak power numbers to last year and the small bump up in fuel economy, it seems like it’s mostly just efficiency. Now, can the aftermarket produce something that sounds like a boxer but outperforms or at least matches the factory headers?

-Bryce Womeldurf

Anyone have a friend that hasn’t moved on from high school, college, or any other version of The Good Old Days? He can keep up with contemporary style trends (sort of), but every time you go out, it’s all about how awesome that “fundraiser” party from ’04 was. Such is the STI. “Hey bro, I’ve got 305hp from a 2.5L motor, those Mustangs won’t even stand a chance, bro!” Sigh…

-Tim Odell

2015 Porsche 911 Targa


I have a love-hate relationship with Porsche’s Targa. The Targa name has been floating around the Porsche brand since the late 1960s, and it was inevitable that the 991 generation car would get the Targa treatment. For nearly 30 years, the Targa was a manually removable soft roof panel, but with the 993 model, it became simply an extra-large sunroof.

The new car, however, has remedied that with a strangely cool contraption that gives Targa drivers a full open-air driving experience again. Again, only available in the all-wheel-drive Targa 4 and Targa 4S guises, the 991 version employs a series of motors, arms, levers, and actuators to remove the roof for you. It all folds down behind the rear glass area, and even incorporates a “retro” aluminum rollover hoop. It’s a trick car, and it’ll certainly impress your friends, but with the added weight and the potential for epic failure, should something go wrong, it probably isn’t the Porsche I’d choose. 

-Bradley Brownell

Gawd I love this so much. It’s the real Targa, none of that BS sunroof thing. Yes, the roof mechanism is a Rube Goldberg machine and that’s what makes it great. I predict that the 991 Targa will become a very sought-after classic decades down the road.

To Bradley’s point about it only being available in AWD: Porsche thinks of the Targa a hard-top convertible, which it really is, and it thinks that it will be sold mostly in the snow-belt. Otherwise, get the soft-top cabrio. Added weight, pishposh, you’ll never notice on the road.

-Kamil Kaluski

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06


As happy as I am to see the Targa return to the 911 lineup, I’m exceedingly excited about the arrival of the C7 Z06. This appears to be a world-class sports car that is not just ready to do battle with all foes, but ready to rip their throats out by way of a 6.2-liter supercharged LT4 engine and enough aero bits to to attempt and complete a full loop in a tunnel.

The Corvette has always been an amazing performance option, with the caveat “for the money” attached to the end. Now? It should prove to be one of the most capable machines you can buy… at any price.

-Jeff Glucker

The presence of a faster Corvette is a good thing. That GM will make more money selling faster Corvettes with automatics and removable roofs is also a good thing. But I can’t help but agree (at least partially) with Mr Baruth at TTAC in that the Z06 was the Vette with the identity furthest from the stereotype, and now that exclusivity’s gone. I’m unlikely to ever buy one, certainly never a new one, so maybe it’s all meaningless internet rage. Then again, maybe the reason I’d never buy one is because of the image of the Corvette as a car for aging baby boomers who can’t be bothered to row their own.

-Tim Odell

2015 Lexus RC F


From the front, the 2015 Lexus RC F’s muscles appear bursting through its seams like some kind of mid-metamorphosis Bruce Banner. The grille swells and occupies most of the front profile, representative of the brawny 5.0 liter V8 that lurks beyond. This hulking athlete looks primed to tussle with BMW’s M4.

That V8 will spend most of the time running on the Atkinson Cycle for efficiency. When prompted for serious propulsion, however, the motor will apparently switch to the Otto Cycle through what’s known as “Magic,” unleashing all of the engine’s 450-plus horsepower. The RC F goes on sale this fall with big brakes, big tires, trick aero, and an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

-Eric Rood

This is basically an IS-F coupe. If it’s anything like the current generation of GS and IS model, expect this to be great. I had the F Sport line of those cars on the track and came away very impressed. I’ll happily take the new IS or GS over non-M BMW 2/3/4/5, whatever the hell number they’re up to. Those exhaust pipes… ugh, give it up, Lexus!

-Kamil Kaluski

2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe


I think Cadillac finally figured out that a coupe doesn’t need to look like a door wedge (read: CTS Coupe). It’s simply a normal-looking two-door that can show off Cadillac’s newfound ability of making handsome cars that no longer seem like rebranded Chevrolets… or maybe just handsome. Looking at it from my desk in Georgia, I can’t pick out anything that’s wrong with it. It has impressive power, good transmissions (including a six-speed manual), and you know it will be comfortable, but I just can’t get excited about it after seeing what the Germans and Japanese brought to the same show. Not at all. Not even in the sligh — wait… it’ll be cheaper than the BMW 4 Series Coupe?! OMG INSTANT CAR OF THE YEAR NOMINEE!

-Greg Kachadurian

Now complete the trifecta with a wagon.

-Kamil Kaluski

2015 Hyundai Genesis Sedan


Building brand loyalty takes years of delivering better cars than you’re given credit for. Hyundai’s probably still doing that. The Genesis is back with the same engines, but new sheet metal. Unfortunately, said sheetmetal doesn’t set any styling benchmarks and withers under claims that it’s too derivative of the  LS, S-class and 300, depending on where you look. “A great car for 30% less” holds for the likes of the Genesis Coupe and Sonata, but probably misses the point in the high-end luxury barge segment.

-Tim Odell

The Pheaton, as amazing as it was, did not sell well. Toyota started Lexus. Honda has Acura. Nissan is all F1 happy in their Infiniti. In the end, people don’t buy pricey cars for their features, they buy a badge.  Hyundai, no matter how great it is, is not a luxury badge.

-Kamil Kaluski

2015 Honda Fit


The current Fit is a pretty darn good sub-compact car. A new Fit should be even better. So that’s nice.

-Jeff Glucker 

I always wanted a Fit, the Sport model with a manual transmission. And with a K24 swap. And a turbo… yea, that would work. Also, I don’t think that this is such a great color for a vehicle launch.

-Kamil Kaluski

2015 BMW M235i


Take one part BMW 2-series coupe, add six cylinders with 3 total liters of displacement and BMW’s TwinPower turbocharger for 322 horsepower. Mix in a pinch of M-specific chassis components, M Sport brakes, adaptive suspension, sport steering, sticky tires and a raucous exhaust, and you’ll come out on the other side with the new BMW M235i. A sub-5 second 0-60 time never hurt anyone.

While BMW have been making some questionable choices lately on vehicle design, the M division can’t seem to go wrong when it comes to drivetrain engineering. While not as track-junkie hardcore as the E87 1M that it replaces in spirit, the new M235i stickers at only $43,000, more than 10 grand less than the 1M MSRP. It’s small, it’s powerful, and it’s quick. I’m not complaining.

-Bradley Brownell

We need to be more excited about this car. It might be this show’s car I care about the most. It’s a non-ridiculously priced sports sedan with a proper six speed manual and handsome package. Unfortunately, this is the internet and I’m once again required to mention the Mustang.

-Tim Odell

2015 BMW M3 and M4


Look at it… it’s beautiful, although I could live without whatever aerodynamic action is going on with the lower front fascia. I’m still not sold on BMW’s turbo engines, so I’ll have to drive and see. Judging by previous M3s, this thing is probably near perfect in every dimension that an enthusiast would care about.

-Kamil Kaluski

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG


…And they say BMW ///M lost their way.

-Greg Kachadurian

So wait, the GLA, is that like a CUV or a wagon? Or a C-class without a trunk? Hot hatch? I’m so confused. The answer is probably yes.

-Kamil Kaluski

2015 Ford F-150


The new F-150 looks pretty much like an down-sized and restyled F-350. And that’s good, too, as pickup buyers want manly-looking trucks. The big news is significant weight savings due to increased use of aluminum and high-strength steel – please welcome pickup trucks to 1995. There is also a new, smaller, 2.7-liter V6 EcoBoost engine which probably won’t be loved. I hope you like automatics, because manual transmissions have been absent from Ford trucks for some time. Can we has teh Raptor nau?

-Kamil Kaluski

I’m a pretty conservative truck owner, so I always view new trucks (and new tech in said trucks) with a suspicious eye. I’m not a fan of touchscreens, cameras, LED lights, locking tailgates, lane assist, etc. when it comes to a pickup. Fortunately, Ford knows their audience better than me, and has options and trim levels to please everyone. From the back-to-basics XL to the blinged out Platinum, Ford knows better than any other truck manufacturer exactly how to sell the same truck to every kind of buyer. When I first read that 95% of the truck will be made with aluminum, I reached for my pitchfork: however, the fact that this makes it stronger, more durable (rust-free), and lighter, I slowly set it down again. Apparently the aluminum they will be using is some kind of military-grade stuff that’s better than steel. I was tempted to pick it up again when I read about the 2.7-liter EcoBoost at the bottom of the engine lineup, but again, they know better than I do. Some guys are happy with reduced payload capability but great mileage. I call it the Ranger Concession (since Ford refuses to sell one here).

Would I ever drive an aluminum truck with a tiny engine and a computer screen in the dash? Probably not, but that doesn’t change the fact that the 2015 F-150 is a damned good truck. By every measurable calculus, it’s a better, more capable, more attractive truck than the 2014 model it replaces.

Now, get off my lawn.

-Marcal Eilenstein

Possibly the most important new vehicle at the show this year. Not my favorite, but extremely important and it looks to be quite an upgrade over the previous generation.

-Jeff Glucker.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-class


I know I’ll be alone here, but I love it. It’s a more mature CLA, which is what the C-Class should be. Additionally, the interior finally looks to be a truly luxurious space. It’s not just a smaller, more affordable Benz sedan, but a true modern Mercedes through and through.

Now give me an AMG wagon version…

-Jeff Glucker 

It’s not a more mature CLA, it’s 1/3 S-class. I’m not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing.

Now give me an AMG wagon version…

-Kamil Kaluski

2015 GMC Canyon


Why does this small truck look so big? The Chevy Colorado somehow looks better. This is looks like a shrunken down Sierra, downright cartoon-ish. 

-Kamil Kaluski

Looks like an awesome truck in the higher-spec’ed models. The internet wish-list is almost all there: diesel, locking differentials, coil-over front suspension, just no manual beyond the bottom-rung. Not-so-compact compact trucks suffer from competing with similarly priced less well appointed full sizers on the same lot. “For the price of that, I could get a…”. And yet, Toyota still moves $35,000 Tacomas. A little competition’s good for everyone, right?

-Tim Odell

2015 Chrysler 200


I really need to see this one in person. It could prove to be a very important vehicle for Chryser, and the initial photos I see have me double-checking my sight. It’s a slightly more luxurious looking Dart. Still, I expected to really like the Dart once I drove it and that wasn’t the case. Hopefully it’s not the same deal with the 200.

-Jeff Glucker 

This seems like a promising car for Chrysler, but I guess anything that sells more than the last 200 is a winner at this point. It comes available with some nice hardware and it should be a great car for any average buyer. But, something about the way it looks is throwing me off a bit. You know those unlicensed cars in modern video games, like Grand Theft Auto for example, that are designed in a way to not get the developer sued for patent violations but still take obvious inspiration from real-world cars? I feel like this is one of those unlicensed cars brought to life. It’s like they borrowed the body from another car, threw whatever design elements they had leftover in a folder somewhere, and called it done because it’s a video game and who cares if it looks a bit awkward it’ll only be stolen and blown up anyway. The developers would have given it a super generic name too.

-Greg Kachadurian

Volkswagen Golf R


290 horsepower and a 0-60 time right around or even under the five second mark. That’s pretty impressive for a hot hatch that is still fitted with a premium interior. Yes, it will likely cost nearly $40,000, but so do the Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi EVO…  The Golf R is the one that adults will be in.

(That said… I’ll take an STI)

-Jeff Glucker

As a Subaru owner and fan for a half-decade, I’d always pegged “the fast VW” as more pleasant to be in, but slower and failure-prone. Except now the Golf-R is as fast and an STI and reliability’s a toss-up. As more the car for grown-ups, going to five door only is fine by me. While it’ll be a low take-rate option, the availability of three pedals is a nice gesture on VW’s behalf. This sentence contains the mandatory reference to the Mustang, which is faster and no longer has a solid rear axle, but will never be cross-shopped outside of the internet.

-Tim Odell

Acura TLX

acura TLX prototype

What a pleasant surprise this vehicle is; it’s nice looking, just the right size, and has a lot of new tech under the hood.

  • First: it looks good; the beak stylist showed much restrain, it’s conservative and sporty at the same time.
  • Second: it’s bigger than the TSX, which was just a bit too small, and is a little smaller than the TL, which was just a little too big for most enthusiasts.
  • Third: 4-cylinder with some interesting dual-clutch torque-converted eight speeds transmission or a 300hp V6 with nice speed transmission, with available AWD and AWS. The AWD TL 6-speed was a very underrated vehicle, and this looks like a chip off the old block.

That said, it reminds me a lot of the 2004-2009 Acura TL, and that’s a good thing! Yes, it’s FWD-based, that’s just how Honda does things. It’s the most exiting thing I have seen from this manufacturer since the two NSX concepts. I have very high hopes for this.

-Kamil Kaluski


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