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Detroit auto show: Not much ‘normal’ about this show

Published January 17, 2013

My Detroit Auto Show wrap assignment was to cover “normal” cars, vehicles which the average Joe or Josephine could buy. Here are my best guesses:

Mercedes-Benz CLA:

A luxury brand to be sure, but the four-door coupe version of the new A-Class will be the lowest-priced car to bear the three-pointed star in the U.S. — not sure about Canadian pricing yet, but it might undercut the B Class which we get in Canada but Americans do not.

The “CL” designation has appeared on bigger Benzes; maybe it stands for “Coupe Lookalike,” because like the CLS, it is a four-door sedan with the silhouette of a coupe. It will also feature the first application of Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic four-wheel drive system in a front-drive-based car. Mercedes-Benz believes that sleek styling will appeal to younger prospects, for whom the C Class’ styling might be a bit too conservative.

Lexus IS:

Lexus’ IS has never really had much impact in the burgeoning entry-luxury segment. The plan is that a styling refresh including the brand-iconic spindle grille, eight-speed automatic transmission and the addition of crisper-handling F-Sport editions will jump-start interest in the car. Rear-and four-wheel drivetrains with 2.5 or 3.5 litre V6 power remain. A hybrid version is produced but oddly, not for North America.

Infiniti Q50:

Nissan’s upscale Infiniti division is muddying its own brand identity by applying its former large-car prefix “Q” to the Q50 replacement for its mid-size G37 sedan.

Not only that, but the numeric component of the nomenclature no longer refers to displacement — the engine remains Nissan’s lovely 3.7 litre V6.

Hey — Infiniti is chasing the German luxury car makers, and their nomenclature doesn’t make any sense any more either.

The old G was always one of my favourite cars in this segment but for whatever reasons the market didn’t seem to agree.

The new Q is dramatically styled, although some might find a hint of BMW 5 Series, especially in the rear end.

Also on offer will also be a 3.5 L V6 hybrid powertrain similar to that previously seen in the M35.

Kia Cadenza:

Kia slides itself slightly upmarket with the Cadenza. Billed as a “premium” sedan, the front-drive Cadenza will offer a 3.3 L V6 mated to a six-speed paddle-shifted automatic. It will come in one trim level only — essentially, loaded.

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