Detroit auto show: 2014 Corvette Stingray leads performance parade

  • The image of cars in a showroom

DETROIT—Champagne at Maserati, chocolates from Mini, pyrotechnics at Audi — luxury and performance were celebrated at the Detroit auto show as if millionaires are being minted every minute.

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The conga line of happiness started with the new Corvette Stingray. You could hardly get near it in Detroit. It’s beautiful from stem to stern. Its style is more fluid, less chunky, and deeply sculpted. GM says it shares only two parts with the previous model: the frame, chassis and powertrain are new. The standard model is the most powerful produced, with 450 horsepower and 450 lb.-ft. of torque. The introduction of the new Corvette contributed tons to the buoyant mood in Detroit.

2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class and E63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz tried to disguise its swagger by easing into its E-Class launch with a Steinway serenade by Bruce Hornsby. The former Grammy star sang “The Way it Is,” but the real score was “Songs in the Key of E,” as in E class.

The model lineup — sedan, wagon, cabriolet and coupe — show off new engines, design and safety improvements. The real scenery chewer is the new E63 AMG 4MATIC, where power jumps from 518 hp to 550 hp. The new S-Model goes combustible with 577 hp.

2014 Audi RS7

There were no soothing sounds at the Audi launch — it felt like someone was fracking under the stage during the buildup to the new RS7 Sportback debut.

But any RS introduction is seismic. The off-the-shelf A7 is lovely and well-armed, the RS twin-turbo pounds out performance treats. A 4.0 L V8 serves up 560 horsepower.

Styling is bombastic, with oversized air intakes, a heavy metal grille and 20-inch aluminum wheels.

Zero to 100 km/h can be peeled off in 3.9 seconds, says Audi. We saw it but didn’t hear it, but expect intoxicating noise from the engine, and an optional sport exhaust stretches the pleasure.

2014 BMW M6 Gran Coupe

Next to the Mercedes and Audi spectacles, the introduction of the BMW M6 Gran Coupe seemed surprisingly mannerly. But M is the loveliest letter in the BMW playbook.

The Gran Coupe is a big beast, but weighs in close to the M5 numbers. Some snarly styling, the M kidney grille, surgical headlamps and a carbon roof all add up to edgy elegance. A 560-hp, 4.4-litre, turbocharged V8 is in charge of motoring pleasure.

2013 Mini Paceman John Cooper Works

Across the fence from BMW, Mini served up a new performance nugget in the shape of the Paceman with the John Cooper Works treatment. With a 208-hp turbocharged engine, it’s branded as the world’s first Sport Activity Coupé. The SAC will come standard with all-wheel drive and sports suspension.

2014 Infiniti Q50

They’re stirring the alphabet soup at Infiniti, where the G series is now called Q. Unveiled at Detroit was the new Q50 sport sedan, with a Cirque du Soleil troupe providing some extra flash and panache.

Infiniti President Johan de Nysschen says the new brand direction is “even more premium” than premium. The Q50 has a premium on beefy bulges — just look at the full frontal view and see the tension of the swollen sheet metal.

The 3.7 L V6 is a donation from the G37, with 328 hp. A seven-speed automatic is supplied, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive are the choices, and a hybrid is available.

2014 Lexus IS

Lexus showed fine-looking improvements to the IS sedan lineup. It promises a more entertaining driving experience, the styling amps up with the striking Lexus spindle grille, and a longer wheelbase increases back seat and trunk space.

The IS 250 is powered by a 2.5 L V6 gas engine, the 350 by a 3.5 L V6. A hybrid called the 300h is scheduled for Europe and Japan. The F-Sport model, which looked sharp and tough on stage in Detroit, gets handling enhancements.

2014 Maserati Quattroporte

Lighter, faster and larger — they really mean it at Maserati. The new Quattroporte is 25 cm longer and 7.6 cm wider than the car it replaces.

Maserati CEO Harald Webster admits that the company worked hard to disguise the new heft. Far from paunchy, the new Quattroporte is still glamourous.

It comes with a choice of an all-new, twin-turbo V6 or V8, with the V8 producing 530 hp.

2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible

In the “top this” category, Bentley introduced the Continental GT Speed Convertible. With 616 hp, Bentley says it is the world’s fastest four-seat convertible.

  • Detroit auto show: 2014 Corvette Stingray leads performance parade
  • Detroit auto show: 2014 Corvette Stingray leads performance parade
  • Detroit auto show: 2014 Corvette Stingray leads performance parade
  • Detroit auto show: 2014 Corvette Stingray leads performance parade
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