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

  • Detail of an automatic gear shifter in a new, modern car. Modern car interior with close-up of automatic transmission and cockpit background

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.

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

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