PM’s top 10 cars at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show

  • Toyota Prius C
  • Ford Vertrek
  • Hyundai Curb
  • BMW 1 Series M Coupé
  • Honda Civic
  • Porsche 918 RSR
  • Kia KV7
  • Volkswagen Passat
  • Ford Focus EV
  • GMC All Terrain HD
Date:29 March 2011 Tags:, , , , , ,

The 2011 Detroit Auto Show defied any real trend. There were hot new race cars, fuel- hybrids, all-new all-electric sedans and steady progress in pick-ups. The only thing missing at this show was concept cars – left behind, it seems, for the progress of new, real models. Here are our picks for the top 10 cars at the Detroit Auto Show. By PM Automotive Editors

Toyota Prius C
After a 10-year gestation, the Prius will spawn hybrid offspring. In essence, Prius will become a car line, just like Lexus and Scion. The model c is a small fuel-efficient hatchback that will arrive next year, about six months after the Prius v.

Ford Vertrek
Currently Ford sells a different small SUV in Europe and the US. But that will change next year, when the Vertrek replaces the Escape. It will probably be powered by the new 1,6-litre turbo engine, but the 2,0-litre diesel that’s available in Europe may also make the trip stateside.

Hyundai Curb
Although nominally a concept car, the Curb will soon be for sale. This sporty coupé has three doors – two on the passenger side and one on the driver side – and will likely be powered by a 1,6-litre turbocharged four cylinder. The base price will be about $17 000 (R116 000).

BMW 1 Series M Coupé
In appearance, the M Coupé doesn’t deviate greatly from the existing car, but this is BMW’s most eagerly awaited 2011 model. With a 250 kW twin turbo straight 6, sports suspension, and a 6-speed manual transmission, the M coupé is a driver’s car with few rivals. The only downside is the $47 000 (about R323 000) base price.

Honda Civic
The Civic was the sixth-best-selling car last year, despite it being at the end of its life cycle. So naturally the new version, which is due this later on this year, does not deviate greatly from the current car. There will also be coupé and sedan body styles, a hybrid, and a natural-gas version.

Porsche 918 RSR
With typical nonsensical concept cars in short supply, the one car that made every car enthusiast a little weak-kneed was the 918 RSR. This hybrid racer has a mid-mounted V8, electric motors driving the front wheels, and a flywheel energy accumulator in the passenger seat. This car will be raced this year as Porsche continues its hybrid research.

Kia KV7
Minivans are the most efficient haulers on the road today, boasting far more interior volume than most SUVs yet delivering better fuel economy. The downside, of course, is the mommy-mobile stigma. Kia, however, may have found an alternative with the KV7, a design exercise that may preview future vans.

Volkswagen Passat
We’ve known for at least a year that VW would build a new mid-size sedan to compete, price- and size-wise with sedans such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Now we know that the new car will replace the Passat and it’s as roomy as an Accord and will start at about $20 000 (about R137 000). But only VW will offer a diesel engine.

Ford Focus EV
In about a year, Ford will offer an EV version of the new Focus in selected markets. The powertrain is similar to the Nissan Leaf’s, but Ford says that the Focus EV will charge remarkably quickly – just three hours on a 240-volt circuit.

GMC All Terrain HD
Now that GM’s pick-ups have updated mechanicals, the company is turning its attention to the exterior. The All Terrain HD is one possibility for the next GMC pick-up and it employs several design cues, such as the flared fenders, from the GMC Terrain SUV. Expect to see something like this in the near future.

Read the article, "Detroit vs the world", in the April 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics (on sale on 22 March) to find out whether Motown has what it takes to take on the world's best cars…

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