Story and photos by Lorne Drury
Metroland Media/WheelsTalk.com –
DETROIT, Mi.: If the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is any indication, the luxury automotive market is still very much a going concern these days.
Surprisingly, despite the tough economic times of recent years, the luxury segment has continued to grow in North America, and Japanese models from Infiniti and Lexus as well as others from European, domestic and even Korean manufacturers are being showcased at this year’s event.
Among the notable vehicles bowing here is Infiniti’s G37 replacement, the 2014 Q50 sports sedan. This is the first model to employ Infiniti’s new ‘Q’ naming nomenclature and it will be in dealerships this summer.
From now on, Infiniti will be using the letter Q to identify its car models. The letter Q will be combined with a double-digit number. The higher the number, the higher the model is on the Infiniti hierarchy, according to president Johan de Nysschen.
The Q50 is also the first model to display Infiniti’s new design language, taking many styling cues from the Infiniti Essence concept car that was first shown in 2009.
Two power options will be offered, a 328 hp 3.7-litre V6 or a hybrid model combining a 3.5-litre 24-valve DOHC V6 with a 50 kW electric motor and a compact lithium ion battery, producing a net hybrid power of 360 hp. Both rear- and all-wheel drive systems are available with a seven-speed automatic transmission.
One major new technology debuting in the Q50 is Infiniti Direct Adaptive Steering that allows advanced control of the tire angle and steering inputs and transmits those driver inputs to the wheels faster than a mechanical system. Four different steering settings are available.
The Q50 will also be the only vehicle in the world currently offering a new safety system called Predictive Forward Collision Warning, a feature that Infiniti president de Nysschen says will eventually be on every car on the road.
2014 LEXUS IS:
Lexus has completely redesigned its IS lineup for 2014, including rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive versions of the IS 250, IS 350 along with the F Sport package.
This new design features the signature Lexus spindle grille and has 12 Lexus-first features and technical innovations.
An all-new interior is luxurious and refined, but Lexus set out to make the IS a driver’s car, according to chief engineer Junichi Furuyama.
The new IS has a wheelbase 70 mm longer than the outgoing model and is 10 mm wider to provide best-in-class rear seat comfort and luggage capacity. It also features new 60/40 split folding rear seats.
The IS F Sport models get a more sporty, aggressive exterior design.
2014 NISSAN VERSA NOTE:
Nissan added to its entry-level lineup with a new hatchback called the Versa Note, which goes on sale in June, starting at $13,348.
The Note will be offered in S, SV and SL trim levels. All come with a 1.6-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine with either a five-speed manual transmission or an Xtronic CVT, which Nissan says will provide best-in-class fuel economy.
Despite its small size, the Note has a total interior volume of 3,270.6 litres (115.5 cu ft) and cargo volume of 606 litres (2l.4 cu ft). An available Divide-N-Hide adjustable rear floor in back adds to the versatility of the car.
Also available as a class-exclusive item is a monitor that provides a virtual 360-degree view of objects around the vehicle.
TOYOTA COROLLA FURIA CONCEPT:
The Toyota Furia Concept hints at the styling customers can expect from the next-generation Corolla. Toyota says the Furia is designed around the theme “Iconic Dynamism,” which uses pure and simple surface elements to create a confident, decisive and recognizable appearance appealing to more youthful customers.
Changing and modernizing the face of Toyota has been a goal of president Akio Toyoda, who has directed the company to start building more exciting cars that people want to drive.
This car heads down that path of adding more excitement to the brand if the new Corolla resembles the concept, which has an athletic stance and a swoopy, sloping roofline.
The concept is longer (4,620 mm) and has a longer wheelbase (2,700 mm) than the current Corolla. It is also just slightly shorter, at 1,425 mm compared with the current Corolla at 1,465 mm.
HONDA URBAN CONCEPT SUV:
Honda introduced a compact crossover concept that is based on the same platform as the next-generation Fit. This new vehicle will sit just below the CR-V in the Honda hierarchy and will come to market in the U.S. and Canada next year.
Honda has a new plant in Mexico that will build both the new Fit and this compact Urban Concept SUV.
It will feature Honda’s fuel-efficient Earth Dreams powertrain technology that debuted on the new Accord and will include the Magic Seat setup now found in the Fit that can provide a host of passenger and cargo options including a fold-flat mode for maximum cargo capacity.
NISSAN RESONANCE CONCEPT:
This new concept vehicle signals the future direction of Nissan crossovers with a bold, edgy and aerodynamic exterior look and a fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain.
The design uses a V-motion theme, which starts from the front grille and moves through the hood. One standout feature is the boomerang-shaped headlights.
It has an athletic stance, sitting on 22-inch aluminum alloy wheels and the dynamic Flare Orange paint colour adds to the bold image.
Inside, designers created a futuristic VIP lounge-like atmosphere, loaded with high-tech premium goodies and dramatic interior illumination.
Acura unveiled the new NSX concept that showcases what the new supercar’s styling might look like. It also gives a possible peek into the future of the interior design as well.
It will be powered by a mid-mounted, direct-injected V6 engine mated to Acura’s Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system.
ACURA MDX PROTOTYPE:
Spectators at the North American International Auto show get a first look at the next-generation 2014 Acura MDX, with a prototype model on display.