Browse over 9,000 car reviews

2015 Detroit motor show premium brand highlights

The Holden-designed Buick Avenir

There were no wild concept cars at the pointy end of this year's Detroit motor show.

While mainstream brands Ford and Honda wowed the crowds with fire-breathing supercars, the top end of town was more about whetting appetites of buyers in the huge and lucrative US market with production-ready models.

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

The Alfa Romeo 4C is already a sellout in Australia, with 180 hands up for just 120 coupes.

Now the demand is certain to jump even higher with the unveiling of a 4C Spider.

The open-air 4C is more of a targa car than a full-on convertible, because the mid-engined layout puts the powerplant where the roof would normally fold away.

The 4C is already the most charismatic car of the current Alfa generation, with a carbon-fibre chassis, gorgeous shrink-wrapped body, and turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol engine that makes 177kW and 350Nm of torque.

The Spider keeps with the lightweight promise of the coupe, weighing in at less than 900 kilograms.

The car is expected to arrive in Australia in the first quarter of next year.

Audi Q7

The new Q7 was the focus of the Audi stand and it was a technological tour-de-force.

The show car had a new 10-inch computer tablet that can be used by back-seat passengers to control the radio and to watch their trip progress on the navigation system, much like a passenger jet.

There's also an advanced radar and camera system that enables the Audi Q7 to accelerate, brake and steer itself automatically in stop-start traffic up to 60km/h.

And the technical wizardry doesn't end there. The new Q7 can reverse a trailer into position using cameras and radar via a touch pad in the centre console.

The new Audi Q7 is due in Australian showrooms later this year priced at about $100,000.

Buick Avenir

There are no details on the engine and no concrete plans for production, but the Buick Avenir — French for "the future" —turned heads both in Detroit and Melbourne.

A joint effort between Holden's styling studios in Port Melbourne and General Motors' design centres in Detroit, the car was built here and shipped to the US just before Christmas.

It was unveiled by former Holden boss, and the current president of GM North America, Mark Reuss.

For now, the Buick Avenir is just motor show tease, but Holden insiders say the striking limousine will likely be made in China and sold globally.

It may also come to Australia as the eventual replacement for the Holden Caprice.

Porsche 911 Targa and Cayenne

The German sports car maker unveiled new versions of the 911 Targa and Cayenne SUV.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Targa (half coupe, half convertible) model, Porsche has launched an all-wheel drive GTS version. Power is boosted by 22kW over the Targa 4S to 316kW, enabling a 0-100km/h sprint of 4.3 seconds.

The Cayenne Turbo S betters that time by 0.2 of a second.

Both models will go on sale in Australia in the second quarter of this year. The 911 Targa GTS will start at $305,300 and the Cayenne Turbo S will sell from $284,700.

Lexus GS F

Toyota's luxury brand Lexus whipped the covers off the long awaited high-performance version of its mid-size limousine, the GS. Called the GS F it is powered by a high-revving 5.0-litre V8.

The only problem is, while the peak power of 348kW is reasonably impressive, that only kicks in at close to 7300rpm and torque — the grunt that gets you moving — is a more modest 527Nm. A $45,000 Holden Commodore SS has more (530Nm). Expect it in Australian showrooms late in 2015 or early 2016 priced beyond your pay grade.

Infiniti Q60

A concept with more curves and contours than Kim Kardashian previews Infiniti's take on a 2+2 sports coupe.

The Q60 concept will morph into the production car by 2016, powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 engine.

The steer-by wire system already seen on the Q50 is also used here, along with Infiniti's Intuition system, which can store details on audio, airconditioning and seat position preferences for up to four drivers.

When it finally arrives in Australia the road-going car will be expected to compete with Audi's swoopy A5 and the BMW 4 Series.

There's no news on prices but the current Q60 starts at $63,990.

Mercedes-Benz GLE

A new heavyweight contender has joined the ranks of crossover coupes.

The GLE Coupe is a curvy high-riding four-door SUV that will compete with BMW's X6.

Two versions were at the Detroit show this week, the full-on 63 AMG and the (slightly) less aggressive GLE 450 Sport, with a diesel-powered 350d and GLE 400 to follow.

The X6 was originally the answer to a question that no-one had asked, but has become a big global sales success.

The newcomers are part of a wholesale overhaul of Mercedes-Benz's wagon range in 2015 that includes the replacement for the mid-sized GLK SUV and the new GLA Shooting Brake.

There is no talk yet of prices, but the GLE Coupe is certain to have a starting price beyond $100,000 when it arrives here in the third quarter of this year.

BMW 6 Series

A new group of 6 Series "halo" cars took the spotlight for BMW in Detroit as the German company celebrated its fourth straight year of sales growth with more than two million deliveries in 2014.

There are only minor changes to the M6, 650i coupe and Gran Coupe but global marketing boss Ian Roberston says the trio will be part of a global focus on growth.

"These are clearly the sportiest and most luxurious 6-Series vehicle we have ever built. We are launching a lot of new products again," he says.

Joshua Dowling
National Motoring Editor
Joshua Dowling was formerly the National Motoring Editor of News Corp Australia. An automotive expert, Dowling has decades of experience as a motoring journalist, where he specialises in industry news.
About Author