The automotive year now kicks off with two shows in North America: The CES in Las Vegas informs us about advances in telematics and infotainment, while the Detroit or North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) translates them into actual metal. GM, Ford and Chrysler used to dominate, but the Asian and European carmakers are ubiquitous today. Now even though they may not be relevant for India, they're still definitely key from a global automotive market perspective, and so here are my 2017 favourites:
1. Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupé
In the past, some Mercedes cars have been garish and adorned by far too many lines. The E-Class Coupe, by contrast, is a triumph of purism. From its quietly self-confident front end to the muscular shoulder and the slim horizontal taillights, it is as clean as it is contemporary. What's more, it drives well. It's hands-down the most beautiful car at the show. It may come to India in time for the 2018 Auto Expo only.
2. Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Hybrid
We might prefer it with a conventional powertrain, but the new plug-in hybrid powertrain proves that Cadillac is right up there with the European competition when it comes to advanced technology. With an extremely lightweight chassis and a beautifully executed interior, the largest Cadillac is a world-class player - and perhaps the sportiest car in its segment. Too bad GM is still nt moving on long delayed plans of bringing Cadillac to India.
3. Kia Stinger
How can you not like a low-slung, powerful rear-wheel drive sedan? The Stinger is a first for Kia, and it comes with up to 365 horsepower. Sadly, the busy styling has lost quite a bit of its appeal in the translation from the original concept, which debuted as the Kia GT at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. Nevertheless, we like the fact Kia is pushing the pedal to the floor.
4. Schaeffler Bio-Hybrid
This extremely clever concept fits in somewhere between a bike and a car, and it is designed to reach up to 25 or 45 kmph with the help of an electric motor (fed by a battery that provides enough juice for 100 kilometres). Conceived by German supplier Schaeffler, it could be part of the solution for the traffic problems of tomorrow. We like the joyful and lightweight device, which is about 3 years away from commercialisation.
5. Volkswagen ID Buzz Concept
It's a cry for love: VW's ID Buzz concept, based on a fully electric platform, evokes the much-admired original VW Bus - once again, just like the 2001 Microbus concept, the 2011 Bulli concept, and the 2016 Budd-E concept. This one, beautifully executed and full of clever details, could make it to series production - in about 6 years or so. If VW doesn't go ahead with it, we don't ever want to see a Bus concept again!