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Wheels to Watch: Audi, Volvo, Porsche Show New Vehicles

By on January 11, 2016

DETROIT – Automakers plan to debut 45 new vehicles at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which opens to the public Jan. 16. Here are some of the buzz-worthy new cars and trucks at the show.


Not known for austerity or restraint, the latest Porsche 911 pushes even further: more horsepower, faster acceleration and higher top speeds. The 2017 911 Turbo and Turbo S promise 20 horsepower more than before and both have faster top track speeds – 7 mph faster for the Turbo S, which now clocks in at 205 mph. Porsche says the heightened power and performance comes with increased fuel efficiency, but adds EPA ratings aren’t yet available. The 911s go on sale stateside in April. Oliver Blume, board chairman of the German automaker, says one in three 911s are sold in America. The Turbo starts at $159,200 and the Turbo S at $188,100


Mercedes-Benz was the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. last year. The tenth generation of the midsize E-Class sedan borrows the elongated hood and gently sloping tail of its big sibling, the S-Class. The E-Class gets a new turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine with 241 horsepower, up from 195 in the current four-cylinder diesel. Inside, the driver can control the infotainment system with smartphone-like swipes of a finger. Semi-autonomous driving capabilities including changing lanes by itself and maintaining a safe distance from the car in front at speeds of up to 130 mph. Pricing wasn’t announced, but the E-Class currently starts at $52,650. U.S. sales start this summer.


Volvo’s new luxury sedan makes self-driving technology standard. The semi-autonomous Pilot Assist software allows the car to accelerate, decelerate, come to a complete stop and steer on a road with clear lane markings at speeds up to 80 mph. Three engine choices will be available, including a four-cylinder, 2.0 liter turbocharged and supercharged engine and a plug-in hybrid. The S90 displayed at the Detroit auto show goes on sale this year in the U.S.


Building a crossover in China and shipping it to the U.S. was a somewhat controversial decision by GM. U.S. sales start in the second quarter of this year, filling a gap in Buick’s SUV lineup between the subcompact Encore and the large Enclave. GM says it wasn’t economically feasible to build the Envision outside of China at current sales projections. GM expects to sell three quarters of the Michigan-designed crossovers in China.


The sleek, low-slung Avista coupe is a concept car with a mean-looking front grille, thin LED headlamps, 20-inch wheels and aggressive flared rear fenders. The Avista has a 400-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Buick says it will have the next generation of its “Quiet Tuning” suspension, advanced noise cancellation technology, air purifiers and even aroma therapy. Now, GM has to decide whether to build it.


A fuel cell concept car from Audi seeks to offer power and range with the convenience of quick fueling. The h-tron quattro concept at the Detroit auto show is envisioned as a zero-emissions vehicle with power from electric motors in the front and rear. Audi says it will take 4 minutes to refill the tanks with hydrogen. Once the h-tron is fueled up, its range will be nearly 373 miles. The new Audi A4 allroad quattro seeks to combine driving comfort with off-road performance. Available engines in the station wagon produce between 150 and 272 horsepower, up to 27 hp higher than the previous model.


A fuel cell concept from Lexus is a “luxury fuel cell sedan of the future.” So says Akio Toyoda, chief branding officer and master test driver for Toyota’s luxury brand. Toyoda says the goal for the LF-FC Concept, which could see production as soon as 2020, is to achieve a lot of “zeros”: zero emissions, zero dependence on oil and zero accidents through advanced technology. Toyoda also unveiled the new LC 500, a sports performance coupe that hews closely to the LF-LC Concept introduced at the Detroit show in 2012. The LC 500 offers a 5-liter V8 engine with 467 horsepower. It’s expected to arrive in showrooms next year.


Volkswagen hopes the next-generation Tiguan is the hit it needs in the SUV market. The concept version being shown in Detroit has a gas-electric hybrid drive system and bolstered off-road performance. VW says the five-seat concept has two electric motors that boost total system horsepower to 221, pushing the SUV from zero to 60 in 6.4 seconds. The Tiguan concept will be able to go 20 miles in all-electric mode before the gas engine comes on. It also has the latest safety features such as automatic emergency braking and pedestrian detection.


The rear-wheel drive, high performance sports coupe is a first for BMW’s famed M line in the automaker’s 2-Series. The M2 offers a 3-liter, 6-cylinder engine producing 365 horsepower. BMW says it can go from 0-62 in 4.3 seconds and offers a top track speed off about 155 mph. Design features include a double-slatted grill that complements the double-spoke style of the light-alloy wheels. To prove the new M2 maintains the DNA of the brand, board member Ian Robertson rode out to the unveiling in a 2002 Turbo from the 1970s.


A hatchback version of the Chevy Cruze puts GM on equal footing with the Ford Focus and other compacts that come in hatch and sedan versions. The Cruze sedan debuts early this year, with the hatch coming out in the fall. Both have a new 1.4-Liter four-cylinder engine with stop-start technology that can get up to 40 mpg on the highway. Price for the hatch wasn’t announced. The sedan starts at $16,620 excluding shipping. The problem for both: small cars aren’t selling well in the SUV-crazy U.S.


Ford is adding performance to its midsize Fusion sedan lineup. The Fusion V6 Sport has a twin-turbocharged 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. It’s expected to get 325 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, about the same as the BMW 340i sedan and ahead of similarly equipped midsize cars from Toyota, Honda and Nissan. The V6 Sport has a unique black mesh grille, a rear spoiler and 19-inch wheels. A new pothole detection system can quickly adjust the shock absorbers to minimize the impact. Sales begin this summer.


The Raptor – introduced in 2009 – has been a hit for Ford among outdoor enthusiasts and those who like its brawny look. Now, the truck drops 500 pounds, making this off-road monster faster and more agile, Ford says. There are six modes of driving, including a Baja mode for desert racing and a mud mode for mucky trails. The Raptor SuperCrew goes on sale this fall; pricing hasn’t been announced, but expect it to be in the $50,000 range.

By The Associated Press

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