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Mini John Cooper Works

The Coolest Cars at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Mini John Cooper Works

Mini’s new John Cooper Works hardtop cranks out 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, moving it from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. It also has a sport exhaust, stiffer suspension, a JCW aerodynamics kit, specially designed Brembo brakes, and large inlets up front that funnel air to the brakes and engine, and it rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels.

A star of the show and unveiled exactly 25 years after the original debuted, the production Acura NSX has grown slightly longer, higher, and wider than the concept the company showed three years ago in Detroit. The NSX will reach showrooms later this year with a twin-turbocharged V6 engine, power that Acura said will be «north of 550 horsepower,» and a price in the $150,000 range.

Competing with the NSX for sexiest vehicle at the show was the Ford GT concept that employs full carbon-fiber construction and active aerodynamics. Ford said that the new GT will enter production next year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the GT40’s famous 1-2-3 finish at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Powering the Ford GT is a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 nestled in the middle of its wheelbase. Ford hasn’t revealed the specific performance figures, but said the «more-than-600-horsepower» engine will be the most powerful production EcoBoost ever, and will drive the rear wheels through a seven-speed transmission.

The Audi Q7 has been the brand’s flagship SUV since 2005, but the all-new 2016 model gets more wagon-like lines. The new Q7 also sheds 716 pounds, which helps it get an estimated 25 percent better fuel economy over the outgoing model whether running a gasoline or turbodiesel engine. While the weight has shrunk, the interior of the 2016 Q gets a larger MMI touchpad controller.

Mini’s new John Cooper Works hardtop cranks out 228 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, moving it from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. It also has a sport exhaust, stiffer suspension, a JCW aerodynamics kit, specially designed Brembo brakes, and large inlets up front that funnel air to the brakes and engine, and it rolls on 17-inch alloy wheels.

Land Rover sister brand Jaguar showed its new XE, a sport sedan designed to fill a hole in the automaker’s lineup and compete with the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Mercedes-Benz C Class. The aluminum-body XE is powered by a 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 340 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque and has an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises at the show was GM’s unveiling of the Chevrolet Bolt concept, a new all-electric vehicle that the automaker said will arrive in two years. GM said the Bolt will get 200 miles of range and will sell for roughly $30,000 before tax credits, making it a competitor to more expensive alternatives like the BMW i3 and upcoming Tesla Model 3.

After the shocker of the Bolt, the official debut of the all-new 2016 Chevy Volt was almost anticlimactic. But the plug-in hybrid gets some big improvements over its predecessor. In addition to updated styling, the new Volt can now go 50 miles in EV-only mode (compared to 38 for the previous model) and is 100 pounds lighter than the outgoing car.

The Titan was long overdue for a major overhaul, and in Detroit Nissan debuted a completely redesigned full-size pickup. The new Titan will be sold in two frame sizes when it hits dealerships later this year: a super-sized XD trim (shown here) and a light-duty version. It will also come in three cab configurations, five trim levels and three bed lengths, and with a new turbodiesel engine for the XD.

Alfa Romeo’s return to the U.S. market got better in Detroit with the debut of the 4C Spider roadster. This open-topped version features the same performance specs as its coupe sibling introduced in the U.S. last year, including a mid-engine layout that produces 237 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque. About 1,000 will be available in the U.S. at an estimated price of between $60,000 to $85,000.

Infiniti revealed the Q60 coupe concept in Detroit with the intention of turning it into a production vehicle in 2016, replacing the long-running G-series coupe. While the exterior design features flowing lines and sharp curves, the concept retains the recognizable Infiniti grille and front fascia, and is powered by a 3.0-liter direct-injected, twin-turbocharged V6 connected to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The new Rebel trim for the Ram 1500 revealed in Detroit beefs up the pickup with a more aggressive exterior and off-road mechanical updates. Available exclusively as a four-door crew cab with a standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 offering 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque or an optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8, the Rebel is expected to arrive in dealerships later this year, when pricing will be announced.

The 2016 Toyota Tacoma made its debut in Detroit with a long list of improvements, such as weight-saving hot-stamped steel body components, a quieter interior, a redesigned suspension setup, and big changes under the hood. The 2016 Tacoma gets either a 2.7-liter gasoline inline four or a 3.5-liter gasoline V6.

Rumors have swirled for years that Hyundai would offer a pickup, which proved to be true when the Korean automaker took the wraps off the Santa Cruz concept in Detroit. It features a compact unibody design and a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine that’s good for 190 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque that’s filtered through Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system.

The Lexus GS F unveiled in Detroit features a 467-horsepower V8 engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox that are carried over from the recently launched RC F sports coupe. The car also gets a sport-tuned suspension and rolls on 19-inch rims with available bright-orange, six-piston brake calipers tucked behind the wheels. The Lexus GS F will go on sale soon, and is expect to be priced in the $70,000 range.

Volkswagen unveiled the Cross Coupe GTE concept in Detroit, a five-seat crossover designed to be powered by a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Its 276-horsepower 3.6-liter VR6 FSI engine uses two electric motors that produce an additional 54 and 114 horsepower, for a total of 355 horsepower channeled to all four wheels. The Cross Coupe GTE also previews a new design with more angular yet understated look.

Buick surprised show-goers by revealing its flagship Avenir concept sedan (and its first convertible in more than two decades, the 2016 Buick Cascada, that will go on sale early next year). The Avenir features a grille that gives the brand a fresh face and includes the return to the Buick red, silver, and blue tri-shield. GM said it has no immediate plans to produce the Avenir, but indicated there’s room for the vehicle in the U.S. market.

To better compete in the hot crossover market, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 2016 GLE63 Coupe, which will come in two versions: the GLE350d 4Matic diesel variant good for 258 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque and a GLE400 4Matic gasoline version with 333 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. The GLE Coupe is expected to reach showrooms later this year.

After debuting the Discovery at the LA Auto Show a few months ago, the big news for Land Rover in Detroit was the unveiling of diesel engines for the 2016 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. Both will feature a new turbocharged six-cylinder diesel engine that gets 32 percent better fuel efficiency than the gasoline-powered V6 that’s currently offered.

BMW unveiled its latest 6 Series model line, including the M6 Convertible (shown here), the 6 Series Grand Coupe, and 6 Series coupe that will be available later this year. Each will get a twin-turbo inline six-cylinder engine that generates 315 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, and can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds.

Mini John Cooper Works

Doug Newcomb is a recognized expert on the subject of car technology within the auto industry and among the automotive and general media, and a frequent speaker at automotive and consumer electronics industry events. Doug began his career in 1988 at the car stereo trade publication Mobile Electronics, before serving as editor of the leading consumer magazines covering the topic, Car Audio and Electronics and Car Stereo Review/Mobile Entertainment/Road & Track Road Gear, from 1989 to 2005. In 2005 Doug started his own company, Newcomb Communications & Consulting, to provide content to such outlets as Road & Track, Popular Mechanics, MSN Autos, SEMA News, and many others. In 2008, he . More »

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