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The Mean Green-Machines of NAIAS 2014
Power isn’t all that’s being celebrated in Detroit this week. By: Andrew Krok
Web2Carz Staff Writer
Published: January 14th, 2014
There are plenty of reasons for someone to come to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). First of all, NAIAS 2014 is the place. One where you want to look at the high-horsepower sports cars. Also one you so desperately want in your garage. Or maybe you need a new truck for work, and you want to scope out multiple models at once. Those aren’t the only things going on at NAIAS 2014 though. Automakers are focusing on efficiency in their fleets, and they’re making sure that these models are very well represented at the show.
Acura showed us the RLX Sport Hybrid, a model that finally brings Acura’s big luxo-barge into the 21st century. The front-drive layout is scrapped for Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, and the motor is connected to a hybrid powertrain and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Talk about an upgrade.
Audi put its small-ish A3 e-tron right next to the front door, and plenty of people have been paying attention to the German automaker’s America-ready plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. The battery is charged through a port hidden behind the four rings on the front grill, but otherwise, you’d have a hard time knowing the car was even partially electric. However after talking with their “pr” firm, don’t count on this one anytime soon!!
BMW brought out its electrified big guns – the i3 city-crawler and i8 sports car. You can tell these cars are planning for the future, because it looks like both models arrived in Detroit via the giant Stargate on Jefferson Ave.
Cadillac rolled out its ELR luxury extended-range electric vehicle, a sleek coupe based on Volt underpinnings. Much like the Volt, it’s powered by batteries that, in turn, are charged by a gasoline engine. The ELR is a much better name than the one it had when it was released as a concept. You’d have a lot of Microsoft Word documents freaking out every time you typed Converj.
Mercedes was nice enough to bring along an electric vehicle based off a platform we’ve never before seen in the U.S. For those who don’t know, Mercedes produces a number of basic people-haulers and work vehicles in Europe, and we’re finally getting an electrified variant of one. The B-Class Electric Drive has a 174-horsepower electric motor with a 110-ish-mile range. For those of you that have always wanted a Euro-spec Benz, this might be a good time to consider taking a stroll down Electric Avenue.
Funnily enough, Porsche probably has the most fuel-efficient gas-electric hybrid at the entire show – and it’s also the fastest car they’ve ever built. It’s the 918 Spyder, which features electric motors connected to a 4.6-liter V-8 engine. The combined power output is 887 horsepower – and its fuel consumption is a hair under 80 MPG. Yes, these numbers are real; we’re not just making them up. But when you pay 800,000 big ones, you’d better get the best of everything.
Along with the 918 Spyder, Porsche has a Panamera plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. One which should hopefully keep people from remarking on the exterior’s aesthetics, instead choosing to ask why a Porsche is plugged into a wall.
And then there’s the 911 Turbo S, putting out 560 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque from its flat-six motor through an all-wheel-drive system. How is it economical, you ask? You see, uh, it has turbos? Yeah, that’s the ticket. Turbos.
Now the Tesla electric vehicle aka Model S … well, Tesla didn’t bring anything new to the show. Also they didn’t debut a concept at their press conference. Instead, they pulled out the dead horse that is fire safety, and proceeded to give a Q&A session with the press. Still, the Model S remains the coolest EV on the market, and so it deserves a snap or two. We’ll wait with bated breath for the Model X sport-ute to come out later.
Toyota, as you might expect, brought along some Prii. Yep. Neat.
Volkswagen showed off the all-electric eGolf at the NAIAS 2014. It’s an electric vehicle all out production model. Also, it debuted at the L.A. show. It will get between 70 and 90 miles, similar to the Leaf, with a blistering top speed of 82 miles per hour. So, it will top out at the standard pace of I-94 traffic driving from Illinois to Wisconsin.