Detroit 2012: My Top Five Detroit Debuts

Acura NSX Concept

While the NSX Concept is one of the most jaw-droppingly stunning cars on the auto show circuit, what's most important is the fact that it came from the Acura brand. Flanked on the stand at the Detroit auto show this week by the dull-looking ILX Concept and RDX Prototype, the NSX stands out thanks to its swoopy, sexy design. This car alone represents a future for the Acura brand that is anything but dull.

Lexus LF-LC Concept

In photographs, Lexus' sport coupe concept comes off as disjointed, poorly executed. and, in some places, downright vulgar. However, in person, the LF-LC is stunning. The body's lines are athletic, the interior looks sumptuous, and it is clear that Lexus' designers paid close attention to every small detail. Most notable are the jewel-like LED headlamps and running lamps that look -- and probably are -- handmade by an artisan. Like the NSX Concept, the LF-LC shows that there is life left at Lexus and that the normally staid company is no longer afraid of breaking out of the mold.

2013 Dodge Dart

In my eyes, the Dart is not the best-looking car in the market; its shape is a little too jelly-bean and its tail a little too stubby. But the Dart is extremely important: Chrysler needs a true competitor in the compact segment and the Dart pushes Chrysler right into this hot segment. Even more importantly (and impressively) is the fact that the new small sedan rides on a platform and uses mechanicals entirely from parent-company Fiat's Alfa Romeo brand. It seems that, with the Dart, Chrysler may have finally found its merger of equals.

Audi Q3 Vail Concept

Audi has been on a roll with its design team, starting with the R8 supercar and Walter de Silva-penned A5. It has even managed to include crossovers into its design revolution, and the compact Q3 is the best example of how a small SUV can look great. Dressed up for Detroit in concept-car-style chrome trim, large wheels, and bright red paint, the Q3 manages to be both masculine and cute at the same time. Better yet, we can expect the Q3 on our shores some time in 2014.

2012 Mini Roadster

The new Mini Roadster follows the tried and true formula, using no new mechanicals and minimally changed sheetmetal. The Roadster was the most fun car of the 2012 Detroit show, and should be even more raucously fun to drive as the new Mini Coupe thanks to the removal of the roof. Summer, here we come.

For more on the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, including videos, the latest photos, and more information, click here to visit our Detroit Show homepage.

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