Feature Flick: 2014 Detroit Auto Show Hits and Misses

By now you’ve probably seen some of our extensive coverage of the 2014 Detroit auto show and its many debuts and announcements. But what does it all mean? In this Automobile Magazine video, a few of our editors, including European bureau chief Georg Kacher, editor-in-chief Jean Jennings, automotive design editor Robert Cumberford, and New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman, give their take on the most important takeaways from the show this year.

European Bureau Chief Georg Kacher

Kacher kicks things off by talking about the Toyota FT-1 concept and how it is distinct from Toyota and BMW’s collaborative sports car project which is code-named “Silk Road.” Instead, this Toyota concept was done without any collaboration from the Germans; Kacher surmises that this aggressive coupe would work best as a successor to the Supra as a range-topping Toyota sports car.

Then, Kacher predicts what is to come from Volkswagen, including the CrossBlue SUV which will either be produced in the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant or in the new VW plant in Mexico. Also in the cards for one of these two plants, according to Kacher, is the next-generation Volkswagen Tiguan, which will also receive a long-wheelbase version which will be produced in China. Kacher also states that the next Volkswagen Jetta is slated for production in Chattanooga, along with a possible Jetta wagon variant with body cladding and a raised stance for an Audi Allroad-like rugged look.

Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings

Next up is Editor-in-Chief Jean Jennings, who highlights two compact crossovers from German automakers at the Detroit auto show. The first is the Audi Allroad Shooting Brake concept, a bright-blue wagon-shaped crossover that previews the look of the next Audi TT as well as the upcoming Audi Q1. The other German compact crossover is the 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA45 AMG, which is based on the smallest Mercedes-Benz, the CLA. Jennings cites these models as important because they follow the trend of the hot-selling compact crossover market, which saw a huge amount of growth in the U.S. in 2013.

Since the 2015 Ford F-150 and its lightweight aluminum construction was arguably the most important debut of the entire show, Jennings goes on to talk about the “battle royale” heating up between the Big Three American automakers and their full-size truck offerings. Although the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 have racked up North American Truck of the Year and Motor Trend Truck of the Year awards, respectively, the new F-150 will be a fierce competitor.

Automotive Design Editor Robert Cumberford

Another Ford product highlighted at the Detroit auto show was the 2015 Ford Mustang. Cumberford is not impressed, though, saying that the newest Mustang is “too conservative and too derivative from themes they’ve been using for the past 50 years.” He predicts that the new car will be relatively successful, but not a home run for Ford.

Cumberford is more complimentary of the Volvo XC Coupe Concept, which spins off of the stylish Volvo Coupe Concept from the 2013 Frankfurt auto show. Both of these concepts is a preview of Volvo’s styling direction going forward, and Cumberford calls the XC Coupe a “nice-looking vehicle,” saying, “It’s not radical, but that’s not what everyone expects from Volvo.”

New York Bureau Chief Jamie Kitman

Although it was revealed months ago in Pebble Beach, the Cadillac Elmiraj concept caught Kitman’s eye, as he called it “the big-pimpin’ Cadillac that Cadillac has been crying out for.” Kitman also enjoyed the retro style of the Nissan IDx Freeflow concept, as it harkens back to the Datsun 510 with its classic rear-wheel-drive proportions and boxy lines.

In terms of the worst-in-show award, Kitman nominates the Volkswagen Beetle Dune concept for its lack of substance. Volkswagen is trying to recall the famous Volkswagen dune buggies of the 1960s, but this concept doesn’t really look like it could go off-road. Plus, the set of skis hanging off the back don’t even look like water skis.

Check out the full video below to see our editor’s thoughts and some close-up views of the hot sheetmetal at the 2014 Detroit auto show.