Detroit 2008: Five Significant Concept Debuts

Here’s a list of the concept vehicles from the 2008 Detroit auto show that we think are significant. Read our reasoning and then click the links at the end for full coverage of what we chose.


A unanimous decision. We like that Cadillac is taking some risks and also looking to fill out the CTS lineup. This is the first step in building a true BMW 3- or 5-series competitor. The styling is bold and aggressive, even if the rear end looks a bit heavy. We have a feeling that something like this will soon be available in Caddy dealerships – hopefully with the CTS-V‘s engine as an option.

Ford Verve

We will finally get a proper small Ford in America come 2010. After lamenting the absence of the European Focus for years, this might be the car to shut us up. This is the small car that Ford needs now, not two years from now. Its significance lies not only in the fact that it is an attractive small car that makes the current Focus look like a toad, but also because it will be the first product that Ford will build for the USA off a global platform. This is another one we all agreed on.


No surprise here, we gave the R8 our Automobile and Design of the Year awards. We like diesel, and we like the torque that it can serve up – in this case, 738 lb-ft of it. A true example of racing technology being directly applied to a street vehicle, not to mention the first instance of a diesel in a supercar. Looking at it has been nice, but this is one concept we really want to drive.

Fisker Karma

Sure, this vehicle is intended for production, so it kind of straddles the concept/production line. We’re filing it under concept since 2010 is still a long way off, and we expect some changes to the design. It’s an $80,000 coachbuilt plug-in hybrid, an unlikely combo to be sure. The design is gorgeous like just about everything that comes from Fisker’s pen. We hope the tech can back up all of that style.

Mazda Furai

As Robert Cumberford so eloquently explained in his February essay, the Furai completes the five-vehicle exercise that proves that Mazda is the Japanese manufacturer with the most design mojo. It’s a beautiful car based on a real race chassis.

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2008 Cadillac CTS

2008 Cadillac CTS

MSRP $33,675 3.6L (LY7) Sedan


16 City / 25 Hwy

Horse Power:

258 @ 6200


252 @ 3100