2004 Detroit Auto Show Coverage (1/4/2004)
Ferrari Brings Big Love with 612 Scaglietti
Luca di Montezemolo, chairman of Ferrari, says the new 612 Scaglietti was introduced to the world at the Detroit auto show to celebrate “fifty years of big love between Ferrari and its U.S. clients” as well as a record sales year in the States — final numbers, of course, withheld. The 612 is the successor to the 456M 2+2, dubbed “Scaglietti” after one of the early car crafters at Modena. The 612 is a 2+2 coupe with a 540-hp version of the 5.7-liter V-12 engine from the 575 Maranello. It’s said to be roomier than the last 456M, but weighs as much as 132 pounds less. The aluminum-intensive chassis is 60 percent more rigid, and the body wears details penned after a special Ferrari prepared in the 1960s for actress Ingrid Bergman. Ferrari estimates zero to 60 mph in just 4.1 seconds and a top speed of more than 195 mph, thanks to the engine and a choice of six-speed manual gearbox or a Formula 1-derived transmission. —Marty Padgett
BMW Drops 6-Series Convertible Lid at Detroit
Sales have never been better for BMW’s U.S. operations, according to Tom Purves, CEO of BMW USA. For 2003, the BMW Group here, including MINI and Rolls-Royce, sold 276,869 cars in the States, an increase of eight percent over 2002 and an all-time sales record for the Bavarian automaker. For the first time, the company’s U.S. operations are the sales leader among all markets, including Germany. MINI alone accounted for more than 36,000 units of U.S. sales and will likely post more sales increases in the summer as a Cooper Convertible comes on line, Purves added. BMW AG as a whole sold more than 1.1 million vehicle worldwide last year, a figure expected to rise as well with the addition of new models like the X3, 6-Series Coupe and the new 6-Series convertible, shown for the first time at the Detroit show. The 645Ci convertible shares its 4.4-liter V-8 with the 645Ci Coupe, and makes 325 hp through any of the three transmissions BMW will offer on it: a six-speed manual, a six-speed Steptronic automatic or a six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) with Formula 1-style shifting. The convertible will hit 60 mph in roughly six seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. A DVD navigation system will be standard. Pricing starts from $76,995. —Marty Padgett
Concept-E Declares Eclipse Future
The Concept-E “shows what you can expect in the fourth generation of the Eclipse,” declared Mitsubishi’s head of U.S. operations, Finbarr O’Neill. Both the Concept-E and the next-generation production Eclipse ride on the same platform as the Galant sedan and Endeavor SUV (termed PS within the company), which has the capability for standard all-wheel-drive systems, so we can assume that since a hybrid powertrain is featured on the Concept-E, hybrid AWD variations are being considered for those cars as well.
Although we’re sure Mitsubishi and designers didn’t like the term “cab-forward” being mentioned, the Concept-E’s raked silhouette — with the base of the windshield far forward and very little overhang in front — stands distinct from the trend for small sports-coupe concepts at the show this year, which seem to taking on longer hoods and slung-back cabins. Richard Plavetich, director of Mitsubishi’s MDA Design Center and a key member of the car’s design team, said that the inspiration for the car’s shape was a pouncing cat. The shape carries an implied motion, he added.