2001 Detroit Auto Show, Part II

January 14, 2001


Sponsor of TCC's 2001 Detroit Show coverage

2003 Dodge Viper

2003 Dodge Viper

DODGE UNLEASHES ‘03 VIPER. DaimlerChrysler unveiled an all-new Viper, to be introduced as a 2003 model. The musclecar icon gets more than 500 hp (the exact amount hasn't been finalized) and 500 lb-ft of torque, as the monstrous, all-aluminum V-10 engine gets bored to a larger 8.3 liters, making for more than 500 cubic inches of displacement. The 2003 will return to the sidepipe design of the original Viper roadster, getting around noise level problems through the use of a unique active sound management system. Viper's interior and instrument layout has been revised for better ergonomics, the hoodline has been lowered, the grille opening is larger. Exterior styling is more aggressive with the stronger side creases, larger headlights, and angled hood vents. At least for launch -- scheduled for sometime in the second quarter of 2002 -- the Viper will be limited to a roadster body style. But watch this space, says a senior official, noting "other things could come" in subsequent years. DaimlerChrysler officials said the new Viper will maintain the "back to basics" approach of the original car.   

Volkswagen Microbus Concept

Volkswagen Microbus Concept

MICROBUS: LET’S GET IT ON? Volkswagen’s feeling the love, all the way from the top executive levels on down to its Simi Valley styling studio. How else to explain the new Microbus concept vehicle, a clear throwback to the company’s much-loved Bus made famous by many a Deadhead? The concept is “an idea about space,” says Jens Neumann, VW Group’s chairman for North America. “It’s a legitimate evolution of the Microbus.” The new van, which is said to have undergone many proposals over the past three years, emerges as the likely hit of the Detroit show, with neato-keen styling cues like xenon headlamps and 20-inch alloy wheels, and a third row of seats that swivel 180 degrees. A 231-bhp, 3.2-liter V-6 theoretically powers the concept. A source within VW tells TCC that the Microbus concept may share a platform with the upcoming VW sport-utility vehicle, the Colorado. The same source says VW is also looking at the famed, if dog-slow, Karmann Ghia of the 1960s for more retro-inspiration in its product lineup. 

2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R

2002 Nissan Sentra SE-R

NISSAN’S JAZZY TRIO: ALPHA-T, Z, AND SE-R. Nissan’s showy display at the Detroit festivities says one thing: the company’s recovery plan isn’t over until they say it’s over. “There’s no problem at a car company that a good product can’t solve,” said Carlos Ghosn, CEO and president of Nissan Motor Co. The troika of vehicles on display included a new Z concept, the Alpha-T full-size truck concept, and the production 2002 Sentra SE-R. The Z Concept is the second to wear the name, but Nissan says this one is very close to the production version that will bow, with a 260-hp V-6 engine and rear-drive, at the end of next year. The Alpha-T truck concept is a radical exercise meant to gauge public reaction for a full-size truck Nissan will build in Mississippi beginning in 2003. Former Nissan Design International director and current global advisor Jerry Hirshberg described the look of the Alpha-T concept as “finessed brutality.” The Sentra SE-R is the return of a hallowed pocket-rocket name, with either a 170-hp or 180-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and a price tag starting at less than $20,000.

For more on the Nissan trio, click here. 

 

2001 Toyota Matrix

2001 Toyota Matrix

TOYOTA HOOKS INTO MATRIX. Toyota introduced the Matrix, a sporty crossover vehicle codeveloped with General Motors and meant to fill a new segment for young people who value style and want the utility of SUVs without the truck feel or off-road ability. The Matrix shares its layout and mechanical componentry with the Pontiac Vibe, which was introduced earlier in the day at the show. Matrix will go on sale about a year from now, at "an affordable price," according to Toyota vice president and general manager Don Esmond. Matrix is the latest in a string of new "something for everyone" Toyota products aimed at every market segment. The Matrix (and the Vibe) will share its platform with the Toyota Corolla. Base models will have a 130-hp, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing, while a sport model will get a 180-hp 1.8-liter engine borrowed from the Celica GT-S. Both front and four-wheel-drive versions will be available. Matrix will be built in Cambridge, Ontario.

 

BMW X Coupe Concept

BMW X Coupe Concept

X MARKS THE BIMMER. BMW's funky X coupe, a radical combination of rugged outdoor utility wagon and enthusiasts' sports coupe gathered much attention on the stand. Said to be an evolution of the earlier Z9 concept car, the X coupe's unique curves were sculpted in the form of flames. An asymmetrical rear hatch that hinges in the rear allows the X coupe to offer a unique driving space and control console that's especially roomy for the driver, and flexible space to the right and behind, amounting to a sort of 1+3 arrangement. The center console controller contains all peripheral controls for the driver. Following from the similarly named X5, the X coupe has all-wheel drive for when the going gets tough. The X coupe is powered by a 184-hp, 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbodiesel engine, combined with a Steptronic automatic, stability control system, and Hill Descent Control.   

 

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser

2001 Chrysler PT Cruiser

CRUISER, MDX CARS OF THE YEAR. The North American Car of the year jury, of which TCC publisher TCC Team is a member, has named the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Acura MDX its Car and Truck of the year, respectively. “This is a great way to start the year,” said Dick Schaum, product development director for the Chrysler Group. “Everyone knows we’re in need of good news.” For Honda executive vice president Tom Elliott, the award “means we’ve made a lot of progress,” since Honda began building its own trucks only seven years ago. The awards are given annually at the Detroit show, and are voted on by a pool of 50 automotive journalists. Other finalists in the car category included the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight gas-electric hybrids; other truck runners-up included the Ford Escape and Toyota Sequoia.

For all our Detroit 2001 coverage, click here.

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