2001 Detroit Auto Show, Part IV

January 14, 2001


Sponsor of TCC's 2001 Detroit Show coverage

2001 Ferrari 360 Spider

2001 Ferrari 360 Spider

FERRARI’S RED BARCHETTA. Ferrari chief Luca di Montezemolo revived relations with design house Pininfarina to make an open-air version of the 550 Maranello, a challenging task because the 550's design was never intended to yield an open-air variant. Only 448 of these special 550 Barchetta Pininfarinas will be built, and only 131 will be sold in the United States. Ferrari also previewed the convertible version of the 360, called the 360 Spider. With an all-aluminum structure, the car is claimed to offer nearly the same performance as the coupe and minimal weight gain. Ferrari North America CEO and president Stuart Robinson said that the downturn of the auto industry will likely not affect Ferrari: orders are still coming in at the same rate as last year, every vehicle has a waiting list (three to four years for the 360!), and in 2000 the automaker sold 1100 cars in North America. For 2001, Ferrari hopes to up the total to 1150. Robinson remarked, "Because we have a waiting list, we don't see the ups and downs. We may see some names drop off the list, but if they do someone else will take their place."

DAEWOO CLIMBS UPSCALE. Daewoo revealed two upcoming production vehicles to the Detroit crowd, a compact multipurpose wagon tentatively called the U100, and the next-generation version of the Leganza luxury sedan, both shown previously at the auto show. The U100, already sold elsewhere as the Rezzo and Tacuma with a 121-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, will undergo a few changes for the U.S. market before its debut. Jim Thomas, the head of Daewoo's U.S. sales operations, says that the U100 will give "balanced flexibility between passenger and cargo-carrying duties." Expect a high-tech continuously variable ZF transmission, electronic brake-force distribution, and a very flexible cargo/seating layout.  

2002 Daewoo Leganza

2002 Daewoo Leganza

The next-generation Leganza, still about a year away, was shown on the stand badged  “Magnus." The Leganza gets sharper lines in the rear, although the front retains the familiar Daewoo grille and oval theme. Inside, the Leganza gets a new dash, better sound deadening, and a step-gate shift knob for the automatic transmission. Most exciting what's underhood - an all-new, aluminum 2.5-liter in-line six engine with variable valve timing that makes 180 hp. The engine is part of a new family of modular powerplants designed by Daewoo. For improved crash protection, Daewoo boasts the first-ever use of oval-cross-section impact beams. Also shown on the Daewoo stand was the Lanos Sport, which will be sold in a limited edition of only 2000 vehicles.

Mitsubishi ASX Concept

Mitsubishi ASX Concept

WAKE UP AND DRIVE, AGGRESSIVELY. Two concepts took the stage for Mitsubishi: one very close to production, and the other a more aggressive, radical design. The ASX SUV crossover concept marks Mitsubishi's entrance into the compact sport-ute market. ASX (which stands for Active Sports Crossover) is said to offer sport sedan handling in a flexible SUV package. A ground clearance of 9.6 inches allows rugged off-road performance, and the 2.4-liter gasoline direct injection (GDI) engine makes more Earth-friendly power. A next-generation four-speed automatic and a viscous-type all-wheel drive system manage the power. The ASX will go on sale in Japan this summer, with its U.S. release following later in the year.  

Mitsubishi RPM 7000 Concept

Mitsubishi RPM 7000 Concept

The flashy RPM 7000, a dramatic crossover that's part sports sedan, rally racer, and SUV, makes a bold statement, especially in its bright orange color that, according to officials, is supposed to "evoke the look of hot brakes in the middle of the night at Le Mans." The concept's geo-mechanical design originated at the automaker's Southern California design studio. The interior has a full roll cage and racing-inspired cockpit. Power is provided by a twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder (derived from the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo rally car) making a whopping 315 hp. Mitsubishi officials declared a bright future for the automaker, supported by the additional funds and buying power available from the DaimlerChrysler alliance, along with new strategic management initiatives that will be introduced in the next two months. Mitsubishi sales have jumped 65 percent over the last two years, and the automaker now plans to introduce an all-new vehicle every year for the next five years.

2002 Lexus IS 300 SportCross

2002 Lexus IS 300 SportCross

 

SPORTCROSS FOR LEXUS. Lexus introduced the IS 300 SportCross, a more utilitarian version of the company's new small sedan, and a sportier IS 300 sedan with a five-speed manual transmission. The new IS 300 models are expected to account for a few thousand units annually of additional sales for Toyota's luxury division. Lexus also introduced the production version of the SC 430 hardtop convertible. The model effectively replaces the SC 300 and SC 400 in the company's lineup while adding convertible capability to the car. Pricing for the new SC 430 was also announced: the car will carry a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of just under $60,000.

2002 Subaru Impreza WRX detroit show

2002 Subaru Impreza WRX detroit show

IMPREZA WRX COMES IN UNDER 25K. Subaru formally announced that it will bring its turbocharged Impreza WRX model to the United States when the new model hits showrooms later this year. It will be powered by a 2.0-liter, 227-horsepower turbocharged and intercooled engine. Prices will begin at $23,995 for the sedan, and $23,495 for the wagon. No Impreza coupes will be sold in the United States when the new model gets here. The cars will be in dealerships in early spring 2001. The new Impreza lineup also includes the 2.5 TS Sport Wagon, the sporty 2.5 RS sedan, and an Outback Sport crossover model. A 165-horsepower 2.5-liter boxer four-cylinder engine powers those models.

Read TCC's road test on the WRX by clicking here.

 

Cunningham C-7 Concept

Cunningham C-7 Concept

VIRTUALLY READY.   The Cunningham C-7 Concept car is the heirto a legend.  Half a century ago, Briggs Cunningham emerged as the ultimate American “gentleman racer,” an amateur racer, designer and entrepreneur that challenged some of the greatest marques of Europe on their home turf.  His son is back in business—partnering with former Chrysler President Bob Lutz—and if all goes according to plan, you’ll see a production version of this exotic 2+2 on the road sometime before mid-decade. Plans call for a rear-drive, V-12 powertrain putting out at least 500 horsepower, according to Lutz.  The former Chrysler exec was a guiding force behind the development of the Dodge Viper, a low-tech, high-power brute. But the C-7 will feature an array of high-tech systems, including video camera mirrors that extend while driving urban rides, then fold back for improved aerodynamics during high-speed runs. The C-7 is for a buyer “who thinks a Rolex watch is too commonplace,” suggested Lutz, noting the sports car will likely carry a price tag close to $200,000. Think of Cunningham Motor Co. as a “virtual enterprise,” he added.  That means it will be turning to outside suppliers not only for the C-7’s parts, but also to build the vehicle.  They still haven’t found an assembly plant, but whoever is ultimately chosen, the dapper Lutz stressed, “it must be American.”

DISTRACTED DRIVERS.   While all the high-tech hardware going into tomorrow’s cars should make it easy to remain “wired,” these so-called Telematics systems also pose a significant danger.  There’s growing concern about distracted drivers which, according to federal data, may be responsible for up to 10 percent of the country’s annual highway deaths.  With close to 40 states and scores of communities considering possible bans on such things as cell phones, automakers are stepping into the debate.  Ford has announced it will open one of the world’s most advanced driving simulators this year.  DubbedVirTTEx, the automaker intends the first two years of its use to the study of driver distractions.  “We need to learn what level of distraction is unacceptable,” cautioned Ford’s safety chief, Helen Petrauskis.  The VirTTEx data should help rulemakers use logic—and scientific data—to make their decisions, rather than gut emotions.

For all our Detroit 2001 coverage, click here.

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