2015 North American International Auto Show, Part I: packing a punch

Ford GT lead

Once again, auto manufacturers brought a lot of eye candy to Cobo Center for the 2015 North American International Auto Show, fondly called NAIAS. By the time the snow had cleared, we saw 55 vehicle introductions, walked over 15 miles of convention center aisles and, according to the NAIAS website, drank thousands of bottles of water. But those 5,000 crazed journalists who braved a cold Detroit in January were not disappointed. Performance cars, concepts, trucks, crossovers and a mix of both gave us plenty to write about here. We’ll give you complete coverage of what was introduced in Part I and Part II, as well as pick our two show favorites.


BJ’s Best of Show Pick: Ford GT

Ford GT rearWhile there may be some controversy about picking a vehicle that costs more than the average household income, and of which less than 1,000 copies will be produced, what we must agree upon is that the GT garnered more attention than a hot babe at a Comic Con convention. The GT was the star of the all-new Ford display, and it was standing room only to see it. Plus, to add credibility to our choice, the GT won an EyesOn Design award honoring the best production and concept vehicles making their debut at the show. Besides being stunning to look at, the Ford flagship is a technology showcase, featuring lightweight materials like carbon fiber and aluminum. The rear-drive, mid-engine GT will be propelled by Ford’s most power EcoBoost engine ever, a next-generation twin-turbocharged V6 making more than 600 horsepower, and paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle. The rear spoiler is active, the tires are 20-inchers with Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires, and the brakes are ceramic discs at all corners. The GT will go into production next year, and all are probably already spoken for, even though no price was confirmed.

Acura NSX

Acura NSXJPGWe’ve all been waiting a long time for the Acura NSX to make its production debut, and that finally happened in Detroit. The NSX was our runner up for best of show pick, and only lost by a slight margin to the Ford GT. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be anything less than stellar when it finally appears in showrooms later this year. What makes the NSX different from the GT is the drivetrain: Acura is going with a twin-turbocharged V6 with a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission and a three-electric motor Sport Hybrid system. Honda claims the NSX will feature world’s-first material applications and manufacturing capabilities, which involve a casting process that utilizes the strength and flexibility of a forged material but at a much great weight savings. As far as drivability, the NSX will boast dynamic torque vectoring, its Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, and an all-aluminum suspension setup. Stopping will be handled through six-piston front and four-piston rear monoblock calipers with ultra-high-performance carbon-ceramic disc brakes. The NSX be built at Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio, and will be virtually hand built.

Bentley Bentayga

Bentley BentaygaWhile it’s always fun to hang at the Bentley stand hoping some class will rub off on us, Bentley’s only announcement was the name of its SUV, scheduled to debut sometime this year as a 2016 model. The Bentayga is the new moniker, and, according to Wolfgang Durheimer, Bentley CEO, the name is an amalgamation of the Bentley name and the biggest untouched snow forest in the northern hemisphere, the Taiga. Bentayga also is a rock at the Canary Islands. With all that going for it, how can it fail? Oh yeah, Bentley also says the new SUV will be the fastest, most powerful SUV on the market, and it will help the company in volume, profit, and conquesting customers. While the name may not roll easily off the tongue, it’s world’s better than the Volkswagen Tourareg.


Ford Shelby GT350R

Ford GT350RIf it weren’t for the GT stealing the limelight, the Shelby GT350R would have been a bigger deal at the show. It still grabbed attention, but definitely played second to the GT sports car. The Shelby GT might be more known for what it doesn’t have instead of what it does: no rear seat, no air conditioning, no audio system, no trunk floorboard and carpet, no rearview camera, and no spare tire. Engineers also removed the exhaust resonators to save weight, and included carbon-fiber wheels to help reduce unsprung weight by about 50 pounds. The GT350R is about 150 pounds lighter than the Shelby GT350 Track Pack model.


GT350R rearThe body equipment really delivers an aggressive look and stance, with functional hood vent, side skirts, front splitter and carbon-fiber rear wing. What everyone really wants to know is what’s under the hood. That would be a 5.2-liter DOHC V8 with a flat-plane crankshaft that’s usually only found on racing applications or high-end Euro sports cars. The numbers Ford is quoting for now is more than 500 horsepower and over 400 lb-ft of torque. The Shelby GT350R will be limited production, and one of more than 12 new Ford performance vehicles slated to be on sale by 2020, with this one appearing sometime in 2016.

Ford Raptor

Raptor Fans have been clamoring for Ford to bring the next-gen Raptor to market, and the team did not disappoint. The New Raptor is based on the all-new F-150 (which won the North American Truck of the Year award), and will offer everything the previous model did and more. It’s six inches wider than the regular F-150 for stability off road. It also features a dual exhaust, 17-inch wheels and tires, and the second-generation 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine that will produce more power and torque than the 6.2-liter V8 that powers the current Raptor pickup. The engine will be mated to a 10-speed transmission being developed as a joint venture with General Motors. The Raptor also adds standard FOX Racing Shox, LED lighting, new interior options, and auxiliary switches to control aftermarket add ons like lights or an air compressor. The Raptor will be limited production, will be built in Dearborn at the Rouge plant, and will go on sale in the fall of next year, which gives you a few months to keep putting your cash in the bank to save up for the purchase.