North American International Auto Show, Part II: Double punch

2016 Buick Cascada

2016 Buick Cascada

Although the new Ford GT and Acura NSX were arguably the belles of this debutante ball, they weren’t the only headliners at the 2015 North American International Auto Show–or NAIAS, or even more colloquially, The Detroit Show–a 200 mph Cadillac sedan was hardly to be missed, nor the Audi Q7, more concepts–from Chevrolet, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Buick–and hybrids, electrics and more, not to mention a topless Italian. If you want more, be sure to see our 2015 North American International Auto Show report, Part I.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt (click to enlarge)

Less hype and anticipation greeted the second generation of the Chevrolet Volt, than the first, which of course was the first extended-range hybrid from a major manufacturer. The 2016 production model continues as a battery-electric car with an onboard gas engine for battery recharging, but there are new batteries with more capacity from fewer cells, and a battery pack that’s 20 pounds lighter than its predecessor. The 2016 Chevrolet Volt will have two electric drive motors instead of one, giving the Volt more zip, if Chevy’s claim of zero to 60 mph in 8.4 seconds is zippy. On the new 1.5 gas engine alone the Volt returns 41 mpg, though with gas and electric the Volt can go 400 miles without a recharge or refuel. In normal use, however, Chevrolet expects the typical Volt will go 1,000 between refuels. The interior has been upgraded and there’s more room inside, but the exterior has been toned down. No doubt clinics and owner research out the celebrated wazoo were performed, but we’d think owners want the world to know they’re green…

2015 Chevrolet Bolt Concept

2015 Chevrolet Bolt Concept (click to enlarge)

2015 Chevrolet Bolt Concept

It’s not all extended-range hybrids at Chevrolet. The Chevrolet Bolt Concept suggests where Chevy will go after the Spark EV, an “affordable, long-range all-electric vehicle designed to offer more than 200 miles of range starting around $30,000.” The stubby Bolt—there’s little overhang at the front or rear end—uses lightweight materials, including aluminum, magnesium, carbon fiber, and woven mesh, and even advanced nano-composite rear hatch, to keep weight down to maximize range. The concept Bolt uses a smart phone’s functionality, even replacing the Bolt’s key fob. Expect a production version that looks a lot like the concept.

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider (click to enlarge)

2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

We really don’t care whether a car has “heritage”—oh, yes, we do, when it’s an Alfa Romeo, because that’s a brand that oozes legend and glory. An when a car like the 1967 Alfa Romeo T33 Stradale inspires a car like the Alfa Romeo 4C that then evolves into the 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, we care. The 4C Spider comes with a removable roof section, either carbon fiber or stowable fabric, between the windshield header. Other differences between the 4C and 4C Spider include centrally-positioned dual exhaust, a “halo” rear window, additional exposed carbon fiber, and of course, different wheel designs. The 4C Spider is the second of eight new Alfa Romeo models due by 2018. The next should be the Miata-based roadster. It’s getting better and better, though let’s hope the schedule doesn’t slip.

2015 Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE Concept

2015 Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE Concept (click to enlarge)

2015 Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE Concept

Volkswagen showed a concept that, as such, is said not to be a precursor in whole of what’s coming, but rather bits and pieces that will be seen elsewhere in the VW product line. The Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE is a five-passenger plug-in hybrid with all-wheel drive via an electric “driveshaft,” its rear wheels driven by an electric motor than via conventional steel tube. Combined with a second electric motor driving the front wheels and a 3.6-liter VR6, the total output is a peak maximum of 355 horsepower. The concept can travel 20 miles under electric power alone, or a 0-60 mph time of 6.0 seconds. VW says the Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE is capable of 70 MPGe. Styling elements forecast a new design theme for Volkswagen, particularly fora new seven-seat SUV to be built in Chattanooga, Tennessee in late 2016.

2016 BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe

2016 BMW 6-Series Gran Coupe (click to enlarge)

2016 BMW 6-Series

We’re particularly fond to the various versions of the BMW 6-Series, so we were particularly fond of the BMW world premiere. BMW debuted the 6-Series coupe, the 6-Series Convertible and the 4-door 6-Series Gran Coupe. More of a mid-generational “freshening,” the “new” 6-Series includes a redesigned front and rear aprons, standard LED headlights and a massaging of the BMW kidney grille. BMW also “refined” suspension and steering settings. New packages were added: Design Pure Experience and Design Pure Excellence. And BMW announced BMW Individual, a “consultation” program that will allow BMW purchasers to customize their cars. But changes worth a world premiere? Does that mean a new test drive is needed? After all, a new BMW grille is something we can get behind.