Im­ports rule in mo­tor city

The US car in­dus­try’s show­case was dom­i­nated by for­eign draw­cards

Herald Sun - Motoring - - COVER STORY - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­

THE new look of Aus­tralian mo­tor­ing be­gan to take shape this week at Mo­town, USA.

As Holden and Toyota wind down their lo­cal car-mak­ing op­er­a­tions, a Com­modore-style Kia and an all-new Camry have emerged in the spot­light at the 2017 Detroit Mo­tor Show.

The Kia Stinger is a rad­i­cal ad­vance for the South Korean com­pany and there is even a chance that it will be lured into Su­per­cars rac­ing from 2019.

The new Camry is more edgy but a fa­mil­iar fam­ily-sized pack­age for main­stream Aus­tralia that will be built in Ja­pan.

The show was loaded as usual with a wide range of pre­view and pro­duc­tion cars, in­clud­ing the Holden As­tra sedan and Mercedes-Benz E Class coupe.

But there were al­most none of the sur­prises seen from con­cept cars at Detroit shows over the decades, with most of the head­lin­ers pre­viewed ahead of open­ing day and im­ports steal­ing the show.


The Chevro­let Cruze will be­come the Holden As­tra in Aus­tralia. The name change was con­firmed at the show by Holden boss Mark Bern­hard.

The As­tra sedan will roll in along­side the hatch that rein­tro­duced the name­plate to Aus­tralia last year, with an even sharper price.

How­ever, it’s miss­ing some of the key safety stuff from the hatch, in­clud­ing au­tonomous emer­gency brak­ing.

The sedan will be built in South Korea, the orig­i­nal source of the Cruze for Holden, un­like the As­tra hatch which is built in Poland.

Holden prom­ises lo­cal tun­ing for the car.


It’s even­tu­ally go­ing to take two SUVs to cover the ground of the unloved Cap­tiva and the Equinox is one of them.

The mid-sized crossover, at least in the US, sits along­side the GMC Aca­dia that’s also touted for Aus­tralia.

The Equinox is avail­able with front and all-wheel drive and a range of en­gines in­clud­ing a diesel, but the big em­pha­sis is on fam­ily-friendly safety sys­tems from all-round cam­era cov­er­age to auto emer­gency brak­ing, lane-keep as­sist and rear traf­fic alert.

It also has tech­nol­ogy called Teen Driver that al­lows par­ents to mon­i­tor their chil­dren’s driv­ing habits.


It’s the Odyssey but not as we’ll know it in Aus­tralia.

Honda con­tin­ues its pol­icy of dou­ble-deal­ing on some key mod­els, which means the all­new Odyssey at Detroit is not the one that will come to Aus­tralia.

But there are plenty of hints, from the gen­eral styling on things like the grille to the slid­ing side doors and more.

The big­gest dif­fer­ence from the Amer­i­can car to the Aus­tralian model is that it rolls on the same me­chan­i­cal plat­form as the funky Pi­lot and is avail­able with a V6 en­gine.


It’s big and bold, it comes with a twin-turbo V6 en­gine and it will be priced from about $40,000.

The Stinger sets the di­rec­tion and ac­cel­er­ates the pace of change at Kia Mo­tors, which is aim­ing for a sportier im­age than its sis­ter com­pany — at least un­til Hyundai launches its per­for­mance-fo­cused N divi­sion.

The Stinger is a close devel­op­ment of the orig­i­nal GT show car.

“It’s a game changer. There is no doubt about that. It puts the brand into an­other sphere and now it’s up to us to make sure we take ad­van­tage of it,” says Damien Mered­ith, head of Kia Mo­tors Aus­tralia.

“It shows what Kia can do with prod­uct. We won’t sell a lot of them this year, but in 2018 if we have a good pric­ing strat­egy it might be the car that re­places Com­modore as a per­for­mance ve­hi­cle.”

The size and style of the Stinger is right for a Com­modore suc­ces­sor, with a five-adult cabin, a giant hatch­back tail and old-school rear-wheel drive.

Pric­ing will start from $40,000 for a 2.0-litre turbo model and about $50,000 for the twin-turbo V6, and both mod­els will be well equipped with plenty of safety stuff.


Squint a bit and dream a lot and you can see some of the next Max­ima in the only gen­uine sur­prise ar­rival in Detroit.

The Vmotion shows the think­ing for the next gen­er­a­tion of Nis­san pas­sen­ger cars, al­though none of them is likely to have the giant sui­cide doors of the show car.

It’s Max­ima sized and a four­door sedan, so it’s easy to draw the con­clu­sion that the Vmotion is be­ing used to pre­pare the world for a bolder gen­er­a­tion of fu­ture Nis­san mod­els. It would not look out of place along­side the GT-R, that’s for sure.


Ja­pan be­comes the new home room for the Camry when lo­cal pro­duc­tion ends in the fi­nal quar­ter of 2017, but it’s the United States that has driven devel­op­ment of the eighth­gen­er­a­tion fam­ily favourite.

The Camry is Amer­ica’s top sell­ing car — al­though the Ford F-Se­ries truck leads over­all — and that means the new­comer has slightly bolder styling with more sharp edges, more cabin space, a grille that could have been snitched from a Lexus, and even two-tone paint­work on some mod­els that looks sur­pris­ingly good.

The Au­rion name dies when the im­ported Camry ar­rives but there will still be three driv­e­lines — four-cylin­der and V6 petrol power and a hy­brid — with front-wheel drive and the fa­mil­iar walk up through the equip­ment lev­els.

Toyota Aus­tralia’s head of sales and mar­ket­ing, Tony Cramb, was in Detroit as com­pany pres­i­dent Akio Toy­oda un­veiled the Camry and the thun­der­ing V8pow­ered NASCAR racer it has spawned, but was tight-lipped

on de­tails. There is no firm tim­ing for lo­cal sales and no talk about pric­ing, al­though he prom­ises the car has con­sid­er­able lo­cal en­gi­neer­ing in­put and Aus­tralian test­ing.

The 2018 Camry is likely to cost more than the out­go­ing model, which is be­ing dis­counted to keep sales ticking along dur­ing the run to the lo­cal fac­tory clo­sure, and Cramb ad­mits that sales are also likely to drop be­cause Toyota Aus­tralia will lose some big govern­ment and fleet con­tracts and is also sell­ing into a medium class that’s los­ing its sup­port in Aus­tralia.

But Toy­oda has not given up and says: “We recog­nise this as an op­por­tu­nity to re-ig­nite the mid-sized seg­ment. Why should SUVs get all the glory?”


The Kombi con­cept in Detroit is the fourth time Volk­swa­gen has looked at bring­ing the old clas­sic fam­ily van back from the dead.

But this time it’s likely to get the go-ahead, as it would be a dead-set win­ner in the US where VW des­per­ately needs to win back friends and fol­low­ers af­ter the diesel­gate dis­as­ter.

The I.D.Buzz, as it’s called, is also part of the green-power move to fully elec­tric cars that’s also in­tended to dis­tract dis­grun­tled own­ers and present a brighter fu­ture for the brand.

The Buzz looks great and is promised with a range of 600 kilo­me­tres from a 111 kilo­Watthour lithium bat­tery.

But there are doubts about the Kombi for Aus­tralia.

“We’re ready as a com­pany, but when will we be ready as a coun­try for elec­tric cars,” says VW spokesman, Paul Pot­tinger.


The reign­ing Cars­guide Car of the Year ar­rived in Detroit with three rows of seats.

It’s com­ing to Aus­tralia early in 2018, which means Skoda will get first crack at a mid-sized seven-seater with its up­com­ing Ko­diaq in July.

No-one at VW Aus­tralia will dis­cuss pric­ing or equip­ment, but it’s likely to mir­ror the fiveseater Tiguan per­haps with a 1.4-litre turbo starter en­gine.









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