There are already two big surprises in store in Detroit
A RAUNCHY new Lexus and a Smart with a twist are the first confirmed starters for next month’s Detroit motor show.
The snowbound start to the car year is customarily a showcase for a wide range of concept cars and Lexus and Smart have gone early with teasers of their contenders.
The Lexus is a new sporty model that takes its inspiration from the company’s LFA supercar and the Smart is a tiny ute reinvention of the Fortwo.
The two companies will not be alone in Motown next month, with Nissan planning a preview of its Pathfinder, Honda likely to show another NSX supercar concept and a tease for its next Accord, and Chrysler Jeep intending to make a splash with a couple of futuristic show cars.
Lexus is not revealing much about its new car although it plans to go public with a name before the car is unveiled on January 9. But the 19-inch alloy wheels and deep front airdam point to something that’s more like the LFA than another Ct200-style hybrid, and it shares the Darth Vader-style ‘‘ thimble’’ grille treatment of the new Lexus GS.
‘‘ It’s a concept car. It’s not an update of an existing model,’’ confirms Peter Evans of Lexus Australia.
Lexus is also expected to show a revamped LX fourwheel drive. The heavyweight SUV is a tweaked Toyota Landcruiser.
The Smart ute – the Smartfor-us – pokes fun at the overcomplication of new cars.
‘‘ This is to give people a flavour of what’s possible at Smart. It’s to keep people interested in the brand,’’ says Smart Australia spokesman David Mccarthy. ‘‘ I wouldn’t be betting on a ute but there will be some other design cues there for people to check.’’
The lead-up for the new Smart Fortwo has already produced the Forvision concept and the Detroit-mobile shares the same battery power pack and electric engine. The concept is wider and longer than the Fortwo to emphasise the compact proportions, as well as making space for a tray back that can carry a couple of bicycles. In some ways it’s closer in size to a potential replacement for the underachieving Forfour than the baby Fortwo.
Sneak peek: Smart concept ute, and below, teaser pic of the