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2007 NAIAS Show Stoppers (Day Two)

Automakers Show Off Their New Hardware

    The second day of the Detroit Auto Show is usually reserved for the production vehicles that automakers will be betting the company on in the upcoming year and 2007 was no different. With the exception of Chrysler most of today’s big news was in the form of production, or thinly disguised production vehicles that we’re looking forward to getting out on the road in the upcoming year. Here’s our thoughts on some of today’s highlights.

General Motors
Cadillac used the help of some very talented musicians to drive home the point that Cadillac, and especially the new CTS, has two very different sides. First, the traditional, classic side emphasizes luxury, comfort and craftsmanship and the 2008 CTS has a vastly improved interior (vastly might not be a strong enough word) to satisfy that requirement and make the little Caddy competitive again. The second side is the contemporary sport sedan requirement that GM plans on meeting by offering the excellent 3.6-liter V6 as the base engine and a new direct-injection version with 300 hp (on regular gas!) as the engaging that will go head-to-head with the best in the segment. Hours of tuning on the Nurburgring and the choice of manual or automatic six-speed transmissions only bolster the car’s sporting credentials. We’re anxious to drive Cadillac’s best seller and hope it handles as good as it looks.

Since Chrysler showed off its production minivans yesterday we were treated to two concept cars today and one very cool drum arrangement courtesy of the world famous Drum Cafe group. The Jeep Trailhawk combines the rugged off-road capability of the Wrangler with the comfort and style of the Grand Cherokee in a package that manages to look good and we wouldn’t be surprised to see styling elements make it into production soon. The other concept, called Nassau, came from Chrysler and plays off of the popular four-door coupe fad but adds a unique rear glass treatment for good measure. The whole thing looks better in person than it does in pictures but it didn’t exactly excite cries of “build it!”. Still, it looks better than last year’s underwhelming Imperial concept and for that we are thankful.

The anticipation for the new Lancer was palpable before the press conference today. Not because the base 4-cylinder model was debuting but because a very thinly disguised version of the next all-mighty Evolution was supposed to show up. Sure enough, it did, and it rocked the house. Aggressive doesn’t begin to describe the Project-X. While no horsepower figures were revealed, Mitsubishi did tip their cards on the secret transmission offering rumored for the next Evo. The concept featured a paddle shifted 6-speed sequential manual. We hope the excellent 6-speed manual continues and Mitsu confirmed brakes will once again be supplied by Brembo.

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