2015 NAIAS Top Picks

By Eric Huebner

Nothing matches the Detroit Auto Show in terms of size, grandeur and pure, awe-inspiring spectacle. Officially known as the North American International Auto Show, Detroit is the granddaddy of them all and this year we saw several automakers attempt to push the bounds of performance and luxury further than ever. Here are five of our favorites:

Acura NSX

Source: Acura

Source: Acura

The original NSX broke the performance-car mold without an Italian pedigree or German engineering. It showed that all you needed was an uncompromising dedication to great engineering and functional design. The new model promises much of the same.

The 2016 Acura NSX is being billed as a Ferrari 458-killer though hard performance numbers aren’t available yet. The gearbox will be a dual-clutch nine-speed that delivers power from the mid-mounted twin-turbo V6 hybrid power plant.Acura’s target price is roughly in the $150,000 range. If this car truly turns out to be a legitimate rival to the 458, it’s a bargain.

Ford GT

Source: Ford

Source: Ford

Another update to a beloved automotive classic was unveiled last week: the Ford GT. Unlike the NSX, barely a whisper outside of edge-of-the-Internet rumors have circulated but just like that, the GT is back. Part car, part myth, the GT was famously born from the bitter resentment held by Henry Ford towards Ferrari owner Enzo Ferrari. After killing a deal in the eleventh hour that would have seen Ferrari sold to the American Ford, a team of engineers was assembled with one goal in mind: beat Ferrari at Le Mans.

Ford’s GT40 won at Le Mans in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

The new GT will be powered by a 600-horsepower twin-turbo V6 (technically an EcoBoost) that’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The styling is provocative and unusual, the large wind scoops that run the length of the car and exit behind the engine, conveniently mounted in the center of the car. The dash is fully digital and completely customizable, and the steering and pedals mimic those of an F1 car. How fast will it be? We don’t quite know yet, but we do know that when it goes into production next year, there will be a long waiting list to get behind the wheel.

Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang

Source: Ford

Source: Ford

It’s something of a shame that the GT350R has been upstaged by the GT, because the latest Shelby Mustang really is quite something. For the uninitiated, Shelby Mustangs are best described as weapons, tools of destruction, track-devouring monsters with the sole purpose of leaving everything and anyone in its dust.

Shelby’s latest track demon gets its power from an enormous 5.2-liter, 500-horsepower V8. It boasts a modified aerodynamic profile, designed to reduce what little drag the car had and a new, hardcore chassis, intended to further stiffen the suspension and make the car even more nimble in the corners. Ford also shaved off about 130 pounds from the basic GT350 by removing things like the air conditioning, trunk lining and a few seats.

It’s the latest in a long line of purpose-built racers, evolved from one of America’s most iconic cars. What’s not to love?

Cadillac CTS-V

Source: Cadillac

Source: Cadillac

Aimed straight at the heart of its German competition, this powerful American sedan is looking to serve on the frontlines of the American Reconquista of the luxury market. And in what has become the tradition of the new Cadillac, the CTS-V swings for the fences.

This refresh packs a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that boasts a stratospheric 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque. By way of comparison, that’s more than the Lamborghini Huracán. In a sedan.

The CTS-V possesses almost more than 100 horsepower more than its closest rivals from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. It will sprint from 0-60 in a scant 3.7 seconds, thanks to a brand-new launch control system and a beefy eight-speed automatic transmission. Years of track testing have informed chassis upgrades, structural improvements and the installation of a new braking system. The interior of the car continues Cadillac’s high luxury aesthetic. No pricing information is available yet, although sales numbers will be interesting to track as the Americans strike the latest blow in the automotive war against the German luxury market.

Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion Concept

Mercedes-Benz F015 - Luxury in Motion
Luxurious, driverless, and autonomous: simply put, this is the future of motoring. Will this take the joy out of driving? Yes, though being driven is better than ever. The oblong sedan’s four doors open to reveal pivoting bucket seats and an interior resplendent with wood, glass and touchscreens that amount to less of a backseat and more of a modernist living room. This type of luxury though is quickly becoming limitless. What’s really important with the F 015 is that automakers are starting to invest in the R&D that up until now have largely been shouldered by tech giants like Google. Automakers are finally making the cars of the future.

Honorable Mention:

Buick Avenir Concept
This isn’t what Buicks look like. This is what Italian Renaissance sculpture looks like. Buick’s new flagship luxury prototype has consistently blown away onlookers and is set to continue to do so. If this car is indicative of Buick’s future design language, this classic American brand’s resurgence could grow on an exponential scale.