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Highlights from the North American International Auto Show 2014

From Porsche's 2015 Targa to the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, our picks from Detroit

by Evan Orensten in Design on 20 January 2014

The North American International Auto Show, Detroit (known as NAIAS) always serves as a major platform for American brands, as well as for foreign brands who sell a lot of a specific model or manufacture them in the USA. The showcase also stands as a key litmus test for unveiling concept cars. And this year, several of both delivered the excitement we've come to expect from the event and the brands making big reveals.

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Production cars

The Chevrolet Corvette that launched in the 2014 model year now adds its powerful Z06 edition for 2015. Featuring improved performance throughout, a modified exterior and an exclusive dashboard, the “Big Nasty” takes an already great car and turns it into a supercar. A first for any car, it also introduces a built-in camera to record your drive. The camera syncs up with the car’s Performance Data Recorder and allows you to capture, analyze and share your drive data.

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The 2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe is the brand's latest two-door and its most affordable. Based on the popular and award-winning ATS Sedan, it stays true to the company's Art + Science styling and is around one inch lower, one inch shorter and one inch wider than its four-door sibling. It's also the first production car to sport the brand's newly redesigned crest. The car hits dealers this summer in a 2.0l turbo in either manual or automatic transmission and an automatic 3.6l V6.

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The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class impressed us with its massive makeover. Resembling the new S-Class more than the C-Class that it replaces, the car’s overall style, fit, finish and design is more fab than frump and is certain to attract younger buyers. As the brand's best-selling model, the C-Class could see an even higher profile with this new design and interior refresh.

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Shredding 700 lbs from the current model, Ford’s new 2015 F-150 Pick Up truck was one of the most talked about introductions. A new aluminum alloy body and bed improves fuel economy, towing, acceleration, braking and more. It also sports an optional second generation 2.7l EcoBoost engine that made its unannounced debut in the Baja 1000 race a few months ago.

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Porsche’s 2015 Targa turned heads with the return of its iconic brushed steel roll-bar and new automatic roof system. A push of a button lifts and retracts the entire rear section of the car, allowing the convertible top be placed or removed. The roll-bar gives the car a more vertical look than its coupe sibling and a seductive vintage flair—especially in the retro Lime Gold metallic.

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Concept cars

In a departure from their classic, standard five-door offering, the Allroad Shooting Brake Concept from Audi—featuring their e-tron technology—is a three-door wagon. The front end is dominated by the large grille and thin headlights of the Allroad wagon, but this concept has a heavier rear. The car's major innovation lies within its plug-in hybrid drivetrain, capable of delivering nearly 480 ft-lbs of torque and an all-electric driving range of roughly 31 miles. While there has been no announcement regarding potential production, we'd definitely like to see it join the line up with its fresh, modern interior and solid fuel economy.

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The name of Toyota's FT-1 explains their exact intentions with this auto: It's the Future Toyota 1. If this is what should be expected of the brand, there's a lot to be excited about. The car pulls out all of the design flourishes it could muster, starting its life by Calty Design Research for the Sony PlayStation Gran Turismo game. It's bold and showy, but references a lot of Toyota's sports car history. No technical specifications were released at the show but it's safe to expect them to support the car's aggressive look.

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In what may become their first-ever sports car model, Kia's GT4 Stinger concept wraps a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 315 hp beneath a refined, tight and short body. A six-speed manual transmission powers the rear-wheel drive. The car sits atop custom 20-inch wheels and maintains a front/rear balance, keeping performance at the forefront. Kia's been talking about putting out a sports car for a few years and this might just be the first glimpse at what they can unleash.

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A true performance vehicle, Infiniti's Q-50 Eau Rouge plays upon their new Q50 sports sedan while showing clear inspiration from their Formula One automobiles. The car's muscular carbon fiber body tapers into an impressive aerodynamic finish. There's no specified power source yet but one can only imagine what a car designed like this could do with a modified Q50 engine.

Images courtesy of brands

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