Detroit Autoshow

Japanese cars are really attractive this time, especially interior. Accura, Infinity and some others are making their cars worth buying. Whereas Toyota and Lexus seems to take the more conservative route. I like how Infinity plays with material and texture. The M5’s interior is amazing. I love the knob, and if you have yet to go, do check out the inside of the door.

Mercedes is still going downhill IMO. Ever since they made the 4 lamp E-class a while back, I haven’t seen anything really interesting except for their sports cars. However, they can’t feed on their sports cars, so that’s too bad for them. The “new” s-class is still using cheap looking leather textured plastics and bad wood patterns, reminds of the entry level Japanese cars that people use for cabs in Asia. Until they realize the importance of putting serious materials like they did in the boxy S-class many years ago, they aren’t going to succeed with this one. The door shuts like an early Lexus.

I was a little disappointed with the interior of the new VWs, namely the Jetta. It doesn’t look new, not exciting and overly VW. I can now see why people aren’t buying the Phaeton.

It seems that most of the Euro manufacturers belong to the US big three. Among them, Ford has put up with the best show. The concepts from Ford, refreshing interiors of the Mercury concepts and the LandRovers. All powers to them. The Shelby Daytona concept( or whatever it’s called) is simply beautiful. The modded Mustangs looks pretty exciting, and the Fusion looks a lot better in person (even though the front looks like CTS and the rear liks IS200).

Chrysler’s booth was quiet. I will give them a look when I retire.

GM was a huge disappointment. All the cars scattered across the floor, non was attention grabbing. Most of them seemed to have been designed for yesterday, so entry level looking that I’d look at Suzukis and KIA first. Even the Z06 doesn’t do much. Comeon! It’s a production car, not a concept! What the hell is it doing on the turn table?!

Just remembered that I missed the Jeep Gladiator concept.

I do like the new Porsche headlights and the Ferrari 430.

I have to say I was dissappointed the last time I looked at Mercedes. I was thinking that when I “make it” that I might want one of those C class hatches. What a disappointment. It’s interior was confusing. It seemed like they have a huge supply of buttons in Germany, so Mercedes is doing their best to use them. They have a non-intutive turn signal (if you press quickly it flashes three times, if you press and hold for awhile they stay on). The cars sides are too high, and pillars too thick…vision is seriously obstructed.

Having said that, I think the interior quality is decent enough to push quite a few units. I think their sales are still strong, so my opinion seems to be holding up to the market so far.

VW: Jetta was ok. Like you said, it wasn’t anything breakthrough. Having said that, they improved their weak areas. Gone is the wheezy 2.0L 4, replaced with a fine 2.5 5 cyl. Gone is the cave man twist beam rear axle, replaced with a refined IRS.

I respectively disagree with you on GM. GM still has something like 30-35% market share in the US (Toyota 12%). The last two years it seems like GM is getting serious about holding on to it. The Malibu was a huge step up last year. Interior quality was better than most Koreans, almost at the mid-Japan level. This year the Cobalt surprised me. Similar to the last Civic, the Corolla, etc, it isn’t exciting. It does get the job done, and it’s far superior to the Cav.

Didn’t go this year but my friend took about 1,000 or so photos so I got a good impression of the offerings. I’d have to agree that the Japanese cars just keep getting better and the Germans are slipping with each passing season. My friend told me that the US manufacturers were crawling all over the new Honda truck like ants at a picnic trying to take measurements and see how much better the quality level was. I still remember back to last years Chicago show I got to go on a press pass and sit in everything when there were only 100 industry people in the hall. Mercedes, Audi, VW, and even BMW were total let downs.

I think Ford is really working on some nice stuff and I’m looking forward to seeing the fairlane concept in person. I am really happy to see ford working with things like bent plywood on their interiors and paying closer attention to details. When its done right like the bamboo interiors used by aston-martin the results can be stunning.

What did you think of Volvo? The '05 S40 was one of my favorites from last year and the new stuff I saw looked great. Can’t wait for the upcoming Chicago show.

Volvo wasn’t at the Montreal show…snobs! However, I visited a dealer a few months ago to see the S40.

The S40 is a great looking car. Volvo took that style they have developed with their S80 and S60 and refined it with the S40. They made all the edges a little tighter again.

The interior was a bit of a let down, to me. The floating panel is nifty, but not really useful or better. The controls were like a Bang and Olufssen stereo, ie confusing. They gave us that typical mass of buttons that Swedes like so much. The visibility was more limited than in the Mazda 3 that shares the same platform. Lastly, the plastic on top of the dash was low quality. I left the dealer feeling like Mazda should be charging a premium, not Volvo.