Looking back to the past year, the next avenue of automotive intrigue is the events that caused us to preconceive the future presented in 2014 and beyond.
This year, auto shows encompassing the globe have provided a celebration to what the automobile is and to what it could be. Prior to 2013, automakers have been working to relax their restraint on simply showing cars, trucks and crossover vehicles. Conceptualizing one-off designs is once again allowing new shapes to be realized on the road. While the art of publicizing a new car or design in a virtual landscape is becoming an increasingly popular simulation, a video game or computer screen is no substitute for the actual auto show.
The following grouping is Automoblog’s 2013 Not Another Car Award recipients for this year at the world’s greatest auto shows:
Best Public Premiere of a New Vehicle- 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
On the day before the start of the official press access days to the 2013 auto show in Detroit, General Motors gathered the world’s attention for the special presentation. Revealing a seventh-generation version of the legendary Chevrolet Corvette, General Motors made a considerable effort to keep the car under wraps until the unveiling. With exception of some leaked technical manuals and some eager automotive publications, the secret of the 2014 model year Corvette was kept until the Sunday night premiere. The lead attraction of the 2013 North American International Auto Show, the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray’s design and mechanics generated interest at mainstream proportions. Web streaming of the event attracted over 56,000 active viewers on a live YouTube broadcast. The 2014 Corvette Stingray was also a trending topic on Twitter and other major sites for days following the first look. The unveiling of the 2015 Ford Mustang would also achieve a similar magnetism with the public but the Corvette’s appearance came in direct contact with other vehicles including the Ford Atlas truck and Toyota Furia Concept.
For those tiring of what has been an extended series of articles published on the Chevrolet Corvette in 2013, you can take some stock in the 60th anniversary of the American sports car is close to ending. However, with the planned introduction of the new Z06 model at the upcoming North American International Auto Show, do not expect the 2014 Corvette Stingray to fall from the Automoblog.net news feed.
Wildest Concept Car Design of 2013- Smart Forstars
When it comes to extreme concept car designs that pushed the envelope in 2013, we wanted to give the honour to the Lamborghini Egoista Concept. However, since the car was never displayed at an official auto show, another choice needed to be made. The Nissan BladeGlider would qualify but the concept has been explored previously (legal action in relations to the design illustrates that point). Instead, the Smart Forstars receives the award for 2013. Presenting an “in-your-face” version of Smart’s usually mundane styling, the Forstars concept featured an electric powertrain as well as a loaded entertainment system that included a video projector.
Will the new look planned for the Smart ForTwo borrows any characteristics from the Forstars concept? Let us see what 2014 will bring.
Biggest Concept Car Tease- Audi Sport Quattro Concept
Though Audi has obviously flourished without the inclusion of their past attention-getting fastback that catapulted the German auto brand to glory in the 1980s, so many fans of the four-ring badge would love to see the Ur-quattro return. For the second time, Audi has teased the appreciating masses of the Ur-quattro with an idea car featuring strong character traits relating to the Audi of the past. The Audi Sport Quattro Concept rolled into the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show as a design and technology showcase. Powered by a 560-horsepower turbocharged engine, the Sport Quattro Concept would be lightning fast on the road.
With vehicles like the R8 supercar, RS7 Sportback and the SQ5 crossover vehicle, it might be too much to ask for a modern production version of the Audi Ur-quattro. The Audi Sport Quattro Concept may just be too much perfection for the auto brand to accept in production.
2013 Show Car Most Desired for Production: Honda S660
Prepared as part of Honda’s Tokyo Motor Show display, a small roadster is a simple standout. The Honda S660 Roadster Concept was a refined version of the EV-STER Concept shown in 2011. A fun yet tiny mid-engined design, the Honda S660 emphasizes its compact composition in near-perfect proportions. Overall, the vehicle balances a performance feel with practicality.
Several reports indicate production wishes for a car closely resembling the S660 will be realized for 2015. However, the compact Honda roadster is only being connected to the Japanese market (at least for the time being).
Least Impressive Auto Show Presence for 2013- Chrysler Group
Introduced to the world in 2012, the SRT Viper’s frequent appearance on the 2013 auto show circuit did attract eyeballs to the Pentastar company. The Dodge Charger, compact Dart and the Chrysler 300 continue to be some of the most inspired sedans on the market. However, if you were entering a Chrysler exhibit hoping to find something profoundly new in 2013, you were sadly disappointed on the car side. On the side of the Ram brand, new Fiat based vans hardly qualify as showstoppers. The biggest news from Chrysler came from the Jeep division as the bold Cherokee ignited camera flashbulbs. The new Cherokee crossover vehicle itself drew a year’s worth of attention upon its introduction at the 2013 New York International Auto Show. Another highlight of Jeep’s 2013 auto show display was a Grand Cherokee with an EcoDiesel V6 engine. Entering 2014, Chrysler is still lacking a much-needed upgrade to there mid-sized car line-up and we would all love to see some expansion of the SRT brand.
Most Underwhelming New Car Introduction- Honda Civic
The Honda Civic is a respected vehicle with a solid reputation for build quality and all-around commuter. In addition to practicality, the Civic has often demonstrated level of driving pleasure rarely found in affordable compact cars. In recent years, it is almost a shame that Civic is receiving several oversold redesigns. The 2013 model year brought a major upgrade to a compact car a little more than a year after releasing a new generation model said by many to be too mild. Even the 2013 upgrade of the Honda Civic was not earth shattering. For 2014, minor changes include the optional addition of a new Honda Display Audi interface. A similar system has already been available on competing cars leaving the Civic lagging behind technologically. Entering 2014 lacking a gasoline direct injection engine, this technology will be part of another minor improvement for the 2015 model year.
We will also give honourable mention in this category to the Chevrolet Camaro’s extremely insignificant and somewhat unnecessary styling refresh for 2014.
The “Just Sell it Already” Concept Car of 2013 – Acura NSX
The centerpiece of the Honda/Acura display for most auto shows in 2013, the Acura NSX concept is indeed vehicle worthy of attention. Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, the two-door is an eagerly awaited addition to the high performance vehicle category. Premiering in form during the 2012 North American International Auto Show, the Acura NSX concept shown in 2013 was a fully functioning providing a full idea for what will be found on the production version.
What is getting annoying is this supercar will remain an auto show attraction for yet another year in 2014. Scheduled for production in Ohio, the Acura NSX will not begin rolling off the assembly until 2015.
Most Intriguing Automotive Technology at CES- Audi Piloted Parking
Proposing to make are lives easier, technology shown at the 2013 CES consisted of paper-thin displays and improved robotics. The past few years, advancing automotive technology has made the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas an unofficial stop on the auto show tour. In 2013, new audio system and smartphone integration technology pitched by auto companies has allowed some attendee of the show to reconsider mobile solutions.
Autonomous driving technology made a big impact at the 2013 CES when Audi demonstrated their newest self-parking A7 Sportback concept. Described as piloted parking, the Audi technology allows a motorist to save what could be a sizable amount of time related to finding a spot. Operating through either a smartphone application or a special key fob remote, the Piloted parking consists of wireless signals sent from a transmitting computer directly to the autonomously parking vehicle. The Audi A7 Sportback in the test would insert itself into an available parking spot with minimal supervision.
Automotive focus in the 2014 CES is again expected to be high with Audi’s chairman Rupert Stadler delivering the keynote address. Predictions of a new in-car infotainment system is rumoured to be a highlight of the upcoming presentation.
Information and photo source: American Honda Motor Company, Audi AG, Chris Nagy, Daimler AG, General Motors