The Best Production Cars At The 2013 Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS)

With the 2013 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in full swing now, let’s take a look at the three best production cars on display at this years show. In other words, if I could have taken three cars from the show home with me, the following would be found on my driveway:

IMG_0407Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray: Unquestionably the star of this years auto show in Detroit, MI was the new Corvette. America’s longest lasting sportscar has been with us for 60 years, and celebrates its birthday with an all-new model.

This new model offers a new shape, but also revives an old name. So the word “Stringray” is back on the Corvette after a long hiatus. But is this new model worthy?

From a performance point of view, it sure seems that way. Under its long hood lies a new 6.2-liter, V8 called the LT1. This motor not only produces a heart thumping 450-hp and 450-lb/ft of torque, but also features clever technologies such as variable-valve timing, direct injection and cylinder deactivation (the last one means, when simply cruising, it can run on just four-cylinders to conserve fuel).

IMG_0444Power is still fed to the rear wheels, and while the six-speed automatic is pretty much carried over from the C6 Corvette, albeit with some new programming for faster shifts, the big transmission news for the C7 is the new seven-speed manual gearbox. This new gearbox not only has tighter shifts, but also features rev-matching, so you don’t have to heel and toe to get that perfect downshift. In short, this car will make you look like a better driver than you actually are.

The question most people ask about a sportscar is, how fast is it? With 0-100 km/h dealt with in about 4.0 seconds, and a top speed close to 300 km/h, this is a very quick car.

The new Corvette C7 will be on sale by this fall, and while Canadian prices have not been announced, don’t expect much change left over from $70,000.

IMG_0370Jaguar F-Type: If the Corvette is not quite your style, maybe the brand new Jaguar F-Type will suit you better. Thanks to its achingly beautiful body, the F-Type will look good everywhere. But the spiritual successor to the E-Type (from 1961) is much more than a pretty design, it has power to offer also.

Just how much power will depend on you and your budget. There will be three-engines to choose from. The base F-Type will feature a supercharged 3.0-liter, V6 motor that produces 340-hp. Next up is the F-Type S, which has essentially the same engine with a higher output supercharger. The “S” thus develops 380-hp.

Want even more power? Of course you do. Enter the F-Type V8 S. Under the hood of this model is a supercharged 5.0-liter, V8 engine that produces 495-hp. This version will sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds, while top speed is electronically limited to 300 km/h (I wonder how fast it would have been if it was left unlimited?).

Not only is the new F-Type a seriously fast sports roadster (initially it will only be available as a convertible, the coupe is expected to follow a year later), but as you would expect from Jaguar, the interior is first class, featuring the finest materials and the latest gadgets.

IMG_0321While electronic gadgets don’t interest me much, what does interest me is its new ZF 8-speed automatic. Dubbed as a “Quickshift” box, Jaguar has had the transmission programmed to their specifications for the ultimate fast shifts.

Having driven some Jaguar’s in recent years, I can bet the F-Type will be a truly thrilling machine on the road. I can’t wait to try it myself. No pricing announced yet, but it is expected to start from around $70,000.

IMG_0333Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series: If you’re in the mood to spend more, and I mean, a lot more, how about the latest version of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG coupe. It’s called the Black Series, and this is a faster, more hard-core version of an already seriously fast motor car.

So how does the Black Series differ from a normal SLS? A quick look is all you need. The Black Series has a much more aggressive look with carbon-fibre splitter and pieces visibly seen all around it. The biggest change is from the rear, where you’ll see that it has gained a large rear-wing and some venturi ground effects under the rear bumper. All these bits are not just for show, they are to make this car more stable at high speeds and increase its cornering speed when driven hard at the track.

Speaking of track driving, it boasts some very impressive track numbers also. 0-100 km/h is covered in just 3.6 seconds, while top-speed is quoted at 315 km/h. That is fast enough for me thank you.

It is capable of such speeds because under its hood lies a 6.2-liter, V8 (even though Mercedes-Benz likes to call it a 6.3) that produces 631-hp. So not only does it have more power than a standard SLS, it also weighs 70-kg less than the standard car, thanks to the carbon-fibre bits mentioned earlier. No wonder this car is as fast as it is. Power, as you’d expect goes to just the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.

IMG_0329Like all AMG Black Series models that have come before this, the interior is luxurious yet minimalistic. There are no fat power operated arm-chairs in this, you get lightweight carbon-fibre shelled seats that you can only adjust forwards and backwards, but no tilt. Since each car is tailored for its owner, the seat in the car you order will fit you just fine (it might not be ideal for the guy who would buy it from you once you’re bored with it).

This SLS AMG Black Series is a bonkers car, and with a price-tag north of $300,000 – its entry fee is mind blowing also. But boy oh boy, do I love this car.

Forget three cars, if I could have taken just one car home from the show, this would be it.

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