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NAIAS 2010: The Europeans

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On: Fri, Jan 14, 2011 at 1:35PM | By: John Welch

NAIAS 2010: The Europeans

Our ability to judge whether the global economic scourge is still affecting the auto industry is strained at best. Car makers, such as Porsche, returned to the North American International Auto Show this year, and brought pretty fantastic product with them. Well, Porsche did anyway; the rest of Europe sort of threw up a mulligan, introducing little and exciting few. Volkswagen insulted us with another beancounter design, the Passat; BMW rolled out its new 6 Series convertible, as well as the highly publicized 1M Coupe; and Mercedes brought along their new S Class BluTec. Audi, of course, introduced its newest schnozmobile, the A6. Seen that A7? Yeah, I don't care about the A6 anymore either.

We break the new cars down by brand inside the post; let us know if you agree or disagree with our assesments, in the comments.


MINI brought its 'Paceman' concept to Detroit, and as with most MINI concepts it is barely differentiated from the normal MINI coupe. I mean, what' new here? It's a little bigger—old news—built on the Countryman platform. Again, old news. In all honesty it is a Countryman with two fewer doors and the MINI Coupe Concepts roof. Powertrains would be familiar MINI fare, and don't expect the Paceman to see production before MINI's other concepts, most noteably the Coupe and Roadster.


The 6 Series was a bit of a stretch when BMW first released it in 2004. Would anyone pay the premium for a less than useful 5 Series grand touring machine? Plenty of people did, and with the introduction of the M6 the 6 Series really came into its own. Now the car is being replaced and it has addressed the most worrisome aspect of the original 6, that awful cat-fish face.

Well, the new 6 is certainly a more attractive, cohesive design. It looks less like a Banglized Lego Technic set and more like a luxury car. This is good. The engine offerings mirror the new 5 Series, V8, twin turbo V8, and a base model turbo inline 6 to come later. This car may sell in decent numbers, assuming the bad taste left by the old 6's drooping face has left the mouth of convertible consumers.

The BMW M1 Coupe is as exciting as it gets for this lowly auto scribe. Tiny demensions matched with and easily upgraded (re: computer chips!) inline six and manual transmission. Not much room to expound on the car here, look for a full review in the future. BMW's suggested closest competitor for the 1M? A certified pre-owned M3. Hilariously accurate in my opinion . . .


There it is America, feast your eyes on what your tasteless, truckcentric buying patterns have wrought. The 2011 Volkswagen Passat, an absolute step backwards, a thumb in the eye of progress, a hard-dashed loogie down the throat of forward thinking. Good job, jerks. Of course I don;t have the capital to be considered part of your ridiculous number, I'm still shopping for Mk III Passats. Which is fine, they were stylish and upmarket back in 2001. Now, thanks to your inability to recognise the previous Passat's greatness with your wallets, this new Passat is a complete insult to every studied car buyer in our great country. Look at that pugnacious snout, boring shape, and Kia Optima-grade grille. It is $7,000 grand cheaper, which is what we wanted, right? A continuing theme of life in 2011 is doing more with less. More unemployment, fewer services, the American Dream downgraded for reality. The Passat is the post-economic meltdown poster boy, the very symbol needed to explain the ridiculous mismanagement of modern progress. Are we really going to put people on Mars one day? I doubt it. We'd rather sit at home and watch Rock of Love. An article by Sherry Christiansen can be found here.


Not every car released by the VW Group this year is designed to a price point; thank God, Allah, Buddah, and whoever else. The new Audi A6 is spectacular, the interior back up to snuff, and the exterior more aggresive than it has ever been. Audi's LED treatments get better and better, and though, personally, I would spring for the A7, that opinion is not shared around the office. Drew pipes in, "Without having seen the A7 in person, I think the A6 is a nicer car. Certainly better then the model it replaces." Amen. Audi also trucked out the A6 Hybrid, a first for the brand from Ingolstadt. Good looking and differentiated from its brother ala the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, the A6 Hybrid should bring a few customers by Audi lots.

Mercedes Benz

Rounding out our underwhelming European debuts is the Mercedes Benz S-Class S350 BluTec. A diesel S-Class. Gonna sell a ton of those over here, Mercedes, you won't be able to fill all of the orders. Or, possibly, exactly the opposite will happen. They'll sell two of these cars, and then run their mouths about America's distaste for diesel. You already know that we are too spread out and too dumb to embrace diesel, why do this to yourself? Nothing about soot and spark-free ignition is as easily bragged about as an electric motor. No matter how bad things are we are never going to go for cars that won't start if they're urea tanks are empty. The stellar BMW 335d proves that unfortunate fact. I've seen more Nissan GT-Rs on the road then 335ds, a sad state of affairs that Mercedes has failed to notice. Nice car, decent grunt, no one will care.

Mercedes also unveiled their new SLS E-Cell, a full write up by Chris Weiss can be found here.

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