The Bulls of Chicago Auto Show 2012
The Chicago Auto Show, which ended last February 19, is considered the smallest among the five North American auto shows but the largest in terms of square area. It is among the oldest auto shows as well, with over a century of showcasing motoring excellence since 1901. The halls of McCormick Place in the windy city of Chicago saw a total of 18 major production debuts and launches this year and while it seems the recently concluded Detroit auto show overshadows the Chicago version, there were some interesting highlights to be noted there. These are some of the new cars that the American buying public welcomed during the event.
BMW 3-Series—This was BMW’s major attraction and the all-new 6th-generation 3-Series debuts as a 2012 model that would hit the US showrooms on the same month. It comes with three trims—the Sport Line, Luxury Line and Modern Line. Sporting a restyled and yet iconic BMW kidney designed grille, it features a more athletic overall profile and engine. The new Twin Power Turbo technology also means it is more fuel efficient, matching either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic.
Speaking of green, BMW also showcased its ActiveHybrid 5 that mates its powerful 6-cylinder TwinPower Turbo engine with a synchronous electric motor integrated into the housing of the eight-speed automatic gearbox. The combined electric and gas-powered engine puts out 340 horsepower that propels the ActiveHybrid 5 from zero to 100 kph in 5.9 seconds and be driven on electric power alone for zero emissions up to 60 kph.
Chevrolet Corvette 427 Convertible 427—Chevrolet introduced the fastest and best-performing convertible Corvette ever by showcasing this model. Its LS7 7-liter engine is only available in 6-speed manual transmission and is fitted with carbon-fiber components to bring down its curb weight, propelling the car from 0-60 performance in just 3.8 seconds. Collectors will quickly snap up this year’s Corvette model, which will be available with a 60th Anniversary package, including exclusive Arctic White exterior with Pearl Silver Blue racing stripes, Blue Diamond leather-wrapped interior, and appropriate 60th Anniversary logos.
Subaru BRZ—Subaru’s all-new, rear-wheel sports car made its debut in homeland Tokyo last year and US Subaru fans can now look forward to BRZ’s arriving in dealerships this spring. With its low-slung body and boxer engine, it keeps a low center of gravity and a profile that combines a swept-back roofline, short overhangs and pronounced rear that promises an elegant and enjoyable 2+2 sports car experience. Its new and naturally aspirated 2 liter four-cylinder boxer engine produces 200 horsepower and comes with a new 6-speed manual gearbox or optional paddle-shift 6-speed automatic transmission.
Notable Concept Vehicles
Chevrolet Sonic Boom Concept—The name of this concept vehicle has made its design intentions quite literal as Chevrolet worked with popular audio system maker Kicker to mount specially fitted Kicker speakers on its rear hatch and is laid out like a set of jet engines facing rearward.
Lexus LF LC Concept—This caused a stir in this year’s show and is a product of Lexus’ Calty design studio in California, featuring a 2+2 hybrid sports car with a front-engine, rear-wheel drive that delivers both performance and fuel economy.
Toyota NS4 Concept —The futuristic NS4 advance hybrid concept distinguishes itself as a separate model from the Prius family, showcasing a next-generation Hybrid Synergy Drive plug-in system that promises reductions in component size and weight with matching improved overall fuel economy, better acceleration and longer all-electric range, while maintaining a short charge time.
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