Perhaps the only thing more entertaining than goofy animal videos on YouTube is car companies making plans to sell high-horsepower fun. At least to my enthusiast-geek mind. My previous blog mentioned that there was an inkling of a chance of positive vibes for this year’s auto show. Will doom and gloom of the past few years be replaced with fun and frivolity?
Looking at some of the hardware on-tap for this year’s show, I’d say fun is definitely riding up front.
Here’s a look at some of the machines shown in Detroit destined to fight automotive boredom:
- BMW 1 Series M coupe – You might think that $47,010 is a lot of money for a fairly small coupe. It is. But with substantial suspension upgrades and a boost to 335 hp, this M rocks. Our tested 135i had exceptional handling that made the car super fun to drive. Does it need more horsepower? Honestly, no. But that’s not the point. Maybe it’s just fun for fun’s sake.
- Porsche 918 Spyder RSR – OK, arguably, even in the leanest of times Porsche has always had something fun to sell. But never one using hybrid technology (and don’t think Prius or Insight). The 918 packs a thrilling 767 horsepower, most of it coming from a 6.2-liter V8, the rest from a hybrid electric drive system. Industry reports suggest it will cost about a dollar per horsepower.
- Chevrolet Camaro Z28 – Fans of GM’s popular muscle car can rest easy: word is that the legendary Z28 is coming back. While just attaching the famed name on the Camaro’s flanks will not likely improve the issues we had when we tested it (poor visibility, miniscule rear seat, not the best controls), the car’s best aspects (acceleration, great V8-engine rumble) will only be enhanced. We had hoped to see it in Detroit, but may have to wait for another auto show.
- Ford Mustang Boss 302 – I realize that this is not the world debut of the latest (and coolest) Mustang, but the bright orange Boss simply stopped me in my tracks. The standard Mustang GT is already a staff favorite, and the new Boss adds to that with upgrades to the engine, suspension, and brakes. Ford also saw fit to take four paragraphs in the press release to describe the car’s exhaust sound. Seems like their priorities are in the right place to me.
On a side note: I walked through the Toyota exhibit looking for fun products. It seemed like a morgue. Admittedly, the Lexus LFA looks fast standing still, but other than that, it was dullsville.
Plus, while not appearing at the show, industry reports suggest that the Volkswagen Golf R (the last R32 was one of my favorites) and Dodge’s next-generation Viper are in the works, which also point to more cars coming that emphasize sizzle over sensibility. And speaking of fun: Ford even had a working slot-car track set up. There were no kids around. Adults practically pushed each other out of the way to get a turn.
Combining these high-octane machines with positive sales numbers, actual profitability and a commitment to fun, dare I say that the auto industry’s swagger is back? Yes, I dare say…and it once again feels good to be a car enthusiast.