Luxury, performance drive buzz at Detroit auto show

Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:23pm EST
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By Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) - This year's Detroit auto show, which opens next week, has a decidedly "green" theme. Green as in the color of money, that is.

An aura of luxury pervades many of the show's new models as automakers from Europe, Asia and the Motor City itself strive to bring more affluent consumers into showrooms. Whether one seeks a sedan, coupe or crossover, pricy new choices are not in short supply.

A familiar companion to luxury is performance. Exuding both traits is a hometown show-stopper, the redesigned 2014 Chevrolet Corvette from General Motors Corp. (GM.N: Quote)

The long-awaited Corvette has been generating considerable buzz ahead of the show. The latest edition of "America's sports car" is only the seventh generation in six decades — with a formal unveiling slated for Sunday night. It should begin reaching dealers in late summer. Pricing may be in the general realm of the current 2013 Corvette, which starts at $50,595.

A trio of expensive performance models from Europe, all priced from well over $100,000, is headed to the U.S. market in the coming year and they, too, will be on display at the show.

Leading the pack is the redesigned 2014 Maserati Quattroporte, which Chrysler's Italian parent, Fiat SpA FIA.MI, hopes will spearhead a resurgence of the Maserati brand when it arrives here in summer. The new Quattroporte shares its basic underbody architecture with the Chrysler 300 and features a twin-turbocharged 523-horsepower V8.

Also on view will be the potent 2014 BMW (BMWG.DE: Quote) M6 Gran Coupe, a sporty four-door with a twin-turbo 560-horsepower V8 that hits dealers this summer, and the 2014 Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible, from Volkswagen AG's (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) British uber-luxury brand.

The soft-top Bentley, which goes on sale in late summer, claims to be "the world's fastest convertible," thanks to a 616-horsepower 12-cylinder engine that pushes the all-wheel-drive two-door to a top speed of 202 miles per hour.   Continued...

Workers hang a Ford Motor banner on the side of a building across from Cobo Center in advance of the media preview of the North American International Auto show in Detroit, Michigan January 11, 2013. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook