Screening Top Detroit Show Cars

To wit: Top 10 auto show cars are not really the best! Here are the NY Times picks-with my comments:

1. Corvette 7th generation 2-door called the Stingray-but why never a 4-door “coupe”? Even one at $57,000.

2. Cadillac ATS-long-awaited “baby Cadillac” is GM platform sharer, but performance disappoints as V-8 edition is held up.

3. Cadillac ELR-show car of the year-upmarket Volt hybrid coupe that answers dealer pleas for stronger answer to BMW et al.

4. Turning from GM’s winners: BMW finally fills entry-level gap with 4-series coupe priced at $35,545 with AWD. 3-series, the world’s favorite ‘luxo coupe,’ now facing affordability challenge between 3-series and 5-series.

5. Bentley charms the snobs with $238K Continental GTC. We’d love to sell insurance for the 6-figure supercars.

6. Ford is so global that its small 2013 cars still lack A-one initial quality metrics, especially on the Fusion. Ford’s crop falls short of ‘clean’ output results too much. New COO Mark Fields goes after 90 percent-plus quality on Ford and Lincoln, especially the latter’s new ‘baby’ version-the MKC.

7. Mercedes-Benz– “Affordability” drives the Germans to downprice with a vengeance. In addition to its unheralded smart minicompact, Mercedes showed showgoers a $30K C-Class CLA250 sedan, replete with 208 hp 4 with AWD or front-drive, Mercedes (the only car named after a woman!) also unwrapped an E-Class E6B sedan and wagon rated at 550 hp. No prices yet but you better believe Mercedes won’t get beat in the HP race.

8. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, never to be outdone, adds heft to Nissan’s and Infiniti’s higher-styled looks. The Nissan Murano crossover and new Infiniti Q50 sedan deliver styling cues like Chihuly glass pieces-Honda, a U.S.-minded power, debuts a Fit-based SUV Crossover.

9. New models emerge from heavy hitters Toyota (a Corolla Furia concept with Lexus-like diode front lighting); VW (the Cross Blue diesel hybrid SUV pulling 89 MPG and 660-mile range) and Hyundai/Kia (with the new Kia Cadenza sedan offering a 293-hp V-6 rated at a suggested price of $33K.

10. Last but not least is luxury sedan sales leader Lexus, whose IS sport sedan 250 and 350 has been re-baked as consumers get a choice of all-wheel or rear drive. It was Lexus and Infiniti, which ushered in the Detroit (NAIAS) show in 1991.

Audi and Acura strategies promise more bang for the buck, even on small cars; Audi, Bimmer and Acura draw peak crowds as ‘aspirational brands.’

SURPRISE/SURPRISE

Fiat, Chrysler leaders confirm that Alfa Romeo will reenter the North American market this year as evidenced by displays at the Detroit, LA, Chicago and all other shows coming this year.

The Fiat 500 and smart exhibits equal the lavish signage of the larger cars, with cars and girls just as attractive. Less is more, a welcome crowd pleaser in an energy-focused period.