NAIAS highlights

NAIAS highlights

It isn’t every day that you see the gentlemen of Aston Martin take off the kid leather driving gloves in favour of something with a bit more punch, and start swinging wildly at the competition – especially in full public view.

Scandal erupted at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show this week, after Aston Martin fired a legal letter at ex-employee Henrik Fisker, demanding that his VLF Force 1 be withdrawn from the show.

The US$268,500 ($414,000) Force 1 is accused of bearing a strong resemblance to designs he create while working for Aston. The company wants the car’s design changed to differentiate vehicles that it Fisker had created as a member of staff.

Fisker then accused Aston of “trying to intimidate me to prop up their own flailing company” in another countersuit seeking $100million in damages.

So the covers came off the 10-cylinder, 8.4-litre Force 1, and there’s no doubt that there’ll be more fireworks between VFL – owned by Fisker, Bob Lutz and Gilbert Villareal – and Aston Martin.

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The fact that the fracas would have given the Force 1 more traction that Aston’s twin-turbo 5.2-litre V12 engine reveal certainly won’t help the two companies cool off quickly.

Honda USA was signalling some high-style intent with a new concept car – via its luxury arm – called the Acura Precision.

The brand is using ‘Precision Crafted Performance’ as its new funky tagline, and there’s no doubt that the Precision fits in with this marketing push. It looks powerful – more US muscle than US/Japanese luxury ponce – with a very low ride height, floating LED taillights, and its about as wide and as angular as you could push it without going beautiful into the realm of automotive slapstick.

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Pick-up trucks were another strong theme in Detroit – even Mercedes was pulling on some gumboots, with a Nissan Navara-based vehicle still not quite confirmed but looking a likely addition to the ever-growing German’s huge range.

Nissan itself signalled a swing at the likes of F-150 and Dodge Ram with its big Titan Warrior, with bags of attitude and a level of design aggression that may help the company a few brand loyalists to rethink their strategy.

Hyundai unveiled an interesting pickup that was definitely more Queen Street Farmer than hardy off-road battler – the Santa Cruz does, however, look pretty slick and seems a natural extension of its large SUV offering.

Another obvious pick-up player has finally been confirmed too – Jeep has a Wrangler truck ready to roll out…some might say it’s about time that the tough Wrangler got some real work done.

Lexus continues to reinvent itself as a brand less boring. It will start selling a GT called the LC500 next year, with the V8 powerplant lifted straight from the stroppy RC-F. with a ten-speed trans sending the whole box of grunt to the rear wheels.

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