Foreign Brands Promote Luxury at Detroit Auto Show

DETROIT – Where American automakers focused on technology in the cars they unveiled at the North American International Auto Show, foreign companies looked at adding luxury to their models during press day at the show Monday.

Korean automaker Hyundai upgraded its Genesis luxury model into a full-fledged brand, which launches with the G90 later this year. Among its top features is Smart Sense, a group of safety technologies that includes pedestrian detection, blind spot detection and automatic emergency braking.

Inside the car, “the highest-quality, authentic materials” are used throughout the cabin, including leather seats, wood accents and Lexicon speakers. Two options, a 365-horsepower V6 and a 420-horsepower V8, are available under the hood.

Audi introduced two new SUVs, the A4 all-road Quattro and the H-Tron Quattro. The A4 all-road is an off-road version of the standard A4 with 1.4 extra inches of clearance and 252 horsepower, along with a “benchmark infotainment system,” said Scott Koegh, president of Audi of America.

“This car is a perfect companion in every situation,” he said. “It combines two great advantages: the off-road qualities of an SUV and the driving comfort of the Audi A4.”

The H-Tron marks the start of Audi’s fifth generation of hydrogen-powered vehicles.

“Its performance is about sportiness and emotion. The H-Tron Quattro is our latest benchmark innovation in drivetrain technologies,” said CEO Rupert Stadler. “The combined power of the battery and the fuel cell is driving two electric motors, one at the front and one at the rear axle. This makes the car an electrified Quattro with excellent driving dynamics. The H-Tron is as sporty as it is efficient.”

Stadler also spoke on the diesel exhaust scandal which the Volkswagen Group — Audi is a VW line — has gone through the past few months.

“We are 100% determined to get this issue thoroughly resolved,” he stated. “We are strictly committed to clarifying any questions and we are heavily focused on quick and easy and sustainable solutions. While it is crucial to resolve this issue, it is a unique opportunity for change and innovation. I’m confident that we at Audi will leverage this momentum and turn our company to the better.”

Immediately after Audi’s presentation, Volkswagen debuted the Tiguan GTE Active concept SUV, a hybrid SUV that was clearly designed for off-road use with its bulky tires, front skid plate and metal roof.

Another German automaker, Mercedes-Benz, debuted the 10th generation of its E-Class line, which will go on sale this summer, along with the new SLC, a two-seat convertible sports car. Among the engine options for the SLC are a 362-horsepower twin turbo V6.

The E300 features a 12.3-inch navigation display and touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel that can be used just as the screen of a smartphone would. Following Mercedes’ “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road” method, the controls are meant to improve driver safety, the company said.

“The E-Class is the core of the Mercedes-Benz brand and in the past has repeatedly redefined the standards in the business-class segment. Now it carries this tradition into the future with a wealth of top-class innovations,” said Thomas Weber, head of Mercedes-Benz Car Development. “The new E-Class takes another major step toward fully autonomous driving. In addition, it enhances efficiency, safety and comfort, reduces the stress level when driving and intensifies driving pleasure.”

Mercedes subsidiary Smart introduced the Fortwo Cabrio, a convertible intended for city driving and parking in compact spaces. The car measures just 106 inches in length – just short of nine feet – but comes with a 900-cubic-centimeter turbocharged three-cylinder engine.

After the XC90 won North American Truck of the Year, Volvo announced the S90 sedan, which features the semi-autonomous driving program, Pilot Assist, which keeps the car within lanes up to 80 mph. Inside, some of the design cues from the XC90 were applied, including the styling of the dashboard.

“We created our new flagship sedan as a real game changer. It is classy and cool. The exterior is exceptionally well-surfaced with a fantastic stance and the sort of clean lines that are singularly appropriate of a Scandinavian design,” said Thomas Ingenlath, vice president of design. “The interior masters the art of blending innovative technology and natural materials into an elegant, welcoming and tasteful ambience, Swedishness at its best.”

Wrapping up Monday’s press conferences was Kia, which presented the concept of a Telluride SUV. The car was created to “allow us to envision what a full-size seven-passenger SUV from Kia could look like,” said chief designer Tom Kearns.

Among the features, some of which will undoubtedly not see the road, are a “light emitted rejuvenation system,” which uses LED lights to help passengers combat jet lag; the Swipe Command system, which allows those in the second row to use the center console to scroll through music by swiping the screen as they would the screen of a smartphone; 3-D printed parts and wireless phone chargers.

“The Kia Telluride makes an aesthetic statement for the Kia brand as a bold, all-new luxury SUV with an abundance of advanced technology, focusing particular attention on the experience and comfort of second-row occupants,” Kearns said.

Pictured: Audi’s H-Tron Quattro “is our latest benchmark innovation in drivetrain technologies,” says the company’s CEO.

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