2012 Chicago Auto Show: 10 Best Debuts

Following on the heels of the North American Auto Show, the Chicago Auto Show is the showcase for many brands’ revised products and a few concept car surprises as well. From work vans to sports cars, the Chicago Auto Show showcases every corner of the automotive world.

Nissan 370Z

With meaningful updates added to Nissan’s GTR on almost a yearly basis, Nissan decided to give some attention to its other sports car, the 370Z. While no power has been added, the 370Z has been given improvements with an updated look and performance. In the looks department, Nissan has fitted a new, smoother-looking bumper, LED running lights, a revised wheel design, and two new paint colors. As for the performance side, the 370Z receives the same shocks that are fitted to the European version in order to offer better ride and handling. These small improvements freshen up the 370Z just in time to face a round of fresh-faced contenders.

Ford GT500 Convertible

To celebrate 20 years of SVT performance, Ford unveiled a new version of the car that started the line: the Cobra. Following the debut of the monstrous coupe, Ford unveiled the convertible version here at the Chicago Auto Show. Retaining the same 650hp supercharged V8 and track upgrades, this version is sure to more than mess up your hair with the top down — it might just scalp you. This model will be plenty exciting even though this model has been limited to 155mph from the coupes’ top speed of 202.

Kia Track’ster Concept

As a Motley Crue cover band screeched in the background, Kia unveiled their Track’ster concept. Based off the Kia Soul, the Track’ster deletes two doors, adds all-wheel drive, more power, and a healthy dose of alcantara to the interior. The Track’ster is supposed to represent the “dream” of the ultimate Soul. Excessive wheel size, marketing buzzwords, and styling details aside, the Track’ster may see production in order to provide a sportier version of the Soul.

Mazda Miata Special Edition

The Miata is hugely important to Mazda, not for monetary reasons, but as a continued statement that they are the brand of driving excitement. To continue to bring attention to their beloved roadster, they launched a special edition here at CAS. New wheels, paint colors, and top colors are all that have been changed, but it helps bring attention to the model that is the heart and soul of the company.

GMC Acadia Denali

Completely redesigned for 2013, the new GMC Acadia improves on the previous versions’ strengths and rectifies some of the previous versions’ shortcomings. For 2013, the Acadia’s styling is brash, but not vulgar. Inside, the Acadia has improved interior materials and has been tuned to offer a refined, relaxed driving experience. Move up to the top of the line Denali spec and even more luxury is on tap.

Hyundai Elantra GT/Elantra Coupe

Hyundai has decided to expand on the success of the Elantra by offering two new body styles. First is the coupe, a formal competitor to the Civic coupe that will offer a sportier alternative to the relatively staid four-door version. The second version is the Elantra GT. The GT includes a long list of standard features and interior room larger than everything in its class. Additionally, it is also the lightest due to its use of high tensile steel, which also improves chassis rigidity. By branching out to different body styles, Hyundai hopes to attract a variety of new buyers to the Elantra line.

Nissan NV200

While some saw it as time to exit the full-size van market, Nissan saw it as time to not only enter the segment, but expand on their offerings as well. Their newest offering is the compact cargo van NV200. The NV200 has features from its larger siblings, such as a mobile business center, but in a much smaller package. It may be compact on the outside, but it has the largest cargo volume in its class. You may not personally buy this van, but you are sure to see many of them on the road after small businesses begin using them.

Chevrolet Corvette 427

The highly successful C6 generation Corvette is soon to be replaced by a new version. However, Chevrolet decided to release a closeout special to celebrate one of the most successful Corvette generations ever. To mark the occasion right, Chevrolet threw the best part of each Corvette variant into one package. First, they took the extroverted convertible body style. Then, they added the motor from the Z06. And finally, they polished it off with their Magnetic-Ride-Control dampers. Topped off with flat grey racing stripes and the result is a greatest hits version of a truly memorable car. Can’t wait to see what they have in store for the next generation Corvette.

Acura ILX

The last time Acura borrowed the Civic platform, we were blessed with the awesome Integra. However, the ILX does not seem to be the return of the legendary hot hatch; in fact, it looks like everything but. The ILX is hugely important to Acura, though, because if successful, it can be bring new buyers into Acura dealerships much like the Integra did. Although engines and platform are shared with the Civic, there looks to be like a significant amount of changes to the look and under the skin to make this a true Acura.

Volkswagen Beetle Turbo Diesel

While many automakers have added hybrids to their lineup to increase fleet fuel economy, VW has doubled down by offering diesels in a few of its offerings. Their efforts have paid off since they control a large percentage of all diesels sold in the United States. In Chicago, they added one more diesel into the lineup by debuting the turbo diesel Beetle. Sharing the same diesel motor with the Passat and Jetta, the Beetle will deliver around 40mpg on the highway and produce 140hp and 236 lb. ft. of torque.


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