The North American International Auto Show (NAIS) is about to throw open its doors for the 2019 running of North America's largest motor show, offering a sneak peek at some of the models we could see rolling out Down Under in the coming months.
Maybe it’s the frosty conditions or a global shift in manufacturer preference, but the Detroit show has been struggling to maintain traction in recent years, with significant attention being drawn away by the Consumer Electronics Show a week before in Las Vegas.
A case in point is Chevrolet. The much anticipated mid-engined C8 Corvette will not be at the event and nor will any fresh metal from the iconic car maker. The company is yet to officially confirm the new mid-ship engine arrangement or a location for its unveiling. Even without an official word on the C8, the decision to hold back on new model reveals at its hometown event is a surprising one by Chevy.
Cadillac will pull the covers from its latest large SUV – the XT6 – and while the model is yet to be confirmed for markets outside the US, it certainly appears to be a good fit for Australia’s automotive landscape and would be a worthy adversary (or perhaps ally) to the Holden Acadia.
Another model that would likely win a few fans Down Under is the new Ford Explorer which has already been revealed in full, although left-hand drive only for now. It will occupy real estate on the Blue Oval stage alongside a new variant of the Mustang dubbed the GT500.
Reports suggest the Ford Mustang GT500 will have a new engine instead of a modified version of the Coyote naturally aspirated V8 that powers the regular Mustang GT . If it comes to Australia we have everything crossed that it’s a version of the insane Voodoo V8 that powered the previous Shelby GT350, which Australia was also deprived of.
The pattern of bigger-is-better continues over at the Kia stand where the company’s Telluride plus-size SUV will make an appearance. With room for eight occupants and Kia’s rising popularity in Australia, we could see the massive wagon doing well here, however it's understood to not be for right-hand drive markets like ours.
Lexus will have a limited presence with a no-compromise high-performance version of its RC mid-sized coupe. The RC F Track Edition has had its naturally aspirated 5.0-litre V8 wicked up to a hearty 373kW along with a number of enhancements to push its performance envelope.
Also: whoops! After more than a year of hype, teasers and spin, Toyota was gearing up to finally unveil its returning Supra sports coupe, but the company went and spoiled its own surprise when the Japanese company’s Mexican division accidentally released the first video of the model undisguised.
A freshened version of the ageing Subaru WRX would be a welcome sight in Australia and the S209 that’s set to roll out would be the perfect fit. Until now, the variant has only graced Japanese roads but the confirmation for America could mean it’s heading to other nations as well. Cross everything STI fans.
The Volkswagen Passat is another vehicle that has already been revealed in sketch form away from the Detroit show, but the event is expected to be ts first public appearance 'in the metal'. Unlike many of the other Detroit debutantes, the next-generation Passat is almost certain to arrive in Australia in 2019, where the model already has a modest but loyal following.
As with every year at NAIAS, there’s plenty to see, but the shift of key manufacturers away from the winter event is clear to all - and a telling sign of the shifting auto show landscape.