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NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW

Kia, Toyota concepts break the ‘dull’ mold

Prototypes offer peek at future design

  • b4roundup

    Analysts say Kia is working hard to get away from its image as an economy brand with its GT4 Stinger concept car.

    <THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
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  • b4concept

    Toyota’s FT-1 Concept could be a long-awaited replacement for the Supra, last built in 2002.

    <THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
    Buy This Image

b4roundup

Analysts say Kia is working hard to get away from its image as an economy brand with its GT4 Stinger concept car.

THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Enlarge | Buy This Image

DETROIT — Ford’s rethought 2015 F-150 is arguably the most important vehicle to debut at the North American International Auto Show. The truck’s use of aluminum to save weight should be a big help boosting fuel economy for Ford’s best seller.

But aluminum looks a lot like steel when it’s painted. And Ford’s truck looks like, well, a Ford truck.

Luckily, the Detroit show is awash in aesthetic pleasure.

One need not even go farther than Ford Motor Corp.’s own display. The company has several of its redesigned Mustang on display, both in coupe and convertible form.

The 2015 model was first shown in December.

NAIAS PHOTO GALLERIES: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

But the Detroit show, like any show, is all about the debuts and concept cars.

Two new concepts that drew a lot of attention were from Kia and Toyota — companies not known for accelerating pulses.

Kia’s GT4 Stinger concept takes a crack at a rear-wheel-drive sports car that looks like something you might find in a box of Matchbox cars. Kia says the car was designed to be fun to drive.

“The GT4 Stinger is a throwback to days when driving a car was a visceral experience that wasn’t muted by electronic gimmickry,” said Tom Kearns, chief designer at the Kia Design Center America.

The company doesn’t have plans to build the GT4 as a production car, but says the vehicle could hint at future design directions.

Analysts say Kia Motor Corp. has worked hard to get away from its image as an economy brand and develop its own styling cues rather than borrowing from others.

b4concept

Toyota’s FT-1 Concept could be a long-awaited replacement for the Supra, last built in 2002.

THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
Enlarge | Buy This Image

“The Korean automaker has effectively leveraged sleek styling in recent years, and this aggressive concept car looks to be another leap forward in Kia’s image expansion,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

For Toyota Motor Corp., the FT-1 concept could be a peek at a long-awaited replacement for the Supra, last built in 2002.

Nissan’s team must have spent all its creativity in the design room.

The Sport Sedan Concept isn’t a name that rolls off the tongue. But the copper-colored concept, with its floating roof design and what Nissan calls “V-Motion” front end, the car is an exciting look into the future of the company’s design.

“As designers, we seek to create a beautiful moving sculptures that evoke excitement with our concept cars. But it is not enough just to dream. We want more than anything to see our dream become reality,” said Shiro Nakamura, Nissan senior vice president and chief creative officer.

Officials say the vehicle is a statement and direction for the future of Nissan sedans, including a floating roof, through unobtrusive support pillars that give the illusion of the roof floating above the windshield.

This is also the first time the Toledo-built Jeep Cherokee is on display at the Detroit show.

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