Audi will unveil a lighter and smaller second-generation Q7 SUV at the NAIAS in Detroit next month.
Although 37mm shorter and 15mm narrower than the outgoing car, the new Q7 remains an imposing car at 5,005mm long and 1,970mm wide. Its height stays at 1,740mm, but its proportions are quite different, with what appears to be a lower beltline and a more upright, wagon-like tailgate that shifts the Q7 away from its current crossover format.
However, while its format has changed, its graphics remain wholly familiar. The biggest change is to its rather brutal nose, which features a thick grille surround linking its lamps. Its bodyside surfacing receives 'muscles' above its wheels, relating to its four-wheel drive mechanics, while the rear is more familiar in terms of its lamp graphics (including the retention of secondary units in the bumper) and the wraparound tailgate.
Inside, the new Q7 benefits from the same digital gauge pack as the new TT, including a 12.4-inch TFT display that can switch between a classic instrument cluster view to presenting the infotainment system to navigation maps. There's also a more traditional 7-inch, or 8.3-inch (on higher-grade models) centrally-mounted screen that controls functions like the navigation and infotainment. Audi has also introduced a natural speech element to help reduce distracted driving.
We'll be interested to see how the Audi Q7 looks when we see it in January.
Responding to the fact that BMW sells around 40,000 X6s around the world each year, Mercedes has unveiled the GLE Coupé. It was previewed by the Concept Coupé SUV shown in Beijing and will debut at the NAIAS in Detroit in January.
At 4,900mm long, 2,003mm wide and 1,731mm tall, with a 2,915mm wheelbase, the Mercedes is very similar in size to the BMW. It also follows its rival closely in terms of design, particularly with the treatment of the squared-off wheelarches, upsized front intakes and oversized headlamps.
The GLE appears to stick a little closer to utility than the BMW in its form, with its higher-set hood and roof line that isn't as fast as the X6, although the Mercedes does feature coupé-like graphics like the narrow tail-lights and horizontal chrome strip across the trunk.
Inside, the IP appears very similar to the ML on which it's based, albeit with a larger, semi-free-standing infotainment screen up top. This is likely to be adopted by the ML when the facelifted version arrives later in 2015.
The revised ML will also be called the GLE, continuing the roll-out of Mercedes' new model naming structure. This is based around five core model series – A, B, C, E and S – while all the SUVs will be called GL, plus the letter of the car that matches its market segment.
Likewise, instead of having their own model name, coupés will just become associated with the car on which they're based, as with the CL, which is now the S-Class Coupé.
Ferrari has delivered the first production version of the Pininfarina-designed Sergio concept first shown in March 2013. The study was created to celebrate 60 years of collaboration between the world's most famous carrozzeria and Ferrari, taking its name from the founder of the Italian design studio.
The reception of the concept was such that Ferrari is now building six production versions of the Sergio, based on the 458 Spider, albeit with the running gear from the more-powerful 597bhp Speciale A version.
The road car now bears a rather closer resemblance to its donor car than its concept namesake. A translucent bar still joins the headlamps together, but the whole lamp assembly has now been moved up the body to a more legislation and production-friendly height. The matte black floating front splitter, front 'wing' ahead of the scuttle, and the intake that wrapped up the car's side and ran into the interior of the concept have all now been replaced by essentially a red and black colorway
The road car adopts the 458's windscreen, its scissor doors are swapped for conventionally hinged versions, and the tail-lights are now taken straight from the Ferrari. However, the car does still feature details like the circular vents in the rear deck and the negatively-curved flying buttresses that made the concept so distinctive.
The interior of the concept was already closely aligned to the 458, but the production model also adopts its bucket seats rather than mounting separate headrests on the roll hoop. Despite these compromises, Ferrari has said that buyers willing to spend the rumored $3million will get 'enormous freedom of choice' when it comes to colors, materials and finishes.
The Karl launches in mid-2015 and completes Opel's small-car range, joining the Adam and recently launched Corsa. The Karl was designed at GM Europe's studio in Rüsselsheim, Germany, by a team overseen by VP of design, Mark Adams.
The car takes its unusual name from the son of Adam Opel, the company's founder. In the UK, the car will be called the Vauxhall Viva, a family sedan sold from 1963-1979.
The brief for the Karl was to create an entry-level, five-door city car that can carry five, but with a starting price of less than €10,000 ($12,350). It also forms part of an Opel range that will expand to accommodate customers of the Chevrolet brand that has been withdrawn from the European market.
The Karl is 3,680mm long, making it the shortest of Opel's three small cars. As with the latest Corsa, the Karl is effectively a rebody of the existing Opel Agila, sharing that car's glasshouse but getting new body panels and a completely new interior.
To ensure it integrates with the brand's existing products, the Karl features the now-familiar shield-shaped grille that's intersected by a chrome bar with the brand's blitz logo at its center.
The lower bodyside features another interpretation of the brand's blade motif, while above, the Karl follows the latest five-door Corsa with a pair of creases that run through the door handles. The large tail-lamps point to the horizontal crease across the tailgate, helping visually widen the car's rear.
Inside, much of the switchgear is shared with the Corsa, itself benefitting from a recent and thorough upgrade. The Karl benefits from the fact that the IntelliLink seven-inch touchscreen has been mounted above the center air vents, placing it closer to the driver's eye line.
The CLA Shooting Brake joins the A-, B-, CLA and GLA, as the fifth and final model to be built on Mercedes' MFA platform. The new car completes the small-car range that was one of the first projects instigated by Gorden Wagener when he became the firm's design director in mid-2008.
The new CLA bodystyle follows the larger CLS Shooting Brake, which launched two years ago. Mercedes calls its new car ‘a contemporary interpretation of [Mercedes' overall design philosophy] Sensual Purity, and represents the perfect synthesis between the emotionality of a coupé and the intelligence of a shooting brake.'
The Shooting Brake features the same high beltline as the CLA sedan, but the extended roofline and tapering rear give the new car a rather different appearance, and we'll have to see the car in the metal to see how harmonious the blend of three typologies - coupé, sedan and wagon - has been.
One thing that should be noted that more gently curving DLO does appear to help rectify the limited ingress and egress for rear-seat passengers that afflicts the sedan, and the luggage space is also improved.
Although designed to exist in the virtual world of the Gran Turismo video game, it's hard to ignore the creativity being expressed through the series of Vision concepts designed by various OEMs to mark the globally succesful franchise's fifteenth year.
Subaru is the latest carmaker to reveal a concept for the game. Called the Viziv GT Vision Gran Turismo, the 600hp virtual racer could easily be a bigger, brother to the WRX STI and BRZ.
The concept builds on the forms seen most recently on the Viziv 2 concept that debuted at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. To reference the fact that the car is powered by Subaru's flat-four engine, the Vision's nose is very low, tapering to a lower, wider version of the trapezoidal grille used on the Viziv study, while the Vision features a more exaggerated version of the curving crease that runs up the Viziv's bodyside.
Subaru selected a shooting brake bodystyle for the GT car to help improve airflow over the roof and onto the oversized O-shaped rear wing, while the oversized rockers, giant rear diffuser and carbon spats on the wheelarches reference Subaru's Japanese SuperGT car.