Translogic's Guide to the Detroit Auto Show

The 2011 North American International Auto Show press preview wrapped up earlier this week, but the public days kick off Saturday, January 15th and run through next Sunday, January 23rd. If you're willing to venture out into the Great Snowpocalypse of 2011, there's more than enough for the tech-minded auto enthusiast to enjoy in Detroit, so we've compiled the most intriguing, forward-thinking concepts and production models from the floor into our very first NAIAS Auto Show Guide. Dig out your crosstrainers and get all the details below.

Porsche 918 RSR Concept

As a follow-up to the 918 Spyder Concept that bowed in Geneva last year, Porsche debuted a hard-top, race-ready version of the 918 packing the same drivetrain as the 911 GT3 R Hybrid we checked out in Translogic 7.3. A total of 767 horsepower is produced by combining the mid-mounted 6.2-liter V8 with two electric motors channeling 75 kilowatts of juice to each front wheel. Just like its rear-engined grandfather, a massive carbon fiber flywheel is spinning upwards of 30,000 rpm and mounted where you'd normally find the passenger seat. The flywheel revolves around a stator and collects brake energy until the driver wants an extra dollop of boost. When the time comes, he pushes a button on the steering wheel and the front wheels deliver an extra 200 hp to the ground for eight seconds at a time. In its current form, the 918 RSR is a concept, but word has it Porsche is planning to campaign it in a few endurance races as early as next year – just before the plug-in hybrid 918 Spyder goes on sale.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell

The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG E-Cell isn't new. We've seen the gullwinged coupe in one form or another since late last year, but its presence in Detroit marks its first public appearance. And judging by the matte "AMG Lumilectric Mango" paint, we think we know why. Regardless of its retina-searing hue, Mercedes brought the concept to Motor City to remind potential buyers that the all-electric version of the SLS is set to go on sale in 2013, complete with four, wheel-hub electric motors churning out 526 hp and 649 lb-ft of torque. There's a 400-pound weight penalty over the standard V8-powered model courtesy of the battery packs, but with a 0-60 mph time of four seconds, you probably won't notice.

Kia KV7 Concept

Automakers have been toying with the idea of mobile living spaces for decades, but the Kia KV7 may be the closest they've come without creating a full-on RV. The exterior styling isn't particularly fetching – afterall, it is a box, a shape Kia designers say they embraced – but the large gullwing door, wrap-around lounge chair, swiveling seats, WiFi and two integrated computers make it the Volkswagen Vanagon of the 21st century. And when the time comes to get a move on, a 285-hp turbocharged four-cylinder should be up to the task. We hear Kia is considering putting some version of the KV7 into production, but it's safe to assume the safety brigade won't allow the innovative seating to come to market.

Toyota Prius C Concept

People are warming up to the idea of a sporty hybrid. Want proof? CR-Z sales have exceeded Honda's expectations. So with that in mind, the O.G. hybrid is getting a smaller, sportier sibling. The Toyota Prius C (for "city-centric") is another step towards the formation of a dedicated hybrid sub-brand from Toyota, beginning with recent introduction of the larger Prius V and extending to this new five-door version. The automaker hasn't disclosed what's under the hood, but it's safe to assume the standard Prius drivetrain will carry over and pricing will be set a few grand below the mid-child of the Prius family.

2012 Hyundai Veloster

It's not particularly attractive, but what the 2012 Hyundai Veloster lacks in style it makes up for with smart packaging, deceptive practicality and healthy smattering of gizmology. The feature that's garnered the most attention is the innovative four-door design – a driver's door, traditional hatch and then two front-hinged doors on the passenger side – to maximize usability. Power comes from a new 138-hp four cylinder and partnered with a lightweight body (2,584 pounds), Hyundai claims the Veloster will top out at 40 mpg on the freeway. Along with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, the Veloster comes equipped with a seven-inch touchscreen with Pandora, Gracenote functionality, video playback, Hyundai's new Blue Link telematics system and the ability to hook up your XBox or PS3 to the central display. Pricing hasn't been announced yet, but expect an MSRP of under $20,000 when it goes on sale this summer.

Notable and Linkable

Ford C-Max Energi
A C-Max with the gas-electric drivetrain from the Fusion Hybrid. Good for 41 mpg in the city and an electric-only speed of 47 mph, with space for 5 and plenty of cargo.
Johnson Controls ie:3
Johnson creates an innovative interior design concept with a transparent heads up display, 6.5-inch transflective screen and a haptic touch interface.
Virtual Show Floor
If you can't get to Detroit for the show, the NAIAS website allows you to virtually navigate the floor, complete with interactive maps, Twitter streams, pictures and more.

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