In Depth

Detroit Motor Show 2019: Toyota Supra, Subaru STI S209, Shelby GT500 and more

Sports cars are key theme as first major motoring event of the year kicks off

Leading carmakers from across the world are preparing to unveil their latest creations as the first major motor show of 2019 opens in Detroit.

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), better known as the Detroit Motor Show, kicked off yesterday with a number of big announcements. Sports cars appear to be the unofficial theme of this year’s event, with both Ford and Subaru unveiling their most powerful road models to date. 

The show runs until 27 January, so there will be plenty more major announcements over the coming weeks. 

Here are the best new cars debuted in Detroit so far:

Ford Shelby GT500

Ford claimed the spotlight with the unveiling of its new Shelby GT500, the motoring giant’s most powerful production car yet.

Based on Ford’s Mustang muscle car, the new model is powered by a hand-built 5.2-litre supercharged V8 engine producing more than 700bhp, says Evo. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, firing the car from zero to 60mph in 3.5 seconds.

Along with the new engine, GT500 gets a radical design overhaul that includes the addition of a more angular front bumper with a larger grille. And a revised carbon-fibre wing perched above the boot means the new car produces double the downforce of the “lesser” GT350, the magazine adds. 

Sales kick off in the autumn, according to Top Gear, but are expected to be limited to the US. 

 
Lexus LC 500 Convertible concept

Although it’s being called a concept, there’s a good chance the Lexus LC 500 will find its way into production. 

Previewed online in the run-up to the Detroit show, the LC500 Convertible is a drop-top version of the Toyota-backed company’s flagship grand tourer that launched early last year. 

Power and engine specs for the Convertible have yet to be confirmed, but CNet suggests that the coupe’s 5.0-litre V8 and 3.5-litre V6 hybrid motors would probably feature if the so-called concept does enter mass production.

And that seems likely, judging by hints dropped by Tadao Mori, the concept’s chief designer. 

“A production version of this concept would be exhilarating in many different ways. You would see its dynamic lines as you approach, hear its engine when you start it up and feel everything around you once on the road. It would engage the senses in an exciting way, every time you get behind the wheel,” Mori said.

Lexus RC F Track Edition

The RC F is entering its fifth year on sale but Lexus isn’t putting the brakes on its front-engined grand tourer just yet.

The Japanese carmaker claimed the stage in Detroit to take the wraps off its new RC F Track Edition, which will be going head-to-head with the BMW M4 CS and Mercedes-AMG C63 S Coupe.

The Track Edition is a “lighter, stiffer” version of the standard RC F and is intended to rival supercars at track days, says Autocar. The new model features a lightweight carbon-fibre rear wing and a new front bumper that improves turn-in response. 

Along with the Track Edition, Lexus also revealed a refreshed version of the standard RC F. This model gets subtle design tweaks, “improved handling performance” and grippy Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres, the magazine adds. 

Orders are due to open in March, with pricing to be announced shortly.

Subaru STI S209

Subaru has traditionally reserved its hardcore STI S-series for the Japanese market. That all changes with the new STI S209, which will be the first of its kind to appear in US showrooms. 

Based on the WRX saloon, the S209 is the most powerful production model to come from Subaru’s STI performance division, says PistonHeads

The car’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder boxer engine produces 336bhp thanks to a “revised intake system”, a “bespoke turbo” and improved exhaust system, the motoring blog reports. 

Sadly, the STI S209 won’t be available in the UK. 

Toyota GR Supra

Fans have been waiting for over 16 years for a new version of the Toyota Supra. Now, the wait is finally over, as the covers come off the new Japanese sports car.

Named the GR Supra, after the company’s Gazoo Racing motorsport division, the A90-generation sports car has been heavily influenced by Toyota’s FT-1 concept from 2014 and uses the same production platform as the new BMW Z4. 

The new Supra also features the Z4’s 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six engine, which produces 335bhp and 362lb ft of torque, says Autocar. This powerful package helps the sports car achieve 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds. 

Prices start at £52,693, making it more expensive than its Porsche 718 Cayman and Alpine A110 rivals, WhatCar? notes.

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