Incredible new cars from the 2018 Detroit Auto Show

It's still cold, industrial and entrenched in the global automotive industry.

But things in Detroit are changing – in a techno-infused way.

At America's biggest motor show, just two weeks into 2018, it was Asian and European brands that made the biggest splash in the hometown of America's big three, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.

And it was that classically American heartland – SUVs – where much of the attention was centred.

Lexus Limitless

America may have invented the SUV and Range Rover may have invented the luxury off-roader almost 50 years ago, but Lexus is hoping to reinvent the "luxury flagship crossover" with its LF-1 Limitless concept.

The sculptured one-off that was one of the heroes of the North American International Auto Show eschews off-road intent for pace and elegance.

Lexus says its latest concept is "a showcase of technology, innovation and the latest evolution of design at Lexus".

In reality it's a luxury flagship capitalising on the 21st century SUV love affair.

It's bigger than the seven-seat Lexus RX but only has four seats, with the aim of showcasing luxury over functionality.


Think of it as the SUV equivalent of the Lexus LS limousine – but in the high-riding SUV format people can't get enough of.

The LF-1 Limitless is a concept for now but the head of Lexus' Californian design studio, Kevin Hunter, says a production version would be a logical step for the range.

As for what will power it, Lexus is leaving that one open, citing everything from fuel cells to an all-electric setup. At the very least expect a hybrid and plug-in hybrid.

Nissan Xmotion

If a travelling koi fish that can act as your personal assistant is your thing then the Xmotion could be the car for you.

The one-off concept features a fingerprint recognition system that then activates the on-screen Japanese koi, which then synchronises things such as smartphone connectivity, navigation and even points of interest en route.

It's only a concept, but the injection of technology is indicative of the industry's thrust to leverage connectivity.

It's also America friendly with the sort of size SUV-loving families yearn for.

Yet there's plenty of Japanese influence, from the interior that was inspired by Japanese architecture and rivers to the headrests inspired by kumiko woodwork.

Oh, and there are seven digital screens, including a "digital room mirror" on the roof.

As for where – or how – it could fit in the Nissan world, no word on that just yet.

But expect the design themes – including the bold V on the grille – to make it into future Nissans.

Ford Mustang Bullitt

It wouldn't be a Detroit motor show without some good ol' American muscle.

And it doesn't get much musclier than the Bullitt Mustang – as in one of the two exact Mustangs used in the 1968 Bullitt movie jam packed with some of the best driving stunts ever seen on the big screen.

The whereabouts of the car – which was driven by Steve McQueen in the movie - haven't been known for decades.

But the owner who inherited it from his father contacted Ford recently leading to the creation of the modern Mustang Bullitt, the model Ford was trying to shine attention on in Detroit 2018.

The limited edition model gets a more powerful version of the 5.0-litre V8 linked to a six-speed manual selected via a white cue ball shifting knob.

Movie-inspired colour choices are limited to "shadow black" and "dark highland green".

Before you get too excited, though, there are no plans for any Bullitts to come to Australia.

Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept

Infiniti's Q Inspiration Concept is all about imagining luxury transport with smaller engines – and giving a glimpse into the look of the Japanese brand's future models.

With a pinched nose spawning sharply styled character lines, the Q Inspiration nails the shock factor, complemented by a sweeping glass roof and curvaceous tail.

With the dimensions of a mid-sized car, the compact engine allows more interior space in line with its flagship aspirations.

But it's under the heavily styled skin that is the focus of the Q Inspiration.

It features the new variable compression ration petrol engine developed by Infiniti and its parent Nissan.

With promises of diesel efficiency in a high output turbocharged four-cylinder, the engine aims to deliver new levels of efficiency.

Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

That seems to have been the thinking with the G-Wagen, largely untouched since the boxy original began carving up tracks in 1979.

On first glance the 2018 G-Class may look no different to that original – there are old school door handles, the door hinges are exposed and the indicators sit proud like pimples above the circular headlights – but the body is actually all new, liberating more space inside.

And, indeed, the interior looks vastly more welcoming and spacious than what G owners have experienced until now.

Mercedes-Benz has also injected some modern underpinnings into its most extreme off-roader, ditching the (horrible) recirculating ball steering for more modern rack and pinion.

Combined with a new independent front suspension system it promises vastly improved on-road dynamics while retaining the legendary rock-hopping ability that has defined Benz's longest running model.

Oh, and the new G made quite a splash at its Detroit revealed, driven on to stage by Hollywood star Arnold Schwarzenegger; the G-Wagen is produced in Graz, Austria, where the former weightlifter spent plenty of his youth.

Fisker Emotion

It was actually unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas a few days before the Detroit extravaganza, but we thought the Emotion was worthy of inclusion here given how cool it looks.

Former Aston Martin design chief Henrik Fisker has been trying to get his fledgling car company to fire for years (the orginal Fisker Automotive flopped but he has reborn the idea as Fisker Inc), but the Emotion is the car planned to really kick things along.

The all electric Tesla fighter features radical scissor doors and solid state batteries, the latter something all electric car makers are working on to stack more electrons in.

But it's the electric motors driving all four wheels that give it the ability to hit 100km/h in about three seconds.

That it can travel up to 650km between charges makes it all the more appealing.

Bentley Bentayga V8

It was only a matter of time until Bentley's outrageous Bentayga SUV picked up the smaller twin turbo V8 engine originally developed for the Porsche Panamera.

Complementing the 12-cylinder flagship and the V8 diesel, the 404kW/770Nm still promises impressive performance; how does 0-100km/h in 4.5 seconds sound?

Hyundai Veloster N

The fastest Hyundai ever made is reason to get excited, at least for those who like their performance in small packages.

Teaming the second generation Veloster coupe's body with the go-fast 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder from the i30 N, the Veloster N boasts 202kW and 353Nm.

While the Veloster N is yet to be confirmed for Australia – we'll get the regular Veloster, with its two doors on the left and larger single door on the driver's side – Hyundai is working on making it happen.