Part 1: CarBuzz Picks the Best in Show at Detroit in NFL Playoff Format


CarBuzz goes deep with their playoff-style format for picking the Best in Show of the 2012 North American International Auto Show. Words by Phillip Harbor.

Many new production models and concept cars made their debuts at the 2012 North American International Auto Show. As the NFL Playoffs continue to rumble on towards the Super Bowl, CarBuzz is using the playoff format (sans Wild Card games) to determine the Best in Show of the 2012 Detroit Auto Show. To determine the Best in Show, the CarBuzz editors have painstakingly decided on several criteria to judge production models which made their world debuts.

The first criterion and most important aspect for choosing the "best car" was relevance. Which model will be the most relevant and important car for the world market is essential in determining the best production debut. The second criterion used for our decision-making was price for value, meaning that performance, luxury and of course price-tag all had to measure up to snuff in order to advance past its competition. Here is how we set up the competition: two brackets, one U.S., one World. Each bracket contains the four most relevant production models which made their official debuts built by their respective manufacturers.

The models were seeded by price tag ie. most expensive model seeded first, least expensive last - just like in the NFL. Overall record matters the most in the end just like the price tag when you pull out your checkbook (or as Randy Moss would say, "Straight cash, homie." In the U.S. bracket, the most notable four debuts from American automakers were (in seeded order from most expensive to least expensive) the Cadillac ATS, Mopar Dodge Charger Redline, Ford Fusion and the Dodge Dart. In the World bracket, we have the (also seeded in regards to price) Mercedes-Benz SL, the Porsche 911 Cabriolet, the MINI Roadster and the Hyundai Veloster Turbo.

U.S. Divisional Playoff 1 - 2013 Cadillac ATS vs. 2013 Ford Fusion Cadillac is seeking to reassert themselves as the number one global luxury brand in the world. There transformation into a modern automaker began, in earnest, with the CTS and it continues with their ATS sport sedan. The BMW 3-Series rival has turned many heads with its aggressively-elegant styling, rear-wheel-drive configuration and optional range-topping direct-injected 3.6-liter V6 with 318hp (it runs a base 200hp 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four in the U.S.). The Ford Fusion sedan looks good, but isn't on the same standard as the ATS.

It runs on a base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated inline-four that puts out 170hp (and a range-topping 237hp EcoBoost 2.0-liter engine). Homer Simpson once told Lisa that you "don't win friends with salad." Replace "salad" with "class-leading economy" and you get the picture for the CarBuzz playoffs. It's a nice sedan, but it doesn't hold a candle to the Cadillac ATS in terms of relevance to the market, luxury and performance. Winner: 2013 Cadillac ATS

U.S. Divisional Playoff 2 - 2012 Mopar Dodge Charger Redline vs. 2013 Dodge Dart The 2013 Dodge Dart arrived in Detroit and took the C-segment by storm. The Dart rocks an Alfa Romeo Giulietta body but with a more aggressive, longer and wider profile. Made out of high-strength steel, the all-new revitalization of a classic signifies Chrysler's return to the big stage. A lineup of powerful new small-displacement Tiger Shark engines doesn't hurt either.

The Mopar-enhanced 2012 Dodge Charger Redline is the only vehicle in our competition to be worked on by a third party, however it warrants a place due to the thoroughness of Mopar's customization process. A Stage III tuned-up Hemi V8 doesn't save it from defeat however, as the all-new 2013 Dart effectively changes the C-segment game and will assuredly price well below the Mopar Dodge Charger Redline. A range of efficient, high-performance motors seals the deal for the Dart. Winner: 2013 Dodge Dart

World Divisional Playoff 1 - 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL vs. 2013 MINI Roadster The new 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL is in its fifth-generation and is built almost entirely out of aluminum. It has the very-much-in-vogue LED daytime running lights and is powered by Merc's 429hp 4.6-liter twin-turbo V8 engine. Lock for the win, right? Not quite. The 2013 MINI Roadster is cheap. It will be roughly $80K cheaper than the SL Roadster when it comes out. The top-of-the-line John Cooper Works Roadster will feature a 211hp turbocharged 1.6-liter engine.

This means that even with half the power, the super-fun, sporty MINI should have a driving experience comparable to the SL. If styling is a push in this matchup, advantage SL on performance, advantage MINI slightly on driving experience, then affordability is key. With an updated interior and a terrific showing in Detroit, the 2013 MINI Roadster takes this matchup at the buzzer. MINI is playing the role of Tim Tebow and the Broncos, the SL is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and with its price-tag, the MINI gets the W on the first play of overtime. Winner: 2013 MINI Roadster

World Divisional Playoff 2 - 2013 Porsche 911 Cabriolet vs. 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo How does the Hyundai Veloster Turbo match up against the Porsche 911 Cabriolet? It runs on an impressive 201hp 194 lb-ft of torque T-GDI engine complete with a twin-scroll turbocharger. The 911 Cabriolet is superior, with a standard 345hp 3.4-liter flat-six engine. Relevance? The 911 Cabriolet has made headlines around the world and has people queuing up to purchase the all-new convertible. The Veloster Turbo is an interesting hatchback and is good value compared to the VW GTI, but its comp here is an all-new 911 Cabrio.

The all-important price gap between the Veloster Turbo and 911 Cabrio isn't nearly as great as that of the Merc SL and MINI Roadster, and a new 911 Cabrio is worth the money hands down. You really think the Hyundai Veloster Turbo could be Best in Show? As Chad Ochocinco would say, "Child Please." This is an easy win for the German sports car. Winner: 2013 Porsche 911 Cabriolet

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