Sema: Best in show
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Each November, the enormous Las Vegas Convention Centre becomes an automotive paradise for industry professionals with the arrival of the annual SEMA Show.
The Speciality Equipment Market Association (SEMA) represents an automotive aftermarket industry worth NZ$60 billion and its annual event is considered the world’s premier automotive specialty products trade event.
Almost 100,000 square metres of exhibition space is filled with hot products, new technologies and emerging automotive trends from more than 2400 exhibiting companies.
We’ve selected a few of this year’s notable appearances.
SEMA is predominantly dominated by highly modified muscle cars, steroid-infused pick-ups, and high-end exotics, so the sighting of a Kia could make you assume an Uber driver has taken a wrong turn and ended up inside the exhibition hall.
However, the Kia Stinger GT Federation stopped show-goers in their tracks. With a 3.3-litre, bi-turbo, V6 rear-wheel drive and a list of design tech features rivalling that of high-end models way beyond the Stinger’s expected price range, the Korean manufacturer’s first foray into performance sedans is an almighty strong debut.
Audi revealed a track-bred variant of its TT RS with Audi Sport Performance parts called the Clubsport Turbo Concept. It’s 447kW 2.5L twin-turbo five cylinder engine does 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds and has a top speed of 310km/h.
Hyundai debuted its first tuner concept — a beefed-up Santa Fe called the Rockstar Moab Extreme. Featuring chunky off-road tyres and bead-lock wheels, coil-over suspension, six-piston front brakes, and a nitrous oxide system for serious off-roading, the SUV was designed to withstand conditions in Moab, Utah – considered one of the world’s most challenging off-road regions.
Toyota revealed what it calls “the world's fastest crossover” in the form of the C-HR R-Tuned. The 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with a Garrett turbo isn’t stock, and nor are the Brembo brakes and DG-Spec Motion Control Suspension with motorsport dampers. The end result is a sub-compact crossover which produces a healthy 441kW and that will rocket to 100km/h in just 2.9 seconds.
Chevrolet showcased a special Hot Wheels 50th anniversary edition Camaro to mark milestone of collaboration with the popular toy maker. The Hot Wheels upgrade package with unique orange paint scheme, 20-inch forged aluminium wheels, orange brake calipers and Hot Wheels official badging will be available next year on selected Camaros.
Watch this space
After four years in development, Hennessey’s Venom F5 hypercar was one of the most anticipated debuts at this year’s show.
The 1193kW vehicle is being designed with the sole intention of being the world’s fastest road car, a title held by John Hennessey’s Venom GT. But to counter Bugatti’s newly built, faster Chiron, which has a top-speed run scheduled for 2018, Hennessey is re-arming with the F5.
The F5 is much sleeker, slipperier and pointier than the GT with a significantly lower drag coefficient. It combines a carbon fibre body and chassis, with a twin-turbo 7.4-litre aluminium V8, and a seven-speed single-clutch, paddle-shift gearbox.
Hennessey has done the math and predicts 0-300km/h in less than 10 seconds (faster than an F1 car) and a top speed of 484km/h. Bugatti should be afraid.
When in Rome ...
It’s impossible to be surrounded by SEMA’s abundant automotive genius and glamour without hankering to get behind the wheel.
Exotic Driving Experiences Las Vegas has a fleet of high-performance exotics including Lamborghinis, Ferraris, a McLaren, and a pack of aggressive muscle cars.
Either rent one for a day or drive a selection of them through Nevada’s winding canyon roads and scenic straightaways.
While it may be tempting to jump at the chance of driving a Ferrari, don’t overlook the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. With a boisterous 484kW from a 6.2L supercharged V8, it’s a serious thrill-ride leaving you little time to admire the scenery.