The Detroit Motor Show was the first big motoring event of 2013, with a host of launches from all the major car manufacturers. Naturally, many of the cars are destined only for the American market, but there was much to interest us over this side of the Atlantic as well. Here we round up the most important models that have been unveiled in the last week.

As far as Audi was concerned, the emphasis was on high performance, as it launched the RS7 Sportback. Due to arrive in the UK late this year, it will take the fight to the BMW M6 Gran Coupe and the Mercedes CLS 63 AMG. It’s powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 with 552bhp and, even with four-wheel drive to harness all that power, still hits 62mph in less than four seconds. Sporting an aggressive bodykit and a luxury specification, it’s expected to cost from £84,000.

Over on the Bentley stand, too, performance was the order of the day. Here, the company unveiled the Continental GT Speed Convertible, the fastest four-seat convertible in the world. Using the same twin-turbocharged 616bhp 6.0-litre W12 engine as in the GT Speed coupe, this four-wheel drive convertible will hit 60mph in 4.1 seconds. It goes on sale later this year, with prices expected to start at around £170,000.

Keeping up with the theme, Chevrolet took the wraps of the 2014 Corvette Stingray, the fastest, most efficient and most powerful entry-level Corvette ever. The silhouette is classic Corvette but the detailing reveals a sharper, edgier styling, while inside, the new car will get leather, carbon-fibre and aluminium trim, magnesium-framed sports seats and dual infotainment screens. Powered by a 6.2-litre V8 engine, it will hit 60mph in less than four seconds and go on sale in the US late this year. However, we don’t expect to see right-hand drive cars in the UK until 2015.

Honda, meanwhile, unveiled something at the opposite end of the scale. The company’s Urban SUV concept previews a model that is expected to go on sale in the UK next year. When it does so, it will be the latest car to join the rapidly expanding sector of the market pioneered by the Nissan Juke and now including the Vauxhall Mokka, Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008. It’s based on the Jazz supermini and will feature some aspects of that car’s ingenious interior.

Not to be outdone, though, Honda did show off the latest glimpse of what we can expect from its forthcoming NSX supercar. The concept showed one potential direction for the new car’s interior, which Honda says includes a “Simple Sports Interface” that allows the driver to focus on driving.

Fellow Japanese manufacturer Lexus showed off the all-new IS compact executive car. It’s longer and wider than its predecessor, but most of the attention was focused on the dramatic new front end, with a full-height grille and large air-intakes. Inside, the car has a high centre console and an off-centre gear lever, as well as an analogue clock and touch-sensitive switches. It will challenge the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, but perhaps most interestingly will do so without a diesel engine; instead, a petrol-electric hybrid motor will provide the range’s tax-friendly low CO2 emissions.

Over on the Mercedes stand, we witnessed the launch of not just a new car, but a new sector. The CLA is a four-door coupe based on the A-class, and effectively a smaller brother for the CLS. As such, it’s a sleeker, sportier design than the A-Class and aims to appeal to younger customers than its more staid stable mate. It goes on sale in March, with first deliveries expected in June.

Centre of attention on the Nissan stand was the Resonance concept car. It won’t go into production as it stands, but you can expect to see various aspects of its design in future Nissan crossovers, such as the next-generation Qashqai and Murano.

Last, but not least, comes the Volkswagen Crossblue, a six-seat SUV that’s designed to sit above the Touareg in the company’s line-up. However, these pictures are as close as we in the UK are likely to get to it. The car has been specifically developed for the North American market and will not go on sale in Europe.

By Andy Pringle