World Green Car Announced in New York

For auto aficionados, March Madness of a different sort kicked off earlier this week, when the New York Auto Show opened it doors to the general public. And although it’s late in the auto show season, there were enough debuts and announcements left to make New York interesting, if not on the same level as some of the earlier shows this year.

Among other announcements, the selection committee for the 2008 World Car Awards tapped the BMW 118d Advanced Diesel, available only in Europe, as the World Green Car. Incorporating BMW’s Efficient Dynamic technology, the 118d Advanced Diesel comes equipped with a 143-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo-diesel engine designed for fuel efficiency and low emissions. Fuel savings are also provided by brake energy regeneration, which charges the battery when the driver applies the brakes or when the car is coasting or decelerating. In addition, electric steering and an Auto Start Stop Function, which shuts the car off at stops and automatically restarts it, help provide a 21-percent reduction in fuel consumption, as well as lower carbon-dioxide emissions, when compared to a typical diesel-powered car.

The 118d Advanced Diesel was chosen from an initial field of 10 cars by a selection committee that consisted of nearly 50 automotive journalists. The field of 10 was later narrowed to three cars, including the Smart fortwo cdi and the Volkswagen Passat 1.9 TDI.

A number of other cars debuted in New York, including the 2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe, scheduled to roll into showrooms sometime next spring. The rear-wheel-drive coupe comes equipped with a 306-horsepower V6, a manual transmission, Brembo brakes and an independent rear suspension, promising drivers a true sport-oriented coupe that will be price-competitive with coupes from Honda and Infiniti, as well as Ford’s Mustang GT. The Genesis Coupe also will be available with a turbocharged four-cylinder.

Other debuts included the Suzuki Kizashi 3 Concept sedan, which the automaker recently announced will go into production for 2010, and the Pontiac Solstice coupe. Officially a targa, meaning that only part of its hard-top roof over the passenger compartment can be removed, it’s scheduled to hit showrooms in 2009. Drawing its basic design from the Solstice convertible, the Solstice coupe should generate buzz with drivers due to its affordable price, rumored to be in the low to high 20s when it goes on sale.