The New York International Auto Show hosts more than a million visitors every year, and we are excited to report on the biggest news from day one. From a 120 MPGe Toyota to a 565-hp Nissan GT-R, an all-new pair of Subaru Imprezas, and a $72,000 Maserati SUV, NYIAS did not disappoint.
After the entertaining Nielsen Global Automotive Advertising Awards and a compelling keynote speech from Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn, Toyota kickstarted the news cycle with its all-new Prius Prime. An earlier shot of the car’s illuminated taillights in an otherwise blacked-out photo teased the new plug-in hybrid, but it wasn’t until yesterday morning that we learned its name: Prius Prime. While not as startling as a similarly named Autobot, the Prime distinguishes itself with a stylish wrap-around taillight design and an astonishing 120 MPGe rating. Toyota didn’t release pricing for the Prius Prime, but it’s expected to reach showrooms in the fall of 2016.
Just how far, emotionally, can we stray from a 120-MPGe plug-in hybrid? If you said, “a 565-hp all-wheel-drive supercar nicknamed ‘Godzilla,’” you’d be right. Nissan’s GT-R received a subtle refresh for 2017 and a shocking Blaze Metallic paint job (editor’s note: it’s orange). The GT-R definitely grabbed most of the excitement yesterday morning, but that’s bound to happen when a company unveils cars that blend excellent grand-touring capabilities with elite racecar performance.
Like a boomerang, Hyundai directed us back toward the world of efficiency with the trio of 2017 Ioniqs. The Ioniq debuts with not one, not two, but three separate variations: a standard hybrid drivetrain, a plug-in hybrid, and an all-electric version. The goal with this car is to allow shoppers to find an earth-friendly alternative to the standard internal-combustion engine, regardless of their lifestyle. We took some extra time with the Ioniq, and despite the abundance of hard plastics, we were most impressed with its interior, which felt similar to that of the surprisingly upscale Elantra.
We heard about America’s obsession with crossovers and SUVs repeatedly yesterday (we get it, gas is cheap). True to this, Acura’s best-selling car last year was the 3-row MDX—in fact, the MDX has been the best-selling luxury SUV on the market. For 2017, Acura redesigned the MDX, which now features a prominent diamond pentagon grille, and introduced the Sport Hybrid powertrain. Available with Super-Hybrid All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), the Sport Hybrid will tack on 35 extra horsepower, for a total of 325, while improving on the non-hybrid’s mileage in the city by about 7, to a total of 25 mpg city/26 highway/26 combined.
Mercedes-Benz may have taken the crown for over-the-top theatrics. Beyond its staggering display, the German automaker released a bevy of high-powered luxury machines under the Mercedes-AMG badge. The C63 Cabriolet stole our heart, but the E43 sport sedan and GLC Coupe certainly left impressions.
Americans may be obsessed with crossovers, but millennials still buy compacts. At least, that was the general gist of Subaru’s dual 2017 Impreza debuts. It’s true, of course; while we love Mercedes-AMG’s land speeders as enthusiasts, there’s no doubt that the debut of a 5-door and sedan Impreza will impact the shopping decisions of more car buyers. The 2016 Impreza was available only as a hatchback (and the WRX as a sedan, oddly), so the 2017 sedan was more noticeable, but both are brand-new cars built on Subaru’s global platform. Not only will Subaru’s compacts undoubtedly continue as successful sellers (the company aims to sell over 1 million total cars in the coming year), but they’ll be a hit with folks for whom “Made in America” holds value; Subaru is committing to building all U.S.-market Imprezas in Indiana.
Audi presented its long-awaited new R8 Spyder, which looks great, but will offer a single powertrain including the hardtop’s 5.2-liter, 540-hp V10 and 7-speed dual-clutch transmission. The version of the V10 that puts out 610 hp in the Plus hardtop will not be available for the Spyder, but the convertible will still be able to get to 62 mph in 3.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 197 mph. Speaking of tops, the Spyder’s cloth one can be raised or lowered in 20 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph. The Spyder is expected to hit dealerships early next year.
The Italian sense of fashion is renowned, and Maserati definitely gave its brand-new, first-ever SUV a stylish introduction. Company CEO Harald Wester arrived on stage with a can of air he said contained some of the wind of change that gave the Levante its name. That can of air was perfectly relevant, since an air suspension will allow the Levante to adopt five different ride heights for flexibility, though the Levante will also have the lowest center of gravity in its class. All versions of the Levante will have 4-wheel drive and use a Ferrari-built twin-turbo 3-liter V6 that will deliver 424 hp and a 164-mph top speed to top trims. Fashionable interiors will include fine leather and silk, and pricing should start in the low 70s.
Plenty of purists decried Porsche’s essential decision to transition toward turbocharged boxer 4-cylinder engines for the 718 Boxster. The company isn’t making any public apologies for this (again, absolutely necessary) move, pointing out that the 718 Boxster will back up its great looks with an incredible 4-second 0-60 mph sprint. That being said, Porsche also brought along a purist’s dream car: the 911R. Fitted with a 500-horsepower naturally aspirated 4-liter flat-6 engine and a 6-speed manual transmission, the 911R will do 0-60 in an even more impressive 3.7 seconds. Finally, the wizards from Stuttgart also showed off their latest Macan — the little SUV sales success that undoubtedly helps finance its brilliant sports cars.
Kia is one of those interesting companies that seems to suffer more from the legacy of their branding than the actual quality of its products. It’s popular to declare, “There are no bad cars” these days, and no company has proven this more than Kia. What used to be a stable full of uninspiring (if well-priced) sedans has grown to include some truly compelling cars. Yesterday, Kia unveiled the latest of these: the Kia Cadenza. Featuring a concave “Tiger Shark” grille, a longer wheelbase, and Kia’s Z-shapped headlight and taillight signatures, the Cadenza looks both sophisticated and elegant. We’ve seen some impressive cars coming from Kia lately (the Optima is particularly good), and it’s great to see the pattern continue.
Jeep gathered journalists in the same auditorium it used to introduce the Renegade last year rather than in front of a stand. Company head Mike Manley noted the company has set global sales records for the last 4 consecutive years before introducing the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, which Manley called “the most capable ever produced.” A multi-level auditorium stage allowed the Trailhawk to demonstrate some of the capabilities and clearances of its Trail Rated Quadra-Drive II 4×4 system. Next came the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, which offers luxuries such as a full leather interior in four colors and an 825-watt Harman Kardon audio system with 3 subwoofers, as well as safety features including lane-departure warnings and parking assistance.
Jaguar Land Rover’s John Edwards, managing director of Special Vehicle Operations, presented the new F-Type SVR, expected to get from 0 to 60 in 3.5 seconds and to a top speed of 200 mph courtesy of a supercharged 5-liter, 578-hp V8 powering all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic. He went on to note that the Jaguar Classics division of his group will follow the 6 “lightweight” E-Types it produced last year with 9 XKSS cars. The XKSS, based on the Jaguar D-Type that took Le Mans in 1955, ’56, and ’57, was scuttled when 9 of the original batch of 25 cars were destroyed by fire in 1957. Most of the 16 surviving cars ended up in American garages, one of which belonged to Steve McQueen.
Genesis, Hyundai’s new luxury brand, closed Day One by unveiling its New York concept, which shared the stage with a G90 full-size sedan. We’re not sure the concept’s cheese-grater-ish side vents will make production, but Kia chief designer Peter Schreyer called it a “a glimpse into the future of Genesis.” That future will apparently be angular and aggressive, with the low-slung concept’s sporting intentions plainly visible and BMW’s 3 Series and Mercedes’ C-Class likely targets. The futuristic interior features an open-top, angular steering wheel and a deep 3-D dashboard topped by a display wider than the driver’s seat.
What cars are you excited to see at the New York Auto Show?
– Matt Smith and Steve Halloran