New York Auto Show’s standout automatic moments
If one were to gauge the New York Auto Show based solely on the large crowds gathered at both the Porsche and Mercedes-Benz stands, this year’s edition would appear to be a runaway success. Step back, however, and it was a decidedly more sombre occasion. Subaru, Toyota, Hyundai and Lincoln all debuted new vehicles — but, despite many shining moments, there was a lack of pure fantasy overall.
Porsche’s striking new Speedster coupled with a trio of new Mercedes AMGs helped stoke the inner fan boy in all of us. Maserati and Alfa Romeo generated excitement in the form of fancy, specialised paint jobs. BMW and Volvo were noticeably absent, however, and with this, the domestic auto show circuit rests until November. Here, our standouts from the show.
When it comes to the ever-burgeoning SUV market, Lincoln is on a roll. The full-size Navigator introduced 18 months ago is a massive success and expectations are high for the midsize Aviator that goes on sale shortly. A strong reaction to the Corsair compact SUV, which uses the same basic structure as the 2020 Ford Escape, will be vital to the brand’s continued success both in the US and abroad. As with the other members of Lincoln’s current line-up, the sheet metal design features a longer roof that falls from front to rear, ending with a sharply angled tailgate and rear window. The Corsair is noticeably more rounded than its stablemates; the lower part of the doors is deeply scooped to create a sculptural shape.
Designed with the mantra that tiny city cars needn’t sacrifice style for space, the all-electric Genesis Mint concept is an ambitious exercise in urban car design. Fashioned in a stylish shade of green, this two-seater is certainly a head-turner. In lieu of a traditional hatchback, a pair of scissor-like doors open skyward to access the cargo area; the idea is pretty awesome, in reality, not so much. Its short, albeit wide-set, wheelbase and low, sloping roofline project the car larger than it is. Both the wide dashboard and bench seat are mounted on pivots that retract to allow ease of entry and exit. As for the pedals, what would appear to be a clutch pedal is actually a stylised footrest.
As the self-described ‘S-Class of SUVs’, the all-new GLS has enjoyed a dominating position in the three-row large-SUV class. But times are changing; the 2020 GLS now faces stiff competition from BMW’s formidable (and mighty impressive) new X7 and Audi, whose Q7 is due to be redesigned soon. At first glance, the GLS looks not much more than a stretched GLE. In fact, from front and rear lamps to the beautiful interior, the two share a similar design ethos and architecture. The GLS will inevitably be another big hit for Mercedes — and deservedly so.
Even with the overwhelming popularity of SUVs, sporty sedans like the Audi A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-Class still remain popular and remain brand benchmarks. Cadillac hopes the CT5, which replaces the outgoing CTS sedan, will be a halo of sorts for the struggling brand. Debuting in the midst of a new-vehicle offensive from Cadillac, the CT5 sits between the XT4 compact SUV and XT6 mid-size SUV. Style wise, it’s a looker from the front; from its side, a little less so. The long hood, bookmarked by handsome vertical running lights, and short rear deck is a combination that usually works on luxury sedans, but something seems to be lacking. Perhaps best of all, the CT5 will be the second Cadillac vehicle to offer Super Cruise, the stellar hands-free driving system that is a God send during long trips.
Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition
Armed with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 good for 550 horsepower, the top-tier Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic Edition is what Land Rover calls ‘the most driver-focused model in the range’ (translation: the sportiest vehicle Land Rover makes). Thanks to its retuned software for the steering, eight-speed transmission, dampers, locking rear differential and AWD system, the Velar SVA matches the 0-60 miles per hour time for the 575-hp Range Rover Sport SVR with a top speed of 170 mph. A firmer air suspension along with upgraded, two-piece brakes with red callipers are standard.
Exterior-wise, quite a few subtle yet distinguished touches help differentiate the Velar SVR. The 22-inch diamond-turned wheels in Silver Sparkle are gorgeous, particularly when paired with the exclusive Satin Byron Blue paint. An active exhaust makes the right gurgles when necessary. Up front is a new grille and front bumper with larger air intakes and reshaped side sills. The blacked-out rear bumper houses four vertically oriented exhaust finishers. All models are fitted with a Narvik Black roof.
Porsche set autophiles’ hearts racing with the debut of the next generation 911 Speedster — the ninth Porsche model to wear the distinguished designation and the first since 2010. Limited to just 1,948 units worldwide (in honour of its founding year), the sports car won’t be cheap: pricing starts at $275,000. The 911 Speedster borrows its naturally-aspirated 4.0 litre flat-six engine from the 911 GT3 and 911 GT3 RS that produces 502 horsepower and 356 pound-feet of torque at a throbbing 9,000-rpm redline. Mated to a GT Sport six-speed manual transmission straight from the 911 R (no PDK here, folks), the Speedster gets unique, individual throttle bodies (straight from its racing division) for improved response and is good for 0-60 miles per hour in 3.8 seconds — not to mention a top speed of 192 mph.
Aesthetically, in a nod to weight-saving, the 911 Speedster features a manually operated lightweight fabric top (air-conditioning is even a no cost add-on). The proper two-seater is easily recognised by its pair of humps on the rear deck that Porsche calls ‘streamliners’. While much of the Speedster looks similar to a classic 911 (particularly from up front), the windshield has been shortened, along with the side windows, which gives the car a lower-looking stance. Inside are lightweight door panels with storage nets and woven door pulls — as well as plenty of carbon fibre. As a bonus, owners also have the option to purchase a completely customisable, made-to-order Porsche Design 911 Speedster Chronograph timepiece, which has a matching serial number to its corresponding Speedster. Starting from $12,911, it features a carbon fibre dial, a rotor modelled after the Speedster’s centre lock wheel and a strap made of Porsche interior leather.
Nissan GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition
Godzilla, which turns 50 this year, has never looked better. From the revived Bayside Blue paint — one of three colour combinations that evoke Japan GP Series racing liveries of the past — to the monotone grey interior with unique steering wheel and shifter and requisite special badging, the GT-R continues to be a presence on the road. And while the exterior might be earth shatteringly new, under the hood Nissan engineers have massaged the heralded 3.8-liter handcrafted V6 engine to produce 600 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque.
The Audi Q3 has been significantly improved and is now a formidable player in the compact SUV segment. On the outside, the design presents a watered down take of the somewhat over-styled Q8. Evolutionary yes, but with much more defined muscular lines. Excellent wheel choices complement the noticeably strong character lines of the fenders (a nod to the iconic Quattro of the 1980s). The interior, however, is where Audi was really shaken things up. Like a scaled-down version from the flagship vehicles, the striking dash design incorporates two distinct segments, with the bottom part integrating a large, and beautifully shaped, octagonal area containing an infotainment screen and black-panel surround. §