The turnstiles have started spinning at New York’s Jacob Javits convention center for the New York International Auto Show. And this year’s gathering wraps up a busy season for automakers racing to take advantage of near-record sales by introducing as many as 60 all-new cars, trucks and crossovers and showing off 100s more -- ranging from the all-new, 98-horsepower Chevrolet Spark to the 1,200-hp Koenigsegg Agera.
The show opened to the public on April 3 and runs until April 12.
In keeping with the New York region’s reputation as one of the country’s largest and most influential luxury car market, manufacturers have plenty of new sheet metal for the Wall Street crowd, including two show-stoppers from Detroit. Once dominant Cadillac and Lincoln, lately relegated to the sidelines behind import rivals like Mercedes-Benz and BMW, are showing off a pair of full-size models they hope will spur their long-sought revival.
Cadillac had been signaling for months its plan to debut the new CT6 at the NY Auto Show. With its sharp creases and aggressive angles, the new sedan is the latest to use its bold Art & Science design language. But the CT6 is longer and far more lavishly equipped, with seats that heat, cool and massage, a 400-hp twin-turbo engine, and advanced infotainment and safety systems including infrared Night Vision.
Lincoln wasn’t even officially on the NY show’s schedule. It kept secret its plan to debut the new Continental sedan until just days before the show’s annual media preview. The Continental revives a once-revered luxury nameplate that dates back to a concept car hand-built for Edsel Ford in 1939 for a Florida vacation.
Like the big Caddy sedan, the Lincoln Continental introduces a mix of high-tech features and more traditional luxury cues, including elegant hand-polished woods and metals in the cabin. Its exterior styling, however, is more subdued and traditional. Ford Motor Co. CEO Mark Fields said the maker wanted to steer away from the “aggressive luxury” approach of rivals like Cadillac and BMW.
While Cadillac and Lincoln both chose the Big Apple to debut the new models, they also were hoping to get attention abroad -– most particularly in China, which is now the world’s biggest market for premium luxury vehicles. The Ford luxury brand launched its dealer network there late last year, while Caddy started assembling cars in China last year. It will reintroduce the CT6 at the Shanghai Motor Show later this month.
The auto industry is rapidly globalizing, which means that products traditionally designed for one region likely now are going to be sold in other markets around the world. That’s good news for U.S. buyers. The NY Auto Show marks the American debut of the new Ford Focus RS, a “hot hatch” that was, until now sold only in Europe.
Honda, meanwhile, used the show to confirm plans to sell its own European hot hatch, the Civic Type R, in the U.S. for the first time. That was just one of several surprises from the Japanese maker which also brought to the Javits center a concept version of an all-new Civic line that will start to roll out later this year. It will come to market just four years after the current Civic family was launched. That's breakneck speed by automotive standards.
Performance cars can be found just about everywhere at this year’s show. Range Rover introduced the new SVAutobiography, the maker’s most lavish and expensive production model ever, at $200,490. It will also be its most powerful, with a supercharged, 542-horsepower V-8 available. The British brand’s sibling, Jaguar, unveiled its completely redesigned XF, a mid-luxury sports sedan.
In keeping with market trends, there are plenty of brand new sport-utility vehicles and crossovers on display, including the Infiniti QX50, and the latest version of the ever-popular Lexus RX, which has dominated the mid-luxury utility market for 17 years.
The Japanese brand’s sibling, Toyota, introduced a new version of its smaller and more mainstream RAV4 utility vehicle. The new hybrid model has a unique gas-electric all-wheel-drive system where the rear axle is powered by a separate electric motor that turns on “only when a little extra traction is needed,” according to Toyota brand chief Bill Fay.
While high-powered products are in abundance at the show, a growing number of them are using alternative propulsion systems. BMW just introduced a new plug-in hybrid version of its X5 sport-utility vehicle. Mercedes will add a plug-in version of the GLE ute debuting at the Javits, and add nine more plug-based models by 2017. Even Aston Martin confirmed it is working on an electric sports car that could reach the NY Auto Show floor in a couple of years.
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