Got up this morning to go to the NY Auto Show just as I did the year before except I arrived at the city in the early afternoon. As a result, the lines were much longer and security was tighter. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait that long in the computerised ticket lines because some Chinese guy offered me an extra E-Ticket in return for reimbursement. I paid the man at cost and then went along photographing production and concept cars that interested me and continued exploring the Javits Center after I met up with Jehangir.
Here are some cars that were of interest in today’s auto show:
The new Ferrari 599GTB Fiorano was one of the highlights at the Ferrari booth in addition to a 430 Spyder. The only people allowed to view the interiors and talk to Ferrari representatives were weathly clients who had made a reservation for such viewings. In addition, this booth also had a very attractive model, which made the booth even more crowded as everyone tried to take pictures of the cars, the girl or both at different times.
I reckon that she was one of the hotter models that were on the show other than that girl in the Lamborghini booth. While it’s true that there were many attractive presenters and representatives at the Toyota/Lexus exhibits, it was not a great idea to take pictures of them since that’s not their job and it would bring trouble with security as I have seen with another guy who tried to take pictures of an exhibit worker.
At the beginning of the Auto Show, there is always a Scion booth next to the exotic cars booth which provides people opportunities to learn about the new models and get free stuff without actually going into the show itself. In the Scion booth, I was able to get a free CD of their latest music and a free magazine/brochure on their new models.
The new Scion xB is boxier and sleeker than the original model. Starting at around $15K it’s also not a bad deal since it now comes with a more powerful inline-4 engine, larger trunk space, and has iPod interconnectivity. It’s also good to know that this new model carries over many ideas from the 2005 Scion t2b concept model.
At the Toyota booth, one notable concept car they had was the FT-HS, which was designed to demonstrate the possibility of a performance hybrid sports car. The reason why the FT-HS was such a hit when it premiered at the Detroit Auto Show was because fanboys were speculating that this was a pre-production Toyota Supra, which is not the case. The spiritual Supra is actually the Lexus LF-A which has partly the looks of the old Supra with innovations that fit the Lexus brand.
The LF-A, otherwise considered by me as the “Lexus Supra”. The latest incarnation of this concept car, has shown radical changes from the last time it premiered in the 2004 Detroit Auto Show. Some noticeable changes are in the front end, the side profile, and the rear end, while it is rumoured that the LF-A will receive a V-12 engine in addition to the V-8 to connect it to Toyota’s Formula 1 racing heritage.
The other car that interested me was the Lexus IS-F, the performance version of the Lexus IS, which was fitted in with a V8 Engine. The car’s bonnet doesn’t exactly look right since the IS was originally meant to take only V6 engines and it ends up giving a huge, stretched bulge in the front end.
At the same time, I also visited the Nissan and Infiniti booths. There was not really much that impressed me there since the Altima Coupe essentially resembles the outgoing Infiniti G35, the new Infiniti G37 doesn’t look too different from the old model, while the Infiniti EX concept looks horrible in person. Although, I am still interested in getting an Infiniti M in the future, the car is really not worth photographing in an event such as this. I didn’t bother with looking at the BMW and Mercedes-Benz exhibits since they had little to offer as well.
At the Chevrolet booth, I noticed they had the Volt available for viewing. As few know, GM was actually the ones who pioneered the electric car with the EV-1 in California but killed it when state and federal regulations were changed so that GM doesn’t have to produce such cars to meet emission standards. GM was actually the one that ultimately killed their grand experiment as discussed in the film, “Who Killed the Electric Car?”, which makes it quite ironic they created the Volt in the first place. Only time will tell if GM will actually bring this car to production or use it to just divert any negative publicity that came from that film.
Chevy also got their Korean division, Daewoo to design three concept city cars to gauge American interest in them. All three of these models are based on the platform used by the Daewoo Matiz/Chevrolet Spark/Chery QQ.
I like the third one better, while some Americans who were viewing the concepts had other thoughts. One girl called those concepts “Gay” while others were simply repulsed by the idea of having the Chevrolet brand being placed on such small cars.
In addition to viewing the Chevy exhibits, which were mostly filled with bland models or pickup trucks, I also managed to see the Americanised Opels and Holdens.
The “Saturn” Astra is essentially an Opel Astra that has been swapped in with a Saturn nameplate and dumbed-down for American consumption. It is meant to be a quick fix to the problems associated with replacing the hideous Saturn Ion and I applaud Bob Lutz for pushing this idea forward.
On the other hand, the Pontiac G8 is essentially dumbed-down Holden Commodore with a Pontiac front end. Some of my Australian colleagues at work were horrified to learn that their Commodore has been dumbed-down and associated with a brand like Pontiac which is known largely for cars hawked by Oprah such as the G6, a rebadged Chevy Colbalt called the G5, and a quirky roadster called the Solstice. I actually dedicated a post discussing these changes with the Commodore so I will just leave it at that.
I went to the Honda exhibit to learn more about the Accord Coupe and came out unimpressed with the concept. Compared with the sleeker and more stylish Civic, the Accord really looks like a bland piece of metal that might have been styled by a monkey.
At the Ford exhibit, besides laughing at the revived “Taurus”, Ford finally brought out the production version of the Fairlane called the Ford Flex. It’s interesting to note that the Ford Fairlane was essentially a Range Rover with a Ford grille placed on a Ford 500 platform. Unfortunately for Ford, they got too carried away with turning the Fairlane into their minivan replacement to the point where they stretched the wheelbase to the point where the Flex now resembled a wider and stretched Mini. This is really counterproductive for the Taurus X since it may cannibalise in that car’s sales.
However, despite all the exotic cars and quirky concepts, the car that most impressed me at the New York Auto Show was a Korean car. Let me repeat that: a Korean car was the most impressive car at the NY Auto Show. I find this strange to say because Korean cars such as Hyundai, Kia and Daewoo were all known for their shitty styling and substandard quality at one point. However, Hyundai has proven that they are an able contender in the near-luxury and luxury market with their Genesis concept.
If one looks closely, they can see that this car is neither a Honda or a Toyota just by looking closely at the nameplate. I know it is hard to believe, but the Koreans have done it with the Hyundai Genesis. We can see that the front end is heavily influenced by that of the current Toyota Camry while the rims look like they were from an Infiniti.
With a front end influenced by a Toyota Camry, a side profile lifted from a BMW 5-Series, and a rear end lifted from an Infiniti M, it seems Hyundai has a rough idea on how to create the look of a luxury car. Supposedly their luxury model will start at $28K and can go upwards of $30K with Hyundai having their sights set on BMW and Lexus in the long-term. It would not be surprising to see Hyundai gradually turn their brand into Korean luxury brand while leaving Kia as the Korean brand for their bland and standard offerings.
The rest of the pictures I took at the Auto Show are here