Payne: Top 10 premieres at New York auto show
New York — The Detroit auto show this year was a shadow of itself as foreign luxury automakers fled in droves. Except for BMW, the luxury crowd is well-represented at the New York auto show.
Despite that, Detroit automakers steal Gotham's show. There’s the Jeep Gladiator pickup, and its off-road experience outside Javits Convention Center that will have the public lining up from Hell’s Kitchen to Brooklyn. And an electric pickup from Plymouth-based Rivian. And the ferocious Ford Mustang GT500.
A variety of vehicles also make their debuts in New York. Here are my favorites.
Koenigsegg Jesko – New York features high-end toys like no other North American show. This year the show attracted such curiosities as the BAC Mono (a single-seat rocketship) and the $2 million Karlmann King (Batmobile meets SUV), but my favorite came from Sweden’s hypercar maker. With a claimed top speed of 300 mph, the Jesko eclipses its 278-mph Agera predecessor as the fastest car in the world. The Jesko manages this feat with (cough) 1,579 horsepower, all-wheel drive and a carbon-fiber tub.
Cadillac CT5 – Cadillac takes the mid-size CTS platform downmarket with a thoroughly remade, compact BMW 3-series fighter. Interior room may be best-in-class, but the CT5 still has plenty of hustle from your option of two turbocharged engines. Gone is the fussy, haptic CUE system replaced by your choice of infotainment controls: touchscreen, remote rotary-dial or voice control.
Ford Escape – After a Henry Ford Museum coming-out party this spring, the compact ute makes its first appearance on a show floor. And boy, does thing look good. Located just down the hall from the Porsche Macan from which it takes design cues, it’s sleek and sporty. That magic continues inside with electronic tricks like one-button-activated self-park assist. The Lincoln Corsair — based on the same roomy platform — also debuted at this show, but I’m not sure it’s worth $15,000 over the sophisticated Escape.
Hyundai Sonata – Welcome back, Sonata. After a detour to Vanilla Town with its last-generation sedan, the Sonata is back with a head-turner. The design features such innovations as LED running lights along the hood – and a seamless hood over a rimless grille, usually associated with Aston Martin. Inside, rear-seat passengers get more room than Delta first class.
Ford Mustang Ecoboost High Performance – Despite its awkward name (they couldn’t have called it a Mustang ST?), this pony car is an affordable track toy. Rescuing the throaty 330-horse, 2.3 liter turbo-4 from the Focus RS hot hatch, the Mustang saves 150 pounds up front compared to a V-8 ’Stang. That’ll make it a treat at weekend autocrosses and Waterford Hills track days.
Mercedes GLS – Mercedes showed its first electric vehicle, the EQC, in New York. But it was overshadowed — literally — by the hulking GLS three-row SUV, which is where the money is made. The GLS has all the expected Mercedes touches: heated rear seats, voice-recognition controls. But my favorite feature is Carwash mode which closes the big ute tight as a turtle, then raises it up high for maximum fender-well cleaning.
Porsche 911 Speedster – The special-edition Speedster says auf wiedersehen to the current-generation 911. It doesn’t come cheap at $275,750, but in return you own one of 1,948 copies (Porsche’s founding year) and unique deck “streamers” behind the front seats like the 1950s classics. In the boot is a loud, naturally aspirated flat-6 that also sounds like the good ol’ days.
Subaru Outback – To introduce the latest version of its iconic crossover, Subaru built a spectacular floor display that transports visitors to an outdoor national park. A mainstay of the Subie lineup with station-wagon utility and all-wheel drive, the Outback sits on a new platform which brings new goodies like a big Tesla-like console screen and a torquey turbo-4 that replaces the reliable flat-6.
VW Tarok – V-dub’s second small pickup concept in two years is handsome, innovative... and built on a unibody chassis. Unibodies have struggled in the U.S. market (see the Honda Ridgeline) against ladder-framed bullies from Chevy and Toyota, but VW sees daylight for an affordable micro-truck. The pickup bed can be expanded by dropping the back wall. VW might think of expanding engine options beyond the mousy, 1.4-liter 4, too.
Qiantu K50 – Looks like a concept, but it's not a concept. The striking electric sports car from China is due to hit U.S. shores late next year. Production is slated for the U.S. With low center of gravity, instant torque and all-wheel drive, the supercar will be quick. But with a price tag north of $100,000 it may be a tough sell against a comparable BMW i8 or Porsche 911.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at email@example.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.