Outrageous Dreams, Practical Notions
It’s hard to think sensibly at the New York Auto Show
Mercedes S63 Coupe
The big hook for any auto show is always the sensational dream car, and this year’s New York Auto Show, which continues at the Javits Center till April 27, had a few. Oooh, there was the new Lamborghini Huracan, 200-grand worth of “Baby-hop-in-my-car.” And, oh gosh, there was Mad Men’s Jon Hamm introducing the media to the new Mercedes S63 Coupe, something so wicked and fast that anybody, mad or not, would break out in a sweat just looking at it.
But besides the sensational, this year’s show seemed to emphasize the sensible. There was stylish and suave stuff on hand, to be sure. But practical things, too. Strolling the massive arena, one is naturally pulled to the usual beauties, such as the glorious Jaguar F-Type Coupe. But then rationality calls and the dutiful, note-taking shopper is elsewhere. The highlights:
The British-German party animal keeps growing—physically as well in sales. The new Hardtop is about five inches longer for 2015 and feels quite a bit more comfortable. Engines and switchgear have all received updates from the BMW ownership. Other models in the lineup will soon get the same stretch treatment.
The previous Audi A3 was kind of a glorified, luxurious Volkswagen, but they’ve given it the full Audi treatment as a compact sedan. Still, as peace offering to people like this reviewer, there will be an Audi A3 TDI, and in hatchback mode, too. “TDI” is its most modern iteration of a diesel engine, which in our experience is terrific, offering serious, down-low power with fuel-economy ratings to equal the best hybrids. A plug-in electric car will also be offered.
Now owned by a Chinese concern that has put billions into vehicle development, Volvo has an array of new iron, including the zippy new S60 sedan, which is already getting great reviews, and the very sleek “wagon,” the V60, which looks like it would not only carry the groceries but really haul (your booty), too.
BMW is bringing out a lot of sporty options in its new 4 Series line, but the one that seems to be made for the Post Road here is the X4, a four-door hatchback with a low roofline and an aggressive stance. It will be available later in the year.
For a low-cost fun targeting the youth market, Chevy has introduced the Trax, which, while compact (it’s built on the Sonic chassis) is plenty spacious inside for six-footers and appears to be light enough that its 138-horsepower, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine can move it with dispatch. All-wheel-drive is optional. Fuel economy is forecast in the high twenties. Prices might well start under $20,000.
Elsewhere on the All-Sensible front, the best-selling Toyota Camry has been given a sweeping new front end that almost might be called rakish. Its big competitor, the Hyundai Sonata was given a total refresh that includes a powered-up Sport model with four snarky exhausts poking from the rear.
Two more were showcased in New York (“crossovers” being easygoing SUVs built up from a normal automobile chassis). The new Subaru Outback would be the one for the ski crowd tackling with white-out conditions, and the voguish Nissan Murano more for carrying lacrosse gear to practice.
But auto shows are also about dreaming impossible dreams, and one car that really stirred up some lust is the Alfa-Romeo 4C. The vaunted Italian brand hasn’t sold a car here in twenty years, but the new Fiat Chrysler ownership has big plans, not to mention gathering some serious attention. They claim that 5,000 people have expressed serious intent. It’s a small, lightweight car, shorn up with carbon fiber and audacious lines. Pricing would be between $55,000 and $70,000. Add one pair of sunglasses and you’d be in Monte Carlo.