It might not be the biggest motor show, but the New York show's growing stature was reflected in some significant launches. Andrew Frankel reports
27 March 2018

America may be known for doing things on a grand scale and, Las Vegas aside, New York is its most larger-than-life city – but its diminutive motor show has always stood in fairly stark contrast to such themes. 

I’m sure its size is not one of choice but circumstances forced upon it by its long-time second-string status next to that longtime staple of the global show circuit held in Detroit each year.

But you didn’t need to be in the Jacob K Javits Convention Center for more than a few minutes of this year’s New York motor show to feel the balance of power tilting away from Motown and toward the Big Apple.

The list of no shows at Detroit this year is too long to detail here, but almost all the ultra-luxury brands stayed away. In New York the stands may not have been big, but they hosted marques such as Bugatti, Lamborghini, Bentley, Maserati, Porsche, as well as all the big German premium players and Jaguar Land Rover.

Nor was this a show where the covers came off cars only for the attendant media scrum to realise we’d not only seen them all before, but as recently as Geneva earlier in the month. Make no mistake, there were some important global launches here, with cars of a breadth of talent and importance to make Detroit seem thinner still by comparison.

Probably the most important, at least on this side of the pond, was the new Toyota RAV4. Such has been the popularity of both the car and the sector it invented 24 years ago that right now the RAV4 is America’s best-selling car (aside from pickup trucks); but did Toyota choose to show its replacement in Motor City? It did not, it came instead to Midtown Manhattan for its most important product launch of the year.

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And I guess if there was a theme to this show, the apparently relentless rise of the SUV would be it. Jaguar came here to launch a V8 supercharged SVR-specification version of its superb F-Pace, and it would have been confident enough to call it another of what have been many show-stealing performances over the years, right up until about 2.40pm.

That was the time a large empty space on the Maserati stand was filled by a twin turbo V8, 582bhp, 187mph Levante Trofeo, which rather rudely trumped its rival’s headline stats by 40bhp and 11mph.

Still Jaguar’s deal, announced in New York, to supply up to 20,000 of its I-Pace electric SUVs to Waymo, Google’s autonomous driving division, was probably of greater long-term significance, not least because it increases dramatically the chances of ensuring that when large-scale testing of autonomous cars begins in Europe, the UK will be among the first to sanction it.

Elsewhere on the SUV front Hyundai launched a revised Tuscon with new engines and style ahead of UK sales beginning this summer. Cadillac showed the XT4, which it claims really could come to Europe and the UK, while Acura luxury brand NSK produced its RDX, which certainly will not.

As in Detroit the German premium brand making the most concerted effort in New York was Mercedes-Benz. True, Audi showed the Sportback version of the RS5 coupe, but Benz brought revised C-classes in both cabriolet and coupe configuration as well the AMG C63 version of the latter.

Capable of hitting 62mph in just 3.9sec despite the absence of four-wheel drive, the AMG model now has a nine-speed automatic gearbox, an electronically controlled limited slip differential in both C63 and C63S and, in matt black paint, looks to make you wonder if you really do want that AMG GT so much after all.

New York was a show still small in size but unmistakably growing in stature. Don’t expect it to stop here.

Andrew Frankel

 

2018 New York motor show: how it unfolded

The New York motor show was first held in 1900, and it remains one of the biggest events in the American automotive calendar.

Autocar provided comprehensive coverage from the show. Editorial Director Jim Holder, news editor Rachel Burgess and senior contributing writer Andrew Frankel were all in the city that never sleeps - and that lack of sleep gave them plenty of time to trawl the show halls.

Back in Autocar Towers in Twickenham (which is just like New York, honest), our efforts were led by digital editor James Attwood, senior staff writer Sam Sheehan and editorial assistant Sam Jenkins.

Read on to check out our coverage from New York.

2018 New York motor show: the big news

Here are links to the big stories from the show. There's plenty more to come as covers are pulled off new cars.

Read all our stories from the New York show here.

2018 Hyundai Tucson revealed

Porsche 911 GT3 RS Weissach pack features 29kg weight loss

Jaguar I-Pace SVR under consideration

Volkswagen unveils new Atlas Tanoak pick-up concept

Jaguar F-Pace SVR: 542bhp SUV squares up to Porsche Macan Turbo

New Toyota RAV4 revealed with tough new look

Classic Mini Electric: one-off showcases brand's EV plans

Audi RS5 Sportback gets 444bhp turbocharged V6

Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe and cabriolet launched

Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport concept unveiled

Updated Mercedes-AMG C63 gets dynamic and interior revamp

Autonomous Jaguar I-Pace cars to hit roads as part of Google deal

2018 New York motor show: full coverage

1640 EST / 2140 BST: And with the reveal of the Genesis Essentia over, it's time for our coverage of today to draw to a close. Thanks for joining us - and don't forget to check back tomorrow for any follow-up stories. The work for our staffers in New York isn't done just yet...

1540 EST / 2040 BST: The Genesis event starts at 4pm New York time. "Looks like a pretty car under here..." said Rachel Burgess.

1450 EST/1950 BST: The Classic Mini Electric one-off has been one of the star reveals of the New York motor show week so far - but it isn't actually on display at the show. Well, we think it isn't: James Attwood did suggest it might just be hiding under a big American pick-up. "That is possibly true, but I'm not venturing under any to look," responded Jim Holder, showing a real lack of commitment to the cause.

Showing a little more commitment, Jim did talk to Takeshi Tachimori, Subaru's corporate executive vice president, about the new Forrester. Tachimori said: "The key with this car is that it is designed for its market, which is families. We know the opposition - the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and so on - and we stand out for not chasing car enthusiasts, but for giving these families what they want, from safety to space and practicality to comfort and more, all built to an affordable price."

More Forrester news here in a little while.

1410 EST/1910 BST: Jim Holder has been to the Volkswagen stand, where he's been checking out the Atlas Tanoak pick-up.

Jim says: "Will VW turn this Atlas pick-up concept into a production reality? The firm itself says that decision hangs in the balance but already the opposition are taking it seriously. Look closely in the left-hand corner of this picture (below) and you’ll see Ford executive Vice President Jim Farley taking a good look around, as well he might given the substantial share of Ford profits driven by its pick-up sales."

And thinking of Ford, Jim has also been to their stand: "Underlining that the Ford Performance brand is now resonating globally is Ford’s proud display of a Focus RS, Mustang and - of course - original GT40, all watched over by this fellow. The global appeal of Lego, it seems, is just as strong as that of Ford Performance cars."

In other show news, Kia has pulled the covers of its K900, its new flagship saloon in the US. The model won't be coming to Britain, but it contains plenty of tech that might.

1340 EST/1840 BST: Our team at the show has been unearthing some more fascinating bits of news.

Jim Holder has discovered that Waymo's new deal with Jaguar to develop autonomous tech on the I-Pace could encourage Google's self-driving car division to start testing in the UK.

Meanwhile, Rachel has been chatting electric Mercedes - and learned that the C-Class will be getting mild hybrid power, but not a full EV. Instead, the firm is planning a mid-size saloon EQ model.

Elsewhere, Rachel has just gone past the Toyota stand. She notes: "Toyota is spelling out its core values with these very marketing-esque signposts, which admittedly are an eye-catching way of getting a brand message across."

That is undoubtedly true and all very brand-friendly, but that sign doesn't tell you where you can buy a sandwich. Or, far more importantly, where the toilets are...

1310 EST/1810 BST: The Toyota RAV4 has been one of the stars of the show so far, but it's far from the only refreshed SUV on display. Hyundai has just pulled the wraps of its new Tucson, which is due to come to Europe this summer.

Another new SUV comes from Cadillac, which has revealed the XT4 - and the firm could bring it to Europe in the future.

1240 EST/1740 BST: Jim Holder has had a long chat with Waymo CEO John Krafcik. As you probably know, Wayno is Google’s autonomous cars division, and the firm has just secured a major deal with Jaguar.

Krafcik reveals that he has a Porsche 911 GT3 on order and is the proud owner of several Porsches and a Caterham. While many fear the impact of the driverless technology being developed by his firm, he sees a bright future for car enthusiasts.

“Our technology will impact on the blander end of the middle market - instead of buying those cars, people will use our services,” he says. “But my view is that people will still want to own cars, but only really interesting or really practical ones. I think the result will be more interesting cars, not less interesting ones - and enthusiasts will be the ones that really benefit."

That's just as well, because while Porsche is also developing autonomous tech, the firm's IT chief has said that the brand's cars will be among the last to be fitted with steering wheels.

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Meanwhile, Rachel has been talking to C-Class chief engineer Christian Freuh: “He said that plans for the model’s update were already beginning not long after the initial launch of the car. One of the biggest improvements, he said, is that the sports suspension now gets adaptive damping which increases the breadth of its capability from comfort to performance.”

1150 EST/1650 BST: The bosses of Volvo probably need to make a trip to a branch of fellow Swedish firm Ikea. Not for meatballs (although a portion is surely a requirement if you're going to Ikea...), but to buy a bigger trophy cabinet. The XC40 has already been crowned the What Car? Car of the Year and the European Car of the Year - and now the firm's XC60 has been named the World Car of the Year.

Elsewhere, Rachel has just been to the Rimac stand. She says: “A glimpse into the future - this camera allows for facial recognition to open Rimac’s Concept Two hypercar.”

1110 EST/1610 BST: NEWS!

Jaguar has used the New York show to showcase its 542bhp I-Pace SVR, and Jim Holder has uncovered that it could be followed by an I-Pace version. A hot reworking of Jaguar's first electric vehicle? Sounds intriguing...

Elsewhere, Volkswagen has revealed the new Atlas Tanoak pick-up concept, a 2.6-litre V6-powered dual-cab that the German firm hopes can grab it a slice of the lucrative American pick-up market. It's built on the VW Group's ever-versatile MQB platform.

How lucrative is the American pick-up truck market? Well, while car sales in the USA fell 1.9% in 2017, the pick-up segment grew by 4.8%. The Ford F-Series of trucks (which starts with the F-150) was the best-selling pick-up line, with 896,764 sold in 2017. According to Ford, its F-Series revenue alone eclipses the total revenue of companies such as Facebook, Coca-Cola and Nike. In short: pick-up trucks are pretty lucrative...

1100 EST/1600 BST: The crowds have eased a bit around the RAV4, so Jim Holder has been able to get some better photos and take a closer look.

Jim says: “A few moments to look around the new Toyota RAV4 reveal its curious combination of go-anywhere ruggedness and new Toyota-family inspired looks. This, of course, is a car that can lay some claim to pioneering in the SUV market, and it retains a bias of practicality over fashionable flourishes, perhaps leaving the latter to the big-selling C-HR.

“Even so, while this latest version of the RAV4 is much more conventional in many respects, it’s easy to imagine why it appeals to a far broader fanbase.”

Notably, the RAV4 sits on the same Toyota New Global Architecture platform as models such as the C-HR and Auris. And, like the new Auris, it will come with only petrol or hybrid engines, with Toyota moving away from diesels.

Speaking of bold styling, something caught Jim's eye on the Subaru stand - and it wasn't a car. He says: "Takeshi Tachimori, Vice President of Subaru, is sporting a curious cat-themed badge [pictured below] at the New York show, where he is representing the brand as it launches an updated Forrester.

"The patterns are made by a Japanese textile firm and Tachimori has brought a job lot with him to the US, where Subarus are advertised to families as pet friendly. ‘We’re an underdog brand with a simple message of making the lives of our owners better,’ he said. ‘I thought we’d have a bit of fun making the point. Usually we use dogs, but we love cats too!’

1030 EST/1530 BST: Rachel notes: “I was talking to a man with too much money recently who was contemplating buying a Lamborghini Huracan or a Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, which just shows you the stature of the Jeep brand in America. It’s a brand that hasn’t done so well in Europe recently but in America it remains part of the all-American dream.”

Back in Britain, James Attwood perked up considerably at mention of the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk: "On a trip to the SEMA Show last year I got to drive the Trackhawk on a racing circuit. I'm not sure who thought it was a good idea to stick a 6.2-litre 697bhp supercharged Hellcat engine in an SUV, but... well, it is. Ridiculous fun. And room for shopping and the kids too. Don't get that with a Huracan..."

First drive: Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk 

Jim Holder popped by the Honda stand for a little look: “Honda has long proudly given different global regions autonomy to run their businesses as they see fit, and while it’s a small point this always stands out in the US where its logo is backed by blue rather than red. They say this is because blue is a ‘friendlier’ colour than ‘angry’ red, but in an increasingly homogenised world it looks constantly jarring to an international eye. Still, so long as they keep making angry Civic Type Rs perhaps we should just leave them to it.”

Jim then visited Toyota, to take a look at the new RAV4. It’s clearly a bit popular, as Jim’s efforts to take a photo showed (we're loving the check jacket and faded jeans combo of the guy to the RAV4's left). “It’s busy,” he noted…

Jim did find a bit more space elsewhere on the stand: “Toyota has obviously nailed the target market for the RAV4. Where most portray their cars as helping deliver a care-free lifestyle, using glowing models with beaming grins and tousled hair-dos to get their point across, Toyota gets straight to the point in its stand, with a Perspex cube showing just how much sporting and family clutter the car’s boot can hold [73.4 cubic feet, or 2078 litres]. As anyone with a young family will attest, this feels infinitely more relevant to reality.”

Please note: Jim doesn't routinely shove his family and all their posessions inside a big perspex cube.

0945 EST/1445 BST: Rachel has been over at Jaguar: “The F-Pace SVR is the all-new car from Jaguar at the show but people are far more interesting in the I-Pace…”

Jaguar isn’t the only British presence Rachel has found: “Parked in a quiet corner there’s a very small nod to Bentley and Rolls-Royce, both of whom presumably want a presence however small.”

Jim Holder: “The hustle and bustle of Geneva meant it was hard to get a close look at Nissan’s Formula E contender. Yes, it’s a paint job on a spec chassis, and I’m yet to be won over by the idea of electric racing cars, but does t it look good?

"Seems to me the series organisers have made a far better job of integrating the halo into the design than the Formula 1 regulators, and the swept back wings over the rear wings do a fantastic job of making the car look like it’s going fast at a standstill. I’m sure that technically it’s a million miles behind an F1 car, and I get the argument that F1 is an unrivalled technical challenge, but Formula E has it nailed when it comes to visual drama.”

If you're not sure what the halo device Jim mentioned is, it's a new safety feature that now features on F1 cars - that's been a bit divisive because it's, well, not that pretty. Check out our interview with one of its inventors here

Rachel: "I’ve found the proper American hall, full of picks ups and huge SUVs. Spotted this at Detroit motor show, but it’s no less of a monster the second time round..."

 

In case you were wondering what exactly the thing pictured above is, it's the GMC Sierra HD 2500 All Mountain Concept. As the tank tracks suggest, it's a snow-ready concept machine, powered by a 6.6-litre turbodiesel engine with 445hp and 910lb ft of torque, powered through a six-speed automatic gearbox. Where was this when we needed it during the Beast from the East?

0900 EST/1400 BST: Jim Holder is over at the Hyundai stand: “One of the bigger launches here is the refreshed Hyundai Tucson. The car’s still under wraps on the show floor, but a huge delegation of Hyundai management is swarming the stand, where five cars are under covers.

“It’s an important car for the brand, having so far impressed but not starred in a booming segment that more and more buyers are flocking to. The question is whether the relatively minor upgrades are enough to put it on a par with the very best.

“Tucked in the corner and in danger of being overlooked, meanwhile, is the new Hyundai Nexo. It’s been seen before of course, but it’s a fine looking car that shows just how on the front foot Hyundai can be when it comes to new technologies and innovative tech.”

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Rachel stopped by the Cadillac stand to look at the firm's new SUV.

Rachel: “This is the interior of the new Cadillac XT4, which could make its way to Europe. Was intrigued to see how interior shaped up compared to typically better-quality European counterparts. It’s better than I expected, but some cheap plastics still noticeable.”

0815 EST/1315 BST: Jim Holder has been mulling the future of motor shows. “Debates rage about the future of motor shows, especially as they pitch car makers’ new products head to head in a battle for coverage, meaning a select group of winners and many more losers in the race for attention.

“Smaller shows, like New York, work on a different level, though. Firstly, the big launches like the Jaguar F-Pace SVR and Toyota RAV4 get a far greater degree of coverage, taking show star status where they could otherwise be side shows, than they would in somewhere like Geneva, and secondly big city events like this inevitably attract huge crowds, putting the products in front of the people that will buy them.”

Jim Holder has also been causing trouble. “Still, last minute prep over running - the show doors are open but not everyone is ready. I’ve even just been booted off the VW stand as ‘we’re not ready for you yet’. There’s a couple of cars temptingly hiding off stage so check back later to see if there are any surprises.”

Rachel spent the evening before the show with Mercedes for the reveal of the Mercedes-AMG C63: “Last night, AMG boss Tobias Moers was at New York’s main Mercedes dealership with the new GT4, revealed at Geneva, saying it’s going “to be a beast on track.”

0730 EST/1230 BST: Want a sign of how dedicated Autocar's team is? Jim Holder notes: "This is the 38-seat media shuttle for 0730 am. Just me and the driver..."

Meanwhile, Rachel Burgess is already at the show (no news on how full her media bus was). She notes: "Ford has prime place as you enter the show - which is of course headed up by a super cool GT and an iconic American police car."

Clearly, we're just waiting for Ford to produce a police car version of the GT which, we imagine, would make car chases a lot shorter...

Rachel has also ventured to the BMW stand. "Interesting collection of colours on display," she notes. "I'd go green."

Anyone else picking a different colour?

More updates to follow

2018 New York motor show: the cars

The Big Apple show is traditionally SUV and truck-friendly, although sports cars are also big favourites. You can check out some of the new cars that will be unveiled below.

Cadillac XT4

Cadillac will reveal a compact SUV called the XT4 in New York and will be hoping for a boost in sales by tapping into the world's fastest growing car segment.

Jaguar F-Pace SVR

Jaguar has confirmed it will reveal its most potent version of the F-Pace this week. Expect more than 540bhp from a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 and muscular styling to match.

Kia K900

We won't get this luxury saloon in the UK, but Kia's top American model often previews what's to come elsewhere around the world.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class / C-Class Coupé / C-Class Cabriolet

The C-Class has just been revealed in facelifted form at Geneva, so New York will be the setting for the reveal of the tweaked Coupé and Cabriolet variants…

Mercedes-AMG C63

…as well as the stonking, twin-turbocharged V8-engined C63. The current model has 469bhp, so expect even more from this latest version. 

Subaru Forester

Subaru’s new Forester SUV will be unveiled in New York, before a hybrid variant is unveiled the Beijing motor show on 25 April.

Toyota RAV4

 

 

Toyota has been teasing its new RAV4 in the run up to New York, but no specs have been revealed so far. It’s expected to follow the Auris in ditching diesel engines, with a punchy 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid replacing the oil-burner.

Volkswagen Atlas five-seater

Volkswagen has previewed an SUV concept that shares a face (and therefore likely underpinnings) with the seven-seat Atlas, a North America-focused model. The New York concept is expected to be a five-seater, however. It won't come to Europe because Volkswagen already offers a five-seat large SUV here, the Touareg.

Join the debate

Comments
5

26 March 2018

 I read today that BMW and Mercedes were not showing.....?

Peter Cavellini.

17 May 2018

What about the new Lamborghini Aventador SVJ or Huracan Performante Spyder? Aren't one of those to gonna be released at Geneva? Same with the new Aston Martin Vanquish, Porsche 991.2 GT3 RS and BMW X3 M and X4 M. run 3

22 May 2018

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1 August 2018

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30 August 2018

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