As somewhere to visit New York beats Detroit by an immeasurable distance. Yet in recent years the Big Apple’s motor show has been the poor relation of Motown’s despite the organisers’ efforts to spice up the annual event on Eleventh Avenue in Manhatten.
This year’s event did, at least, have an international flavour. Merc was out in force early on showing us the remarkable looking SLS GT3 race car that anyone will be able to buy off the shelf by the end of the year to start campaigning in various events in 2011. More significantly insiders were whispering that the GT3’s lighter and slightly altered body will form the basis of a hardcore SLS Black for the road.
More relevant to most of us was the launch of the restyled R-class. Yes it looks a bit less clunky than the under-selling old one but it’s still not going to set the world alight I’d say - even if Merc sales boss Joachim Schmidt described it as the ‘world’s sportiest and most versatile crossover’.
Ford boss Alan Mulally kicked off the show with a breakfast keynote speech and his body language, patter and the expert way he fielded questions confirmed him once again as the motor industry’s smoothest CEO. There’s a lot of substance to the bloke though and he talked expertly about the electrification of the car. There’s an electric Focus arriving next year, plus Ford will also be launching two new hybrids and a plug-in hybrid in the next couple of years. Later on he also launched another interesting tie up with Microsoft to help us manage electricity and optimise when and where to charge EVs.
The other domestic car makers had little to show, though that said the Chevy Cruze Eco was interesting. Pick of the offerings or me was the Cadillac CTS-V estate, with enough firepower to give the hot Audi and Merc wagons something of a fright. This car has been on the cards for a while, we hear, but delayed because of GM's financial troubles.