8 April 2004

New York is a slightly odd motor show, nestled between the Premier League and the First Division of shows on a worldwide scale. On the one hand, there are only a few genuine world firsts, but on the other there will normally be some big news in the Big Apple, as manufacturers know they won’t be competing for headlines like at Geneva, Paris or Detroit. And so it proved with the 2004 New York Auto Show. Land Rover used the event for the world premiere of the new Discovery, undoubtedly the star of the show. Normally, performance cars grab the headlines, but this event was taken over by a raft of more sensible vehicles, although, being America, they were SUVs and luxury models.

On top of the Disco, Jeep’s new Grand Cherokee and the new Saab 9-7X made their world debuts. The Jeep will find its way across the Atlantic in around 12 months time, while the Saab won’t until the new car is replaced in 2007.

From the luxury models point of view, the Cadillac STS, Infiniti M45 and Acura RL all debuted with a varying degree of UK interest. The Caddy is a 5-series rival that will come to Europe, although UK sales are still unconfirmed; the M45, part of Nissan’s luxury arm Infiniti – think Toyota’s Lexus – could have European significance if the brand ever makes its much talked-about move to Europe; the Acura, on the other hand, will arrive in the UK next spring with a Honda badge as the new Legend.

The most luxurious car of all though had a Jaguar badge - the new long-wheelbase XJ made its first public appearance. It was joined on the stand by a sumptuous show car called Concept Eight, an XJ LWB with completely redesigned interior aimed solely at comfort and luxury.

Performance cars were in attendance though, with Ford’s big news being the Mustang GT-R, a jaw-dropping concept designed to celebrate 40 years of the Pony brand, the anniversary of which is next week. Mercedes-Benz continued its quest for more and more ridiculous power outputs with the SL65 AMG, whilst Lincoln and Buick were among the US brands with new models to show off.

A range of US debuts already seen at the Geneva show last month included the Mini Convertible, while the small British manufacturers were represented in the form of Lotus and Morgan; Rolls Royce was conspicuous by its absence.

See next week’s Autocar for more on the New York Auto Show, out on 13 April.

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