The 2014 running of the New York motor show was one for remembering legends, reinventing them, and perhaps creating new ones.
The story of the show was undoubtedly the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept. Like all great concept cars, the Discovery Vision stirred debate. Does it look too similar to the Range Rover? Is it too much of a departure from the current Discovery, already an acclaimed design?
Whatever people thought about the concept, they still spent the whole show talking about it, which is the sign of true star quality.
Nostalgic nods to legends still in production today came courtesy of the Ford Mustang, which celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special edition, and the Mazda MX-5, which celebrated its 25th with a new special and brought along a whole host of classic MX-5s with it in a special display.
While we’ve already seen the future of the Ford Mustang with the next-generation Mustang, Mazda has so-far kept quiet on the next MX-5. Until New York that is where it showed off the car’s completed chassis and suspension systems, a masterpiece in compact packaging and the first glimpse of how the innovative firm will look to get the roadster under 1000kg. We’ll see the results before the year is out.
Another compact sports car heading to the US is the Alfa Romeo 4C, marking the return to the US for Alfa after two decades away and the best part of another decade full of promises it was coming back.
The brand still holds great kudos in the US after the Alfa Spider’s starring role in 1960s film The Graduate, despite quality issues that forced its most recent exit. The 4C will look to leverage that and raise awareness ahead of Alfa’s relaunch proper next year when the talking and false dawns will surely finally stop with a new range of rear-wheel drive models made in Italy.
While Alfa bids to use its history to get a leg-up in the competitive US market, European rivals BMW and Mercedes can point to good products for runaway successes there and show the forces Alfa has to compete with.
Both BMW and Mercedes are on for record sales again this year, and brought new models with star quality to New York, BMW with the M4 convertible and controversial X6-inspired X4 SUV and Mercedes the stunning S63 AMG coupe.
AMG boss Tobias Moers reckons the car is better to drive than it looks; and some model that’s going to be if he’s proved correct.
Other worthy models at the show included Hyundai’s sharp new Sonata saloon that we’ll see as the next i40, Kia’s new Sedona MPV that fully draws the curtain on the ugly old-school Kia design that’s been eradicated by Peter Schreyer, and the Nissan Murano, a big new SUV that could come to the UK and tempt buyers out of their BMW X3s and Audi Q5s.