New York may be the Big Apple but when it comes to motor shows it plays a supporting role to the main attractions in Detroit and Los Angeles.
This year’s show was no exception with both Ford and Chevrolet offering up no new models or exciting concepts.
But that doesn’t mean the show was a disappointment as there were still several important new models and some head-turning concept cars to showcase the future direction for some key brands.
Here are our highlights from this year’s New York motor show.
Hyundai’s emerging luxury brand took the covers off its would-be rival to the likes of the BMW X5 and Lexus RX
The Genesis GV80 Concept previews the South Korean brand’s first luxury SUV that is set to reach Australian showrooms by the end of the decade. Hyundai Australia won’t confirm exact timing of when the production GV80 will go on sale but has said it will offer both this and a planned smaller Genesis SUV by 2020.
The GV80 Concept also previews the brand’s next evolution in its ‘Athletic Elegance’ styling language. There is still the same large, bold grille seen on the current Genesis model but the headlights are thinner and more stylish and the side of the SUV is cleaner but features some sharp crease lines.
The concept rides on 23-inch alloy wheels to complete its dramatic exterior look.
Inside, the cabin is minimalist in its design, dominated by a massive 22-inch curved OLED screen that sits atop the dashboard. The concept features little in the way of switchgear, which is a major departure from the current Genesis range which misses out on a computer-style interface like rival German premium brands offer.
Genesis revealed very little in the way of technical specifications about the GV80. The only reference to performance was a claim that it was powered by a fuel cell.
However, the production car is likely to borrow heavily from the G80 sedan that is available with either petrol 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 or 5.0-litre V8; although locally only with the six-cylinder.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk?
The once off-road focused brand unveiled its most tarmac focused machine yet. In fact, as the name implies, this latest Grand Cherokee is meant for the racetrack.
The long-rumoured high-performance soft roader rockets straight to the top of the charts as the world’s most powerful and fastest SUV thanks to a supercharged heart transplant from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat.
Under the bonnet of the Trackhawk sits the same force-fed 6.2-litre V8 that produces 527kW of power and a monstrous 874Nm of torque, enough to propel it from 0-100km/h in 3.6 seconds, cover the quarter mile in 11.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 290km/h.
But it’s not just a weapon in a straight line, as Jeep has beefed-up the rest of the Grand Cherokee’s mechanical package to handle the extra grunt and improve its road holding.
There’s a stronger eight-speed automatic, heavy-duty rear axles, specifically-tuned adaptive dampers and lower, stiffer springs in the suspension as well as the biggest brakes ever applied to a Jeep – 400mm two-piece vented front rotors with six-piston callipers and 350mm vented rear rotors with four-piston callipers – which the brand claims will arrest the Trackhawk from 100km/h to a complete stop in 36 metres.
Jeep Australia has yet to officially confirm the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will be offered locally, but the company’s new Managing Director, Steve Zanlunghi, has previously expressed his desire for such a vehicle when it becomes available. We’d bet the 527kW monster truck will hit Aussie showrooms before the end of the year.
Dodge used New York to unveil the wildest muscle car in modern history, a pumped-up and stripped-out machine called the Challenger SRT Demon. It’s built for the drag strip, where it holds a new world record for the longest wheelie by an unmodified car.
The Demon will lift its front wheels off the ground during a hard launch, just like a sports bike or serious drag car. The machine officially hikes its front tyres off the ground for 2.92 feet – a little less than a metre – while producing a staggering 1.8g of accelerative force.
Dodge says it accelerates to 60 miles per hour (96km/h) in 2.3 seconds, completing the 0-400 metre drag strip run in 9.65 seconds. That’s enough for America’s NHRA drag racing body to declare the Demon as the fastest production car over a quarter mile.
Under the bonnet is an upgraded version of the Hemi V8 from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat. The Demon gets a bigger supercharger that helps produce staggering 626kW (840 horsepower) and 1043Nm outputs; up from 527kW (707hp). While those sort of numbers are regularly achieved in the world of aftermarket tuners, we’ve never seen a car like this in stock form with a factory warranty.
Sadly, like the rest of the Dodge range the Demon won’t be available in Australia.
Subaru Ascent Concept
The Japanese brand took the covers off its long-awaited replacement for the Tribeca SUV.
Now known as the Ascent the stylish large SUV concept features three row of seats and an all-new turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine.
The Ascent Concept measures 5029mm in length, which makes it slightly longer than the Toyota Kluger.
But there’s bad news for Subaru Australia – the Ascent will be built in the US in left-hand drive only. Subaru Australia had previously indicated that the new SUV wouldn’t be available locally despite the obvious need to fill the hole in the line-up above the Forester.
The Japanese car giant is targeting a new subset of SUV customers with its radical new FT-4X concept, a spiritual successor to the cult-favourite FJ Cruiser.
Toyota has “casualcore” Gen-Y or millennial buyers in mind for the machine, people inspired by what they’ve seen on Instagram or Snapchat, who “hardly plan ahead” before heading out in search of adventure.
The FT-4X, or “Future Toyota-Four-Wheel Drive Crossover” taps into that culture by making last-minute adventures as easy as possible.
Powered by a four-cylinder engine mated to a proper four-wheel-drive system, the Toyota promises to give people an opportunity to reach interesting places and become a base camp when they arrive.
Toyota’s Californian studio designed the chunky-looking crossover from back to front, starting with an ingenious “Multi Hatch” split tailgate that can open horizontally or vertically, encouraging people to use the rear of the car in social settings.
Clever touches include storage compartments that can cool or heat knick-knacks (even dry damp clothes), interior lights that can be removed to function as torches and a removable North Face armrest cover that doubles as a sleeping bag.
The armrest itself is a removable cargo box, the door handles also work as water bottomless, , there is a GoPro camera mounted within an external rear view mirror and a dock for the driver’s smartphone to take advantage of music and mapping apps.
Interestingly, Toyota reckons the smartphone-savvy “swipe right” generation are more likely to appreciate the tactility of mechanical knobs, dials and levers throughout the cabin, so it resisted the modern temptation to put capacitive-touch switches throughout the interior.
While there are no official plans to put the FT-4X into production, it does offer an interesting glimpse into a potential replacement to the FJ Cruiser, and a window into Toyota’s thinking for future SUVs.