Winners and Losers of New York
As we start coming down from the 2016 New York Auto Show, here’s a look at what I think are going to be the real winners, losers, and wannabes that have seen the light for the first time.
Winner: Nissan GT-R
The 2017 GT-R doesn’t look all that different from the old one. With the elder Godzilla being one of the dominating forces on the track, that’s not entirely a bad thing. While the hyper-Nissan is starting to get a little bit long in the tooth, there’s no denying that it’s still one of the most sadomasochistic machines on the track. A power boost and some transmission reflashes can only be good for the GT-R, which is still one of the most saliva-producing cars you can get.
Winner: Audi R8 Spyder
Whether or not you like convertibles, there’s no doubt that the business case for them is there, even in the supercar market. Where the old R8 Spyder was one of the best drop-tops that money could buy, the new one looks like it’s going to maintain the status quo. I can only dream of hearing that eargasmic Lamborghini V10 braying at wide open throttle. Let the men of the 1% in mid-life crisis rejoice.
Winner: Honda Civic Hatchback
Honda heard our cries. WE WANT HATCHBACK! WE WANT TURBO MANUAL!! And, at New York, they proved to their customers that they were, in fact, listening. Not only does the Civic hatch look great, but it finally pairs the wonderful turbocharged engine with a good-old Honda 6-speed (an option that will also be available on the sedan).
Loser: Lincoln Navigator
Go ahead, put me in the stockades and hurl rotten produce at me. I’m being highly cynical here, but I very much doubt that the flashy, full-of-shock-factor Navi concept will translate to a realistic production model (even though the Continental retained most of its charm). But even if you do believe that FoMoCo will keep the cool factor, the Navigator concept has serious problems. It features styling that is inspired by (read plaigiarized from) the latest-generation Range Rover; and with the market place slowly moving away from gaudy blingmobiles, the Lincoln looks like it’s ready to play the same old ballgame. While it could definitely boost some sales for the “new” Lincoln Motor Company in the short run, Lincoln has pretty much failed to make the Navigator any more relevant.
Loser: Subaru Impreza
“Underwhelming” would be the adjective used to describe the 2017 Subie Impreza. While the styling would make for a pretty good game of Spot the Differences against the old one, the comparison of the mechanical specs is equally unimpressive. Neeeeext.
Loser: Acura MDX
The new hybrid model notwithstanding, there really isn’t much difference between the 2017 MDX and its predecessor. In a rapidly-evolving marketplace where the players keep getting better and better, this is pretty bad news, regardless of whether or not you like the new, controversial front end.
Jury's out: Mazda MX-5 RF
The purists balked at the extra weight. The coupe fanboys were disappointed with the folding hard-top. But there’s no denying that the targa-topped Miata offers more 4-season usability than the ragtop. Mazda’s gambling here, but the returns could be spectacular by introducing a whole-new market segment to Mazda’s beloved sportscar.
Jury's out: Toyota Prius Prime/Hyundai Ioniq
Obviously, this is not the petrolhead in me speaking. However, Toyota is fully aware that the Prius has been losing market share for a number of years now. The Prius Prime hopes to tap into the growing plug-in hybrid market, as does the all-new Hyundai Ioniq. Whether they will have any grand success in the market remains to be seen, but the fact that both manufacturers are taking the same tack seems to indicate at least some demand for PHEVs in the U.S. market.
Jury's out: Mercedes-Benz GLC-Series Coupe
If you want to know what I think of sport utility coupes, look up Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear review of the Chrysler Crossfire. However, the market seems to not be quite so black-and-white. We have seen spectacular success with the BMW X4/X6, and huge disappointment with the Acura ZDX. It will be interesting to see where the GLC-Class falls. Will Mercedes steal some potential X4 buyers, or will they stick with the Ultimate Driving Machine?