The New York International Auto Show starts today, March 29, but the preview for press and industry folks was the previous two days. Since there’s no saying that you will be able to attend, how about a preview of some of the more notable vehicles?
No one was expecting this one – we knew there was going to be an announcement, but for what? Golly gee, it was the Camaro Z/28! Kudos to Chevrolet for keeping this under wraps and giving us THE surprise of the event. Of course, people have been clamoring for a Z for quite awhile, but what we thought was going to be a Z a few years ago ended up being a different kind of Z, the ZL1. At 500 horses, the Z/28 is the most powerful naturally aspirated small block Camaro ever, but it’s not faster than the ZL1; however, the latter was built for the straight line while this Z is built for the curves. Chevrolet’s claims are impressive, but we’ll have to wait another year to see how good it really is. With AC optional, we know Chevrolet’s heart is in the right place.
Otherwise, the Camaro was facelifted for 2014 with refinements to the grille, headlights, hood, and taillights. Interior was spruced up too. Overall, an improvement that will carry the Camaro through into its more sensible redesign in a few years.
The photos of the Impala sedan has elicited a “ho-hum” response from yours truly, but in person the Great American Sedan is handsome, although I wish the stylists would have used their creativity a bit more. With a slight Camaro influence to its “face,” the Impala should make plenty of Americans happy, but the 300 and Charger will likely continue to be the quintessential American sedan. The Corvette also suffers from a similar problem – the photos don’t do it justice – but in person this car is fantastic. Yeah, I still think the rear end is polarizing, but seeing it in the flesh one can’t help but think what a spectacular job Chevrolet did. So why couldn’t they do the same thing to the new Chevy SS? If you really want to talk about playing it safe, that’s what they did with this one. The Pontiac G8 was a nice effort with crisp styling but the SS is almost anonymous. Hopefully this stop-gap vehicle will evolve into something that will make Chevy (and Pontiac) folks proud.
Subaru WRX Concept
As perhaps the most anticipated unveiling at the NYIAS, one could imagine it would be just another dowdy Subie with a front end only a Saab could love. This time they got it right, and it’s the body the WRX motor has always been waiting for. Sprayed in trademark Subaru Rally Blue with fabulous metalflake highlights and fluorescent yellow detailing, this coupe-like sedan may appear to be a Scion tC upon initial glance but it is clearly cut from a different cloth. Befitting a show car, the lights front and back were among the neater features. The interior? Dunno, couldn’t see inside, which isn’t unusual for a concept. While still somewhat conservative, it’s a stocky looker and a step in the right direction for the 2015 model year. Gold star, Subaru!
With an old-fashioned name that smacks of a more genteel time, this nod to the past will make one aspire to be a millionaire in the future. Recent Rolls designs have not been sexy, but that’s all about to change with this fastback coupe with suicide doors (plus a compartment for an umbrella in the door jambs, no less!). The Wraith is five inches shorter than the Ghost with a wheelbase seven inches shorter, giving it proportions that may remind one of the early-1950s Bentley Continental R-type even more so than contemporary Bentleys. The interior, as would be expected, is the definition of sumptuous, and the headliner is available with a starry night feature that is impossibly gimmicky and better for it. Car and Driver magazine says Rolls claims 0-60 in 4.4 seconds. LOVE
With one of the few true-blue concept cars at NYIAS, Hyundai continues to shake up expectations of what the brand is and what it is capable of . . . if only they could give it a better name! The HCD-14 foreshadows the next-generation Genesis, which doesn’t use the angular design language of the current stable but, rather, may remind one of Infinitis from the time before they hit their stride. With Hyundai’s 5.0-litre V-8 and eight-speed automatic hooked up to the rear wheels, it’s stuffed with the latest gee-whiz electronics like optical recognition (perfect for car jackings), an “eclectic fusion of analog and digital sources” for the dashboard, and their Intuitive Connectivity Concept. Forget about Kim Jong Un for a moment and realize that this is the most newsworthy Korean.
BMW 3-series GT
Ever see a 5-series Gran Turismo? It’s perhaps the most ungainly vehicle on American roads today, although BMW deserves kudos for trying different things in the quest for advancing personal transportation. Apparently the car has been more successful than one think (although sales have been quite poor in America) because they’ve now applied the formula to the 3-series. Seems the Bavarian company took the wheelbase from the Chinese market 3-series (China has its own 3-series? :blink:) and added a hatchback. It comes off MUCH better than the 5-series GT, which is a relief because BMW seems to be slipping compared to Audi and Mercedes. With no 3-series wagon anymore, this kinda-replacement is more spacious for trips to IKEA but also weighs 300 pounds more than the sedan, so you can expect Bimmer-quality handling but not at the same level as the sedan. Base motor will be the 2.8-litre with 240 horses.
2014 Cadillac CTS
The CTS received a facelift for the first time since it was redesigned a few years ago. The redesign was a fabulous take on the original CTS, which was successful for turning Cadillac’s credibility around although it was never a love of mine until the second-gen debuted for 2008. The snub-nosed facelift advances the “face” past the stacked headlights of yore and into another direction, yet it’s still handsome. The cowl to the rear, however, is a bit disappointing not because it doesn’t measure up but rather because it appears as a “me too!” response to Mercedes. And while the rear isn’t quite Rubenesque, the taillights are chunkier than necessary. Wheelbase is up 1.2 inches and there’s more than 4 inches added to overall length, so it’s now clear that the CTS isn’t competing with the 3-series Bimmer even though it always looked to be of similar size. Weight has decreased – a nice trend for once – so when equipped with the new twin-turbo 3.6-litre V-6, the 420 horses will be more than apparent. Would you believe 0-60 in 4.6 seconds with a top speed of 170 mph? It wasn’t long ago that V-8 Ferraris couldn’t touch that.
Chrysler 300 Varvatos Edition
Not much new at Chrysler but, for you fashionistas, there’s a John Varvatos-edition 300C. With a special satin Phantom Black metallic paint with contrasting titanium 20-inch wheels and trim, it’s quite a sharp machine. Interior mimicks the exterior but reflects more upgrades from the standard 300. The Pentastar V-6 with eight-speed automatic is standard but V-8 fiends will have to do with the five-speed automatic.
While the Grand Cherokee received a facelift, the big news is the return of the Cherokee. In many ways the Cherokee continued to live in spirit in the Liberty, but it’s time to bring back the name that shouldn’t have gone away in the first place. But while the name returns, this ain’t just a new-gen Liberty. In fact, the styling is quite polarizing, almost taking a cue from the Nissan Juke with parking lights and headlights that confuse the eye. Its easier to warm up to the Cherokee in person, though, and it just may be a hit with suburbanites and Jeepsters alike. Taillights veer off into something different from the usual family resemblance, but it’s still in the family fold even with even some Alfa Romeo underneath.
This thing is ridiculous . . . and I want it. This Power Wagon has a 383-horse 5.7-litre HEMI, 37-inch tires, electronic locking front and rear differentials with 4.56 rear, 12,000-pound winch, and so much more to make you a hero.
Cars are my life. Are they yours? Then check out my index for more of my automotive musings. And if you have an idea for a story, email me and tell me about it!