The Truth About The New York Auto Show

Justin Berkowitz
by Justin Berkowitz
the truth about the new york auto show

There are some amongst us who hate auto shows in general and any given auto show in specific. They see the pistonhead conclaves as a soulless smorgasbord of automobiles in aspic, with side tables filled with deep fried hype. I don't share the antipathy. Where else can you go and see PR flacks spinning each other? It's like Paris after 911, when French café waiters were forced to be rude to each other. Oh yeah, and there are lots of cars for dissing, dismissing and, occasionally, drooling. Live, from New York! It's Here's What You Missed!

After years of W-THIST (Where the Hell is it?), Volkswagen is bringing a 50-state compliant diesel engine to the US, nestled into the snouts of the Rabbit and Jetta. Even better, VW has married the brawny diesel (140hp and 230 lb-ft of torque) with their world beating six speed DSG transmission. Best of all, the parsimonious granola eater's oil burner (40 mpg) is an ideal alternative to the thirsty AND anemic 2.5 liter buzz-box currently infesting the U.S. model range. So why not the Passat?

Dodge has Demons. Rumor has it someone still employed by DCX green lighted this hideous roadster for production. Boil that dust speck! Bargain-basement pricing assures The Dodge Boys another generous helping of razor thin profit margins. If Dodge wants to sell a true Sunday car, they should build one that appeals to the 50-somethings who might actually buy one, rather than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Ralph Gilles, why has thou forsaken us, bro?
Mercedes unveiled the new C-Class, which is definitely not a German taxi (except when it is) and the 500hp-ish CLK63 AMG Black Series, which will elevate the model into the top ranks of catastrophic depreciation. The C-Class is, get this, sexy. If its dynamics match its demeanor, if it drives more like the brick C-Class of the early and mid 1990s and less like the flaccid, rolling logo of the current millennium, Mercedes salesman will soon be sailing on high C sales. By the seashore.

The CX-F is a drop-dead gorgeous concept car from a Ford subsidiary on the brink of dropping dead. This four-wheeled Hail Mary pass is a radical departure from Jaguar's recent design heritage; it's got about as much to do with the S-Type as American car buyers. Ian Callum was at the New York auto show to talk the talk about how his company's new look can pull it back from the brink. Again. Still. But the CX-F concept car wasn't there to walk the talk. This led to some talk: why does someone want the CX-F to disappear? Or has Jag's ballroom budget been busted?

Audi brought their S5 coupe into the Big Apple, complete with the Audi R8's front end. The side profile is… um… let me check the photos… it is. Taken as a hole, the S5 plugs the last remaining gap in Audi's lineup (the one that helped you understand the difference between the various model sizes). If German pricing is any indication, the A5/S5 will make the A4/S4 look like a Blue Light Special. We're talking $46,639.19 and $63,064.33, before tax, title, registration and floor mats.
Lincoln's MKR concept revives the great American tradition of gaudy, sci-fi showcars. Luckily, only the Twin-Force (twin turbo six) powerplant is slated for production– despite rumors that the gargantuan grille may someday see service. The concept allegedly makes 415 horsepower, so we can bet on a final number closer to 315hp when all's said and done. If Ford pawns off Jaguar, Lincoln might actually be allowed to build its own cars again. If so, this engine– not the wacky sheetmetal– will help guide Lincoln's stewards towards what a luxury car should be.

Surprise! Kia didn't have the most exciting cars on display at the New York auto show. I wanted to ask a flackling a few questions, but their display was all about Pink Floyd. Is there anybody out there? out there? out there? Nope. The Kia Rondo taxi cab concept spoke for itself. As the Ford Crown Vic dies, the taxi fleet market is looking for the next cheap thing. With no upmarket retail image to sully, Kia would be happy to oblige.

Last but least, Toyota showed the ugliest car Toyota has built in recent memory. Whereas the new Camry and RAV4 sit somewhere between bland, sharp looking and modern, the new Highlander runs the gamut from vile to noxious to Nosferatu. Not to put too fine a point on it, it's a rolling emetic.

Strange to say, Toyota's becoming more American every day. Think about it: too many overlapping products (Highlander, RAV4, 4Runner), expecting ugly cars to sell on their strong brand name (Highlander) and investing in new SUVs while gas prices ascend to the heavens (Highlander). See? Another great reason to go to the show: you can watch assimilation in action. Or is that inaction?

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  • Johnson Johnson on Apr 10, 2007
    too many overlapping products What other examples of overlapping products are there? Toyota's lineup is probably the last one I would mention in terms of overlap. I don’t have the specs on the new Highlander, but the old one was a mid size crossover-SUV built on the Camry platform. The RAV4 is a compact size built on the Corolla platform. The 4Runner is a mid-size built on a truck platform. The 2008 Highlander will be 3 inches longer than the 2007. Thanks for bringing that up. 3 different vehicles on 3 different platforms. 2 are crossovers, one is a body-on-frameIt's not even confirmed that there will be a next-gen 4Runner. Certainly not an overlap problem. If one wanted to talk about overlap, no need to go further than GM's new full size CUVs. There is the GMC cadia, the Saturn Outlook, a coming Chevy version, and a rumoured Cadillac version. Toyota in 2007 = Chevrolet in 1985? Not quite. Let's all stop jumping to conclusions. In 1985, there were already many omnious signs that GM was in big trouble in the future, and instead of trying to improve the situation, GM continued making bad decisions all the way through the 90s up until 2007, where they still continue to make bad decisions.
  • ZoomZoom ZoomZoom on Apr 10, 2007

    Robert Farago responded to ZoomZoom: "The “male model” in front of the Demon is the car’s designer, Ralph Gilles. Not so handsome now, eh?" Haha, I suppose that shows you how little I take note of "who's who" in the automotive world.

  • Tassos BTW I thought this silly thing was always called the "Wienermobile".
  • Tassos I have a first cousin with same first and last name as my own, 17 years my junior even tho he is the son of my father's older brother, who has a summer home in the same country I do, and has bought a local A3 5-door hatch kinds thing, quite old by now.Last year he told me the thing broke down and he had to do major major repairs, replace the whole engine and other stuff, and had to rent a car for two weeks in a touristy location, and amazingly he paid more for the rental ( Euro1,500, or $1,650-$1,700) than for all the repairs, which of course were not done at the dealer (I doubt there was a dealer there anyway)
  • Tassos VW's EV program losses have already been horrific, and with (guess, Caveman!) the Berlin-Brandenburg Gigafactory growing by leaps and bounds, the future was already quite grim for VW and the VW Group.THis shutdown will not be so temporary.The German Government may have to reach in its deep pockets, no matter how much it hates to spend $, and bail it out."too big to fail"?
  • Billccm I had a 1980 TC3 Horizon and that car was as reliable as the sun. Underappreciated for sure.
  • Inside Looking Out I did not notice, did they mention climate change? How they are going to fight climate change, racism and gender discrimination. I mean collective Big 3.