There was a time when pony and muscle cars inspired songs and dreams. Candy-colored, fast and throaty, their time came – and went – with high gas prices. New automotive technology has brought them back. This week’s New York International Auto Show, ending Sunday, showcased new, more gorgeous than ever versions of the legends.
Most anticipated: the 50th anniversary Ford Mustang. While impressive on the show floor, it looked spectacular atop the Empire State Building. Ford is building just 1,964 anniversary edition GT Fastbacks, but mass-produced Mustangs capture the icon’s essence.
Dodge’s Challenger and Charger embody Americans’ thirst for speed. Dodge’s research reportedly indicates 25 percent of car buyers say performance is their purchasing priority. These Dodges deliver performance and outstanding connectivity. The Challenger’s 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system can handle 10 Bluetooth-enabled devices, turning the car into a WiFi hotspot. The Charger comes with paddle shifters on some models and the availability of a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that does zero-60 mph in under six seconds.
Chevrolet brought another fabled speedster to NYC: the Corvette Z06 Convertible with 638-hp and a zero-60 mph potential of under 3.5 seconds. But real speed-demons must check out the Koenigsegg Agera One:1 Mega. Its 1,322-hp engine, capable of 200 mph in 17 seconds, may top all competitors – for a cool $1.4 million.
Other fast Europeans in New York included Germany’s Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4MATIC coupe with 577-hp, governed top speed of 186 mph, and ability to do zero-60 in 3.9 seconds. Italy’s Maserati GranTurismo, not meant for racing, still zooms from zero-62 mph in 5.2 seconds with a top speed of 177 mph. And after 20 years, Alfa Romeo is back in the USA with the sexy 4C, coming this summer with a smallish 237-hp engine that still does zero-62 in 4.5 seconds.
Britain’s Aston Martin’s Vantage GT would enchant 007 with its 430-hp engine achieving zero-60 in 46 seconds. Not as fast, but promising lots of sportiness, is Japan’s Mazda Miata roadster, teased with its suspension and powertrain on display, but no sheet metal. The 25th Anniversary Miata was shown, looking radiant in racy Soul Red.
Consumers looking more for space or economy also had plenty to see. Nissan’s 3rd-generation, restyled Murano, called “funky” by some and “dramatic” by others, is also supposed to be 20 percent more fuel-efficient and comes with high-end technology and safety features.
Land Rover’s Discovery Vision concept foreshadows a new mid-level line of SUVs coming soon. It’s sleek, has big wheels, suicide doors and very advanced tech features, including lasers that gauge the depth of streams you want to drive through.
You probably won’t take Honda’s new crossover, the HR-V, off road. It’s built on the subcompact Fit platform, and while there was only a photo – no car – to be seen it still generated mega-buzz for its cargo-carrying potential. Chevy’s new Trax subcompact SUV comes with loads of available connected-car technology, including OnStar, a 4G LTE mobile hotspot, Siri EyesFree and more. Jeep jumps in the subcompact SUV fray with the 2015 Jeep Renegade; the Trailhawk model is built for off-roading.
VW’s new Golf SportWagen is slightly larger with an AWD version possible. It goes into production early next year. The restyled Kia Sedona minivan takes comfort and spaciousness seriously with mid-row loungers with pop-out leg rests and outstanding UVO infotainment and telematics.
Some Americans want muscle and speed, but efficiency and reliability still sell. Toyota bids to hold onto to its overall sales lead with the redesigned 2015 Camry. Coming next fall, it promises stiffer suspension, crisper steering and decidedly more aggressive styling.
Too many cars packed the show to mention here, but we also noticed the new BMW X4 crossover and the Audi A3 TDI Sportback. Hyundai’s 2015 Sonata will have high-end tech for middle-end pricing. Acura’s 2015 TLX packs more power and comes with a push-button gear selector.
The automotive world is off to Beijing. More next week.