The New York International Auto Show is home to some of the biggest US-market unveilings, as well as a chance to see some recently revealed European models in the flesh for the first time.
Held in one of the world’s most vibrant cities, the event always features some interesting new launches and some outlandish concepts.
We were on the ground to see everything first-hand:
New York 2019: Full show report
If chatter at this year’s New York motor show is anything to go by, the US vehicle market is holding strong, seemingly less affected by global headwinds than European brands.
US vehicle sales are predicted to fall this year – they were down 2.5% in the first quarter, but still won’t fall much below the 17 million mark. America’s all-time record sales year was 2016 when 17.55m vehicles were sold. By most accounts, the US market is in rude health.
Where saloons (or ‘sedans’ if you’re American) used to reign supreme, the US has fallen under the spell of SUVs as much as the rest of the world. Around 70% of auto sales are now SUVs or trucks. No surprise, then, that the show’s truck hall was full to the brim with monstrous trucks, while there were far more SUVs than saloons on manufacturer stands.
Stand-out cars? The Kia HabaNiro concept, which hints at the next Niro due in 2021, got plenty of attention thanks to its butterfly wing doors and funky looks. Alongside it was a bright orange Stinger GTS. It’s a special edition, limited to 800 units, for the US only. It wouldn’t be that interesting but for its new “Drift” mode, a feature we expect to see on an updated Stinger for Europe in a couple of years…
Those might have been the new reveals for Kia, but it’s still pushing its Telluride large SUV hard as it endeavours to establish itself as a credible SUV brand. The Korean maker is best known for its sedans in the US such as the Forte and Optima. US COO Michael says: “We have a stronger reputation as sedan brand but we’re repositioning ourselves as an SUV brand. Telluride is where we see a real opportunity. We need to build a capable SUV reputation and we’ve made a great start with Telluride which is exceeding expectations.”
Another popular car, going by stand footfall, was the Genesis Mint Concept. Refreshingly not an SUV, this premium city car could make production in the next three to four years, reckons brand boss Manfred Fitzgerald. He said: “I believe that there is a white spot on the map [for a car like this] that nobody is really catering to and it’s something we should really take a stab at.”
Genesis, which only established itself as a standalone brand from Hyundai in 2015, sees New York as a “second home”, having just opened a dealership and brand centre in the city. There’s also word that the brand is planning to launch in Europe next year. There’s potential there, but it’ll need to nail this tricky market far more effectively than rival Infiniti, which recently pulled out of the region…
Back to better-known brands. Mercedes chose this week’s Shanghai motor show to reveal its GLB, which should quickly become a big seller. But there was still plenty of new metal saved for New York including the updated GLC63, plus the all-new CLA 35.
The big reveal was the new GLS. It only accounts for one per cent of Mercedes sales in the UK but it’s a different story in the US, where it’s the segment leader. Merc R&D boss Andreas Zygan said the car’s focus was even more comfort and luxury for rear passengers than its predecessor, and said a Maybach version could be on the cards.
Another reveal fitting for New York was the 911 Speedster. The original 356 Speedster, which remains the inspiration for all Speedsters since, was created at the request of New York dealer Max Hoffman – the sole importer for Porsche in the US at the time – who wanted a ‘stripped-down’ version of the 356 to sell on the West Coast.
The new machines uses the same 4.0-litre flat six as the current 911 GT3, albeit heavily modified with revised exhaust, fuel and injection systems. GT division boss Andreas Preuninger told us we’d see the engine elsewhere: “We’ve invested in the future with this engine.
“Our philosophy in GT cars is to stay naturally aspirated. We want to keep that engine for the future and that’s why we’ve made such a tremendous effort to get the engine right without taking emotion and performance away from the customer.”
Nissan used the show to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its Z cars, with a great collection of heritage cars on the stand including Skylines and the Datsun 240Z. There were 50th anniversary editions of both the GT-R and 370Z. All of which couldn’t help me from thinking: couldn’t you have done better than some new stickers for the 50th anniversary, Nissan? An all-new 370Z would have gone down much better…
There was plenty of more US-focused metal too, including the Hyundai Venue compact SUV – smaller than the Kona but not coming to Europe, a new Cadillac CT5 saloon, the latest Toyota Highlander and a US version of the Yaris, which is essentially a rebadged Mazda 2.
New York followed the trend of most US motor shows these days: it didn’t have the packed, elbow-pushing rush of a Chinese or European motor show, but instead a few choice reveals to entice car enthusiasts.
Powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine or a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, the CT5 is Cadillac’s answer to the Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series.
It won’t be sold globally like its German rivals are, but, with a well-equipped interior, sleek exterior styling and starting price of around $46,000 (£35,150), it’s likely to make a big splash in its home market.
New York provides Ford with an opportunity to show off the new US-market Escape SUV.
The Honda CR-V rival made its European debut recently as the new Kuga, sitting atop the same C2 platform as the new Focus and making use of a range of conventional and hybrid powertrains. A revised suspension set-up and new driver assist features make the crossover “a heck of a lot of fun to drive,” according to chief engineer Jim Hughes.
Hyundai’s premium brand is showcasing the Genesis Mint, a quirky electric car with a range of around 200 miles. It’s designed to show how luxury transport might work in cities in the future, and to hint at the future design direction of Genesis – a brand that is set to be introduced into the UK.
The 2020 Sonata, Hyundai’s answer to the Toyota Camry, is making its public debut in New York.
The mid-sized saloon is due in US dealerships later this year, with a raft of new interior technology and bold new styling. The Sonata is the first model to sit atop Hyundai’s new N3 platform, which has been developed to support a four-wheel-drive powertrain. This means the latter could be a future option for the model.
The new Hyundai Venue is the firm’s seventh SUV, and the smallest it will offer in the USA. It will be offered with a 1.6-litre petrol engine, and a range of two-tone colour options.
At 4058mm, the Venue is 107mm shorter than the Kona. But despite the growing popularity of compact crossovers in Europe, Hyundai has no plans to offer the model over here.
Hyundai says the new model’s name “embodies the characteristics of ‘the place to be’”, so expect a strong urban focus with an emphasis on interior quality and technology.
Lincoln has re-entered the premium compact SUV segment with the Corsair, the company’s smallest crossover yet with a design influenced by the much larger Navigator.
The US-bound Corsair replaces the MKC in the line-up of Ford’s luxury arm. It shares a platform with the new Ford Escape, which is badged Kuga in the UK. It arrives with the same selection of powertrains, including a 247bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder and more potent 2.3-litre producing 276bhp. A plug-in hybrid is also planned.
The biggest differences are on the inside, with a premium 12.3in touchscreen on top-spec models and optional features that include 24-way adjustable leather seats, ambient lighting and a panoramic sunroof. Lincoln hopes its high-end materials and comfort will draw customers away from rivals like the Mercedes GLC and Lexus NX.
Mercedes-AMG A35 Saloon
The A35 Saloon is the new entry point into Mercedes’ range of AMG performance models. Packing 302bhp from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, it promises a 0-62mph time of 4.8sec and a top speed of 155mph.
Flanked by the already-shown S65 Final Edition, GLE 53 and GT-R Pro, it’s appearing for the first time before it goes on sale later this year as a rival to the Audi S3 Saloon and BMW M240i Coupé.
Mercedes-AMG CLA 35
Slightly bigger than the entry-level A35 Saloon, the new CLA 35 is Mercedes-AMG’s answer to performance compacts like the Audi S3 Saloon and upcoming BMW M230i Gran Coupé.
The range-topping performance variant of Mercedes’ new CLA boasts a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, multi-plate-clutch four-wheel drive system and the company’s 302bhp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol powertrain.
Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé
Also appearing in the flesh for the first time is the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé, which has been given a light styling update, new driver safety assistance systems and a new range of mild hybrid powertrains.
The BMW X4 rival can now be had in 207bhp GLC 200 4Matic and 267bhp GLC 300 4Matic guises, which come equipped with the firm’s EQ Boost 48V integrated starter-generator. It’s expected, however, that the diesel line-up, ranging in output from 161bhp to 242bhp, will form the bulk of UK sales.
The GLS seven-seater is Mercedes’s answer to luxurious SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga and Audi Q8, and is due to go on sale in the UK in the autumn.
When it does, prices are expected to start from around £72,000, and just one engine will be offered: a 2.9-litre in-line six-cylinder diesel with 325bhp and 516lb ft of torque.
Nissan 50th Anniversary Z and GT-R 50th Anniversary Edition
Nissan’s ‘Ultimate Dream Garage’, on display in New York, is a collection that marks 50 years of the GT-R and Z sports car ranges.
Taking in models including the 240Z, R34 Skyline and limited-edition GT-R50 by Italdesign, it celebrates half a century of Nissan performance models.
Porsche 911 Speedster
As the first keys to the new 992-generation Porsche 911 are handed over to buyers, Stuttgart bids goodbye to the outgoing 991 with the limited-edition Speedster variant.
The model was confirmed for production last summer, and sports a retro-inspired rear roofline, 21in cross-spoke alloy wheels and the 4.0-litre flat-six engine from the hardcore GT3 variant.
Production Porsche 911 Speedster revealed in New York
The fourth-generation Highlander has gained a bold new look, while retaining a high-riding, seven-seat layout.
The Ford Explorer and Mazda CX-7 rival will sit between the 4Runner and Sequoia in Toyota’s US line-up, and uses the TNGA-K version of the firm’s new platform. The Highlander has not yet made it across to European shores, but the Japanese company is believed to be adopting a ‘never say never’ approach with regard to the new model going global.
And the Chevrolet Corvette C8 is not in New York… but (finally) coming soon
While it was widely anticipated to make its debut at New York – and at this year’s Detroit show before that – the all-new, C8-generation Chevrolet Corvette, isn’t at the show.
But, in the build-up to the show, Chevrolet did confirm that its Porsche 911 rival will be launched at an event on 18 July.
Additional reporting by Felix Page