It seems odd to conduct a major auto show in a city infamous for its seemingly constantly snarled traffic, but the New York International Auto Show nonetheless manages to be interesting and entertaining for auto-industry watchers each year. That could be because of the celebrities that automakers haul out to help with unveils – Demi Lovato and Nick Jonas helped Honda out this year as it launched a Civic hatchback, for example – but mostly it’s because of the cars. New York is always a good show for luxury cars and performance vehicles, and that didn’t change in 2016.
Mazda MX-5 Miata RF Debuts
One of the standout performance vehicles from the show was the new Mazda Miata with a power hardtop. While the newest Miata has already been on sale with a soft top, enthusiasts were wondering if and when a hardtop version would be unveiled. That wait is now over. Officially dubbed the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata RF, this version of the Miata offers a power-retractable hardtop that can operate at up to 6 mph. The rear window retracts as well, and Mazda says that no sacrifice in trunk space is required when compared to the convertible model. Mechanically, the car has the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as the soft top.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Returns
Chevrolet took the wraps off the Camaro ZL1 for journalists before the show, but the New York Auto Show was the first time the public got to see it. Chevy also brought the convertible version of the car to the Javits Center, which meant that it was the drop-top’s global debut. The 2017 ZL1 offers up 640 horsepower from a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 in either guise, with either a six-speed manual transmission or a 10-speed automatic. Performance goodies like a magnetic suspension and a limited-slip differential are available on both.
Refreshed Nissan GT-R and Redesigned Titan
Nissan’s GT-R sports car gets a refresh for 2017, with updated looks inside and out, new connectivity technology and an additional 20 horsepower, which brings the car dubbed “Godzilla” up to 565 horsepower. In addition to the GT-R, Nissan also showed off the Crew Cab version of the recently redesigned Titan pickup. The new Titan will have a 5.6-liter V8 gasoline engine and be sold alongside the turbodiesel Titan XD that’s already on the market.
All-New Audi R8 Spyder
Also in the performance realm is the Audi R8 Spyder. Like the coupe version of the R8, this drop-top will have a 540-horsepower, 5.2-liter V10 engine, as well as a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Aluminum and carbon fiber will figure heavily in the construction. Audi is promising a 0-to-62 mph time of 3.6 seconds and a top that will open or close in 20 seconds at speeds up to 31 mph.
Updated Kia Cadenza
Luxury wasn’t forgotten, either. Kia showed off an updated version of its Cadenza luxury sedan. The big changes include a lighter but more structurally rigid body structure, an eight-speed automatic transmission and an updated interior. The Cadenza will be the first Kia sold under the Drive Wise sub-brand, and it will have a lot of driver-assistance tech, such as smart cruise control.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk and Summit
Jeep submitted a different sort of performance vehicle in New York. It showed off its 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, which is meant for ultimate off-road performance. Off-road goodies will include an electronic limited-slip differential, skid plates, an air suspension, tow hooks, off-road tires and extra ground clearance. There will be plenty of exterior and interior badging to set the Trailhawk apart from other Grand Cherokees.
For on-road comfort, Jeep has added a top-line luxury model to the Grand Cherokee lineup: the Summit. The Summit has unique exterior styling, more standard features and an interior that has more leather than other trim levels.
Genesis New York Concept
Luxury is a relatively new realm for Hyundai, which has offered the Genesis and Equus luxury sedans for a few years now. In an effort to differentiate its luxury models from its more mainstream offerings, Hyundai has followed in the footsteps of other Asian automakers and created a separate luxury brand, dubbed Genesis, naturally. The Genesis brand showed off a hybrid sports sedan concept called the New York Concept. It’s as much a design study as anything else, but it does have a 2.0-liter gas engine under the hood as part of its hybrid powertrain, and there’s also an eight-speed automatic transmission. Total system power is around 240 horsepower or so. The interior features a curved singular dashboard with controls that can be used in a manner similar to that of smartphones, with an array of swipes, pinches and pulls.
Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota Prius Prime
Green cars were the other big story in New York, with the Hyundai Ioniq and Toyota Prius Prime taking center stage. The Ioniq is available in three flavors: hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric. It will compete with the Prius and the Prius Prime, which is a plug-in hybrid that Toyota claims will be the most efficient of any Prius. The Ioniq and Prius Prime will duke it out in search of customers who are looking for an affordable electrified vehicle. In addition to unveiling the Prius Prime, Toyota also showed the 86, which was formerly the Scion FR-S. With sub-brand Scion folding, Toyota took over sales of the car, and gave it a new name and some updates for this year.
Redesigned Subaru Impreza
Subaru unveiled what might be the most “mainstream” car of all – the 2017 Impreza. It will be available in sedan and hatchback body styles, and Subaru has given the car a mild boost in power to go along with the refreshed styling. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available, and perhaps most importantly, the Impreza is the first car to be built on Subaru’s new global platform, which the company claims will increase agility, ride comfort and safety.