Performance: Go fast or go efficient
When it comes to performance, we are entering an era where aspirational performance can be defined through power or through efficiency. In some cases, like a Porsche 918 Spider or Acura NSX, performance embodies both. While examples of power and efficiency will abound in New York, for 2017, the power still wins imaginations and aspirations.
Vehicles boasting the more traditional definition of power, horsepower and torque, include both SUVs and sports cars. Mercedes-Benz will show the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 and GLC63 S Coupe CUVs, with 469-hp and 503-hp respectively, and Jeep is rumored to be showing a mad-fast take on the Grand Cherokee. We have to wait until 12 April to get the full download on the Dodge Demon performance numbers, but this new take on the Challenger is designed, essentially, as a street-legal, fully stock drag racing machine. It will even offer a spare set of wheels and jack to make it easy to switch from road tires to drag slicks at the track, with custom fit trunk storage. Honda is expected to have the Civic Type R, first shown in Geneva, on stage, though the Civic star for New York will be the 205-hp Si versions of sedan and coupe; these bridge the gap between the standard Civic’s 1.5-liter turbo with 174-hp and the Type R’s 305-hp. Audi’s presence at the New York show will embrace power as well, as it will launch the Audi RS3 sedan on the US market for the first time.
On the other side of the spectrum, certain entries will deliver a different sort of advanced performance as they look to push the envelope on efficiency. These include BMW highlighting its full range of iPerformance PHEV vehicles and a production reveal and more complete performance details of the Honda Clarity EV and PHEV versions. The Volvo XC60 SUV, first shown in Geneva, also takes a PHEV variant as well. Porsche introduced the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid plug-in hybrid of its executive sedan; this could make an appearance in New York as well. It is not really any surprise to see an effort to promote alternative powertrain vehicles in the area, as several of the surrounding states are among those who have signed on to follow the California emissions guidelines and ZEV mandate.
Cars versus Utility: Utilities win this round
Perhaps it is not surprising, but we expect to see more utility vehicle introductions at the New York International Auto Show than cars. Along with the high-performance Mercedes and Jeep SUVs, Volvo will introduce the XC60 to US buyers, Toyota has indicated that its FT-4X concept will be another utility vehicle, and Infiniti has indicated it will show a concept SUV called QX80 Monograph, to shed some light on the next generation QX80 full-size SUV. On the full-size SUV list, Lincoln is set to show off the production Navigator and Buick has confirmed the next-generation Buick Enclave will be introduced—along with a new premium subbrand called Avenir. Subaru has confirmed its Crosstrek (introduced as the XV at the Geneva motor show in March and due to arrive in the US with the new name) as well as an update for the Outback, but may also show a version of its upcoming mid-size three-row utility vehicle.
Cars due for either North American or global reveal in New York include the Acura TLX, Buick Regal Sportback and TourX, a special edition of the Nissan 370Z, and the Mercedes-Benz E-class convertible and E63 S wagon (both revealed in Geneva).
Luxury always wins in New York
It is not unusual for the New York show to have a strong luxury and performance presence, as sales of premium and luxury vehicles are stronger in that market than any other in the US. According to IHS Markit 2016 registration data, New York accounts for 13.1% of luxury registrations in the US; the second strongest luxury market is Los Angeles.
This year, mainstream brands are largely offering something unique to the lineup or a special edition that will elevate the brand’s image, while luxury brand introductions are often core to their model ranges. Introductions will favor premium brands, from Mercedes-AMG to Acura and Buick. The luxury brand presence is also favoring utility vehicles over cars, though both are represented. The increase in performance-oriented SUVs is an indication that the white spaces and organic growth opportunities are filling up. Adding performance or other special editions can help keep up consumer interest and sales momentum; this has long been true for cars and is being applied to utilities.
Overall, Mercdes-Benz looks poised to have the strongest presence in New York this year, in both the number of US or global introductions and their significance to the brand.
Automakers often keep a thing or two up their sleeves. For this year’s New York show, Ford, Genesis, Hyundai, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz are among the brands to watch.