The 2013 edition of the New York International Auto Show is on through April 7th at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan. As one of the premiere car shows in the world, manufacturers use this venue to introduce new models and display the latest and greatest from their designers and engineers.
Perhaps you can’t attend, but SLTV managed to visit the NYIAS with industry insiders on March 27-28 to bring you the state of performance and design in the American market. In no particular order, here are some of the highlights.
Yep, this was the first viewing of the brand-new C7 Corvette in the flesh for many of us and, don’t worry folks, everything’s gonna be alright. The car looks fabulous in the flesh, and if you’re still wondering about that rear end, it still is polarizing but it’s also more palatable in person. In fact, if you close your eyes and squint, you can imagine the rear end has the face of Jake, the Corvette racing logo. Maybe it’s a little hokey to some of us, but it’s also appropriate to the Corvette world.
Chevrolet used this opportunity to give Americans their first view of the Corvette Stingray convertible. They claim the coupe and convertible were developed simultaneously, which has resulted in a ragtop that doesn’t require any of the bracing or other weight-adding features that tend to compromise the performance of convertibles; even the aluminum frame is shared between both body styles. For now, we don’t know much else that’s in the pipeline (i.e. Z06) but right out of the gate you will be able to order your Corvette convertible with the famous Z51 package which will include extra cooling, dry sump lubrication, electronic limited-slip differential, and several aerodynamic improvements.
But let’s not kid ourselves – the big announcement at Chevrolet was the Camaro Z/28. No one had an idea this was coming, so props should go to the folks from Warren, Michigan who managed to fool us. Why is this announcement so significant? Let’s start with history: in 1967, Chevrolet’s new Camaro was available with a Trans-Am racing package that included a unique solid-lifter 302 small block (unique because it used a 327 block with a 283 crank and because T/A rules of the time stipulated a motor within five liters), a mandatory four-speed manual, twin racing stripes (a signature that wasn’t available on the SS), and other hi-po equipment.
It was an homologation special at its finest, and it gave Chevy fans a more balanced sporty car compared to the Super Sports of the same vintage. At some point in the Camaro’s life, it lost that homologation status, then disappearing for a few years until the rousing success of the “Bandit” Pontiac Trans Am encouraged Chevrolet to bring it back. But in the 1980s, it was superseded by the IROC, then the SS in the 1990s, and then we had another dead Camaro after 2002. The fifth generation Camaro came back once again as a 2010 model as base and SS variants, keeping the Chevy faithful waiting for a Z; they kinda received that in 2012 with the ZL1. Now, finally, the Camaro has a Z/28 variant.
Admittedly inspired by the 2012 Mustang Boss 302, Chevrolet went to work to create the ultimate track Camaro. Here are the stats:
- 7-liter LS7 small block with 500 horsepower (the highest-horsepower naturally aspirated SBC ever)
- A weight reduction of 300 lbs from the ZL1, including thinner glass and lightweight wheels
- Mandatory manual transmission
- Chassis and brake improvements
- Aerodynamic enhancements both on the body and underneath
- Air conditioning is not standard
Chevrolet claims the Z/28 is three seconds faster around the track than the ZL1, but they don’t indicate which track they’re talking about. Likewise, there’s not much more information as of yet, but in the ensuing year we will get to learn more about this purest of purist Camaros.
The Z/28 arrives at the same time as the Camaro’s mid-cycle facelift, which includes a new grille, headlights, front valence, taillights, rear facia, hood, and a refined interior that includes optional Recaros and heads-up display. Everything else remains familiar to Camaro fans, from its standard 3.6-liter V6 to the SS’s 6.2-liter V-8, both with the same horsepower ratings as before. It’s likely this iteration of the Camaro will continue on until it’s redesigned on the Alpha platform in a few years, although you can bet next year’s Mustang will force Chevrolet to keep things fresh.
Of course, Chevrolet has more than just the Corvette and Camaro to whet the appetites of enthusiasts. By now you must know about the first big Chevy with rear-wheel-drive since the Caprice and Impala SS from the 1990s. Aptly named SS, this successor to the late, Aussie-sourced Pontiac G8 has been updated with styling tweaks yet is still capable of great things due to its LS3 6.2-litre V-8. Chevrolet estimates 0-60 will be “about five seconds” from the 415-horse motor, which will not be available with a manual transmission – a terrible transgression to the mind of an enthusiast, but NASCAR fans may be able to look past that. With near 50/50 weight distribution, the SS should be the car that Chevy (and Pontiac) people have been waiting for, and it will give Americans an alternative to the Chryslers and Dodges that compete in the same segment.
And what about the Impala? Yeah, it’s back, but not in the same form as you are used to. This time it evolves from America’s Favorite Rental Car to something that gives justice to the Bow Tie logo. With a platform shared with the luxurious Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS, its modern beauty comes out much better when witnessed in person. If you tilt your head, you can see some Camaro in the front end, and the interior design shows Chevrolet has done its homework in quality and style. Base motor is a 2.5 four with optional 2.4 “mild hybrid” or 3.6 V-6 with 305 horses, giving 0-60 times in the six-second range. While that’s fast, enthusiasts will likely flock to the SS.
In the not-too-distant past, enthusiasts wouldn’t have been talking about Cadillac, a brand for blue-haired ladies and Elvis impersonators, but the introduction of the CTS (a replacement for the unloved Catera) changed that. The second-generation CTS really got Cadillac’s game going, and now the third-generation iteration appears to be moving the brand’s styling in a new, evolutionary direction that’s lower and sleeker, although from the cowl to the rear it seems somewhat inspired by Mercedes.
Enthusiasts should take note that its standard motor is a 272-horse 2.0-litre turbo four – quite a new-fangled configuration for a luxury vehicle – but a 321-horse 3.6-litre V-6 is optional. If you think it’s lacking in horsepower in comparison to the competition, you can opt for the CTS Vsport (not to be confused with the CTS-V, which hasn’t been announced yet) which adds twin-turbo induction to produce 420 horsepower. As before, AWD is available with the lesser two motors. You’ll also find near 50/50 weight distribution too – well-played, Cadillac!
But that’s not the only Cadillac to make enthusiasts happy. The ATS was introduced last year to much fanfare. Its biggest claim to fame is its handling prowess, which bested the top models from Germany. Three engines are available:
- 2.5-liter DOHC four with 202 horses
- 2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC four with 272 horses (available with a six-speed manual in RWD configuration)
- 3.6-liter DOHC six with 321 horses
The ATS-V has yet to be released, but the rumor is that it will have a twin-turbo V-6. Could it be the same one that will be available on the CTS Vsport?
Once the car of dentists and lawyers, Buick has been trying to appeal to a younger demographic since their previous customers are dying. Is Buick succeeding? Certainly in China – sales are twice what they are in North America – but what is the brand giving us in the US and Canada?
The Verano is Buick’s entry-level vehicle, a luxurious Chevy Cruze that is available with a 2.0-litre “Ecotec” DOHC turbo four that puts out 250 horsepower. That’s enough to make it at least as fast as as an old GS 400. But the big news in New York was the debut of a facelifted Regal and all-new LaCrosse.
The Regal is the only name from the “old” Buick that’s left – no more Park Avenues, Skylarks, or Apollos to be found. The Regal traditionally has been Buick’s mid-size offering and continues to fill that role. The 2014 facelift is subtle, as are plenty of under-the-skin improvements. Overall, Buick says they’re all designed to make “a sportier and smarter evolution of the brand’s dynamic midsize sedan.”
A new all-wheel-drive system uses an electronic limited-slip system, but the big news is the Regal’s updated turbo motor that delivers 18% more power than before. It is standard on the the Regal Turbo and Regal GS, and while the latter may not be in the same league as the hallowed Gran Sports of yore, it is “designed to deliver a dynamic driving experience through sophisticated suspension technologies, premium amenities and a more expressive presence.” For the enthusiast, it plays the balance of familial obligations and a heavy right foot quite well.
As the top model in the Buick hierarchy, the LaCrosse is all-new but shares a familiar look with the previous-generation version. As an example of an American Lexus, so to speak, it should continue to remain competitive with other near-luxury sedans in the market. With up to 304 horses from its V-6, it’s enough to accelerate briskly but won’t give enthusiast like you the shot of adrenaline that you desire.
The Blue Oval guys from Dearborn didn’t have anything mind-blowing in New York, but with the 50th anniversary of the Mustang just a year away, you can expect something very special. Certainly we should know what the next-generation Mustang will look like. Otherwise, the Mustang is little-changed with no real news until the unveiling of the redesigned car a year away. This is what’s currently available from your Ford dealer:
- Mustang V6 with 3.7-liter 305-horse six
- Mustang GT with 5.0-liter 420-horse V-8
- Boss 302 with 5.0-liter 444-horse V-8
- Shelby GT500 with supercharged 5.8-liter 662-horse V-8
The latter is still America’s most powerful production V-8, but perhaps your tastes run less brutish and more refined? Then maybe the Focus ST will be your bag to be sprung upon unsuspecting tuners. With over 250 horses from its turbocharged 2.0-liter four and optional Recaros that catch you like a mitt, it’s the boy racer’s hot rod for the Millennium. Its sight is aimed at the traditional benchmark for pocket rockets, the VW GTI. Current reviews show the ST to be MUCH faster . . . but there’s also the Mazdaspeed3 and some zoomier Subarus and Mitsubishis. Will the ST be able to hold its own? If not, the rally-inspired Focus RS from Europe may make it stateside in 2015 according to Car and Driver.
When a 662-horsepower Mustang isn’t quite enough, you can buy a Mustang modified by Shelby American. Launched last year and refreshed for the NYIAS, the Shelby 1000 has 1,200 honest-to-goodness horses for a bit over $150,000. Out of your price range? Try the Super Snake, which is available with stock and modified engines as well as a body kit including special wheels and tires.
Eighty grand still too rich for your blood? Try out the Shelby Focus ST, which doesn’t receive engine upgrades but the suspension and brakes receive the Shelby touch. However, there is a “tuning option” that will raise horsepower to 300 – crazy for a four! Upgrades are an additional 15 grand on top of the $28,000 that a nicely equipped ST will run you.
If you like to spend money on overpriced clothing, perhaps the 300C John Varvatos edition is your bag. With its dark charcoal paint job and dark pewter accents, it’s a stylish take on the quintessential American sedan. Another collaboration is with Imported From Detroit, which spawned the special 200 S arriving this spring. Again, visual tweaks separate this from the regular 200, and likely it’s a way to move inventory before the brand-new car arrives not too long from now.
On the Dodge side, a facelifted Durango borrows the taillight design of the Charger, and a Mopar ’13 Dart continues the theme previously played by other Mopar products with black paint and blue stripe, blue driver’s seat, and performance and suspension upgrades, although the turbo four remains the same as other Darts.
Over at SRT, New York was the place to catch the first glimpse of the track-ready Viper TA, while the Core 300 and Challenger SRT8 models debuted last month in Chicago. You can read more about all these Mopars by seeing the Mopar article, Viper article, and Durango article.
As globalization continues to make the word smaller, the auto industry around the world continues to get more competitive. You can bet that things are going to become more interesting with more frequent updates and, unfortunately, the loss of brands (face it – companies are commodities, so toss off the romanticism). But enthusiasts will always have horsepower to play with as long as engineers continue to use their creative genius. Considering we have a Corvette that will go 0-60 in under four seconds – much faster than everyone’s favorite dream car, the Lamborghini Countach – we must be living in heaven.