2015 New York auto show: Hits and misses
With the press days for the 2015 New York auto show behind us, not to mention our recommended yearly intake of Easter eggs, it's time to look back at which cars hit the mark and which ones had us shaking our heads.
Matt Campbell — on the ground Hit: Nissan Maxima. It isn't coming here, but geez this big sedan would shake up the monotonous mid/large car segment if it did. The 2015 Nissan Maxima is a stunner - that jutted, angular face is chiseled and handsome, while the rear-end is just as shapely. I love the way the roof of the four-door V6 sedan appears to float above the body of the car thanks to that slice that skips between the rear door and the back windscreen. Shame the interior isn't as special looking as it could be, and that Aussies will be stuck with the more conservative four-cylinder Altima for the time being. An honourable mention must go to the Lexus RX, which takes the NX's crisp styling and adds a little maturity and many more triangles. Many will hate it. I didn't. Miss: Scion iA. Toyota's youth-oriented brand for North America introduced the market to the new Scion iA small sedan at the New York show, and my reaction was like many other people's at the show: "Huh?" For the most part it looks like a Mazda 2 sedan — because that's what it is — and there's no doubting the rear and the interior are the nicest elements, but that front end, which looks like a misshapen version of the grille and bumper of the Prius V, is simply hideous.
Alborz Fallah — on the ground Hit: The Porsche Boxster Spyder. How manufacturers can still get away with charging more for less is the definition of the supply and demand metric in its worst incarnation, but kudos to Porsche for making this a hardcore enthusiasts' car, where the option of adding things like stereo and air conditioning is up to you, at no extra cost (although, arguably, the cost is built in). It's what sports cars are meant to be: pure. On the wish list. Miss: Lexus continued its revolutionary design language with the all-new RX, taking what was once a decent looking family SUV further down that strange design paradigm that has already aged terribly. The new RX already looks out of place. It's almost like some strange concept drawn by a committee that couldn't agree on anything, so they compromised on everything. There's no cohesiveness in its design, and give it about five years and it will prove why the likes of BMW and Mercedes-Benz are so evolutionary with their design changes. I would say the same about the new Toyota RAV4, equally strange and out of character — and not in a good way.
Derek Fung — on the ground Hit: Nissan Maxima. Like the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5, early press photos for the next US Maxima were not flattering. But in the flesh, the car's complex surfacing and myriad design details actually work really well together. It's a shame then that the interior isn't anywhere near as exciting. Hopefully, the new design language filters down successfully throughout the Nissan range. I really rather like the design of the new Lincoln Continental. It looks suitably American, pleasantly plush and completely unconcerned with lap times at the Nurburgring. My major problem with the new Continental is that it establishes yet another design direction at Ford's luxury brand. And this comes just two years after the latest MKZ gave the upcoming Mondeo a thoroughly avant garde twist. Hopefully the styling isn't diluted down too much for production, and Lincoln sees fit to junk its letter soup naming structure. Shame that it'll be a front- and all-wheel drive affair by the looks of it. Miss: Honda Civic Concept. Honda in the US was stung horribly by the critical reaction to the current-generation Civic, so much so that it rushed out a facelift and much improved interior in very short order. For the tenth-generation model, Honda is determined that the new Civic will be "epic" and "sporty". It certainly won't be conservative or dull, but, judging by the concept car, it also won't be mistaken for being beautiful. Cadillac CT6. The new Caddy suffers from the opposite problem. It successfully applies the brand's well known Art and Science design cues on a much bigger sedan than before, but we were all hoping and praying that Cadillac would graft an extra pair of doors onto the lovely Elmiraj concept and call it a day. Although the new car may be loaded to the gills with new technology, the company has struggled to move its sedans since adopting a price parity policy against its European rivals. The CT6 really needed to wow all and sundry with its looks and, on that count, it doesn't really succeed.
Paul Maric Hit: Traditionally, I wouldn't normally get excited about cars like the Chevrolet Spark, but, this time around they have a great story to tell and a great car to sell. In person, the new Chevrolet Spark (which will come to Australia in early 2016 as the Barina Spark) has charisma and presence. The car will launch with a stack of customisation options to personalise each car. This will help push the car in a market segment that is tough and full of competition. Equally, there has been a huge focus on safety with features like blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and forward collision alert available on this city runabout. Best of all, Aussie engineers had a great deal of input into this model, a big plus in my books. Miss: I had another miss in mind until the Lyons LM2 Streamliner 'hypercar' entered the picture fashionably late. The concept car didn't make it to the official press days because it was damaged and the CEO, Kevin W. Lyons, felt it wasn't presentable for the show. The hypercar claims to have the ability to dart from 0-60mph (0-96km/h) in just 2.2-seconds and on to a top speed of 467km/h. The bizarre looking car has been designed to conceal its 21 cooling ducts and the CEO claims that "the most anticipated car at New York International auto is on display now out performing all other cars in popularity”. Yeah, right.
Mike Costello Hit: Lincoln Continental. A conservative design, but one that signifies a proud brand once again finding its feet. The Continental name is iconic, and to know that such a model will return after a long absence is heartening. The reborn Conti also harks to other famous Yank Tanks of past eras, and is a decent approximation of an American S-Class rival. Well done Ford. Miss: Scion iA. Really? Toyota, with all its R&D might, is attempting to revitalise its ailing 'youth' brand Scion with a rebadged Mazda 2? Ok, the Mazda is a good car, but was something — anything — original just a bridge too far for the world's biggest damned car company? Poor form, guys. It's not 1993 any more. This is worse than the Toyota Camry/Holden Apollo tie-in.
James Ward Hit: I’m going to be a bit ‘get off my lawn’ here, but I don’t think there was a hit at the show. BRZ STI Concept? Subaru has a history of unveiling great show cars that don’t make it to production. Another cool Porsche and McLaren — they don’t change the world and, given the heritage of those marques, are both great cars that most people won’t own. Miss: Mitsubishi’s new Dynamic Shield ‘design language’. Of all the things Mitsubishi need to address with their cars, a new face is hardly the most important aspect.