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2016 New York Auto Show Show Hits, Misses and Revelations

Less exuberant than last year's show, but still some standouts.

New York  — This year’s auto show proved to be less exuberant than last year’s, with perhaps one standout each in the Hits and the Misses category. Beside the global and U.S. premieres discussed below, the 2016 New York International Auto Show is notable for Mercedes-Benz’s introduction of its GLC-Class coupe, though none of our editors or contributors had anything positive, or negative, to say about it. We must be getting tired of four-door crossover coupes. So without further ado, here’s what did grab our attention in Manhattan…

Hit: Genesis New York Concept

Mentally peel away the concept-car eyewash, and you’re looking at the Genesis G70, my best in show. Its basic body form will easily translate into production. I like the side surfacing, the unusually shaped fastback roofline, and the step-up in the beltline at the B-pillar. A “touchbowl,” and hand gestures control the low, wide gauge/navigation/entertainment/information screen. You can find the center of the touchscreen without taking your eyes off the road by finding the bottom of the bowl with your finger. Under the guidance of Hyundai Motor design chief Peter Schreyer, Genesis has the basics for an elegant BMW 3 Series competitor that avoids copying the BMW 3 Series–Todd Lassa

Hit: Genesis New York Concept

The New York Concept left me stunned. Its shapely body combines perfectly with its elegant, high-tech interior. Don’t touch a thing, Hyundai; build it like this.–Jonathon Klein

Miss: Lincoln Navigator concept

While the new Navigator concept serves up a load of great features, after seeing the shortfall from Continental concept to production car, I’m not willing to bet the “real” Navigator will wow us until it proves otherwise. –Mac Morrison

Miss: Lincoln Navigator concept

Sorry Matthew McConaughey, but I just can’t get there with the Lincoln Navigator. You can spin haiku between sips of Tazo green tea from behind the wheel all you want, but…yeah…no. The Navigator concept, which previews a new Nav for next year, is a derivative styling exercise using Gerry McGovern’s Range Rover as a starting point. I prefer the Range Rover original. And the gullwing doors that will never see the light of a production line, unless you are Tesla, just ticks me off. Show me what you got, not what you aren’t going to give me. –David Kiley

Miss: Lincoln Navigator concept

Lincoln’s rebirth of the Navigator is an overly intricate fantasy with massive gullwing doors and teak decking that will never make production. The gaping front end looks more like it belongs on a low-class minivan than a premium SUV meant to help reinvigorate the brand in the U.S. –J.K.

Miss: Lincoln Navigator Concept

The Tesla Model X-style “falcon” doors are there only to make it easy for showgoers to see inside the new Nav. Good idea, as the seat cover design nicely evokes “Mad Men”-era American luxury car interiors. But the doors only distracted from the overall design and when open, seem to accentuate the huge grille. Speaking of which, isn’t it too late to try and out-Escalade Cadillac? –T.L.

Hit: Mercedes-AMG C63 Cabriolet

Especially the S, with 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. I’m not much of a convertible fan, but talk about the best of both worlds. Who doesn’t want to go 186 mph with the top down? I don’t want to drive that crazy, but I like the idea that I could. –M.M.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible and Coupe

Hit: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 convertible

It’s nothing shocking or unexpected, but come on, we’re talking about a Camaro ragtop with 640 horsepower. Done deal. –Eric Weiner

Miss: Nissan GT-R

Godzilla’s exterior and its interior are outdated. So I was delighted to learn Nissan would be showing off a refreshed GT-R. But the barely perceivable change in the car’s front fascia and the minor changes inside the cabin amount to a massive letdown. I know a new GT-R is just a few years away, but this car desperately needed a more extensive refresh. –J.K.

Hit: Nissan GT-R

Godzilla is back, again, except it never really went anywhere. The 2017 model delivers some revised styling, and a much-needed cockpit makeover. The power and torque boosts are nice, but won’t be especially noticeable to most, if any, drivers. The good news is Nissan promises that ride quality is better, putting the GT in GT-R. Will an all-new car arrive sooner than later, perhaps by 2020? Perhaps, but for now, the throngs of GT-R fanboys once again have fodder over which to light up the forums. Oh, and thank you, Nissan, for finally locating the shift paddles on the steering wheel rather than the steering column. –M.M.

Revelation: The most interesting GT-R is not the 2017 Nissan GT-R

I thought it was fantastic that Nissan loaded up the show floor with a stunning array of GT-Rs from across the historical spectrum, but I think it kind of backfired. I found myself drooling over a right-hand-drive Skyline and totally ignoring the new car. That tells me how little this refresh really matters, especially when the hype machine was really demanding the arrival of the R36 already. It will sate GT-R loyalists and fanboys for the time being, but that’s about it.  –E.W.

Hit: Mazda MX-5 RF

The elves at Mazda keep making us smile. From the maker of the Mazda3 and CX-5, which are the best vehicles in their class, and the perennially spirit-lifting MX-5 roadster, now comes the MX-5 “retractable fastback.”  The automatic targa-style roof adds a bit of 007 to the Miata that has not been there before. Adding more lust to my favorite two-seater, forget-the-world-for-a-day car that is actually within reach of my wallet is just not fair. It will probably cost about $2,000 extra when it goes on sale next year, but it will be a happy check to write for anyone with taste. –D.K.

Miss: Mazda Miata RF

The hype around this car is both misplaced and blinding. The ND Miata can’t accommodate a power-retractable hardtop without sacrificing trunk space, unlike the old NC. The RF top is a clever and interesting solution to that problem, that’s about it. It betrays the Miata’s core mission — to be a roadster. It ruins the sculpted lines and swelling hips at the car’s rear, and it looks stupid with the roof down. It doesn’t offer any additional track-worthiness either, because the top offers no real protection; the standard roll bars are still included to serve that purpose. I get that it’s really important for Mazda to add volume with a hardtop model that is quieter inside, but the roadster has an elegance that the RF only dreams about. –E.W.

Hit: Mazda MX-5 Miata RF

The Miata I would buy. About time, and well done, Mazda. –M.M.

2017 Mazda MX 5 Miata RF top folding

Revelation: The Mazda MX-5 RF is not a Miata

It’s a good thing for fans that Mazda is expanding the potential demand for the car by building the Fiata and by adding this to the lineup (by the way; it’s the first ND MX-5 Mazda will offer in Europe with the six-speed automatic option). But I won’t trade in my NC Power Retractable Hard Top for one of these. The RF is a handsome targa coupe — but it’s no Miata roadster. –T.L.

Revelation: The Subaru Impreza will get a manual transmission.

Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet, a well-placed source at Subaru told me it’s fairly certain that the new Impreza will offer a stick, at least on lower trim levels. Take rate for the current manual Impreza is apparently about 10 percent, which is not insignificant these days. –E.W.

Miss: Volkswagen Golf Alltrack

This car reminds me a lot of the Subaru Outback, and that’s not surprising since it was championed by former Subaru marketing chief Tim Mahoney when he did a turn a turn in Volkswagen of America’s executive suite. The Alltrack is a Golf SportWagen with a bit of extra cladding, a bit of ground clearance, and 4Motion all-wheel drive. Seems like a good choice for a family vehicle…if you live in The Netherlands. Don’t get me wrong. I like it, and would drive it. But I can’t help comparing this car to the properly sized and priced Tiguan replacement VW really needs, and should have, in the U.S. –D.K.

Revelation: Lexus will build a three-row RX crossover

Word on the show floor is that Lexus has a three-row version of its most popular model, the RX crossover, in the works. Still no sign of Volkswagen’s midsize SUV, though. –T.L.

Hit: Porsche 911R

The 911R is pure brilliance. It’s billed as a more involving driving experience for the customer that wants a softer 911 GT3 RS. This is a fallacy. The 911R and its absolutely fabulous tartan one-piece carbon-fiber seats is the 911 GT3 RS we all want. It still runs Michelin’s ultra-high performance Pilot Cup 2 tires and the fierce GT3 RS engine. It’s Porsche’s racing heritage distilled into the latest and greatest road-going 911. –J.K.

Revelation: The Toyota Prius Prime is a four-seater because of packaging.

Toyota keeps saying that its market research indicated Prius buyers were using their cars as four-seaters instead of five-seaters, so this move made sense. If that were true, the regular Prius would be a four-seater too. It’s pretty obvious to me that the 8.8-kWh battery under the floor is the elephant in the back seat here. –E.W.

Revelation: Pre-production badges?

The Scion FR-S-turned-Toyota 86 on the show stand was marked, in large white letters on the front passenger window, “Prototype.” –T.L.

Hit: Audi R8 Spyder

I already love the pants off the R8. Somehow the topless flavor makes the R8 look even more exotic. There’s some serious designer porn going on around the V-10’s decklid, which is lined with carbon fiber, honeycomb cooling vents, and fin-shaped louvers. It’s pretty from just about every angle, too. As much as I prefer the original R8 coupe to the current coupe, I’ll take this new Spyder any day of the week. –E.W.

Hit: Spyker C8 Preliator

After a rather rough period, Spyker is back to prove again why I love the company’s stupendous attention to detail. The Preliator is something you’d like to drive, but you’d love to stare at it for hours. –J.K.

Hit: Maserati Levante

The Levante feels very Italian on the inside, with the hand-tooled Ermenegildo Zegna orange leather. But one can help thinking of the uneasy alliance under the skin of the new Levante sharing its underpinnings with the Mercedes-derived Jeep Grand Cherokee. With that, it doesn’t feel all that Italian–a bit of a mongrel really. Still, I like the profile and curb appeal. The elongated hood gives it a distinct profile that will make it recognizable from 50 yards away and I like that. Mangia! –D.K.

Hit: Hyundai Ioniq

I don’t love the styling of the Hyundai Ioniq. I don’t even like it much. But when I saw that Hyundai was showing three versions–a hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and EV–I was struck with admiration for the just-do-it attitude at Hyundai. So what gives here? We have the overwrought styling of the Elantra, and now the almost drab styling of the EVs. I’m digging the technology, but have to ask Hyundai why I have to do penance in the curb appeal department just to drive with electric power. I’m keeping it in the hit column, though. –D.K.

Rolls Royce whitewall tires

Revelation: Expect vinyl tops by this fall’s Los Angeles show

First, Rolls-Royce introduced the Black Badge trim package at the Geneva show, then it fitted whitewall tires to a Phantom Drophead Coupe displayed in New York. –T.L.

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