The Best of the 2019 New York Auto Show

2 May 2019

Detroit is the main power base of the American car industry, and the Detroit Motor Show is their annual automotive highlight. But there are also other events around this huge country throughout the year that showcases the American love for the automobile. 

The Los Angeles show towards the end of the year has a more casual vibe, appealing to the youthful demographics of the Hollywood crowd. The New York Auto Show meanwhile, held annually around April, generally takes on a more premium and upmarket tone, reflecting the city’s status as a financial and cultural centre. While it is somewhat smaller in scale than most other major automotive events, there are still some serious metal on show every year, and New York also hosts the World Car of the Year announcement annually, so this is still a show with some clout. 

Here are some of the best highlights from this year’s New York Auto Show.

Hyundai Venue

The SUV revolution continues afoot, and Hyundai is rapidly bolstering its line-up with even more such additions. The Venue, which breaks from tradition in not being named after an American city, is a compact SUV that is even smaller than the Kona, and is designed to appeal to young city urbanites looking for a small car to drive about town in, while still retaining the rugged image of an SUV. Power comes from a 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol making 121bhp, mated to a CVT gearbox, and its youth appeal will be achieved through its available range of funky body colours and two-tone options. Pricing will be kept affordable, and equipment levels will be tailored to suit, although the usual modern items like smartphone connectivity and so on will still be present and correct.

Genesis Mint Concept

It’s easy to forget that Genesis is now a standalone brand, instead of being just a luxury car from Hyundai. To further reinforce that status, Genesis unveiled the Mint at New York, a sleek two-door coupe concept that looks unlike anything it has in its line-up (or Hyundai’s, for that matter). The Mint is meant is meant to be a fun urban sports coupe for the modern millennial, with its compact dimensions and electric powertrain. It also boasts distinctive styling elements like its rear scissor doors that provide access to the cargo area. The minimalist interior features a rectangular steering wheel with a digital instrument panel in its centre, and flanked by three buttons to control the infotainment. Genesis currently has no plans to put the Mint into production however.

Kia HabaNiro Concept 

For the other Korean carmaker meanwhile, there was another concept that was equally wild. Kia’s offering in New York was the interestingly-named HabaNiro Concept, which it dubs the ‘Everything Car’. Designed in the vein of a compact four-seater electric SUV, the HabaNiro features butterfly-opening doors front and rear, and a jacked-up stance with chunky wheels to emphasise its off-road capability. Other rugged elements include an aluminium skid plate, tow hooks front and rear, and a nifty all-wheel-drive system with two electric motors, one at each axle. Kia also says that the HabaNiro Concept will have Level 5 autonomous capability, but adds that production for the HabaNiro is “unlikely”, with the concept only serving as a preview for future features in upcoming Kias.

Mercedes-Benz GLS

The big daddy of the Mercedes-Benz SUV line-up made a surprise appearance at New York, and the third-generation GLS features softer, curvier styling over the chunky looks of its predecessors. It also debuts a new powerplant in the Mercedes-Benz range, a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 with EQ Boost in the GLS 580 4Matic. The new engine produces 489bhp and 700Nm of torque, and the EQ Boost 48-volt electrical system provides an additional boost of 22bhp and 250Nm of torque for improved acceleration and enhanced efficiency. The other drivetrain available is the GLS 450 4Matic, which has a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder with 367bhp and 500Nm of torque, and also incorporates EQ Boost. Comfort is a priority for the GLS, and it will be offered with the optional E-Active Body Control system, which works with the air suspension system to determine spring and damping forces at an individual level, and minimise squatting, diving, or other body roll.

Porsche 911 Speedster

Another one to add to the collection for Porsche fans, the all-new 911 Speedster made its debut at the New York Auto Show, and is destined to be a future classic. Just 1,948 units will be produced worldwide, instantly guaranteeing it collector status, and the 911 Speedster shares its 4.0-litre flat-six engine with the hardcore 911 GT3 and GT3 RS, so performance is a given. In classic Speedster vein, the new model features a manual folding fabric top, and the distinctive rear bulges that hide that roof are the most instantly recognisable cues of the Speedster. All 1,948 owners of the new 911 Speedster will also receive an exclusive Porsche Design 911 Speedster Chronograph watch, which features a carbon fibre dial, a rotor modelled after the Speedster's centre lock wheel, and a strap made of the same leather used in Porsche’s interiors.

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