1. Matte Paint
Why is matte paint the worst thing ever? Partly because it is now blatantly over-utilized on show cars and partly because it is absolutely useless to the general public. Last year, Mercedes caught the bug, displaying every AMG model in matte white. This year, they continued. However, the folks from BMW and Audi caught on. A matte M3, M5 and 6 Series Gran Coupe were all on display in the dull, unimpressive matte finish. Audi was nice enough to bring the R8 GT Spyder to the show. Unfortunately, it was in a matte blue, detracting from its beauty. Luckily, the single-piece unmovable racing seat was so uncomfortable and the Audi model so stunningly attractive that the paint was nearly completely forgotten about. Other notable mentions? A hideous Brabus Smart Car in robin’s egg matte blue and the new Hyundai Veloster Turbo in matte silver proved that this trend has escaped containment in Germany.
2. Range Rover Evoque Convertible Concept
What could be better than an off-road, four passenger, convertible SUV? Remember when Willy Wonka came up with that idea for the gum that simulated chewing an entire meal? No, you’re not going to turn into a blueberry, but consumers don’t want everything all in one car. Unfortunately, the cross/multi segmenting trend has brought us this. It should have died with the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.
3. Lincoln MKZ
Lincoln’s designs have increasingly deviated from cars towards capsized boats. But the biggest problem is that, deep down inside, its still a Ford. And Ford is doing really well at being Ford. (see the 3rd Best)
4. BMW X1
The BMW X1 isn’t a failure in-and-of-itself. It has a lot of things going for it. The new redesign isn’t bad, mostly because it focused heavily on the European market. It will probably be fun to drive with BMW’s nearly-perfect 300hp TwinPowerTurbo inline 6. However, it’s in a relatively specific market niche. If you want a good, small, all-wheel drive SUV type vehicle, you’re going to buy the Subaru Forester. Unless you really want a BMW, in which case you’re going to get the new X3. That’s mostly because its more car for very similar money. And that leaves the BMW X1 in a tight place.
5. Lexus ES300h
What could possibly be wrong with a large, luxurious, reliable, hybrid car? Well, to start, its based on the Toyota Avalon, which is boring. Second, it’s large, luxurious, reliable, and hybrid powered. When was the last time you heard any of those words associated something that was fun to drive? Beyond that, just look at it. Lexus has some good looking cars, not the prettiest or most aggressive, but also nothing hideous. The new ES rounds out the bottom 5 simply because it is boring. The sides of the car are flat, no wheel arches, creases, pinches, or anything else that might suggest some level of creativity or excitement.
5. Mercedes GL550 (AMG?)
Mercedes did with the new GL what they failed to do with the new ML, make it look better. The new ML just looks like a sausage, now round and overinflated compared to the outgoing model. Like the old ML, the old GL was a handsome and stylish car. With the new GL, it retains much of that stately appeal, but it also gained a dose of aggression. New style lines along its flanks, a new rear quarter-glass shape, the squarer headlights, and more protruding hood all add to that end. However, the GL550 shown at the NYIAS also appeared to have an AMG-inspired lower grille, which looks downright mean. While Mercedes couldn’t confirm or deny that this amped up GL was a preview of an AMG version, the sheer potential of such a behemoth is enough to vault it into the Best-of list.
4. Dodge Dart
Dodge has resurrected a famed nameplate, so the car that now wears it should be up to the task. Good news: it is. With multiple engine and transmission options (including a few manuals), this car will be an option for anyone ranging from the bland commuter all the way into the cult of SRT4 lovers. Its the car that Dodge needed, and they delivered. Hopefully they can gain a footing against strong competition from the new Ford Focus.
3. Ford’s New Face
It seems someone at Ford may have found a few pictures of their old partner, Aston Martin, in a file cabinet somewhere. And I don’t mind one bit. The new face of Ford is a fresh step away from the Gillette razor-grilled faces of old. It will appear on the new Taurus, Fusion and Focus. The Focus also debuted in ST trim, something that Europe has had for a while. Hats off to Ford for that decision, and hats off for bringing a distinctive design to their entire sedan product line.
2. BMW M6
The M6 may have lost its monster V10, but it also lost most of its Bangle-era design cues. Most notably, the rear end is simpler and less bulbous. The front end gains deeper intakes and double-slatted grilles to differentiate itself. Once you step inside, you realize that it isn’t just a 2-door M5 either. A completely individual interior with carbon fiber trim and differentiated steering wheel make this look and feel like no mere 6 Series. Out of the entire show, this is the car that I wanted to take home with me. And for that, it earned the #2 spot.
1. SRT Viper GTS
Its hard to argue that any other car drew more attention from the crowds at the NYIAS. And when you get down to it, it becomes clear why. In an era of smaller cylinder counts and forced induction, leave it to SRT to stick to their guns. The car returns with a more powerful (and yet more efficient) naturally aspirated V10. The car even retains its signature side exhaust. However, new additions such as adjustable suspension, traction control, and launch control are new vocabulary to Viper owners. Leave it to SRT to bring just what it needed to the party. SRT has walked a fine line of tradition and technology, and manged to stay true. That purely American ingenuity and resolve earned them the #1 spot for the best car at the New York International Auto Show.