The 2014 New York International Auto Show media days ended on Thursday and the show opened to the public on Saturday. Now that we’ve caught up on sleep, we had time to reflect on some of our favorite (and least favorite) moments from this year’s show. Keep in mind, as always with our 5 Best/Worst posts, things improve with the further down the page you read.
1. Hiding the Lincoln Navigator
The show floor is large and overwhelming. You can make a conscious effort to see every vehicle and still end up missing a few – to no fault of your own. Manufacturers should make it as easy as possible to spot all the new models, but that isn’t always the case. We haven’t seen anything like this before. Lincoln’s brightly lit booth showed off a number of cars and the attractive new MKC Concept. But something was missing. Where’s the new Lincoln Navigator? Look closely enough and you’ll find it tucked away in a dark room with some bicycles. It’s almost as if Lincoln wanted to leave the Navigator at home in the garage. The apparent shame of its presence is enough to make the attempt to hide it the worst thing at the show.
2. Poorly Lit Booths
With the exception of the hidden Navigator, the Lincoln booth wasn’t poorly lit. But when Infiniti unveiled the updated Q70 and QX80, they pulled the covers off two blue cars with a dark blue backdrop. In a similar vein, the new Mercedes S63 AMG Coupe was unveiled in matte silver on a black stage with a black background. VW lit their white stage with a tinge of blue. That meant the white Golf and red GTI just look “off” in pictures. These conventions are meant to show off the vehicles in the best light possible, figuratively and literally. Unfortunately not everyone does that. In most of the pictures you’ll find of the Infiniti, it’s rather difficult to discern where the car ends and the backdrop begins. At least this time it didn’t make the models unhappy.
3. Jeep Renegade Marketing
We’re willing to give the Jeep Renegade a chance. We won’t call it a dressed-up Fiat 500L like many outlets might. Thousands of hours of engineering and design work go into making each new car, so they deserve their fair shake. But when Jeep tries so hard to convince us that the new Renegade is really a Jeep, we get worried. Why is the emphasis on the many “easter eggs” designed to remind you that the same company that produces the Renegade is so lovingly attached to the Willys MB. Why is that grille on every surface? Why is the bottom of the cupholders a map? Why does it look like the tachometer threw up on itself? Why does the seat fabric say Jeep in a very early-90s sort of way? Yes, we get it. The Renegade is a Jeep. Why not let the Renegade actually speak for itself? The best cars don’t need this kind of marketing.
4. Mustang 50th Anniversary Edition
Special edition cars give a manufacture the ability to step out and do something unique. Maybe its a design or modification that they wouldn’t normally entertain. Maybe, like the 1,964 50th Anniversary Edition Ford Mustangs, it’s a time to celebrate the past. As one GM employee put it, Ford took this opportunity to make a white Mustang with some chrome trim and special wheels. We knew GM isn’t a reliable source on special edition Fords, so we checked it out ourselves. As it turns out, that GM employee was wrong. The 50th Anniversary Mustang comes in Wimbleton White or Kona Blue. As for the rest of the exterior changes? Chrome trim and special wheels. You know what Meatloaf said, “two outta three ain’t bad.” Ford had a big opportunity here to help launch the new Mustang. We can’t get over the feeling that they left a lot on the table, which is why it just barely falls onto our Worst list.
5. Something Missing
We love the new Corvette Z06. It’ hardened, lightened, and more powerful than it’s “standard” C7 counterpart. While there’s never been a Z06 convertible, the success of the 427 Convertible was undeniable. Die-hard Corvette fans will find the topless Z06 as blasphemous as the supercharger hiding under the hood. We don’t see it like that. There’s definitely a market for a high-performance convertible. That’s why things like the 458 Spyder and Aventador Roadster exist. But there’s something missing from the new Z06. Unlike other performance convertibles, there are no roll hoops. Why make a performance convertible that is automatically, according to most track rules we’ve read, disqualified for entry? Certainly some of the Z06 Convertible owners might have considered tracking their cars. This omission itself falls into our last spot of the Worst list.
5. Corvette Z06 Convertible
625hp supercharged V8. Even with a roof, it made our Top 5 list from the 2014 NAIAS earlier this year. Topless, the new Z06 could be one of the best sensory experiences of the year. Imagine the booming exhaust and supercharger whine as the summer sky rushes past overhead. In the grand scheme of things, who cares if this version won’t be allowed on track? This car will be best enjoyed on the back roads and boulevards. Chevrolet knows this, which is why they sacrificed the desire of a few for an uninterrupted rear deck. For that, it still makes our 5 Best list.
4. Fez Guy
When we happened across this well-dressed gentleman, we weren’t sure what to think. Armed with little more than some Windex, a rag, and a fez, he stood just outside the limelight, waiting to silently swoop in and remove fingerprints from the windows of million-dollar supercars. Compared to the finely-tailored Italian jackets that dotted the show floor, its fair to say that he stuck out a bit. We don’t know his name, we don’t know why he was wearing a fez. In fact, there are more questions than answers here. But it was a memorable moment, which is why it makes our Best list.
3. Golf SportWagon TDI 4Motion Concept
We recognize that a station wagon with a diesel engine, manual transmission, and AWD is very narrow market niche. But consider this take – the Volkswagen Golf SportWagon TDI 4Motion Concept is the perfect vehicle. It’s efficient (TDI), it’s practical (SportWagon), it’s usable year-round (4Motion), and it should be engaging to drive (manual transmission). With the R-Line body kit, it also looks great. You’ll never need another car. Hopefully VW realizes this and green-lights production. We hope to be able to drive this universally appealing car in the near future. Long live the wagon!
2. Alfa Romeo 4C
The fact that Alfa Romeo is returning to the US market is good enough to make our 5 Best list. The fact that they’re doing it with the 4C brings it all the way up to #2. The 4C is a rarity in the automotive world. It’s built with a lightweight carbon fiber chassis, a turbocharged 4-cylinder mid-engine layout, and unassisted steering. It should be one of the most unadulterated, raw, and rewarding vehicles to drive. If the Porsche Cayman S is any indicator of success, the Alfa should be simply amazing. We get very excited for a modern production car that skips over things like cupholders and carpets in the name of driving enjoyment.
1. Christian von Koenigsegg
Christian von Koenigsegg is a mad scientist. He’s best known for building some of the world’s most extreme supercars in a converted hangar at an airport in Sweden. His creations are the stuff of school-boy fantasy, worthy to be hung on walls and admired for their beauty. Perhaps only rivaled by Elon Musk in automotive innovation, Christian prefers to improve the internal combustion engine rather than discard it. His latest creation, the 1:One, aims at breaking the next barrier in automotive performance – a 1:1 power to weight ratio. More importantly for us, Koenigsegg is sharing his vehicles with the world. Starting this year, the Agera R will be sold in the US. There’s been a lot of time spent by his small company perfecting the Agera to meet US crash and emission standards. But any car built by a man who champions the internal combustion engine is important. The man behind them is important enough to earn the #1 spot from this year’s show.