New York's car show is a world away from Shanghai tech-fest

By DPA | 24 April 2019


NEW YORK: The two car shows may be running almost simultaneously, but it seems light years separate Shanghai and New York's trade fairs. While China represents the science fiction-style world of modern mobility with loads of high tech, the New York show (April 19-28) is firmly rooted in the here and now with a traditional horsepower parade.

Both celebrate new metal but the spotlight in the Big Apple is on heavy SUVs and powerful sports cars. It seems as if the future has been put on hold in New York.

One of the fattest cars on the block is not a state-side creation. It comes from Mercedes-Benz in the shape of the new GLS, the flagship of an off-roader range which seems to get more bloated as the years roll by.

Poersche 911 Speedster.
Porsche 911 Speedster.


This the sports utility equivalent of the S-Class limousine. The GLS the largest and most luxurious of the brand's SUV breed to carry the three-pointed star. Naturally it is larger than the previous model - it has gained 7.7 centimetres in length - and it is a tad wider too.

Up to seven passengers are able to enjoy remarkable spaciousness with plenty of elbow and headroom in all three seat rows thanks to a longer wheelbase.

Effortless power comes from a V8 petrol engine with 489hp on tap. The GLS is flanked by its only slightly smaller sibling, the GLC four-door coupe which touches down in NYC in four variations.

All the GLCs get an infotainment upgrade and the go-faster AMG variant pushes out a whopping 510 horses. The AMG version of the CLA is also on hand in New York, with 306 horsepower under the bonnet.

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Think big is the name of the game over at the Volkswagen stand. The chunky Tarok is being teased in New York to "gauge market reaction" although it is actually designed for the South American market. The version on display has a puny 1.4-litre engine, which no US pick-up fan would take seriously, so a state-side version would need considerably more urge in order to compete with home-grown brands.

At Porsche everything revolves around the 911 Speedster, a radical drop-head version of the iconic model which marks the Stuttgart maker's 70 years in the business. Packing 500 horsepower the slippery shape is based on the 911 GT3 and limited to 1,948 examples hence the number "48" on the flanks of the New York car.

US makers are relying on tried and tested technology for their new models which include the CTS successor the CT5. The new car, which squares up to BMW's 3 Series, gets a fastback design, lustrous colours and a raft of driver assistance and warning gadgets. Engines are conventional, with no green leanings in sight.

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Ford is being a little more adventurous by offering its new Kuga as the Ford Escape or Lincoln Corsair with hybrid or plug-in technology. Compared with the dozen or so pure electric sports utilities in Shanghai, this is just a very pale shade of green.

Asian makers too have brought conventional tech to New York. Toyota has the Highlander - with a hybrid version - as its next-generation SUV while Subaru is fielding a refreshed issue of its Outback off-road estate which is set to reach Europe this autumn.

Hyundai slots in the Venus crossover with its city-friendly dimensions below the Kona although officially this model is only available for Asia and North America.

Jaguar I-PACE.
Jaguar I-Pace.


Among the heavy metal in New York there are some brief glimpses of the future. One is the award by a 50-strong global jury of "World Car of the Year" to the all-electric Jaguar I-Pace.

The other is the unwrapping of the Genesis Mint Concept, a low-slung sporty runabout from Hyundai's luxury offshoot. The Mint is designed to get around gridlocked city streets. The two-door EV may never go into production but it shows a possible way ahead.

Firms like Mercedes-Benz are weighed down by a lot of baggage from the past called tradition whereas the brains behind Genesis can take a fresh look - the brand has been around for less than a decade.

Genesis Mint Concept.
Genesis Mint Concept.
Volkswagen Tarok Concept.
Volkswagen Tarok Concept.

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