New York motor show 2019 notes: news, updates and oddities

Nissan 370Z

Nissan 370Z

Our reporters have scoured the show halls to find out what’s really happening

The New York motor show might not be the biggest on the global calendar, but its location means that it always attracts some of the biggest names in the car industry.

You can check out all the new launches from the show here. Meanwhile, Autocar has been on the ground to check out all the new cars that are on display, chat to the industry experts in attendance – and to find out what’s really happening on the show stands.

Here, our reporters empty their notebooks to bring you the behind-the-scenes info from the New York show.

Nissan downsizing

Stepping into the NY show, you’re instantly greeted by one of the biggest trends of recent years – downsizing. Whether we’re talking powertrains or vehicle dimensions, Nissan’s stand was the perfect example of the downsizing we so often see these days.

The 370Z 50th Anniversary model sits alongside its forebear, the Datsun 240Z. Unsurprisingly, the latter looks positively dinky by comparison. 

The birthplace of the Speedster

There’s no better place for Porsche to launch its 991 swansong, the 911 Speedster, than New York. The original 356 Speedster was created at the request of New York dealer Max Hoffman who wanted a ‘stripped-down’ version of the 356 to sell on the West Coast.

The new machines uses the same 4.0-litre flat six as the current 911 GT3 but is heavily modified with a revised fuel system, different revs and more. It’s a lot of work for just 1948 examples, so there’s every chance this unit will make its way into more mainstream models…

Rivian is go

This Electric start-up only rose to prominence last year (despite being around for a decade). Its stand, featuring its R1S SUV and R1T pick-up, took pride of place alongside prominent car makers such as Audi and Mercedes. Its presence is likely a statement of intent as much as anything else, but shows how serious founder RJ Scaringe is. He told Autocar earlier this year that he believes he has now found a niche with Rivian, and can build something different and lasting.

New York is new home for Genesis 

Genesis is still finding its feet in America, having launched as a stand-alone brand four years ago. Brand boss Manfred Fitzgerald said, at the unveil of its Mint Concept, that New York had become Genesis’s “second home” and is where it chooses to premiere concepts year after year.

The Mint Concept – probably the best looking car this year’s show in my opinion – is perfectly suited to New York. It’s not confirmed for production but Genesis says it doesn’t create concepts without having an interest in making it a fully fledged car. We can but hope.

Merc-AMG B-Class, anyone?

The Mercedes-AMG range now spans an incredible number of models, but boss Tobias Moers can namecheck one Merc model that doesn’t have an AMG version – the B-Class!

Meanwhile, he confirmed that the new GLS luxury seven-seater will get an AMG model in time.

On show here is the revised GLC63 and new CLA35. So which 2019 model is Moers most excited about? The new A45 hot hatch. He says it’s dramatically improved in terms of driving dynamics. 

Kia’s SUV focus

Kia America’s COO, Brit Michael Cole, told us that traditionally the maker has been well known for its saloons in America. Given that trucks and SUVs now account for 70% of vehicle sales in the US, that’s a perception it’s trying to change. The recently launched Telluride, a Ford Explorer rival, is helping that cause for the brand. Meanwhile, we’re more excited for the special-edition Stinger with a drift mode

Keep on truckin’

It’d be easy to miss the trucks and mods hall if you weren’t careful. Here, you’re reminded of the sheer hulk of many vehicles on US roads. Personal favourites included the Ram 2500 Power Wagon with a mere 6.4-litre V8 and 429lb ft of torque and the bright orange Jeep Gladiator Rubicon

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2020 Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series to be fastest accelerating AMG yet

Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro on circuit - nose

The Black Series should go even further than the recent GT R Pro, a track-focused variant built with suspension and aero tweaks in mind rather than uprated power

Range-topping AMG Coupé will only be beaten by Mercedes’ One hypercar when it arrives next year

The upcoming Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series will be the fastest accelerating AMG car yet, according to AMG boss Tobias Moers.

The future range-topping coupé will only be beaten by the limited-run AMG One hypercar when it arrives in mid-2020, the AMG chief confirmed to Autocar at the New York motor show.

First confirmed back in 2016 by Moers, the Black Series is now under development and mooted to receive AMG’s turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine in a state of tune offering at least 630bhp.

This is the figure offered by the current most powerful AMG model with that unit, the GT 4-door Coupé. Any growth on that would ensure the Black Series dwarfs the peak output offered by the current GT champions, the 577bhp GT R and GT R Pro (pictured). It would also edge it towards one of the category’s most radical supercars, the 690bhp Porsche 911 GT2 RS.

The GT Black Series’ extra grunt will be accompanied by a more focused chassis and aerodynamic set-up, which may go even further than the track-focused GT R Pro launched at last year’s Los Angeles motor show. That car was designed with uprated suspension and aero upgrades, but received no extra power over the regular GT R.

Such a setup should ensure the GT Black Series tips the scales at around 1575kg, in line or slightly less than the GT R Pro. 

The 2020 arrival of the GT Black Series will mark a return for AMG’s most extreme moniker after a seven year hiatus. The last Black Series model was based on the SLS and entered production in 2013.


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Special-edition Kia Stinger GTS gets drift mode

Kia Stinger GTS

US-only model uses newly developed four-wheel drive set-up and is limited to 800 units

The US-only Kia Stinger GTS introduces a drift mode to the grand tourer, a feature likely to extend to standard Stinger GTs when the model is updated in 2020.

While Stingers sold in the UK are only sold in rear-wheel drive form, four-wheel drive is available in other markets. However, this limited-edition Stinger GTS has a newly developed dynamic all-wheel drive system that adds drift mode, a feature popular with owners of performance cars.

Kia said that despite the accolades the Stinger has received, R&D boss Albert Biermann “strived for more”. The result is a new version of the Stinger’s four-wheel drive system “peppered with rear-wheel drive DNA”. Called D-AWD, it’s intended to close the gap in behaviour between the existing AWD and RWD Stinger GTs.

The D-AWD system has a mechanical limited-slip rear differential. There are three different drive modes; Drift mode sends 100% of power to the rear wheels and holds gears without shifting up, while Sport mode sends 80% of power to the rear and Comfort mode sends 60% to the rear.

The Stinger GTS uses the same powertrain as the standard Stinger: a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 with 365bhp and 376lb ft of torque, paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Revealed at New York motor show, the special edition, which is limited to 800 units, has bright orange paint, uses carbonfibre parts around the ‘tiger nose’ grille and side vents and gets a GTS rear emblem. Inside, the steering wheel and centre console are trimmed in Alcantara, while it also features a sunroof and Harman Kardon audio system.

The GTS with D-AWD costs from $46,500, $13,600 more than the US starting price. In the UK, the Stinger is priced from £32,475. The UK’s top-spec V6 Stinger is, confusingly, called the GT S but is unrelated to this new special edition.

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Funky Kia HabaNiro concept previews 2021 Niro

Kia Habaniro concept

Electric concept offers more than 300 miles of range and features level five autonomy and butterfly-wing doors

The Kia HabaNiro concept previews the next-generation Niro, due in 2021, as well as the broader design direction for future models from the Korean brand.

A production version of the HabaNiro, the Mk2 Niro, will continue the current generation’s electrified line-up, offering hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric variants. 

The electric HabaNiro is claimed to offer more than 300 miles of range, exceeding the current e-Niro‘s official WLTP test figure of 282 miles.

The concept also has four-wheel drive with an electric motor on each axle, a feature that could be offered as an option on future Niro models.

More futuristic elements of the HabaNiro include level five autonomous driving capability and butterfly-wing doors. 

Inside, rectangular screens and traditional control knobs have been replaced by a full-width head-up display which allows users to swipe and move vehicle options across the windscreen.

In fully autonomous mode, the HabaNiro’s steering wheel and instrument panel retract to give more room for front occupants and media can be display on the head-up display. While advanced self-driving systems won’t be launched in the next-generation Niro, Kia is already testing such technology at its base in South Korea.

The HabaNiro also features Kia’s Real-time Emotion Adaptive Driving System (READ), first shown at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. It can personalise the cabin by reading a driver’s emotions in real time through artificial intelligence-based recognition technology. Again, Kia plans to introduce such technology, but not in the short term.

A Kia spokesman said: “The HabaNiro is a compact crossover utility vehicle only in terms of existing industry category language. But the HabaNiro can’t be so easily defined. It’s essentially an all-electric Everything Car, or ECEV: commuter, crossover, sport utility, state-of-the-art technology workroom and adventure vehicle.

“We wanted this concept to be comfortable navigating city streets, carving turns on a coastal road and off-roading with confidence to remote wilderness adventures.”

The current Niro hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants have recently been facelifted, drawing the exterior closer in look to the e-Niro while adding greater connectivity inside.

Kia will launch hybrid versions of its Ceed hatch and estate later this year, while its yet-to-be-revealed XCeed SUV is also set to get a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

There are no imminent plans for more electric models beyond the e-Niro and new electric Soul. A production version of the four-door performance Kia by Imagine concept from this year’s Geneva motor show is due in 2021. 

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Source: Autocar Online

2019 Toyota Highlander gains new tech

Toyota Highlander - New York Motor Show 2019 - lead

Fourth-generation three-row SUV built for the US grows, gains uprated technology and safety kit

The fourth-generation Toyota Highlander has been revealed at the New York motor show, updating the three-row SUV model for 2019 with bold new looks and uprated infotainment.

Built on Toyota‘s TNGA-K New Global Architecture platform, the new Highlander is 60mm longer than its predecessor and will offer a choice of petrol and hybrid powertrains. The 3.5-litre V6 model produces 291bhp and 263lb ft of torque and is capable of towing more than two tonnes.

The hybrid, which can be ordered with either front or four-wheel drive for the first time, combines a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with two electric motors for a total output of 237bhp. Toyota claims it will be capable of 34mpg on the US-specific EPA fuel efficiency test, making it the most economical Highlander yet.

The US-bound Highlander’s exterior now has much in common with the (smaller) new RAV4, which uses the same hybrid powertrain. 

Inside, the second-row bench can be exchanged for two individual seats, so the Highlander can carry either seven or eight people. 

With the second and third rows folded down, the Highlander has a total 2075 litres of cargo space in both petrol and hybrid forms.

Range-topping Platinum trim includes a new 12.3in touchscreen infotainment system, while other models get an 8.0in display. Both set-ups support Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity. 

Active safety systems including pre-collision warning, adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance are now included as standard.

The petrol Highlander is set to go on sale in the US by the end of 2019, while hybrid models will arrive in early 2020. Pricing has yet to be confirmed, and there are currently no plans to bring the Highlander to the UK.


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New Subaru Outback SUV launched

Subaru Outback 2019 New York Motor Show reveal - lead

Sixth-generation off-roader gains new turbocharged boxer engine, tech and safety upgrade

Subaru has launched the sixth-generation Outback SUV at the New York motor show. The car will go on sale in the US with a new range-topping 256bhp turbocharged version of the firm’s 2.4-litre four-cylinder boxer engine.

The new version of the durable off-roader comes with Subaru’s four-wheel drive system as standard, along with systems such as active torque vectoring and hill descent control. It also features improved ground clearance over the previous generation.

The Outback will be offered with a 2.5-litre boxer engine producing 180bhp as standard, but the new range-topping XT trim models will use the more powerful turbocharged unit. Both engines will be powered through an eight-speed CVT gearbox.

The Outback is built on the latest version of the Subaru Global Platform, which the firm claims has been optimised to make the model 70% stiffer in torsional and front suspension rigidity than the previous generation. The firm also claims it offers improved crash protection, with a number of new safety features.

The interior has been reworked, with certain trim levels gaining seats covered in a water-repelling material. There is also a revamped infotainment system, with a tablet-style 11.6in screen on all but the entry-level trim. There is a claimed 2143 litres of storage with the rear seats folded down.

The new Outback is due to go on sale in the US in the autumn, but no pricing information has yet been given. There is no news yet on if or when the new Outback will reach the UK.

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Opinion: are small cars about to make a comeback?

Genesis Mint

Genesis Mint

SUVs currently reign but small city cars could become more relevant in the near future

SUVs have been the flavour of the month for… well, a deal longer than that. Once the enclave of countryside dwellers, SUVs have rocketed into the mainstream at a pace no-one would have predicted two decades ago. 

It’s not reached its peak yet either – the growth of SUVs, particularly in the premium compact SUV segment, is predicted to rise even further over the next few years.

Proof of all this is in the endless stream of SUVs being introduced by car makers. If you thought they’d filled all the SUV niches, think again.

So, what’s next? I asked a handful of car designers that very question and received a range of non-committal, vague responses. It’s possible they’re trying to keep their ideas away from rivals, but it seems many genuinely don’t know. And if they don’t know, I certainly don’t…

But what about existing segments that have lost favour in recent years, particularly small city cars? It’s a decline that is troubling the car industry. Renault stopped selling its Twingo in the UK recently, while Geely has taken a 50% stake in Smart, with a plan to turn it into an electric-only brand. Geely’s aim is to make a profit, something Mercedes never achieved as sole owner.

At the New York motor show, Genesis revealed its Mint concept, coined “a small car for the Big Apple”. It looks pretty, but is it viable for production? There’s no official word, but Genesis says “premium has no size” and that it doesn’t make concept cars just for the fun of it.

We are moving towards a time when 75% of the world’s population are set to live in towns and cities. Add in increasingly stringent low-emission zones, and a small, electric runaround – such as the Mint concept – starts to make sense.

It’s not alone either. On Smart’s plan to limit itself to electric models, you only wonder why the brand didn’t do it sooner. Honda will introduce its E electric city car early next year. Expected to cost from £35,000, it will, then, sit in a premium bracket and is touted as the maker’s “flagship” thanks to innovative technology and high specification. 

These city cars might also fit into a world where longer, motorway journeys are predominantly delivered by larger, autonomous vehicles. And there’s no reason why such small premium vehicles couldn’t be part of the growing car-sharing phenomenon, which might also help justify the list price in the first place.

As the car industry adapts at a rate faster than ever before, there’s every chance we will come full circle. What Alec Issigonis started with the Mini in 1959 could become more relevant than ever more than 60 years later.

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Mercedes-Benz celebrates shift to electrification with EQC Edition 1886

Mercedes-Benz EQC Edition 1886 - front

Special edition brings interior and styling upgrades to usher in brand’s electric EQ range

Mercedes-Benz has revealed a special edition of its first electric vehicle, the EQC SUV, at the New York motor show

Available exclusively in metallic silver, the special edition is marked out from the standard EQC, revealed in October last year, by a gloss black front grille surround, 20in lightweight alloy wheels with white accents and Edition 1886 branding on the mudguards. 

Inside, the Edition 1886 receives a unique blue-black colour scheme, seats finished in Artico man-made leather and microfibre suede, 1886 embroidering on the backrests and bespoke silver trim elements. 

Buyers of the Edition 1886 receive extra equipment as standard, including a Burmester surround sound system, electrically adjustable front seats with memory function and Mercedes’ Energizing driver assistance system.

Vehicles equipped with the Energizing package feature interior mood lighting and fragrancing, live traffic and weather updates, plus driver wellness monitoring software that can be connected to the driver’s smartwatch. 

As an addition, the Edition 1886 is covered for six years under Mercedes’ extended vehicle maintenance service and warranty, meaning the vehicle will be picked up from the owner’s home for any scheduled workshop visits and protected in the event of unexpected repair costs. 

Mercedes-Benz will also allow buyers of the Edition 1886 discounted access to the Ionity European rapid charging network, in which it owns a stake. With DC charging, the EQC’s battery can be charged from 10% to 80% at up to 110kW in around 40 minutes.

The Edition 1886 shares its 402bhp dual-motor electric powertrain with the standard model, which sprints from 0-62mph in 5.1sec and on to a top speed of 112mph. 

According to company board member Britta Seeger, the EQC Edition 1886 “serves as a reminder of the invention of the first automobile”, with its name a reference to the year German engineer Karl Benz obtained a patent for the first production automobile. 

“Back then, we were the ones to first revolutionise individual mobility. The EQC now once again marks the departure into a new era. An era in which electric mobility is reliable, simple and at the same time exciting,” said Seeger. 

Pricing for the Edition 1886 has yet to be revealed, but more details will be available soon, when it becomes available to order in Germany. Expect a slight increase on the standard model’s anticipated £67,500 starting price.

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New Mercedes-Benz GLS: re-engineered luxury SUV unveiled

New Mercedes-Benz GLS - hero front

New BMW X7 rival prioritises space, efficiency, refinement and comfort with new platform and interior

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS has been revealed at the New York motor show. The luxury SUV has been completely re-engineered in an attempt to better the refinement and efficiency of rivals such as the new BMW X7 and Range Rover.

Following the standard seven-seater, an uber-luxurious Maybach version will arrive, aimed directly at the Bentley Bentayga.

Styled along similar lines to the new GLE, alongside which it will be produced at Mercedes’ plant in Alabama, US, the new GLS is of an evolutionary appearance, retaining its prdecessor’s upright stance but omitting its prominent sharp lines.

Aerodynamic refinements are said to yield a drag coefficient of 0.32Cd, along with “dramatically reduced wind noise at speed”, according to design boss Gorden Wagener. This compares to the previous GLS’s 0.35Cd. 

At 5207mm long and 1956mm wide, the new GLS is 77mm longer and 22mm wider than its predecessor and a considerable 277mm longer and 6mm wider than the GLE. In comparison, the long-wheelbase Range Rover stretches to 5200mm long and 1990mm wide. 

The new GLS is based on Mercedes’ Modular High Architecture (MHA) platform, as is the GLE. This is heavily related to the Modular Rear Architecture (MRA) that underpins the C-Class, E-Class and S-Class.

The GLS’s interior has also been thoroughly redesigned. Like the new GLE, it features a 12.3in digital instrument display, a 12.3in infotainment screen, touchpads within the upper spokes of the steering wheel and a touchpad on the centre console in place of the old rotary controller. Mercedes’ MBUX interface supports touchscreen control as well as a voice control in conjunction with the Mercedes Me smartphone app.

The GLS also comes with Mercedes’ latest driver assistance systems, including Active Tailback Assist, which recognises tailbacks via real-time traffic updates and reduces speed to 60mph as a precaution. Once in the tailback, the car can autonomously stay within its lane and maintain a safe distance to the vehicle ahead at speeds up to 37mph.

The new GLS is said to be considerably more spacious than its predecessor, which saw close to 800 units sold in the UK last year, making up around one percent of Mercedes’ total sales. The wheelbase has increased by 60mm to 3135mm, giving second-row passengers up to 87mm more leg room, while the third row is also roomier than before. All seven seats are electronically adjustable, and the rearmost pair fold away to leave a flat extended boot floor. 

Nominal luggage capacity is yet to be revealed, but Mercedes says the maximum load space is up to 2400 litres.

The new GLS is will be produced with four engines – two petrols and two diesels – from the outset, but just one, the top-shelf diesel in the GLS 400d, is planned to be offered in the UK.

This is a turbocharged 2.9-litre in-line six-cylinder unit with an output of 325bhp and 516lb ft of torque. Official (WLTP) fuel economy and CO2 emissions are 37.2mpg and 201g/km. Pricing is set to start from around £72,000, with deliveries beginning this autumn.

In other markets, a lower-tuned version of this engine will be offered in the GLS 350d, making 282bhp and 442lb ft.

Both of these models use a 31.6-litre AdBlue tank and a secondary ammonia filter, enabling them to comply with 6d-Temp regulations on the Real Driving Emissions Stage 2 test, which will become mandatory from 1 January 2020.

The petrol line-up is headed by a new 48V mild hybrid engine in the range-topping GLS 580. This combines Mercedes-Benz’s twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 with an electric integrated starter motor, delivering 482bhp and 516lb ft of torque, with a further 22bhp and 147lb ft for available for a brief period under acceleration.

The GLS 450 is also a 48V mild hybrid, using a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine and an integrated starter motor for 362bhp and 369lb ft, with an additional 22bhp and 184lb ft available under acceleration.

According to Mercedes, the 400d’s engine is “perfectly suited to the vehicle’s size and weight, and the performance expectations of our customers.”

All engines are combined with a nine-speed torque converter automatic gearbox and the latest version of Mercedes’ 4Matic four-wheel drive system, which provides fully variable apportioning of power between the front and rear axles. Also available as part of an Off-Road Package is a transfer case with low-range gearing. 

Two AMG performance versions of the new GLS will arrive in 2020, with the GLS 53 using a mild hybrid petrol engine and the GLS 63 a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre petrol V8.

Mercedes is also preparing to offer the SUV with an updated version of the petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain used by the S560e with a significantly greater electric-only driving range.

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Jaguar I-Pace secures another major award

Jaguar I-Pace

Jaguar I-Pace

British brand’s electric SUV has been named 2019 World Car of the Year

The Jaguar I-Pace electric SUV has claimed another trophy, being named the 2019 World Car of the Year.

The British EV added the title, announced at the New York motor show, to the 2019 European Car of the Year award it secured earlier this year.

As well as overall victory in World Car of the Year, the I-Pace won the Green Car and Design categories. The awards are voted for by an international panel of motoring journalists.

The Audi A7 Sportback won the Luxury Car prize, while the utilitarian Suzuki Jimny off-roader was named best Urban Car and Britain’s McLaren 720S supercar took the Performance Car title.

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