2013 SRT Viper. Click image to enlarge
Article and photos by Paul Williams
The 2012 New York International Auto Show is open to the public April 6–15, offering consumers and media a look at the full array of current vehicles sold in the US and a preview of some upcoming models.
The New York show is the oldest American car show, and is regarded by media as the “last” show of the current model-year season. The Los Angeles show in November 2012 and the Detroit show in January 2013 are seen as the main venues to introduce the majority of the industry’s upcoming output.
This year’s show was light on “must-see” new vehicles, although the usual array of current exotic sports cars, rugged SUVs, and mainstream family cars were present.
2013 SRT Viper
There were some highlights, however, with most attendees agreeing that the all-new 2013 SRT Viper topped the list. Here’s a car (and a company…) that was at death’s door only a couple of years ago, but under new ownership spearheaded by Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne and management and design headed by Montrealer Ralph Gilles, it now finds itself both revived and rejuvenated.
The new Viper won’t be seeing increased output (only about 2,500 cars per year, the same as before) but does retain all of its attitude and swagger, albeit in a refined form. It’s fair to say that the bespoke look of the previous generation has been replaced with a more fully formed and premium appearance. Power is up to 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque from its 8.4-litre V10 engine, and the interior takes on the look, feel, and option list of a Porsche.
No pricing yet, but this factory’s back in business, the Viper’s headed to the American Le Mans race series, and Viper Nation lives.
2012 Porsche Boxster
2012 Porsche Boxster. Click image to enlarge
Speaking of Porsche, the new 2012 Boxster can be seen at the show, fresh from its debut in Geneva. The interior is all new, featuring the Panamera-style centre console now shared with the new 911. The Boxster gains wheelbase and width from its entirely new, longer and wider lightweight body. The base engine is reduced from 2.9 litres displacement to 2.7, and power remains at 265 hp. Despite the comprehensive changes, and like the Viper, the Boxster happily retains its signature look. It’ll be here in Canada beginning in June, 2012.
While in the Porsche booth, visitors can also check out the Porsche Cayenne diesel, Porsche’s first non-commercial diesel vehicle in North America. It’s due in Canada later this year at a starting price of $64,500.
Infiniti LE Concept
Infiniti LE. Click image to enlarge
Electric vehicle fans may enjoy the shapely all-new Infiniti LE. Its powertrain is adapted from the Nissan Leaf, but the all-aluminum body and all-new interior is developed specifically for Infiniti. An interesting feature of this car is its inductive charging technology. You can plug it in, just like the Leaf, but this car can also charge wirelessly when parked over a charging panel that would be embedded in your garage floor. A widespread inductive charging infrastructure is the holy grail of electric vehicles, according to Andy Palmer, head of Infiniti. He imagines electric vehicles charging wirelessly and continuously as they drive, obviating the need for extended periods connected to a charging station. It’s a long way off, he concedes, but garage-based inductive charging is expected in only 24 months.
Delorean Electric Vehicle
Delorean electric vehicle. Click image to enlarge
Staying with alternative power, although not exactly mainstream, DMC — the reimagined Delorean Motor Company — was present at the show with its Electric Vehicle (EV) conversions. The company has been restoring the Back to the Future car for years, but recently began converting examples to lithium-ion power using EV systems supplied by Epic EV. Using a Flux Power LIfeP04 battery that requires 3.5 hours to charge, the Delorean Electric generates 260 hp, 360 lb-ft torque and accelerates from 0–60 mph (0–96 km/h) in 4.9 seconds. The price ranges up to $90,000. Here’s a way to satisfy your 80s nostalgia and be good to the environment.
Terrafugia Transition Roadable Aircraft
Upstairs from the Delorean Electric, you’ll find another very unusual — unique, actually — vehicle. Described as a flying car, designed and produced by the Massachusetts-based Terrafugia company, the Transition Roadable Aircraft is more accurately categorized as a street-legal plane. Yes, you can park it in your driveway, drive it to a handy airstrip, extend its wings, and take off.
Terrafugia Transition Roadable Aircraft . Click image to enlarge
Officially, it’s the world’s first commercially available, street-legal airplane, although “flying car” indeed sounds cooler. Its appearance is not as futuristic as you might expect, as it focuses more on the practicalities of combining flight with roadworthiness as opposed to aesthetics. But it works, is now FAA approved, and can be purchased for US $275,000 (anticipated). Top speed in the air is about 180 km/h, range about 750 kilometres, and power is supplied by a 100-hp Rotax engine. There’s a compartment for your golf clubs, too.
Original Shelby Cobra
A highlight of this year’s NY show for me was the presence of Carroll Shelby’s first Cobra sports car. This is the more compact 289-engine body style (although a 260 cubic inch V8 was initially used in this car), still wearing its AC wire wheels.
Terrafugia Transition Roadable Aircraft . Click image to enlarge
The story of the Cobra is fascinating, and if you don’t know how Mr. Shelby convinced Ford to supply him with its new thin-wall, small-block V8 engines for the project, sold England’s AC car company on the idea of installing them in its roadster, then built a prototype at Dean Moon’s speed shop in California, well, it’s worth your time to learn the details. This is the stuff of automotive legend, and here’s the car that really put Carroll Shelby in the history books. Situated next to the classic Cobra was Mr. Shelby’s latest creation, the 1,000-hp Shelby 1,000. Based on a 2012 Shelby GT 500, its specifications have been enhanced.
Notable New Cars
Other notables at the New York show are the new Ram 1500 pickup truck, the new Nissan Altima, an appealing Lexus RX 350 F-Sport and the Subaru Crosstrek. The new Hyundai Santa Fe will be popular in Canada, continuing the “fluidic design” theme of its other vehicles, but the Range Rover Evoque convertible should probably remain a concept.