No. 946
May 16, 2018

About The UjianNasional@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of

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On The Surface


MARCH 28, 2018

Rumblings from New York.

By Peter M. DeLorenzo

Manhattan. The New York International Auto Show was its usual kaleidoscope of the interesting, the absurd, and the downright confounding. Throw in the horrendous traffic that seemed to paralyze this city at will during the press days, and well, as Stevie Wonder famously said, "New York, just like I pictured it." The New York show itself put paid to the fleeting notion that the Detroit Auto Show is still a major auto show, because there were more new product unveilings in New York than in the last three years put together in Detroit. As I mentioned in this week's column, "A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall" on what's left of the Detroit Auto Show.

As for the product reveals in New York, VW clearly made the biggest splash with its Atlas Tanoak pickup truck concept. Not totally unexpected - at least if you had your ear to the ground - the Tanoak is a concept in name only. The Tanoak is a concept for a dual-cab, short-bed pickup truck based on an extended wheelbase Atlas. The Tanoak is 214.1 inches long and has nearly 10 inches of ground clearance. The interior is has the latest digitalized instrumentation and controls, with sport seating. VW is also touting the innovative movable cargo rail over the bed. Let me reiterate, the Tanoak is a concept in name only; I expect VW to have a production version to market in late 2019. 

The Atlas Tanoak.

The boys and girls at Cadillac can rest easy, because they no longer own "the biggest non-starter" crown at the New York show. The XT4's short reign was blown to smithereens by the flat-out abysmal Lexus UX compact luxury crossover. As much as the "spindle" grille design signature works on the LC500 (in fact, that's the only Lexus it works on), the UX is a frightening horror show of a vehicle, a true monument to design stupidity with not one redeeming angle on it, even if you squint. I just cannot stress enough how appalling this vehicle is in person. 

The Lexus UX.

Other stuff? In an ominous development, we're witnessing "peak" Porsche at this very moment, folks. The German manufacturer had on display a yellow 911 T, a lime green 911 GT3 RS, a silver Cayenne and two white Panamera Hybrids (one of them a Sport Turismo). The most alluring Porsche on display? A beautifully restored white 356 Cabriolet from Porsche Classic. What does that tell you? My feeling is that the endless variations of the 911 is a product strategy that has been played out. The modern Porsche models on display felt coldly calculated and oddly uninvolving. The GT3 RS seemed like it had been done 1000 times before (because well, it has), and the 911 T is yet another blatant money grab adhering to the traditional Porsche marketing formula, which goes like this: Decontenting + Limited Production = Piles of Ca$h. And the Panamera models were antiseptic and off-putting. Memo to the brainiacs at Porsche: you have reached a critical juncture in your history, and I'm not even sure the much-touted "Mission E" machine will be enough to save you. Ask yourselves the following: What is Porsche? Why does Porsche exist? And why should we - as enthusiasts - care? And remember, just having hybrids and BEVs does not mean the brand will survive.

There were plenty of other vehicles unveiled, but not many were memorable, let alone worth mentioning. The Camaro SS Hot Wheels Edition in orange metallic looked shockingly good, while the orange metallic Corvette ZR1 convertible didn't. Maybe it was the black high wing on the ZR1, which made it look like a refugee from The Fast and The Furious, but at any rate it didn't look right. At all. There was a new Subaru Forester, which looked perfectly in keeping with the Subaru brand. The Hyundai Kona electric was, I don't know, what's the word I'm looking for, forgettable? A new Hyundai Santa Fe and Hyundai Tuscon (uh, present and accounted for best describes these appliances). A new Acura MDX and, well, at this point I turned off my SUV/Crossover sensors and walked away. 

Oh, and the Lincoln Aviator looked very promising, and the way Lincoln operatives talked about it was interesting, to say the least. They seem to be aiming for a detached, silky-smooth, church-quiet, "glide" driving experience, a detached serenity as it were. Well, at least it's an ethos. And don't think it's a "junior" Navigator, either. In comparison, the Aviator has more of a refined presence to it and real style. It's going to be a real hit in the market.

(Lincoln images)
Best in Show? Nothing comes to mind. Well, actually there was one car that stood out: A lime green 1967 Lamborghini Miura in the classic cars display. Stunning perfection still, 51 years later.
(Genesis images)
Genesis unveiled its Essentia Concept in New York. The all-electric, high-performance concept "elevates and reimagines the 'Athletic Elegance' design paradigm, while providing a vision of future Genesis product performance and technology," according to Genesis PR minions. “We understand our obligation as a luxury car manufacturer to create objects of desire, sparking passion and inspiration by emphasizing a culture while exceeding expectations in terms of technology and connectivity, bringing our outside world seamlessly to the inside of the vehicle,” said Manfred Fitzgerald, Global Head of the Genesis Brand. “This is what the Genesis Essentia Concept is all about, and we are thrilled to introduce our interpretation of an all-electric, two-door Gran Turismo here in New York.” (Wow, there's a mouthful.) Essentia is the brand’s first BEV and features a lightweight carbon-fiber monocoque, a multi-motor electric powertrain and a custom-tailored interior. “The Genesis Essentia concept defines our vision for an electric Gran Turismo that integrates Athletic Elegance and Genesis DNA as defining parameters,” said Executive Vice President Luc Donckerwolke, Head of Genesis Design. “A Gran Turismo typology highlights our ambition as a luxurious car brand for the connoisseurs and it is the perfect base to project our DNA in the future.” Editor-in-Chief's Note: I'm sure this elegantly-rendered piece of vaporware was fun to do, but I am also quite sure that it didn't assuage Genesis dealers one bit, the ones who are wallowing in the brand's disarray and wondering if it can be pulled out of its downward spiral. -PMD

Editor-in-Chief's Note: Cadillac unveiled its "first-ever" XT4 in Manhattan Tuesday night at its "bunker," aka Cadillac House. Why the Cadillac PR minions chose to use the hoary "first-ever" moniker defies explanation, as it is hands-down the most tedious and unoriginal buzz phrase in current PR speak (nicely done by the way, you unmitigated hacks). But then again, Cadillac operatives should add "hopelessly late" to their lexicon, too, because the compact XT4 SUV is so late to the market that it's remarkable that anyone will even care by the time it hits showrooms. This is what Chief Cadillac Guru - President Johan de Nysschen - had to say: 
“The first-ever 2019 Cadillac XT4 expands our successful SUV lineup to a segment where Cadillac has never been before. And it sets off a dramatic expansion and elevation of the product range, that will see a new Cadillac virtually once every six months through 2021.” And Cadillac PR minions added this: "Simple and sculpted lines draw the customer in and accentuate the XT4’s powerful proportions and aggressive presence. The interior is the Cadillac design aesthetic distilled: the thoughtful and artistic integration of technology and appealing style. The cabin is exceptionally refined, with expected segment-leading rear-seat spaciousness." The sawed-off XT4 will be priced starting at $35,790. Wow. Really? This is what I say: The "first-ever" Cadillac XT4 is automotive cynicism personified, an homage to the expected and uninspired, and living, breathing proof that Cadillac is so lacking in originality at this juncture that it can only be described as being excruciatingly painful. Other than that, congratulations ladies and gentlemen, it's the biggest non-starter at the New York International Auto Show. -PMD
Mercedes-AMG has tweaked its C63 Sedan (and Coupe and Cabriolet) with even better dynamics, a more modern interior and extended individualization options. The Good Stuff? The Handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter biturbo V8 is available in two output variants - 469HP or 503HP. The AMG SPEEDSHIFT® MCT 9-speed transmission with wet start-off clutch makes for even quicker shifting response. So yeah, it will be quick. There are a bunch of exterior and interior tweaks too. It will be at dealers one year from now.
(Volkswagen images)
VW unveiled the Atlas Cross Sport concept at the New York show, a five-seat version of the seven-seat mid-size Atlas SUV that went on sale in the U.S. in 2017. VW is calling the Atlas Cross Sport concept "near-production," which means they're going to build it pretty much as you see it. The concept features a plug-in hybrid drivetrain with 355 horsepower and an anticipated 26 miles of all-electric range. A conventional mild hybrid version of the same powertrain would make 310 hp. The actual production vehicle is likely to launch with the same 3.6-liter, 276HP V6 FSI® engine as the current Atlas.  The Atlas Cross Sport is scheduled to hit the U.S. market starting in 2019, and will be built alongside the seven-passenger Atlas and the Passat sedan in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
This is the new 2019 Toyota RAV4. It's supposedly better in every way, although we stopped reading when we came across "unparalleled" driving experience. And this is us pretending to care.
Audi has unveiled the RS 5 Sportback at the New York show. 
It is powered by a 2.9 TFSI twin turbo V6 with 444HP and maximum torque of 600 Nm, which delivers 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, with a top track speed of 174 mph. As with all new Audi V6 and V8 engines, the turbochargers are mounted at a 90-degree angle to the cylinder banks, which means that the exhaust side of the cylinder heads is inside, and the intake side is outside. The power of the 2.9 TFSI is transferred to the quattro permanent all wheel drive with center differential via a sport-tuned eight-speed tiptronic transmission. With the standard RS sports suspension, the RS 5 Sportback is seven millimeters (0.3 in) lower than the Audi S5 Sportback. Other stuff? The RS features a wide, flat, single-frame grille, solid air intakes with a honeycomb structure, a front spoiler with matte aluminum quattro lettering, an RS-specific diffuser insert, RS exhaust system with oval tailpipes and a fixed spoiler lip. Nineteen-inch wheels are standard, with 20-inch wheels optional. The new Audi RS 5 Sportback offers 480 17 cu. ft. of trunk capacity, 46 cu. ft. with rear seats folded down. It weighs 4,056.5 lbs.

(Honda images)
Honda will take the wraps off of the production version of the 2019 Insight at the 2018 New York International Auto Show. The all-new Insight is the latest entry in Honda's expanding lineup of electrified vehicles. The Insight joins the Clarity series and just-launched 2018 Accord Hybrid as the fifth new Honda electrified vehicle introduced over the past year. The Insight will be positioned as a premium compact sedan and priced between Civic and Accord in Honda's passenger car lineup. The Insight is powered by the third generation of Honda's two-motor hybrid system with 151 net system horsepower, which is capable of delivering up to 55 mpg in the city. The 2019 Honda Insight will be available in three trims – LX and EX and Insight Touring - and arrives at Honda dealerships nationally in early summer.
Volkswagen will offer the R-Line® package on the 2019 Volkswagen Arteon. The R-Line package offers "performance-inspired" design treatments, according to VW, including the option of unique 19- or 20-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. Also included are stinkin' R-Line badging; a unique front bumper with air intakes in a gloss black finish; R-Line air inlets and cover panels; and a gloss black rear spoiler. Inside, the R-Line logo appears on the start screen of the Volkswagen Modular Infotainment Platform (uh, wow). Other stuff? Contrast stitching on the steering wheel and shift knob; steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters; metallic décor pieces; black headliner; stainless-steel sport pedal covers; and stainless-steel door sills with the R-Line logo. All Arteon models are powered by the Volkswagen 2.0-liter TSI® turbocharged engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. Volkswagen's 4Motion® all-wheel-drive system is available as an option on every trim level. The Arteon R-Line package will be introduced at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, and it will go on sale in the Fall of 2018, with the R-Line package being available at launch.

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