Part 1 of our NYIAS wrap-up covered the media day unveilings that stood out to us. But there were unveilings that fell short as well– whether it may be the cause of a lukewarm product or because of a presentation that carried a lot of potential, but ultimately under-delivered.
As previously mentioned, the compact/subcompact segment has been a focal point at the New York auto show, and will only grow more competitive in coming years. Last week, the Nissan Leaf won World Car of the Year, speaking volumes to just how in touch product developers of Nissan are to current trends.
However, I was extremely disappointed with the unveiling of their new Versa. With 30 city/37 highway at an extremely low price of $10,990, the Versa is one of the least expensive new cars sold in North America today and it is obviously trying to bring on the heat to the South Korean brands.
The price, unfortunately, comes with with a price. The Versa suffers from a bland exterior that whimpers anonymity in addition to plastic composite touch points in the interior that conjure childhood memories of Fisher Price. The press conference ended with restrained and scattered applause. Oh no is right. This can’t be good.
Lotus caused one of the largest buzzes in recent memory when they simultaneously unveiled at the 2010 Paris Auto Show an unprecedented five unique products– Lotus Eterne, Esprit, Elite, Elan and Elise.
Since the show, skeptics and fans alike questioned whether or not Lotus indeed had the ability, in finances and resource, to meet its promise. With the presence of the Lotus Esprit concept and some major suits, including industry icon, legend, and former GM vice chairman, Bob Lutz, who is now a part of the Lotus advisory board, the venue had everything one could need to inject confidence to the public.
Unfortunately, nothing in depth was ever brought to attention. Sure, the new Evora S and Evora IPS were unveiled but rather than running across sales figures, company performance outlooks, and product improvements, Lotus did little talking at all. Instead, they’ve brought promotional videos to out attention and followed up with an agonizingly long discussion of Lotus’ IRL racing activities. Disappointingly, the only thing the promo videos revealed were gorgeous models in sheer bikinis walking around a Esprit concept while a remix of La Roux’s “In for the Kill” played in the background. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the video. But that wasn’t why FPH came to the Auto Show.
Subaru is not exactly the biggest or most well known of the Japanese automakers. Having said that, it would make sense for them to come with an impactful, budget conscious press conference. Well, they came with one of those criteria and it wasn’t the former. Their video presentation was done in 3D which meant everyone was clustered in three locations where viewing screens were located. It’s a shame that two of the screens were behind support pillars and nobody could see the actual press conference being delivered by the Subaru representatives. Maybe this was their intention because the 2012 Impreza isn’t exactly a looker.
A mash-up between a Chevy Cruze and Toyota Corolla, the design language are far from inspiring. In an arena as hotly contested as the fuel efficient small car market that is packed full of attractive cars, Subaru will need to come to market with something that stands out in the performance department. It’ll be interesting to see what they can pull out of their magic hat with the WRX and STI variants. For now, the only offering is an all new 2.0 liter flat four with 148 horsepower attaining 27/36 mpg, an industry leading mpg figure for AWD sedans.
Most of the time, BMW can do no wrong. Their chassis are rock solid; engines are never lacking in thrust; design language is mostly pleasing to the eye. It would seem the only way that BMW could make a wrong step would be to not take a step at all. Since this is about the New York International Auto Show, lacking a formal press conference on the schedule would constitute as a misstep.
BMW tried to get the jump on the competition by having its unveilings at BMW Manhattan on the Monday before the show. Yes, North American unveilings of the Z4 Sdrive28i, 6-series coupe, and fully electric ActiveE were held while the automotive press were still working their normal nine to fives. This is like having a dinner party on a Tuesday at 4 o’clock and being pissed off when your friends can’t make it. We apologize for only having pictures of the ActiveE. We were too busy getting some take-out from Shanghai.
Regardless of the state of the press conferences, it’s really the state of the industry overall that’s important. Current global climate along with legislative bills is forcing the automakers to push their engineering to the limit. While this was mostly seen in the fuel efficient small car sector this year, it applies to everything from SUVs to supercars. It is that excitement that fuels our enthusiasm for cars. That said, it is also a very good time to be a young car buyer.
Moreover, as significant manufacturers reported double digit sales growth in the past year, we can be confident that this won’t be our last NYIAS. After our first visit, we met many enthusiasts, both green and veterans of the industry, that have been gracious to us and embraced FPH. After all, an industry is nothing without its people and that’s what made it even more special to be there. FPH is looking forward to cover more press events in the future and we hope to keep in touch with the friends we’ve made and to make new ones as well.
-Danny Choy and Danny Chin