In New York last week the Americans celebrated an enduring car culture. They’re not going out of fashion any time soon, and what the US wants from its automobiles is big size and big numbers. Here’s a look at the biggest and boldest models from the Big Apple extravaganza.
No one played the numbers game better than Dodge. The Pentastar brand from the smallest of Detroit’s Big Three just revealed one of the biggest sensations of the year. The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is not only the fastest quarter-mile car in the world — yes, it’s quicker down the strip than the Chiron we tested last week — but also the only and first ever car certified by Guinness World Records to pop a metre-long wheelie at launch. The Hellcat’s 707bhp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 has been blown to bits here in the Demon to make 840 horsepower and over 1,000Nm of torque. With special drag-racing tyres included, officially it’ll run the quarter in under 10 seconds and pull 1.8 g on acceleration. More superlatives? The Demon has the largest bonnet scoop of any production car, a supercharger bigger than your Camry’s engine (2.7 litres), and it’s the first ever production car that runs on 100 octane race fuel.
Infiniti QX80 Monograph
Looking miles better than the hideous current-production Infiniti QX80, this full-size concept from Nissan’s luxury arm is, according to company boss Roland Krueger, “An exploration into how we could enhance our future Infiniti offering in the luxury SUV segment.” So it’s the next-gen QX80… Infiniti’s global design boss Alfonso Albaisa reckons the Monograph’s look is part-Rodin part-Michelangelo in its execution, and the horizontal lines are used to visually enhance the dimensions further, even if the vehicle is already over 5.0m long, nearly 2.0m tall and over 2.0m wide. It’s a massive thing — take into account that the wheels are a gigantic 24in in diameter and they don’t even look oversized.
Lexus LS 500 F Sport
Lexus’s flagship LS saloon has never been known for having any even mildly sporty connotations, preferring instead to focus on silence and comfort and the ability to hit speed bumps flat out and not spill the karak. Now Lexus is trying to change perceptions with the next-generation LS, which has been introduced in New York in new F Sport trim, featuring 20in wheels, big brakes gripped by six-piston callipers up front, meaty tyres, latest-generation chassis tech with rear-axle steering, and the stiffest platform Lexus has ever developed, which already underpins the new LC 500 coupé range.
Power is courtesy of an all-new twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 that develops 415 horsepower and 600Nm of torque, so it’s not quite an S 63 AMG or M760iL rival (both of which make around 600bhp), but the LS 500 F Sport should still sell like hot parathas in our region.
Like everyone else, Hyundai’s luxury spin-off Genesis also has a nonsensical term for its design direction (Mercedes’ Hot & Cool; Lexus’ L Finesse; Keen Edge, Fluidic Sculpture, etc…) and the Koreans choose to call theirs ‘Athletic Elegance’. So, even though the GV80 concept SUV at the New York show is a bit of a technically daring plug-in hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicle, Genesis would still like you to pay more attention to the subtly evolved design language that we’re about to start seeing on future Genesis production cars. Which bits exactly? Note the central spine running the length of the vehicle; horizontal quad headlamps and a lower grille surround with a diamond motif mesh; flush electronic door handles, slim quad taillamps mimicking the fronts; and most importantly, a wide 22in curved display that’s somehow been jammed into the dash.
When Lincoln, as the most stagnant carmaker in the industry without any link to its glorious past left intact, showed us a Navigator concept last year in New York we just glanced right past that gullwinged wonder with cynicism.
It was too grand a concept, and it actually made sense for a Lincoln, so naturally Ford’s premium arm would never put it into the showrooms. This time, Lincoln premiered a production version of the ‘all-new’ Navigator, which is still a Explorer underneath, and, of course, last year’s concept’s gullwing doors don’t feature.
The full-size 2018 SUV uses a 450 horsepower 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 mated to a 10-speed auto, and an aluminium body to save nearly 100 kilos compared to the current model. The highlights are the seats, offering an unprecedented 30-way adjustability, as well as massage, heating and cooling functions, and best of all, cushion pads.
Maserati’s been quiet lately, so to break the silence in New York, the Italian brand revealed the Ghibli Nerissimo, limited to 450 examples, with black 20in Urano design wheels, black door handles, black window trim and black grille, black leather interior, and black… oh no, wait, actually red stitching…
The Japanese giant unveiled the Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid and Clarity Electric to go alongside the existing Clarity Fuel Cell available in the US market, as the company anticipates a five-fold increase in US sales of electrified vehicles over the next four years. Honda in general is working towards a target of electrifying two-thirds of its entire global line-up by the year 2030.
Nissan salvaged some headlines with a Rogue Trail Warrior Project (the Rogue’s well known as a Nissan X-Trail over here) fitted with a snow-track system on all four corners with the exterior wrapped in camouflage. The Dominator tracks, from American Track Truck, Inc, mounted on each hub instead of wheels provide a bigger surface area to make blasting around in the snow and sand a breeze. Now, this is something we’d love to have a go in!
With the in-your-face Ram 1500 Sublime Sport in lime green on stage in New York, the Ram truck brand brought back memories of cool old limited-edition trucks from the house of the Pentastar, like the Seventies’ Jeep Honcho, and the Baja racing-inspired 1990 Dodge Rod Hall edition pick-up truck, and who could forget the classic Dodge Macho Power Wagon?
The facelifted 2018 Sonata made its debut outside South Korea in New York, wearing more than just surface changes — Hyundai engineers say they improved steering feel and response, updated the rear suspension, making it stiffer, and added the option of a new eight-speed transmission to the 245bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged engine model.