Power, performance, and leather-bound luxury dominate the 2016 NYIAS.

By Sue Callaway
April 1, 2016

This year’s New York International Auto Show is heavily weighted toward new luxury and high-performance vehicles, making it feel like an American version of the Geneva Motor Show, where top-end brands traditionally display their latest and greatest.

Maserati hosted the North American reveal of its first sport utility, the Levante. Mercedes unveiled three new models from its AMG performance arm: the C63 Cabriolet, the GLC43, and the E43. Nissan further amped up its already monstrous GT-R to 565 horepower and 467 lb-ft of torque. Subaru showed off the new Impreza sedan and hatchback. Genesis, Hyundai’s new luxury division, explored a two-door coupe concept with the “New York.” Infiniti brought out the QX70 Limited, a gussied up, high-trim level iteration of its midsize crossover.

The Americans had a strong showing, too. Chevrolet presented the 640-horsepower Camaro ZL1, which is already a cult classic based purely on its numbers. Buick took the wraps off of an upgraded new Encore. Jeep presented a duo of new high-end versions of the Grand Cherokee, the Trailhawk (more off-roading grunt) and the Summit (more luxurious and leather-bound).

The most noteworthy American sheet metal, however, came from Lincoln: a stunning—and stunningly large—new Navigator concept glamorous enough to take on Range Rover and other high-end luxury SUVs. The glitzy behemoth features blond teak wood accents, a customizable rear closet—as design director David Woodhouse said, fit for Colin Firth’s Kingsman: The Secret Service character—and gull-wing doors as long as full-length couches. The Navigator has long been a key model for Lincoln as well as the one that attracts the youngest and most affluent buyers to the brand.

Sadly, Lincoln admits that those dramatic doors won’t make it to the streets, but the company promises that the rest of the vehicle strongly hints at the production version that we’ll see next year. Here’s hoping.

Porsche unveiled not one, not two, but THREE new vehicles, starting with a four-cylinder version of its popular Macan crossover, which Porsche promises to price below $50,000. That was followed by another four-cylinder, the 718 Boxster, a new version of the mid-engine sports car named after a legendary race car from the ‘50s and ‘60s. Rounding out the trio was the mind-blowing 911 R, a hyper-lightweight naturally aspirated limited edition (only 991 will be made), which is already sold out.

Mazda surprised the world with what may be the prettiest production car they’ve ever shown: the MX-5 RF. (The MX-5 stands for Miata and the RF for retractable fastback.) The Miata has been a huge and continuing success story for the Japanese carmaker, and the hope is that the RF will bring new, more affluent sports car buyers to the brand.

Finally, Audi arguably stole the show with the sexy R8 Spyder. What else should you expect from Audi, the company that has won Le Mans more often than any other manufacturer in the last two decades? The original R8’s launch marked the beginning of the brand’s turnaround and sales success story in the United States, which continues today.

Stay tuned for the first R8 drive, coming soon.

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