This year, the Beijing Motor Show stole a bit of New York’s thunder, as Lexus and others chose to debut all-new vehicles there instead. That doesn’t mean that one of the world’s least car-friendly yet most car-obsessed towns has fallen off of the relevance list, however, and this year’s edition is set to remind us of that. A lack of high-powered sports cars and concepts was balanced by a large number of all-new cars with high power of another kind: sales volume. Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai all rolled out updates for some of their best-sellers, as did Land Rover and Volkswagen. Here, in no particular order, are Driving Fans’ eight favorite cars from the show.
2015 Aston Martin Vantage GT: The Vantage GT enters the fray as a rare bird indeed–an Aston Martin that stickers for less than $100,000. This new track-enhanced special model of the Vantage has been stripped down for the purist and is decorated to match, with styling and paint cues from Aston’s racing cars including blackout trim and grille “lipstick” in contrasting colors. The 4.7 liter V8’s power is boosted to 430 horses, thanks to an upgraded air intake, and 0-60 time is down to 4.6 seconds. Top speed? 190mph. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and Aston also offers a seven-speed automatic. Pricing starts at $99,900 and the Vantage GT goes on sale later this year.
2015 MINI Countryman: The surprisingly popular “big” MINI gets an update for 2015, with tweaked styling, new colors and new features. The Countryman’s a compact premium crossover with surprising capability, and it currently accounts for almost a third of MINI’s sales. It may be large enough to stretch the boundaries of “mini,” but the brand’s signature style has won over many customers. For 2015, the grille has been restyled, new wheels have been added to the range and LED daytime running lights and foglights have been added. The new Jungle Green metallic paint is distinctive as well.
Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II: Subtle changes to the junior Rolls-Royce give it a bit more distinction. As if it needed it–even without the sheer mass of its big brother the Phantom, the Ghost Series II looks nothing like anything else on the road. The update provides reshaped headlamps and subtle lines added to the hood and body sides. Look closely and you’ll see a bit more chrome as well. A monogrammed stainless steel gas cap is also available. Of course it is. Inside, the Ghost Series II has redesigned rear seats with heating and massage, new trim details and new veneers for the bespoke department. On-board wifi and a Bespoke Audio sound system with a massive hard drive are also included. The suspension has also been recalibrated for a somewhat more responsive and smooth ride, and the Ghost Series II borrows the Satellite Aided Transmission from the sporty Wraith, using GPS mapping to inform the automatic transmission of the proper gear for upcoming curves.
2015 Alfa Romeo 4C: It’s finally here! Alfa’s parent company Fiat has been talking up the Italian marque’s return to the U.S. market for what seems like forever, and American buyers have eagerly anticipated the chance to get into the 4C sports coupe. After several delays, Alfa Romeo finally arrived in New York City. An exotic lightweight carbon-fiber body shell is powered by a 237-horsepower 1.8 liter four-cylinder turbo. The flyweight 4C doesn’t need much more power than that; expect Lotus to be sweating a little bit. Distinctive driving modes tailor the drive to the driver, and the 4C is capable of 160mph.
2015 Jeep Renegade: Jeep’s new baby made its debut a few weeks ago in Europe, and greeted America for the first time in New York. Adorable, city-friendly styling and a cheerful manner are the highlights of Jeep’s foray into the compact crossover market. The Renegade will be the smallest Jeep going when it hits the streets next year. It’s powered by a choice of 1.4 liter or 2.4 liter four-cylinder engines, a nine-speed automatic transmission and a Trail Rated version in case you want to try to keep up with the Wranglers and Cherokees. An open-air retractable roof, an unique platform and a full touchscreen for the available UConnect system are all available.
2015 Subaru Outback: With the new Legacy freshly debuted, Subaru’s off-road version was almost a foregone conclusion. The 2015 Outback officially broke cover in New York, featuring a stronger and more eyecatching version of the new Legacy’s smooth styling. Thematically the Outback’s the same as it ever was, with a high riding 8.7 inches of ground clearance, additional body cladding and larger tires setting it apart. Changes under the skin have improved the Outback’s fuel economy and increased interior room as well. A choice of 175-horsepower four or 256-horse six-cylinder engines is offered, and a new continuously variable transmission in six-cylinders boosts highway fuel economy to 27mpg. High-tech driver aids include a lane change assist, rear cross-traffic detector and Subaru’s EyeSight dual-camera crash-prevention system. EyeSight now automatically turns on the left or right fog light to help illuminate curves at night.
2015 Dodge Challenger: The Challenger’s retro styling gives it a very serious look, with LED-ringed quad headlamps frowning under a heavy brow. For 2015, upgrades to the Challenger take further inspiration from the 1971 model that spawned the legend, with more power from the 6.4 liter HEMI V8, a new eight-speed automatic transmission and massive twenty-inch wheels. Power is now up to 485 horses, and the “shaker” hood returns as part of the 392 HEMI Scat Pack. At full chat, a 6.4-liter Charger’s capable of four and a half-second 0-60 runs and a 182-mph top speed. Inside, a higher center console and aluminum trim bezels increase the drama and luxury quotient, while exterior styling upgrades include a split grille and LED taillamps.
Honda HR-V: Honda’s been talking about a Fit-based compact crossover for a while now, and now we’ve got images and a name to go with the concept. The HR-V will bounce into the lineup below the CR-V, will have a spacious interior and the Fit’s Magic Seat for added cargo capacity, and will go on sale this winter. More details as Honda lets them slip.