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2014 New York International Auto Show: My experience, favorites, and why this show rules.

As we walked into the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, I couldn’t help but feel a small sense of accomplishment with our little side project. Here we were, standing on hallowed automotive ground. And in NYC, that’s a a bit of a misnomer because the last place you should ever want to drive is in the middle of NYC. But this particular spot has marked so many automotive firsts, has so much car history behind it, it’s hard to know where to begin or come to terms with the enormity of it all.

Thanks to the New York International Auto Show’s (NYIAS) credential department, we were given unfettered access to this years’ show and all the cars and personalities that go along with it. Apparently, press credentials are give to many different genres and publications from all over the world of media and some that aren’t related to cars at all. With this knowledge I could have said to myself, “This really isn’t that special. They’ll give press access to anyone. I’m only going for the betterment of the website.”  Sure we were there on behalf of ShiftingLanes, but this turned into so much more than just a give-those-random-bloggers-a-pass event. The NYAIS is special for so many people and for so many reasons. It’s the largest North American auto show. It gives people who don’t drive (most New York City dwellers) a chance to come see some of the most exotic and exciting cars in the world. It gives kids a chance to see their dream cars, or even cars they could reasonably attain as adults. It’s an all-are-welcome look into the world of autos for the average consumer. It’s full of exciting cars, but also cars you could own; not filled with one-off concept cars that will never see the light of day. In my admittedly biased opinion, this is the most important auto show of the year.

Press access is a bit different than a general admission ticket. There is a press breakfast and introduction, press conferences and reveals all day long, and surprises around every corner. Day 1 included reveals by Toyota, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Audi, Acura, Volkswagen, Mazda, and more. So all the major players had a say when it was their turn to speak. And speak they did. With each reveal, more and more excitement built.

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Toyota revealed their brand new Camehry (spelled appropriately. Meh). This was only exciting as it was the first new car reveal I’ve seen in person. It does look better than the outgoing model.

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Next up was the brand new Ford Mustang and man does it look good. HUGE fan of this car and if it drives like it looks, this car will be something special.

This went on for a while until we came to the AMG booth. I figured AMG would be a great place to be since Merc is a company that loves to shove their snootyness in every other carmakers face. And they did this with flying colors. They unveiled the new AMG S63 Coupe with a little help from Jon Hamm, the voice of Mercedes. Flash and glitz, confirmed.

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The reveals were amazing, but the rest of the show was expansive. Like I said, this is the largest North American show and it doesn’t disappoint. You can see a gallery of our personal pics of all the cars in the Gallery section of the site, but let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this show: the best cars.

Everyone has a favorite

Why not pick Favorites? We all have them. For example my favorite food in the world is pizza, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate a ’95 Opus One and 10 oz Filet Mignon. I say this because the favorites below are mine and mine alone. You may not like them, but I do. Here are my “Best in show” nominees and winners for each category listed.

Favorite concept

20140512-132114.jpgNominee: Nissan Sports Sedan Concept
This car heralds a new era in sedan concept design. Gone are the days where the exterior was impossibly complicated and would never see the light of day. I can see this car being produced and on the road next year. In fact, I wish all sedans were designed like this. It moves away from the front ends that the Fusion, Legacy, WRX, and so many others share right now, all wihle still keeping the same type of layout. It’s gorgeous.

 

20140512-132734.jpgNominee: Land Rover Discovery
I love the LRD. No one else shares this sentiment except rich soccer moms and people who have no use for a serious off-road vehicle other than basic daily transport. Oh wait. That’s the same thing. So when I saw that Jag Land Rover was showing a new concept of the LRD, I was in the front row. Granted it was on the other side of the stage, I was still there. The concept looks fantastic and if the new LRD they produce looks anything like this, we will have ourselves a great looking new SUV for the upper middle class to utilize as it was never truly intended.

 

20140512-132754.jpgNominee: Cadillac Elmiraj
Wait. Cadillac made a really cool concept car? Nothing to see here, move along. The Elmiraj is a BOAT. It’s huge. However, it’s also stunning in ways that other concepts aren’t. Simple elegance, but not the best in show.

 

20140512-132808.jpgNominee: Kia GT4 Stinger
KIA! GOOD GOD! DO THIS MORE OFTEN! Of all the car companies to come out with a slick new concept, Kia decides to throw this out and give all us naysayers a nice told-ya-so kick to the stones. Granted this is based on a Genesis platform (as Kia and Hyundai are sister companies), the body and interior have nothing to do with the car. If this car gets made, Kia will no longer be in my bottom 5 car companies of blandness.

 

20140512-132834.jpgWinner: Toyota Ft-1
How can this not win favorite concept? I mean really, how could it not? From Toyota, the control group for bland, comes this ridiculous concept that could and most likely will be the predecessor for the new Supra. It’s great looking…apart from the front end. A little less “F1” nose, and we have a winner.

 

Favorite performance car

SONY DSCNominee: Ford Mustang
Ford knocks it out of the park with a new Mustang that no longer has a filing cabinet between it’s back two wheels, looks worlds better than the outgoing model, and should be a big time competitor to the newly redesigned Dodge lineup. This car looks to put Ford further ahead of it’s competition in sales. Ford has finally given the Mustang what it needs to be the performance flagship it should have been the last 15 years.

 

20140512-132935.jpgNominee: Alfa Romeo 4C
Well, well, well. An Alfa in the states. Not like we didn’t know it was coming, the Alfa 4C will be available for purchase, maxed out at ~$70,000 (according to the sales rep I spoke with), and basing at ~$54,000. This car is literally all about performance with a super low profile, impossible to get in and out of seating position, and extremely wide stance. Porsche Cayman S? I’d still rather buy that based on numbers, but this new little Alfa is something to behold. This thing will FLY off the shelves.

 

20140512-133017.jpgNominee: BMW M4 Convertible
Speaking of things flying off the shelf. Here we have a new upper-middle-class cruiser that should never be used on a track. Ever. M4 rap-top? No thanks, but this one is exceptionally nice. I suppose I’ll allow it.

 

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Nominee: Subaru WRX STi
No, this one is not the winner in this category. Yes, I know you thought it would be due to my Subaru bias. Taking nothing away from this car, it is exceptional. It looks great (yes it does, fanboys), is extremely fast (it still is, FA20 engine snobs), and will blow the doors off nearly everything else on the road. This car has been redesigned form the ground up, except in the front where it makes that rumbling noise. No matter because you still get a 305hp, AWD monster that will tear it up at the track and as a daily driver. Can’t wait to review this car and drive it.

 

20140512-133357.jpgWinner: Corvette Z06
My father once owned a C5 corvette. It was a pretty cool car. I loved the styling and to this day was my favorite all time Corvette. Then I saw this and nearly needed a change of pantaloons. To what the Ferrari 250 GTO is to automotive beauty in my opinion, this version of the Corvette Z06 is what automotive cajones is to me. This car is really all it’s cracked up to be. The seats, interior, and overall quality that ‘Vette owners have complained about over the years are improved 5 fold. If I had the money, I’d own this car. Maybe even before anything else at that price point. And that’s coming from someone who has an unnatural obsession with european performance cars.

 

Favorite Hypercar

20140512-133428.jpgNominee: Porsche 918
In person, it looks every bit as impressive as it does on the videos. And THEN some. It’s so odd seeing it plugged in, but in a way it works. This car is pure sex. Performance aside, it looks as though it’s moving when standing still. The Hypercar arms race looks alive and well and Porsche may just have the best one. Only time will tell.

 

20140512-133453.jpgNominee: Bugatti Veyron
First time actually seeing one of these in person and it did not disappoint. It is stunning to see it up close, even though it was barricaded off and I couldn’t get close. Being even 10 feet away from something that unique and exclusive still gives you chills.

 

20140512-133706.jpgWinner: Koneigsegg Argera R
This car is not new either. However It is supremely awesome and the creator is a fantastic guy which I will detail a bit more below. The doors to this thing are mesmerizing as is the amount of space you get for luggage and all and sundry items. The sound is GLORIOUS. All in all, I don’t feel like you can get much better in a Hypercar. Yes the 918 is sexier and probably is faster and the same goes for the new McLaren P1 and the La Ferrari, but this thing just does it for me and if I had the money, it’s exactly what I’d buy.

 

Favorite luxury car

WraithNominee: Rolls Royce Wraith
Anything Roll Royce puts out is special. You may not like how they look, but that’s not what a Rolls is about. They put machines on the road which are unmatched in style, class, and elegance. In comes the Wraith which is Rolls’ answer to the Bentley GT Continental. Many would say they are not in the same league and I’d partially agree, but when one uber luxury company has a 2-door touring car, you need to respond to grab some market share. The Wraith is so much more than the GT. It is hyper luxurious, roomier in the back than any 2-door car rightfully should be, and has that golden Rolls’ touch (the roof is pin pricked so it looks like the night sky). The wood is immaculate. The leather as soft as anything on earth. This car is incredible.

 

20140512-134852.jpgNominee: Cadillac ATS
You may be asking yourself, “Why in the hell is a Cadillac in the same category as a Rolls Royce?” Well this is a review of the whole auto show. Caddy was there and the ATS is awesome. Need I say more? This sport-luxury barn burner is beautiful in person and is a proper 3-series/C-class/A4 fighter. Excellent styling (see: headlights and roofline) will carry this car into the future and beyond and keep it from dying out like some other unfortunate class losses (lincoln LS, we hardly knew ye).

 

20140512-134906.jpgNominee: Hyundai Genesis
This car. Man this car is everything ever car should be. Cheaper than it rightfully should be (becauseHyundai). Better looking than most in it’s class. Inside, luxurious and silent with the doors closed (on a really noisy auto show floor). Under the hood, a couple of snarling cheetahs. Hyundai has hit another home run with the Genesis update. It’s on the short list of my next car in 5-10 years.

 

20140512-141025.jpgWinner: Bentley Flying Spur V8
Hands down the most gorgeous 4-door grand tourer on the market. And it’s a Bentley. You’re going to get a quality automobile if you buy one. Has anyone ever bought a Bentley and said, “Man, I wish i had gone with something else”? No. And if that has happened, that person needs an open-palmed slap to the face. Simply stunning. Hoping to hit the lottery soon so I can get one.

 

Favorite reveal

wpid-wp-1397654826128.jpgNominee: Toyota
This is here only because it’s the first one I ever saw live. Nope.

 

 

 

 

 

20140430-151003.jpgNominee: Mercedes
Very cool because Jon Hamm was there to help reveal the new AMG.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nominee: Subaru
Mainly because I’m a Subaru junkie now. Also mainly because it was a world premier of the new Outback.

 

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Nominee: Ford

New Mustang with limited edition reveal? Pretty cool. Ford did a great job.

 

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Winner: Dodge

Seriously they just blew everyone out of the water (Merc was a close second due to star power). This one had bad-assery written all over it. Included was an awesome new ad campaign with bad-ass music, flashing lights with bad-ass music, loud music that was bad-ass, revving engines which sounded bad-ass, and the smell of engines indoors which said, “I don’t give a fuck if we’re indoors”. Of course that part was bad-ass too. Dodge really knows how to kill it with a reveal. ‘Murica!

 

Favorite booth

20140512-141316.jpgNominee: Rolls Royce
Sumptuous luxury everywhere? Check. Exclusive buying experience and custom orders through the Rolls Royce “Bespoke” program? Check. Highly professional car guy (Chris) who talked to a small time car website about Rolls for 30 minutes? Check. Rolls really does know how to do things with a proper amount of prestige. Too bad you were placed right next to Dodge and all the riffraff.

 

20140512-141329.jpgNominee: Bentley
Getting to meet and interview a legitimate GT3 race team? Yea that’s kinda cool. Shout out to Dyson racing as they were super nice and more than courteous in answering our questions. Oh also there was booze. Beer, white and red wines flowed for an hour or two after the press conference. Awesome. Bentley rules.

 

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Nominee: Mazda

So many Miatas. I love Miatas and seeing 25 years of them all together in one spot was really cool.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nominee: BMW

Sleek and sexy with a cafe and bar. Typical BMW and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Was excellent.

 

 

 

 

20140512-141417.jpgNominee: Jaguar Land Rover

Mainly because the stage was gorgeous and the whole booth had a really nice flow to it.

 

 

 

 

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Winner: Koneigsegg

How on earth can a 1-car booth win this award for me? Simple: the creator of the car/company takes time out of his life and schedule to come talk to the press about the car, stays behind after he does his own press announcement to answer questions, turns his $1.6 million dollar creation on and revs it for all to hear, and lets you stand near it when all the other one-offs that didn’t have a booth were all sectioned off where no one could get within 10-feet. Simply awesome. Huge thank you to Christian von Koneigsegg for speaking with us.

 

Favorite car

Coming Soon

As a first year press experience, this was one of the highlights of my life. I’m so thankful to the NYIAS for allowing us the access and cannot wait to go back again next year. That’s a wrap! Stay tuned in the next few days for the ShiftingLanes 2014 NYIAS Best in show.

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