This year's New York auto show is bucking the recent trend of green-car unveilings. Instead of the fleet of hybrid debuts that we saw in Detroit and L.A., New York is playing host to a flurry of new factory-tuned, performance-oriented models.
Boutique automaker Callaway is best known for its modifications to Corvettes, and the company is using this year's New York show to unveil its C16 cabriolet, a soft-top version of its Corvette C6-based C16 coupe. With the top chopped off, the C16 convertible loses the rear pillars that broke up the side and rear profile of the C16 coupe.
The C16 Cabrio is more than a pretty face: with a supercharged 6-liter engine and an optional 616-horsepower performance package, the car will do a top speed of 206 mph, go from 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds, and eat up the quarter-mile in under 11 seconds. Assisting the C16 to achieve these dizzying feats of performance are the car's Dynamag magnesium-and carbon fiber-wheels (which weigh half as much as their aluminum equivalents), and Yokohama ZR-rated tires.
The built-to-order C16 Cabrio carries a base price tag of $128,765. For those who want to splash out on a little more luxury, an optional Deutschleder package delivers an upgraded interior featuring German leather-wrapped Recaro racing seats.
The Impreza WRX is one model that has earned its stripes in the sports car world, having competed in the World Rally Championship for the past 18 years. With the launch of the 2008 street version, Subaru shoehorns performance and technology into some relatively inconspicuous sheetmetal. The '08 Impreza WRX is available in sedan or hatchback body styles. Both models get a 224-horsepower supercharged 4-cylinder boxer engine mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.
New for 2008, the car gets double wishbone rear suspension as standard.
Inside, the Impreza WRX is surprisingly well-equipped for a rally-inspired production car. Available options include a navigation system with 7-inch monitor; a 10-speaker audio system; and satellite radio. An auxiliary input jack comes standard on the base 2008 WRX, while the navigation-equipped model gets an RCA aux jack.
Nissan's popular 350Z coupe gets the full treatment from Nismo, a high-performance aftermarket tuning house. The 350Z Nismo gets a whole raft of cosmetic and performance upgrades, including an aerodynamics package with front fascia and body skirts; special front and rear dampers to control body vibrations; and a sport-tuned exhaust system. Under the hood, the Nismo model is unchanged from the standard 350Z with a 3.5-liter V-6 making 306 horsepower.
The Nismo 350Z rides on specifically designed gunmetal gray lightweight alloy wheels wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE050A tires. Brembo brakes with four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers keep the limited-edition coupe on the road.
Inside, the Nismo 350Z features red-stitched upholstery and a unique driver's seat designed to grip the driver more firmly. A Nismo-branded white-faced tachometer and a serialized badge in the center console also set this car apart from the standard 350Z.
Not content with the 475 horsepower from the regular 6.3-liter CLK63 AMG, Mercedes used the New York auto show to unveil its Black Series model, tweaked to produce an extra 25 horsepower and to get itself to 60mph from standing in 4.1 seconds. According to Mercedes, the CLK63 AMG Black Series is a street legal version of the official F1 safety car.
The Black Series model distinguishes itself with its carbon fiber-trimmed front fenders, as well as new air intakes under the front bumper. The car's new AMG-branded aluminum wheels are kept under control with 14.2-inch, vented composite disc brakes on the front and 13-inch discs at the back.
The carbon fiber theme continues inside, with a graphite-trimmed center console housing the CLK63 AMG Black's tiny, aluminum shifter. For those who don't want to twiddle around with this, the car also comes with race-inspired paddle shifters on either side of the steering wheel.
The 2008 Shelby GT500KR (the last two letters stand for "King of the Road") is a spiced-up version of Ford's Shelby GT500. The '08 KR, which marks the 40th anniversary of the original GT500KR, features a tweaked version of the GT500's 5.4-liter supercharged V-8, capable of an estimated 540 horsepower.
The KR's advanced ignition timing, cold air intake system, and remapped throttle settings will give it better from-standing and midrange acceleration than its GT500 stablemate. Other notable differences from the base GT500 will include a new short-throw shifter and a performance exhaust system, both from Ford Racing. According to Ford, there will be only 1,000 GT500KRs made.
The CL65 AMG 40th Anniversary Edition commemorates the 40th year of AMG, Mercedes' in-house tuning arm. The 4-door coupe, which will have a production run of just 40 units, boasts a hand-built 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that produces 604 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque, capable of catapulting it from standing to 60mph in 4.2 seconds.
The CL65 AMG has a whole host of exclusive design elements, including a "liquid metal" paint job: according to Mercedes, the paint used to coat its body has significantly smaller pigment particles, which show off the car's lines better than conventional paint. Inside, the car features Nappa leather seats and an ocean of carbon fiber trim, onto which is emblazoned numerous reminders that this is a very limited-edition model, including a badge that announces it is "one out of 40."
With the introduction of the S2000 Club Racer, Honda juices up its racy two-seater. The S2000CR gets a removable hardtop (which replaces the automatic soft-top mechanism, making the car 90 pounds lighter as shown); stiffened suspension tuning and body structure; and some flamboyant exterior body styling, all of which add up to significantly improved performance.
Without the need to store the retractable roof, the space that's rear of the seats is occupied by an aerodynamic cowl cover. Beneath this, an extra stabilizer bar and additional structural bracing give the S2000 CR improved chassis rigidity, which, along with its stiffer suspension settings, reduced weight, and Bridgestone Potenza RE070 tires, give it a performance edge over the base model. Honda says the modifications add up to an improved lap time of 2 seconds over the standard S2000.