Big Apple's model mix: Compacts, muscle, luxe

Automotive News previews model launches at the 2011 New York auto show.

Automotive News
4 min read
Lexus LF-Gh
The Lexus LF-Gh concept debuts in New York. Lexus

The New York auto show will answer a puzzling question: How do you update a retro-styled car? That will come from Volkswagen, which will unveil the redesigned Beetle.

Automakers will roll out a mix of small cars and high-end European luxury vehicles during press days this week.

The small cars will include some big sellers: six models of the redesigned Honda Civic, along with Chevrolet's redesigned Malibu. In addition, Nissan updates its Versa subcompact.

Mercedes-Benz will show two models with the performance AMG badge, with an emphasis on V-8 horsepower -- and, for contrast, a concept likely foreshadowing its small, city-car stylings.

Here are the major debuts:

Chevrolet's next-generation Malibu will be a virtual global debut in New York. The wraps come off a day earlier, on Tuesday, at the Shanghai auto show, but it's a major vehicle for General Motors that will be much discussed. The Malibu will be available only with four-cylinder engines.

Muscle cars aren't dead, especially at Chrysler Group, a pioneer of the art. Chrysler Group's SRT performance brand rolls out two new entrants: the 2012 Chrysler 300C SRT8 and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.

Ford Motor is expected to show a production version of a North American vehicle. Ford won't divulge details.

Honda will unveil all six versions of the 2012 Honda Civic that will go on sale on April 20. Production versions of the base power-train editions of the sedan and coupe, the go-fast Si sedan and coupe, the Civic Hybrid sedan, and the Civic NGV natural gas sedan get their first public viewing at the show.

Hyundai will unveil the sedan version of its 2012 Accent subcompact. Hyundai is mum on the details, but expect the Accent to get more than 40 mpg highway with a new gasoline direct-injection, four-cylinder engine. The five-door hatchback has already been shown.

After launching the five-door hatchback version of the redesigned 2012 Rio subcompact in Geneva, Kia will show the Rio sedan in New York. The Rio is expected to get more than 40 mpg on the highway with its gasoline direct-injection, four-cylinder engine, which is new for the 2012 model year.

The GS sedan lineup is long in the tooth, and Lexus will preview its next-generation styling with the LF-Gh concept. The LF-Gh rides on a 112.2-inch wheelbase and has an overall length of 192.5 inches. The fascia styling of the LF-Gh is squinty and angry, while the rear-three-quarters is evocative of a BMW 5 series with sharper creases. The production version of the GS is expected to arrive early in 2012.

The wraps will be pulled off three world debuts--the C63 AMG coupe, the Concept A-Class, and another AMG model that is being kept secret. The C63 AMG coupe will top the C-class range. It is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 with 451 hp and a seven-speed multiclutch transmission. The car will go on sale in the United States in September. Concept A-Class is the first reveal of Mercedes' new modular front-engineered architecture platform. The low-roofline swoopy coupe won't come to the United States but hints at the radical styling Mercedes plans for this new range of cars and a larger B-class range. The third debut may be a roadster version of the SLS AMG gull-wing coupe. It is likely to have a 6.2-liter V-8 engine with 563 hp.

Nissan Motor Co. will unveil its next-generation Versa ahead of its fall sales launch. The new generation will be built on Nissan's new global V platform for the 2012 model year, sharing components with the smaller Micra/March model that sells in Europe and Asia.

Toyota's youth brand is being secretive about what it is showing, other than to say it's something no one has seen before. Given recent statements from Toyota brass about the FT-86 concept coupe being a better fit for Scion than the Toyota brand, expect this oft-seen vehicle from the show circuit wearing Scion badging and slightly reworked sheet metal.

The redesigned 2012 Impreza sedan and five-door hatchback make their debut. The cars are roomier, and they'll go on sale this fall. Pricing hasn't been disclosed. The all-wheel-drive Impreza will have new four-cylinder boxer engines and a new continuously variable transmission.

American Suzuki has two concept cars scheduled to debut to feature the brand's "advanced propulsion" theme. Each is based on the platform underpinning the Suzuki Kizashi sedan, and each will have its own alternative power train. One concept will be a "socially conscious sedan." The other will be a "wildly schemed and amped up homage to Suzuki's iconic motorcycle heritage." Exactly what that means isn't clear, and Suzuki isn't saying. Both concepts will get an off-site debut in New York on Tuesday, April 19.

The second generation of the Beetle--"New" is being dropped from the name--debuts simultaneously in New York and Shanghai, China. VW hasn't released details other than a silhouette that shows a familiar--but larger--shape.

(Source: Automotive News)