A Miata targa and new Godzilla make us swoon (AutoComplete Ep. 11)
Welcome to Auto Complete, the podcast all about the intersection of automobiles and technology, brought to you by ROAD SHOW.
I'm Brian Cooley, ROAD SHOW editor at large, coming to you.
With episode 11 on this 24th of March, we're taping today.
That's gonna be important, you're gonna find out in just a moment.
We're gonna start the show off, though, by leaving our studio here in San Francisco and going straight to New York City where the New York International Auto Show Is just getting started.
And we've got a lot of people on the ground there from the road show team.
The gang's gonna fill us in now on what was making the most headlines there, including what caught my eye from some new higher ranged Toyota Plug-In Hybrids that have been announced as well as an interesting new Targa Miata.
Let's get the full drop now.
Welcome to Auto Complete live on tape from the New York International Auto Show
My name is Tim Stevens.
I'm Editor in Chief of Road Show and I'm joined by Mr. Chris Paukert, Managing Editor at Road Show.
Chris, how are you?
Great to be here.
We are live here on the show floor, delayed slightly for broadcast on the Interweb, and we're sitting here in the Nissan booth.
We're gonna be talking about the new, sort of, mostly kind of, a little bit new Nissan GT-R.
We're gonna be talking about A new Toyota.
Prius, a new Miata.
Let's dig in.
Let's start with Nissan cuz we're sitting here in a booth and we're surrounded by some lovely cars.
Incredible GTRs of every generation.
Right, so Nissan has got a new GTR, the 2017 that they showed us.
But I think you were more impressed Collection of every generation of the GT-R.
Starting with the 1969, the first Skyline 2000 GT-R going all the way up through the R33, the 34 and the brand new 2017.
Yeah, they're cars that have lived in our mind set as being these icons.
But we really didn't get the chance to see them in the U.S. at all.
Up until recently.
This unrequited love that we've not been able to have.
Till the least, are the most, recent generation, I should say.
The new one, they've got a little bit more power.
They've resculpted the nose, to get a little bit more air over the radiators, for better cooling.
Better aerodynamics they say as well.
Nissan over the years has done a good job every year of improving the GTR just a little bit, bit by bit.
But this is probably the biggest shift we've seen in a number of years.
The styling is improved, the performance is improved, it's got more power.
But I think the biggest improvement is the interior, and it needed it the most.
The interior, when it came out, was kinda revolutionary because it had these Gran Turismo-inspired graphics actually designed by [UNKNOWN], the producer of Gran Turismo, which is pretty cool.
But ultimately that was a long time ago and they really needed a bit of a re.
It's good to see that was coming through.
It felt like the most dated portion of the car.
All the cheap plastic inside.
It still has good touch points, good steering wheel, good seats, but everything else sort of felt like it was out of, you know, a 15 year old Centre.
So that's been updated.
The car even comes in a very nice orange which is one of my favorite colors.
So I think that's great, so one of the highlights of the show for me so far.
Absolutely, me too.
We actually saw a lot of enthusiast's cars here in New York.
New York is usually a bit of a more practical car show, but we also saw a new version of one of your favorite cars, the MX-5 Yeah, and it was a bit of a surprise.
We knew coming in that they were going to do something with the Miata, and we sort of expected it to be the folding retractable hardtop, just like the last generation.
And it is that, but it's also more than that because it's a retractable fastback.
It's got these two kind of lovely flying buttresses behind the head rest.
And it gives it a completely different look.
Are we gonna see flying buttresses on every car in the near future?
It almost seems like we're going that way.
Well, we can only hope, Jeff.
Yeah, we've got them on the Ford GT, the new NSX, a lot of cars are going with flying buttresses.
It's kind of interesting how everyone's going back to Gothic architecture.
But I guess there's aerodynamic benefits there as well.
But it definitely has been a surprise of this show, this [UNKNOWN] show.
We heard a little bit of a rumor as you mentioned coming into it, but we certainly really didn't know what to expect, and it's definitely been one of the top performing articles for us on the site.
So a lot of people read about that.
Could any other manufacturer have two versions of the same convertible in their product line?
Do you think anybody else could get away with that?
That's a good question.
I think Chrysler tried it years ago, they had multiple tops on the Sebring, if you can imagine.
An all together different kind of car.
But what I think it does is it allows them to bridge the audience that really wanted a coup, which they've never given in a production model here in the States, It gives a little bit of that coupe like form, and a little bit more weather protection, even with the top down.
What I wanna know is, it adds some weight to it, does the car still feel as incredible as the regular soft top feels?
Yeah, have they changed any suspension settings or anything to cope with that?
And it is what, about 100 pounds heavier, is that right?
It's about 110 pounds, which is fairly significant in a car that's that light, especially when the weight is generally up top.
In a car that's so dependent on weight for great dynamics.
I will say it transforms the look of the car, and the higher top in general creates some more refinement inside.
And that's Something that if you tour around the soft top in all seasons, with the top up, you kind of want that after a while.
We don't know how much is gonna cost right?
They didn't give us any indication there.
No but I would expect it to be offered on the upper trim levels only because it's gonna be somewhat expensive proposition.
I would probably guess Club and Grand Touring.
But that's definitely been one of the more talked about cars in the showplace.
And another exciting enthusiast car, the NSX has got a special edition, a racing edition.
The GT3 version of the NSX.
Now the NSX of course has a lot of fancy high end power train stuff going on there.
A really advanced hybrid system.
It's got a twin turbo V6 made into an electric motor and up front two more electric motors for the road car.
But that makes it pretty tricky to get that car certified [UNKNOWN] and get it to go racing.
So they ripped all that stuff out.
Gone with just twin turbo V6.
Now they've got an FIA GT3 legal racecar.
Kinda reminds me of the old NSXR where it's a little bit more hardcore.
It's a rear-wheel drive car, is it not?
It is, with a six-speed sequential instead of the nine-speed dual clutch.
Sounds alright to me.
Yes, that's carbon fiber bodywork, no interior, big old roll cage in there.
They didn't give us a price, but not that we can afford it anyway.
I don't think.
Not that it would be street legal anyway.
But down the road it may pave the way for a street version or harder core product.
Right, we certainly have been getting a lot of hints from certain folk in certain places that there is a high bar.
On the way and this could be a pretty solid foundation for such a car.
I think a lot of us will have to see and feel what that car will be like with a little bit more driving engagement.
But yeah, it's going to be appearing in FIA racing this year.
Maybe [INAUDIBLE] Probably a little bit too late for [UNKNOWN] this year but Endurance racing, we should be seeing that.
Competing against, Lamborghini's, and Porsches, and Audi's, and all sorts of other beautiful cars, and I can't wait to see how he does.
So we talked about fun cars.
Maybe we should about some more practical stuff before we go too far along here.
You know there's all sorts of cars here at the show.
And while that's typical, normally we think of a particular show having a certain bent.
Being the Green Show.
Being the SUV show.
The New York show this year is sort of all over the map.
Absolutely it is, and one of the more interesting cars from a more practical stand point is the new Prius Prime which is an interesting name, but it's an interesting
Yeah, another automotive journalist waggishly called it The Primus.
[LAUGH] It is a plug-in version of the Prius.
There was a plug-in version of the last generation Prius as well, but Toyota never really put any muscle behind it.
They didn't sell very many of the things.
It was like they really didn't want anybody to even know that it existed.
But with the new one they've actually been putting a lot of effort into it.
They've completely, well they haven't completely [INAUDIBLE] but they certainly put a lot of work into it, and they get a much nicer looking car.
It's got a very different nose.
It's got a different tail light treatment and it suggests that they are putting more effort behind [INAUDIBLE] I think Prius is one of the sterling brands in the entire automotive universe But they expanded the family and everybody thought that would be a home run.
They have the Prius B, which is a C Max competitor.
They have the Prius C which is the inexpensive version.
And then they have the plug in.
And everybody thought all of them would go gangbusters.
And Honestly none of them have done very well.
Just the core Prius has continued to carry that franchise.
Right, and this is still very much a cor Prius.
It's ultimately the same car we've seen in the current generation, but as you mentioned with a subtle refresh but honestly it's a very effective refresh.
I don't think, I haven't talked to anybody who likes new Prius and this is a much cleaner, well not cleaner, it's a better looking car.
I find it a lot less controversial looking.
I think so too.
But more importantly, after 22 miles of range on a pure electric charge, and it will give an estimated 120 miles per gallon equivalent, which is pretty solid.
That's pretty good.
That electric only range is probably enough for most people's urban commutes.
It's maybe not as good as something like the Chevy Volt, but it'll be interesting to see what the market reaction is to it.
It is a little bit disappointing that they couldn't get up toward 30, which is where a lot of other plug in hybrids are.
But I think part of it comes down to packaging, and Toyota probably not wanting to add too much weight to the car with a big old battery pack.
And maybe it comes down to cost.
Like with the VNXI, we don't know how much this is gonna cost yet.
[INAUDIBLE] But ultimately, it's a nicer looking car.
I'm curious if they bring this look to the other Prius or if they leave this to be an exclusive on the plug-in.
Well, and the other thing is, inside, right?
It has an improved infotainment system.
Right, an 11-inch vertically oriented touchscreen inside the Prius Prime, a lot like the XC90 and the Volvo S90.
That we've seen with, I think, the way that these systems should be.
We've traditionally seen widescreen displays for GPS and that sort of thing.
But that means you can't really see very far ahead of you.
But when you turn everything vertically, when you get a portrait orientation, you can see a lot further down the road.
Absolutely, and I think it gives you more real estate to sensibly organize where you can have the prime functions up higher.
And down lower, your secondary functions.
And maybe you can swipe in panes and out But it's surprising that more auto makers haven't already moved in that direction to me.
[UNKNOWN] I think they probably will.
That is unfortunately going to be an option, so it won't be standard on every new Prius.
But it will have Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay involved so if you've got your smartphone and wanna get your navigation from that instead of Toyota system, More power to ya.
I think a lot of people do in this case.
Yeah that sort of sexy Tesla-esque infotainment system I think will help pull a lot of people into that car that might not have otherwise gotten it.
I think so too.
So I think we're all curious to drive that car, the new Prius has definitely been approved from a dynamic standpoint over the [INAUDIBLE] Generation.
This will be a little bit heavier than that one so we'll see how it goes.
But definitely wanna more talk about cars here at the show floor.
We're gonna take a quick break from here in New York but we'll be right back, we'll talk about some other new cars.
Some cars from Hyundai and some non-Hyundai, the Genesis as well and some other good stuff.
So stay tuned, we'll be right back.
Welcome back to auto complete live on tape from the New York international auto show for 2016.
My name's Tim Stevens I'm editor and in Chief of Road Show and joined by Chris Paukert.
All right, let's talk about Hyundai.
They've got three cars that are all the same car but yet they're not the same car.
And they get from A to B in very different ways.
It's like a candy bar.
It's three cars in one.
It's the Ioniq [UNKNOWN]
And it's sort of covering a lot of fronts on all of alternative fuels.
I mean it's got standard hybrid model, there's a plug in hybrid model and then there's a pure EV.
I think that makes a lot of sense, I mean that's giving the consumers the choice to what they want.
It also gives Hyundai the ability to spin up one or the other and basically make more of which ever one.
The consumers want without really making the huge commitment to going full EV or plug in hybrid or anything else.
They can be flexible on that regard.
I think its good that the car looks reasonably nice, but it doesnt look outrageous.
It doesnt scream "Hey I'm and EV." Which I think is a good Yeah, they didn't put a ton of differentiation in between the three models.
It'll be interesting to see how people feel about that.
For a long time I think we had the mindset that an EV had to look special, had to look like an EV.
And then the industry kind of went away from that.
And this is sort of three flavors of the same basic form and hopefully people like that because they're gonna be so wedded to it.
Right, but it definitely makes sense and it gives people the flexibility to choose the car that makes sense for them.
And ultimately we haven't seen as many plug in hybrids as I think many people are looking for but ultimately another choice in the EB market is heating up is the Chevy Bolt here on the show floor and the Tesla is revealing the Model Three here in a week or so It's going to be getting interesting this year.
Yeah, everybody's fighting for a really small slice of the pie.
Frankly, it's somewhat of a bad time to be introducing these cars because the sales aren't there.
The Tesla has a lot of buzz around it and will probably do well with advanced orders.
Whether they can carry that over the long tail is something else entirely.
Bolt maybe to a lesser extent.
Ionic I'm not so sure.
Most of the industry seems to be gravitating right now toward crossovers and trucks.
So whether these vehicles can turn a profit or not is a Really big open question.
With gas prices so low, the demand is a big question mark in a big way.
But ultimately I think it's encouraging from an environmental standpoint if nothing helps.
Absolutely and automakers need to do this for regulatory purposes as well.
Mm-hm get a ahead of the game there.
But that was the only car Hyundai showed off all though it Isn't actually called the Hyundai, it's the new Genesis concept.
Yeah, so you recall earlier this year they spun off Genesis as their own luxury brand.
It's not quite all the way like Lexus is for Toyota, but they'll have their own dedicated showroom space and their own budgets for product development.
It's a promotion and they've already got a couple cars in there, they rebacked the Genesis Sedan, in an alpha numeric I think it's G.
80 and then the G 90 is the former Aqueous and now they're looking at a three series competitor basically.
Right, and it is a very interesting looking concept for sure.
Very dramatically styled, very different from what we've seen in the past.
I think, we all like everything except for the strange sort of gills that the car has, which I don't think any of us are quite sure about.
Yeah, that, I hope,
Hopefully that's just a show car flourish.
There's a yolk steering wheel in it to, things like that won't see production necessarily.
But the 4K curved widescreen display that goes across the entire dashboard, that's kind of a nice touch, a lot of other interesting technology, and design signatures that are
Showing that Hyundai slash Genesis are really making an effort to differentiate themselves.
And they're not just trying to make a three series competitor that looks like a three series competitor.
I think that's good news all around.
Absolutely it is.
Subaru also showed off a car that maybe does take a little bit of direct styling influence from the competition, it's the new Impreza.
I'm a big Subaru fan, so I was eager to see this car.
And it looks a lot like a Mazda I think you have to say.
A Mazda of past years I would say.
It's got some pretty aggressive body creases along the side.
It's a lot more sculpted, and frankly, for me Subarus have sort of been on some level and no offense as a Subaru owner anti-style or style free, like almost willfully so.
So it's interesting to see them go from what is a comparatively high style vehicle.
And yeah, I don't know how well that's going to play.
I've bought all my Subaru despite not liking the way any of them looked but it was because of practicality and everything else.
This is a significant larger car.
[INAUDIBLE] have been growing a lot [INAUDIBLE] Every generation seems to be going [UNKNOWN] to and it continues in this new car.
They did confirm there will be a hatchback version which is good, there's always a bit of a question mark in the US about those things but we have been seeing the sedans thus far.
Looks nice enough, but I think most importantly, this platform is designed from the ground up to be able to be a hybrid.
Which is something that Subaru's been really lacking in a lot of ways.
So, that should help the Impreza stay a little more modern and a little bit more in touch with what a lot of consumers are looking for.
But you know my heart is still with the WRX and the STI, and I think we gotta wait another year before the WRX Shows up, and then probably another year before the FDI shows up.
You know, I think that's okay.
Cuz the current car is holding up well.
And frankly, the more flamboyant styling of something like a WRX or an STi lends itself a little bit better to this more dramatic style language that they're adopting here
And I think they needed to grow the car a little bit because a lot of the vehicles in that segment cars like the Civic are now so big inside that they're classified as a mid size car, it's crazy.
But what that's been doing actually is letting auto makers slot yet another model underneath when they get too big.
So, you've got things like the Honda Fit, that came on and I;m wondering if eventually, they'll have to do that as Subaru as well.
I hope they do, It would be nice for them to make the equivalent to the M3's grown up so big, now we've them too.
The WRX has grown up so much we need a WRX Junior absolutely.
There has been a lot of talk about a mid engine.
Subaru sports car of some sort, which would be tasty, all right by my book, all right.
Although we did see a instinctively redesigned Subaru, the BRZ is getting a little bit of a front end update.
But more importantly the Scion FR-S is now a Toyota, the 86.
Well, the Scion brand is going away after kind of petering out for the last half decade or longer And they've done some meaningful improvements with it, I think the styling has improved maybe a little bit fussier, but certainly more modern.
It gives a tiny little bit more power but the interior got a pretty nice upgrade, that's the area again that needed the most attention to me.
Right, if it looks more aggressive, which I think is important then it ties into the heritage of the car, which is in Japan in 80, 86 the GT86.
That's what a lot of people have actually imported those badges from Japan to change their signs over to Toyota.
So maybe now if you are a fan of your Hachi-Roku in Japan you won't have to spend extra money to import the badge in from Tokyo.
Yeah, it'll be
It'll be right there, and I think honestly, it's probably going to sell more as a Toyota than it did as a Scion.
I think it's probably true of all of the models that were pulled over, just because there's more dealer points.
People respect and know the Toyota brand name than they do Scion.
So it's probably going to be a good move sales wise for those brand lines.
I think so too.
Well that's taken us around the show floor, what have we missed Chris, is there anything else up and around?
I see the Camaro [UNKNOWN] is behind us and looks pretty alright.
Well the looming shadow has gull wing doors Tim.
Right how could have I forgot the largest.
The most massive car on the show floor.
[INAUDIBLE] largest doors on the show [CROSSTALK]
Well, actually, it might be that the whole show is actually taking place inside the Lincoln Navigator concept.
[LAUGH] Yeah, Lincoln showed off a new look concept at an event early Monday in the week, [INAUDIBLE] had the show floor, and they teased us by saying there's going to be a [INAUDIBLE] concept
And a two-door and what we thought was gonna be an SUV.
And sure enough it was all things, a two-door SUV with the most ridiculously huge doors you've ever seen in your life.
Not just ridiculously huge doors, but multiple stairs.
Concertina steps to get to that.
I'm surprised that there's not a power folding red carpet that just jettisons out.
So the continental concept as we saw last year was inspired by luxury aviation, personal aviation, your Learjets and the like.
This car is inspired by luxury nautical travel.
So you've got some things.
You've got pique inlays on those steps we've mentioned before.
A lot of other nautical touches.
The PRNL gear selector in inspired by piano keys, which is interesting.
A lot of nice designer touches, but it still has the quiet luxury that I think the [INAUDIBLE] from a standpoint.
Yeah, what I think the scale is also quite nautical and obviously the Navigator is a huge thing.
But that's what the market wants You know the Navigator has sold quite well over the years, a little bit less so lately but it is an aging proposition.
But that market is still there.
The people that want that three rows of luxury and want to be able to tow and they need the body-on-frame structure.
And it's a Is a cash cow even now for Ford.
So it's smart that they're doing another one.
The styling certainly won't be for everybody.
It's a little baroque, it's a little over the top but I think that's kind of what the market calls for.
Right and it ties it right in line with the
Continental, which is that big chrome nose that they're going with, everything going forward.
But I think in general, it's a nice step forward.
It's certainly an improvement over what they had before.
Yeah, and the production version will certainly not have gull wing doors, and will be a bit more rational all the way around.
You would need a parking garage the size of an airplane hangar to park that thing, otherwise, because those doors go way up when they open.
All right, I think that covers everything here at the New York international show floor.
And they're starting to build a GPR engine behind us, so things are getting a little noisy, which is probably a good time for us to sign off here on the show floor.
Chris, car of the show, quickly.
My heart is with the Miata.
I'm curious to see how that car drives, and if it feels like a full convertible, or if it feels like a Targa.
but aesthetically, I think it's beautiful, and I think it'll extend the brand, and bring in a new audience.
I would say the NSX GT 3 But since I can't actually own one of those I'll go with the GTO because ultimately it's a great car.
It's amazing how long that car has lived on and as much as I'm looking forward to the next generation, I'm really looking forward to driving a new one and I want to see what these guys do when they put together a motor right behind us.
Alright, we're gonna wrap it up here from the show floor All our complete definitely check out the current list on the roadshow.com and we'll be back on news and many other data on what's going on with Tesla.
We'll see you next week.
Now to follow up more on all those stories and get a lot more photos, slide shows, videos and specs, and details head over to theroadshow.com.
It's easy to spot our New York International Auto Show special feature area, which is populating as we speak.
March 24th I mentioned, was an important date to know that we are taping on that day, because today's a deadline day.
And by the time we finish this day, things may have changed in the VW Diesalgate
In the ninth circuit US federal court today is supposedly the deadline by Justice Briar to say wait a minute I need to hear from you Volkswagen that you've either got a plan agreed on with the feds and with California to remedy your cars or you don't.
The word is now that VW doesn't, but will soon.
And has been asked for a two week extension of the deadline to get their house in order and figure out what they're going to do with your cars, of those hundreds of thousands that you've got.
That are spewing emissions illegally.
So here is still the mix-up that we expect to see worked with.
Some cars will get fixed through software and hardware updates.
Some cars may get bought back.
Buy-back is still apparently on the table for some vehicles.
And some vehicles may not be fixable in a satisfactory way nor be bought back And will be given an exemption to stay on the road and just spew the rest of their life until they're scrapped, and the VW is gonna pay into a fund to compensate for other environment remedies that will offset that.
So, that's the mix we're looking at.
We expect there to be another two weeks before we hear back from the 9th Circuit Court that is overseeing it.
So, this is kind of the most Sharp point, that is being put on the story right now and the court that is moving most aggressively.
You've got other action going on with all kinds of class action suits by owners.
You've got dealers, that are going after the companies.
Saying that they need some reparations cuz their business has been harmed by the ugly halo around the Volkswagen brand.
So we're keeping an eye on all of these, but the one that matters most to you is Ninth Circuit Court.
And we expect a two-week delay before they decide if Volkswagen has a method to remedy you.
Now in all of this world of $2 gas we're talking about these days, a lot of folks ask us here at the Road Show are What's the future of EVs?
Are they selling worth a damn now?
I mean, the pure electrics for sure, even though the plugin hybrids?
We've just looked at some numbers as of the end of February.
We'll have our Q1 numbers in about a week or two.
And here's what's interesting.
Is a lot of the Ev's are selling better and some of them are selling worse.
For example Tesla Model S is up 150 units compared to the first two months of last year.
The Model X is a brand new vehicle obviously, you can't compare it to last year.
But they've sold 770 through February.
It's a good number for a company that's small like Tesla.
The Chevy Volt is a break out star.
It's plus 887 units in the first two months compared to 2015.
It has a nice fat delta there and that's even in the fact that the Chevy Volt Is still coming down the road, and you would think, would, maybe have some owners stay on the sidelines, and say well I'll wait for the [UNKNOWN], because it looks really good.
But, apparently, not holding back a lot of folks.
Ford Fusion energy, up about 500 units as well.
On the other hand, some of the pure electric, compact, urban style cars, are not doing well.
Nissan Leaf is down about six hundred units over the same two months last year.
And the BMW i3 has cratered, it is down over thirteen hundred units over the same two months last year.
Now, these are all vehicles that sell in pretty small numbers.
So when I quote you seven or eight hundred up six thousand..
$600 or $1000 down, that's meaningful trend on these cars.
They don't sell like F150 right?
So it's a split market.
Overall though the EV space for plugins and pure battery electrics is up about 1100 cars first two months over last year.
It's generally doing well even though we have dramatically low gas prices around most of the U.S. right now.
So an interesting story that we will keep an eye on.
As we go through the year, and we'll have our full Q1 numbers probably next time we do the show.
We talked last time about automatic emergency braking.
About how, by September 1, 2022, just about every auto maker in the US market has agreed to put it on just about every car they sell here.
So it's an amazing shift.
Even though it's not gonna be required, there's an agreement.
Well Toyota is one of the first to get out of the gate.
They have told Automotive News that they are going to have 25 of the 30 models they make at Toyota and Lexus, remember Scion is gone.
25 of their 30 models will be equipped with With a package that includes automatic, emergency breaking as standard by the end of next year.
So several years, a full five years ahead of the agreement, they're going to have virtually their entire line.
Covered with automatic emergency braking and a few other driver assists for safety.
So, there's an example of a company that, interestingly, has been kinda throwing cold water on the self-driving car model.
They're very skeptical of the full self-driver.
On the other hand they've said their very bullish on deep driver assists.
So perhaps it makes complete sense if they are embracing automatic emergency breaking very aggressively and from what we've seen so far earlier than any other car maker in-depth across their line.
Alright folks, that's it for Auto Complete this week, episode 11.
Don't forget the latest On cars, technology and the intersection of all of them is always awaiting you fresh at Road Show, theroadshow.com.
I'm Brian Cooley, we'll see you next week.
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