Top five

* Top five cars at New York show * Hyundai Santa Fe biggest UK draw * Jaguar makes sports car announcement...

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Chas Hallett
4 Apr 2012 21:40 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

The New York motor show falls in the shadow of the other two big American motor shows, being neither as internationally relevant as Detroit, nor as glamorous as Los Angeles. It also suffers from the fact that the all-important Beijing motor show is only a fortnight away.

Yet car makers like it here because there are plenty of potential customers in evidence and plenty of media to show off new models to.

There were enough new models and enough razzamatazz this year to keep both parties happy, not to mention plenty of confidence from car makers now that the huge US car market seems to be finding its feet again after several lean years.

So, which were the key new models on display in Manhattan? Here's my top five.

Hyundai Santa Fe
The all-new Hyundai Santa Fe is the biggest car in New York as far as Brits are concerned.

Previous models have impressed through their abilities and price. This new one will no doubt continue that, but also adds a big dose of style.

It will go on sale at the end of the year, with prices starting at 25,000.

Like the current model, all UK versions will be diesels, four-wheel drive, and with a choice of five or seven seats. The new car will also be quicker and more efficient than its predecessor.

The model on display in New York was a petrol-powered US-spec car, and Hyundais European bosses were keen to point out that UK-bound cars will drive a lot better and be fitted with higher quality materials.

Even so, the US-spec car looked like a good place to start to us quite a desirable thing if youre in the market for a good value seven-seater.

Also revealed was a long-wheelbase version powered by a 3.3-litre V6 petrol engine. Dont get too excited, though while this will make it to mainland Europe, it wont cross the Channel to the UK.

Fisker Atlantic
The new Fisker Atlantic redresses the balance a bit for the US-based company founded by former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker. Most of the recent publicity surrounding the company has been about its financial position and its still unclear whether the Atlantic will ever be made.

Lets hope it does, though, because it looks terrific even though it was shown to the press only the night before the show and didnt make it onto the Fisker stand.

Like the bigger Karma, the Atlantic is a Chevy Volt-style range extender.

A BMW-sourced four-cylinder engine acts as a generator, allowing an electric motor to power the wheels. Alternatively, you can plug it in and use electric power alone for a limited range.

Like the bigger Karma, it injects a big dose of glamour to eco-cars, and Fisker reckons that the Atlantic will be vying for attention with people who may otherwise buy a Audi A5 Sportback or a BMW 3 Series. Because of clever use of space it is also bigger inside than the Karma and promises to feel sportier on the road.

If the financial concerns go away it should also end up being the first Fisker to be made in right-hand-drive form, so we can expect it in 2014.

Mercedes GL
The new Mercedes GL looked good. Good enough in fact for us to think that it might get a lot closer to the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover than the previous incarnation.

Its slightly larger than the outgoing car, but the svelte design hides that fact. Its also lighter and promises 20% better fuel efficiency than the outgoing model.

Crucially, it will be just as effective for seven adults as before and, according to Mercedes, will be considerably more refined, too.

The big question, though, is whether it will finally hit it off in Europe. No doubt it will be pricey, but the fact that it doesnt look so ungainly and that it's more efficient could be enough to make it more attractive to buyers in every sense.

Infiniti LE
The Infiniti LE was billed only as a concept car, but no one inside the company is pretending that it won't go on sale probably in 2014.

Essentially, it's a more luxurious Nissan Leaf. It uses the same architecture and similar electric powertrain.

There will be differences, of course. For a start, the Infiniti will be a saloon rather than a hatch. It will also be pricier, but it will also be substantially better appointed, faster and sportier.

Most of all, it adds some glamour to electric cars and should provide stiffer competition to the forthcoming BMW i3 than any other electric car currently on the market.

Jaguar F-type
Jaguars all-new F-type sports car wasnt on display at the 2012 New York motor show. Not even the C-X16 concept, on which it will be heavily based.

Crucially, the company told the world what it was already expecting that it is going to be made. It will go on sale in spring 2013, first as a roadster, with a coupe following later.

Jag boss Adrian Hallmark was at pains to point out that lots of other names were considered, but they decided on F-type because it told the world that it will be a proper sports car and not a GT like the XK. In fact, it will be the companys first two-seat sports car since the E-type was launched in 1961.

Hallmark also told What Car? that it will be priced below the current XK so expect it to start with a 5 and that lots of incarnations would eventually be available, hinting at the fact that more powerful and even sportier versions will come on stream.

What no one at Jag would be drawn on was what the F-type will be powered by. It wont be launched with a V6 hybrid of the concept car, thats for sure. A betting man would opt for a naturally aspirated V6 and the option of a manual gearbox, but a hybrid is likely to come along later.

Chas Hallett