As the opening day of the 2012 New York International Auto Show was still wrapping up, the early consensus was that it was one of the best in Big Apple history. The mood was positive and the crowd of accredited media appeared to be larger than ever. Plus, there were a number of very significant debuts from U.S. automakers and the response to these vehicles was overwhelmingly positive.
We’ve already learned about the 2013 Lincoln MKX, the first car to come out of the luxury brand’s dedicated design studio, a car prepared under the watchful eye of former Cadillac designer Max Wolff. The key takeaway on the MKX is this: For a saloon that is intended to appeal to the masses, it nevertheless boasts some seriously slick design.
In another corner of the Javits Center, another saloon in another seemingly boring category, the full-size segment, was unveiled on opening day. When I first learned that General Motors was planning to introduce a brand-new Chevrolet Impala, I could barely suppress a yawn. But in the flesh, the 2014 edition is a very handsome, proportionally correct saloon, just as the MKX is.
When it hits the streets, the Impala will be offered with a variety of engine choices, ranging from a 2.4-litre 4-cylinder petrol unit paired with the eAssist hybrid system (first seen on Buick models) to an unassisted 2.5-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine and, finally, a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine. The output for the three powerplants will be, in chronological order: 134 kW, 145 kW and 225 kW. All three engines feature direct fuel injection and all will be linked to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
While the 2013 Lincoln MKX and 2014 Chevrolet Impala are definitely newsworthy new entries for US carmakers, their thunder was very much stolen by the introduction of the latest edition of another American icon—the car formerly known as the Dodge and/or Chrysler Viper.
The unquestionable star of the New York show, the 2013 SRT Viper had the crowd buzzing long after its unveiling yesterday morning. Example: I went back to the stand a full four hours later and could still not get anywhere near the car or have anything resembling a clear shot with my camera. It was like trying to get close to Megan Fox as she walked across Times Square, naked.
From a design perspective, the new Viper definitely looks the business—it’s like a mix of the old Viper blended together with elements borrowed from Ferrari. The net effect is one very mean-looking super-sports car.
Under the hood, the Viper makes do with a front/mid-mounted 8.4-litre all-aluminum V10 petrol engine that develops a mammoth 471 kW and 814 Nm of torque. The power-to-weight ratio of the new car—it’s lost some 45 kg from the previous edition—places it behind the Bugatti Veyron in terms of absolute insanity, but ahead of other stalwart competitors such as the Lamborghini Aventador and the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1.
With a slight nod towards the common sense, the Viper will be fitted with stability control and traction control for the first time ever. (I can count at least three instances where I witnessed auto journalists lose control of previous Vipers because they had become so accustomed to relying on the electronic aids found on other supercars.) The new car also receives an improved, 6-speed manual transmission with a shorter throw shifter.
Two versions of the car will be made available initially: the SRT Viper and the SRT Viper GTS. The latter will feature more creature comforts and more technology, including a two-mode active suspension system. Both versions comes standard with a Brembo braking package; an optional track package includes lightweight, slotted brake rotors developed by StopTech.
If the new SRT Viper, Chevrolet Impala and Lincoln MKX are any indication, the comeback of the “Big Three” is becoming stronger than ever.