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My impressions of the 2007 New York Auto Show

The face of the various North American auto shows changes each and every year. While Detroit has long been the uncontested leader, it is now being seriously threatened by other cities that want to be known as host of the "largest auto show on the continent".

Each contender specializes in one aspect: Los Angeles is the hotbed of green technologies and exotic designs, while Chicago offers the biggest surface and displays all the new trucks. As for New York, the show banks on its huge crowd (over 1.2 million visitors walk through the Javits Center every year) to attract manufacturers and their new creations.

Hyundai Genesis

Traditionally, these strategies intended to come out on top have led to mixed results. Even though the New York Auto Show is my favorite event in North America, you could count the world premieres on your fingers. But this year, New York was literally besieged by new model launches, some of which will definitely prove to be historic.

Hyundai's turnaround
Among the must-see cars was Hyundai's new full-size luxury sedan concept, which marks a decisive turn in the North American automotive landscape. The Korean manufacturer is fully aware of it and made sure that everybody else took notice. A room entirely made up of glass panels, with an outstanding view of the Hudson River, was set up for the spectacular unveiling of the Genesis. On hand to host the evening was Dave Mason, an acclaimed country singer. Hyundai: 1, America: 0.

There were a lot of other important introductions in the Big Apple, particularly from the premium automakers. At Infiniti, the launch of the next-generation G Coupe (and especially the arrival of an innovative crossover to fill a void in the market) sends a clear message to the industry: despite rising sales, there is always room to go higher.

The same is true at Lexus, which took advantage of the New York event to unveil its humongous LX570, a redesigned version of the LX470 that is only popular in the United States. Mercedes-Benz and Audi also chose New York as a springboard for their new high-performance sports cars. While the latter remains affordable with the 2008 TT, its domestic rival targets the ultra high-end market with the new CL65.

Lexus LX 450