New York '13 Roundup

Two cars seem to have stolen the headlines at this year’s New York Auto Show. One is the new Range Rover Sport and the other the 500bhp Chevy Camaro Z/28, which should tell you all you need to know. ‘Green’ was not high on the agenda.

What has been encouraging, however, is the amount of incremental improvements in efficiency and fuel consumption on cars that you might not necessarily expect. Whilst they know that not everyone wants an electric car, manufacturers are falling over themselves to prove that their cars are cleaner than ever, and hybrid drivetrains seem to be the order of the day. 'Green' may not be on the agenda, then, but it's here anyway, and here to stay.

Nissan's Pathfinder, the Infiniti QX60 and Toyota’s updated Highlander all featured electric motors supplementing (admittedly large) combustion engines, and although performance is the main beneficiary of these hybrid drivetrains, fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions have also improved across the board. 

With all the fuss around Mercedes’ CLA 45 AMG, you’d be forgiven for missing the B-Class Electric Drive. Due to go on sale early in 2014, the B-Class ED will have a range of 115 miles, putting it just behind Renault’s ZOE, and a top speed of 100mph, which is about par for EVs right now. Level 2 charging from a 240V outlet will get you 60 miles charge in two hours, but overall there’s not huge amount to shout about. We’d have expected something a little more groundbreaking from Mercedes, in all honesty.

With no BMW i8s or Volkswagen XL1s to steal the show, either, perhaps the real star was Mitsubishi’s humble Mirage. Fitted with 1.0 and 1.2-litre three-cylinder engines, the Mirage weighs as little as 845kg and a stint in the wind-tunnel means it’s the most aerodynamic supermini ever built. At least that’s what Mitsubishi are claiming.

Both Mirage engines emit less that 100g/km carbon dioxide and combined fuel economy is over 65mpg for both, too. Nobody would have dreamed of unveiling this sort of car in the US a couple of years ago. That someone now has is undoubtedly the most telling occurrence of the 2013 New York Auto Show, and indicative of shift in attitude in one the world’s largest car markets.

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