|April 23, 2000
New York International Auto Show Recap
Text and photos by Matt Daniels
The Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center and Me. What do these things have in common? All four of them were in New York City last week. In my case, I was there for the 100th Annual New York International Auto Show for the press preview days held on April 19 and 20 at the Javits Convention Center in Midtown Manhattan. The press preview days are always an interesting time to be at an auto show - the booths are usually in some stage of assembly, the carpet in the isles are not down yet, and the car companies are all trying to get you into their booths by offering you free food, drink and other stuff. Of course, since I'm only there to cover Audi, I don't indulge myself with items from the other booths.
At this years NYIAS, Audi of America officially unveiled the allroad quattro to the American public. For the North American market, the allroad quattro will come with the 250 hp 2.7 liter twin-turbo engine that is found in the S4 and the A6 2.7T, transmission choices will be the 6-speed manual transmission or the 5-speed tiptronic automatic. As many readers already know, the allroad quattro features a unique air adjustable suspension that alters ride height between 5.6 and 8.2 inches. In its highest position, the allroad offer more ground clearance than most of its competitors, while at its lowest setting, it offers a lower center of gravity for better performance at higher speeds. The North American version of the allroad will not be coming with Audi's Navigation Plus system, when asked if the Nav Plus system would ever be coming to North America, I was told "not in its current form, but we are working on a totally new system that will be offered here". No time frame was given for this new navigation system. The allroad quattro also features a full size matching alloy wheel for its spare, but the tire is very unique: It is inflatable. When deflated seems to be only about an inch thick, but when inflated, it is the same size as one of the stock wheels. It should be interesting to see how this works in the real world.
Audi of America is expecting to sell about 5000 units annually. While prices won't be set until the fall, expect the base price of the allroad quattro to be around $45,000. For more information about the North American spec allroad quattro, please read the press release from Audi of America.
Also announced at the Audi of America press conference was the arrival of the S4 Avant and S8 to North America in the next 12 months. The long awaited S4 Avant, the wagon version of the S4 sedan, will be making its appearance in the U.S. (sorry Canada, you're not getting this beast) by the end of this year and the S8 will be arriving in the U.S. and Canada at the beginning of 2001. The S8 will arrive with a five-valve V8 engine that produces 360 horsepower, sources say that it will only be available with the 5-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. Both the S4 and S8 for North America will be getting a lower finial drive ratio that will make the cars quicker from 0-60 than their European counterpart.
Other items of interest mentioned during the press conference: First quarter sales for 2000 are up 64% from first quarter sales last year. At this pace, Audi should easily beat their all-time sales record set in 1985 of 74,016 vehicles. In its first full months of sales, the recently introduced A8 L, accounted for almost 50% of the sales of A8 model range.
Of course Audi wasn't the only company to have a press conference at the show - although I think it may be the only one that I attended completely. Jaguar had Spike Lee produce an eight-minute short film for them and a 4-minute version was shown during the press conference. Spike Lee was on hand to introduce his film. Afterwards, he and his wife (who appears in the film) posed for pictures and answered questions.
If you're interested in attended the 2000 New York International Auto Show, it is currently open to the public and runs through April 30 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. The show is open Monday-Saturday from 11 am to 10:30 pm, Sunday's 11 am to 8:30 pm. Cost is $9 for adults, $3 for children 12 and under. For more information, visit the show website at www.autoshowny.com.