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Innovation Wows At The New York International Auto Show

By Coleman Bentley

The press days at the New York International Auto Show are a little different.

There’s more room to breathe, the espresso, by and large, is free, and even the models seem a bit more talkative. The one thing that doesn’t change, however, are the cars: The gleaming steel, the evocative curves, the racing rubber poised on plush carpet like a sprinter in Olympic blocks. In our all-too-brief time at the 2014 edition of NYIAS, Elite Traveler saw it all—from the turbos to hybrids, the luxurious to the lethal—and while we were impressed by most everything we saw (Porsche’s 918 Spyder, Aston Martin’s Vantage GT, Rolls Royce’s new Ghost), nothing got our pulses pounding quite like the following. Here are our highlights.

Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept

Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept

The big unveiling of the weekend was unquestionably Land Rover’s Discovery Vision Concept, which ushered in the future of Land Rover’s flagship line with seamless design and cutting-edge technology, including smart glass, laser headlights, and driver assistance features like Terrain Response™ and Remote Control Drive. And of course, with the original Discovery celebrating it’s 25th anniversary this year, this concept—and the awe-struck bystanders swirling about it—helped to give Land Rover’s prime spot on the Javits Center showfloor an appropriately celebratory atmosphere.

Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

Jaguar F-Type R Coupe

Adding to the party was Jaguar’s 2015 F-Type R coupe, twirling a few yards away in a striking red gown that, however beautiful, only teased the 550-horsepower, 5.0-liter, supercharged V8 lying beneath her hood. The 2014 F-Type was one of our favorite sports cars of last year, not to mention a performance game-changer for longtime British luxury icons Jaguar, and thus we were thrilled to see the diminutive devil—and her topless convertible twin, which basked nearby—in fine form for the upcoming model year.

BMW i8

BMW i8

Far and away the most important, paradigm-obliterating, brand-platform rebuilding salvo launched in Javits Center last week, however, was BMW’s i8. From action-movie fantasy to full-blown production vehicle in three short years, the i8 had the automotive journalism world—who dismissed the vehicle as a tech-showcase concept up until the day it hit the production line—biting their collective tongues as they experienced the super-hybrid’s sci-fi styling, plug-in functionality, and shocking performance figures in the flesh. Though more of a brand mission statement than anything else (there was no escaping the fact that Mercedes-Benz was located just across the aisle), the i8’s performance figures—the 131 horsepower electric drive engine, in concert with a 231 horsepower petrol powerplant, hits 0-62 in just 4.4 seconds and gets nearly 125 miles to the gallon—nonetheless propelled BMWs NYIAS presence well into the future.