It’s been a brutal few years for the auto industry. But at this year’s New York International Auto Show, the world felt right again. The crowds were thick, the parties were plentiful, and the cars were appropriately flashy. Here are some of the highlights.
Click here to explore the latest, coolest cars.

Audi A7 (Front)

With the five-door, $60,125 A7, Audi hopes to drive the brand further upscale. Fittingly, Audi made much of the car’s high-end flourishes—the yacht-deck-inspired woodwork in the interior, the touchpad-based user-interface system that first appeared last year in the flagship A8. The A7 is big—long but sleek—and runs on a supercharged, all-aluminum 3.0-liter TFSI engine that makes 310 horsepower. That’s mated to an 8-speed tiptronic transmission.

Audi A7 (Back)

Based on the “sportback” concept Audi has been showing for a couple years now, the A7 is all about the fifth door.

BMW ActiveE

The New York show brought the North American premiere of the latest step in BMW’s slow-walk toward electric drive: the ActiveE. It’s a 1 Series coupe converted to electric drive, and it’ll get 100 miles of driving range from a full charge of its lithium-ion battery pack. Starting this year, BMW will lease 1,000 of the cars in test fleets in the U.S., Europe, and China. They’ll arrive in the U.S. this fall, and they’ll be available for 24-month leases, at $499 a month, in seven test markets.

2013 Chevy Malibu

The next iteration of the Chevy Malibu will go on sale next year, and the emphasis will be on efficiency. Gone is the option of a V-6. In is a 2.5-liter 4 cylinder that produces 190 horsepower. The most interesting variant is the Eco model, which will use GM’s eAssist hybrid technology—in which a small lithium-ion battery and a 15hp electric motor give the Malibu’s 2.4-liter turbocharged gas engine regular breaks—to get up to 38 mpg on the highway. GM says the Eco will be the “most fuel efficient Malibu ever.”

Ford Focus Electric

The electric Ford Focus, scheduled to reach 19 North American markets later this year, made it to town. Like the Nissan Leaf, the electric Focus should get roughly 100 miles of driving range from a charge of its lithium-ion battery pack.

Hyundai Accent

The all-new version of Hyundai’s subcompact Accent made its U.S. premiere in Detroit. Hyundai says the new Accent, with its 1.6-liter direct-injection gasoline engine, will produce more horsepower (138) and get better mileage (30 mpg in the city, 40 mpg on the highway), than any other subcompact—think of the Honda Fit, the Toyota Yaris, the Ford Fiesta, and the Mazda 2.

Hyundai Veloster

The overinsistently youth-friendly Hyundai Veloster, whose looks have grown on us since its debut at the Detroit show in January, also made it to town.

Jaguar XF-R

Jaguar performed a facelift on this 510-hp supercharged beast, which is meaner and faster than any luxury car this big has a right to be.

Lexus LF-Gh

The LF-Gh, whose name means “Future Grand Touring Hybrid,” gives us an idea what to expect from Lexus design in the years ahead. The company has called particular attention to that slightly befanged grille.

Mercedes A Class Concept

The Mercedes A Class concept was the star of the show. From the side, it looks like the spaceship from the Flight of the Navigator. From the front, it looks like the most expensive piece of diamond-encrusted dentistry ever. The goal of this car is to prove that Mercedes is serious about bringing premium small cars to America. When they get here, let’s hope they look even remotely like this.

Nissan Leaf Nismo RC Prototype

This fun but slightly puzzling prototype exercise from Nissan—the Leaf Nismo RC (“Racing Competition”)—is pretty much a rear-wheel drive-electric Leaf with a carbon-fiber monocoque body. It’s fun because, well, look at it. And it’s electric! It’s puzzling, because Nissan didn’t add any additional battery modules or a second electric motor. The result, alas, would be a pretty weak racecar. Top speed: 93 mph. Endurance: Only 20 minutes under race conditions.

Porsche Panamera S Hybrid

The hybrid version of Porsche’s family truckster had its North American debut this week. (So did the $173,200, 550-hp Panamera Turbo S.) By mating a nickel-metal-hydride battery to a 333-hp, 3.0-liter supercharged V6, the Panamera should get highway mileage in the low to mid 30s, although EPA numbers are still forthcoming.

Saab PhoeniX Concept

In theory, at least, this Saab concept combines an electrically driven rear axle and a 200 hp 1.6-liter turbocharged gas engine for “intelligent, hybrid all-wheel-drive capability.” What Saab calls the car’s “aeromotional” design gives us some sense of what to expect from Saab in the future. What kind of future Saab itself will have is a bigger question: Orphaned in the restructuring of General Motors, then purchased by Spyker, Saab’s is now in a dire financial situation.

Toyota Prius C

Toyota’s Prius C concept, which made its premiere three months ago in Detroit, is the potential basis for a future mini-Prius.

Volvo C30 Electric

Volvo prominently displayed its battery-operated C30, which is scheduled to begin test-fleet trials in the U.S. next year.

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Introducing the dramatically less-girly reinvention of the Beetle. The new bug will be available with three engines: a base 2.5-liter, 170-hp, 5-cylinder engine; a 2.0-liter turbo; and a 2.0-liter TDI clean diesel.