The finest debuts from The Windy City

With the big sheet pulls now done and the McCormick Place convention center inundated with auto-hungry members of the general public, it’s time to recap our favorite debuts from the 2019 Chicago Auto Show. We made sure to include a little bit of everything here, from big ’n bad pickups, to quick, compact sports cars, to refined four-doors. Let us know your favorites by posting in the comments section at the end of the article!

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition

2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition
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Kicking off our Best In Show list is a car that garnered almost unanimous praise here in the TopSpeed office.

Offered as a celebration of three decades of awesomeness, the Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition is all the things we want in a compact sports car - engine up front, power in the back, and a three-pedal transmission in the middle, plus no excess weight anywhere else.

Indeed, considering the MX-5 is the best-selling two-seat convertible sports car of all time, Mazda has plenty to celebrate here.

“Mazda deserves a round of applause for being able to emotionally connect with the enthusiasts. Being able to sell 500 copies of a car that was supposedly overpriced within four hours of its debut is itself a testament,” said TopSpeed writer Siddhant Dhimaan. “Not to mention, it still comes with a manual gearbox!”

TopSpeed writer Mihai Fira agrees. “I just love that tint of orange, and the forged Rays wheels are awesome. Plus, obviously the fact it marks 30 years of the Miata. And I guess the fact that they sold out so quickly means there are others that share this view!”

Read our full review on the 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata 30th Anniversary Edition.

2020 Ford Super Duty

2019 Chicago Auto Show - Best In Show
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At the other end of the four-wheeled spectrum, we have this latest workhorse from the Blue Oval, namely the 2020 Ford Super Duty. Bringing refreshed (yet functional) styling up front, as well as new tech in the cabin, the latest safety assists, and upgraded powertrain specs, including a brand-new 7.3-liter gas powerplant and 10-speed automatic transmission, we felt the 2020 Super Duty shined the brightest in the pickup segment at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show.

“When it came to new heavy-duty pickups, the 2019 Chicago Auto Show didn’t disappoint,” said TopSpeed writer Kirby Garlitos. “The GMC Sierra HD looked like it was about to eat somebody. Same thing with the Chevrolet Silverado HD. That face is enough to give me sleepless nights. But as is always the case, the star of the show, at least in my mind, was the 2020 Ford Super Duty.

“Talk about a big boy truck, ladies and gentlemen, this was it. Sure, it’s not exactly a new model - it’s a heavily revised version of the truck that’s on sale today with a redesigned fascia - but it might as well be when you factor in all the new equipment Ford introduced in the truck.”

2020 F-Series Super Duty Promises to Offer Highest Towing and Payload Ratings
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‘The most important of all that is the new 7.3-liter V-8 gasoline engine that looks like it came straight out of Al Gore’s worst nightmare.’

Kirby continues, saying, “Ford didn’t release all the important details about the engine - power, torque, and towing capacity - but you can tell just by looking at the Super Duty that it’s not going to cheat you out of muscle. Throw in the new-for-2020 10-speed TorqShift automatic gearbox, which boasts a wider gear-ratio span than the previous six-speed automatic, and you have a heavy-duty pickup that can live up to Ford’s ‘Built Ford Tough’ slogan.”

Read more about the 2020 Ford Super Duty.

Volkswagen Jetta GLI

2019 Chicago Auto Show - Best In Show Exterior
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Even as most other automakers flee the four-door compact segment, Volkswagen is doubling down with a new GLI badge for the classic Jetta nameplate - and that’s something we’re definitely happy about. The extra letters equate to more performance, taking after the Golf GTI in terms of the powertrain and drivetrain setup. Output is now rated at a not-so-insubstantial 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which is a big boost over the standard Jetta’s turbo 1.4-liter four-cylinder, which spins out 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That’s a gain of 81 horsepower and 74 pound-feet, by the way.

Routing it all the front axle is a standard six-speed manual transmission (stick shift FTW!), while a seven-speed DSG automatic is offered for those wary of the third pedal.

An electronically controlled limited-slip differential makes the most of the available traction, while a DCC adaptive dampener system keeps it all shiny side up.

Topping it off is a subtle exterior upgrade, which includes black aero bits, new wheels, and red accents, not to mention the requisite GLI badging. And don’t forget the Volkswagen Virtual Cockpit and Apple CarPlay plus Android Auto smartphone support in the cabin space.

Pricing info is still forthcoming, but so far, we like what we see.

Read our full review on the 2019 Volkswagen Jetta GLI.

2020 Subaru Legacy

2019 Chicago Auto Show - Best In Show
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Say hello to a new generation for the mature Six-Star four-door Legacy, and even though it’s nowhere near as raucous as the iconic Subaru WRX, this Scooby still offers a little forced induction fun under the hood. That’s because the Legacy now comes with a turbocharged 2.4-liter boxer engine option, with 260 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque on tap for the go, replacing the outgoing model’s range-topping 3.6-liter six-cylinder. Unfortunately, the ‘four mates to a standard CVT, which puts a damper on the fun, but we won’t stress too much about it. All told, 60 mph arrives in about 6 seconds, which isn’t bad when you consider all the extra comfort you get in the cabin.

Speaking of which, the 2020 Subaru Legacy now comes equipped with tablet-style touchscreen in the dash. Measuring in at 11.6 inches, we think it adds a ton of premium feel to the nameplate, and pairs well with the latest Starlink Multimedia system. The Nappa leather upholstery helps as well.

As the icing on the cake, the 2020 Subaru Legacy also gets an updated platform under the skin and revised suspension in the corners, both of which conspire to create a more refined ride overall.

And of course, don’t forget the standard Subaru Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive for when the roads get slick.

Read more about the 2020 Subaru Legacy.

The Original 1990 Acura NSX

2019 Chicago Auto Show - Best In Show
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Back in 1989, Acura pulled the sheets on the original NSX at the Chicago Auto Show, and the world of top-shelf performance was forever changed.

This thing was a complete game-changer when it arrived on the scene. Not only was it the first-ever all-aluminum bodied mass-produced car ever made, but it also came with a mid-mounted all-aluminum V-6 and five-speed manual transmission, plus development input from the legendary Formula 1 racing driver Ayrton Senna.

Indeed, the original NSX was a bona-fide Ferrari fighter offered at a fraction of the cost.

These days, there’s a second-generation NSX prowling the streets, once again offering modern supercar technology for far less than the competition. But as awesome as the new NSX might be, you’ve gotta give it up to the first-gen.

So yeah, this isn’t exactly a “new debut,” but hey, we had to include it all the same. You understand, I’m sure.

Read more about the original 1990 Acura NSX at the 2019 Chicago Auto Show.

Further Reading

2019 Chicago Auto Show - Everything You Need To Know
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2019 Chicago Auto Show - Everything You Need To Know

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