It’s wintertime! A season that brings extreme cold temperatures and the presence of snowflakes, this time of year drives many creatures to insulated environments. For car lovers thirsting for the nectar of the freshest flowers set to blossom for the 2012 vehicle year and beyond, winter is also known as the indoor auto show season. Started in the more temperate climate of Los Angeles, recent indoor auto shows in Detroit and Chicago were staged as a sanctuary to the automobile-addicted crowds. In the Great White North known as Canada, the midday point of winter has crowds seeking a cure to the blahs of the season. The 2012 Canadian International Autoshow at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is the strong medicine needed to reenergize love and vision of mechanical beauty.
For the forth year in a row, I have been greanted coveted media access to this large Canadian exhibition serving as a hotbed for automobiles and ideas. Of course, with such an enviable gift comes the responsibility to communicate the attitude of this major industry to esteemed readers. Despite the fact many new production or concept cars have previously been fixtures at other auto shows around the world, there remained an infectious mood of enthusiasm from media members and most importantly the auto company executives/staff throughout media day.
While auto companies in the 2010 and 2011 exhibitions offered only anecdotal details of better times ahead, the 2012 Canadian International Autoshow has become the chosen destination for past optimism. At the 2012 show, the Detroit Three automakers were back in brilliant form. General Motors delivered an automotive pageantry left unseen for years. Featuring bloated 7-brand line-up in 2009, General Motors’ bankruptcy greatly affected the size of their Canadian International Autoshow present in the following year. Shrinking to about 1/3 the floor space, GM steadily regained its convention center real estate in addition to market share. This year GM presented the Cadillac ATS and XTS sedans as well as the Buick Encore crossover. From the Hot Wheels prepared Camaro, the Chip Foose-prepared Foose Cruze to the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, General Motors hammered a home run with their presentation at the 2012 auto show. The Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept show car also made a debut at the Canadian International Autoshow a full three years after premiering in Chicago (better late than never).
In the case of Ford Motor Company, the 2013 Ford Fusion line was the headliner of the auto manufacturer’s media show. The full gasoline Fusion, Fusion Hybrid and the Fusion Energi were literally given center stage by Ford as other 2013 model year vehicles including the Escape crossover surrounded. Performance-driven members of the media were definitely captivated by the 2013 Ford Mustangs (a Boss 302 and a GT500 convertible) while the luxury car fans were eagerly awaiting the Lincoln MKZ concept to be uncovered. A profile described as modern and athletic, this concept sedan is perhaps the Ford premium car division’s most important vehicle in a long time.
In the afternoon, Chrysler became the final of the Detroit Three to hold their press conference promoting their 2013 Dodge Dart at the forefront. A standout moment came when Chrysler’s spokesperson gave pricing details for the 2013 Dart. Reacting contrary to much of the industry that continues to mark up the price of the same vehicles sold in the United States, Chrysler promised that the 2013 Dodge Dart selling in Canada will have the exact same base price of $15,995. The announcement was immediately met with an ovation from the largely Canadian press.
Having named only three automakers, almost every marque that arrived for the 2012 Canadian International Autoshow made smashing presentations. BMW brought the 2011 Geneva Motor Show Vision ConnectedDrive Concept to Toronto as some garnish to a display exhibiting the all-new BMW 3 Series and M5 sedan. BMW’s small carmaker MINI also created a stir with the Roll-Royce outfitted MINI Inspired by Goodwood vehicle. Unwilling to be bested by their German rival at any auto show, Mercedes-Benz featured their all-new SL-Class fitted with a twin-turbocharged, 429-horsepower V-8. Magic Sky Control retractable hardtop and the cloud computing framework of mbrace2 infotainment system are features Mercedes-Benz fans will find on the 2013 car.
At Jaguar, sports cars were the centerpiece of the company’s exhibition. A blue XKR-S wears Jaguar’s upgraded suspension system that includes the brand’s Active Differential Control. However, it was a Neutron White concept C-X16 sports coupe that ignited fires of enthusiasm. Demonstrating lightweight all-aluminum bodywork and hybrid powertrain performance, the Jaguar C-X16 is slated to storm from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 4.4 seconds.
From sports car excitement to practicality, Audi, Nissan and Subaru brought some machines to the 2012 Canadian International Autoshow tempting the realists. While a premium vehicle, the 2013 Audi A4 Allroad furnishes itself to high-end customers looking for the space of a utility vehicle and the flexibility of all-wheel drive in a car-based wagon. With Nissan, the press conference focused around a vehicle designed for commercial people moving. The Nissan e-NV200 Concept is a zero-emissions van marrying lessons learned from the Leaf. Alongside the Subaru BRZ sports coupe, the Japanese auto company brought the XV crossover vehicle to Canada. Selling in European markets, the Subaru XV has been invited to Toronto in order to gauge public appeal for the crossover utility vehicle in North America.
At Honda’s presentation, the Japanese-derived auto brand was candid on the worldwide difficulties experienced through the 2011 calendar year. However, Honda expressed ambition for the future as they unveiled the 2013 Honda Accord Concept touting the introduction of a direct injected V-TEC engine. Honda’s luxury brand Acura collaborated with an overall strong product showing in Toronto. The next generation Acura supercar became the same bona fide hit in Canada as it was in its Detroit premiere. Said to be forthcoming in three years, the production version of the NSX concept is being branded the exotic car that will once again establish the Acura brand as a premium performance name.
While the Acura NSX and ILX concept cars show off hybrid or electrified powertrains in the near future, the Eco-Drive Showcase at the 2012 Canadian International Autoshow collected green-conscious solutions for today. Displaying currently available vehicles offering hybrid, all electric or ultra-fuel efficient gasoline powerplants, the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Fisker Karma Ever are popular standouts in the exhibition. The Eco-Drive Showcase also promoted several electric vehicle-charging solutions for home as well as public settings from Ford, Schneider Electric and Eaton.
On the less promising side of the automotive industry spectrum, the absence of Swedish automaker Saab comes as no surprise. Delivering a speech reflecting a company ready rebound in the premium car industry, the Saab story for 2011 progressively worsened concluding with the company requiring creditor protection. There wasn’t a single Saab-branded vehicle found anywhere at 2012 Canadian International Autoshow.
With Saab bordering on an extinct European car brand, the Toronto show honoured the work of another once-popular former company. A collection of 30 vehicles identifying English car builder Triumph, the company’s celebrated sports car past (telegraphed through a wide variety of TR-6, TR-7, Sprite and Spitfires) was understandably dominate the exhibit. The oldest sports car was a pre-war car was the Triumph Gloria followed by the 1948 Triumph 2000 roadster. In a rare sight of post-war motoring, the Triumph 2000 featured a dickey seat (better known as a rumble seat in North America). Visitors to the Triumph Classics display will also be treated to a look back to the Triumph Standard 10 vehicles consisting of a four-door, pick-up truck and delivery wagon. A remarkably compelling gathering, the Triumph showcase also brought some rare examples of the British motor company’s work. Representing one of only 43 cars ever built, the Triumph Dové GTR4 was revealed in vintage race trim.
During the late stage of media day for the 2012 Canadian International Autoshow, I descended to the lower level of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre where the Auto Exotica display housed some of the most lavish automotive creations. Possessing a price tag estimated around 1.7 million dollars, the Aston Martin One-77 was a showpiece with a Canadian connection. Multimatic of Canada developed and constructed the carbon fiber underbody of the Aston Martin One-77 supercar. With only 77 cars set to be built for the special Aston Martin, the specific vehicle shown in the Auto Exotica display was a pre-production engineering development car. The Ferrari FF, Bugatti Veyron 16.4 and were other pieces found within the exclusive assortment of vehicles at the show’s Auto Exotica exhibit.
Seeing the best examples of motoring machines new and old, my media day visit concluded ahead of the when the show opens for the public. It is a fortunate opportunity that I have the ability to share the pleasures of such a day. A full day’s worth of automotive-related activity, the 2012 Canadian International Autoshow is an effective cure for enthusiasts suffering from a withdraw of car-related passion.
Information source: American Honda Motors, Canadian International Auto Show, Nissan North America
Photo source: Chris Nagy