The good people at General Motors asked me to join them on press day this year for the 2015 Canadian International Auto Show. After giving it about a millisecond’s worth of thought, I responded with an emphatic “Yes!” and promptly informed my day job that something important had come up and I needed some vacation.
The bloggers all met up, bright and early, at SoCo Kitchen + Bar. Located just behind the Southern Convention Center, inside the beautiful new Delta Toronto Hotel. Once we’d all been seated and had a chance to make our introductions, breakfast was served. In keeping with my mostly paleo diet, I had ordered the egg white omelet and an unending carafe of Starbucks coffee.
Now awake, alert and wired on coffee, we were handed our press passes and let loose on the Auto Show. The caveat being that, as GM had invited us, it would be much appreciated if we would attend the GM press conferences. No problems there. Ever since the CTS-V was first launched in 2004, I’ve been a fan, there was no way I was going to miss the unveiling of the 2016 CTS-V.
As I aimlessly wandered, now separated from my group, there was suddenly a hand on my arm. Looking over, I saw the smiling face of a young lady who asked if I would like a tour of the “Art & the Automobile” presentation. Why, yes, I would.
After being reminded of just how beautiful cars once were, before falling victim to increased safety regulations (my favorite example being that you must design the hood and grill of a car so as not to injure a pedestrian too badly when they drunkenly stumble out in front of you), “aerodynamics” (which, judging by a number of today’s cars, seems to be a widely misunderstood concept) and price (what was once metal or wood is now plastic or vinyl). But wait… This show was all about the future of automobiles. Surely, at least some of the designers had been inspired by the likes of the 1936 Cord 810 Phaeton, right?
Well, as it happened, I was not to be disappointed. I skipped the Ford, Lexus, Hyundai and Toyota press conferences. Sorry, but it’s been a number of years since they’ve lived up to expectations. I’ll just wait and go do a few test drives in the spring/summer or when the new models come out and judge for myself.
The first press conference for me then was the Cadillac press conference. Between the CTS-V, the ATS-V and the all new Cadillac Elmiraj, it was hard not to have my head on a swivel as the cars were unveiled. This is the same Elmiraj which was unveiled as a concept in 2013, and now, it will finally go on sale sometime during the summer of 2015. We’ve already reviewed the CTS-V and ATS-V.
Next up was the BMW press conference. Admittedly, I missed a fair bit of what was said due to the fact that a six foot tall reporter had decided to stand directly in front of me. However, I got the gist that they were announcing the new 7 series, the 6 Series cab and the 2015 M6 Coupé. Wow. The M6 Coupé, now there’s a car I’d love to get my hands on! A review for all three cars will be forthcoming and we’ve already looked at my new favorite sedan, the M3.
Up next was the Mini press conference. Here they focused on the 2016 John Cooper Works Mini Coupé and the Mini Superleggera. I’ve got to say, I’m not sold on either model yet. Putting John Cooper’s name on a car doesn’t make it better, nor does sticking a Jaguar D-Type dorsal fin on the back and Union Jacks on everything from the doors to the taillights make the Superleggera a British car. It’s still a BMW, and it’s still very German. That may not be the end of the world though… it means that this “British” car won’t fall apart and will have an engine (electric in the case of the Superleggera) that delivers power you can count on.
Up next, it was Volkswagon’s turn to impress. They didn’t let us down. The new R-Type and the Cross Coupé stole the show (well, that 15 minute segment of it anyway). The Golf R promises a sporty ride with its inline-4 and 292hp, while the Cross Coupé promises to be the future of SUV. With its styling and hybrid engine, it’s certainly poised to make a dent in the SUV market. What it won’t make a dent in though, is the coupé market, because it’s clearly not a real coupé. It might be slightly vertically challenged (enough so to make me look tall standing next to it), but it’s not exactly what springs to mind when someone says “Yeah, I’ve just bought a coupé”. Reviews for both cars will be coming soon.
Mazda and Infiniti were next. But, do you know what? I find it to be slightly bad taste to bring eight foot tall showcases filled with awards and trophies, so I skipped these two and went to get myself a front row seat for the Mercedes-Benz press conference.
Once I got to the Mercedes-Benz area, I discovered that the front row was already full and that there was only one seat in the second row… right behind my new nemesis from the BMW release. Oh well, I wasn’t going to let that ruin the reveals of the new Maybach, the AMG GT S and the GLE Coupe. While I know, deep down, that I’ll never own one of these cars, it doesn’t stop me from loving them. The AMG tuned GT S is a work of art. Gone are the gullwing doors which used to confound so many people in the tight confines of the country club parking lot. In an effort to make up for the loss of style, AMG has tacked the letter “S” on after the GT. My belief is that the S either stands for “So fast your face will come off” due to the 503hp and 0-60 time of about 3.5 seconds, or “Swing away” since the car now has room for two golf bags in the trunk to go with the two golf-playing business executives in the front.
Following the Mercedes-Benz press release, we headed over to the Chevrolet booth for the last press conference of the morning. I’ve owned and driven Chevy cars for most of my adult life and didn’t figure that there was anything left for them to wow me with. I was wrong.
The new 2016 Volt, with its 80 kilometer totally electric range and 5.4L/100KM fuel consumption, it’s nearly enough to knock the BMW i3 off of its pedestal. Nearly. While we were oohing and aaahing at the Volt, a shape emerged from the wings of the display and took up a position in the center of the display area… it was the Bolt Concept car. With a fully electric range of 321km, this moves the Bolt, which will probably be a 2017 model, into direct competition with Nissan’s Leaf and Tesla’s Model 3. For those with a longer memory, the styling on the interior of the Bolt (and its battery system) are reminiscent of GM’s Hy-Wire which we all looked for in 2010 (the year in which they predicted, back in 2002, that they’d begin production).
Following the Chevy press conference, a light lunch was served, brought to us by the good folks at OnStar. After filling my face on espresso and sandwiches, I headed off to the North building for the rest of the day’s festivities… More to come!