2011 Canadian Auto Show Tour
Some days, I don’t know if I adequately express my love for automobiles in every post I authored. I am truly a car fan and it is an auto show that reminds me just how much I cherish that interest in automobiles. Knowing that so many Automoblog.net followers feel the same sense of emotion with a prized auto make or even the vehicle in general, it was a pleasure to attend media day of the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
While many vehicles are making Canadian debuts, many of the cast and faces have risen to idolization already across the auto show world. Nonetheless, when you truly set eyes on something so beautiful as a new car design, even the best LCD screen or finest glossy magazine paper does not completely radiate the full meaning of automotive existence. The scene at the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show media day provided the most upbeat messages to the future of the automobile.
Starting with an opening ceremony as well as a press conference with Ford Motor Company, media day of the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show supplied more energy than perhaps the entire 2010 exhibition. Unveiling first the Ford C-Max, a kinetic display at four acrobats brought a spectacle back to auto industry. A bright spot in American motoring, the Ford Motor Company’s engineering pride was more than evident through their use of floor space. Cutaway of a 2011 Ford Explorer, a simulator of Ford’s stability control program, engines and other various car components including their seat belt airbag were featured with as much attention as the whole vehicles.
Right after the Ford conference, BMW and MINI were next to highlight their showcases of 2011 so far. Presenting the BMW M6 convertible, the BMW 1M and the MINI Paceman concept, there was also details on the BMW X1. Reported by some publications earlier this year as being delayed until 2012, the compact sport activity vehicle X1 is set for release late this year starting at just under $39,000 Canadian.
Starting with the unveiling of the MINI Paceman, the automotive marketing of presenting beautiful women alongside the glorious new vehicles. Land Rover and Chrysler later in the day would also enlist the assistance of some photogenic females. With absolutely no offense against the women, my attention is only planted on the automobiles. Using star power, Kia Motors called in sports athletes from the professional soccer team Toronto Football Club to show off a special edition Sportage. For all the people able to present the vehicles during the press conferences, I keep in mind the numerous individuals behind the scenes of the auto companies as well as the Canadian International Auto Show.
Through a stop at the Honda exhibit, the 2012 Honda Civic Si coupe concept in between a tuned Honda Insight and Accord decked out in a white/carbon black paint scheme. Seeing the Civic concept up-close, there is no doubt this vehicle is be the dead-ringer for the upcoming production car. The only thing needed for the final 2012 Civic will be an interior.
Not seen at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Nissan came to Toronto presenting Canadian debuts of the 2011 Quest minivan and the Infiniti M35h. An enthusiastic Alfonso Albaisa, Vice President of Nissan Design America, eagerly presented the Ellure concept. Viewed as a designing precursor to a future Altima or Maxima, Albaisa brings much of the passionate new styling direction that was exhibited on his other creation, the Nissan Juke. Along with the NV commercial van, the new Nissan GT-R and the Nismo 370Z coupe, another live act stole the press conference. Influenced by a new advertising campaign around the all-electric Nissan Leaf featuring a polar bear, a bear-suited individual quietly wondered out bringing a welcomed comic relief to the morning surrounding the car business.
The second-to-last exhibit of the media day morning was General Motors. President of GM Canada Kevin Williams introduced Canadian press members to the Buick Verano as the company’s new theme was discretely unveiled. The trucks and large sport utility vehicles General Motors once depended upon as profit centers were moved literally pushed to the corner. It’s obvious that bets are being hedged on the new Chevrolet Cruze . At least 9 Chevrolet Cruze sedans of varying colours and configurations were scattered across the expanded GM exhibit (including a highly-modified tuner and a touring car version). The Canadian International Auto Show also saw GM feature the Buick Regal eAssist as well as the ‘not-for-the-United States’ Chevrolet Orlando.
Grant the fact the Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette are strong brand symbols, it is a relief those vehicles were prominent in Toronto. In fact, on special display for 2011 was an separate exhibit called Icons: Camaro and Firebird. Dedicated to an smaller floor of the convention center were special edition, Indianapolis 500 pace cars and vehicles relating to show business highlighting the best of almost 45 years of the General Motors pony car. A Pontiac Firebird paying tribute to the Knight Industries Two Thousand (affectionately known as K.I.T.T.) from the 1980s TV crime-fighting show Knight Rider and both Camaros representing the vehicle modes for the 2007 Transformers movie character Bumblebee are some stars of the special display. A more modern superstar, the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 surprised with its appearance within the Icons: Camaro and Firebird section. Less than a week prior to its debut in Chicago by General Motors, a blue coupe version shown is actually linked to aftermarket company SLP. Only an hour down the road, the Oshawa, Ontario plant will produce the factory version models of the Camaro ZL1 in very limited quantities.
Three and a half hours of press conferences and vehicle unveils concluded with the Kia Motors exhibit. Covering only a small space of the convention center, Kia’s new Optima and Optima Hybrid supplied a big sense of growth for the South Korea-based auto company. Providing a guide to the brand’s styling direction, the concept Kia Ray was included within the showcase.
Having enjoyed an experience comparing closely to Christmas in just the morning of the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show, I awaited what would be a high-energy afternoon at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC). Taking in a lunch break, members of the media were granted the distinct pleasure of eating within sight of freshly-minted automobiles. From where I sat, I overlooked the Hyundai Equus just ahead of the large, south end windows. Looking at the CBC building across the Toronto city street, the overcast day of this unseasonably warm February day was greatly contrasted by the bright lights of Canadian and regional premieres of new automobiles.
The first press conference following lunch was for the vibrant automotive group of Hyundai. Skewing into a higher class of motor vehicles including the Genesis and now the Equus, Hyundai has also devoted efforts to revitalizing their traditional small car roots. First time shown on Canadian soil, the 2012 Hyundai Veloster three-door was unwrapped. Along with the snappy Veloster, some attention was devoted to a redesigned Hyundai Accent. With small car being more in vogue North of the border, the Canadian automotive press were reacting to the Accent and the Veloster quite enthusiastically. The electrified Blue Will concept, first shown through last year’s auto show circuit completed the showmanship at the Hyundai exhibit as attention prepared to be shifted to Volkswagen.
Volkswagen and the later Chrysler presentations involved their pricey Super Bowl advertisements from just a few weeks prior. For Volkswagen, the little Darth Vader spot initiated the Canadian unveiling for the 2012 Volkswagen Passat. Overall forecasting to sell 50,000 vehicles in just Canada alone through 2011, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group Canada John White had optimism for their entire vehicle lineup which includes two awards from AJAC (Automotive Journalist Association of Canada). The 2011 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Clean Diesel and Volkswagen Touareg both received commendations through the auto show. Mr White also informed press on a reworked Tiguan which will be brought light Geneva Motor Show and the 2012 Beetle.
Remaining on the German continent of motor vehicles, Mercedes-Benz provided a packed assortment of vehicles ranging from the Smart Fortwo to a Mercedes-Benz SLS. Unveiling two cars at the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show, the first car was an ultra-exclusive, Canada-only version of the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG called the Affalterbach Edition. Offering more universal appeal, the cover was removed from the second car, a red 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster which includes a convertible hardtop featuring the Magic Sky Control glass roof.
Experiencing a sense of a renaissance spirit from the Chrysler display, heavily revised lineup shows a lot of personality. Centering their presentation around the Chrysler 200, 300 and the Dodge Charger sedans, their infusion of emotion into the American auto company is an impressive feat for Chrysler based on the reality they were evidently going to have the hardest time of the Detroit three automakers. Along the other vehicles being shown off in the Chrysler display was the Ram Power Wagon and the Dodge Challenger SRT8 392. The buzz-worthy vehicle for Chrysler Group at last year’s auto show, the Fiat 500 migrated into a separate exhibit just across the floor. A subcompact vehicle, the Fiat 500 strength came in shear numbers as a fleet lined a pathway inside of the convention center.
Showing off their future runner for an expanded Prius product line, Toyota gave Canadian a first look new at the 2012 Prius v hybrid. One the another side of the exhibit as well as on a vastly different vehicle category, an example of 500 Lexus LFA supercars provided some eye candy to what is often a rather dull product display from Toyota. In a relieve for 2011, the cars remained the largest focus of this auto show gather. Last year, much of talk from Toyota centered on calming worries of their products’ sudden and unpredictable acceleration problem.
Past three o’clock in the afternoon, the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show media day has entered the seven-hour mark with 13 auto manufacturers providing status updates. Of course, I’m not complaining during this day of automotive nirvana but I did need to load a third camera battery prior to final model introductions which included an anticipated conference with Audi on deck.
Unveiling the 2012 Audi A6 sedan to the Canadian public, flash bulbs illuminated the display once a new high-end edition of the TT sports car. Less than a week after its North American premiere at the Chicago Auto Show, the 340 horsepower Audi TT RS dazzled in a sharp red paint vividly against the white and silver. Also at the show but making a quiet first appearance inside the MTCC is the Audi A7. Introduced just six months ago, the A7’s rather humdrum reception is perhaps the result of rapidly-changing fashion of the premium luxury car category. However, I still find the Audi A7 a trendy number which makes much more sensible choice in a Canadian weather climate.
Having visited almost every automobile company’s exhibit, the Subaru exhibit presented the final concept car of the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show media day. With opening gull-wing doors, the Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept features many innovations including EyeSight system as well as a 2-liter, turbocharged boxer engine connected in unison with an electric motor to all-wheel drive.
With Media Day drawing closer to the end, the last auto manufacturer to hold a press conference was Saab Automobiles. Occupying a small space on the lower convention center with only three vehicles, the Swedish automobile’s display is certainly not contending with the floor exhibits. For Saab, the simple presence of the car company at the Canadian International Auto Show demonstrated a hard effort exerted by the openly independent brand. Providing a narrated view into a bright window for Saab’s future, executive director of North American sales John Anderson gave encouragement to the Swedish auto maker’s cause of producing individualized premium vehicles.
As the Saab press conference concluded in a crowded hallway with over 100 members of the media, more room was afforded to press when the Canadian International Auto Show opened up a major display called Concorso Exotica. Showcasing the some of the finest exotic cars the world has to offer, past and present was well-represented. Modern Porsches, Lotus and Aston Martin models shared space with classic museum-quality pieces within Concorso Exotica which included a rare spectacle of seeing a total of five Lamborghinis in one place outside of a dealership. Lamborghini’s arch rival Ferrari had firm representation at Concorso Exotica. Providing a small snapshot of the Italian sports car builder’s history starting with a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT Series II Cabriolet. The progression of Ferrari’s high-performance lifestyle would continue to be told at Concorso Exotica through a Ferrari F40 and modern cars such as the 599 GTB Fiorano and the brand-new 458 Italia.
An adjacent room to Concorso Exotica contained the Auto Show’s annual Cruise Nationals exhibit of antique vehicles. Presenting 10 finalist from what was once 1,400 vehicles shown throughout Cruise Nationals regional events in Canada, this year’s ultimate winner was a yellow 1969 Chevy Nova SS.
After 9 hours of enjoying a worthwhile time between the greatest vehicles of 2011 and 2012, the media day of the 2011 Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto concluded with the knowledge that enthusiasm is back in the auto industry. Enduring factors including a world financial crisis, changing social attitudes and even the inclement weather of Canada, the automobile continues to adapt to the people who rely on this transportation.
Image source: Chris Nagy
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