So you’d like to visit the Canadian International AutoShow this year, but you’ve only got so much time to spend. Focusing on the new cars and trucks that have been the stars of Detroit and Paris is a good way to go. Here’s my list of the debutantes that you should not miss:
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray:
It was the undoubted star at Detroit last month; it will reign here too. It’s as all-new as a car gets these days — I think the latch for the removable roof panel is the only carry-over part. It’s not without controversy — some feel it looks too much like the current Camaro. Two trivia tidbits for you: Is this the first Corvette with a rear-quarter window? And is it the first Corvette that doesn’t have round tail lights?
No longer branded as a Dodge, the new Viper nonetheless sticks to its roots, with a massive V10 engine, and swoopy styling, but with a vastly improved interior. Better ride, handling and equipment too. It’s just a coupe, for now.
We’ve been teased by this car in concept form for some years; this may be your first chance to see it up close. The spiritual successor to the famed E-Type, it should help reinforce Jaguar’s comeback in the hands of its Indian ownership.
Speaking of comebacks, Maserati ranks right up there with Lazarus. Since it has nestled in the comforting bosom of former archrival Ferrari within the Fiat conglomerate, the company has produced stunning car after stunning car, and the new Quattroporte continues that tradition. (Isn’t there something about the Italian language? “kwa-tro-POR-tay” just sounds so much more exotic than “four-door”.) Oh; you may have to ask the lovely show girls to back away so you can see the car’s lines. That is why you’re here, isn’t it?
Honda Urban Concept:
We can’t focus entirely on exotics here. This rather unexpected hit of the Detroit show presages a new, Mexico-built Fit-based crossover that will enter our market next year. Looks to be stylish and functional.
Staying with “real” cars for a moment, Toronto will be the first North American showing of the new Rondo (its world debut was last fall in Paris as the Carens). Shorter (in length as well as height) and narrower but with a longer wheelbase and fully-redesigned interior, the new Rondo is vastly prettier than before (which isn’t hard) yet has even better functionality.
The latest iteration in a series of concepts is bringing us ever closer to the production version of this car, expected in 2015. Like the original NS-X almost 25 years ago, this one promises to usher in a new level of high-techery from the Honda group.
This might be the most significant car on display at the show. If Mazda’s SkyActive Diesel engine really can produce the power, torque, and fuel consumption it promises, yet stay within emissions limits without expensive additive add-ons, it might finally move Diesel away from the fanatics into the mainstream where it belongs.
Ford Fiesta ST:
“ST” has always meant a hot-performing car in Ford-land in Europe. One of the top benefits of the company’s “one-Ford” policy is that we are finally getting essentially the same versions as Europe does. This time it’s the Fiesta’s turn, with a 200-horsepower EcoBoost turbo engine, with suspension, seats and looks to match.
Volkswagen Cross Coupe concept:
This vehicle, also fresh from Detroit, is very close to the mid-size Crossover that VW will launch next year. We won’t get the Diesel-hybrid powertrain that this concept has; our fuel just isn’t expensive enough to justify the upfront cost. It will however offer gasoline, Diesel, and gasoline-hybrid powertrains.
Cadillac ELR Coupe:
I’ll toss in this bonus car, simply because I hear it might only be in Toronto for the media day because it has to be off to the Chicago show next week. Regular readers know that I believe electric cars are the next big thing, and always will be; the economics make no sense now, and probably never will. But as a luxury car? Maybe a different story. And this Cadillac, a heavy remake of the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric, also shows that electric cars can be gorgeous.
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