Day 2 highlights of AJAC Canadian Car of the YearDay two of this year’s event saw us move to midsize crossovers and a handful of performance models, which we had a chance to take on track at the Driver Development Track (DDT) at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
While day one was filled with sedans, hatches and crossovers of a compact persuasion, day two of this year’s event saw us move to midsize crossovers and a handful of performance models, which we had a chance to take on track at the Driver Development Track (DDT) at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
We’ll get to those. First:
Check out the highlights from Day 1
The 2017 Chrysler Pacifica’s practicalityThis is a minivan, yes, but it’s pretty much unlike any minivan you’ve seen previously. For starters, its long-ish hood gives it an almost cab-rearward profile more akin to one of those pesky 7-passeger crossovers that have been stealing customers away from minivans over the last decade or so. Those customers obviously haven’t seen nor sat in a Pacifica. If they did, they’d no doubt be impressed about how well-appointed it is, how accessible (you can walk between the 2nd row captain’s chairs to get to the third row, or flip the former forward) and they haven’t felt how well it drives. It’s quiet, has good Pentastar V6 power and manages to keep body roll well in check, even though it’s a tall drink of water. The minivan is back.
The 2017 GMC Acadia’s interior trimA digital gauge cluster, big, bright infotainment display and all manner of open pore wood and luxurious leather upholstery make for a vehicle that would seem just as much at home in the luxury crossover category at this year’s event. That’s fitting in that if the Cadillac XT5 didn’t exist, this particular Acadia would be the luxury crossover in The General’s line-up.
The 2017 Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe’s monstrous powertrainGermany may be talking about banning all internal combustion-powered cars by 2030, but that hasn’t stopped Merc-AMG from delivering what is likely the most ornery car at the event. Yes, at 510 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque, the numbers are sure to impress. More than that, though, is just how they manifest themselves in a fury of hollering, popping, cracking V8 power whenever you start to push the C 63 S, as we did on the DDT track. It’s twin-turbocharged, but you wouldn’t know it with just how instantaneous all that power is, with nary a hint of turbo lag. The AMG Speedshift 7-speed auto does a good job of keeping everything in check, and the chassis and steering can actually keep up with all that fuel-powered-fury. AMG GT? What AMG GT?
The way the 2017 Ford Focus RS makes you feel like a track starActivate “Track” mode in this latest version of Ford’s hot-selling hatch, and you’ll be treated to something as close as you’ll get to a race car in the hot-hatch world; just add a roll cage and crash helmet, and you should be good to go. Track mode adjusts the damper settings so the body quickly gets yanked down back to the chassis over even the biggest bumps, while a pleasantly-direct steering rack is good at letting you know what’s going on underneath the wheels. There’s also all-wheel drive, so while a little slip is permitted from the powertrain (more if you select “Drift” mode), you’ll never be so out of sorts that you can’t rein it all in. And that’s on sport tires in near-freezing temperatures. Of course, the RS does turn to the World Rally Championship car for inspiration, after all. And those boys are always in adverse conditions.
The way the 2017 Porsche 911 does everything you’d expect it toIt’s one of those intangible things, really. How you can hop into a 911, and the road (or track) just unfolds before you, framed on either side by two pontoon-like fenders. Every apex is perfectly clipped, every steering input – even though it’s an electronic set-up – communicated to the axle perfectly. This is all before we even begin to talk about the powertrain, mind; it’s turbocharged this year, making for a nice, flat swell of torque that keeps on pushing. Just when you think it’s about to run out of steam, there’s yet another dollop of thrust forcing you forward.