Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Media Day Memories of 2016 Canadian International AutoShow

Photo Credit:Chris Nagy


It was another wild weather outing for me trekking down to Toronto on Thursday for what is one of the most special annual traditions for me. On the plus side this year, the worst temperature I endured was only -17 degrees Celsius instead of -23 degrees Celsius. You may ask me what propels someone to undertake foot travel when the vile force we call winter is at all might. The 2016 Canadian International AutoShow is the answer I proudly give.

Since 2009, my devotion to automotive journalism has been rewarded with an advance viewing of some of the greatest new cars and special displays. Always logging around a healthy weight in equipment for what works out to be roughly ten hours of attendance at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, I return tired but incredibly fulfilled with what has been presented to me. Some would think ten hours is more than enough time to absorb all the information at a display for automobiles. I must beg the pardon of those individuals since the time simply flies. With exception to the approximately 20 minutes waiting in line for the media lunch in line ups you would only see if the food was free, the day was a very fluid event.

My privilege for attending media day at the 2016 Canadian International AutoShow comes with a special responsibility I press myself to deliver. Through my words and my images, I must share with readers or followers the best moments at the 2016 edition of the Toronto automotive exhibition.
 

Driving Trend for the 2016 Canadian International AutoShow: It’s Hip to be Square


Photo Credit:Chris Nagy



With every auto show, there is usually a series of profiled vehicles that follow an outlying pattern. Sometimes it is crossover vehicles, electric vehicles or big trucks. Last year it was the 21st century high-performance with the appearance of the Dodge SRT Hellcats, the 2017 Ford GT and F-150 Raptor as well as the production example of the Acura NSX.

For 2016, several production and concept vehicles seem to gravitate around a genre of practical motoring. Production vehicles such as the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica , Honda Ridgeline, Mazda CX-9 and Chevrolet Cruze Hatch are key vehicles demonstrating a livable, relatable theme. Concept vehicles also followed this 2016 Canadian International AutoShow trend as the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Toyota’s global premiere of the U Squared utility showed unique interpretations in versatility. While indulging in the framework of practicality, each product exhibited how ‘hip to be square’ Canadians can be on the road for 2016 and beyond.


Most Deserving AJAC Car of the Year Award Winner: 2016 Honda Civic

Photo Credit:Chris Nagy


The Honda Civic has done a lot of things right in the Canadian market to win the best-selling car crown every year for 18 consecutive years. For 2016, Honda has brought forth a radically updated version of their compact car. Perhaps one of the most significant generational shifts for the Civic since the car officially crossed over from the subcompact to compact class in 2001, the tenth generation edition is the longer, offered with turbocharged engine power and boasts a more comfortable interior filled with the high-tech features 21st century motorists expect.

Realizing that big changes can potentially shift the pendulum of motorist opinions aggressively in one direction or the other, Honda’s move with the tenth generation Civic has been resoundingly positive. Already being crowned Car of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, it was the Canadian press members’ turn to honour a brilliant 2016 Honda Civic in Toronto.

While touting the Canadian premiere of the 2017 Ridgeline pickup truck at their press conference in the afternoon of media day, Honda also proudly celebrated the Canadian-built Civic sedan’s newest accolade.


Most Unfairly Exhausting Presentation: Hyundai

Photo Credit:Chris Nagy


Every year at the auto show for anyone who spent the entire day at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, there’s a point in media day where the length of the experience catches up to you. By the time media day reached the Hyundai display for their presentation, the schedule was more than 20 minutes overdue. It’s a shame by the time the growing Korean-based auto manufacturer approached the microphone, the afternoon felt like the end of an endurance race.

Hyundai’s presentation was comprehensive and even informative. Revealing two concept cars, the Santa Cruz pickup as well as the motorcycle-inspired Enduro crossover vehicle (an ironic name based on the before-mentioned approach to a period of exhaustion for some media members), Hyundai also showcased the G90, the first component of their new Genesis luxury brand. In addition to the cars, take did cover plenty of extra details of their brand's involvement in Canada including their sponsorship of the PGA Scramble of Canada (a series of amateur golf events in the country). Hyundai also took time to boast about their use of high-strength steel originating from their own steel subsidiary. In an interactive display, the strength of the material was demonstrated in comparison to a lower strength steel.

The presentation itself was terrific and memorable so maybe my tiredness at that day serves as an anchor.  


Not Hiding Anything Award: Lack of TDI Diesels from Volkswagen

Photo Credit:Chris Nagy


If you walk around the Volkswagen display, you may notice one long-lauded technology is conspicuously absent. The lack of TDI diesel powered models in the Volkswagen display has not gain unnoticed. Naturally, since the revelation of their diesel emissions cheating, a long-touted and beloved component of the Volkswagen stable has become a liability.


Showstopper-turned Wallflower: 2017 Acura NSX

Photo Credit:Chris Nagy



Acura seems to realize four years of teasing us with their supercar design have given them little new to report. Beside their brand parent Honda, the Acura luxury division didn’t even host a press conference. Sitting in the back of a brand display was the production Acura NSX. The nearly $250,000 Canadian 2017 model year Acura NSX stood in a classy coloured called Nouvelle Blue Pearl.

Maybe it was in a corner but the NSX supercar’s low key presence did not go unnoticed. A beaming example of hybrid performance, positioning of the vehicle at a standstill is really irrelevant. There wasn’t an auto journalist in the building who would refuse the honour of setting that 2017 NSX in motion.    


Least Surprising Unveiling: Mazda CX-9

Photo Credit:Chris Nagy

Mazda has a lot to be optimistic about with the new CX-9 crossover. It looks stunning as the latest recipient of the brand’s KODO design language. With this particular model, the tightness of the headlights and the elegant direction of the body lines speaks high-class. A turbocharged gasoline engine created with Mazda’s SkyActiv technology powering the CX-9 is also a step the Japanese-derived auto brand heavily touts.

As amazing as the Mazda CX-9 is, the presentation in Toronto was a modest affair. Mazda didn’t even bother disguising the all-new crossover flagship with a cover or sheet. In a way I admire Mazda for that move since the Canadian International AutoShow is usually a chance for already unveiled vehicles to be unveiled again. Seeing a “North American Debut” or “Canadian premiere” kinda equates to Christmas for a child who knows every gift they are receiving.


Surprise of the Show: FCA Commitment to Canada

Photo Credit:Chris Nagy



A couple of years ago, the Canadian International AutoShow opening presentation at FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) was dominated by Sergio Marchionne defending a call for a gigantic government investment into the auto company days ahead of the 2014 auto show in Toronto. After what was seen as a corporate strong-arming, cooler heads prevailed with FCA ultimately decided to remain true to Canada and the country’s workforce.

The Canadian introduction of the new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica and Pacifica Hybrid minivans held added prominence as the vehicle will be constructed in Windsor. Along with the already announced production in Windsor, the new minivan line is slated to create 1,200 jobs. The number is double the forecast creation for the Windsor plant.


Star Power of the Show: Nissan Brings the Gridiron to CIAS

Photo Credit:Chris Nagy



The final major auto manufacturer’s presentation featured some sport stars supporting some rugged, monstrous machines. Presenting the Nissan Titan Warrior Concept to Canada was a member of each football team of the CFL. The Nissan press display was joined by another sports personality. Among the burliest stars at the Nissan presentation was TSN’s Kate Beirness. I’m kidding about the description of the ravishing Kate Beirness but her voice was a touchdown to what was a long media day.


Honourable mention for star power at the 2016 Canadian International AutoShow also goes to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Jaguar Land Rover and Mitsubishi. Immediately following the Canadian introduction of the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, Canadian Ralph Gilles appeared onstage. The presence of Jaguar’s Director of Design Ian Callum also served as a powerful voice alongside the new F-Pace crossover. Finally, Mitsubishi recruited the Toronto Rock lacrosse team for the North American premiere of the Mirage G4 sedan.


Vehicle of Amusement: The Tesla Model X

Photo Credit:Chris Nagy



Every year, the Auto Exotica display could potentially be significant as the most expensive square footage space in Toronto based on the ultra-exotic cars used to occupy the floor. In an attempt to accomplish this potential feat, the 2016 Canadian International AutoShow has assembled some rare and sought-after modern vehicles. A Pagani Huayra, Rolls-Royce Wraith and a Ferrari 488 GTB are among exotic, precision-built wheels presented for view in this year. Perhaps the most expensive car at the show this year is the 1996 McLaren F1 GTR with an estimated value more than 13 million dollars.

Auto Exotica for 2016 also possesses the Tesla Model X in what is said to be its global auto show debut. Needless to say, the all-electric crossover vehicle was a popular temptation. So popular, I have once again been denied the opportunity to seat inside a Tesla. At every auto show or anywhere a Tesla vehicle is on display, there’s always a crowd who spends about 10-15 minutes inside. I swear small groups were simply entertained by the opening and closing of the Tesla Model X's Falcon Wing rear passenger doors.


I will have expanded coverage of the 2016 Canadian International AutoShow on Car FYI in the coming days.

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