Saturday, February 27, 2021

Canadian International AutoShow Revisited: 2011 Edition

2011 Canadian International Auto Show ford c-max
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Theme of the Show: Discover Connect Experience

The 2011 Canadian International AutoShow left me with the thought of how much could change between a 12-month span (perhaps that is more apparent in 2021). After a somewhat subdued 2010 car show in Toronto, the last year brought a deep sense of excitement in many forms. Design, performance and innovation were all part of an auto show that started with an aerobatic display part of Ford’s media presentation unveiling the C-Max and the Focus Electric. 

Along with the welcoming presence of new vehicles from major automakers, the 2011 Canadian International AutoShow was the first to feature a dedicated display of some of the most opulent vehicles to be found in the country. 


Notable Vehicles:

Ford Focus Electric

2011 Canadian International Auto Show ford focus electric front
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


The auto company that played a huge role in directing the automobile to gasoline propulsion, Ford Motor Company sought a manner to begin the conversion to battery powered motoring that would be as fruitful as the Model T. The Focus Electric used the basis of a five-door hatchback as the blue oval’s first widely available road-going all-electric vehicle. Propelled through a permanent magnet traction motor generating an impressive 188 lb-ft of torque and fed by energy from a climate-controlled, 23-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the 2012 Ford Focus Electric came heavily-loaded with standard features including 17-inch wheels, MyFord Touch with MyView and a nine-speaker audio system. When the Ford Focus Electric was released later in 2012, the vehicle sold in very small numbers in Canada. Similar to the Chevrolet Volt, a higher than palatable starting price likely hindered the Ford Focus Electric grander impact on the automotive market. In Canada, the starting price for the 2012 Focus Electric was $41,199 though tax credits existed in the province of Ontario and in Quebec beginning with the 2012 calendar year. The Focus Electric’s rated driving range of 76 miles (122.3 kilometers) was also a major deterrent for many customers. 


Mini Paceman Concept

2011 Canadian International Auto Show mini paceman
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


The three-door hatchback shape of the original Mini is a vehicle that could be quickly identified by even budding automotive enthusiasts. When the compact car was re-imagined and released for the 21st century, the three-door body style was pivotal to the Mini Cooper’s existence. Planning to make an ambitious, new step for the Mini brand with the planned release of the five-door crossover called the Countryman in 2011. As the Mini Countryman was being prepared for dealerships, the marque shared a design proposal for a three-door version of their new crossover vehicle. Debuting at the 2011 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Mini Paceman Concept featured a sporty take on the compact crossover with 19-inch wheels, a ‘helmet’ roof and a 1.6-liter twin-scroll turbocharged engine from the Mini John Cooper Works package. Mini’s ALL4 permanent all-wheel drive system distributed the power from the 211 horsepower engine of the Paceman Concept. B the time the concept vehicle arrived at the 2011 Canadian International AutoShow Mini had already confirmed production of the three-door companion to the Countryman. The Mini Paceman Concept arrived for sale in the 2013 model year but was withdrawn from the brand’s lineup after 2016. 


Audi TT RS

2011 Canadian International Auto Show Audi TTRS
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


After more than two decades on sale in Canada entering 2021, Audi’s TT sports car popularly applied the German premium brand’s distinctive style with accessible performance. Considered a challenger to the Porsche Boxster and the BMW Z4, the Audi TT’s ace has been the availability of quattro all-wheel drive. Though an attractive machine in North America in 2009, Audi initially forgot audiences on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean when they made the compact sports car the latest member of their high performance ‘RS’ lineup. Combining a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine with quattro all-wheel drive, the Audi TT RS was hard to ignore leading to an aggressive push to bring the car to the United States and Canada. In 2011, North America’s version of the TT RS would be moved by 335 horsepower (bumped to 360 horsepower ahead of its 2012 model year launch) channelled to the wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. Only offered in the hardtop body style in Canada, the TT RS would be able to rocket from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 4.3 seconds.  


Lexus LFA

Chris Nagy 2011 Canadian International Auto Show 805 Lexus LFA
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Debuting as a brand in North America in late 1989, the Lexus marque has done a fine job establishing contemporary luxury alongside parent brand Toyota’s devotion to quality. Lexus also gained recognition for being a forerunner in the employment of hybrid drivetrain technology and their 2007 Lexus LS sedan that employed an automated parallel parking assist system. In 2009, the premium brand would seek the greatest attention in its two decades in the public eye revealing Lexus’ first high-performance supercar. The Lexus LFA displayed high speed extremes featuring a car make’s design language in its loudest presentation. A low road-hugging profile and sharp lines were shaped with the extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic for the body as well as the chassis of the LFA supercar. Propelled through a 552-horsepower 4.8-liter V-10 engine linked to a Formula 1-style Automated Sequential Gearbox capable of lightning-fast shifts, the Lexus LFA moved from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds and achieved a top speed of 202 miles per hour (325 kilometers per hour). The Lexus LFA appearing at the 2011 Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto was only 1 of 500 examples that would roll out of Toyota’s Motomachi plant. With a retail price of $375,000 US when production started in late 2010, buyers of the Lexus LFA initially accepted a two-year lease before purchasing. 


2012 Hyundai Veloster

Chris Nagy 2011 Canadian International Auto Show 614 Hyundai Veloster
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


As Hyundai began to climb the automotive world, their expansion consisted heavily of developing leading examples of vehicles in existing categories such as the Elantra, Sonata and Santa Fe. However, the South Korean-based automaker’s rise would include a share of unique, personality-filled products. The dynamically-styled 2012 Hyundai Veloster appearance at the 2011 Canadian International AutoShow made an ambitious move to check off the wants of many buyers. For sport compact performance fans, the Veloster featured a slick exterior with a sloping roof line as well as ample momentum from a 138-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Hyundai’s Gamma engine paired with a new EcoShift dual-clutch transmission satisfied fuel savers with highway fuel consumption of 4.9 liters per 100 kilometers. Finally, the Hyundai Veloster’s category-leading interior space as well as a unique third door gave buyers a sensational sense of practicality. Going on sale in Canada at a base price less than $20,000 for the 2012 model year, the Hyundai Veloster sold briskly   


HTT Plethore LC-750

2011 Canadian International Auto Show HTT Plethore Rear
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Canada has a long-running history of manufacturing vehicles for auto companies but the country has not had a brand we could attach our national pride. Described as Canada’s exclusive supercar, the HTT Plethore LC-750 was conceived by a Quebec-based start-up. Appearing within the Concorso Exotica exhibition at the 2011 Canadian International AutoShow, the striking Plethore LC-750 utilized carbon fiber in the construction of the body and the monocoque chassis that is reinforced with a roll cage structure. Accessed through remote-controlled scissor doors, a three-passenger interior with the driver centrally positioned allows the supercar to operate with near 50/50 weight distribution. The power source for the HTT Plethore LC-750 was a mid-mounted supercharged 7.0-liter V-8 engine rated with to produce 750 horsepower through a six-speed sequential transmission. A twin-camera rear viewing system and large 15-inch AP Racing disc brakes are among other features included on the Canadian-built supercar. Intended as a low volume premium vehicle, the exact number of Plethore LC-750 supercar produced by HTT Automobile has not been clearly specified.  


Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept

Chris Nagy 2011 Canadian International Auto Show 850 Subaru tourer concept
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada

By 2011, every automaker was required to answer the question regarding their plans in regards to improving the efficiency of their product lineups. A small but revered auto company, Subaru responded to the future of motoring with a bold concept. First shown at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, the Subaru Hybrid Tourer Concept demonstrated a merging of the brand’s all-wheel drive and boxer-style engine with electric propulsion. During normal driving, a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline would move the front wheels of the Hybrid Tourer Concept while a rear-mounted 27-kilowatt electric motor that propels the rear wheels at low speeds or when extra power is required. Slightly shorter than a Subaru Legacy sedan at the auto company’s Toronto display in 2011, the Hybrid Tourer Concept boasted a highly ergonomic interior accessed through gullwing doors. The concept car also touted Subaru’s advanced electronic safety technology named EyeSight. For the 2022 model year, Subaru’s EyeSight technology is available on all models.    


Saab 9-4X

Chris Nagy 2011 Canadian International Auto Show Saab 94x
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada

Entering 2011, the future of Swedish auto company Saab appeared to be looking up on the surface. Affiliated and later owned by General Motors for more than two decades, the bankruptcy by the American auto conglomerate eventually led to Dutch sport car company Spyker N.V. purchasing Saab. The deal not only maintained a supply deal with GM for the 9-3 and 9-5 but secured the release of the Saab 9-4X crossover constructed on the same platform as the recently-renewed Cadillac SRX. Available with a 3.0-liter naturally-aspirated engine and a turbocharged 2.8-liter V-6 powerplant for the Aero trim level, the 2011 Saab 9-4X featured some of the brand’s design trademarks on the outside and an ignition button on the center console part of the interior. Under the new ownership arrangement, Saab had plans to build a successor to the 9-3 and made an agreement to use BMW powerplants with the upcoming vehicle. Unfortunately, the Spyker-owned Saab ran out of capital into 2011 and would file for their bankruptcy before the year ended. Lasting two model years, only 814 examples of the Saab 9-4X were produced. 

Nissan Leaf

Chris Nagy 2011 Canadian International Auto Show nissan leaf
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada

With numerous of concept or production promoting hybrid and battery electric propulsion during recent Canadian International AutoShow event one vehicle appearing at the show’s 2011 edition would be historically recognized with a more enduring reputation the before-mentioned Ford Focus Electric as well as the Chevrolet Volt. A compact yet efficiently designed all-electric hatchback, the Nissan Leaf would play a major role in mobilizing drivers seeking an alternative to the internal combustion engine. Among the 2011 Leaf’s key features were a low drag coefficient, an 80-kilowatt AC synchronous electric motor, remote connectivity to the vehicle through CARWINGS telematics system (later known as NissanConnect) and a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack comprising of 48 modules. Charging of the 2011 Nissan Leaf is accomplished through ports located behind a front panel with a 220-volt quick charging port available capable of replenishing the lithium-ion battery to 80 percent in 30 minutes. Despite having an EPA-rated driving range of 117 kilometers, the early Nissan Leaf proved popular with nearly 100,000 vehicles sold worldwide after three full years on the market with nearly total 1,000 units sold in Canada by the end of 2013.



Special Exhibitions:


Icons: Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird Showcase

2011 Canadian International Auto Show camaro pace cars
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


A year later a display devoted to Carroll Shelby, a man who contributed in striking fear in the hearts of fans of General Motors’ bow tie and arrowhead badges during the 1960s, the 2011 Canadian International AutoShow gave the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird the stage of level 700 of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Approaching the 45th anniversary of sales for the first Camaro back in 1966, the exhibition showcased many examples of Chevrolet’s pony car as well as its sister vehicle produced by the now-defunct Pontiac brand assembled on the GM’s F-body platform until 2002. Examples of the four generations of the F-body version of the Camaro and Firebird include a wide selection of Indianapolis 500 pace car replicas including an example of the popular 1969 Chevrolet Camaro convertible. Other vehicles found in the Icons: Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird Showcase was a replica of Knight Riders’ KITT, a Don Yenko Super Camaro and a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am Special Edition resembling the car that Burt Reynolds drove in the hit movie ‘Smokey and the Bandit’. Despite the demise of the Pontiac brand in 2010, one modified 2010 Chevrolet Camaro by Lingenfelter Performance Engineering gave a peek at what a modern Firebird would look like.


Concorso Exotica

Chris Nagy 2011 Canadian International Auto Show 1018 callaway lambo
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


In addition to seeing the automobiles that is set to influence our everyday life through the present and future, auto shows are a delightful time to get a taste of what only fantasy would otherwise bring close. Concorso Exotica paired modern and vintage vehicles from premium makes such as Lamborghini, Ferrari, Lotus and Aston Martin. During the 2011 Canadian International AutoShow media day, a partnership between Lamborghini and Callaway Golf in the development of Forged Composite technology brought a modified Gallardo called the Concept S as well as a golf driving simulator (I tried it with a Callaway driver and just have to admit I am better versed in mini golf.) The special exhibition space for exotic and high-valued vehicles would remain a fixture for the Canadian International AutoShow following its appearance in 2011 but would receive a slightly revised name called ‘Auto Exotica’. 


Cruise Nationals

2011 Canadian International Auto Show 1969 Chevy Nova SS
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada

A traditional part of the Canadian International AutoShow, Cruise Nationals gathered 10 finalists judged to be the finest classic and custom vehicles found in shows surrounding the Toronto area. While the owners of all 10 vehicles selected received a $700 prize for appearing inside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, one would be judged as the grand champion. For the 2011 show, the 1969 Chevrolet Nova SS owned by Martin Mollot claimed top honours. The silver medalist was Albert Wester’s 1931 Cadillac Roadster while the bronze award went to Gary Nolan’s 1968 Dodge Charger R/T.


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