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Canadian International AutoShow Revisited: 2012 Edition

2012 Canadian International Auto Show Mazda Show Space
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada

Theme of the Show: The Next Dimension

By the time of the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow, I have attended the event for three consecutive years prior and twice on media day. There was a heightened sense of pep during the 2012 festivities each year since 2010 at this show featuring a lot of new vehicles with bold personalities. Between the manufacturer displays and the special exhibitions giving up a rare opportunity to see many historical vehicles for myself, the single day I attended the show flew by. 

With the notable vehicles I’m highlighting in this recap of the 2012 auto show in Toronto, there are a few omissions I’ve decided to leave out due to the article already being longer than I intended. The Mercedes-Benz SL 550, Audi Allroad, Scion FR-S, Infiniti Etherera and Mazda Shinari are among the splendid vehicles I regret having to cut. 

Notable Vehicles:

Ford Fusion

2012 Canadian International Auto Show 2013 Ford Fusion
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada

Showcasing the Focus compact in 2010 as well as the Focus Electric and C-Max at the following year’s Canadian International AutoShow, Ford Motor Company’s 2012 presentation at the event was one even more busy. In the middle of Ford’s ambitious plan of rolling out completely new or heavily-updated vehicles, the auto company’s attention turned to a dramatic redesign of their mid-sized sedan. Instantly creating a sensation with its Aston Martin-influenced exterior design that also married cues from the Evos Concept, the 2013 Ford Fusion featured a longer stance and increased powerplant diversity. In addition to three gasoline engines arriving with the Fusion for the 2013 model year, a hybrid and plug-in hybrid version would also be sold on the sedan’s architecture. The Ford Fusion would become a casualty of the automaker’s refocus on constructing crossover and trucks for the North American market with exception to the Mustang. Being a strong seller, the Fusion mid-sized sedan’s demise outlived the Focus and Taurus (both continue to survive overseas). Sales of the Focus in the United States dropped almost 64 percent from its peak between 2013 and 2020. In Canada, the sales decline of the Fusion was more substantial during the same time period with 5,152 sales in 2020 accounting for almost a quarter of the vehicle’s sales peak in 2013. 

Acura NSX Concept 

2012 Canadian International Auto Show acura nsx concept 3
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


At the arrival of the 1990s, Honda would enter the decade with a vehicle that tested the limits of the auto company’s engineering and design in a manner no other production car had done at the time. An all-out high performance sports car, NSX was more than an attention-grabbing mid-engined machine. The sports car would be an exhibit in motion of innovations such as VTEC engine, electric power steering and extensive aluminum construction that Honda would adopt across their vehicle line in the future. For Canadian audiences, the NSX was a stunning halo vehicle in the lineup of luxury brand Acura until 2000. At the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow, a full-size concept mockup of the resurrection of the Acura NSX hinted at the exterior for what would become a hybrid, all-wheel drive performance car. The NSX Concept’s 2012 appearance in Toronto would be part of a journey of development that would not bear fruit for Acura dealerships until the middle of 2016.

BMW Vision ConnectedDrive

2012 Canadian International Auto Show BMW Vision Connecteddrive image
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Debuting to the world in Geneva almost a full year prior to the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow, the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive concept was a two-door roadster that was not meant to dazzle with speed. Instead, the stunning low-profile vehicle served as an exercise for how BMW could create a design that merges time-tested elements of sport driving with sophisticated technologies. In addition to the BMW Vision ConnectedDrive’s long hood and short windscreen, the exterior design also featured sensors embedded into the front and rear lights while antennas are located where the side mirrors would normally be placed. The driver of the Vision ConnectedDrive would have access to a programmable instrument panel and a three-dimensional Head-Up Display system. A unique information centre on the passenger side of the concept allowed for a co-pilot experience where the occupant could process navigation details. 

Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

2012 Canadian International Auto Show camaro zl1 2012
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Unwilling to allow the Ford Mustang-based Shelby GT500 to continue to go uncontested as a super-high performance pony car, Chevrolet revived their ‘ZL1' moniker as they unveiled the most powerful Camaro ever built. Dropping a supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V-8 engine under the uniquely shaped hood of the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, up to 580 horsepower and 556 lb-ft of torque would be available to the driver. Capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in four seconds, top speed for the 2013 Camaro ZL1 was 184 miles per hour (296.1 kilometers per hour). Beyond the LSA powerplant, key components for the Chevrolet ZL1 included a beefed-up differential, Brembo brakes, coolers for engine oil, transmission and differential fluids as well as optional Magnetic Ride Control. Arriving for sale first as a hardtop, a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible would be offered for the 2014 model year.  

2013 Ford Escape

2012 Canadian International Auto Show ford escape blue
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Ford’s small sport utility vehicle, the Escape, had grown to become a hot-selling product in the major American auto brand’s lineup by 2012. In 2011, the Ford Escape sold at a record high number in the United States even as a complete re-engineering for the vehicle was planned for the 2013 model year. This all-new Escape appearing at the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow was more than just a substantial styling update. Available power from a new line of turbocharged EcoBoost engines, hands-free power tailgate and carpets made from recycled plastic bottles are some of the features incorporated on the 2013 Ford Escape. Although the 2013 Escape immediately continued the momentum of the previous generation vehicle, vehicles equipped with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder powerplant would be subject of several recalls. In the first issued in July of 2012, Ford Escapes packaged with the before-mentioned engine for a fuel line defect led the automakers to instruct owners not to drive the vehicles. Later in the same year, a coolant leak concern was the source for a second recall. The troubles with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost powerplant didn’t appear to affect sales for the new generation Escape. More than 52,000 Ford Escapes were sold in Canada through the 2014 calender year. In the United States, the crossover vehicle sold more than 300,000 units each year from 2014 to 2017. 

Jaguar C-X16

2012 Canadian International Auto Show ford escape blue
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


By 2012, British luxury car brand Jaguar was on course to revitalize their entire product line. A new Jaguar XJ sedan was released two years earlier and there were several hints at possible products for the future. The Jaguar C-X16 concept car shown on the floors of the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow drew crowds to what would be the shape for the marque’s upcoming sports car. The C-X16 concept car’s contribution to Jaguar’s F-Type is impossible to miss. The headlamp design and front air dam on the Jaguar C-X16 are identical to the production car while the entire silhouette shares its adherence to the timeless style of the E-Type hardtop. One characteristic found with the C-X16 that has yet to translate into one of Jaguar’s sports cars is a hybrid powerplant. A supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine was paired with a 70-kilowatt electric motor succeeding to propel the Jaguar C-X16 from 0 to 100 kilometers per hour in 4.4 seconds while obtaining impressive fuel mileage.

MINI Inspired by Goodwood

2012 Canadian International Auto Show MINI Goodwood 2
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Have you ever wondered how a MINI Cooper would appear if Rolls-Royce built it? In 2011, the fantasy was brought to life thanks to BMW Group’s ownership of both brands. The Diamond Black Metallic MINI Inspired by Goodwood brought to the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow would be one of only a thousand examples of one of the most extravagant compact cars on the market. Lounge leather seats finished in a Rolls-Royce sourced colour scheme Cornsilk, Lambwool floor mats, cashmere headliner and sun visors as well as interior grab handles made in a burr walnut veneer are among the unique luxury touches applied to the cabin of the exclusive Mini Cooper. A turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder propelled the MINI Inspired by Goodwood that rode on 17-inch light alloy wheels. American pricing for the limited edition MINI was $52,000 including a $700 destination charge. The MINI Inspired by Goodwood may be one of the smallest vehicles to feature such a strong linage with Rolls-Royce.

Subaru XV Crosstrek

Subaru XV Crosstrek at 2012 Canadian International AutoShow
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


An auto brand credited in part for pioneering the modern merger of a car-like profile with truck-styled versatility, Subaru made an addition to the North American crossover vehicle portfolio for the 2013 model year with the XV Crosstrek. Based on the same platform as the compact Impreza, the Subaru XV Crosstrek boasted an appearance combining elements of ruggedness and sport. The 2013 Subaru XV Crosstrek distinguishes itself with a uniquely aggressive front end, 8.7 inches of ground clearance, body-colour matching spoiler and an interior featuring a multifunction display as well as plenty of storage. Subaru’s newest crossover incorporated the brand’s customary Symmetrical All-Wheel Driver paired with Boxer engine. Achieving a fuel economy of 7.1 liters per 100 kilometers on the highway, the XV Crosstrek lineup would add a hybrid model for the 2014 model year improving city fuel consumption. The ‘XV’ was dropped from the Subaru Crosstrek brand in 2016.     

Dodge Dart

2012 Canadian International Auto Show Toronto Dodge Dart by Mopar
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Almost named the Zipp at its name of release in 1959 for the 1960 model year, the Dodge Dart was an instant sales success being a stylish, powerful and versatile model. The Dart played a major role in cementing the Dodge brand as the sixth most popular in the United States during 1960 selling 210,000 vehicles more than the previous year. In 1963, the Dart name would be attached to Dodge’s dependable compact entry and would remain in the role until 1976. In 2012, the Chrysler Group/Fiat Group merger was still on a path to determine how to revibrate the North American product lineup by finding synergies with vehicles from their Italian suitor. Replacing the aging Dodge Caliber, the new 2013 Dart would use a modified platform based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. Existing only as a four-door sedan, the 2013 Dodge Dart featured standard power from a 2.0-liter Tigershark four-cylinder engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission. A larger 2.4-liter powerplant and a turbocharged engine were also offered on higher trim levels. Starting price for the 2013 Dodge Dart was $15,995 in both the United States and Canada. Though the vehicle attempted to capture Dodge’s brand personality and boasted an available taillamp assembly with 152 LEDs, 8.4-inch touchscreen and customization offered with more than 150 Mopar accessories, the Dart failed to resonate with drivers and the model was dropped in Canada after the 2016 model year.

Volkswagen Bulli Concept

2012 Canadian International Auto Show volkswagen bulli concept small
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


Currently in 2021, Volkswagen is actively at work introducing a fully electric vehicle family under the ID brand with the ID.4 set to be sold in Canada this summer. Back in 2012, the German auto company’s push to be acknowledged as a more green automaker was largely focused on their TDI diesel engine program. However, following the much-publicized ‘Dieselgate’ emission scandal where an investigation found Volkswagen had installed software that greatly concealed real-world NOx emissions, the auto company largely abandoned their TDI engines in favour of electrified motoring. About three years before the genesis of Dieselgate, Volkswagen had done some exploration into battery electric vehicles with the Bulli concept being one of the most attractive examples. Debuting at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the Volkswagen Bulli was clearly a vehicle for the future with a sleek, compact profile and LED lighting but contained a healthy dose of the German automaker’s classic styling DNA. The Bulli concept’s two-tone red and white paired with a large Volkswagen crest on the front calls back to their famous T1 microbus. Capable of transporting six occupants, the Volkswagen Bulli concept’s power comes from an 85-kilowatt electric motor fed by a 40-kilowatt-hour battery with an estimated travel range of 186 miles.

2013 Ford Shelby GT500 

Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible at 2012 Canadian International Auto Show
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


While the Ford Mustang became an instant success as a sporty and affordable vehicle that catered to a large young driver market of the 1960s, it was the work of Carroll Shelby that made the pony car into a ferocious performance machine. On May 10th of 2012, the famous Texan would pass at the age of 89 leaving a legacy on the street and the race track. One of the last Ford Mustangs to wear Carroll Shelby’s name, the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 arrived as the zenith of pony car muscle. The Shelby GT500 became one of the most powerful Ford Mustang available through showrooms propelled by a supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 engine generating 662 horsepower and 631 lb-ft of torque. With this power production, the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 could launch from 0 to 60 miles per hour (96.56 kilometers per hour) in 3.5 seconds. In order to handle the excessive power Ford added an upgraded six-speed manual transmission and a carbon fiber driveshaft. Standard Brembo six-piston aluminum front brake calipers, forged aluminum wheels mounted to Goodyear F1 SuperCar tires and optional Bilstein adjustable dampers are also linked to the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500. On display at the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow was a Deep Impact Blue Shelby GT500 convertible. With only 808 total Ford Shelby GT500 convertibles made for the 2013 model year, 135 was matched with the Deep Impact Blue colour combination.

Bugatti Veyron

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 at 2012 Canadian International Auto Show
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


A French automaker that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans wins and a number grand prix victories prior to the modern Formula 1 championship, Bugatti was such a finely-engineered luxury vehicle that an engine gasket was not required. A brand revived as a subsidiary under Volkswagen AG, the Bugatti created a hypercar of incredible prestige and performance called the Veyron. Named after early French race car driver Pierre Veyron who was also a test driver of Bugatti vehicles during the 1930s, the nearly 1,000 horsepower performance car commanded the attention of the truly rich. The Bugatti Veyron 16.4 featured a W-16 engine mated to a dual-clutch transmission and permanent all-wheel drive combining to propel the vehicle to 253 miles per hour. First sold in 2005, the Veyron 16.4 hypercar was still observed as a world-topping machine that also included faster editions in later years. Valued at a cost of roughly 2-million Canadian dollars, a blue Bugatti Veyron 16.4 with its trademark horseshoe-shaped grille created quite a stir as a centerpiece of the Auto Exotica display for the 2012 edition of the Toronto auto show. 

Special Exhibitions:

Classic Concourse: Triumph 

1935 Triumph Gloria Black at 2012 CIAS
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


A space that celebrated American predominantly American performance the past two years, the level 700 of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre hosted the vehicles of a former British auto brand for 2012. Best known for the Spitfire, Sprite and the TR6 sports cars, the Triumph Motor Company had roots dating back to 1885 but was dissolved in 1984 by its eventual parent British Leyland. A marque defined by small, sporty coupes, Triumph’s Canadian International AutoShow presence would consist of a collection of vehicles dating back to the pre-second world war Gloria. Altogether, the display contained several Triumph Standard variants, a pair of stylish Italian-constructed Triumphs called the Italia, a race car version of the GT6+ and the V-8 powered Triumph Stag. Of course, a full range of sports cars defining the brand’s iconic ‘TR’ family also featured prominently ranging from the TR2 to the TR8.      

Eco-Drive Showcase

2012 Canadian International Auto Show Eco Drive Showcase Fisker Karma
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


A product of the first modern push towards electrified by major automakers as well as variety of new start-up companies, the 2012 Canadian International AutoShow gathered mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully battery powered vehicles in the Eco-Drive Showcase presented by CAA. Along with the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf as well as hybrids from Kia, Honda and Porsche, the Eco-Drive Showcase shined light on some opportunistic companies looking to grab a piece of the growing transportation pie. Via Motors (a company with former Chrysler and General Motors executive Bob Lutz recently installed a chairman in 2012) presented the VTRUX Crew Cab Truck based on the Chevrolet Silverado operating as a plug-in hybrid. Perhaps the most captivating item on display in the exhibit was the Fisker Karma luxury sport sedan. While Fisker Automotive would collapse in 2014 after a series of setbacks, the car produced by the automaker endures as the similar Karma Revero. In 2021, a new auto company wearing Henrik Fisker’s surname is slated to make its debut with the Ocean, an all-electric crossover vehicle. 

Auto Exotica

Pagani Zonda at 2012 CIAS
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


For the second year, Toronto’s grandest auto show assembled a high-end collection of old and new exotics in a special exhibit. Stepping inside Auto Exotica, the sense of automotive wealth and prestige surrounded occupants. In addition to the previously-mentioned Bugatti Veyron 16.4, exotics part of the 2012 Auto Exotica presentation included a Pagani Zonda finished in a carbon fiber exterior finish, a Ferrari 458 Spider, Bentley Mulsanne and a Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Super Trofeo Stradale.

Cruise Nationals 

Cruise Nationals 1969 Camaro RS Z28 at 2012 CIAS
Photo Credit: Chris Nagy/Car FYI Canada


The eighth iteration of Cruise Nationals consisted of 10 great examples of the classic and custom cars are carefully selected from 60 finalists from regional cruise events held during the summer of 2011. The featured at the Canadian International AutoShow in Toronto included a red 1934 Ford with a supercharged GM 355 engine, a 1960 Ford Sunliner Convertible and a 1967 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396 recreation. For the 2012 Cruise Nationals, the grand champion gold medalist was the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro RS Z/28 owned by Mira and Blair Bozak. A Plum Crazy Purple coloured 1970 Dodge Charger R/T SE took the silver medal while the bronze was given to a 1958 Ford Fairlane 500 Skyliner with a retractable hardtop.


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