This Sunday a couple of friends and I decided to head to the Toronto Auto Show to check out the latest and greatest cars available over the course of the year. It’s become an annual event amongst my friends, even eating at the same restaurant each year after the show. Ordering the same meals even.
This year the auto show was a bit different from past years, in fact, all past years since I remember going, which goes way back to when my age could be represented by a single digit. This year they did NOT have cars located in the Skydome, instead only the North and South buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Center, making the show considerably smaller than in the past. Yet they still charged the same amount of money for entrance to the event, $20. I feel it should have been 1/3 less money for 1/3 less show.
Because the show was smaller, each manufacturer was of course given less space to showcase their models. Floor space at the Toronto Autoshow is given based on market share in Canada, the bigger your market share the more area you’re able to use. This always means the domestic companies get quite large exibits, along with Honda and Toyota. This isn’t a problem and one expects this, however this year with the smaller overall floor space, it meant that the manufacturers without a large market share were pushed into even smaller areas. This caused my friends and I to miss out on a number of manufacturers.
It’s somewhat surprising the list of manufacturers we missed out on, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo. Aston Martin, Bentley and Porsche just weren’t here this year, though some Porsches were on display in the PFAFF Porsche tuning feature area. Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and Volvo were all along the same section of the floor next to 2 big domestic manufacturers, GM and Chrysler causing us to pretty much ignore them due to ignoring most of GM and Chrysler. That was a disappointment because while Audi’s and BMWs are nice to check out, I was hoping to check out a Volkswagen Jetta or Golf because of future plans to buy one, but ended up forgetting due to just not coming across them in our meander through the displays.
One last little point about the show itself, it wasn’t that busy. Normally opening weekend, which this was would be packed, and given the smaller overall size of the show, one would expect it to be even more crowded, but it wasn’t. Not a popular show this year it seems, I guess that speaks for the market right now.
Domestic cars. They honestly just suck. There isn’t a single Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep product I would buy over another manufacturers, but if I was forced to buy a Chrysler product, I guess the only cars would be a Dodge Challenger SRT or a Viper. General Motors follows the same path as far as I’m concerned, they don’t even have confidence in their cars. If you go to their website, they have only one shot of the front of the Chevy Malibu, and 3 ass shots, is there something wrong with the front of the car? The only GM cars I want are again performance oriented, either a Corvette or a Cadillac CTS-V because they’re solid performers in the series in which they race.
Ford moves away from the two failures above in a few ways. They’ve always made pretty decent cars in Europe, and I’ve always been envious of the cars they make for the European market and wonders why they so rarely brought them here. In fact, the last car I really liked from Ford was the Ford Focus, a car originally made for the European market years before it made it here. That car was inexpensive, lasted forever no matter how much I beat on it, and was just a fun car to drive. It wasn’t fast, but it was hellafun. Ford’s finally doing the same thing again and bringing over their cars from Europe for the North American market. This year with the Ford Fiesta, and 2012 with the new Ford Focus.
The Ford Fiesta has some great styling for a little car and really helps make you feel you’re not buying a cheap car, just a small car. I’d heard many great things about the car from reviews in Europe and kept hoping they’d bring the car over here so I could take a look-see myself. Having seen one in person I’m a little disappointed. Part of this is because Ford isn’t bringing the the slick looking 2-door hatchback over, and part of it is because the interior really didn’t live up to expectations. I was expecting more foot room in the rear, and a bit more quality given it’s European origins. However, comparing prices, the car does start for $6,000 CAD less in the North American market than the UK. Some other differences between US and UK models, US only offers one gasoline engine, UK model offers a gasoline or a diesel option. Diesel isn’t a popular option in North America, but I still think they should offer it. Diesel’s aren’t the black smoke spewing cars of the past, they’re much cleaner now.
That said, Ford still fails with the rest of their North American produced line up. I sat in a Ford Escape which is not a vehicle I’m very interested in, I dislike nearly all SUVs, and sitting in that vehicle really solidified that dislike. About the only good thing was the height of entry into the truck, it was easy enough to get in and out of. But everything else was just either ugly, confusing, or cheap looking. The center dash for example had way too many pointless buttons separated into odd groups that made for a busy and ugly dash that would be terrible to operate while driving. Another good example of poor quality or cheap feel would be the center console of the Escape. The truck featured at the auto show had this very very cheap feeling and looking black gloss plastic, the kind of plastic you might find on an arcade machine. I could go on, like with how the fact the Ford Taurus SHO w/ AWD costs $60,000, or how it and the Lincoln MKZ seem to be the exact same car, but lets remember the good, Fiesta and Focus.
Ford deciding to bring the Euro styled Focus back to replace the awkward and ugly US model was perhaps one of the smartest things they’ve done in recent memory. I’m sure Ford will still manage to mess up some key features but for now, the 2012 Ford Focus looks amazing, definitely a hot hatch as they call them in the UK. My question though, why 2012? Hurry the hell up, the current Focus is embarrassing. I’m curious what engine choices Ford will give for this car, if there will just be one option like the Fiesta, or if they’ll have a few options. I would hope they have a few, like an eco-friendly engine, normal engine, and a performance oriented model. Ideally Ford would bring over the 301 hp Focus RS, but I doubt that’ll ever happen.
Another great little car making it’s way over from Europe is the Fiat 500. As Wikipedia claims, Fiat and Chrysler formed a partnership in which Fiat received a 35% share of Chrysler as well as gained access to their North American dealer network in exchange for providing Chrysler with the platform to build smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles in the US as well as Fiats dealer network in Europe. This all of course means that Fiat 500s should start showing up in North American showrooms! This quirky little car looks great and should likely compete with the Mini Cooper. But what’s really cool is they’re bringing the Abarth version over as well, which while having a defecit of power to the Mini Cooper S, I suppose will be competing with it. Hopefully they also bring the Abarth SS as it has more horsepower, but we never get the cool cars.
Good to Know
Over the course of the auto show I learned a little fact that I didn’t know previously. The fuel economy ratings in Canada differ from those in the United States when using MPG. This is because in Canada not only do we require the testing to be performed differently than the United States, but we also use the Imperial Gallon instead of the US Gallon. This explained a lot of my incredulous looks at the auto show when seeing the claimed mpg on many vehicles. It became apparent that the best way to compare in the future is to use the metric standard of L/100 km since that’s the same everywhere and would only differ based on testing conditions. Initially before knowing this, I thought that the Porsche Cayenne Turbo was getting better fuel economy than my little 2.0L Saab 9-2X Aero, but thankfully it doesn’t. However it is terribly close at 26 mpg (Imp.Gal) vs my 31 mpg (Imp.Gal) (when my car was stock-tuned). It’s for this reason I’d like to buy a diesel Volkswagen, or even a gas Volkswagen, they’re so much better on their economy. A good example I recall from last years auto show, I believe it was the Jetta TSI that they race in a Jetta only series. This car managed to get 25 mpg (Imp.Gal) in race conditions! When I drive my car hard I get a measly 19 mpg (Imp.Gal) on my stock-tune, yet to figure out how poor it is with my current, but it’s not going to be any better.
So to conclude, the Toronto Auto Show this year was pretty poor and pretty small. I find it sad that the cars I talked about most with friends weren’t Ferraris, or Lamborghinis, or Aston Martins, or even little sports cars. Instead they were econoboxes from Europe. Perhaps my friends and I are getting old and are losing our edge, but I’d like to think it’s just the state of the auto industry for the time being, and that next year we’ll have something interesting to talk about. Maybe Toyota’s new coupe will be out, with it’s Subaru boxer engine and RWD. Who knows, but surely next year can’t be as boring a show as this years was.
PS: Normally I’d take tons of pictures of my own at the show, but opted not to this year due to boringness.