7 p.m. on Sunday, January 23rd, 2011, the doors to the year’s first auto show in Canada close. The Montreal show this year was definitely one to remember. We had a few Canadian premieres, and even a few North American firsts. The show opened to the public on Friday, January 14th, and has had a strong turnout this year. Every manufacturer was represented, and the eye candy was plentiful.
Even out to make an impression was new-to-the-game supercar manufacturer HTT. Showcasing the completed, road legal, production ready Plethore LC-750. 0-100km/h in 2.8 seconds, central driving position, and it’s made in Quebec… by a Canadian company; could we be prouder? Actually, yes, but that’s a story for another time.
General Motors showcased a couple of concepts, and it was the GMC Graphite concept that we found the most intriguing. Not only was this box like SUV under the GMC nameplate (traditionally all trucks and cargo vans), but it also has my vote for the best looking concept at the show.
GM unveiled the new Camaro Convertible, which is built in Oshawa, Ontario. The good looking and practical Chevrolet Sonic was unveiled, along with other new model, the Chevrolet Orlando. I find the Orlando disappoints for a 2012 model vehicle with looks that are reminiscent of their ye’olde minivans.
Chrysler was out in style with major revisions on many of their models, and even including a few new ones. In the mid-size Chrysler segment the Sebring gets replaced by the 200. The 300 looks sleeker and less like a mob boss’ ride. The 300’s sister car the Dodge Charger also got major restyling. The Durango is back after being put out of production a few years back, and it looks better than ever. Jeep’s got the all new Grand Cherokee, for which you’ve all seen a commercial or banner ad for by now. Then there’s Fiat, yes, European Fiat. And Fiat comes to Canada in none other than it’s sweet small car, the Fiat 500.
Not to be outdone, Ford unveiled the new Ford C-Max, and 2012 Focus. There was also a thoroughly restyled Explorer on show. A Ford section at any auto show wouldn’t be complete without a roaring Mustang, and Ford didn’t intend to disappoint. Making the Canadian debut was the 2012 Mustang BOSS in all it’s bright orange glory.
BMW had the North American premiere of their latest small SUV, the X1 at the show. Hyundai did the N.A. premiere of the all new Accent as well. My high expectations of Hyundai were not met, as the new Accent wasn’t all that great to look at. But BMW did surprise by making a small SUV look pretty good.
Mercedes-Benz brought out the new Affalterbach Edition C63 AMG, and showed off the newly restyled CLS. Where Mercedes-Benz shows up, so does smart, but the manufacturer of mini-compacts had nothing ground breaking to show off; but did turn heads with a smart fortwo mounted on a high pedestal.
Toyota was coming off a year of lows, and some highs; and opting to focus on the highs, they put a focus on the redesigned Corolla for 2011. The Corolla has done well in the Montreal market, and has always been a Canadian favourite. Alongside the Corolla was the 2011 Matrix, which to be honest wasn’t all that exciting. The newly styled, award winning Sienna was also on display; but the big news was the new brand. Scion, made it’s entry into the Canadian market a few months ago. At the Montreal Auto Show Scion brought out the 4th model to be offered in their line-up: the Scion iQ. In contrast to the young and hip was Toyota’s high end brand Lexus. Making debuts of the prototype CT 200h, and 2011 IS 350; Lexus stayed true to it’s brand image as the conservative luxury brand.
Where there is Toyota, there has to be Honda. The 2012 Civic Si concept was Honda’s Canadian premiere, and was received warmly by media and public alike. Although there weren’t other new not-seen-before models being unveiled, the new Honda line-up was looking pretty impressive; and included the great looking sporty hybrid CR-Z, and the restyled Odyssey.
Mazda had a good showing, and gave us the very cool Mazda 2 Evil Track: the subcompact 2 with track credentials. The 2012 Mazda 5 was also on show for the first time in Canada.
Nissan came out with a polar bear dancing around the new Leaf; and made Canadian unveilings of the 2012 GT-R, and Nismo 370Z. Nissan’s luxury marque Infiniti is out with a performance line called IPL, and debuted the IPL G Coupe.
Amongst other cool offerings were the Evoque from Land Rover. Jaguar showcased the new, radically restyled XJ. Audi came out with unveilings of the new A7 and A8L. While Volkswagen showcased the new lower priced Jetta and Passat; which just seemed like the old cars with a lot of things subtracted from them. Porsche gave us a first look at the Cayenne S hybrid, and showed off a cross section of the cars they’ve come to be known for.
High luxury, and exotics were also out on display, with strong showings from Ferrari, with the new 458 Italia demanding long stares in classic Ferrari red, and the made-for-America convertible, the Ferrari California. Lotus, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Maserati, Bentley, and Rolls Royce showcased eye candy that made us all dream of the lifestyles of the obscenely rich.
2011 seems to be off to a great start for the Automotive world. As the first Canadian car show of the year comes to an end, the beginning of 2011 looks promising.