Sedan Ramblings - Reviews, comparisons and all things sedans
2001 Canadian International
by Traian Popescu
Frankly, I wasn't expecting much. Having visited the Toronto AutoShow in recent years, and nonetheless having found it fun, the realisation came that nothing too interesting ever happened. Rock bottom was hit when one of the Lada Nivas on display had spots of rust. Thankfully now Ladas are not on display anymore and the Canadian International AutoShow has for the first year been sanctioned by OICA (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles), being one of only two shows in North America (the other Detroit) to receive this privilege.
Near the entrance into the South Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MCC) was the Daimler-Chrysler exhibit, complete with trucks galore. Dodge showed the new Ram 1500, which drew styling clues from the Power Wagon concept also on display. Nothing out-gunned the S55 and S600 luxury sedans for supreme presence at the Mercedes stand, packing 349 and 362 horsepower, respectively. The newest Merc on display was the C-Class coupe.
Next, the 415 hp 911 Turbo monster which reaches 60 mph in about 4 seconds was the big hit at the Porsche stand, as well as the free 911 GT2 posters available, one of which I fortunately managed to get my hands on (the poster that is). Porsche's unlikely competitor, Kia, was situated nearby and unveiled the 200hp 3.5L V6 Sedona mini-van.
Situated in the same hall, BMW attracted lots of attention with its production models, the M3 Convertible and a stunning Z8, but most importantly, however, with the Z9 Convertible concept. Nearby, undoubtedly some of the most popular cars at the show, four Minis all with different liveries were swarmed by multitudes of people all crowding to get a good glimpse. Getting one photo was impossible.
Across the isles, Lexus presented the SC400 coupe/convertible and gave demonstrations of the automatically retractable hardtop, not an unprecedented idea but still a natural crowd-pleaser. Lexus also showed its wagon version of the IS300, dubbed SportCross, which will be available with a 5-speed tranny. Toyota also presented two concepts, the Matrix and a NCSV, the latter making its North American debut.
In the same corner of the hall, admiring crowds unsurprisingly overran Ferrari, Lamborghini, Rolls Royce and Bentley. The $360K CDN 550hp Diablo 6.0, while not a beautiful design, is undoubtedly one of the few cars in the world that make orange paint look so good. Nothing new at Ferrari, but the whole line-up was present: 360, 456 and 550.
At the entrance of the SkyDome, the world's first stadium with a retractable dome, were 3 record breaking "automobiles", including the fastest car with driven wheels (Spirit of '76 @ 432mph) and the fastest diesel truck (Phoenix @ 252.4mph).
Hyundai presented a concept called the CrossTour, a sporty four-door multipurpose sedan equipped with SUV-like ride height, spacious cargo area and 18 inch wheels.
This was mainly, however, Ford territory. Land Rover displayed the new-for-North-America Freelander equipped with a 2.5L V6. Jaguar presented the baby X-Type that will go head-to-head with cars such as the BMW 3-series. Most appreciated was one of the assistants at the Jaguar stand resembled and sounded exactly like Anthony Hopkins. Ford, of course, presented the new Thunderbird as well as the original version. Powered by a 252hp V8, the new 'Bird will reach Corvette price range. A Chrysler Panel Cruiser-inspired Ford Focus was also present as well as the new Focus ZX5. Volvo displayed its new S60 series, including the go-fast 247hp T5 version with its "spaceball" manual shifter. Mazda presented a Protege inspired God-knows-what called the Protege 5, which was seemingly separated at birth from the Toyota Matrix and Pontiac Vibe.
On to the North MCC, he last venue of the auto show. The main attraction at the Honda and Acura outlet was the new 2002 Acura 3.2TL that will feature a top-of-the-line 260hp engine.
Besides a bright yellow S4 and a red TT, the most important automobiles from Audi were the 360 hp S8, which is practically a bargain at $102,500 CDN and the A6 Avant derived 250hp Allroad.
Nissan and Infiniti together presented a large number of unique vehicles at the auto show. Nissan showed its upcoming Z, a sub-$30K USD sports car that will be powered by a 260hp (est.) V6 engine. Pictures in magazines do this car no justice; its amazing presence really has to be seen first hand. Also present was the Hypermini, a small, er, mini-car and the Sentra SE-R provided with a 180hp 4-pot engine. Infiniti showed a crossover SUV concept called the FX45, a stylish 230hp RWD sedan called the XVL which is slated for production in 2002 and the new 340hp Q45 which will reach 60 mph in under 6 seconds.
At the GM locations, Saturn, Chevrolet, GMC and Oldsmobile unveiled their new SUV's: the VUE, TrailBlazer, Envoy and Bravada, respectively. The latter three go head to head with the Explorer in their segment, and are equipped with a top-of-the-line 270hp I6 engine, while the Saturn makes do with a 184hp V6. The Hummer H2, Buick Rendezvous (a 184hp crossover between the Pontiac Montana and Aztek) and a Corvette Z06 perched up high bundled together. Also near was the Chevrolet SSR sports truck concept and the Traverse car/truck equipped with a 255hp V6, as well as the Pontiac Vibe, a sedan/mini-van powered by a 1.8L 130hp 4-banger. In the far corner, a 2000 model Corvette C5R was on display, which was driven by, among others, Toronto native Ron Fellows.
The new Passat was shown at Volkswagen, the premium engine being a 190hp V6. Beside VW, Subaru featured both the new 217hp WRX and the its World Rally Championship brother.
A $3.50 Fruitopia and a short chartered bus-trip later, and I found myself back at the doors of the North Hall of the MCC. I won't lie to you, this was no Detroit, but with the new partnership with the OICA things for the future of the Canadian International AutoShow are looking good.
© Traian Popescu , World's Fastest Sedans (http://www.fantasycars.com/sedans/), 2001.
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