Events that ranged from BMW to a bus
What a year it was!
Driving the BMW i8
And then back to reality …
More of the future …
Keep on truckin’!
A marvellous Mazda
Where’s that lottery ticket?
A New York state of mind …
My driver, who wasn’t driving
Let’s get dirty!
No gamble here
And then the big event
On the other side of the world
Ford and Mr. Ford
Count on it!
- What a year it was!
- Driving the BMW i8
- And then back to...
- More of the future …
- Keep on truckin’!
- A marvellous Mazda
- However …
- Where’s that...
- A New York state...
- My driver, who...
- Let’s get dirty!
- No gamble here
- And then the big...
- On the other side...
- And …
- Ford and Mr. Ford
- Count on it!
- Electric Avenue
- Rapid transit
- Tickets, please!
Every year has its high points when you’re part of the auto world, but 2013 was definitely among the better ones for me. I went to some great shows, participated in some fascinating events, and drove some way-cool cars. Come along for the highlights!
I went to BMW’s test facility in France to drive a prototype of the upcoming i8, a super-lightweight, super-fast plug-in hybrid sports car. It’s a combination of Tomorrow-Land technology and brute speed and performance, and it was a thrill to take it on the track. I was one of only two Canadians invited, so it was a special honour.
The i8 was definitely top on the adrenaline scale for the year, but there were highlights even among the down-to-earth cars. I love getting a “first look” at cars that could potentially send a company in a new direction. There’s no telling if the Cruze Diesel will send Chevrolet that way, but it was a fun little car to drive.
I drove Infiniti’s new Q50 on a press event, which rates this list because it’s the first production vehicle with steer-by-wire technology. Instead of a mechanical link between the steering wheel and the front tires, it’s all done with sensors and electric motors. Other automakers will eventually offer this as well, but it was neat to drive “the first.”
I love trucks, so it was fun to head to Texas to drive the all-new Chevy Silverado. Towing, hauling, and a barbecue lunch…what’s not to love?
There’s always a model that stands out each year, and for 2013, I thought it was the redesigned Mazda3. For all-around performance and value, this is the car I thought was the best of the year.
Ooooh yes, I did drive this. My word. The new Corvette is a beautiful brute, and well deserving of all the accolades that have come its way. Even if you’re not usually a fan of Detroit muscle, this car will make you a believer.
When my numbers come up, this is what I’m buying. I think you’re looking at the only time the Jaguar F-Type’s wheels weren’t turning during the week I drove it. The only thing that turned more were people’s heads every time I drove it.
I went to Manhattan to see the world premiere of the BMW i3, the company’s upcoming electric city car and a radical departure from anything you’ve seen from the firm before. Not only that, I got to interview designer Adrian Van Hooydonk, which was worth the trip all on its own.
I was chauffeured around Toronto by Dr. Thomas Weber, a member of Mercedes-Benz’s board of management, in the new S-Class. Actually, he only handled part of the route, since it was a demonstration of the car’s new self-driving feature.
I was a judge at the Canadian Truck King Challenge, which involved even more towing and hauling and muddy boots. The ultimate winner was Ram’s new light-duty diesel, but Ford’s F-150 handled the off-road course just fine. Did I mention that I love trucks?
In November, I headed to Las Vegas for SEMA, billed as the world’s largest trade show for the automotive aftermarket. But I had some time before the show opened, so I visited The Auto Collections, tucked away in one of the hotels. I’m fascinated with old cars, and had a great afternoon checking out the display.
SEMA is overload for gearheads. In addition to all the products on display—shown by some 2,500 vendors—it’s also a huge car show, since everyone brings vehicles that were built with those products. The show suffered following the U.S. recession, but this year, it was finally back to its normal (and humungous) size.
I made my first trip to Japan and visited the Tokyo Motor Show, which was just as fascinating as it sounds. It’s a consumer show, so it primarily focuses on everyday vehicles, but there were a few offbeat items, such as Daihatsu’s weird fuel-cell concept truck.
Well, it IS the home of anime, after all.
As I do each year, I trekked to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. This neat display included the oldest surviving Ford automobile, a 1903 Model A from the company’s first year, along with a Henry Ford lookalike alongside.
And not only did I meet Henry Ford, but I also got a hug from Danny Koker, the star of the TV show Counting Cars.
I visited Honda’s research and development facility in Japan, where I got to drive several production or concept vehicles, some of which will eventually come to Canada. I’m guessing this little electric commuter car won’t be one of them.
I attended Nissan 360, a huge event where journalists come from around the world to drive almost everything the company makes around the world. Naturally, I made a beeline for the bus, because … well, come on. Who doesn’t want to drive a bus?
And it was just as much fun as I thought it would be. All in all, 2013 was a fascinating year. Now bring on 2014!