Ever wondered what you’re missing on the media-only day preview at events like the Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS)? Here’s a sneak peek
The Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) in Toronto opened its doors to the public February 17 this year, and runs through to February 26. We got a sneak preview on the media day on February 16.
Canada’s Formula One champion Jacques Villeneuve was at the show to launch an exhibit of 50 Years of the Canadian Grand Prix, featuring a variety of race cars from the past five decades. He told the audience and media about his father, legendary racer Gilles Villeneuve, and about winning the F1 Championship in 1997.
The F1 cars of both Gilles Villeneuve and Jacques are at the exhibit, including the actual Williams car Jacques drove to victory at the Spanish Grand Prix, sealing the championship. It still has the tire scuff mark from where Michael Schumacher tried to run him off the track. “He didn’t expect it,” said Jacques.“I can still see his face. I can still see his sweat. He was a driver who didn’t sweat, except for that day. It ended up being a fairy tale.”
The star of the show, though, is probably Aston Martin’s AM-RB 001, a car never seen in North America before, nor even at an auto show. It’s the first of 150 that will be made by hand, and will cost as much as $5 million. The actual price, says Aston’s chairman, would be “inelegant” to reveal. And they’re all already sold.
At the other end of the scale, Hyundai also brought a world car show premiere to Toronto, its new Accent, never before seen anywhere. Hyundai Canada boss Don Romano described the car to the media and mentioned its “four-litre engine,” but it’s no muscle car. Somebody made a typo in the description of the four-cylinder engine in his teleprompter.
Company presidents and big-wigs introduced their new vehicles to the Canadian market through the day, though most of the cars have been seen before at other auto shows in different countries. Here, Volvo of Canada’s managing director Alexander Lvovich is helped with a discreet teleprompter, and keeps check on his timing to not run over his allotted 15 minutes.
After having their moment in the spotlight, there was some time to relax. Here, Nissan Canada’s president Joni Paiva kicks back with a couple of stormtroopers after introducing the Star Wars edition of the Nissan Rogue.
The stormtroopers would have liked this truck for getting around on frozen planets like Hoth. It’s specially built by a custom shop, though – GMC’s not about to put it into production.
Also specially built is this LeSabre concept car from General Motors, which was once shown at the 1951 Canadian National Exhibition. It was GM’s first concept car to be built after the Second World War, and was designed to look like an F-86 Sabre jet fighter. GM called it an “experimental laboratory on wheels,” and it included two carburetors, one of which injected shots of methanol for an extra boost.
Toyota has its own futuristic cars on display, including the FCV Plus concept, a hydrogen-powered car that shifts its cabin seating around to make full use of the space inside. We probably won’t see one on Canadian roads anytime soon.
Perhaps the most futuristic – and optimistic – car at the auto show is the Rinspeed Oasis, a self-driving electric car that promotes the idea of self-sustaining power. It even includes a garden plot for growing herbs and vegetables on the dashboard behind the windshield.
There’s a bit of everything that moves at the auto show. Sales rep Doug Beattie will invite you to try out one of his BionX electric bicycles. They’re not cheap, at around $4,000, but that battery makes all the difference on the hills.
The Bugatti Chiron is also not cheap, with a price tag of more than $3 million. The Auto Exotica exhibit at the show includes more than $100 million worth of exotic cars.
Be careful if you’re bringing kids to the auto show. If they see these electric cars built just for them, you may not get out of there without bruising your wallet. The toy cars at Canadian Tire will never look the same again.
Ultimately, the best part of the CIAS is seeing cars for the very first time. Audi debuted four vehicles at the show this year, and there are plenty more to check out on every other maker’s stand. Even if you’re not about to buy a new TT, you can go there and dream about it.