Words & Photos: Giancarlo Pawelec
2011 Canadian International AutoShow
Metro Toronto Convention Centre
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
February 18-27th, 2011
2012 Acura TL
The Goods: A 3.5-liter, V-6 producing 280hp or a 3.7-liter, V-6 producing 305hp are both good and now boasting an all new six-speed automatic which allows for a double gear downshift for more spirited driving. For added traction, Acura’s “super-handling” all wheel drive system still remains as well as an optional six-speed manual transmission.
Our Thoughts: A facelift worth the Acura badge and matted to a more responsive six speed automatic transmission, Acura’s TL model is back in full form!
2012 BMW 6-Series Convertible
The Goods: The new 6-series boasts BMW’s 4.4-liter twin turbocharged V8 resulting in 400 horsepower and 450 pound-feet of torque. The power is fed to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic. BMW estimates a 0-60 time of 4.9-seconds with either transmission for the 650i convertible, which would be only three-tenths slower than the last-generation M6 coupe.
Our Thoughts: Although we’re not usually fans of convertibles, this redesign provides much sleeker lines and a wider stance in appearance both of which are great things!
2011 BMW M1
The Goods: BMW’s newest addition to the M lineup packs a punch with a twin turbocharged, 6-cylinder producing 350 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. The all aluminum engine is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and an M differential in the rear. 0-60mph launch times are estimated to be in the sub-5-seconds range and seem to be very possible with the tiny package.
Our Thoughts: Has BMW bitten more than it can chew considering the $50k price range? The more affordable option would be to pick up a 335i Coupe and tweak it yourself, although having an M badge always does feel good. To each their own, but the packaging is nice.
2012 Ford Focus Electric
The Goods: Ford’s first fuel-free, rechargeable passenger car and one of five to be available on the market by 2013. An LG Chem battery pack that is thermally managed (heated and cooled as necessary) maximizes battery life while a single-speed transmission gets the car up to a top speed of 136km/h. Recharge time is estimated to be three to four hours from an available household 240-volt charging station and a range of 160km.
Our Thoughts: This is first true practical all electric vehicle that will be available on the market for both Canadians and Americans. Although Nissan’s Leaf has gained much success, due to government infrastructures it will only be available in British Columbia whereas the Ford will be everywhere. Kudos to Ford for being on the forefront in making future technology possible in the present!
2012 Honda Civic Si (Concept)
The Goods: The ultimate tuner-enthusiast concept vehicle showcasing what could be Honda’s next generation of the already popular Si model packed with a high revving i-VTEC gas engine. Based on what was presented, the Si boasts large 19-inch wheels, a center exit exhaust similar to the Lamborghini Murcielago and carry design cues inspired from the popular Accord Coupe.
Our Thoughts: Still unsure if this concept will catch on into production as Honda buyers both enthusiasts and the average Joe tend to be purists by nature. Honda has been notorious for messing up their Civic lineup every odd generation, hopefully this 9th generational won’t be the same.
2012 Hyundai Veloster:
The Goods: The newest model in the Hyundai family is powered by the all-new Gamma 1.6-liter direct-injection four-cylinder engine – which is the smallest Hyundai engine to use Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI). It delivers an estimated peak output of 138 hp at 6,300 rpm and maximum torque of 123 lb. ft at 4,850 rpm and boasts an estimated highway fuel economy of up to 40 mpg. Esthetics wise, this model is considered a true 3-door hatchback as it is missing a fourth door on the driver’s side.
Our Thoughts: Confused to say the least. A three-door hatchback… really? Not only is it impractical if you carry more than three passengers but the fact that Hyundai is trying to reinvent the wheel per se is insulting. Although the price point of sub $17k is fair, when compared to better known brands and models it is hard to see this succeeding.
2012 Lexus LF-A
The Goods: The supercar that will place Lexus with the ranks of historical makes such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Audi, Porsche and many others. Packing a 552hp, 4.8-liter, V10 engine that was co-developed with Yamaha and wrapped in a carbon-fiber composite package, this sub-$400,000 supercar makes its mark.
Our Thoughts: With only 500 units being produced and deliveries taking place in the coming weeks, Lexus plans on sending yet another warning shot to its competitors – the first being that of the IS-F. The LF-A might not appeal to all in terms of design, but for those who wish to stand out from the rest or simply gawk at the Formula-1 inspired technology that went into building this sports car, it truly is amazing and a one of a kind. We’ll take two, thank you very much!
2012 Mazda 3
The Goods: The redesigned Mazda 3 comes not only with a facelift front and rear, but most notably with Mazda’s new SkyActive-G gasoline engine and SkyActive-Drive automotive transmission that is said to boost fuel economy by 4-7%.
Our Thoughts: The redesigned Mazda 3 finally has us smiling and yes, because it has lost its Botox-induced fakeness up front. Mazda’s efforts to be more eco-friendly is also a step forward and no small talk as they plan on boosting fuel economy in their line up by up to 30% in the coming years – well done ZOOM-ZOOM, well done.
2012 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG Affalterbach
The Goods: The C63 AMG Affalterbach is an exclusive Mercedes Benz brought only to Canada and limited to 30 units. Designed in the Performance Centre in Affalterbach, Germany, this special edition carries a distinctive paint finish in Gray Allanite designo Magno (matte finish) and further distinguished by unique AMG high-performance brakes with red calipers. Other enhancements include carbon fiber touches (such as on the rear lip spoiler and mirror covers) and a power bump to 481hp pushing it from 0-60mph in just 4.4-seconds.
Our Thoughts: We have always loved anything AMG as it is the true balance of luxury and performance, but this unique version of the C63 is simply amazing. The matte paint finish and unique carbon fiber touches just makes our jaws drop – have they heard our calling? Unfortunately, the likelihood of putting in our order in time is slim to none so for those lucky 30 who get to own it, congratulations… we’re envious!
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK 350
The Goods: Mercedes Benz’ newest redesign comes in way of the sporty small coupe SLK and will be available only as the SLK350. New styling cues seem to be taken from Mercedes’ bigger SL coupe including headlights, taillights and cut side bodylines. Under the hood sits a 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission puts out 302hp and 273 lb-ft of torque resulting in a 5.4-second 0–60mph sprint.
Our Thoughts: The SLK no longer looks like a half-sibling to the rest of the Mercedes Benz family and we love it! It especially looks great in the red colour as showcased and the slight redesigned elements no longer make it a cute grocery getter.
Nissan Ellure (Concept)
The Goods: Nissan’s concept is what they consider to be the design formula for the next generation of their sedans combining a traditional mid-size sedan layout with a compact hybrid powertrain all rolled up into one. The engine of choice is Nissan’s 2.5-liter, four-cylinder found currently in a variety of their models and matted to a 25kW electric motor.
Our Thoughts: We love the look and vision that Nissan is going for their future models including the angular headlight and taillight designs. The interior is very concept-like meaning that it looks good but is completely impractical, although the mood lighting would be a nice touch on current models.
2012 Nissan GT-R (R35)
The Goods: After much success in the marketplace both in sales and with enthusiasts worldwide, this new GT-R packs all the elements purists have been waiting for. Under the hood is a revised 3.8-liter, V6 engine which now boasts 530hp (45hp more than it’s previous offering), better boost pressure, valve timing, air / fuel mixture and exhaust flow. Aerodynamic changes include an all new front bumper with LED lighting cues and rear bumper with diffuser. An all-new colour is also available called Aurora Flare Blue Pearl.
Our Thoughts: We loved it before and we will continue to love it, just a tad more – similar to one’s kid graduating school. The boost in power now makes it a true supercar contender and we look forward to seeing its comparison against known rival Porsche 911-Turbo. The new interior and exterior styling also modernizes the plain-Jane look of the previous version and did I mention how much I love the new paint? GT-R FTW!
2012 Nissan Leaf
The Goods: The five-door all-electric hatchback from Nissan has a 24kW/h lithium-ion battery pack mounted in the floorpan that drives the front wheels to a range of 160km from a full charge. Reaching time takes 6 to 7 hour using 220-volts and a home charger installation costs an additional $1,200-1,500.
Our Thoughts: Why? Unfortunately Nissan has missed the ball with this model release and although it will be available in British Columbia, Canada this year it will not be sold elsewhere due to the lack in infrastructure to support it. If you want a full electric, we say go for the Ford as it is not only better looking and something most would be more familiar with, but it seems that they got the formula down right.
2012 Nissan Quest
The Goods: As the long awaited redesign of the very popular Quest, this new minivan is without exceptions great looking inside and out. Nissan has stepped up the luxury and spacious interior and powered with a 253hp, 3.5-liter, V6 this 7-seater passenger van holds its own.
Our Thoughts: We don’t like minivans, but if we had one to choose this would most likely be it. It boasts the well-known VQ-engine shared with siblings such as the 350Z, Maxima and others but it just looks great. Soccer moms can be cool too, no?
2012 Range Rover Evoque
The Goods: As the newest addition to the Range Rover family, the Evoque is simply stunning. Powered by Ford’s Ecoboost four-cylinder engine producing 240hp, power is driven through an automatic transmission and onto a set of 20-inch wheels. Set to go on sale mid-2011, this little Range Rover is to be priced between $40,000-50,000.
Our Thoughts: Gorgeous little Range Rover. Love the stance, love the interior and love the fact that it shares the bloodline with its bigger siblings like the Range Rover Sport but at a fraction of the price.
2012 Volkswagen Passat
The Goods: The all-new Passat has gone under the knife with a complete makeover appearing to be longer, wider and more headroom for passengers. A variety of engine choices will be offered including five and six-cylinder as well as a 2.0-liter diesel inline-four (TDI). The interior too has been spruced up with a great dashboard layout and comfortable seating for five.
Our Thoughts: We don’t love it, simply put. It reminds us of a previous generation Audi A6 or a squished new-generation Jetta. Although the interior speaks volumes in the upgrades and changes, it simply doesn’t strike a cord with us as it did with the previous generation which at least had some form of character – especially with it being the flagship of the Volkswagen lineup.
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