I’m not big on crowds, but love the Canadian International Auto Show. Which could have been a problem if I didn’t have a media pass, allowing me to show up the day before its official opening.
Indeed, CIAS Media Day – which draws mainly journalists and industry types – accounted for only a small fraction of the 358,842 that jammed the aisles from February 16-25. And although it may not be the ‘greatest show on earth’, it’s a darned good one for those who enjoy all things automotive.
I could drone on about the 1,000-plus cars, trucks, SUVs, concepts, exotics, classics, muscle cars, and electrics found throughout the more than 650,000 square feet at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. But for me, it’s about the unveilings – 40 of them this year. These new models, production-ready concepts, and flights of fancy define the cutting edge and possible future of this industry.
Forty vehicles are still a bit much, so I hand-picked a few favourites from my day at the Show. These are in no particular order, but are vehicles I found interesting for a variety of reasons.
Price tags may be a little steep for most of us – Hyundai excluded – but auto shows are about more than just practical matters. Like shopping for your next ride.
They give us a chance to dream…
Koenigsegg Agera RS
So, on that note, I’ll start with the Koenigsegg Agera RS: the world’s fastest production vehicle.
Indeed, this Swedish hypercar, powered by a twin-turbo 5.0-litre V8 that pumps out a whopping 1,160 hp and 944 lb/ft of torque is scary fast. Late last year, on a Nevada highway closed to the public, the Agera RS was clocked at 457.94 km/h. Try explaining that to the officer.
As you can see by the photo, this ride isn’t just styled for speed, but looks stunning. None of this, of course, comes cheap, as one of these limited-run vehicles (25 in total) would set you back around $2.5 million.
Which brings me to something a little more attainable.
The 2019 ZR1 may not deliver on the scale of Koenigsegg, but it’s the fastest production Corvette ever. Under its long hood is a supercharged 6.2-litre LT5 V8 that delivers 755 hp and 715 lb/ft of torque – with 600 lb/ft on tap from 2200 rpm to redline.
They’ve cut weight through the extensive use of carbon fibre, and to control all this fire and fury, the ZR1 comes standard with six-piston Brembo brakes up front (four-piston in rear) with rotors the size of large serving trays: 15.5-inch in front, 15.3-inch in rear. And keeping things cool are 13 radiators!
I don’t yet have pricing on this ‘Vette, but will assume that it may overstretch some of our budgets. So here’s something a little more affordable, but also a blast if, like me, you’re a fan of the hot hatch.
Hyundai took the wraps off a vehicle that is long overdue. The current Veloster Turbo is peppy enough, with its 201-hp, 1.6-litre turbo, but the 2019 Veloster N dials it up with more promising numbers. The kind that will challenge the likes of Focus ST and Golf GTI.
The N’s larger 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder provides up to 275 hp, and up to 260 lb/ft of torque from a low 1,450 rpm. And it has the looks to match with exclusive front fascia and grille, side sills and 19-inch, machine-finished alloys. In back is a larger rear spoiler and wide-bore dual exhausts.
Genesis GV80 Concept
The same company also presented its Genesis GV80 Concept. To be fair, Genesis is now a stand-alone marque, and this particular concept looks extremely high-end.
The GV80 is a hydrogen fuel cell-powered SUV, and a glimpse into the future that I hope will someday make it to production. That is, without the bean counters dumbing down its striking sheet metal and exterior flourishes.
I love the massive, but still tasteful front grille, and 23-inch mesh wheels. On the inside, you’ll find a 22-inch curved OLED touchscreen, and diamond-stitched, semi-aniline leather.
Prototype 9 Concept
Infiniti’s Prototype 9 Concept is even more of a design study, representing the reimagining of a 1930s race car. Truly retro, but with modern cues – like the grille – this seriously sleek, open-wheeled roadster is powered by a prototype electric motor and battery that produces 148 hp and 236 lb/ft of torque. Drive is to the rear wheels via single-speed transmission. The Prototype 9 will go from rest to 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, and reach a top speed of 170 km/h.
BMW i8 Roadster
Here’s an electric roadster you’ll actually be able to find in showrooms. The 2019 BMW i8 Roadster is a droptop version of the matching hybrid coupe. It runs on the same powertrain, a 1.5-litre three-cylinder mated to an electric motor and battery, with a combined output of 369 hp. This will launch the all-wheel drive i8 from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds. Keeping it light is an extensive use of aluminum and carbon fibre-reinforced polymer in the chassis and body panels.
Mercedes-AMG Project One Hypercar
Let’s wrap up with perhaps the most eye-catching ride at the Show. Or maybe number two, as I really, really liked the Prototype 9 Concept.
That aside, the Project One brought together teams from AMG, alongside the company’s Formula One operations, to produce a hypercar that can rocket from zero to 200 km/h in less than six seconds. Using a hybrid powertrain.
But this is not one of those tree-hugging units that delivers a balance between power and eco friendliness. Engineers have transplanted a high-performance plug-in system from their F1 car – a mid-mounted V6 that produces 1,000 hp, and will spin up to a screaming 11,000 rpm.
Top speed is 350 km/h, and although it’s still a concept, the Project One will be built, according to Mercedes-AMG. Production will be limited to 275 units.
Which doesn’t leave much time to make my fortune – and place an order – before these cars are snapped up!
Written by Neil Moore