“Green cars were in evidence in Montreal but when the shows reach the west, you can expect to see many more cars for the eco-conscious drivers.”

Montreal, PQ.

Le Salon International de l’Auto de Montreal heralds the opening of the Canadian auto show season, right on the heels of the Big One in Motor City aka Detroit.

This year, yours truly attended the previews for both auto extravaganzas and found optimism abounds in the industry, north and south of the border.

As reported last week from Michigan, the Daddy of all Auto Shows showed a lot of high-end cars and new full size trucks. Montreal has a regional flavour with more exhibits that reflect that market’s taste for smaller cars.

The latter clearly influenced the decision to unveil the new subcompact Mazda2 here; a select group got the opportunity to get up close and personal with the machine in an artist’s gallery across town. The next day the all-new CX-3, updated Mazda6 and CX-5 joined it on the show stand.

The new Mazda2 was coloured in what I call show-off red and showed off its so-called KODO – Soul of Motion – design style to its best. I first saw this handsome style, which gives the impression that the vehicle is moving even when stationary, at the Mazda6 launch in Paris a few years ago. Translating it into a smaller car is not just a matter of shrinking the original but requires great design skill and clearly, Mazda has that in abundance.

In Canada, a 1.5-litre SKYACTIV-G gasoline engine will power the Mazda2, and a choice of two transmissions will be available – a six-speed manual and a six-speed auto. Prices will be fixed closer to launch, later this year, but expect it to be comparable to the current model and come in below $15,000.

While there were plenty of econo cars on show, like Detroit, other than the Mazda2 there was nothing new to see in that range. Green cars were in evidence in Montreal but when the shows reach the west, you can expect to see many more cars for the eco-conscious drivers.

Four concept cars did turn heads.

Cadillac Elmiraj

You won’t see one on the road but the long two-door grand coupe concept will influence the near-future design of the next line of Cadillacs. The Elmiraj features a 4.5-litre twin turbocharged V8 delivering an estimated 500 hp. The engine takes the baseline technology from the Cadillac Twin Turbo V6 and expands it to the classic performance format of a V8 engine.

Hyundai Intrado

The same can be said of the thinking behind the Hyundai Intrado, which is a concept crossover designed to foreshadows a change in design direction for the Korean manufacturer. It looks a little bit like an oversized Juke, the quirky Nissan product loved and hated seemingly in equal measure. The Intrado seems a bit more lovable and passersby indicated a similar looking production would in find favour among many.

The concept features a hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain linked to a 36 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that Hyundai boasts will provide a range of 600 kilometres. By the way, BCers will soon be able to lease a Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, with a similar powertrain and a reported range of 425 kms.

Subaru VIZIV2

The Subaru concept crossover utility hybrid shown is a four-door version of a previously revealed two-door. Get this: Subaru says its “athletic, rugged shape of the sides seem designed in the image of a muscular NHL defenceman, and the fenders flare in a sturdy style.” Ahem.

Looks like it came out of the Nissan/Infiniti design studios but that’s not a criticism.

Toyota FT1

Toyota was all about the roar of the engines in Montreal, which certainly pleased the gathered Quebec auto journos, who to a man/woman always appear to be race crazy to me. Given the market reality in Quebec that doesn’t appear to be reflected in car buyer choices.

Nevertheless, most would surely enjoy the sleek lines of the Toyota FT-1, designed to be home on the track and a heck of ticket magnet on the highway.

Up next is the Toronto Show, which takes the name The Canadian International Auto Show. Bite your lip, Morgan. The Calgary show follows then the new-look, re-imagined Vancouver International Auto Show debuts March 24-29.

Contact: keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

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