“The Canadian International Auto Show media preview featured 41 “New to Canada” vehicle premieres and for the first time ever a “World Premiere”, which was video cast globally, of the 2018 Hyundai Accent.”
“The so called entry-level models belong to a finely crafted line of models designed to be driven hard and fast on the highway and look good on anybody’s driveway.”
“There are cars on show for the rich and cars for the super-rich; neither status describes me but it won’t stop me looking.”
You can dream about luxury cars and even touch them at the Vancouver auto show.
2016 Cadillac CTS-V
The new CTS-V is the pinnacle of Cadillac’s renaissance, repositioning itself as a high-performance luxury brand able to compete with the likes of BMW and Audi for the well-heeled 40-something power broker. This 200 mph 4-door sedan houses a Corvette engine, but not just any Vette V8. The 2016 CTS-V is infused with the supercharged 6.2L V8 power plant engineered for the formidable 2015 Corvette Zo6. It eagerly dispenses 640 horsepower and 630 lb.-ft. of torque to the V’s rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission featuring shift paddles. Pulling the CTS-V rapidly down from 200 mph is a set of Brembo cast iron disc brakes, which are more effective at shedding heat than carbon-ceramic setups. No firm price yet.
2016 Lexus RC F
The all-new track ready 2015 Lexus RC F adopts the best of the tuning and technology that went into the Lexus LFA Supercar to create an authentic high-performance coupe. Fully capable of running on a racing circuit and featuring the most powerful Lexus production engine to date – s 467 horsepower 5.0L V8. The Lexus RC F is for those ready to immerse themselves in pure driving pleasure. Available in two models starting from $81,650.
Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible
It’s hard to argue with Jaguar’s description of the F-TYPE as being pulse-quickening. It combines effortless, exhilarating performance, instant response and precise, agile handling with everyday refinement and usability.
The Jaguar supercharged 3.0 litre V6 340 hp engine delivers powerful and efficient performance. Select from a rich variety of colour combinations for body and cockpit. Acceleration is clocked at 0-100 km/h 5.3 seconds, with a top speed of 260 km/h. Priced from $76,900
The Mulsanne is the flagship of this esteemed British marque.
It’s simply sumptuous inside, thanks to the use of finely handcrafted materials and painstaking attention to fit and finish. The dashboard is measured to accommodate the thickness of leather that wraps around it precisely. The infotainment screen it surrounds, meanwhile, can be concealed behind a veneered panel when not required for route navigation, rear camera view or other control functions.
The Mulsanne includes a 14-speaker sound system with Digital Signal Processing (DSP). Audio perfectionists have the option to go even further: the Naim™ for Bentley system comprises 20 speakers, 22 channels and 2200 watts of aural perfection.
Under the hood is a re-calibrated 6.7-litre V8 engine, which generates 505 horsepower and takes the luxury car to 100 km/h in a time that matches the lithe Jag F-TYPE.
Expect to pay at least $480,000.
The BMW i8 is a sports car with the fuel efficiency of a micro-car!
This is possible because the powerful plug-in hybrid system with the combination of BMW eDrive technology and a BMW TwinPower Turbo 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder gasoline engine brings together the benefits of an electric motor and a gasoline engine to produce an outstanding driving experience.
And its efficiency is powerfully aided by the carbon-fibre car’s sleek design. The front appears extremely low and wide and everything is arranged to be optimally aerodynamic.
There are cars on show for the rich and cars for the super-rich; neither status describes me but it won’t stop me looking.
Contact: rrothwell [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca
“Lexus has built a strong following because of the high quality, bulletproof reliability the brand offers, with an ever-present luxury feel.”
Toyota has suffered criticism in the past that must sting: some if its designs have been called boring or vanilla.
Things are changing at Toyota – just look at the much more dynamic designs placed on the small Corolla or mid-sized Camry, still practical but much better looking.
The same criticism was levelled at the Toyota luxury brand, Lexus.
Here too, the designers have taken a dramatic shift in the way the cars look and feel. The RC coupe is an all-new category for Lexus and one they call “sexy”. There was a retractable hardtop Lexus IS convertible that tried to double as a coupe but nothing can replace the real thing. This is a long, low, wide take on a coupe. Much better-looking car that that old IS.
One area that Lexus has focused on is the front grille and aggressive stance of many of its latest vehicles. This grille is what Lexus calls a “spindle” grille, made to replicate a fabric spindle. Why, you ask? Well, the Toyoda family was in the fabric loom business before they started making military trucks and then cars. This is a fun tip-of-the-hat to the origins of the business.
On some cars it looks a bit forced, on this RC it certainly looks well integrated and sleek. What are hard to see are two pin-lights imbedded in the grille that act as driving lights. The back has cheese-grater looking faux vents behind the rear wheels that serve no function and look a bit busy. The FC is sold as a rear wheel drive (RWD) model or all wheel drive (AWD) plus it is sold with Lexus F Sport trim packages that enhance the wheels and add extra go-fast looking trim pieces. The car seen here is the 350 AWD without F Sport.
Lexus continues the overhaul inside the RC cabin. The dash really looks and feels cockpit-like, with a high centre console and sporty looking trim. There is a new touch pad between the front seats that lets the driver scroll around the centre screen just as one would on a laptop. To enter a setting, the driver pushed the track pad, all very intuitive. The F Sport models get a special centre speedometer cluster that has the single dial move to one side for quick reference information. The non- F Sport models get a small screen to use instead. The seats are nicely sculpted and trimmed in leather, plus the back seats are roomy enough for adults if the front seats are moved slightly forward, children will fit easily. What is impressive is the use of soft-touch materials and a level of finish and that should be experienced firsthand.
Most Canadians will gravitate towards the RWD RC 350 not just because of the added traction but also because of the lower starting price. It’s odd that the RWD car starts at $57,650, where the AWD starts at $54,600. The RWD F Sport car is a more performance-oriented with an 8-speed automatic transmission and adaptive front and rear suspension and all-wheel steering system; the AWD gets a 6-speed auto and a passive shock system. Both use the same 3.5L V6 engine with 307hp. The AWD car seams to be set up as a touring car, not getting away from the Lexus roots planted firmly in the luxury camp. It would be a good idea to try the more dynamic F Sport model back-to-back with the AWD to see if the softer model is to your tastes. The power from the engine can be rather fun but the driver needs to really kick the throttle to wake the car from its luxury slumber, this also is the only time the engine sounds particularly exciting.
Lexus has built a strong following because of the high quality, bulletproof reliability the brand offers, with an ever-present luxury feel. The F Sport models offer a more aggressive design and improved on-road dynamics. With an eye on making the brand more exciting, the designers did a fine job inside and out. The AWD model doesn’t stray too far from the traditional Lexus formula or producing comfortable and luxurious transportation, this time in a much more stylish wrap.
Power: 3.5L V6 with 307hp
Fill-up: 12.6L/9.1L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $54,600
“Heck, even funnyman Jerry Seinfeld couldn’t miss the Acura NSX reveal as he sat in the front row awaiting its presence…”
Within moments of pulling out of a parking lot in the 2015 Cadillac CTS 3.6L AWD, its pristine crimson coat was soiled by the elements. And of course, salt, dirt, grime and all that isn’t amazing about winter in Toronto.
Nevertheless, its smooth and comfortable ride didn’t disappoint along the arduous and incredibly four-plus-hour drive to Detroit, Michigan for the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS.)
I would soon trade in the coziness of heated leather seats – and steering wheel – for a pair of not-so-cozy leather shoes and roam the showfloor to check out what’s hot, cool and what sparkles amidst the industry’s top cars. It would only make sense to start with Cadillac’s latest offering when it comes to their “V” series cars.
At the Los Angeles Auto Show in late 2014, we met the ATS-V – the smaller brother of the mid-sized four-door I drove to Motown. Now, get ready for a performance sedan that will knock your socks off.
Arriving late in the summer of 2015, the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V is ready to take on its German competitors (like the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG) with a whopping 640 horsepower and 630 lb-ft of torque.
The all-new third generation sedan is the most power-endowed product the brand has ever created.
But aside from power, you’ll have the luxury of the third generation Magnetic Ride Control to not only blast you through the corners with grace and poise, but with the comfort of being able to drive it around town, or between cities/countries without sacrificing an enjoyable ride. Road or track, I’ll take this one for a spin any day.
Perhaps one of the most anticipated reveals of the last few years from the Japanese automaker, Acura, comes in the form of the NSX. The acronym, which stands for New Sports eXperience, rolled out onto the stage to a frenzy of flashes from the crowd. Heck, even funnyman, Jerry Seinfeld, couldn’t miss the reveal as he sat in the front row awaiting its presence.
While pricing hasn’t been released yet, it’ll likely be north of $150K.
But, for that price, you get a vehicle that not only delivers gargantuan power, but one that is hybridized thanks to an all-new power unit. That unit is a twin-turbocharged, 75-degree DOHC V6 engine with a 9-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT) and three-electric motor Sport Hybrid system. Not to mention Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), so it’s a perfect supercar for all seasons.
Speaking of electric motors, Chevrolet gave us a preview of the 2016 Volt. With a longer EV range and a lighter body, not to mention a new design, this plug-in hybrid is sure to win even more hearts over. Highlights include an EV range of up to 80 km, a new two-motor drive unit, which is now up to 12 percent more efficient and 45 kg (100 lb) lighter than the first-generation drive unit, and a new 1.5L range extender, designed to use regular unleaded fuel, offering a GM-estimated combined fuel consumption rating of 5.7L/100km.
Lexus NXB Concept Bike
Completely changing gears, atop one of Lexus’ sparking vehicle at their stand was a concept bike that caught my eye. Not only because it was totally out of place at an auto show, but also because it looks so cool. NXB stands for Neo Xtreme Bike and comes with a Lexus original carbon frame, carbon wheels and a KYB inverted suspension up front. Even if it never is ridden, I still like the idea of a zero-emissions commute on something as interesting as this concept.
Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept
For a zero emissions commute that doesn’t require muscles but rather a motor, the Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept is another step in the brand’s commitment to the electrification of automobiles.
It’s still a concept, but it embodies the philosophy of giving drivers over 300 kilometres of range out of one charge, without charging a premium for it.
The concept’s technological prowess can be linked with an App in which you can control various vehicular functions like starting the car from your smartphone. Additionally, it even incorporates the concept of automatic park-and-retrieval technology, which enables the driver to exit the vehicle and tell the Bolt EV concept to park itself – and when errands are completed, the Bolt EV concept can be summoned to return to the owner’s location. Sounds ideal to me!
“The VW Golf won car of the year, following on the heels of World Car of the Year and Motor trend Car of the Year awards, and the Golf is a finalist for the Canadian Car of the Year…”
There’s a buzz in motor city because the car industry has roared back in the US and 2014 was another record year in Canada.
Ford GT (photos above)
There is no question the Ford GT supercar stole the show at the media preview in Detroit. The mid-engine heart powering this carbon fibre and aluminum 2-door beauty is a new twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 with over 600hp. What really stunned the crowd was the fact Ford has already committed to building the GT, it will be for sale late in 2016. The car displayed is essentially a production model, not a far-reaching concept car. The carbon fibre passenger cell and bodywork, along with aluminum suspension components will help return one of the best power to weight rations in the business. The best part is the design that looks fast standing still, thanks to a teardrop shape and aggressive aerodynamics and functional wings and spoilers. Ford is using the GT as a technology test to help implement features like carbon fibre in all new Ford models to come.
Since we love SUVs in North America, it was logical for Audi have the world debut of the three-row Q7 SUV in Detroit. This all-new model is slightly smaller than the outgoing model but it actually offers more interior space for passengers and cargo. The design also makes the Q7 look much less imposing. The biggest news is the reduction in weight; this new Q7 is 325kg lighter than the older model, which is a whopping number, making it roughly 26 percent more efficient. Shortly after the Q7 arrives at dealerships a plug-in diesel hybrid model will be introduced that can deliver the equivalent of 1.7L/100km. Styling is much more sophisticated and the interior has the all-new dash and MMI system that was first introduced in the soon to arrive Audi TT.
Lexus GS F
Another trend at the Detroit show was the introduction or very powerful cars. Lexus introduced the latest “F” performance model called the GS F. Based on the GS mid-sized luxury sedan, the GS F takes things to a much more aggressive level, with a 467hp 5.0L V8 engine pushing all that power through an 8-speed automatic to the rear wheels. Lexus hopes this 1830kg sedan will be lean enough and powerful enough to attract buyers of cars like the BMW M5. With standard 19-inch wheels framing orange Brembo brake calipers and featuring a Torque Vectoring Differential, Lexus thinks this Nurburgring tuned sedan is a more than enough to take on the German dominant brands. Styling is dramatic and functional with a lower and wider stance than the regular model.
The Detroit show always starts with the announcement of the North American Car of the Year. This year the VW Golf won, following on the heels of World Car of the Year and Motor trend Car of the Year awards, and the Golf is a finalist for the Canadian Car of the Year. The Golf is turning heads because of the very refined driving dynamics, class-above interior and powerful and efficient engine choices. The price will also win over buyers, thanks to the production coming out of Mexico; the starting price is $18,995. The Golf features a new 1.8L direct injection and turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, an optional TDI diesel or the more powerful GTI and Golf R models. The Golf is on sale now.
2015 Toyota Tacoma
The Detroit-three automakers might have the lion’s share of full size pickup sales but it’s the Toyota Tacoma mid-size pickup that rules the road, outselling the competition two-to-one. Announced at the Detroit show is a heavily updated Tacoma with a new 3.5L V6, replacing the old 4.0L V6, plus either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The engine features direct injection technology and should vastly improve fuel economy. The chassis has been strengthened and the interior updated to today’s standards. The tailgate now has a locking feature and a soft open for easier use, plus the optional cargo bed cover can be secured as well. Also shown was the TRD off-road version, which is a big seller for Toyota and for 2015 it has a crawl feature to aid in off-road adventures, plus a go-pro camera mount to capture all the action. With these updated the latest Tacoma is sure to remain dominant.
“Like Driveway, we are not producing a show for gearheads but for normal people, who just want to know what’s available, for how much, what the safety features are and how fuel efficient a car is.” – Zack Spencer
Driving Television is a slickly produced, fast-paced car show, designed to help regular folks make a sound decision when making the second biggest purchase of their lives – buying a car.
When Driveway’s lead test driver Zack Spencer is not writing for you here, he’s in front of the camera co-hosting the top-rated, independently produced, Canadian show with Lacey Elliott.
You won’t find me in front of the lens, having looks suited only for print, but recently I spent a day behind the DTV camera, observing Zack and videographer Brian Chow. The action took place in Whistler for the launch of the 2015 Lexus NX.
First up was a presentation about the product, and specifically the technology featured in the compact crossover vehicle. While some journos present yawned occasionally and jotted a few notes, Zack wrote feverishly, asking many questions.
“They sometimes last an hour or longer but these presentations are extremely important to my day’s work,” advises Zack. “The print guys can take the thumb drive with all the info on it and check it at their leisure later. But I need to leave the room with all the facts and have my questions ready to go.”
Minutes later, he’s conducting an interview with Lexus Canada Director Cyril Dimitris, about the importance of this new entry to the fastest growing market segment. The print and online writers have already left for a day on the scenic back roads and a jaunt along the Sea to Sky Highway.
We’re striking out on our own.
“We do up to 30 launches a year and some manufacturers want people to drive up to 400 kilometres. I always say we are either driving or shooting but we’re not doing both so most manufacturers are happy to let us do our own thing.”
Just 15 minutes later, Zack is up Whistler Mountain, doing a standup shot talking knowledgeably to the camera about the NX. Yes, he really was taking notes while many of the rest of us were nodding or slurping the coffee at the Four Seasons Resort.
A steep mountain road outside Pemberton was the perfect spot to show off the car in a beautiful location. Well, it was in the breaks between heavy logging trucks passing by.
The next couple of hours were spent driving up and down the road to capture in car commentary from Zack.
“When we first started (12 years ago) we had to shoot with large TV cameras from the roadside for externals or stuff a camera into the dash to get my remarks while driving,” explains Zack.
But new technology has changed all that. Brian shoots with what looks like a regular digital still camera.
“The old TV cameras would cost about $100,000 but you can now get great DSLR cameras, designed for video, for around $10,000.”
Then there are the tiny $500-plus GoPro video cameras that attach anywhere inside or outside, which Brian controls from an app on his iPhone from the passenger seat! Gone are the days of $1,000 an hour helicopter shoots when a $150 remote controlled drone can achieve the same dramatic aerial video.
Now it’s back to Vancouver to edit a three- to seven-minute segment for the show. Zack explains the program’s mandate: “Like the Driveway section in print, we are not producing a show for gearheads but for normal people, who just want to know what’s available, for how much, what the safety features are and how fuel efficient a car is.”
The show featuring the NX goes to air this Saturday on Global TV across Canada. Check your local listings for times.
What Zack says about the 2015 Lexus NX
Where has the modern station wagon gone?
Nowhere, it’s just called something else – crossover or small SUV.
The edgy design of the NX will turns heads and garner attention but I have come to realize two things about the car business. When a design is rather edgy, it can date quickly. The second is that the initial “bam, look at me” wears off.
The exterior might be an acquired taste but the inside is a refined and practical place to spend time.
Powering around the mountain resort I got my first shot at the all-new 2.0L direct inject turbocharged 4-cylinder that Lexus will use in a number of its vehicles.
With 235hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque this new power plant does a good job once the NX 200t is in motion, it is getting away from a stop that could use a bit more snap. AWD is standard across the lineup but the system is designed to run in front wheel drive as much as possible to help save fuel.
As the small SUV market continues to grow and this new NX certainly is one of the most eye-catching to come along in a while.
NX 200t from $40,950, fuel economy – 10.6/8.4 L/100 km (city/hwy)
NX 220h (hybrid) from $58,850, fuel economy – 7.1/7.7 L/100 km (city/hwy)
When it comes to picking a shade to best represent your vehicular product, sometimes silver or a black just won’t do.
There were some standout hues on vehicles displayed at the recent LA Auto Show, goodness knows which, if any of them, will make it your local showrooms.
Here are a few vehicles that not only had flair, but the paintwork to match.
2015 Ford Edge
If the name “Electric Spice” doesn’t grab your attention, then the actual colour itself will. You could label it as bright gold. But not a gaudy gold. Yes, it’s bright, and probably will repulse some crossover shoppers, but it doesn’t look half bad on the 2015 Ford Edge.
2015 Chevrolet Spark
Lime and Electric Blue are just some colours you will find on Chevrolet’s pint-sized cars. While they might not attract your gaze because of their size, they can certainly catch your eye because of their electrifying tones.
2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA
While you might not be able to option your new Mercedes-Benz GLA out with this paintwork, it’s pretty darn cool. Mr. Brainwash, an LA-based but world-renowned street artist, partnered with Mercedes-Benz to create a one-of-a-kind GLA crossover that toured eight cities. Aside from it being awesome, you can see that the paint literally got everywhere.
2015 Dodge Charger and Challenger
Don’t call me baby, even if it might be blue. The head-turning colour I’m referring to is the B5 Bly that was draped over Dodge’s two new models: the Challenger and Charger. You can see it from miles away, and whether you option it out on the sedan or coupe, you’re bound to get some attention. That’s if your HEMI isn’t doing its job!
2015 Nissan Juke
Love it or hate it, the Nissan Juke is here to stay. And rightfully so. If you can get past its quirky looks, it’s quite a fun vehicle to drive. But what would a Juke be without some exterior zest? For 2015, it is redesigned and offers a long list of standard tech features, more connectivity and importantly, a way to stand out in the crowd. With Nissan’s Color Studio, Juke owners can find nearly unlimited color personalization for their new ride.
Grey and orange, anyone?
Lexus LF-C2 Concept
It think the metallic sunbeam-like yellow speaks for itself, don’t you think?
As the small SUV market continues to grow, this new NX certainly is one of the most eye-catching to come along in a while… (more…)
The Lexus RX350 F-Sport offers the same interior space as a mid-sized sedan but sits higher for greater outward viability, comes standard with all-wheel drive and has a high resale value…
2014 Lexus RX 350 F-Sport
Toyota is known for building high quality cars with fantastic resale value and has grabbed more Canadian Black Book “Best Retained Value” Awards than any other manufacturer.
In the Lexus line of cars and SUVs, the best seller by far is the RX 350 mid-sized SUV. Built using parts common to other Lexus and Toyota products, it represents a lot of what Toyota/Lexus is doing right. The engine is powerful but still thrifty enough for most families, the space is generous and the design is elegant. For buyers that are looking for a bit more performance from the RX, the F-Sport package adds visual and emotional punch.
Over the last several years, Lexus has taken a more aggressive design approach with its latest introductions. The front grille is more dynamic, designed to mimic a spindle used in a fabric loom. This is a tip of the hat to the origins of the Toyota Company as a textile maker. LED marker lights and a deeper chin spoiler frame the more aggressive grille. The larger 19-inch wheels come in a smoked satin finish and the suspension is tweaked for more performance. Around back, all RX 350 models come with a power rear lift gate. One of the reasons the RX is so popular is the aggressive starting price. The base model, with the same engine as this F-Sport, starts at $46,150 making it a very attractive alternative to buying a spendy German SUV. The F-Sport model is $55,400 but comes almost fully loaded, with only two options available, the Intuitive Parking Assist and Heads up Display, which brings the price to $58,850
The 2014 RX is a mid-cycle refresh of the model that was introduced in 2010. Unfortunately, Lexus didn’t refresh the inside of the cabin at all, keeping the updates to the exterior and driveline. Not to say that the inside is a disappointment, rather that some things could be tweaked. I’ll start with the positives.
The cabin has plenty of room for a family of four with a big back seat and lots of legroom. The materials used are of the highest order and the RX put together well. The controller for the communications and navigation system is unique in the industry, mimicking a computer mouse. It feels very natural and the driver rarely needs to take their eyes of the road.
The array of buttons and their less than logical layout could do with an update. The F-Sport comes which heated and cooled seats but it took me about five minutes to locate the switch in the centre armrest. The dial for the tuner is as far away from the driver as it could be and the seating position is very high.
At the heart of all RX 350 models is a very versatile 3.5L V6 engine with 270hp. The F-Sport is made sportier by the inclusion of an 8-speed automatic transmission instead of the regular 6-speed unit. By adding two more gears this new model really jumps away from a stop and pulls very well to highway speeds. Two extra gears make a world of difference, helping to bring the engine to life and improving fuel economy.
The suspension has also been modified to include a sport tuned dampers and springs. I could certainly tell this RX is different, in some city conditions, the ride can be very choppy and not what typical Lexus buyers would expect. The up side is that open road driving is much more sure-footed and dynamic. When the RX is thrown off-centre the top heavy nature of the RX shows its head, the centre of gravity feels much higher than some of the other sporty models in this class.
The RX350 is the best seller in the Lexus line for good reason. It offers the same interior space as a mid-sized sedan but sits higher for greater outward viability, comes standard with all-wheel drive and has a high resale value. The RX 350 F-Sport takes all the goodness of the regular RX and makes it a bit more aggressive, especially in the acceleration front. Potential buyers would be well advised to drive both the regular model and this sportier version to see if you can live with the choppy ride, it really is dramatic.
Power: 3.5L V6 with 270hp
Fill-up: 11.2L/7.7L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $46,150-$55,400