Sunday, March 2, 2014

Observations from a non major autoshow

LA, Detroit, Chicago and New York comprise the major auto show circuit in the US that gets the coverage, but you can find an auto show in any major convention center. KWF set out to find out what kind of an automotive experience one can have at these other shows and see what we can observe. No world debuts to catch, no concept cars to see, is this even worthy of being called an auto show? While lacking all the flash and glamour of the big shows you still get an opportunity to see almost every make and model on the market today.  What follows are random observations after numerous hours of looking up and down from all angles, sitting in every back seat and stroking every dash.

  • The MKVII Volkswagen GTI was right in front of the current (US) MKVI Golf. It is immediately familiar but certainly ages the current generation. The interior was nice but perhaps not as impressive as my expectations had built it up. The GTI should be on sale now.
  • Out of all compact sedans, the Nissan Sentra has the most impressive backseat which almost justifies its bubble roof.
  • The highlight of the "super car and modified corral" was undoubtedly the Lamborghini Aventador. Even when surrounded by other exotics nothing stands out and grabs your attention like the Aventador. It's low, wide, purposeful and everything a super car should be. The Viper, brand new Corvette, R8 and LFA were also on display and are dream machines on their own, pale in comparison in pure wow factor. Best super car of show.
  • The supercharger on the Shelby 5.8 V8 is huge and sits up high in the engine bay.
  • The Audi S3 looks as clean and taught as expected, it drew good attention on the Audi stand. It was the only red Audi there though.
  • The new Cadillac Escalade has a seriously clean look in the profile, very much like the Range Rover. The lack of fender flares does emphasize the fender gap, the Escalade is ready for bigger wheels. The full height tail lights didn't look as weird as expected.
  • The ELR was one of the bigger disappointments, does it look pretty cool? Yes, but not all that special next to the CTS coupe elsewhere in the Cadillac display.
  • The latest Mini Cooper does look bigger with many showgoers saying so. Part of the problem was that the Mini was placed on a display pad making it look taller than it really is.
  • The Red Bull Renault is labeled Q100 on the Infiniti stand.
  • The i3 is a weird looking thing, and weird for the sake of being weird. It was hidden at the back of the BMW stand with no one looking at it. The bamboo interior is cool, as are the tail lights integrated into the glass hatch. 155/50 R20 tires are the strangest thing ever.
  • The Corvette was by far the hardest car in the show to get a seat in, it was constantly surrounded. Even though the Corvette interior is supposedly much improved it's still a generation behind. It would be world class in the C6 Corvette but is average in the C7. The storage behind the disappearing navigation is pretty cool.
  • The new S class is the best of show. It was actually hard to find on the Mercedes stand at first as the new design is not as visually massive as the last S class. But what a design it is, the lines are smooth and the surfaces just flow perfectly from front to back. The only down side is that the CLA and definitely the next C class will give Mercedes the "same sausage different size"  lineup.
  • Overheard, "what's the difference between a supercharger and a turbocharger?" "The numbers behind the letters signify the engine size, the CLA250 has a 2.5 liter engine."

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