As we continue with our 2017 Auto Show coverage I figured it was time to start with the main coverage, as a way to break up the spotlights and give you something more substantial to read on your Tuesday afternoon. There will be two parts to this main portion of the coverage just due to the amount of photos, so there will still be much more to come even once you have hit the end of this post.
Now before we get into the photos it’s worth noting that I actually didn’t attend the show just once this year. What you’re seeing throughout all of this coverage are photos from one day – one visit – to the show, but what you’re reading are my thoughts and what I learned from two days at – two visits to – the show. I went again to be able to attend not as someone who would be shooting the cars, but as someone who would be seeing the cars – an important distinction.
As I normally walk around the show and cover it, I’ll be on my own with my camera. My main focus will be on capturing photos so while I’ll look at all of the cars, I don’t really get to look at most of them if you understand what I’m saying. With camera gear in tow I won’t climb into a lot of them just because it can be a bit of a hassle with everything on me (cry me a river, I know), but that’s what happens. When I do hop in one it’s likely because it’s a model I’m extra interested in or because it has something especially noteworthy inside (or there’s just no line) but a lot of the vehicles go un-sat in, the details of their interiors unseen by me.
This year I of course attended on the first day and that’s when I shot everything that you’ve been seeing. Come Sunday however, the final day, I returned with both Brian and my mother. Having not gone for quite a number of years my mother wanted to see the show, and of course Brian wanted to check it out too. I purposely did not bring my camera this time around as my plan was to keep the first visit on Wednesday as the trip for ‘work’ and the one on Sunday as the trip for ‘pleasure’. By attending on the final day it was also possible to see how the various vehicles had held up over a handful of days of very hard wear and in some cases, abuse. We saw many with trim that would need replacing – whole door cards even – and pretty much every car with a light interior had a noticeably stained driver’s seat from all of the jeans. Even the RC F, with a black interior, had a driver’s seat that was very clearly blue-er than the rest. Ruined parts, scratches in paint (I saw people leaning against cars with jeans even) and kids literally crawling on parcel shelves and other panels. It was an enthusiast’s nightmare, but an excellent test of durability at least. The machines at Ikea that repeatedly open drawers or push on chairs had nothing on the attendees of this show.
Anyway – my mother was happy to check out the cars and trucks but as Brian and I started looking we found ourselves really getting into analyzing some of the cars. We would go through them with a fine-tooth comb and it was actually a lot of fun. It’s one thing to look at the cars but it was very entertaining and educational to really start examining the cars in detail and see how they all stacked up. Rather than just going around thinking “this is cool, this too is cool, this is also cool” (cue Everything is Awesome) we started to – for lack of a better term – nitpick. Criticize. Not pull punches. What truly was awesome, and what fell short? To anyone eavesdropping we may have sounded like overly judgmental kids critiquing cars they couldn’t afford (last I checked I didn’t have money for most of the cars at the show – haha) but we went through every detail and were able to walk away not only knowing the cars much better, but also seeing just how everything compared and what was trickling down from one manufacturer to another. It was great fun to find easter eggs and small details in the cars, see how different manufacturers approached the segments, and while we didn’t do this for every car (as that’d take way too long) there were some cars where we really got stuck into the details.
We may have been seen as being overly critical – oh, this car I can’t even come close to affording seems cheap? Yeah, fair to call it that – but we started comparing them with each other and found some surprising things when we started really looking. Good or bad, we formulated our opinions and walked away either impressed with a new model or disappointed – rarely lukewarm. When everything is on display together and cars that are competing for sales are parked close enough for you to step out of one and immediately into another, you can really start to see who has done what better or how different paths have been taken towards the same solution. It was great fun and it allowed us to have a much better understanding of a lot of the new models.
And now, with what was quite possibly one of the longest intros ever on this site, we begin with the main coverage of the 2017 Calgary Auto Show. I hope you enjoy!
We begin today at the back of the venue, where the luxury and supercar manufacturers could be found. We of course looked at the McLaren 675LT in detail already but now we can see some of the brand’s other offerings, such as this 570GT and 570S.
For my money, the best of the baby McLarens is the GT with the rear cargo area and – as a result – more graceful rear roofline.
One treat at the show was this; the first Ferrari F12 TDF delivered in Alberta, which was unfortunately positioned in such a way as to make viewing most of it difficult. It would have been great if it were spun 90 degrees, but hopefully it’ll be out at a Cars and Coffee this year so we can properly check it out!
A few Maseratis were on hand too including the new Levante. All of these – like the Ferraris, and McLarens, and Astons, and so on – were roped off so this is as close as we could get to them unfortunately.
Speaking of Aston, they were last in this row and the highlight was easily the new DB11. The styling seems to remain somewhat controversial and I’m honestly not yet 100% sold on it but I don’t dislike it either. It’s functional, and that’s not meant as an insult.
We never spent a ton of time at Mercedes (though Brian was quite taken by a modified van they had there) but I was drawn to the M-AMG GLA 45. Largely because of the paint I suspect.
I don’t pretend to understand a lot of the claimed niche hunting going on these days with vehicles like the AMG GLA 45 but it looked funky (good funky) in the metallic green paint with the black and carbon fiber accents.
AMG GT S, sadly roped off too. The upcoming GT R variant is one I’m rather excited to see in person.
One manufacturer I did spend a bit more time at when I was there the first day was Audi. In my opinion, for a while now they’ve had the best-styled interiors this side of a Pagani. Clean and functional, but not sterile and boring. The new virtual cockpits (digital displays) are wicked too and are something I can’t wait to see spread to more manufacturers and classes of vehicles. This one – for those wondering – is the new Q7’s interior as noted on the dash.
The exterior of said Q7.
The new Q5. Add another to the list of roped-off vehicles.
It was nice to see some variety in Audi’s paint colours too. The Audi booth used to adhere to only white vehicles, save perhaps for an R8 or something in another colour, but this time around there was variety – even if most were variations of greys and blacks.
Another Audi I made sure to climb in was the new TTS Coupe. I’m a big fan of the styling of these things.
The brightest corner of Audi’s display – a vibrant blue S3 sedan next to an even louder R8 Spyder. The interior of the R8 was one of my favourites of the show, being black with yellow stitching everywhere, and sprinkled with carbon fiber. Interestingly the stitching cost nearly as much as the carbon fiber according to the spec sheet ($3400 vs $3800).
One surprise was the presence of a new Lamborghini Aventador S. I truly wasn’t expecting to see one already but there it was! Roped off, doors shut, so this is all you get for now.
They also had a few Huracans including an Avio, but the example in the back was the one that I was most drawn to due to how aggressive it looked in the all-black scheme and with that prominent wing.
Infiniti had some nice metal on display but I didn’t end up spending too much time at their booth on either day. They have nice vehicles, don’t get me wrong, but not much that really grabbed my attention and made me wander over, save for the new QX30 though (yeah, of all the vehicles the baby SUV thingy was the one I hopped in). I was curious to check out the new Infiniti/Mercedes project as it was definitely a nicely styled vehicle and reportedly it drives very well, but again it’s a category I don’t claim to fully comprehend.
Lexus won the award for the coolest way to get out of handing out paper brochures, by giving you a card to scan on the vehicle’s info boards which would then email you the information for that vehicle.
They also had one of the coolest vehicles on display in the form of the modified, yellow LC500 that you’ve all surely seen in print or online already by this point. With that colour and the inclusion of a roll cage I was of course drawn to it but looking further, it was a good case of small and well-thought out changes really transforming a car. I don’t think the production LC500 is offered in yellow but this is a clear case for why it should be.
The production version was indeed there too, and was selectively opened for people to sit in which was a good compromise between keeping it safe and allowing access. On the topic of Lexus, one thing that I love in particular about new cars is how beautifully detailed the lights are getting now. Of course the flip side is that if they get broken it costs a fortune to replace them, but it’s amazing to see how much detail and care is going into the lights these days. Lexus especially never disappoints here, and the LC’s lights were easily among the most stunning.
This was the aforementioned RC F that had the, uh, ‘custom’ blue-tinted driver’s seat. Brian had a chance to hop in and seemed to really like it. Lexus is definitely being bold with their styling and good on them for that.
While I did have a look around the entire stand, the only Cadillac to make it into my photo set was the ATS-V. It was the only manual transmission-equipped car on the floor so naturally I had to go check it out in more detail and grab a couple of photos.
Now we get to Volvo, the first brand that Brian and I really started to look at in detail. The new S90 was the highlight of the booth for me so I made a beeline for it both days. It’s interesting that it looks so aggressive yet it does so with exceptionally clean and reserved styling, in the sense that there are no crazy lines or trim or diffusers or anything – I suppose those headlights do a lot to add to the pissed-off look. The tail lights (and whole back end for that matter) were certainly the part of the exterior that caught me by surprise when the car was first revealed but I have grown to like them, a lot. They change up convention just enough without going crazy.
The XC90 R Design was another Ovlov that I wanted to see – and am a fan of for the also aggressive but reserved styling (can those things happen at the same time? Apparently they can) – but I never expected we’d end up being so captivated by the arm rest of the other XC90 on display. I never sat in the white XC90 when I was there with my camera so I never focused on it, but when Brian and I were exploring I hopped in. As I went to climb back out I grabbed the door’s arm rest – as you do – and literally stopped in my tracks. It was without any exaggeration the softest leather I had ever felt (by a long shot) so I called to Brian and he walked over to see what I was on about. Yes, it was so impressive that I told him to come feel the arm rest. Which he did. Maybe we get along so well because we’re equally weird?
Porsche was another manufacturer that I didn’t spend too much time looking at when I was at the show, nor did I when we were all at the show later on. They did have the new Panamera with its trick 3-piece expanding rear wing but nothing truly called to me to hop in and explore. If a Cayman GT4 or 911R had been there I would have been all over them (but I know neither would be because neither is new and you can’t just buy the R) but I grabbed a couple of photos and then wandered off to the next manufacturer.
Jaguar had their new F-Pace on display again, but it had a steady gathering of people checking it out so I never properly sat in it. It would seem to be a bit of a hit though as I swear it seems I can’t go anywhere in Calgary without seeing one. I understand the hesitation people have towards sports car brands building SUVs but I see it as a necessary evil. They allow said companies to continue building their sports cars, and the F Pace certainly seems to be a good offering in the market if all I’ve read and watched is anything to go on – or the sheer number of them on the roads here.
They did also have the F-Type SVR in this stunning blue, with matching stitching and piping inside.
Acura had a very, very boldly styled concept on display, which was definitely turning heads and drawing cameras. While they’re always very far removed from what we’ll see on the roads anytime soon, it’s always cool to see what the designers come up with when they don’t have to adhere to norms and regulations.
Acura also had the new NSX on display and it wasn’t roped off! But it was enclosed in a glass fence. So this is all you get. Haha
I realize that I started this post off with explaining how Brian and I got into picking the cars apart and finding shortcomings, and then a lot of what I’ve already written has just been about how this car or that car was cool. We only got into our hunt and proper examinations – if you will – for a fraction of the cars because not only would it have taken way more time than we had to do so with every single vehicle, but there were models we were more interested in than others and so naturally spent more time with them. A couple that we did spend a lot of time looking through and discussing, were the M2 and M3 from BMW.
It’s no secret that these are not inexpensive cars. As shown here the M2 was the better part of $80K and the M3 reached into 6-figure territory. Given the pricetags were were both surprised at how immediately we both found – and agreed upon – what we felt to be a major shortcoming; the interiors. Of course they were high quality and well put together and full of tech and so on – that goes without saying – but they didn’t FEEL like the interiors that should be in cars with those price tags. The dashboards in particular were what let them down for us. They were not actually, but the finish of the dashes made them look like generic, hard plastic. They were soft to the touch and we knew that but looking at them, the grain and the finish made them look just like the hard plastic found in our Focus’ interiors – and these were $80K and $100K cars, respectively. In comparison, the $130K X5M (I’m sorry, how much?) had a leather wrapped upper dash and that – combined with the two-tone interior, granted – made it look like something that could be in a $200K car. It was stunning, and the main contributing factor for that was just the fact that the upper dash was covered in leather with a nicely-stitched seam running across. That was it. I know that you can get it as a separate option typically but it was remarkable how much of a negative impact its lack had on the interior – and we were not the only people noticing that.
Even this 3 series (340i) featured a leather-covered upper dash and it rang in at over $30,000 less expensive than the M3. Side note, it was also finished in Fashion Grey. I’d seen it in photos prior to this and loved it, so to see it in person and see that it looked good then too, was awesome. Yes, I like odd shades.
Now we jump across the hall to Honda, and the new Civic. They had the Type R prototype on hand (watch for that in its own spotlight post) and it was nice to be able to compare it side by side, more or less, with the ‘standard’ versions of the Civic. To be honest I’m not entirely sure what to think of the new Civics. I can’t help but compare them of course to the classic EGs and EKs and then I see how far removed they are from those, but of course times change as do technology and regulations. They certainly seem like nice vehicles and it’s nice to see an assortment of bodystyles for buyers to choose from but I guess we’ll never be able to help the fact that we can’t look at a Civic without thinking of THE Civics from the 90’s.
It should be absolutely no surprise that none of us would miss the Ford stand. I spent a while there on my own, and we all returned on Sunday to check out the RS and of course, the new GT. Up until this point Brian had actually never sat in an RS so we made sure to cross that off of his to-do list and as a bonus it was his favourite colour – Nitrous Blue. When I was at the show taking the photos I naturally spent a bit of time around the GT taking it all in, so I’d overhear plenty of people as they walked by and checked out the cars. Many would come up to the RS, look at the info sheet, and then in shock/disgust say “fifty grand for a Focus?!” before walking away. Each time I had to chuckle to myself.
Side note about the above photo; you may note that the hatches were open – on Wednesday they were all rigged to not shut fully so that people could open them and look. By Sunday they had mostly all been closed and locked.
While we’re talking about the Focus it’s worth mentioning the SEL sedan that was on display. It’s interesting to see the SEL trim back for the Mk3 (it was available in ’12 then dropped for ’13) but my word, the interior shocked us. We love our Foci, but we were not impressed with what we saw.
The sedan had Sync 3 and dual zone so it had the technology but the dash, the door panels, the trim, and so on were all the exact same finish and shade of satin black, and it made it look cheap in person. Contrast – in colours and finishes – goes a very long way to improving the look and perceived quality of an interior and this monotone interior looked way cheaper than it should have, especially considering the SEL’s placement in the lineup (it’s above the SE – mine – but looked like it should be way below), even though there was the large touch screen and fancy dual zone sitting there. It would probably be different if the car was on and said fancy features were then lit up and working but as the car sat, turned off, it looked like a budget, base-spec rental car interior. It really needed some accents in different colours or different finishes. As an illustration of what I mean the RS (ignoring the seats as obvious improvements) features a mostly blacked out interior too, but with just a few hints of silver trim and blue stitching looks so much better and higher end it’s not even funny. When I said we nitpicked cars, not even the model that is so dear to us was safe from our critiquing.
On a lighter note, the particular ST that was on display was wearing the new-for-17 Triple Yellow Paint – I was very happy to see this as opposed to a carry-over colour. This change is one that we’d seen a lot of debate over online, due to which I wasn’t sure what to expect but in person it looked amazing. It’s definitely bright and vibrant, but dare I say that I prefer it to not just Tangerine Scream (the old ST yellow) but even my own Yellow Blaze?
Being a Canadian car it of course had the now-standard carbon fiber interior pack. Brian and I definitely did not discuss how we could possibly borrow pieces of said pack without anyone working there noticing. Nope, definitely not. Not at all.
Ford had a couple of surprises in their display too. There were unfortunately no 2018 Mustangs (which is actually understandable as they have just recently been revealed) but the only new Raptor on display was a locked prototype. They had the same last year as of course the new model wasn’t out yet, but it certainly is now – I see one nearly every day now (and not the same one, before you ask) so I’m not sure why there was only the prototype at the show.
If the Raptor wasn’t for you then perhaps the standard F150 was, and they did have a new 2018 model parked at the back alongside the production 2017 versions. The facelift brings it more in line visually with its big brothers and definitely makes it stand out.
Finally for today, the Focus Electric. We were chuckling at/intrigued by the combination of parts on this car. It won’t mean anything to the non-enthusiasts of course, but when looking we couldn’t help but see the mixup that this car now is. The Mk3.5 Focus Electric retains the Mk3 nose – though it does make perfect sense given the cost that would have been involved to make another unique nose for this low-production variant of the car – but interestingly it also retained the Mk3 steering wheel! While the list of Mk3 components was small, they were so prominent that there was no missing them. Again, it wouldn’t mean anything to the average consumer but we see this mix as a real standout.
Anyway, that concludes today’s post! Thank you all for reading, and be sure to check back as the Auto Show coverage continues with two more spotlights and Part 2 of the main coverage. Also in case you weren’t aware the Menace meets have unofficially restarted, so if you’re in Calgary and free tomorrow night swing by the Tim Hortons at Blackfoot Trail and 46th Ave SE at 7pm! There have been very good turnouts to the few meets that have taken place so far this year and they will only get bigger as the weather continues to improve (which it won’t because now by saying that, I’ve jinxed it).