2018 Calgary Auto Show

At this rate, in a couple of years I’ll probably be spending more time at the Auto Show than people actually working at the Auto Show.

Normally I would – naturally – attend once each year. Last year, for the first time I attended twice; I went by myself at the start of the show to capture all of the photos for the site, and returned on the last day alongside my mother and Brian. They both wanted to see the show so we coordinated and all went together. I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to look at cars again, after all.

This year, I went three times. For an event that only runs over five days that’s perhaps a bit much (okay, yes it’s a bit much) but I won’t complain about being surrounded by cars. Once again I went on the first day to capture all of the photos as I was able to go right after the event first opened – during work hours – when crowds weren’t too bad. A day or two after I tagged along with Brian since he of course wanted to go, and granted this was when his car was still out of commission following the shift tower breaking so I gave him a lift. Following that, Mario invited me and – especially since he offered to pay for my ticket – I wasn’t going to say no to that.

It was another good show, to say the least, and a number of us found a car or two that really hooked us. There were some notable new trends in the designs of many cars, as well as an improvement in displays over prior years (Nissan actually had the GT-R unlocked!), and an abundance of absolutely beautiful paint colours – now if only people would buy them and stop being so monotone with their paint choices!

One more thing that stood out to us though, on a less-positive note, was the pricing of many vehicles. It wasn’t with all brands of course, but in many cases (especially on the luxury side of things) we were noting that the value wasn’t really there any more. New vehicles of course rise in price over time (everything does – that’s called inflation kids) but we were noticing asking prices of many cars on display that just frankly, didn’t add up. When an RS3 is over $70K and M cars are reaching well into 6 figures, you have to take a step back and ask what the heck happened?

Anyway, I’ll have more comments below to go with their respective photos, so feel free to read on or just scroll though and stare at the cars. Let’s begin!

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I didn’t even stop to look at the Titans this year, but there was no way I wasn’t grabbing a photo of the display which Nissan had just outside of the front doors. Attention most definitely grabbed.

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Upon entering the show, the first booth was Hyundai’s so that’s where the photos started. I was more or less set on beginning with the luxury hall – and soon made a beeline for it – but couldn’t resist grabbing a few of the new Kona before doing so. I fully admit to not being the biggest fan of mini SUVs/CUVs/whatever-it-is-nowUVs (I say unless you’re going for a full size SUV or a real truck, just buy a car) but credit where credit’s due, there are a lot of rather nicely-styled and equipped little offerings out now. The new Kona is one that Mario and I have both paid attention to, as – especially in bright colours to contrast the lower cladding – they look rather sharp.

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The beeline attempt failed again as I crossed Honda’s booth, as I had to get a quick shot of the classic Civic parked next to the new CTR. Interestingly, this wasn’t the only new/old pairing on display as both Mazda and Subaru had done a similar setup – it may have been a new vehicle show but seeing manufacturer’s older offerings as a point of comparison was a welcome and fun addition!

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My last stop before finally getting around to the luxury hall was, understandably, Ford. I love all cars – we all love all cars – but as a lot of us are Ford owners we’re going to ensure that we look over everything that the Blue Oval has brought each year. First up was the new Bullitt Mustang; I get why it’s a 2019 (being introduced partway through 2018 ensured that) but it would have been so much better if they could have made it a 2018 model, right?

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As I joked on Instagram, this would be Ketchup and Mustard leveled up. On a more serious (and sobering) note however, this is what $100,000 in Foci looks like in Canada. For that, I’m actually rounding down; counting Alberta GST (5%), these two rang in for about $102K total. Yikes.

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I was glad to see a Race Red RS LE in detail though, as I feel that if you’re going to get an LE, this is the one to buy due to the more substantial difference (colour) versus a regular RS. In this case, the $10,000 premium makes sense as you couldn’t replicate this with a regular RS for that amount.

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Interior shot of the ST for comparison – we all know what they look like but I won’t turn down the chance.

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As per Mario’s suggestion, I should replace the family Suburban with one of these. Granted, these can be modified and turn out pretty cool, but I still adore that Suburban.

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Along with thinner crowds, one benefit – actually, I’ll say the biggest benefit – of going on the first day was that the McLaren booth was fully open to showgoers and I was able to spend some time looking over the cars in detail, including (well, mainly) the 675LT coupe. You should all know my obsession with these things and I was super happy to finally see a coupe in person; the others I’d seen up until this point were all Spiders. Unfortunately I still don’t have 3 quarters of a million to spend on a car so I’ll have to stick to drooling over these at shows for the foreseeable future.

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Happily, I did find some McLarens I could afford…

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Along with the LT and 570 sat a 720S in its Velocity scheme; in other words, a paint job you never want to have to match! Take a close look here – not only did it transition from one shade of red to another, but the center of the frunk had exposed, tinted carbon fiber as well. Truly an incredible finish and one that has to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. The fade is not to everyone’s taste, mine included, but it demands respect for the complexity.

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Elsewhere, talk about imposing…the new Lincoln Navigator seemed to have the footprint (and frontal area) of a house! I’m still a big Lincoln fan of course (the old Continental has just turned over 190,000 kilometers now. 200K this year?) so I made sure to spend some time at their booth. I looked over the new Continental again as well, but as I gave it a full spotlight last year I decided to pass on sharing photos this time around.

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Alongside the production models Lincoln also had their Nautilus concept on display and it was drawing a decent bit of attention. As somewhat of a side note, it would seem that trim panels/badging mounted across the front doors and fenders has become a bit of a thing with some new vehicles, beyond just Lincoln.

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Half the fun of attending the event is sharing our notes and opinions. When recapping the event with Mario I asked him what his car of the show was; specifically, I asked for his “reasonable” car of the show and not some mega-bucks hypercar. His answer was the Cadillac CTS-V, seen in the background here. As I shot the photos on the first trip and didn’t have my camera on me when we went together I never got a dedicated photo of it, but on a related note I was quite a fan of the smaller ATS-V, partly because it comes as a coupe and unless I’m mistaken, the CTS-V doesn’t have a third pedal option. Regardless, both are seriously impressive machines and look absolutely menacing.

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Another top contender for Mario (and me as well) was the Giulia. Drooling may have occurred here.

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Ferrari and Lambo were well-represented at the show, with the main draws for me being the GTC4 Lusso and Urus respectively. As an existing fan of the FF I was immediately hooked on the Lusso when it launched, and it was great to finally see an Urus in person – even if the front bumper’s washer covers were not aligned at all and it was all anyone could notice. Haha. I’ll agree that SUVs from brands like Lambo are definitely opinion-splitters, but I respect them for what they allow said companies to do, by bringing in more capital for further improvement of their ‘serious’ offerings. Look at what the Cayenne has done for Porsche, after all.

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Moving into more reasonable territory now (relatively speaking, yes I know that’s an R8), Audi had quite a display with a rather nice selection of colours too – it was just a shame that a good percentage of their vehicles were roped off. My pick of their booth was undoubtedly the baby RS, the RS3, but when I went to their online configurator following the show I was a bit surprised…

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The first shocker was that this little super sedan rang in at over $71,000. Yes, of course it’s the top-of-the-line, ballistic missle of the A3 family, but that’s a lot of money for something its size. Crazier though would be the paint options – Nardo Grey is free, but every other colour is at least several hundred dollars more. I get that Nardo is gloss and the others are more complex (therefore more costly) but for a car that starts at almost $63,000 Audi can’t throw in the paint for free? If anything, Nardo should be the extra-cost option due to its desirability. Like I said at the start about prices not making a ton of sense anymore…

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Nearby in BMW land, the new M4 CS was on display which I was happy to see. If you ask me, this is what the standard M4 should have been; a less compromising and slightly stripped-out variant of the 4 series, without going so far as to fit a roll cage and aggressive aero like the GTS. Perhaps that’s a way BMW could further differentiate the M3 and M4 in coming years/generations, by having the M3 balance luxury and performance whereas the M4 gives up some of its tech and creature comforts to be more focused?

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Either way, it still wins for having some of the coolest tail lights on the market.

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Next to the CS was the baby M2 (speaking of, I see the new M2 Competition is coming now – much excite!) which was a grey model that had been wrapped in satin green. The wrap looked great and certainly made the car stand out, but with the M2’s blue stitching the colour did clash a bit. Still though, an awesome little package from the M division and a car I’ve been a fan of from day one.

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Changing tones a bit, there was no way I could skip over Genesis. Last year, Brian and I walked away from the show with their G90 being our clear pick of the event as the vehicle we were most impressed by. As such I made sure to give their offerings some attention this year and I’ll say that they definitely made it to the ‘finalists’ for my car of the show this time around with the upcoming G70. If I’m honest, I’m still not entirely sure what I’d call my absolute favourite vehicle of the event (675LT aside, once again we’re sticking to ‘realistic’ cars here) but this is absolutely up there.

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Like their other sedans there were a number of styling elements that reminded us of other vehicles (we all saw M2 in the rear lights, especially with the car being shown in this blue shade) but the overall package worked well.

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I have a lot of respect for Genesis (and Kia, hello Stinger…) for what they’re bringing to the market these days. They are clearly putting in a lot of effort to change/craft their brand image and while small, their lineup is one that shouldn’t be ignored. Like I said last year I am curious to see how they hold up over time in terms of reliability and resale value, but so far I am very impressed with what I’m seeing. Job well done.

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Having photographed their other models last year I didn’t take a ton of photos while at Ovlov’s booth but I did stop to check out the new XC40. Again, I don’t ‘get’ the mini SUV craze but also, again, there are some rather sharply-styled little things coming to the market now and I applaud that. On a somewhat related topic, one trend (slash style) that is definitely in full swing is to have the quarter panels on SUVs and minivans broken up by glass or a trim piece – check the Kona photos at the start for a clearer example of what I mean, or look at the new Honda Odyssey. It makes for some really distinctive and cool designs, and also makes a lot of sense from both manufacturing and repair standpoints as it provides a place to hide seams in metal and paint. For example, should your quarter panel get bumped no longer will a massive panel up to and including the A-pillar need to be recleared following repairs.

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Nearly out of the luxury hall now – over in Porsche’s booth, this 991.2 GT3 looked rather good in its yellow hue. Incidentally, it had the paint carried inside as well with its interior accent package which was a nice touch. It’s safe to say we’ll be seeing a number of these at cars and coffee events and I can’t wait.

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The real highlight of Porsche’s booth for me however, was the 911R they had brought out; it was number 925 of the 991 produced if memory serves. I didn’t know if or when I’d ever get to see one of these in person so this was a real treat. I am a fan of these for their focus, and also for how they showed Porsche (along with the Cayman GT4) that manuals are still very much cared about.

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Moving back into the main hall now, I definitely didn’t take as many photos here but there were still many vehicles catching mine and our attention; the new Veloster and Veloster N included. The whole ‘N’ lineup is one I’m keen to watch.

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Next door in Kia, we took a quick look at some of their other offerings but naturally it was the Stinger which we really wanted to see. It’s no secret it has been getting a lot of praise and we very much want to test-drive one…until that day, virtual drives in Forza will have to do though. Yes, mine is yellow. Haha

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Speaking of colours, VW had their Golf R on display in perhaps the most surprising shade of the show – we all stopped and stared at this one. Called Violet Touch Pearl (I made sure to get the name of it), it caught my eye from across the hall and I just had to know what vehicle was wearing the shade. At first I was surprised to see that it was the R, but you know what – it worked. This was a definite talking point of the event as we were certainly not the only ones drawn in by the hue. If I were ordering a new R, I would be checking the box for this without hesitation.

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Another colour that we were all mesmerized by was Toyota’s Cavalry Blue. It was shown on a Tacoma as well but this 4Runner had less people around it so I recorded it to the memory card instead. On a somewhat related note, on the third day we all carpooled to the show in Dave and Pauline’s Tacoma and having not really spent any time around them before, I was impressed with it. I can see why they’ve been so pleased with it.

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Back on topic, Just as Mario and I never miss looking at the Fiestas and Foci, Derrick can’t forget the Camaros. I am impressed (and glad) that in this day and age of strict vehicle regulations, you can walk into a dealership and buy a new car with canards the size of these. I gather they’re not legal in all markets, but at least they’re legal here!

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Seeing as how Derrick was with us, we also played a round of “Will Derrick fit?” and tried to find a vehicle that he wouldn’t be able to climb into. As it turns out, the MX-5 RF is actually roomy enough, though there wasn’t exactly any space left for the airbags to deploy…or for the roof to close. Minor details.

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Wandering back through Honda’s stand it was the CTR that we all stopped to look at here, of course. Reggie actually just picked one of these up for himself – in white, naturally – and is already getting to work on it; I’ve even seen one already be stripped and fully resprayed Phoenix Yellow so people are definitely not wasting time with these.

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I couldn’t even tell you what car it was as it was so long ago, but when I was very young my aunt had a car with covers over the rear wheels. I thought they were the coolest thing ever at the time, and so when I saw the new Honda Clarity with its slightly covered rear wheels I had to go in for a closer look. It didn’t matter what angle you viewed it from; there was no mistaking this for a ‘regular’ car but it was this angle that really caught my attention.

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Could there be a car any less like the Clarity than this? Over in “add more horsepower to everything” land (AKA Dodge), a new Demon was on display. This is a vehicle I have a lot of respect for, for the engineering feat it is. The fact that Dodge brought something so ridiculous to market in the first place is awesome, and I laugh at how they took full advantage of the loopholes. Can’t fit certain items to a new vehicle? Then make them an option, charge one dollar for them, and let owners fit them after the fact – wink wink, nudge nudge and all that.

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Vehicles like this – absolutely bonkers, no-holds-barred monsters that exist just because they can – raise the bar and mean good things for the industry by saying to other manufacturers “Okay, your turn now”. The real question is, however, when are Dodge going to offer a Hell-catted Caravan (Hellvan? Kidhawk?)? They’re clearly not shy about giving vehicles 700+ horsepower…though little Timmy’s milk carton and snacks would be splattered across the rear window at every touch of the gas. Maybe they could fit a wiper to the inside as well…

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Subaru also had some tasty models on hand, including the BRZ tS and STI RA. I personally spent more time looking over the Crosstreks though as a friend is considering buying one soon and was quite taken by them. Orange accent stitching as an option? Yes please.

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And last but not least, sitting just in front of the Crosstreks was arguably the star of their booth; a 1969 360. If we could have played “Will Derrick Fit” with this, I’m sure we’d have found a winner. This thing was hilariously tiny and a wicked little feature for the show.

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Anyway, that concludes this year’s look at the Auto Show; three visits meant a lot of time at the event but it was fun – obviously, or I wouldn’t have done it. Haha.

I won’t make any promises on breaking that record next year, but when friends say they’re going and ask if you want to tag along (and offer to pay – thanks Mario!) it’s hard to say no. That being said, perhaps we can all coordinate and go on the same day next time? Until then, perhaps we should actually make good on the plans we make each year to visit dealers following the event for even closer looks at certain models? I know the Edge ST will definitely be a vehicle we visit at the first opportunity but I’m also waiting to see when the G70s arrive in showrooms…

-Bill

 

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