One of the first things I did to start off the second media day, was climb up inside of a giant Army Styker vehicle and hop up on the turret. I just had too. Pictures coming soon to Hooniverse. I walked past the papa bear on wheels (Nissan Quest), towards Honda to check out the absolutely gorgeous Accord Coupe concept.
The Accord Coupe, paired with a V6 and true six-speed manual transmission has always been a big go-kart. Jeff Glucker could agree with me on this. What was really different about the Accord Coupe concept compared to other concepts at this show, was that this actually looked somewhat like the current generation Accord Coupe. No crazy wheels, no obnoxious graphics, no cheesy “Need For Speed Underground” body kits and neon, none of that. Just a clean, cherry red, sexy looking concept that I’m begging to be built. Props to Honda. Supposedly the CR-V is ‘all-new’ too. I didn’t really notice anything drastically different on the exterior, but I still went to check out the inside to see if it had gotten any better. For some strange odd reason, a giant stuffed Panda bear was riding shotgun? Alright…. that’s cool haha.
Toyota’s exhibit area was massive, reminding me just how many models and trims they have in their lineup. Immediately I stopped to check out the “all-new” Land Cruiser. What was “all-new” about it? I only noticed better looking headlights and tail lamps. It still looks good though. Two concept hybrid cars were rotating around on podiums. One was purple, one was blue. One looked evil, the other looked like a Round Goby fish. The FCV-R really caught my eye with its long narrow headlights, elongated roof line, and radical wheels. Interesting thing I noticed as I was editing my photos: the front end bumper is an exact replica of the rear’s. Somewhere underneath that concept costume, sits a fuel cell too. A little Prius C also sat on display. I like the Prius C, it actually looks decent and for the price/MPG combo, it just might be the only Prius model I’d maybe consider buying, maybe.
Walking out of the south side of the auto show, I caught a glance of a Toyota Camry pace car. Now on to a few of the automakers not covered in yesterday’s posts. I had my heart set on seeing only one car right away: the McLaren MP4-12C. This car is a jaw dropper. I was just shaking my head in disbelief and awe at just how neat of this machine is. After asking a reporter, who looked like a mixup of Charlie Chaplain and Willy Wonka, to fiddle with his camera somewhere else, I went to work snapping away pics of this British super car. That front bumper has a 592-horsepower smile on it, and I had one on too because this was the coolest car I saw today.
Folks, Hyundai has really stepped it up. The older Azera was nice but not quite the nicest in its class. Here’s another example of a forgotten-about car that has yet again returned to the market with a bold luxurious punch. This car is beautiful! I was very impressed both inside and out. Extra-large size headlights with LED accents and eyelids, a full-length LED taillamp across the rear, and just finely drawn-out body lines (most noticeably the trunk lid line going all the way past the rear door handles. The interior was pleasant as a BMWish door chime welcomed me in. Controls for both driver and passenger climate controlled seats weren’t just buttons, but touch sensitive panels. My only gripe with the interior of the new Azera, is the steering wheel….it came right out of an Elantra. Chevy has the same problem with their Corvette’s steering wheel, still borrowed from the now-dead Cobalt.
Six other Hyundai models impressed me today including the new Veloster Turbo; Genesis 2.0T R spec with its boost gauges, red leather & mesh seats, and shift knob that came out of an Aston Martin DBS; the beastly 5.0-liter V8 Genesis R-Spec (watch the TV commercial on YouTube and you’ll see why); and last but not least, the full-size Equus. The Equus’s back seat is too too comfy, I feel like it’d be the perfect place for a tired automotive journalist to take nap during the show, with its fully-adjustable reclining rear-seats. At 6’1, I kicked back and relaxed as I replaced the full CF card on my Canon. But Hyundai please, do me two things. First, get rid of your knob used to control the navigation/entertainment system, as it rattles like a baby’s toy; and second, make the Genesis R-Spec cabin a bit more sporty.
Audi brought two red-heads to Chicago this year: the R8 Spyder and all-new 450-horsepower RS5. The R8 has been on sale for almost five years now, and it still looks like a work of pure modern art. The car is stunning. My friend Ian and I took an R8 Spyder out during the cold month of December last year for some top down driving. That 5.2-liter V10 churns out one hell of a symphony, accompanied by the “clink” you hear every time you change gears in the metal shift gate. Audi’s sleek A7 continues to be the best looking four-door sedan ever made in my opinion, and the A4 Allroad station wagon has come back from the dead.
Sorry but the only two cars that really caught my attention at BMW’s booth were the ActiveHybrid 5 series and new M5. Too bad the new hyper-sedan wont have its legendary V10 engine anymore. Lincoln showed off their new MKS EcoBoost with that controversial front grille, which I happen to like; while lone Navigator continues to get older….and older….and more outdated. We probably won’t see it disappear anytime soon though because there’s still that good-size niche of consumers that continue to buy them as a symbol of status. Speaking of outdated cars, Volvo debuted their 2013 XC9o: a safe, stylish, Swedish, sport utility vehicle. Hooray for alliteration. I’m not going to hate on this debut because I think the XC90 is a solid vehicle, but it does need a major refresh or redesign. Why? Well, it kind of looks the same as it did ten years ago. The Volvo You concept was another interesting piece of their exhibit floor, with an interior wrapped in smooth wood and rich leather. The outside looks simple yet elegant at the same time. 21-inch spoked wheels and a a flowing “upward shape” towards the hood were just a few of the many highlights Could this replace the S80 in ten years? Maybe.
A light blue ZR1 welcomed me into the Chevrolet area, soon followed by a row of Camaros including the mullet man’s dream car, the ZL1, set to hit showroom floors soon. Despite its lame interior and plastic body, the ZR1 is a killer. It is our American super car. Kneeling down, and checking out the black rims on a Vette with the 100th anniversary trim, I looked to my distant left to see Bumblebee giving me the glare, as it played hide-&-seek behind a display wall. This was a perfect picture moment, and I swapped in my 75-300mm zoom lens to take the shot. Bumblebee is a character of a car, and so is the new Camaro ZL1 basked in carbon fiber that sits in front of it. A Nürburgring record-setting car with 580-horsepower for $54,000? Yep, student loans can wait. This car is a monster with its 20-inch black wheels, hood heat extractors, set of dual-exhaust tips, and that “Rawr I’ll eat you GT500” front bumper.
Six or so pastel colored Chevy Sparks and two concept cars, the Code130R and Tru40S, were out for audiences to check out. I really liked the white Tru40S because of its wide and low stance, reminding me somewhat of the Mitsubishi Eclipse coupe. Center-mounted rear exhaust outlets finished off that aggressive look. The Code130R is a bit goofy, while the Tru40S could be a neat little sport coupe to compete with the Civic Si and Forte Koup.
An overflow of cool customized Sonics guided my way out of Chevy towards Lexus. Lexus brought not one, but four LFA supercars to the windy city this year. This is probably the only time you will ever see this many together. I was in sheer heaven, as the LFA is one of my dream cars. I saw the first pre-production model here in Chicago about 3 years ago and it instantly became my unicorn. Painted in yellow, black, and two in red, the posse of LFAs sat parked behind a two-foot tall glass surrounding, smirking at those passing by. Minutes later I was sitting inside the driver’s seat of my $375,000 dream car. The interior was overdosed in carbon fiber and red leather, including the flat-bottomed steering wheel. I sat there dreaming of just flying in this car down an open road out west, with that Japanese V10 justtttttt screaming.
That just about wraps up the last media day of the 2012 Chicago International Auto Show. There are automotive gems and rubies here this year, make the trip out to see some of your favorite new and concept cars. My advice: either go during the weekdays or during the morning/late afternoon on the weekends, to avoid the swarms of show attendees.
Check back this weekend for a post about some of the funniest, coolest, best, and weirdest things I saw at CAS 2012. I’ll also be uploading the hundreds of auto show pictures onto my Flickr account as they slowly get edited. (You’ll be able to download them in hi-res form here)
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