Spring. A time when Vancouverites' thoughts turn to rubber boots and umbrellas and some sort of anfti-fungal cream to stop the mold growing between your toes. It is wetter outside than a beluga's bathing costume.
What to do if you love cars? Check them out indoors at the 2012 Vancouver International Auto Show!
This year is just plain crammed with new car unveilings, everything from the Canadian debut of the Audi S5 to the first BMW 6-series Gran Coupe (actually a four-door sedan) to show up in North America. It's a big show, and there's a lot of ground to cover: let's get started.
Over at the Volkswagen booth, it's all about cool and hot. Hot like the new 2013 Golf R, the latest Ã¼ber-version of VW hot hot-hatchback. Boasting 256 turbocharged horses and the traction of all-wheel-drive to contain them, the Golf R marks the first time we've been allowed to have a VW that's as good as the ones they keep for the european market.
Coolness comes with the new Jetta Hybrid. VW's got the long-distance touring thing licked with their hyper-efficient TDI diesels. Mind you, diesels are still internal-combustion engines, and do best out on the open road. If you're a fan of teutonic style, but are looking for something to handle your heavy-city-traffic stop-and-go, the new Jetta Hybrid's got you covered.
This is no normal four-banger-and-aelectric-motor hybrid. The Jetta hybrid's tiny-displacement 1.4L turbocharged engine has torque to spare, but combined with power stored in lithium ion batteries. Add in the driver engagement provided by a DSG dual-clutch gearbox and you have a compelling alternative to the Prius, with a greater fun to drive factor.
Speaking of pint-sized turbocharged engines and fun-to-drive factor, how can we not mention MINI. Celebrating it's 10th year, MINI's full lineup can be seen at the booth, from practical-sized Countryman to impractical-but-fun Cooper S Coupe.
Latest in the lineup is the fantastic-looking Mini Roadster: a two-door two seater that ditches the back seats in favour of some much needed style. Frankly, it looks fantastic and, seeing as I spent some time in a Cooper S Coupe recently, cutting off the roof to let you hear more of that poppop-pop exhaust noise on deceleration can't be anything except a good thing.
Over at Ford, two very important vehicles are making their bows: the 2013 Ford Fusion and the 2013 Ford Escape. Both are best-sellers; family workhorses that have practicality as a primary focus. On the other hand, just look at them! Hard to believe that buying an entry-level Ford product these days might have you getting mistaken for James Bond.
Then there's the Escape, which is a far cry from the boxy previous model. Once again Ford is showing why they were the quickest to rebound of the big three domestic automakers with a refreshing design that boasts the Euro-chic of the Focus in a bigger package for families.
Meanwhile, at arch-rival Chevy, the wraps are off the hardest-core version of the Camaro yet. The ZL1 is powerful enough to make most Corvettes pack up their bags and head home, with a staggering 580hp worth of supercharged V8. Whaddya mean premium fuel is a buck-fifty a litre? This latest weapons-grade muscle car lays down a 0-100km/h time in the high three-second range and blitzed the Nurburgring in 7: 41-that's within spitting distance of the Lamborghini Murcielago.
But the mighty Murcielago is no longer the baddest Lambo on the black. Over at the supercar paddock, feast your eyes upon the Aventador, a 700-hp, half-million-dollar machine that makes no apologies for being loud and proud. Parked next to it you'll see the Ferrari FF: a sensible, practical hatchback with, oh, only 660hp. Perhaps if you've got an Aventador, this could be your daily driver.
But maybe you think horsepower is a thing of the past: mere neolithic grunting in the face of climate change and smoggy skies. Fret not, have we got a supercar for you.
It's the Fisker Karma, and it's a breathtaking machine: an Aston-Martin wearing Spanx. Better yet, it's got the ability to run silent on all-electric power, or with a small four-cylinder turbocharged engine providing extra oomph.
Inside, it's a bit cramped, especially in the back seats. But the interior is as fantastic as the exterior and with performance stats becoming less and less important in a world of crowded roads where pollutionspewing V8s aren't important anymore, it's a breath of fresh air.
Let's suppose you aren't flush with cash, but you're still looking for a sporty ride that's easy on the environment. Good news, the Scion FR-S is here! Again! Finally!
No, really, the Scion version of the Subaru/Toyota collaboration to produce a car that can compete with the Mazda Miata is finally showing up in production form, with a price-tag of just $25,990. That's high-end Civic money for a purpose-built rear-wheel-drive ultra-lightweight coupe that happens to have the daily-driveability of a four-cylinder 2.0L boxer engine. It's been a hell of a long time coming, but looks like it was worth the wait.
Best yet, depending where your loyalties lie, Subaru also has a version of the same car in the BRZ, a silver version of which is sitting over next to a blue STi. While you're over at Subie, check out their XV: a lifted up Impreza with-ahem-impreza-ive ground clearance.
Plenty of eye candy at Dodge, from a battle-ready Wrangler to brightly coloured Challengers and Chargers. But it's the cheap seats you should check out.
Dodge dealers have been in stasis for years, waiting for a car that could compete in the extremely cutthroat compact segment. For years, all they had was the Caliber, which was such a peashooter they should have called it the Dodge Derringer. Now though, there's a resurrection of an old nameplate on a new body. New for 2013, it's the Dodge Dart.
Based on the heart-stopping Alfa-Romeo Giulietta, the Dart has all the pragmatism of the original, with some much-needed flair to boot. Practical four-cylinder engines will be first to appear, with rumours of a turbocharged SRT version to tantalize the palate.
Kia pulled the wraps of a customized Sorento that's sure to be near and dear to the heart of my editor: it's decked out in the livery of our beloved Whitecaps soccer team, and two players were on hand to help out with the reveal. Take a good look at the Rio five-door and Sedan while you're rooting for the home team - they're among the best-equipped vehicles in the entry level segment.
Hyundai's booth is all-white, with a few notable exceptions. First is the Veloster, about which I'm a bit ambivalent... but what's this? The Veloster Turbo? Can't wait to try that one out!
There's plenty more I haven't got room to cram in (a bright-blue Jag XKR, the droptop SLS AMG, the latest 911), so dodge the drops and head down yourself. The Vancouver International Auto Show is at BC Place until April 8.
Follow Brendan on Twitter: @brendan_ mcaleer, or submit your own auto oddities to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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