• By: Neil Moore

Auto shows give us all a chance to dream big

Photos by Neil Moore / Feature image Pixabay

These days we’re all swamped with information, which is why so many emails, articles, and other useful bits of information often get ignored.

And why “Top Ten” lists are so popular. We appreciate that someone has spent hours doing the research, distilling it to what’s interesting, outrageous, funny, or simply what we need to know.

Of course, these include a ton of writer bias. Which also applies to this story (a “Top Seven”), making it more of a romp – I hope – than a dry engineering or accounting lesson.

On that note, I won’t bore you with a pile of stats from the recent Canadian International AutoShow. Just the basics: 1,000-plus cars, trucks, SUVs, concepts, exotics, classics, muscle cars, and electrics; 650,000 square feet at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre; 358,842 total attendance.

Ditto for the many industry observations delivered by CEOs and senior executives who presented on CIAS Media Day – the day before the show officially opens. Sure, it’s educational and, like kale, I’ll consume it because it’s good for me. But what really gets me on the road at 6 a.m. to make Media Day’s 7 a.m. start, are the unveilings. Forty this year, spanning new models, production-ready concepts, and flights of fancy that define the industry’s cutting edge and possible future.

Assuming that 40 vehicles are a bit much for most readers, I’ve narrowed it to a few favourites. This year, I’ve blown off all practical matters – like shopping for your next ride – and focused on the kind of car I might purchase once automotive journalism puts seven figures in my bank account.

Indeed, auto shows give us all a chance to dream…

Koenigsegg Agera RS

So let’s begin with the world’s fastest production vehicle, which rest assured, does not come cheap. The Koenigsegg Agera RS was the show opener, and after watching the unveiling and on-stage interview with company CEO Christian von Koenigsegg, all I can say is “I want one.”

This Swedish hypercar is powered by a twin-turbo 5.0-litre V8 that belts out a whopping 1,160 hp and 944 lb/ft of torque. Late last year, on a Nevada highway closed to the public, the Agera RS was clocked at 457.94 km/h.

Try explaining that to the guy (or gal) wearing the Stetson and mirrored sunglasses.

This car is also stunning, with its many aerodynamic tweaks adding both function and style. Not all super- or hypercars can say the same. And only 25 Ageras will be built – setting well-heeled buyers back around $2.5 million.

So, for something a little more attainable…

Corvette ZR1

The fastest production Corvette ever may not match the Koenigsegg, but you’ll be able to buy a small fleet of ZR1s for the same price. And keep in mind that its numbers would exceed many of the exotics from yesteryear. The ZR1’s supercharged 6.2-litre LT5 V8 delivers 755 hp and 715 lb/ft of torque – with 600 lb/ft on tap from 2200 rpm to redline. Thirteen radiators are needed to cool all this fire and fury.

This Corvette has shed weight through the extensive use of carbon fibre. And putting the reins on this beast are six-piston Brembo brakes in front (four-piston in rear) with rotors the size of large serving trays (15.5 and 15.3-inch, front/rear).

Pricing is not yet released, but I’d predict the ZR1 may stretch some budgets. So here’s something that should offer plenty of fun for the dollar.

Veloster N

Hyundai revealed a long overdue variant of its popular Veloster hatchback. The current Veloster Turbo is reasonably peppy, with its 201-hp, 1.6-litre turbo, but the 2019 Veloster N should have the cred to challenge serious hot hatches like Focus ST and Golf GTI.

The N’s larger 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder produces up to 275 hp, and up to 260 lb/ft of torque from a low 1,450 rpm. And it has the looks to match with exclusive front fascia and grille, side sills and 19-inch, machine-finished alloys. In back is a larger rear spoiler and wide-bore dual exhausts.

It’s also surprisingly practical (as most hatchbacks are), despite having the appearance of a 2+2. The Veloster employs a rear door on the passenger side, opening to a usable back seat area.

Genesis GV80 Concept

The same automaker caught my eye with a second reveal: the Genesis GV80 Concept. To be fair, Genesis is now a stand-alone luxury brand, and this particular concept looks even more high-end than the current lineup.

The GV80 may not appear green, but it’s a hydrogen fuel cell-powered SUV. And it showcases a future design that I hope will someday make it to production. That is, without the bean counters ‘dumbing down’ its striking sheet metal and exterior flourishes.

The elegant front grill is no doubt expensive to manufacture, as would be the 23-inch mesh wheels. On the inside, you’ll find a 22-inch curved OLED touchscreen, and diamond-stitched, semi-aniline leather.

SUVs have come a long way from their boxy beginnings, and the GV80 would be another huge step forward – if Genesis builds something close to this concept.

Prototype 9 Concept

Infiniti’s Prototype 9 Concept is described as the reimagining of a 1930s race car. I’d call it automotive art at its finest. Truly retro, but with modern cues – like the grille – this sleek, open-wheeled roadster is driven by a prototype electric motor and battery that produces 148 hp and 236 lb/ft of torque. Drive is to the rear wheels via single-speed transmission.

The numbers aren’t huge, but the Prototype 9 will go from rest to 100 km/h in just 5.5 seconds, and reach a top speed of 170 km/h. Still, it’s only a design study – and when you’ve got the looks, who really cares about speed?

BMW i8 Roadster

Speaking of gorgeous, here’s an electric roadster you’ll be able to find at dealerships. The 2019 BMW i8 Roadster is a droptop version of the matching hybrid coupe. Like its sibling, the roadster gets a 1.5-litre three-cylinder mated to an electric motor and battery, with a combined output of 369 hp.

Horsepower numbers aside, the i8 roadster is a lightweight thanks to extensive use of aluminum and carbon fibre-reinforced polymer in the chassis and body panels. This all-wheel-drive hybrid will go from zero to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds.

Mercedes-AMG Project One Hypercar

Let’s wrap up with one of the most eye-catching rides at the Show. Okay, I’d say it’s a toss-up between the Mercedes-AMG Project One Hypercar and the Infiniti Prototype 9 Concept. But the Merc will be built – at least 275 of ‘em.

Project One brought together teams from AMG, alongside the company’s Formula One operations. And they went with a plug-in hybrid. Not the kind that’ll please green-motoring diehards, but a unit that comes from their F1 racer, combining a 1.6-litre V6 with four beefy electric motors to deliver a combined output of 1,000 hp. And you can wind it up to a screaming 11,000 rpm.

The Project One will rocket from zero to 200 km/h in less than six seconds, to a top speed of 350 km/h. Which adds yet another way to rack up a few demerit points.

I’d still like one anyway. And who knows… maybe someday this auto journalism gig will pay off.