So you may have noticed some delays in between the first and second parts of the series, and hopefully now you see why (if you’re RSSing, give it a break and visit the actual site). One of my main goals was to begin posting images and text independently, so if you’re wondering where all the images are, you’re going to need to look at Flickr. If you’re interested in more text-oriented exploits, then look no further.
I have to admit, the US put on a good show this year. Dodge probably had the most awe-inducing displays; not only were they showing the Challenger and the entire SRT gang; they also had test tracks (an off-road setup for Jeep and a series of on-road obstacles for the SRT vehicles) which really showed off the potential of some of their rides. The singular most impressive and beautiful American vehicle, however, belongs to Chevrolet in the form of the new Camaro. I thought the Challenger was quite nice when I saw it but the Camaro’s design makes it look like an old Volvo 240 — not ugly, but not exciting either. The Challenger, like the Musting, also seems to be a rather chunky version of the original while the Camaro looks leaner and more defined, something that I think will help it in the long run assuming it sees production.
The Saturn Sky and Pontiac Solstice were there as well, of course, and I had the opportunity to try a Solstice on for size. It’s not uncomfortable physically, but with the top up you’re left with what seems like a gun-slit of a windshield. What they lacked in practicality and ergonomics they more than made up for in attractiveness. I can’t help thinking that there should be a happy medium between the overly smooth and simple Solstice and the overly angular and decorated Sky, though. Knowing GM’s history with platform sharing, there probably will be, too.
I was disappointed in the overall European showing for a couple of reasons, the main being a couple of brands that apparently didn’t feel that the largest auto show in America in terms of floor space was a necessary event to show up to. Lamborghini and Lotus, I’m looking at you. Rolls Royce wasn’t around either, which would have really irritated me had I not had the good fortune to see a Phantom the previous night (they are wonderful!). Ferrari had a respectable showing (no Enzo, but it’s not in production any more so that’s not a shock) with a matching F430 Spyder and 612 Scaglietti. Porsche, understandably, didn’t have a Carrera GT on display which was disappointing but not surprising. Mercedes saved the day by bringing both the new Maybach 57S and an SLR McLaren, both of which were quite impressive.
One of the things Europe seems to be fond of is their retractable hard top convertibles, evidenced by M-B’s SL and SLK, Volvo’s new C70 and VW’s new Eos. I played around with the burst mode on my camera and after some iMovie massaging ended up with a neat little video of the Volvo’s top in action.
Also of note was the new Saab 9-3 SportCombi, not because of spectacular design or performance, but because the spare tire cover has a handle shaped like an airplane! I liked this so much I made a desktop out of it: 1600, 1280, 1024.
Asia’s brands didn’t have anywhere near the metal that some of the Europeans had on display but they made an effort nonetheless. Infiniti’s entire model line continues to cause salivation at its beauty, and Lexus certainly seems to be getting there as well. Acura is off in their own little world where V6’s are competitive with V8’s and everybody wants a performance car with front wheel drive, but I’m sure they’ll get it soon enough.
Mazda had the wonderful new Miata MX-5 which I found to be much nicer than the Solstice and easily where my $20,000 roadster fund would be put to use. Subaru didn’t really have anything new or special aside from the reskinned WRX and STI, both of which I like very much. If you like them as much as I do, perhaps another desktop? Here: 1600, 1280, 1024.
Then we get to Honda, who did not disappoint. The Civic Si sedan has me looking for my wallet. I was equally impressed with the new Fit, which I can see blowing everything else in its price range out of the water with its quality and versatility.