As our final CIAS 2017 post, enjoy this huge gallery of more than 500 photos from the event! Reuse is allowed, provided that the images are not cropped!
Segment 2 of the MBD CIAS Awards 2017 - the third post of the series - is primarily dedicated to future technology. What's there to look forward to in the future? We'll start with the most obvious general trends, and work towards the more obscure, but exceptionally exciting technologies of the 2017 Canadian International Auto Show.
We start with a glaringly obvious trend - one which we can't possibly skip. Carbon fiber is everywhere. It festoons everything from the SUVs to the hot hatches, exotics and race cars. It seemed like the only cars that didn't have some form of carbon fiber were the "budget race cars" - where budget regulations matter a lot more than shaving a few tenths of a kilogram per inch.
As a car enthusiast, I love the presence of carbon fiber, but, when I was growing up, I had long considered carbon fiber to be a bit of a myth - far too expensive to be worthy of the average human. But, with an increase in demand, the production processes are becoming increasingly efficient, meaning that the interwoven locks of the sixth element should continue to become more and more accessible. In fact, entire cars are being made from the material now. Here's a gallery slideshow of cars made entirely from carbon fibre - using a carbon fibre monocoque, that is.
The carbon fibre is everywhere. Those 5 photos in the slideshow, again, only represent cars made entirely out of the space age material. The list of cars merely just using carbon fiber partially? It's much, much longer; have another slideshow!
And, carbon fibre is okay. But, it seems like carbon or kevlar fibre weaves are being used in place of more traditional methods of weight reduction, like reducing the size or complexity of cars. Cars like the Subaru Viziv Hybrid concept were simply too big. No amount of carbon fibre will help reduce the weight of a car that big. The effort of even bothering to put carbon fibre on such a car in the first place seems like a waste. I'm not surprised, that I didn't see carbon fibre on it, for that exact reason - cars are simply getting too big. The gradually sudden onslaught of carbon fibre - the one we predicted, and imagined, but didn't believe was coming - these years seems to be coming from a complaint that the cars of the average enthusiasts are getting too heavy. Fighting a problem with a band-aid solution instead of really fighting the cause was a big problem. That's one of the things that really makes the Alfa Romeo 4C such a classic of the CIAS 2017... If we were to have an award for best implementation of carbon fibre, it'd have to be the Alfa Romeo 4C. You would never know nor suspect that the entire car is actually made from carbon fibre from merely looking at it. It doesn't use the carbon fibre to hide its blemishing size, forever scarred by its own dimensions, but rather remains nimble and agile by being small, and sorta happens to be made out of carbon fibre. The simple concept of exaggerated weight reduction to such an extreme of the Alfa Romeo 4C really strikes well into the heart of the automotive status quo; just the way an Alfa Romeo should. It's an emotional question, asking "why do you use carbon fibre to barely reduce the weight of a very large, heavy vehicle by a small percentage, when you can drastically reduce the weight (as a percentage of the chassis weight) of a small, light vehicle by a huge percentage. The result is a desirable car - it's exactly what it should be. It's a lightweight, nimble, agile car with modern amenities, luxuries, and still a stiff frame and anything else you could need. Honourary award winner of an award we didn't even plan to give out? Way to go, Alfa Romeo 4C!
This might be the absolutely most utterly boring way to shift gears in a car, but, for the average consumer who sees a car as nothing more than mere transportation, this clever little idea here - which removes the necessity of any shift lever - does certainly make the Nissan Leaf feel more spacious.
Given that little rant about how the Alfa Romeo 4C is a huge step forward in the evolution of the car, by going back to basics on its size, I would be hypocritical not to mention the Nissan Leaf's gear selector. This well-designed tool gives back a surprisingly noticeable amount of cabin space back to the driver and passengers of the car. This clever packaging [not specifically limited to the gear selector, but certainly including it] makes the Nissan Leaf - a reasonably small-to-mid sized car by today's proportions - feel larger than it is on the inside. We love manual transmissions, but, if you're going to have a direct drive electric gearbox, this is how to package it. Other car manufacturers, take note. P.S., put flappy paddles on more automatic cars that you don't offer with manual, and please continue to offer manual on at least most of your offerings. The commuters want these tidy little shift levers, and that's fine, but the manual transmission needs to stay around, too.
The charge time this brand of Nissan Leaf charger offers is impressive. At 480V, this can fully charge the Nissan Leaf in about 4 hours. The idea of making longer journeys - and the range anxiety associated with it - is nowhere near as terrifying with it. The problem? You can't take it with you to your destination. Sure, you can quick-charge at home or at work, where you would have one of these installed, but, the idea of going from Windsor to Ottawa is now fairly terrifying in an electric car. A single day journey could now be several days, given the range and the charge time of the average charger. It's great to see chargers moving forward, but the availability of these quick chargers is not cool.
The Nissan Leaf does have some subtly cool features and the entire package comes together as a striking idea. This car lays the groundwork for what the average person's EV will be like. If Tesla and Fisker Karma set the standard of the jet-set EVs, the Nissan Leaf is the Tesla of the average person.
The Nissan Leaf was definitely a top consideration, given its powertrain's environmentally friendly approach to motoring for the average people. The shape and design of the headlight is intentional to produce an aerodynamic flow that lowers its coefficient of drag. Clever. And with the blue accents inside the headlight, it looks good. It's a tough decision.
Photos simply cannot do it justice. The lighting was pretty cool on the Subaru VIZIV Hybrid concept, if not slightly jarring due to its futuristic design. It looked ahead of its time in a very polarizing way. Opinions were split. Whether Subaru could use these lighting innovations to improve safety or not remains to be seen, but it's worth looking at.
What do you get, when you mix a car that senses your driving style, with a built in wi-fi connection and a clever designer and engineering team who value the safety of their roads? Several cars from the Chevrolet lineup actually give monthly reports about the safety of that month's driving. Bad drivers beware, your habits are being noted by the car, and the car will give you suggestions to make your drive safer. Safety is definitely a paramount concern. Congrats, GM!
It's time to start cracking with the more meaty, meaningful part of the Canadian International Auto Show's 2017 event. We're going to be unveiling our picks and honourable mentions for the best cars in several categories along the way. Here's the first category - the best car to be priced for under approximately $25,000 CAD, new.
To start off with, we'll start with the groundwork, or otherwise the fundamental considerations, like features, styling, price, comfort, fuel efficiency, estimated cost-of-ownership, and performance. Reliability is not known for any of the cars in this series of posts, yet, so we're completely ignoring that - we won't attest to the reliability of one car, over another, since there are plenty of publications perfectly capable of doing that.
Each of these categories is going to be judged by the same person with an impartial decision.
The Kia Forte 5 scored well initially, until we saw the price for the as-shown car. At $29,995 (as listed on their website) it doesn't actually even qualify for entry into this segment of our competition. For the purpose of this comparison, then, we spec'd out the Kia Forte 5 SX with manual transmission.
The next car in consideration is the Chevy Cruze hatchback in RS trim level. Or, rather, it would be, but like the Kia Forte 5 SX with auto, the price of this trim level exceeds the $25000 limit we set. So, we again chose to plan a $~25000 equivalent Cruze hatchback (this time in LT trim) to suit the needs. We definitely kept this Burst Orange, though - nice to see a company breaking free from the constraints of silver, white, gray and black. Bonus points were given for this colour. Points were docked for refusing to offer the RS model trim with manual transmission. The manual transmission's inclusion in RS trim would have meant that the RS trim would have fit into the price point of the comparison, and could possibly have swayed more points in the favour of the Cruze.
The third of the five competitors in this Affordable Class of 2017 is the Nissan Sentra SR Turbo. It's probably the car that the gearheads would choose, with the most power, but also it lacks the desired attributes of a sporty car - having the most horsepower in class means very little when it's mated to an exceedingly soft clutch and a sloppy gear shifter. Pictured is the Sentra Nismo - out of budget and replaced with the SR Turbo for the purposes of this comparison again!
Fourth of the five is the Subaru Impreza 2.0i hatchback "Convenience" trim. The absolute base model, this Convenience package is offered with a bunch of things to make the driving experience more pleasurable, like a short-throw shifter, which undoubtedly makes it the best to shift, but it falls short on the styling (with 16" wheels that look bland, as well as the fairly antiquated halogen headlights) and as-equipped safety features, but does make up for it with the standard all-wheel-drive (though with open rear diff) and still somehow also best-in-class fuel efficiency. It likely has the best potential out of all of the cars, when you start to get into higher-cost accessories, trim levels, and aftermarket modifications.
The last car in the class was a preview. The 2017 Elantra GT remains largely unchanged from the 2016 model, while the 2018 appears in the photo above. This photo is entirely not representative of the 2017 Elantra GT, but rather, the teasing of the 2018 Elantra GT. Details of the 2018 Elantra GT have not been released, and comparing two model years is unfair to all cars in the comparison. Elantra GT gets average marks all though the comparison - scoring as the benchmark middle ground.
First: Kia Forte 5
The as-specified Kia Forte 5 SX simply outperforms the other cars in this class for the money. It has average fuel economy within its class, with advertised 9.4 / 6.8 L per 100 km. consumption, city/highway, and 147 horsepower for the manual transmission hatchback. Points were lost for not offering the SX trim with manual transmission, which would have made it the absolute best performing car of the group as well. However, the standard amenities and accessories far outweighed the lack of performance offered with the manual transmission - the car is essentially exactly what a $200,000 Mercedes was seven years ago, minus the power difference and the things that can't be explained, like driver performance satisfaction. Largely, the car falls short on its efforts to please the spirited driver, with its weak engine and underwhelming gearbox. However, this is not a major gripe, but more just something to note in comparison against the other cars of the class.
Second: Subaru Impreza 2.0i
Finally, a Subaru without the typical Subaru problems. Subaru's new FA20 engine (with direct injection and better efficiency in the design) really makes the older problems with owning a Subaru (fuel efficiency, for example) and reestablishes the Subaru as a very good car. While, yes, the Kia Forte 5 wins for its fit, finish and equipment, it seems that the Subaru is more eager to please in the actual driving sensations. Slightly more horsepower, more torque, double wishbone suspension, a fantastic short-throw shifter available from the dealership with warranty, and the standard AWD making winter fun truly makes the Impreza the hoonigan's car of choice. If you love driving for the art of carving corners and exploring the back-roads that maybe don't have winter maintenance, this is undoubtedly the car for you. And, unlike the Subarus of yesteryears, buying it isn't the same as buying an ugly pickup truck - no longer do you spend vast amounts more on the gasoline than you would in a comparable car from another manufacturer in order to be able to go off-roading. Now, then, the car is as average-looking as any other car on the road, although mundane, and equally as fuel efficient as the other cars on the road. With 10.1/7.7 L/100 km., city/highway, it's not exactly the most fuel efficient of the class, by any stretch, but it's a far cry from what the fuel efficiency used to be on the Impreza - notable improvement in the engine efficiency and coefficient of drag were the main catalysts of the improvements in the car, and with further refinement, the Subaru will be exactly equal with the competitors. Points were deducted for the higher ownership costs associated with AWD maintenance and fuel efficiency. However, these costs aren't as high as they used to be, so the Impreza is becoming a more-and-more dominant force.
P.S., to anyone who wants to say anything about head gaskets, we're not in 2004 anymore. Your information is outdated.
Third: Hyundai Elantra GT
Average. Simply put, the car is just average. 9.8/7.2 L/100 km, city/highway, its fuel efficiency is average within the class - like the car itself. It's so average I'm not writing any more about.
Fourth: Chevy Cruze
I wanted to like it, I really did. I love the styling and I love that the Cruze had as much of a racing heritage as you'll ever get from the other cars in this comparison (without getting into crazy WRC cars that have next-to-no relation to the road cars at all). But, sadly, this car is not the winner through no fault of its own. The other cars were simply more appealing. Chevy's decision to start rebadging Daewoo cars cost the brand some of its reputation, and the effects are still lingering. There are some questionable engineering decisions which were made by the inexperienced junior design team tasked with designing this car. Maybe the design choices wouldn't be too bad if we lived in a world without salt, winter, corrosion, gravel, bumpy tarmac and more, but, sadly, we don't live in an ideal world. One example of the sort of inexperienced design team's decision making process is routing an integral wiring loom through the exterior of the car, underneath the unibody of the car. It hasn't even been a year yet, and the car has already had problems with the wiring loom reported at some Chevy dealers - which were kept very quiet, except for a little birdy that told me about it in private. Cheers for the heads up. The largest problem, then, isn't the car itself, but the fit, finish, quality and just generally the atmosphere of the corporate structure of GM.
The car itself? It might be good, with impressive fuel efficiency ratings (advertised 6.2L/100km highway) and average-in-class horsepower ratings (152 hp) from a finely tuned 1.4L turbocharged engine with an exceptionally wide power-band are ideal, but the car just falls short elsewhere. As mentioned above, the Burst Orange colour also looks beautiful. It just needs to stop being a GM product, where GM's economy cars have been slowly but steadily improving from horrid to just slightly sub-par in a class dominated by Korean and Japanese cars.
Fifth: Nissan Sentra SR Turbo
If you try to set off from a red-gone-green traffic signal in third gear, all of the horsepower in the world won't help you. Nissan, please, let's get back on track with the sports shifters like the 370Z Nismo has. We know you're capable of it. Maybe it's time to stop the slop and save the [good] manuals. A 2017 Sentra Nismo gearbox should not remind me of the 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe's sloppy "melted butter gearbox". Make it notchier, make it beefier, and make it so that a house fly can't shift your car. Give the transmission some feeling, please! Oh, then do the same for the steering rack.
Rant aside, class-leading 188 hp and 177 ft.lb. of torque, it's definitely the fastest of the cars. And, with 9.1/7.3 L/100km., city/highway, you don't have to pay for the horsepower with fuel efficiency. It's actually second in terms of fuel efficiency out of all five, even despite the larger power output. Great engine tuning!
But, if the engine can be that finely tuned, why can't everything else? The idea that we should be willing to live with damp-noodle shifters and "is my steering wheel still connected?" steering is laughable. We get it. Some people want to hold their steering wheel with one finger while they text & drive and eat sandwiches and whatever else average people do. But, is that really a good thing, to have a car that's so sloppy that you can drive it with one finger, when you know fully well that all of the safety equipment you make optional doesn't help when the driver doesn't even realize that the car is about to leave the road due to a lack of road communication and feel? Where other companies offered a fairly sloppy gearbox and steering rack with lots of play and little communication, the Nissan Sentra took it to an extreme that I am frankly afraid of - the point of not knowing which gear you're in, nor getting any communication from the steering wheel. I expect change, or you'll continue to rank low, Nissan.
Here at Melons' Better Driving, we do things a little differently. We're going to have a different, more organized format with which to trickle content out - we have way too many photos to just release at one time, and way too much to say, write about, and more. What we're doing instead is a sort of main atmosphere post, followed by the actual discussion of cool new cars, new ideas, innovations and more in an awards-gala format later. This is the Introduction to the Melons' Better Driving coverage of the Canadian International Auto Show 2017.
Toronto is known for many, many things. The CN Tower, the Skydome, Lake Ontario's frigid waters, GO trains, one of the least successful hockey teams, basketball teams and baseball teams, being Canada's largest city, a reportedly crumbling infrastructure, congestion, traffic, and many millions of more things. One thing that it's not known for, is the likelihood of hosting very large motoring events. It doesn't really seem to come up in regular discussions that Toronto has one of the richest motorsports heritages and automotive cultures in the world. You'd be forgiven for thinking that Toronto cares more about its skyscrapers, Starbucks, Tim Horton's, and public transportation than its cars. And yet, walking through Toronto is nearly impossible due to the omnipresent danger of bustling traffic driving badly on the best of days. It is, through and through, a car city for the time being, and seemingly likely to stay such into the future.
You would furthermore be forgiven for thinking that Toronto would never host a large celebration of the art of the automobile - the thing that clogs its arteries like cholesterol after that cannelloni that you knew you probably shouldn't have eaten. Life's too short not to indulge, you say, in reference to both, private transportation and cannelloni. Seriously, who can live with bland chicken and body-odour ridden buses?
Toronto is unknowingly a capital city of the automotive culture of the world. You don't think that it's by chance that Ford's luxury models and high-performance models are made north of the border, do you? We Canadians love our cars. The huge Canadian International Auto Show is merely just a statement of intent by the media, the citizens, and the fans, that shows that Toronto loves cars. We have Mosport (or, Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, if you will, though any true Torontonian will still call it Mosport), we have the Honda Indy, and we have Toronto Motorsports Park in Cayuga. We have muscle cars, hypercars, exotics, and everything in between. Luxury models abound throughout the streets of Toronto. And that's just Toronto, don't even start with the other large cities in Canada. In its entirety, Canada is home to some of the biggest car communities in the world. It was only appropriate for there to be an entire convention center - 2,000,000 squared feet - bustling with people attempting to politely elbow each other to see the best cars, in typical Canadian fashion. We still get our jobs done, and we still get our photos, but not without being polite about it! On the Family Day Monday, the day Melons' Better Driving staff attended the event, there were an estimated 48,545 people in the facility. You had to be fairly aggressive to get the right photos in some cases, so I can completely understand trying to walk that fine Canadian line of polite aggression - to get the job done without being impolite. With record attendance levels according to this (www.autoshow.ca/releases/autoshow-continues-to-draw-record-crowds/), things are not expected to change that much.
Fun for the entirety of thousands of families: this fine gentleman is holding his exuberant daughter, while remarking to himself about the presence of a guide dog guiding the gentleman in the tye-dye shirt. to the left of the frame. The daughter's face speaks a million words about the atmosphere of the show
And so, the show might come as a surprise to some of the people reading this article - the idea that Toronto doesn't care about cars couldn't be any further from the truth. As of right now, record attendance is expected at the auto show. There are 1000 vehicles to see, some of which are worth millions of dollars. Missing out would surely be an unfortunate thing - come join us, if you can. If not? Melons' Better Driving has got you covered. Here's a sample of the rest of what's to come here: