It’s that time of year again, when Canadians (and visitors to Toronto) are treated to the biggest automotive showcase in the country. Open from February 13 to 22 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the 2015 Canadian International Auto Show (CIAS) is displaying some of the most exciting vehicle lineups in years, complete with ultra exotics, ground-breaking future concepts, and dream cars that we hope to see on our streets soon. So without further adieu, here is a list of 10 must-sees when you hit the CIAS show floor (for more info, visit autoshow.ca).
Ford GT & Shelby GT350R
Ford’s all-new, ultimate halo car is gracing the Canadian International Auto Show, sitting front and center and flanked by the all-new Raptor and track-ready Mustang GT350R in the massive Ford booth. Chicago currently has a silver version at their show, but the one sitting in Toronto is the only version that is currently operational.
The 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 uses Ford’s race-proven EcoBoost technology to output more than 600 horsepower, shifting through a “near-instantaneous” seven-speed DCT transaxle unit. One of the coolest things about this ultra-low production exotic however, is that it will be built right here in Canada: at Multimatic in Markham, ON.
The GT350R is a race-ready Mustang that has held nothing back. No A/C, no back seat, MagneRide suspension and carbon fiber wheels make this the most prepped pony to ever come out of a Ford production facility. Adding to that is a flat-plane V8 crank that sees the noisy GT350R put out more than 500 horses for the most powerful naturally-aspirated V8 the company has ever produced.
The supercar – or hypercar – Canadians have been patiently waiting for is finally here. The production version of the NSX is ready for public awe. As one of the most well-designed vehicles to hit the show floor, the $150,000 super car is loaded with technology that will pit it against Europe’s best. Power numbers have yet to be released, but with three electric motors (two front, one rear) mated to a twin-turbo V6, it should easily surpass the 550-horsepower rumours. Compared to the previous concept seen in years passed, the entire car has been refined: the mid-mounted engine can be seen through the back window, and there are giant brakes, vents and diffusers galore that really make it a work of art, built just south of the Canadian boarder in Ohio.
Jaguar Project 7
Last year, people could only dream. Now 250 lucky individuals will be able to own and drive the Project 7. Canada will receive seven – all of which are spoken for – which makes its appearance at CIAS 2015 that much more special. The 575-horsepower V8 will rocket the D-Type-inspired Jag to 100 km/h in just 3.9 seconds, and probably receive just as much attention as its 1950s predecessor.
Auto Exotica & LaFerrari
A staple of CIAS every year, the Auto Exotica exhibit is highlighted by some ultra rare production and concept cars this time around, including the full-carbon fiber, hand-built Pagani Huayra, and Maserati’s Alfieri Concept. Some of their standout guests include the new Lamborghini Huracan, McLaren 650S, fourth-gen Lotus Esprit, and Ferrari F12 Berlinetta, among many others.
Sitting upstairs and away from its esteemed colleagues, visitors to the show will be given the ultra-rare opportunity to see the LaFerrari up close. The $1.7 million hypercar is much more impressive than photos dictate, and as only one of two known LaFerraris in Canada, this makes it a definite must-see in Toronto.
Infiniti Q60 Concept & Q80 Inspiration
Canada marks the first place these heavily-styled concepts have shared the same stage. Although they have seen their debuts elsewhere, getting up close with these – and the Q80 in particular – should make any attendee appreciated the bold new direction of Infiniti. The Q80 has one of the most impressive front and rear fascias of any car at the show, but it also pairs that with incredible technological innovation, most evident at how it sucks air behind the C-pillar window and into the electric portion of the hybrid powertrain. Rearward-opening rear doors highlight one of the most elegant designs at the show.
The Q60 Concept gives us a closer glimpse at what we can expect from Infiniti in the future, including a three-litre twin-turbo powerplant set for production within the next two years, and an ultra-luxurious, leather-laden sporty cabin with rear bucket seats.
Cadillac Elmiraj Concept
The Elmiraj makes its Toronto debut, and seeing it roll onto the stage was literally art in motion. Long, sleek and domineering, it unequivocally conveys the Cadillac design language as its potential flagship car. The interior, while concept-y, seems completely in the realm of possibility for future offerings from Cadillac, and matches the impressiveness of its exterior. The two-door, saloon-style rear-wheel drive coupe is powered by a 4.5-litre, 500 horsepower V8 based on the same technology used in the CTS Vsport, and we can only hope it follows its sibling into production.
Kia GT4 Stinger Concept
Kia’s GT4 Stinger deserves mention in this list of CIAS 2015 must-sees, simply because of its impeccable design. Front to back, there isn’t a single angle where this car doesn’t shine. Unveiled last year at NAIAS, the 315 horsepower turbocharged 2+2 seat concept looks ready to attack and unlike anything Kia would have created previously. But since taking in Peter Schreyer as design director in 2006, the automaker has been on a steep uphill climb collecting numerous global design awards, most recently with the K900 and deservedly, this GT4.
VW Cross Coupe GTE
The Cross Coupe GTE marks one of the few vehicles on this list that Canadians will be guaranteed to drive. Along with being a style evolution for the German automaker, the GTE is designed specifically for the North American market; the V6 plug-in hybrid being equipped with an “E-mode” that allows for 32 kilometres of fuel-free driving.
Shown in Toronto as a five-seater, the 355 horsepower SUV will jump to seven seats when it hits production in Q4, 2016 and is definitely worth seeing, if for no other reason than it being one of the most stylish, fuel-efficient utilities at the show.
Nissan BladeGlider Concept
One of the most radical of all the CIAS vehicles, the BladeGlider Concept takes what appears to be the arrow-shaped design of the DeltaWing Le Mans racer and puts it into a road-going, single-seat electric vehicle concept. If the overall design isn’t enough, it offers “road-hugging downforce” for high-G-force performance, powered by the same lithium-ion battery technology used in the Nissan Leaf.
Nissan also recently announced a new electric partnership with the Quebec government to build 25 vehicle charging stations, showing Nissan’s commitment to a zero-emission future in Canada and beyond.
Toyota FT-1 Concept
The FT-1 began life in the virtual world of the Gran Turismo video game, but Canadians can now get up close and personal with the real world concept. Is this the next Supra? Rumours haven’t slowed, and the FT-1 (for Future Toyota 1) seems to be gaining momentum at every show it attends, so we can only hope to see it on our streets.
Last month, the Detroit Auto Show had a silver version, but visitors to the Toronto show are being treated to the original red concept, complete with the beautiful hydraulically-activated rear wing, center-lock wheels and extremely intricate aerodynamics.