Hot on the heels of last month’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the Canadian International AutoShow celebrated its 40th anniversary this past weekend. 

With well over one thousand vehicles occupying 600,000 square feet on three levels of Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre, the show is the nation's largest. 

Since the 1965 Canada-United States Automotive Products Agreement (colloquially known as the Auto Pact) brought the Big Three (Ford, GM and Chrysler) manufacturing plants to Canada in exchange for tariff reductions, the automotive industry has been of vital importance to the province of Ontario. 

Today, the province produces more vehicles than any other jurisdiction in North America, with Honda/Acura, Toyota/Lexus, Suzuki and Volkswagen joining the American giants. All are situated within an approximate 300 kilometre radius of Toronto.

As has become an annual tradition, the show kicked off with the awarding of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada’s (AJAC) Car of the Year, the 2013 Honda Accord, which edged out the Porsche Boxster and Hyundai Elantra GT for the title. 

Not to be confused with its European counterpart, offered in Canada as the Acura TSX, the larger Ohio-built Accord was recently revised and re-introduced last September.

It also offers new direct-injection four cylinder and V6 engines, improved levels of refinement, better handling (although not without some initial uproar over the axing of the venerated front double wishbones), weight reduction and enhanced electronic connectivity.

The good news at the Honda pavilion did not end there. Honda displayed two concept vehicles carried over from their initial NAIAS showings, the closer-to-production NSX and the Urban SUV Concept

Unlike the display buck from last year’s show circuit, this NSX features functioning doors revealing a sporting, purpose-designed cabin. Clad in contrasting leather, Alcantara and loads of carbonfibre, the upmarket interior is more reminiscent of Maserati or Lamborghini.  

A Honda spokesperson confirmed that the curious, narrow fish-eyed LED headlight array, first appearing on last year's NSX and RLX Concepts but not implemented in a road car until the 2013 Accord, will also see production. 

Functional as projection beams, not merely as daytime runners, their efficacy lies in their arrangement and lens refraction, and that their light-weight, compact packaging and exceptionally low electrical draw make them extremely versatile for applications only limited by imagination, not least of which hybrid systems. 

The Urban SUV Concept, clearly at the other end of the pricing spectrum, also features LED lighting, and is built on the Jazz platform. Offering all wheel drive and possible hybrid variants, the eponymous Urban SUV Concept is aimed at younger city dwellers, as opposed to serious off-roaders. 

Honda’s renewed focus on youth buyers and sport enthusiasts, who had been instrumental in building the company’s brand decades ago, gives one a greater sense of hope that the company is making a serious bid to resurrect its glory years.

Elsewhere at the CIAS were other Detroit Show carryovers, including the 2013 Corvette Stingray and the Canadian premieres of the Jaguar XFR-S and 2013 Dodge Viper SRT

Coming off Red Bull's third straight World Championship Title, Sebastian Vettel’s RB8 was proudly front and centre as a feature of Nissan’s Infiniti pavilion.

The 2013 CIAS runs from 15 through 24 February.

Anthony Francis