Following an energetic start to the motoring year which, among other things, has seen new GM CEO Mary Barra become one of the industry's biggest celebrities, the Canadian motor show once again opened its doors in Toronto.
In a homecoming of sorts, the show was opened by Fiat and Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne, who grew up in Toronto, obtaining an undergraduate degree at the city's university. Fiat Chrysler is said to be seeking around $700 million Canadian dollars in subsidy from the federal and provincial governments in order to retrofit two assembly plants located in Ontario.
Among the new metal on display was Ford’s perennial workhorse, the F150. Its Canadian debut continued the debate started in Detroit. With 97 per cent of its body panels now made from weight-saving aluminium, many pondered how the continent’s best-selling vehicle for 32 years would not only stand up to punishing use, but also the associated repair and insurance costs down the road.
Also on display was the 2015 Honda Fit, which we'll see as the Jazz. The supermini will be built in Mexico, and will later be joined by a production version of Honda's Urban SUV concept from last year, tentatively called the Vezel.
Replacing both the TSX (Accord) and TL models when it goes into production at their Marysville, Ohio facility this summer, the entirely new Acura TLX from Honda’s luxury division also made its Canadian premiere. With two new direct-injection engines, a base eight-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox and comparable dimensions, the TLX is poised to be a serious BMW 5-series and Mercedes E-class competitor, although the four cylinder models will be offered in front-wheel drive only.
The introduction of these two new offerings means that with the exception of the Insight, Accord PHEV and RLX saloon, all Honda vehicles sold in North America, including the Ferrari and Porsche-baiting NSX, will be manufactured there too.
In its first non-concourse showing in North America, McLaren featured not only the P1, but a 12C GT Sprint as well. On hand was Anthony Joseph, McLaren’s North American boss, who advised that McLaren Toronto, currently the only national concessionaire, had eight confirmed P1 orders, in addition to a steady stream of 12C deliveries across the country.
Jaguar was on hand with its C-X17 concept, the SUV based on its new iQ (Al) platform and seemingly aimed squarely at the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Taking styling cues from the F-type and its saloon brethren, the C-X17 certainly looks the part, but I for one wonder why Jaguar would want to potentially cannibalise sales from their Range Rover stable mates. Better to leave the two marques specialised and differentiated, à la Ferrari and Maserati, who were also both present with their latest models.