Top 5 Things to Check Out at CIAS 2017

Bugatti Chiron

There are more than 1,000 cars and trucks to check out at the Toronto Auto Show, officially known as the Canadian International Auto Show because, well, sometimes it is fairly global in scope. Like this year, where it features the world debut of the 2018 Hyundai Accent, as well as two North American debuts, 41 Canadian vehicle debuts, and a very healthy number of concept vehicles (16 in total).

But we’ve covered those all already in detail, and automakers make sure such headline news is front and centre. What we’ve compiled here now are some new or unique CIAS attractions that could be easy to miss, but you’ll kick yourself if you do (your regret level may vary).

Nissan stand with Stormtroopers

Stormtrooper

While the special Star Wars editions of the Rogue crossover will be on display at the Nissan booth the entire show, Nissan says that the Stormtroopers are a special treat that showed up on media day and VIP Night (note the separation there), but not for most of the show. However, the Stormtroopers will be back for selfies and snaps taken the old-fashioned way – by other folks – on the Family Day Monday only, said a Nissan representative here.

Plug ‘n Drive test drive area

Chevrolet Bolt

Consisting of an impressive lineup of plug-in vehicles, including the all-new Chevrolet Bolt, this is an area where consumers interested in learning and test driving what all the hype is about with electric cars can go and a sample a number of them in a zero-sales pressure environment, courtesy of the helpful folks at this non-profit advocacy group. The short drives will offer rides in the Bolt, Volt, Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Kia Soul EV and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

Jacques Villeneuve’s 1997 F1 championship winning car

J Villeneuve F1 Car

There is an entire “50 Years of Grand Prix Racing in Canada” display at the show, but the definite highlight is the car that Jacques Villeneuve used to hold off Michael Schumacher in the famous last race of the 1997 season – complete with Schumi’s tire marks on Villeneuve’s car where he tried to ram the Canadian off the track. It was an unsuccessful attempt, but a successful run at the first and only F1 championship (so far) won by a Canadian.

Long-time race fans may be impressed also to see Jacques’ father’s Gilles Formula One Ferrari in the display as well, who some still see as one of the greatest Formula One drivers to never win a title before his tragic death in a qualifying crash in Belgium in 1982. On the Infiniti stand, there’s also a 2018 model Infiniti-Renault that highlights their technical partnership, a cutout in the car showing the Energy Recovery System (ERS) that Infiniti engineers helped develop, which the company then says transfers over directly to the same engineers working on Infiniti’s hybrid gas-electric vehicles.

Million-dollar-plus rides

Pagani Huayra

There are always pricy exotic machines at the CIAS that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And unlike even the famed Detroit show, all the heavy hitter sports cars will be there: Lamborghini, Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren and more. But this year there are a bumper crop of even pricier hypercars that list in the millions of dollars – and don’t come out to play at many auto shows in Canada in the deep winter. The Bugatti Chiron is one of them, starting at just under three million dollars US, even here in Canada.  The Pagani Huayra is another, starting at $1.4 million.

Meanwhile, Ferrari of Ontario has no more LaFerraris to sell or display, but owner Remo Ferri has reached into both his client’s and his own private collection to show six classic Ferraris: an F40, 250 LM, 458 GT race car, 365 GTB4 Daytona, Dino 246 GTS and a 512 BB. Every one of these is likely well into seven-figure territory, with some venturing over $10 million in value. Not quite the most expensive vehicles ever sold, perhaps, but close.

Virtual reality shenanigans

Benz VR 2

Mercedes-Benz handed out free cardboard VR viewers to be used with one’s Apple or Android smartphone, while encouraging folks to head to mb360.ca using their YouTube app to access some advanced virtual reality views of what it’s like to drive a Mercedes-Benz. Strangely, the video I saw with it never showed one Mercedes-Benz or AMG model, but a good view of the man’s Harly-Davidson. And Mercedes-Benz Canada staffers assured me that they will be handed out free to as many consumers as they can at the show, said one representative.

For those in the mood for more VR, Toyota promised a more immersive experience with their own high-tech VR lounge at their stand.

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Michael Bettencourt

Michael Bettencourt

Michael Bettencourt is on the World Car of the Year jury, has been a long-time AJAC member, and is on its Technology of the Year judging panel.