I spent yesterday at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto for the press preview. I know I did, because my feet feel like they've been run over by a bulldozer. And now that I'm off them, it's time for some observations.
- Chrysler has promised us the Fiat 500 within a year. Chrysler Canada president Reid Bigland can usually be counted on to deliver at least one jaw-dropping comment, and he didn't disappoint. Referring to both the car and the leggy model who stood beside it during the presentation, he said, "It's trendy, stylish and youthful and, like Antoinette, a lot of fun."
- The show looks good and the mood is upbeat, but there's no hiding the fact that it's smaller. It used to take up the north and south buildings of the Metro Convention Centre and then spill over into the Rogers Centre stadium, but this year, it's strictly in the Metro Centre. It's nice in that you no longer have to walk or shuttle over to Rogers and then go a million miles up the ramps and down the stairs.
- That said, the show went all-out with eye candy for enthusiasts: an enormous display of Carroll Shelby's cars. He was even on hand for a gala event the night before the press day. Plan to spend at least half your day looking at these vehicles. Then go down to the 800 Level and see the ten cars in the Cruise Nationals.
- What is up with Suzuki? It has the Kizashi, its first all-new in-house car in I don't remember how long. The critics like it. The U.S. can buy it. And here in Canada, there are a couple in the company's booth -- and that's it. No press conference. No fuss. It's not on Suzuki's consumer website. I can't even get product information on it from Suzuki Canada, despite it being already on sale south of the border. As a colleague said, "It almost feels like Suzuki doesn't want to sell any cars."