By Marc Lachapelle
The Montreal International Auto Show has opened the automotive New Year in this country for most of the past four decades* and this 41st edition has plenty of the newest models on display, in spite of the uncertain state of the economy.
Of the thirty-four new models that made their Canadian début during the MIAS press day on January 15, eight were from Ford and General Motors, equally split between the two. Chrysler had no all-new models to show in Montreal and existing ones were simply laid out on bare carpet. A message signed by Chrysler Canada President and CEO Reid Bigland was shown in Chrysler’s exhibit and explained that there would be “less glitz and no giveaways” at this year’s show, Bigland wrote, as Chrysler saves to invest rather in: “24 major launches from 2009 to 2014.”
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid – 2010 Lincoln MKZ
The mood was much more upbeat at the Ford exhibit, where the century-old Blue Oval introduced the all-new 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid that it claims to be the most fuel-efficient mid-size sedan on this continent thanks to its leading-edge gas-electric hybrid powertrain. Ford even claims a rather astounding 1,127-kilometre fuel range for this car, in city driving. . . Unveiled a few metres further was the 2010 Lincoln MKZ entry-luxury sedan, which shares the same solid platform as the Fusion and gets the corresponding upgrades.
2010 Ford Mustang
The 2010 Ford Mustang also made its first public appearance in Canada boasting a restyled body, a redesigned interior and updated versions of its engines and chassis components. The star of this new and revamped line-up will undoubtedly be the 540-horsepower Shelby GT 500 that was unveiled in Detroit a few days earlier.
2011 Ford Fiesta
But small cars are big news these days and more so in Quebec, where compacts and subcompacts have dominated sales figures for many years. Ford predictably made a big splash with the very pretty lime-green Fiesta four-door hatchback it unveiled during the press day in Montreal. The car on display was a European model Ford brought out as teaser for the upcoming North American model. The Fiesta should be introduced in 2010 as a 2011 model, offered as both a hatchback and a sedan and built in the refurbished Ford plant in Hermosillo, Mexico to help keep it fully price-competitive against the likes of Fit and Yaris.
2009 Saturn Vue Hybrid
In the next hall, the greatest emphasis was put on environmentally-friendly and fuel-efficient vehicles during the press intro at General Motors. The 2009 Saturn Vue Hybrid compact sport-ute and Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid full-size pickup compete in very different segments and target very different buyers, but they share versions of the new two-mode hybrid powertrain that GM has jointly developed with BMW, Chrysler LLC and Daimler. The same technology was also announced in Montreal, that same morning, as the winner of the inaugural Best New Green Technology award from the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
2010 Buick Allure
On a different note, General Motors also rolled out the fully-redesigned and quite elegantly-styled 2010 Buick Allure entry-luxury sedan, for its premier Canadian showing. The new Allure – still named LaCrosse in the U.S. – can be delivered with either a new direct-injection, 255-horsepower, 3.0-litre V6 or the proven 3.6-litre V6, rated at 280 horsepower. The Allure will be available with either front-wheel or four-wheel drive.
2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
And how quickly things change: While ‘green by design’ was the dominant mantra at GM, the production version of a car that was the main attraction at auto shows still recently was introduced more than discreetly. A few dozen metres from centre stage and practically unlit stood a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS painted in the familiar bright-orange of the classic Camaros of the Sixties, complete with its 6.2-litre, 422-horsepower V8 engine. It will nevertheless most likely again prove a big with the public in Montreal.
* The show had to be cancelled in 1999 and it was held in November only once, in 2002.