Date: January 08, 2006 10:45
Our 9:30am arrival to the Cobo Center here in downtown Detroit, MI greeted us with 34 degrees and, amazingly, no snow. Beginning on a Sunday this year, there isn't much frenzy since the first press event isn't until 11:30 this morning. Then, we're expecting the Mustang GT500 production car to be unveiled, ending the debate that's been stirring-up some media outlets over how much horsepower Ford is going to unleash upon the world. Following Ford, Lexus will unveil the new flagship LS sedan to the world, which should be a rolling technological tour de force.
Honda's press event is not until 4:30 this afternoon, so we have a bit of time to snap some photos of other goodies before the unveiling of the Fit. We hope to discover the EPA fuel economy numbers, as that has been a heated topic since rumors of the Fit making it to North America became solidified.
I'm off to the floor to shoot some pics and inhale some new car smell. More later... rl
UPDATE: 12:35PM EST Here are a few shots that we snapped this morning. We will be posting a full gallery of photos for each day in the Exhaust Notes section, so be sure to check there for the comprehensive photo galleries. jp
UPDATE: 12:58PM Now that I got some photos posted, I can tell you a bit about a few of the cars I checked out this morning. First of all, Toyota's playing up the offroad capabilities of their FJ cruiser. There's a pretty impressive display showing off the suspension's articulation. I noticed a number of engineers from competing companies (ahem) checking out the display. Not far away from the FJ Cruiser was a trio of 2007 Rav4s. I guess since you can get it with a 3.5L 269hp V6 now, I figured it would be noticeably larger than the old RAV4, but it's still pretty compact. I sat in it and it's reasonably comfortable but it doesn't seem quite as roomy as a current CR-V, particularly in the rear. To confirm that I will try to find a CR-V to sit in. I also noticed that the headrests on the RAV4's rear seatbacks dig right into the middle of your back unless you fully deploy them - the seatback is rather short. And finally, I was surprised to see that the RAV4's swing gate is still hinged on the right side of the vehicle, which encumbers curbside loading on North American streets. Next up was the Yaris. I wanted to sit in one so I had a frame of reference when Honda debuts the Fit later this afternoon. I first checked out the 4-door sedan, and found that front seat of the Yaris is roomy and pretty comfy. It's obviously an entry level car but the general build quality seems quite good and the materials are pretty good for the car's price point. The center mounted gauge cluster is irritating but otherwise it seems like a decent little car. The back seat, however, is pretty cramped, particularly in terms of headroom. I can fit in it but I have to sit pretty much bolt upright, otherwise my head becomes well acquainted with the rear window. Now I'm going to update the photo gallery in the exhaust notes section... jp
UPDATE: 1:43PM I was hungry, so I decided to skim the floor using my nose to find food. I was impressed to see VW's Batcave-esque spread positioned cleverly one floor below, accessed by a pair of escalators behind a wall in a corner. The good news: they had an army of professional German chefs dishing out gourmet food to order. The bad news: it was invitation only and I wasn't invited, apparently. So, I snagged a free hot pretzel (with salt & mustard) and headed next door to check-out the tuner Civic Sis that I missed by not attending SEMA. In addition, they also brought the Thunderhill racecar and made no attempt to give it a bath; it was still soiled with racetrack "gunk".
I mulled-over the new GTI for a bit. VW is really hyping it up, as all their personnel are donning GTI t-shirts and jackets. I'm still confused as to the logic of a plaid cloth interior, but it's certainly different. As with the Jetta GLI, if you can get past the prominent front grille and Corolla-like taillights, it should be an athlete.
I then headed over to Infiniti for some sushi and popped my head over the swarm of people crowded around the Coupe Concept. It will likely be the successor to the current G35 coupe. It looks pretty slick, building on styling cues from the current G. Jeff's filling his belly and snapping some pics of it right now.
Time to get our gear ready and position ourselves on the camera podium for the Fit unveiling in a couple of hours. We'll have more later. rl
UPDATE 2:00 PM When Ryan got back to the media center and told me Infiniti had sushi and a new concept coupe, I grabbed the camera and ran downstairs to try to score some grub and some shots. I was a little too late for the food, but this had the bonus effect of thinning the herd around Infiniti's new coupe concept. The current G35 Coupe remains one of the best looking cars on the road, and thankfully Infiniti didn't mess with a good thing. This Coupe Concept is undoubtedly the design for the next generation G35, which is due here next year. As you can see in the pics below, the next generation G35 will be equally gorgeous. jp
UPDATE 2:05 PM While I was toiling away here in the media center, the Car and Truck of the year awards were announced and guess who swept the awards? That's right. Honda. The 2006 Civic and Ridgeline took home the 2006 NAIAS Car of the Year Awards, beating out the Ford Fusion, Pontiac Solstice, Ford Explorer and Nissan XTerra. Congrats to Honda for their first-ever Car or the Year wins at the NAIAS. jp
UPDATE: 6:35 PM Honda's Fit intro sort of scared us when their pyrotechnics ignited and caught us off-guard as 5 Fit sport models adorned the Honda stage following a cheeky comic book-like intro. Having never seen a Fit in the flesh (unlike Jeff, who has driven several), I was very impressed that Honda is planning to deliver an entry-level car priced between $13K-$14K that has such a high level of fit-and-finish as well as utility. The "Magic Seat" is truly impressive as are many other features. And equipped with the full suite of accessories, the red Fit in the pictures is quite a looker.
While waiting for the Fit press conference, Jeff and I wondered curiously what lay underneath the second tarp on the Acura stage, set for tomorrow afternoon. The RDX profile was a giveaway, but the other sedan-like silhouette seemed strange. We're 99.98% sure it's a pristine first-generation Legend to celebrate Acura's 20th anniversary.
Chrysler has typically entertaining press events and today's was no exception: making a special appearance was Eva Longoria strolling onto stage via foot and reappearing later from the back seat of the Imperial concept. Chrysler again is sparing no expense here at the NAIAS: former head of Chrysler group Dieter Zetsche walked out of a cardboard box (literally -- photos in the gallery) and announced that they were hosting 3 days of post-show food, drinks, and general carousing. Thanks, DCX!
After snapping some pics of the new Lexus LS460, the Mazda Kabura concept, and the Infiniti Coupe Concept, we cooled our heels at Volvo's comfortable press relations area. Volvo has the right idea: good beer, comfortable chairs, soothing nature sounds, and A/C pumping through floor vents, all while having a panoramic view of the show floor. It was a nice way to end the day before dealing with administrative duties, like processing photos, video, and muscling our way around the media center.
Jeff and I are off to the Chrysler party, as we're being kicked-out of the media center for the day. Be sure to check the gallery to see some more of our photos. See you tomorrow! rl
Last edited by JeffX on
January 09, 2006 09:31