February 15, 2001
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Toronto auto show
Toronto, Ontario – Automobile manufacturers unveiled their new products to the press yesterday to get as much pre-show publicity as possible before the show opens to the public tomorrow. The theme for the day was the return of the hatchback as no fewer than six hatchbacks were revealed: The Ford Focus ZX5, Toyota Matrix, Mazda Protege5, Hyundai Elantra GT 5-door, BMW Mini and Suzuki Concept Compact Car.
Ford showed the new Focus ZX5 four-door hatchback, which will join the two-door hatchback, four-door sedan and four-door wagon models in the Focus lineup. Though hatchbacks have had a hard time of it in recent years, Ford believes there will be resurgance in popularity of this type of vehicle in North America – it’s already the most popular Focus in Europe. Ford also showed a ‘Street Edition’ package for the Focus which includes a sportier suspension and sportier styling cues.
Arriving in Mazda dealerships across Canada this May is the Mazda Protegé5, a racy-looking five door hatchback that will be available with a 130 horsepower DOHC, 16-valve, 2.0 four cylinder litre engine. The Protegé5 will feature 16-inch alloy wheels with p195/50R16 tires and four-wheel disc brakes.
BMW showed the cute-as-a-bug Mini, the first all-new Mini since 1959. BMW dumped the English car company Rover last year, but they kept the Mini brand and will sell the Mini at Canadian BMW showrooms. The new Mini is considerably longer and wider than the original Mini, now about the size of a VW Golf. BMW also showed the Z9 concept car, a high-performance exotic 2+2 sports car, and the delicious M3 Coupe and M3 Cabriolet.
Lexus announced that the sporty IS 300 would be available with a 5-speed manual transmission, and will introduce a new four-door hatchback version of the IS300 called the SportCross wagon. The highlight of the Lexus presentation was the $84,000 2002 SC 430 convertible which features a power aluminum hard top that folds underneath the rear deck in about 25 seconds. The SC 430 convertible is powered by a 300 horsepower 4.3 litre V8 engine, similar to the one in the LS 430.
Toyota showed the all new Matrix four-door hatchback that will be built in Cambridge, Ontario and go on sale in 2002. Based on the Corolla platform, it will be available with front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive and offer two four cylinder engines with 130 horsepower and 180 horsepower respectively. Toyota also showed the NCSV Concept (New Concept Stylish Vehicle) shown for the first time in North America.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled its new C-Class coupe, the C230, which is really a hatchback. It will be the least-expensive car in Mercedes’ lineup, and will have a 190 horsepower supercharged 2.3 litre 4 cylinder engine. In addition, Mercedes displayed a new C-Class station wagon with a 215 horsepower 3.2 litre V6 engine. These cars will go on sale later this year.
DaimlerChrysler displayed the all-new Jeep Liberty which will eventually replace the Cherokee. The Liberty has an all-new 3.7 litre V6 engine, and styling that resembles the concept Jeepster and Dakar concept vehicles from a few years ago.
A redesigned 2002 Ram pickup truck, fresh from its unveiling at the Chicago auto show, was unveiled with revised styling, a new interior, a new quad cab bodystyle with four front-hinged doors, and two new engines: a 3.7 litre V6 and a 4.7 litre V8 that offer more horsepower and better fuel economy than their predecessors. Also shown was the redesigned 2001 Chrysler Sebring convertible.
Hyundai showed the CrossTour concept car, a high-tech showpiece with a rear entertainment system that features DVD and CD players, video player, internet access, and a foldaway rear seat. Hyundai also revealed the 2002 Elantra GT 5-door hatchback.
Fellow South Korean automaker, Kia (which is now owned by Hyundai) showed the new Sedona minivan which offers a 3.5 litre V6 engine and five-speed automatic transmission, and a high level of standard equipment. Kia also showed the new 2001 Magentis mid-sized sedan.
Suzuki unveiled it’s as yet unnamed 2002 Concept Compact Car, a roomy five door htachback. Power will be supplied by a double overhead cam 16 valve engine. Look for Suzuki’s new compact to go on sale in September.