In sales and marketing, the best professionals need to know every inch of their product. In advertising, it is equally as important to know the ins and outs of every other product on the market. That’s why they finagle a $93 Industry Night at the Auto Show invitation for the Creative Department folks like me. A chance to peruse current and upcoming vehicles from every major manufacturer and parts retailers without having to deal with the suits and elbows that flood the floor when it opens to the public.
Admittedly, one of my favorite parts of this event each year is the simulated and virtual driving stations. Unfortunately that is not the highlight this year, as most of them are pretty forgettable. Maybe with the exception of the Ford Focus ST simulator, which ends up being more like driving a regular Focus anyway because it only has automatic transmission capability.
Nonetheless, there are some knockout displays and more than enough eye-candy to give your pupils a permanent cavity. I’d like to quickly rundown my favorite 5 displays that are worth checking out this weekend. Here we go!
No, not the 2014 Hyundai Equus. In fact, a small manufacturer based out of Rochester Hills, Michigan, that showed up this year with a whole new type of beast.
The Bass770 may be the only new product they have for 2014 , but it is a doozy.
The starting price for this bad boy is $250,000. This is high-performance muscle combined with first-class luxury. It features an old-fashioned control panel revamped for 2014, that rides on a 6.2L supercharged V8. The same engine that sits under the hood of the Corvette ZR1. That means 640 horsepower.
The most noticeable, and perhaps most lovable, quality is the undeniable snapshot of a late 60’s Fastback Mustang that overlays the exterior. An aura that hangs in the air of the underground Equus floor display. And since the Auto Show isn’t really about what cars you can buy on your current budget, this burner is worth the walk downstairs to the leaky basement. (Seriously, they had buckets catching floor leaks from melting snow.)
4. 2015 Honda Fit
I am not really a huge fan of miniature cars designed for optimal fuel-efficiency. But the engineers at Honda have really pulled off quite the optical illusion slated for 2015.
From the outside, the new fit looks like you couldn’t sneeze without busting your head on the dashboard. But once you take a seat in there, it’s clear that they somehow created a slightly smaller model with 5 cubic feet of interior space. You won’t be installing any flat-screens in here but they did fit a 7 inch touchscreen with SIRI Hands Free Smartphone control. I won’t go naming stats here, because the impressive one is 41 mpg/hwy, but it’s fascinating purely from a design and engineering standpoint. I won’t be buying one but it’s totally worth sitting in. It feels a heck of lot roomier than any of the Mini Coopers.
3. Mercedes C-Class
Just like big-bud headphones and slouch beanies, aluminum framing is all the rage this year in automotive. Probably the second best execution of this is the 2015 Mercedes C-Class. An entry into ‘super luxury’ with a modern curvature from peak to wheel well, and of course, that giant Mercedes star that no owner takes issue with.
Since Mercedes slipped past BMW in 2013 for luxury sales, the redesigned C-Class has the asterisk of indelible timeliness. This vehicle has not only an impressive build, but also marks the subtle evolution of the brand. Mercedes says that it expects to boost it’s sales in America from 312,528 in 2013, and it might have something to do with the fact that they’re not making the C-Class in Europe. Where then you ask? Alabama.
Okay, enough with the metaphorical stuff. The body of the C-Class grows 3 inches in wheelbase and 3.7 inches in overall length in 2015. The surprising part is that it’s roughly 220 lbs lighter than before. And let’s not forget it lands near the top for luxury performance with a direct-injected turbo V6 that puts out 329 hp and boasts 359 pound-feet of torque.
It’s a true study in performance, innovation and optimism in the automotive marketplace.
2. 2015 Ford F-150
The best rendition of the aluminum alloy integration is the Ford F-150. And that claim is all but irrefutable because this represents change for the future, reason enough to stop by and see it.
Many will equate this new design with producing a weaker truck. It’s just simply not true. This model actually tows and hauls more than its predecessors, and accelerates faster too. The only thing this truck loses from implementing Military Grade Aluminum Alloy into the frame – is 700 pounds.
It may get overlooked due to the gutsy nature of the new F-150’s build, but this truck comes with a host of new features like an available 2.7L EcoBoost engine, a 360-rear camera, LED headlights, LED cargo box lights, and other driver assist technologies.
By contrast, the 2015 Ford F-150 display stands out from an otherwise niche and performance dominated variety show. Enjoy it.
1. Corvette Z06/ Stingray Corvette
As a general rule, most writers, engineers, industry experts and regular people are going to have differing opinions about their favorite display. Me? I am a performance guy because fast, barely street-legal vehicles are an incredible achievement in engineering. (Oh, and super awesome too.)
The hottest on the block this year is the Corvette Z06. At a minimum, this whip rips out 625 hp and 635 lb/ft torque. And the track-born style speaks for itself…
It’s one of the only supercars on the market to offer over 600 horsepower and two available transmission configurations — a 7-speed manual or an all-new paddle-shift 8-speed automatic. Plus a Driver Mode Selector, which allows the driver the ability to adjust performance dynamics from the control panel, and the industry-exclusive Performance Data Recorder.
Much like the Z06 supercar, the Stingray is engineered to be lightweight and rigid with an aluminum space frame. The reason I thought I’d let it share the number 1 spot is because, unlike the Z06, they actually let you sit inside of it. Limited on room, yes (even the Honda Fit feels more roomy) but your imagination doesn’t care. It’s what I would imagine snuggling into the cock-pit of a fighter jet might feel like.
So there you have one guy who works in the industry’s opinion on which displays to elbow your way into in the coming week. Oh, I hope by the weekend they have some better video games for those of us young at heart.