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APA at the 2020 Salon de L'Auto de Montreal Press Day

By: Ron Corbett, APA Staff Writer

 

The 2020 Salon de l’Auto de Montreal was the 77th edition of the show, ran from January 17th to the 26th at the Palais de Congres in Montreal. Three APA staffers attended the press preview of the show on January 16, 2020 and the following is a review of the event.

With the Detroit show shifting its schedule to June, the Montreal Salon was the first major auto show to take place in North America in 2020. The Montreal Salon has traditionally lived in the shadow of the Detroit show, but no longer. With no scheduling conflict with Detroit, more new cars were available to make their debuts in Montreal and the Press Day was more vibrant than it has been for years.  

Given the prodigious output of carbon-neutral electric power available in Quebec, there was a bigger buzz about electric cars in Montreal than elsewhere. The Electric Zone on the seventh floor was an electric car showcase with 20 electric vehicles on display and more than 20 electric-specific suppliers manning booths in the Zone. Once again, CAA Quebec had a fleet of nearly a dozen electric vehicles available and conducted around 1500 public-road test-drives during the 2020 Salon.  

 

The Ford Mustang Mach-E crossover looks sportier in person than in photos 

The Mach-E, the first purpose-designed electric car from Ford, is not only a crossover, but also a Mustang. According to the denizens of Dearborn, the Mach-E is imbued with the spirit of the legendary Mustang Mach I that was produced between 1969 and 1973 (no comment on the Mach I version for the Mustang II). The idea of a Mustang crossover is bound to be a controversial one for Mustang aficionados, but most buyers won’t care and Ford may get some spin on the fact that the car has a marketing connection with the Mustang.

The vehicle is built on an all-new electric-exclusive architecture to optimize space utilization and to keep the mass of the batteries low in the platform of the new car. The Mach-E is powered by an electric motor that can produce anywhere from 255 to 475 horsepower, with possible range from 325 to 475 kilometres. A 75.7 kWh battery pack is expected to be standard with a 98.8 kWh battery pack optional. All-wheel drive will be standard in Canada.

The Mach-E displays a number of traditional Mustang styling cues, including the galloping Mustang on the grille. The vehicle looks much sleeker and sportier in person than in photos. The interior of the Mach-E is, like the outside, very Mustang, and also looks reasonably roomy.

Unfortunately, Ford has a history of announcing new vehicles well before they are ready for production. This creates a lot of initial interest, but the inability to deliver a production vehicle dissipates whatever initial buzz existed about the car and buyers may have moved on before the vehicle is launched. Meaningful numbers of Mach-Es likely won’t show up until well into 2021. 

 

Mazda's new crossover is not called the CX-4, but is known as the CX-30

Given Mazda's established crossover naming protocol, its new Mazda 3-based crossover, bigger than the CX-3 and smaller than the CX-5, should have borne the CX-4 moniker, but is in fact called the CX-30. Compared with the 3 Sport, the CX-30 is built on a 74 mm shorter wheelbase, is 64 mm shorter overall, 146 mm wider, marginally taller and, in all-wheel drive 2.5L form, about 50 kilograms heavier.

The GX trim is powered by a 155 horsepower 2L four, with a 186 horsepower 2.5L engine four found under the hoods of the GS and GT models. All-wheel drive is standard on the GT trim and optional on the others. Blind spot and rear cross traffic monitors are fitted to all models. Mazda's i-Activesense safety suite is standard on all but the base model.

Like other recent Mazda's, exterior design is very clean but somehow manages to incorporate a high degree of surface tension into its minimalist flanks. The cabin incorporates many of the same pieces as the 3, and like its passenger car sibling, radiates a Zen-like elegance rendered from attractive materials that are plush enough as to make some luxury carmakers blush with embarrassment. The simple, traditional looking gauges (the speedo is actually transistor film technology) and simple, logical controls, are very chic. The CX-30's greater cabin height compared to the 3 results in increased interior height and a taller seating position than in the 3. The loftier and wider cabin of the CX-30 unleashes greater front cabin volume and makes front occupants feel very comfortable. That said, while rear seat riders in the CX-30 benefit from greater headroom than in the 3, the shorter wheelbase means, like the 3, rear seat legroom is still at a premium. Cargo space inside the CX-30 is ample. 

 

The Subaru Crosstrek PHEV is available now 

The Crosstrek plug-in combines the 2L flat-four engine from the regular Crosstrek with an electric motor to create 138 total horsepower. The 8.8 kWh battery pack delivers enough energy to power the Crosstrek 27 kilometres in full electric mode, which Subaru contends covers 90 percent of commutes in North America.
Subaru is already accepting orders for the Crosstrek Plug-in and expects wait times of three or four months. Pricing begins at $42,295. 

The Hyundai 45 electric concept car was named to commemorate the forty-fifth anniversary of the introduction of the (in)famous Pony, Hyundai's first production car  

 

The Kia Seltos is related to, but considerably different than its platform mate, the Hyundai Kona

All-new Kia compact crossover that is bigger than its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Kona, but is smaller than the Kia Sportage. The Seltos will be available by the summer of 2020.

While it took Kia almost two years to issue a companion vehicle built on the Hyundai Kona component set, Kia's response, the Seltos, has finally broken cover. Instead of just restyling the Kona, Kia massaged the Kona's underpinnings to fashion something larger and quite different than its Hyundai equivalent.

The base engine for the Seltos is a 146 horsepower 2L four, with a 175 horsepower 1.6 L turbo four found under the hood of the top SX trim. The 2L is hooked up to a CVT, with a seven-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission mated to the turbo. Front-wheel drive is offered on the base model with all other trims equipped with all-wheel drive.

The Seltos is fronted by a vaguely Subaru-like grille which blends well with clean and contemporary styling on the rest of the vehicle. The cabin is conservatively elegant, with nice two-toning on the example displayed at the Montreal Salon. While the cabin components are attractive, there are a lot of hard plastic surfaces inside the Seltos. The longer wheelbase of the Seltos compared with the Kona increases rear seat legroom to the point where adults will be quite happy to travel back there. The greater overall length of the Seltos has also resulted in considerably more cargo space than found in the Kona.

Retro be gone. The contemporary and chic Nissan Sentra 

The previous-generation Sentra was a big disappointment in terms of looks, performance and for Nissan, sales.

The new Sentra follows the recent Altima in a return to contemporary style for Nissan, and is now actually one of the most attractive cars in its class. While American brands have abandoned the compact car segment, Nissan and the other Asian manufacturers field strong entries in the segment, enjoying the lack of domestic competition and awaiting the day when the current taste for crossovers begins to recede.

Inside, the dashboard of the new Sentra includes a large, easily-scanned gauge package in front of the driver, a large standalone screen at the top centre of the dash and logical controls for the infotainment and climate controls. The rest of the cabin reflects a commitment by Nissan to up its design game and also a willingness to spend more money to make a good impression when a potential buyer sits in the new Sentra. The interior of the SR model on display at the Salon was quite luxurious. Cabin space is much better than offered by the Mazda 3 and is similar to the passenger capsules of the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla sedans.

Power for the new Sentra is derived from a 2L four that produces 149 horsepower, 25 more than the 1.8L it replaces. Most Sentras will send power to the wheels via a CVT but a six-speed manual transmission is slated to be available on the base model.

Sales of the new Sentra start soon.  

 

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime PHEV goes on sale this summer

With a combined 302 horsepower, the RAV4 Prime will be both rapid and fuel efficient. Electric only range is expected to be roughly 60 kilometres. 

Like the conventional RAV4 Hybrid, supplies of this PHEV are expected to be less than the demand and wait times for delivery will be protracted.  

The Trailblazer name returns appended to a compact crossover 

The Trailblazer name was last seen on a large, body-on-frame SUV that was last sold in 2009. The new Trailblazer is a unibody crossover that is slightly bigger than the Trax that debuted for 2013. The

Trailblazer supplements but does not replace the Trax, which will continue to be sold.

Built on a new platform, the Trailblazer is a bit longer than its Trax showroom mate. Two three-cylinder turbocharged engines are offered. Standard is a 1.2L triple with 137 horsepower that can be twinned with a CVT that sends power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive models are powered by a 155 horsepower 1.3L triple that sends power to the wheels via a conventional hydraulic nine-speed automatic transmission. The small engines speak to the fact that these cars will be big players where cars are taxed on engine capacity or CO2 output; and customers in North America are not the main focus for GM.

The Trailblazer is, if a bit overstyled, immediately identifiable as a Chevrolet. The cabin of the Trailblazer, with big gauges, an expansive infotainment screen and logical controls for audio and climate, reflects current Chevrolet cabin themes. The cabin looks great but there are more hard-plastic surfaces than expected.
The incremental size advantage of the Trailblazer over the Trax makes for a surprisingly roomy cabin for a vehicle of this size and cargo space is ample. 

The Corvette Stingray caused quite a stir at the Salon 

Though first unveiled in July of 2019, the C8 Corvette Stingray shown in Montreal was its first Canadian debut and caused quite a stir in Montreal.

The new car shifts its engine from in front to just behind the driver, a radical departure for a model that has had traditional rear-wheel drive architecture since the Corvette nameplate debuted in 1953.

Though a number of variants will be announced over the next few years, the motivating force for the initial C8s will be 6.2L overhead-valve that produces around 490 horsepower. Power will reach the rear wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission.

Chevrolet has been stung for years by negative comments regarding the cabin of Corvette, but the effort expended to improve the interior of the new car will silence many critics.

Chevrolet has begun taking orders for the new Corvette and the base price for the car in Canada will be around $70,000, a bargain for such a high performance car.

The Buick Encore GX is yet another elegant, contemporary Buick 

The Encore GX is meant, at least initially, to supplement, rather than replace the long-in-the-tooth Encore.

Built on a new platform, the Encore GX is about 80 mm longer than the Encore. Visually, the Encore GX is a restrained piece of work and adheres to Buick's current styling philosophy. The interior of the Encore GX cleverly shares some components like the info-screen as well as audio and climate controls, with the Chevrolet Trailblazer, but the rest of the cabin is unique to the Encore GX and luxurious enough to convince buyers it is worth the extra money over a Trailblazer. Though the Encore GX and Chevrolet Trailblazer share the same fixed points, the rear seat legroom of the Buick was tighter than its Chevrolet showroom companion. Cargo space was ample.

Standard is a 1.2L triple with 137 horsepower powers front-wheel drive variants of the Encore GX via a CVT. All-wheel drive models are powered by a 155 horsepower 1.3L triple that sends power to the wheels via a conventional hydraulic nine-speed automatic transmission. The small engines speak to the fact that the Encore GX will be a big player in markets where cars are taxed on engine capacity or CO2 output; and customers in North America are not the main focus for GM.

The two-row Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport may be an answer to a question nobody asked 

While mid-size two-row crossovers don’t seem to offer any supplemental utility over the now larger compact crossovers, manufacturers are keen to fill what they think is a gap in their marketing plans. Vehicles like the Chevrolet Blazer, Honda Passport and now the Volkswagen Cross Sport, have all entered this segment in the last year or so, alongside established rivals like the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano. While they don’t offer much more space than the compact crossovers, what they do offer is (except for Ford), smooth, punchy, V6 power. The unruffled power and operationally serenity of the V6 engines may be the key reason people are stepping up.

As for the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport, it is built on the same wheelbase as its three-row showroom mate but is 71 mm shorter from stem-to-stern and 58 mm lower than the Atlas. With the same wheelbase, passenger volume has been maintained.

Power units, a 235 horsepower 2L turbo four and a 3.6L-V6 with 276 horsepower, are shared with the regular Atlas. An eight-speed automatic transmission is the sole transmission and all-wheel drive, sold as 4Motion by VW, is standard. 

The MINI electric has a potential range of up to 177 kilometres 

The new all-electric MINI made its Canadian debut at the Montreal Salon. The electric MINI features a 32 kWh battery pack, produces 184 horsepower, and under ideal conditions, can travel up to 177 kilometres on a full charge.

An array of vintage cars, including this 1973 Plymouth Cuda, were displayed at the Salon by the Voitures Anciennes du Quebec (VAQ) 

The VAQ supplied showcased eight cars, one for each of eight decades, for those attending the Salon. The earliest car was a 1912 Ford Model T, with a 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS being the newest. 

Elegant 1933 McLaughlin-Buick convertible sedan that was part of the VAQ vehicle display

This car was branded McLaughlin-Buick for the McLaughlin family, who transitioned from building carriages to automobiles, constructed cars using Buick drivetrains, in Canada. General Motors bought the McLaughlins out in 1918 to create General Motors of Canada. The McLaughlin name was dropped in Canada when Buick production resumed after World War II.