Concept cars shine at AutoShow

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Toyota has big plans for the FCV Plus, its Hydrogen Fuel Cell Concept. (Rod Charles/

Story by Rod Charles Deputy Editor

TORONTO, ONTARIO — If you want to know why the Canadian International AutoShow is such a big draw look no further than the jaw-dropping exotic exhibits such as Auto Exotica, Celebrating 50 Years of Grand Prix Racing in Canada and Castrol Alley.

I love drooling over these cars and I’m never disappointed. Where else can you climb into a Lotus Series 1 Elise or get close to a 911 GT3 Cup? All the big names are here, including Lamborghini, Bentley, Pagani, Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren. Even Canadian racing legend Jacques Villenueve‘s car is on the premises. The AutoShow, which kicked off on February 17 and runs until February 26, has already welcomed more than 133,000 visitors, including more than 52,000 on Sunday alone.


The only thing missing from this 911 GT3 Cup is James Bond. (Rod Charles/

Sweet, expensive rides I can’t afford aside, concept cars are a big reason why I love this show. Some of these vehicles may look far out but don’t scoff. Manufacturers will gauge public reaction to these concept features and look for ways to improve on them, meaning  many of these quirky creations may eventually make it into production and into your garage, or perhaps on the lot when you rent a car on one of your travels.

Not only is it a glimpse into the future, but it’s interesting to see how the great minds in vehicle design art are tackling issues such as environmental protection, fuel consumption and traffic congestion that are important to Canadian travellers.

Concept Vehicles: From Green to Comfort, Hands-Free to Speed

A total of 16 concept vehicles are on display at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre during the 2017 AutoShow. One of them is the FCV Plus Hydrogen Fuel Cell Concept from Toyota, a company that has always done an outstanding job creating interesting concept vehicles, including their i-Road concept that was introduced at last year’s show. For readers who aren’t rocket scientists, the FCV Plus can generate electricity directly from hydrogen stored outside the vehicle and transform it into a stable source of electric power.

Discover More on “Feeling Green at Canadian Auto Show

Stephen Beatty, vice president and corporate secretary of Toyota Canada Inc., says the company’s concepts, including the i-Road, are making an impact and the response has been good.

“Our cars have been on demonstration in France and Japan, and the feedback that we’ve had has been extremely positive,” says Beatty, who also revealed the Toyota Auto Body Coms concept car. “It’s a little too early for me to predict, but I see a future for them and I know I would love to have one. Back to the issue of vacationing, to have one in the downtown cores of Vancouver or Montreal or Quebec City in the summer, I think they would be fabulous to have.”


The Oasis, a self-driving car by Swiss automaker Rinspeed, has everything you need to enjoy the ride, including a garden. (Photo courtesy of Canadian International AutoShow)

An interesting conceptual head-scratcher at the AutoShow (and I don’t say that in a bad way) that could have an impact on how we drive in the future is the Rinspeed Oasis. Described as a “maneuverable speedster with an integrated small garden plot behind the windshield,” this ingenious self-driving electric vehicle could change the way tourists navigate a city. Could the day be coming where you would plug your iPhone into your car, type in an address, punch enter, put your head back for a nap and then wake up at your destination? Hey, anything that makes driving in Toronto easier, I’m all for it.

Discover More on “Five Legendary Road Trip Vehicles

Lincoln’s Navigator Concept also caught my eye. This may be one of the coolest road trip vehicles I’ve seen in awhile and if you’re wondering how much it costs don’t bother asking — they wouldn’t tell me.

According to a press release, Lincoln’s design team drew inspiration from luxury sailboats and yachts when designing the new concept. This vehicle features a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 engine and pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection. Impressive exterior, but it’s the interior of this vehicle that catches the eye. Ryan Niemiec, interior design manager at Lincoln Motor Company, says this is a car made for tourists who love road trips.

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The Lincoln Navigator Concept is a vehicle made for families who love to venture on the road for their holidays. (Rod Charles/

“Yes, road trips were definitely on our mind. So as you look at the vehicle, it’s inviting you, it’s pulling you into the interior,” says Niemiec. “One of the mind sets we had was we wanted to create a journey for a family. This vehicle allows them to reconnect with one another, relax and rejuvenate inside an interior sanctuary.”

For sheer cool factor, check out Britain’s Aston Martin AM-RB 001, making its first appearance in North America.


The Aston Martin AM-RB 001 is one of the must-see vehicles at the Canadian International AutoShow. (Photo courtesy of Aston Martin)

This sleek machine boasts a lightweight carbon-fibre frame and radical aerodynamics for unprecedented levels of downforce. At its heart is a mid-mounted naturally aspirated V12 engine with the potency to achieve a 1:1 power-to-weight ratio; 1 bhp per kilo of weight, according to the press release.

In other words, this car will make you feel like Vin Diesel. Now that’s a cool concept.


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Rod has previously worked for and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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