View Full Version : Motor Trend 2009 Virginia Auto Show - my thoughts

Slyp Dawg
03-14-2009, 07:11 PM
Ok, I went to the auto show at the Richmond Convention Center today, and I had a blast. I saw literally everything from an original Ford Model T Touring to a Corvette ZR-1, a Ferrari F430, and a Maserati Grandsport, and I sat in everything from a Saturn Astra to a Corvette convertible to a Mercedes Benz SL550 to a Lexus IS-F, as well as a 2010 Camaro. A few cars really stood out to me as being an exceptionally good deal for what you get, or just being a well thought out, uncomplicated design, or just cars that fit me exceptionally well. Interestingly enough, none of those cars cost more than $30,000, nor are they from luxury car companies. Only two were unique or noteworthy enough to mention here, though.

2010 Chevrolet Camaro RS
My first impression of this car was that, while it appears to borrow quite a lot of styling cues from the original 67-68 Camaro, the 2010 Camaro does have it's own visual identity. the nose styling borrows from the original Camaro, but the grille area looks more pinched in, and the entire front end looks more aggressive. The rear seems to borrow styling cues from the Corvette, in the form of the quad tail lights. The interior is well nice. It isn't particularly flashy, as there weren't a whole awful lot of interior options in the car Chevrolet brought out, but the interior was very well thought out. It wasn't like most low-option models that look like the manufacturer designed the model with all the available options, then took stuff out and filled the holes with plastic panels. It almost seemed like the designers at Chevrolet designed the interior with the most common options, then added to that for the higher end models. Nothing on the interior that the driver would really need to get at is far enough away from the driver that it would require stretching to get to, except maybe the hood or trunk release, but those aren't things you'd use on the road anyway. The gauges were particularly eye-catching, as they look normal at a glance, but a closer look reveals that they have a distinct retro theme. The seats are comfortable, the steering wheel feels nice, the pedals are placed nicely, although I can't give my thoughts about how good the placement would be for heel-toe downshifting. The 6 speed manual gearbox feels relatively nice and solid from what I can tell just by sitting in the car and shifting it, but some time on the street would be needed to see how the gearbox really is. The engine has strong specs for a production car V6, with 310 horsepower right off the showroom floor as per the lady from Chevrolet. The projected base model MSRP is a mere $24,000, which for a car with 310 horsepower, a well thought-out interior, and styling that is just as modern and aggressive as it is nostalgic, is a very reasonable price, but I would expect most showroom models to be closer to $30,000. All in all, the 2010 Camaro looks to be a very serious contender in the revived pony car wars. Ford, Dodge, watch out.

2009 Mazda Miata
The 2009 Mazda Miata is the latest rendition of the original low-budget corner carver from that big collection of islands in the western Pacific that we all know as Japan, and it has a lot to live up to. If first impressions are any indications of how good the car is over the long haul, the new Miata is going to be an awesome car. Not one feature of the car really stands out, except maybe the paddle shifters on the automatic transmission, which are very unique in that you can upshift and downshift with only one hand on the wheel, due to the upshift/downshift paddles being on the same side of the wheel, then being duplicated on the other side of the wheel. What impressed me the most is not the specifications of that little 2.0 liter inline-4 lump under the hood, or the number of features in the interior, or the gas mileage, but rather just how well the car fits me. As strange as this may sound, it almost felt like the new Miata is a car that you put on rather than get into, because of how well it fits me, even being a bit taller than the average Miata driver. Also, looking at how small the Miata is, one would think that the interior would be particularly cramped, but surprisingly enough, it isn't. Even at 6'0", sitting in the tiny Miata, I didn't feel cramped out at all, yet at the same time I didn't feel cramped. I was impressed enough with the little car that I told the guy from Pearson Mazda that if I had $26,000 in my pocket right then, I would have handed it to him and asked for the keys, even though it was an automatic and I don't have a learners yet. No car has ever impressed me this much. I now know why the Miata has sold 1.3 million units since it's inception in 1989, and why it's got it's own televised professional racing class in the SCCA. Mazda certainly was onto something with the original Miata, and after 20 years of refinement, the original formula is still as good as it was back then.

Before today, I never believed I could be so impressed with an absolute base-model car such as the 2010 Camaro, or such a cheap, low powered car as the Miata, especially when it was sitting in the same building as a 500-and-some-change horsepower, supercharged Caddilac CTS-V, a Dodge Challenger SRT8, and the awesome, 640 horsepower Corvette ZR-1, but coming away from the show, I can tell you in good concience without lying that I was more impressed by the Miata or the Camaro than I was by any Corvette or Caddilac or Challenger I saw. Hell, I was more impressed by the little Miata then I was by the Maserati GrandTourismo or the Ferrari F430 Spyder that an European car dealership brought up from North Carolina. Not taking anything away from those cars, they are all amazing vehicles, but for hundreds of thousands less you can have a car that is more practical, just as fun to drive, with more character than the best Italy has to offer, and you get better parts support and cheaper service costs. And that's too good a deal to pass up for a shiny badge with a prancing horse or a trident

03-15-2009, 12:28 AM

Slyp Dawg
03-15-2009, 09:25 AM
I knew that would happen... as per mom's suggestion that cameras might not be allowed, I didn't bring mine and te memory card on my phone was full, and mom's pocket sized camera battery went dead, irritatingly enough