2015 Washington Auto Show – The Lower Level

A few days ago we brought you the upper level of the 2015 Washington Auto Show.  For those of you who have never visited, there is a bit of a stratification to the DC show.  Upstairs is working class, you start with (most of) GM, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, and then Ford.  With the exception of the ZO6, Hellcat, GT350, and likely a few full size, fully optioned, trucks, it’s all below $50,000 at your local dealer.  Downstairs is a different story, it’s home to the Europeans and things can get expensive.

I took my kids back a few days later and my 10 year old son asked, “Is this the future”, and I said ,”Yes, yes it is”. -Will Byrd

Mercedes-Benz

Greeting you straightaway is the gorgeous new 2016 AMG GT S.  This one, in eye gouging yellow, couldn’t be missed.  It’s a great looking car, classic long hood proportions, we’ve written about it.  It’s pretty cool, and has the normal handbuilt AMG engine, this one a 4.0-liter V8 biturbo which they claim is the “world’s first sports car engine with the turbos inside the V of the engine and dry sump lubrication”.  Neat.



Oh the CLA, how I want to like you.  And from some angles I like the $48,500 small sedan from MB.  It’s low in the front, but also low in the back.  To me, from a design standpoint, a car isn’t all that aggressive unless they rear is higher than the front.  A classic wedge shape shows me that a car means business.  The CLA drops off in the rear like, well whatever the opposite of a Kardashian backside is.  The seats in the AMG version are spectacular though, body hugging and looking very light weight.  Whether or not they are, who knows, but they look the part.  The rest of the interior, just like last year, looks a bit too boy-racer for my taste.  And Germany, please, please, please, stop tacking on mini iPad looking displays on the top of your dash.  I’m looking at you Mercedes and Audi.  It’s awful.


And then there is a GLA which in AMG guise is priced almost identically to the CLA AMG but looks like some sort of West Coast Customs modified hatchback.  Is “Mad Mike” still there, always liked that guy?  The wing, the body kit, it’s all a bit strange.  Yet I found myself wanting to like it.  The seats sucked though, all these go-fast looking bits on the outside, you’d think they would have tossed in the seats from the CLA!


Hyundai

It was all very grey.  The Genesis is pretty though.

Honda

Just like last year, nothing to see here.  The RFD staff has a soft spot for hot Hondas, but sadly there aren’t any unless you call this concept a thing. Josh spent like 10 minutes pointing his camera at the concept car. I think he likes it.




Volkswagen

I thought I covered Toyota during the upstairs? Josh tells me the GTI is rather good and blah blah something something. But of course he would say that since he nearly bought one.

Subaru

We have a new 2015 WRX in our RFD garage and so far, so good.  The latest STi was present in the sporting the classic World Rally Blue, yet they put a white base model Legacy on the turn-table.  Hmm.

Camp Jeep

Being media day, the lines were mercifully short so we took a detour towards the back of the exhibition hall to give the Camp Jeep ride-along a try. They have a circular course that takes riders over some logs (Josh swears the WRX will make it), then up and over a very large incline/decent, over some more logs, this time sitting vertically, then a teeter-totter type of sideways ramp, and finally over another large up and down with uneven ramps to highlight various off-roady type stuff.  We were in line hoping to get the Wrangler Unlimited or Grand Cherokee, but we got the regular Cherokee.  OK, I hate the headlights but let’s see what this Trailhawk edition can do.  A lot actually, without much drama it scaled pretty much everything.  Jeeps are impressive, nicely done.  But does this actually affect any purchase decisions.  Maybe, stay tuned to an upcoming article.

 Nissan

As normal, we tried to focus on the performance options, and unlike the last few stops, Nissan has some.  Sitting on the turntable, sans microphone, was a GT-R.  Starting in the six figure price range, we’re unsure if it’s the bargain it used to be.  Well, until you compare it to just about every car there from a performance standpoint, then it’s pretty good value for money.  We actually really liked the new NISMO 370Z.  Where the older models were a bit ostentatious, the great mix of wheel and body kit on this one actually seemed tasteful and a bit more upscale than previous offerings.



Jaguar

The F-Type is still cool.  That’s all I have to say about that.

Cadillac

USA!  USA! USA!  I couldn’t help but chant this walking through the Cadillac booth this year.  We’ve written about how smitten we are with the latest “V” models.  And they were both here, eclipsing just about everything else on this level in my mind.  From the carbon fiber diffusers to the evil looking black wheels, both the 2016 ATS-V and CTS-V look the part of world-beating super sedans.  The big boy C was wearing some dark grey paint and finally has toned down the scoops, grills, vents, and other bits that adorned the previous generation.  It’s muscular, it’s classy, it looks badass.  The smaller ATS-V looks great as well and rounds out the lineup with what is hopefully a first-rate M3/4 fighter.  Sign me up.




BMW

Oddly enough, I spent more time in a BMW that was NOT in the BMW section.  The Washington Auto Show has always fancied itself more of a green-car showcase than other shows, and there is even a section featuring said cars.  This year it got interesting though and they had an i8 with its doors ajar so you could get in and poke around.  Getting in and out is a chore, thanks to the very wide door sills.  But I liken it to what it’s like to get into some supercars, it’s not graceful, but you are making some sacrifices.  Starting at $136,500 and sporting 357 horsepower, 420 lb- ft of torque and 76 MPGe, it’s not like any other car out there.  And it’s spectacular to just sit in, even with all the bells and whistles turned off.  It feels special, and pulling the handle and opening the scissor doors would be a treat every time.  I took my kids back a few days later and my 10 year old son asked “Is this the future” and I said “Yes, yes it is”.




Lexus

The Lexus grill, you either love it or hate it.  That’s not totally true, I just sort of don’t mind it.  So scratch that first bit, it was too black and white.  What I can say I love is the RC-F.  It sounds like a kids toy that you use a joystick to control, but in reality it’s a new $62,000 sport coupe from Lexus and it’s pretty cool.  You can roll in your 5.0 with 467hp and a very aggressive long hood, wide fendered design.  While some other higher end sport coupes only look a little more special than their underlings (more on that in the Audi section) this Lexus looks the business.  I imagine it’ll steal some sales of m4s and other Euro models, but time will tell.


Audi

I like Audis, they are great looking vehicles.  I’m still stinging from a previously unreliable experience or two with parent company Volkswagen, but I like to look at Audis.  Which is good, because the 3, 4, 6, and 8 all look pretty much the same.  The even numbered sedans in particular look as if they started with one and used a copier to design the others.  A4, done, print, copy at 110%, A6 done, print, copy at 110%, A8 done.  The R8 V10 is cool though and it’s one of the last cars I saw this year.  Not a bad way to end the 2015 Washington Auto Show.





We’ll see you next year!