It’s auto show season again, and being a DC-area resident, that means a trip to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the 2015 Washington Auto Show. You think Walt was related to George? Nevermind, I can Google it.
The auto show website posits that “Washington, D.C., has long been the site of the country’s greatest ambitions for progress”. I’m sure there is an “ambitious but rubbish” Top Gear joke in there somewhere, but I’ll let it go. I will say that the theme of each year’s show is much more geared towards “green car” stuff which I guess is progress. I’m on the fence personally. But there were some green cars, the greenest being Chevrolet’s SS which you will see below. Speaking of Chevy, let’s start upstairs with them.
“And their booth personnel were very helpful and, okay I’ll say it, had really tight pants. And Josh got a new hat.” -Will Byrd
Last year we brought you the brand new C6 Corvette, it was kind of a big deal. This year GM has turned it up to 11 and lopped off the top with the new ZO6. It’s apparent right in the link that this is a supercar. They are gunning for Ferrari and the top exotics with this new Vette, and all signs point to what is likely the greatest attempt thus far (by Chevrolet at least). 650HP from a supercharged V8 in a carbon fiber laden, aerodynamic, beast and it can all be yours starting around $79,000 (the topless version starts around $5K more). But just look at it, its marvelous! Some deride GM for making a convertible out of what used to be the track-focused version but I don’t care. It works well as a convertible, as most Corvettes have over the years. And if you are going after Italian car buyers, you need options.
Elsewhere in Chevy’s show display we found a couple of less expensive V8s we would consider putting in our RFD garage. The Z28 is the ZO6 of the Camaro line, well its more like what the ZO6 used to be until they sold out and made a convertible. Just kidding. Seriously though, it’s track focused and full of badassery. Is that a word, Firefox says “nein”. This grey car looks very purposeful with aero bits and some great looking black wheels. Looking forward to seeing how this does against the latest Shelby GT350 and GT350R.
“I award the Chevrolet SS the “RFD Green Car Award” for 2015. Congratulations. Actually this is an awful color. Classic muscle cars had some great ostentatious green colors, they were vibrant and fun. This looks like Kermit’s taint.” -Will Byrd
And now for something completely different. Welcome to the jungle baby, or “jungle green” in this case. Someone planning this booth obviously had a sense of humor and thus I award the Chevrolet SS the “RFD Green Car Award” for 2015. Congratulations. Actually this is an awful color. Classic muscle cars had some great ostentatious green colors, they were vibrant and fun. This looks like Kermit’s taint. The SS is a hell of a car though, I would love to own one (in a different color). The interior is solid, albeit with a bit more chrome than I would want. Sadly GM decided not to advertise or market it. At all. Thus ends the Aussie-GM car import trifecta failure. The GTO and G8 were great cars too, but nobody bought them, perhaps they didn’t know they exist? Even on Chevy’s website, if you click on “cars” you don’t see the SS. You have to continue to the “performance” section, quite a gamble when the average buyer may only spend a fraction of a minute on your site looking at cars.
Wait, I think I just figured out what “Green car” means, they mentioned something about it at the new Volt display. I can say that I really liked the press pictures of the second generation Volt, it’s a nice update to the original which was an electric car pioneer in a lot of ways. I mean it’s no Tesla Model S, but not much else is. In person, I liked it less unfortunately and since this was a pre-production car we weren’t allowed to look inside. I’ll keep the SS as the “Green car of the show”.
This may come as one of those “did I just say that” moments, but the 200 is a very attractive car. Gone are the days of the Sebring and this “next generation midsize sedan” looks like they actually tried. Attractive shape, nice details in the design, and on the inside, wow, great materials, trick rotary shift knob, this isn’t half bad. Reasonably priced too, starting at $21K for the base model and a mere $26K for the high end version. Well played Chrysler.
In what can only be described a sparse booth (there was a lot of carpet visible) there weren’t a ton of other Chrysler vehicles that caught my attention. Well, there’s only 3 actually, the 200, 300 and a minivan. But the 300 is a damn good looking car too! I could totally daily drive this.
Jeep is also benefiting from parent Chrysler’s (Fiat?) attention to interior quality and fit and finish, the Grand Cherokee being one of the best looking SUVs on the market, inside and out. But you know what’s cool? The Renegade, that’s what. If you are in the market for a small SUV, this one is one of the least boring options (almost) in showrooms. Cheap too, starting around $17K with a manual, 6spd equipped 4WD version still under $20K. Cool. And look at it, that’s pretty fun looking.
Hell…wait for it….cat. Without a Viper in the house, this was easily the coolest thing in Fiat-Chrysler’s stable. Hell, even if it had been here this Hellcat Charger may still have one. We’ve written about it, it’s pretty epic. Seven hundred and seven horsepowers. That’s more than like any 3-4 passenger cars you’ll pass today combined. And it’s subtle, at least when the engine isn’t on. The Hellcat badge is hard to spot if you aren’t looking and it’s just some big wheels and brakes and a few “SRT” badges that belie what’s underneath that big hood. This one sported gunmetal paint and black wheels, yes I want one.
Oh Scion, how I’ve rooted for you over the years. It’s youth, it’s enthusiasm! It’s really old people driving Xbs because they are inexpensive and practical. But by the grace of God, they got the FR-S though and unholy engineering encounter between parent Toyota and rival Subaru. And it’s a damn fine car, we have one in our RFD long-term garage. The Scion booth had the typical mix of music, cool imagery, and some cars. The tC, xB, and xD soldier on largely unchanged (the iQ exists, but I’m not sure it’s a real car) so that leaves the newcomer with the weird name (should be fRS) to carry the water. One of the FR-S’ on hand was modified by a local dealer with some nice looking kit, wheels, upgraded lighting, body kit, etc. I liked it, save the big stripe over the top. And their booth personnel were very helpful and, okay I’ll say it, had really tight pants. And Josh got a new hat.
In their normal dominant back-of-the-show-floor spot, Ford brought some thunder this year. Last year we brought you the new Mustang concept, and we loved it. This year they brought damn near a dozen new Mustangs of all variations. EcoBoosts, V8s, convertibles, the lot of em. And I sat in quite a few, getting used to what has become a very robust options list coming out of Ford. Recaro seats are not available on most models, as are nice looking wheel options, and a ton of other kit.
But, in the spot where the Mustang concept sat there lurked something evil. Something that, even with it’s bright paint and stripes, looked as if it wanted to push you into the bathroom for a quick, not really up to you, romp. From the wide fenders, to the giant wheel and tires, the GT350 means business. And there’s an “R” version coming! We already declared Ford the winner of the Detroit Auto Show (like a month before it happened) and they had a great showing here in DC. Sadly there was no GT or Focus RS, maybe next year.
That’s all the excitement we could find on the upper level of this show. Keep reading for our coverage of excitement on the lower level of the 2015 Washington Auto Show. It will not disappoint!