Good things come in pairs at auto show - Metro US

Good things come in pairs at auto show

On some levels, the Toronto auto show, which gets underway this Friday, is a bit like Noah’s Ark.

The show is drier of course, and equipped with better washroom facilities. But like that mythical ship, the auto show contains a somewhat complete collection of current species.

I don’t think many went onto the show floor “two-by-two” — but some of them could have — and we’ll look at three such pairings today.

If there is just one of something, it could be an aberration or something wacky, but when there is already two of something, well, that means the form is already making some headway…

The Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius Plug-In concept can be charged on household current AND you can put gasoline into their tanks. They straddle the line between the “regular” hybrid and full-on electric vehicle.

Right now they are “rock stars” when it comes to mpg or kilometres per litre. If you’re diligent on your charging duties, these vehicles could theoretically get more than 1,000 mpg.

The jury will be out for a while on whether these make long-term sense, because they appear to be so focused on addressing the current absence of “plug-in everywhere” infrastructure, and our current insecurity about full electric vehicles.

Ford Focus and Buick Regal are a new breed of domestic nameplate — completely sophisticated and citizens of the world.

The 2011 Ford Focus is essentially the same car Ford will sell in 122 different world markets. Initial production is set for Germany and Michigan. The new Regal is closely based on the Opel Insignia, named 2009 European Car of the Year.

When GM received restructuring money from Canada last year, it promised to build three future models here — the Regal is one of those models.

Will we see more such globally produced and engineered products? Is Lady Gaga a snappy dresser?

The all-new 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and the vintage Shelby Cobra “Daytona Coupe” sports racer is another interesting auto show pairing. The former replaces SLR as the flagship sports car from Mercedes-Benz. The latter is part of the show’s fantastic Carroll Shelby Exhibit, featuring six of the world-famous racers that Shelby created at his iconic race shop.

Shelby only made six Daytona Coupes. Last year, one sold for US$7.5 million. The SLS AMG is a relative bargain, at $198,000. Both have huge engines, long hoods, two seats, and purposeful yet beautiful styling — attributes that virtually all sports cars have had for about 100 years or so. I predict that this type of automotive expression just might be a keeper.

– Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for more than 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.

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