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Top reveals to look for at Toronto’s auto show

Driving.ca logo Driving.ca 2017-02-15 Brian Harper

Kia Motors America unveils the 2018 Kia Stinger during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017.
David Guralnick, Detroit News via AP Kia Motors America unveils the 2018 Kia Stinger during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. David Guralnick, Detroit News via AP

From February 17 to the 26, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre is a gearhead paradise, the largest single auto showroom in the country. All the major manufacturers will be there, with more than 1,000 vehicles on the floor, including the newest models on sale this year, plus concepts that provide a glimpse into what could be on the road in the near future.

There will be supercars, muscle machines, crossovers, pickups and family sedans among the 41 vehicles making their first appearance in Canada; we’ll be on the show floor on Thursday but, until then, here are five debuts worthy of extra attention:

BMW 530e

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What is it? An all-wheel-drive, plug-in hybrid version of the newest BMW 5 Series midsized sport/luxury sedan.

Why does it matter? The midsized luxury/performance sedan segment still represents the best combination of sport, performance, luxury and tech in one package. The 530e xDrive iPerformance and its eDrive plug-in hybrid powertrain bring new relevance to the 5 Series lineup. The eDrive system’s electric motor has an output of 111 hp and offers maximum torque of 184 lb.-ft., while the 2.0-litre four-cylinder TwinPower Turbo generates 180 hp and 255 lb.-ft. of torque. With an overall system output of 248 hp and combined peak torque of 310 lb.-ft., the car will hit 100 km/h in six seconds. Positioning the electric motor upstream from the eight-speed automatic also allows the transmission’s ratios to be used in all-electric mode.

Buick Avista

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What is it? A stylish 2+2 coupe concept that breathes new life into the Buick brand.

Why does it matter? Buick has been only partially successful over the past decade in shedding its reputation as a brand only old fogeys drive. The Avista should catch the attention of a younger audience, especially if it comes to production at least resembling this stunning concept. Based on GM’s Alpha platform – the same one underpinning Cadillac’s ATS and CTS, as well as the Chevy Camaro — the contemporary grand tourer is powered by a 400-horsepower, twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre V6 hooked up to an eight-speed transmission and driving the rear wheels. Its driver-focused cockpit displays technologies such as a future vision of Buick’s IntelliLink, with touchscreen controls on a widescreen instrument panel display.

Honda Civic Type R Prototype

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What is it? A pre-production prototype of the high-performance and nearly here Civic hot hatch.

Why does it matter? The Honda motor-head faithful have been impatiently waiting for a truly high-performance model from the company for at least as long as the S2000 has been off the market — probably longer. The radical Civic Type R Prototype fulfills that need, building on the low and wide proportion of the new Civic Hatchback and enhanced by muscular body styling and modifications to aid aerodynamic performance. Now Honda is giving the silent treatment regarding any aspect of the Prototype’s mechanical layout — so it’s merely speculation at this point that the new car will feature some version of the high-horsepower VTEC four-cylinder existing in the European Type R model.

Kia Stinger

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What is it? The first genuine, high-performance sports sedan from a Korean automaker to take on the Europeans.

Why does it matter? Kia, like parent company Hyundai,has been trying to grow its product portfolio beyond the core segments into previously uncharted territory, first with near- and full-luxury sedans and now with a kickass sport sedan. Easily the highest-performance production vehicle in the company’s history, the top-of-the-line GT version comes with a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 — borrowed from the Genesis G90 — that pounds out 365 horsepower and 376 lb.-ft. of torque. The base engine doesn’t wimp out, either: a 255-hp, turbo 2.0L four-cylinder. Then there’s the second-generation eight-speed automatic transmission with five drive modes, plus a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive.

Mitsubishi GT-PHEV

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What is it?  An advanced “next-generation” plug-in hybrid electric crossover concept from a normally quiet auto company.

Why does it matter? Mitsubishi doesn’t get a lot of attention these days, with a limited and sometimes long-in-the-tooth product lineup. The GT-PHEV concept shows the company is still capable of innovation. The GT-PHEV, possibly hinting at the next generation of Outlander crossover, features advanced electric and all-wheel control technologies, a 2.5-litre gasoline engine and three electric motors (one unit at the front and two at the rear), a 25-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, estimated electric-only range of approximately 120 kilometres, and a total cruising range of nearly 1,200 km. It features a full-time four-wheel-drive powertrain with Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) integrated vehicle dynamics control system, bringing new levels of handling stability conditions.

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