Last Friday I had the opportunity of visiting the Chicago Auto Show and I gotta tell ya, it was empty. Not totally devoid of human presence, but pretty bad. It’s very sad to see how the economy impacted the auto industry and contrast that impact with how the show looked last year. It’s interesting to see how swift and quick the impact was.
The lack of attendance could also be taken as an opportunity. There was a definite lack of lines and crowds, which made for easy access to all of the most interesting cars present on the floor. I managed to sit for the first time in a Challenger (Huge car inside and out, not something that attracts me) and the Genesis coupe (Felt like the car was a bit overrated, underwhelming lines, bland interior). I also managed to sit for the first time in a second gen Viper and a Smart. The Mazda exhibit was great, with all Miata prototypes present on the floor including the Monoposto. The Lola/Mazda LMP2 was there as well. While Audi’s LMP entry was protected by a line and “unreachable”, Mazda’s race car was free from any obstacles. It was pretty cool to actually touch the carbon fiber and feel how rough the car is. You would usually expect a car a little more refined and technologically advanced. I was a little underwhelmed by the new Miata (2010 facelift), but the new Mazda 3 looks fantastic in the flesh. The new Hybrids were there, and the Chevrolet Volt received all my hype with a resounding “MEH”. Very bland design, it will blend with the crowd like a 1998 Camry when it comes out.
All in all, I wasn’t disappointed since all the cars presented on the floor were more or less exciting. Although I was saddened by the lack of attendance, let’s hope next year will be much better.