PDA

View Full Version : GM's AutoShow in Motion, Miami FL


Technic
11-13-2003, 05:08 PM
General Motors sponsored an autoshow in Miami with the twist that you can actually drive the cars around a course. Most GM cars were there, plus Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Nissan and Honda. I did not see any Audi nor VW, though.

I went to drive only five cars that I wanted among all: the New 5, SRX, CTS, H2 and, of course, the Z06.

530i: Still disappointed with the overall look, and cheap interior, I sat in this 530i (step, premium, no sport package thus no active steering), expecting that the drive will compensate the styling. The drive, a very short one, not only erased whatever cheapness I saw in the interior but actually I started to like the damn whole car. Simply smooth, powerful, handling is precise and solid. The step did not hamper at any moment the enjoyment, just move the shifter to manual control and there you go. The rules of the course specified no more than 25 mph... I simply could not comply. I hit 45mph in every short straight and no less than 30mph in the curves. The famous iDrive in my opinion is easy to use... only when you are parked, which I think is the real purpose. While you are driving you have all the buttons you need in the steering wheel and in the dash. It is cumbersome (close to dangerous) to be messing with it around while driving. This should explain why BMW is moving away from the slanted dash towards the driver, this way a passenger can play with it. Singles need not to apply, I guess.

This is just the 530i... the sport package with the active steering should be a revelation. And a 545i six speed should be perfect.

SRX and CTS: Cadillac is into something. This SRX was the Northstar-equipped 320hp version. The CTS was the 3.2, 220hp 5 speed version. Both moves, handles and ride almost the same, which is impressive if you are expecting to be disappointed like I was, and also because they share the same platform. The steering is more relaxed in the SRX than in the CTS (of course), but still they were nicely weighed, not vague nor without 'feel'. Both interiors are ok... I guess that at last somebody in GM interior department stand up and yelled "this crap has to stop". Still, it seems that he did not yell loud enough, though, because there are some details (door panels, center console) that are subpar (both also share the dash and most of the switchgear)...

The CTS five speed was good, kind of notchy but with good clutch pick up and feel. Probably with some miles on it will be much better, but as is, is decent. The engine does not feel as strong as the 530i much less my 330i, although it is supposed to have more torque. I guess that the gearing is the culprit for this, or probably the shape of the car make me feel that I was not moving fast enough. I hit some high 30's mph at the same course as the 530i, but never felt that "need for speed" like the 530i... it is a good car, though. And the CTS V should be a monster, only if they do something about that Z06 6 speed (more on that in a moment).

The SRX was very nice for an SUV; it handled the SUV course very sharp with no surprises. I hit no more than 30 mph in a different course than the cars but with more or less the same kind of close, sharp turns. It is smooth and quiet, nice touch up screen in the dash, bunch of cubbyholes, excellent and very easy-to-use fold down seats and good visibility all around. The leather should be copied by BMW and put in all its leather equipped cars, not the Montana, Dakota or Hoboken-whatever leather that they use. They did not have an X5 to compare, but still I was impressed with the Cadillac effort.

Corvette Z06: Never driven a Corvette before, much less the Z06. The way the GM people have this set up was to make you drive a luxury car first (in my case was the CTS and the 530i) and only then they let you drive the Corvette (automatic or Z06). The only thing that I got from driving this thing is that if I own one I will be dead or in jail. There seems to be no limit in anything that this machine can do. The more you push the more it digs and get you out of the turn. The steering is right now, the sound coming from the muffler is intoxicating, the grip is something that I have never experienced before, the acceleration is instantaneous, brute but controlled, in an oxymoron kind of way. Wao...

The only thing that I do not like is that after awhile you realize that in fact this car is a brute. The shifter is John Deer quality, as in an agricultural not smooth throws. I did not get confortable with the clutch and the interior does not absolutely belong in a $50,000 car. Would I buy one? For $25,000 used, yes. For $50,000 I would buy an M3. This car is simply for spanking, brute and humiliating spanking.

Hummer H2: When you talk about brute, you have to include this beast. The course was thru gravel, a 15 feet high hill, an inclined berm of about 6 feet high (you drive thru it with only two side wheels). The H2 go thru all of these like it is an M1 Abrams.

And like a tank, it drives like one. The blind spots are gigantic, the steering does not collect unemployment benefits because it is lazy as hell, the interior also does not belong in a $50,000 vehicle, but then this is not a luxury truck. This is an assault-to-the-senses, my-truck-beat-up-yours vehicle, made for the Serengeti, Sarajevo or Fargo in winter. You will not be stranded anywhere, ever. This is the reason they fly off the dealer lots and I had to wait 45 minutes to drive this beast when they had 10 to test drive.

Overall it is a great way of spending some drive time with as many vehicles you can. Great organization, free lunch, free parking. If you see them coming close to where you live, go... you will have some serious fun.

Matthew330Ci
11-13-2003, 06:21 PM
i had the same feelings as you about the z06' shifter, i was a little underwhelmed by the acceleration, i guess i was expecting a bit too much.

i went to the one in Irvine a few months ago and I thought the courses were way too damn short and the lines a little too long. I'm sure each event is different everytime it's held in a different place.

another observation, they had the e39 530i and the lines for it were as 2x as long as any other car in the luxury area. :)

Technic
11-13-2003, 07:13 PM
i had the same feelings as you about the z06' shifter, i was a little underwhelmed by the acceleration, i guess i was expecting a bit too much.

i went to the one in Irvine a few months ago and I thought the courses were way too damn short and the lines a little too long. I'm sure each event is different everytime it's held in a different place.

another observation, they had the e39 530i and the lines for it were as 2x as long as any other car in the luxury area. :)

You are absolutely right on that one. The E60 line was full while there was nobody most of the time in the GM cars. It is sad for GM...

The problem that I saw was that there is only one competitor car per category (GM is not dumb, you know?), thus making the lines to drive those too long.

And yes, the courses are too short...

Buff_AGM
11-13-2003, 07:28 PM
At NY the lines on the 525i and to a lesser extent 325i doubled the next closest the (new at the time) E320. I had fun in the CTS manual, but the auto seemed much more comprable to a 325 than 330. The new saab was a fun ride and should make a good daily driver. The z06 was an amazing experience indeed, hitting 70mph in a few seconds, without redlining, was quite an experience, as was going into a 90deg. turn at that speed. It a great event and I def. look at GM in a different light having attended.

aardvark
11-14-2003, 12:27 AM
GM did this Autoshow thing in the Bay Area a few months back. I got an invitation and thought about going, but skipped it, figuring that the lines would be long and it'd be a general hassle.

GM doesn't make a lot of cars that I'm interested in, but yeah, you've got to them credit for what they've done with Cadillac recently. Technically, at least, they seem to be moving in the right direction. I like the looks of the new Saab 9-3, but it seems a little overpriced for a 4-banger.

I don't understand why GM doesn't import Opels to the U.S. I had an Astra in Europe a couple years ago as a rental, and it seemed like a fairly decent econobox.