Posted (02/13/2006) -
More than a million car lovers will visit the Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place during February 8-19. The Windy City hosts the largest auto show in North America with over a thousand exotic, new and concept vehicles. Some of these exciting cars will be hitting the race track in the near future, while others will be hitting the shopping malls and school parking lots.
I had the opportunity to attend the "First Look for Charity", a black-tie event which raised over $2.6 million for 19 local Charities. The glamorous night allowed socialites and car buffs to stroll through the 1.2 million square feet of cars and trucks while sipping champagne and enjoying abundant hors d'oevres.
Six new cars made their grand debut at the Chicago auto show including the Chevrolet Avalanche, Dodge 2007 Caliber SRT4, Lexus 2007 ES, Lincoln 2007 Navigator, Mercedes Benz AMG R63, and Subaru 2007 B9 Tribeca. While the luxury vehicles received the greatest traffic, it was Jeep's mini road course excursions that brought the greatest entertainment. Visitors took rides in the all new 2007 Jeep Compass and Jeep Wrangler while listening to live music. High performance cars with gimmicky gadgets populated the showroom floor. With over 40 manufacturers present, it is a dream come true for any car enthusiast. The auto show is a must see and here are some of the highlights from the glitzy event.
Lexus kicked off the debut of their 2007 ES 350 by hosting a one hour concert by the Bacon Brothers, featuring actor Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael. While visitors enjoyed the band, they were able to leisurely view the fifth generation sedan and the 2007 Lexus GS 450h. The GS 450h is the first hybrid luxury sedan and first full hybrid vehicle with a front engine and rear wheel drive. The hybrid produces over 300 horsepower, with zero-to-60 acceleration in less than six seconds.
Needing no music or gimmicks to attract potential customers, Mercedes-AMG unveiled their brand-new R 63 AMG. The Mercedes-Benz R-Class is powered by the new AMG 6.3-litre V-8 engine. The six passenger vehicle comes equipped with 510 horsepower and a permanent four-wheel drive. Mercedes-Benz also highlighted their new luxury SUV GL-Class, available in five-and seven-seat cabin layouts. Although there were many admirers around the SLK convertible, it was the McLaren SLR that caught everyone's eye with a base price of $452,750.
Just a few steps away from the McLaren was the new Maybach 57 S. The hefty price tag comes equipped with the Mercedes-AMG 6.0-liter V-12 twin turbo engine. The Maybach 57 S accelerates from standstill to 62 mph in only five seconds.
While the McLaren and Maybach were roped off to the public, the Porsche Cayman S encouraged guests to take a closer look. The 3.4-liter flat-six comes with 295 horsepower and can reach a top speed of 171mph. Porsche fans also enjoyed the 911coupes/convertibles and the Carrera S models. Redesigned last year, the 911 is powered by 325 horsepower, 3.6-liter six-cylinder 'boxer' engine. The Carrera S models come equipped with a 3.8-liter six-cylinder with 355 horsepower.
Audi's success in the sports car world is unprecedented. Audi race fans spent the evening checking out two new models: the S8 and the Q7 SUV. The Audi S8, expected to arrive in show room floors in mid-2006, comes equipped with a V-10, 5.2-liter engine with 450 horsepower. The sporty S8 luxury sedan shoots from 0-62 mph in 5.1-seconds.
After a 15 year hiatus, the BMW M6 returns with great enthusiasm. Based on the 6 Series, BMW created an exciting sports coupe which shares its drivetrain with the M5. The new V10 produces 500 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. The M5 was also a favorite in the BMW camp with its 5.0-liter V-10. Three performance programs are offered in the M5: P400, P500, and P500 S, denoting 400, 500, and 500 horsepower respectively. Shaking things up, BMW showed of