Fear and Loitering at the NAIAS (Press Day 3): The X098TK089 is a Hit!

Lyn Vogel
by Lyn Vogel

I would really like automakers to cease, desist, and forevermore quit trying to sell me a swayback mare by suggesting it’s actually the Pegasus-winged and My Little Pony-hued reincarnation of Secretariat. Market-speak speakers ought to be hung by their Gucci belts until they learn this lesson. Segment-buster? Lifestyle? Brand frickety DNA? Look, I understand it’s show business not show pleasure, but does everything have to be hyped down to its subatomic particles? Furthermore, there’s no need to yet once again place each of your obscenely-paid executives on stage reading bad jokes off a teleprompter with all the finesse of a teenager asking a girl out on a first date. Stop. Please. I’m losing the will to live.

Yes, I’m a little cranky on the third press preview day of the Really Big Day-twaa Auto Shoe. Bumping from one press conference to another in fashionably constricting slip-ons has taken its toll on both mind and toes. Fortunately, the obsessive compulsives at Lexus have once again demonstrated they sweat the small stuff. They engaged the services of professional masseuses for the sole purpose [sic] of rubbing us fatigued media geezers the right way. As if…

Huh? Where was I? I know what you’re thinking: blubber on some other e-shoulder, you coddled, cosseted, and catered-to little creature. A couple of days glaring at gleaming new sheetmetal, chatting with Jessica Alba turntable clones and gorging on high-caloric (and free!) treats, and you’re tired? Does it hurt and have a temperature? Yes and no. Think Stendhal Syndrome combined with Invasion of the Deadline Snatchers and you know where I’m coming from.

Anyway, the Lexus stand holsters two showpieces: the LF-A supercar and the IS-F sedan, both in concept (wink-wink) form. Some of you have bitched that I haven’t said anything about the actual machinery. So here it is: no matter where it sits inside a car’s chassis, V10’s suck. And Lexus needs a tuner division like Land Rover needs a city car. (Thorazine and fast driving don’t mix.) Happy?

What in the G5 dominated world is with all the alphanumeric auto nomenclature? Even Charlie Epps would find it hard to memorize all the bechromed badges adoring the butts of Detroit’s multi-million-dollar dream puffs. There’s the MKR, Q7 V12 TDI, C-XF and the FT-HS (in any color as long as it’s BLK). Without peeking, try to tell me which automaker produced what and I’ll suggest you have too much time on your hands. While backing slowly away.

I’ve been occupying my mind with this sort of meaningless intellectual frivolity, now that the manufacturers have thrown the PR pasta against the video wall. I wasn’t alone in wandering around aimlessly seeking angle. I was playing with an interactive kiosk at the MINI display this afternoon when I suddenly realized that I was being filmed by a German guy. (Yes, we’re there: the media is eating its own.) A half hour later I was idly playing with slot cars (magnetized, so they can’t crash, obviously) at the VW display, when German guy was once again burning up lithium batteries on my behalf. We’ll be meeting at a leather bar in Munich later in the year.

Juan Pablo Montoya was here. Well, more over there, behind the ropes, far away from the dreaded press pack. He was taking a contractually-obligated bow to coincide with the debut of the stickers that have been printed to adorn his NAS-cookiecutter-CAR. Who knew that before the new season starts he’s required to change his name to John Paul II? Not me.

As I snapped a photo of race boy, I leaned over the barbed wire security net by a centimeter, whereupon an earpiece-adorned thug scowled and waved me back. As the day progressed, I got shooed out of camera range by a perky television reporter, and two guards told me not to touch the sturdy-seeming divider bar separating we throng from the Maserati enclosure or the yawning model contained therein would strip naked and dance the horizontal mambo. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn a T-shirt that says “No pictures!”

Well, it’s time to turn off the lights on another Detroit Auto Show. Before I leave, I’d like to share a couple parting thoughts. 1) The Chinese are coming. Their insanely cheap vehicles will have to be insanely cheap; five minutes later you’ll want to buy another one. 2) Toyota’s stand at this year’s show was comprised of three cars and thirteen trucks. That’s not good. 3) I’ll have the remainder of this toasted potato bread crouton with pulled pork shoulder and Gruyere cheese with braised red cabbage and spring onion; Risotto cake with haricot verts, mixed greens and dual pepper coulis; and mint chocolate and peppermint mousse towers in a doggy bag, Mr. Mercedes Waiter.

Lyn Vogel
Lyn Vogel

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  • Wsn Wsn on Jan 11, 2007

    Replying to Glenn A.: The electron economy, or the hydrogen economy? I suspect it won’t come down to a ‘choice’ of one or the other, in fact. I suspect we’ll see both - some day. That I do not object. But no matter what technology prevails, the D2.5 won't be the leaders. The problem with them is not that they cannot find the hot thing. They just cannot compete. When Toyota sold its 1M'th Prius in 2004, GM knew fully well that it's the right time to get into the market. But, instead, they gave the fuel cell marketing BS, to hide the fact they just couldn't offer a decent model. Now, with the Honda's fuel cells coming, GM has to change its cover up BS. Count on my words, when Toyota/Honda introduce their all electric plug-in in 2015, GM will show a nuclear concept (if GM still exists). The fact is, a competitive car maker should lead in all fronts. It's not a coincidence that Toyota/Honda's internal combustion engines are also superior to GM's. P.S. I think Ford is better than GM, in that Ford acknowledges its shortcomings. The Ford hybrids are a good start in its planned revival.

  • Terry Parkhurst Terry Parkhurst on Jan 14, 2007

    Well, I can sympathize with getting the one-up treatment from television people. I think they are the bane of the existence of most print and Internet journos. Whereas at one time, a journo would stand down and say, "Sorry to get in your shot," television people stand as among the most egocentric of humans. And since their role is really entertainment - few Edward R. Murrows left amongst them - they are not really journos. But getting back to NAIAS, I think Warren Brown caught the importance of it best in the Washington Post this week when he wrote, "Big trucks are forever, even in an era of rising fuel prices." And finally, when he wrote, "Toyota isn't bragging about fuel economy in this brawl. Its new CrewMax gets 16 mpg in the city and 20 on the highway, about the same as the Silverado. To the extent that there is something that might pass for a single theme at this year's Detroit show, it is represented in the one characterizing the truck battle: more power, less fuel." So maybe ignoring product was the right choice after all, Lyn. Nonetheless, admittedly that gas hog of a Maser certainly does have probably the best exterior design of any four-door sedan on the planet; now if there was just a way to reduce the weight about 1,000 pounds.

  • Slavuta I don't know how they calc this. My newest cars are 2017 and 2019, 40 and 45K. Both needed tires at 30K+, OEM tires are now don't last too long. This is $1000 in average (may be less). Brakes DYI, filters, oil, wipers. I would say, under $1500 under 45K miles. But with the new tires that will last 60K, new brakes, this sum could be less in the next 40K miles.
  • BeauCharles I had a 2010 Sportback GTS for 10 years. Most reliable car I ever own. Never once needed to use that super long warranty - nothing ever went wrong. Regular maintenance and tires was all I did. It's styling was great too. Even after all those years it looked better than many current models. Biggest gripe I had was the interior. Cheap (but durable) materials and no sound insulation to speak of. If Mitsubishi had addressed those items I'm sure it would have sold better.
  • Marty S I learned to drive on a Crosley. Also, I had a brand new 75 Buick Riviera and the doors were huge. Bent the inside edge of the hood when opening it while the passenger door was open. Pretty poor assembly quality.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Alan, I was an Apache pilot and after my second back surgery I was medically boarded off of flying status due to vibrations, climbing on and off aircraft, so I was given the choice of getting out or re-branching so I switched to Military Intel. Yes your right if you can’t perform your out doesn’t matter if your at 17 years. Dad always said your just a number, he was a retired command master chief 25 years.
  • ToolGuy "Note that those vehicles are in direct competition with models Rivian sells"• I predict that we are about to hear why this statement may not be exactly true