Metro Times NAIAS Journals
Swag-hungry journos descend on an unsuspecting Cobo Hall for the 25th annual North American International Auto Show.
Published: January 22, 2014
Four of us hop in a 2000 Saturn LS2 in the Metro Times parking lot early in the morning. It’s more difficult than it should be — the passenger side handle broke off during the Polar Vortex. This chariot rides on four wheels like other cars, but one of them happens to be a donut. There’s no heat, no horn, and the radio turns itself off whenever we hit a bump. To put it mildly, we’re riding in style.
We’re off to the land of milk and honey: the 25th Annual North American International Auto Show, which might as well be Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory to us. Gleaming new cars with price tags that would shake the cold right from our frozen bones await our childlike wonder.
We spent the day ooing and ahhing at the wonders, trying to look like we knew what we were doing. After it was all said and done, we managed to not only avoid damaging anything priceless, but also putting together the only auto show review you need to read. Enjoy. (And by the way, does anyone have a set of jumper cables we could borrow? Asking for a friend.)
9:30 a.m. — We arrive at Cobo Hall and try to negotiate the line to pick up our press credentials. After about 15 minutes, we realize that we’re standing in the line for paid admission (rookie error), and that there is no line at all for the press pass pickup, plus we have no money if we actually had to pay. D’oh! What’s more, half of the credentials have our names spelled incorrectly. They’ve cleary been eagerly awaiting our expertise here.
9:57 a.m. — The coat check line is dozens deep. We’re bundled up, and there’s a slog of stale, humid air awaiting us, but we soldier on. “That line looks dumb,” we say to a Cobo worker while confidently walking away.
10 a.m. — We enter the main Auto Show event room, fashioned into one huge showroom. Memories of being dragged to look at cars by parents and being hassled by slick sales staff begin to surface. But, ooh, look, cars. We take a minute to figure out where the fuck everything is.
10:01 a.m. — For instance: Where are the bagels? We’re hungry.
10:11 a.m. — Overall, a pretty good showing. The foreign automakers really seem to bring their A-game (even when showing concepts or products that were unveiled at previous shows). Nissan is especially impressive, with the new direction the automaker has taken in mid-size sedans, embodied in their Nissan Sport Sedan Concept. Their IDx concepts (IDx Nismo and IDx Freeflow) have already been revealed long before the NAIAS, but seeing them in person makes us like them even more. And the fact that the IDx just got approved for production is exciting. It’s been a long, long time since there’s been a fun, small, boxy little rear-wheel drive shitbox on the road, and they’re sure to be zooming around the streets soon like pissed-off hornets.
10:15 a.m. — We look at some price tags and quickly direct our phones to freecreditreport.com.
10:17 a.m. — Damn. That’s a low score. Do they accept trade in Metro Times advertising?
10:30 a.m. — We sprint over to the Minis, which got a real boost in that The Italian Job movie. Mind you, the “concept” Mini on display kind looks like someone put a Porsche in a vice, or maybe melted it a little. We meet Angel Rodriguez, whose job appears to be to dust the Minis all day at regular intervals. We ask him why, and he says, “It keeps the dust off the Minis.” Fair enough.
10:43 a.m. — Overheard: Two guys approaching a booth. Guy One says in an excited tone, “Oh, I fuckin’ hate this car!”
10:50 a.m. — Fuck you, Porsche. Stop making glorified VW Beetles. They’re just one-and-a-half ton latte-holders for jaggoffs with too much money and absolutely no goddamn taste. If you want to drop that kind of coin on a status car so your asshole neighbors know how much money you make, there are so many better options.
10:55 a.m. — Two Asian men are in a small Smart car measuring the display thingy (car talk, there) on the dashboard. “What are you doing?” we ask. “We are the manufacturers. We’re just checking to make sure it’s right.” This seems like something that should have been done ahead of time.
11:05 a.m. — Another young gentleman with a fake diamond earring and a feather duster in hand is polishing the cars not far from the Minis. He eyes us from a few steps away with warning beams coming out of his pupils. “We won’t touch it and make more work for you. We promise.”
11:20 a.m. — We look at the Kia display, mainly because people hate Kias, so they need some love. There’s a drive simulator set up, allowing you to sit down and get the Kia experience, which is really something, let us tell you. It’s not much of a game, though — there are no drive-bys and no hookers. Boring. At least there are no cops.
11:35 a.m. — The Kia Soul is amazing. This little purple beauty has been set up so that DJs can just pull into a parking lot, stand up through the sunroof, and spin using the rooftop decks. The speakers, sound equipment and all that gear are set up in the back, so you just have to pop the trunk and you’re away. Ridiculous, outlandish, excessive and impractical? Obviously. But it’s also fucking awesome — a car you can turn up to 11.
11:47 a.m. — There’s also a Kia sponsored by The Voice, which looks like a regular car with “The Voice” plastered across the side. Not very exciting, although right next to it there’s a Voice judge chair, and if you feel so inclined, you can make believe that you’re a prick.
12:01 p.m. — There’s a Smart bike now, and it can be yours for the very reasonable price of $2,950. The upside for this bicycle and that price tag: It has a battery that you can either plug in or recharge via pedaling. “And the harder you make the settings,” Jennifer from Smart USA explains, “the more energy you create.” No, no thank you. We’re here to look at things that require no energy from us! We do have one question: Could we let Jennifer use the bike for a week and then reap the benefits of all that stored energy? “I don’t know.” We’re willing to spend $2,950 to find out.
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