5 Favorites from the Arizona International Auto Show

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I just got back from the 2015 Arizona International Auto Show and have just one question:

Where were the tap dancers?

Last month I was at the Tokyo Motor Show and that is one mega-event, complete with stage shows, fog machines and automotive paparazzi. My favorite part was the tap dancers who performed behind a wall of rain (real water) in front of the Subaru Viziv concept car.

The reality is that there are two tiers of auto shows. There are the big international events where manufacturers bring concept cars and debut new models, and then there are local events. No stage shows. No exotic prototypes. Just a chance to see the latest cars on the market and decide which one you want to buy or put on your wish list. Arizona is in that second tier. Less flash, but plenty of cars to admire.

With that said, here are five cars that caught my eye at the Arizona International Auto Show this year:

Infiniti Q30
Infiniti Q30

Infiniti Q30

This little gem was tucked away in the far corner of the convention hall, but it called to me like a siren in the night. It won’t hit the showroom floors until next spring, but it’s worth waiting for. Yes it’s a hatchback (or station wagon if you can bear to say it), but it shows that there is plenty of style and flair to be had even in that segment of the car business. Maybe folks will think of it as a small SUV. I only know that I’d be proud to have it in my driveway.

Buick Cascada
Buick Cascada

Buick Cascada

I love convertibles. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I live in Phoenix. When it’s hot, I put on the A/C, when it’s cold I crank up the heater. Either way, the top goes down. The Buick Cascada is the latest entry in the convertible market, but it’s different that most of the other competitors. It’s a midsized convertible that actually seats four people. The reality is that sitting in the back seat with the top down isn’t that much fun because that’s where most of the wind buffeting happening. The Cascada is based on one of Europe’s Opel (also owned by GM). I give Buick credit for striking out in a new direction.

Cadillac ATS Coupe
Cadillac ATS Coupe

Cadillac ATS Coupe

It’s amazing what happens when you take two doors away from a sedan and tilt the roofline. It just looks sexier. That’s exactly what Cadillac did with the ATS to make its new Coupe edition. I drove the ATS a couple of years ago and enjoyed the midsized luxury car. But I can’t say the looks wowed me. The coupe wows me. It’s more subtle than Cadillac’s CTS Coupe. In fact, you might say it has a slight European flair. Whatever, I loved it.

Nissan Maxima
Nissan Maxima

Nissan Maxima

I was really disappointed a while back when my scheduled test week with the 2016 Maxima had to be canceled because of a delivery problem. I’ve always liked the Maxima as a car, but frankly I thought the last generation was not the most attractive package. The new 2016 model is a major upgrade in that department. It’s longer, lower and more powerful than the old version. What more could you ask for?

Ford Shelby GT350
Ford Shelby GT350

Shelby GT350

It’s no secret I’m a Mustang guy, and the new Shelby GT350 is just another reason why. The all new 2015 Mustang took Ford’s pony car into the modern age with more sophisticated suspension. The GT350 takes advantage of that by tweaking the good stuff a little more and throwing in a 526 horsepower motor.¬†How can you not love this car?

 

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