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One of the first things that really catches your eye the first few times you drive an all-electric car is its instant response and quick acceleration.

It’s among the takeaways after spending a day last weekend at Motor Bella in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac.

A large number of driving and driving opportunities formed an important part of the event, which was touted by the organizers as the future of auto shows.

That’s a great promise from the people who brought you the North American International Auto Show. Traditionally held in mid-January, those who run the Detroit show decided to make a few changes to the traditional format in response to changes in how manufacturers thought salons should look and how they wanted to market their cars. cars.

The 2019 show at Cobo Hall in downtown Detroit, while impressive, lacked glaring brands, including many high-end German manufacturers. This led to the closure of a significant part of the hall and a reduction in the number of exhibitions. Despite this, the show still attracted over 750,000 visitors.

This helped motivate the decision to turn the show into an outdoor event in downtown Detroit in the fall of 2020, where attendees could see samples of what the creators have on offer and take part in more events. practices in a brighter and more festive atmosphere. . COVID-19 halted those plans and triggered a series of decisions that led to the creation of the event at M1 Concourse.

Located on the 87 acres of the facility, the show featured around 350 cars from 35 brands. This meant that participants could still have some of that traditional experience, taking a close look at the vehicles and having the opportunity to examine many of them inside and out.

But the exterior frame has made it more convenient for manufacturers to offer additional experiences, from driving some of the newer models to driving while professional drivers put performance vehicles and SUVs to the test.

All of this made for a day far removed from what we would expect from the auto shows.

Seeing an Audi etron, for example, is one thing. Of course, it’s a beautiful vehicle and it comes with all the amenities you would expect to find in any offering from the German luxury brand. Having the opportunity to get behind the wheel and take an approximately five-minute test drive through the city streets took this experience to a new level.

Ditto with the Mustang Mach-E.

Both vehicles offered the chance to experience cutting edge technology. Both drove extremely well and both showed incredible drive when the opportunity arose to really use the accelerator. There were some differences. Audi’s regenerative braking system was much less noticeable and was accessible from one of the steering column paddles. When the Mustang is in One-Pedal mode, accessible from the touchscreen in the center of the dashboard, the effort is much more noticeable, but it will allow you to come to a stop after taking your foot off the accelerator.

The Ford specialist described it as being similar to driving a golf cart – it stops pretty quickly once your foot releases the pedal.

Ford went further by also offering the option of driving an Expedition, a Bronco, a Bronco Sport and an F-150.

While very responsive and fun to drive, the Audi and Mustang were missing something – that satisfying sound that comes from a V-8 (OK, now most likely a V-6 or a turbocharged four-cylinder engine) when the kicks off. right is lowered. It is, unfortunately, apparently a sound that is quickly disappearing from our lives.

A ride offered by Ford also showed off the Mach-E’s cornering ability (there is no large motor up front to interfere with the wheels) and its acceleration and braking capabilities (all demonstrated while driving with a professional pilot on a closed course.)

The exterior setting allowed Jeep and Ford to show off the capabilities of the Wrangler and Bronco, at Camp Jeep and at Bronco Mountain. Unlike the Bronco track – which included mud and a lot of metal – the Jeep demo was set up on an artificial dirt track.

Both rides (driven by professional drivers on a closed course) showed just how capable the vehicles were.

Due to the rain that hit the Detroit area at the end of the week and remained until late in the morning of September 25, Camp Jeep opened late, but the additional mud only improved the ‘experience. Unfortunately for those who visited the exhibit later in the day, the Jeeps were seen circling around the giant hill that towered over the course, meaning some riders were unable to experience the demonstrations of the course. ‘climbing or demolition.

Equally sad is that the Ram TRX experience, located right next to Camp Jeep, couldn’t open at all.

All that rain, however, did nothing to slow the Dodge Thrill Ride, where passengers had a chance to experience all the wheel screeching power that makes the Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats legendary (pro drivers, closed course. )

The day also offered the opportunity to get closer to the Wagoneer and the Grand Wagoneer presented by Stellantis. While obviously a luxury extension of the Jeep brand, full-size three-row SUVs are not labeled as Jeeps and are marketed as a sub-brand. (Although the Jeep logo was easy to spot on the molding around the driver’s side mirror, probably a bit too big and a bit too easy to find than many of the Easter Eggs the brand is famous for.)

Thankfully, the steady rain on the morning of September 25 gave way to sunshine just before noon, which made Motor Bella much more enjoyable.

And it shows the problems that can accompany outdoor events – rain can put a big brake on activities. But it also reduced attendance at the start of the day, which dramatically shortened wait times to participate in the experiments.

Change isn’t always for the better, but Motor Bella has shown how something as familiar as an auto show can be turned into a new experience while still retaining much of the feel of the place. traditional event.

And that means you can probably expect to see other auto shows upping their game – for example, the Pittsburgh International Auto Show website promises those who attend the 2022 event – scheduled for Feb. 18-21 at the David L. Lawrence Center Convention – will find “a new look and feel to enhance our… performing experience.”

The auto show we know is changing (unfortunately that means you’ll find fewer printed brochures, but plenty of opportunities to receive information via text or email.) But all of these changes mean a better and more comprehensive experience. whether you are a car guy or girl or someone looking for their next vehicle.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is editor of the Herald-Star and Weirton Daily Times.)

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