As part of their annual TestFest event, the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada invited a group of journalists who are not AJAC members to Niagara on the Lake yesterday to get a taste of how the organization chooses the Canadian Car of the Year. Some of us that took the short flight from downtown Toronto were auto journos in our own right, while others working in other niches.
The day began with an short lesson in the history and methodology behind TestFest and then the group moved on to the
fun important stuff: the cars. First up, representatives from each auto manufacturer gave a short talk about their electric vehicle programs and then the guests partnered up with an AJAC member to spend the rest of the day testing cars.
The guest journos had their choice of all of the new models and were able to drive whatever car they wanted on the same drive route that AJAC members use to evaluate each car. SUV’s were able to do a short tour of an off road test track to see how they coped with the mud after a week of rain. Some of us were able to ride shotgun for a few laps of the high speed vehicle dynamics track that was set up on the NOTL airport surface.
Without too much time on my hands, I was fortunate to spend some quality time behind the wheel of a few heavy hitters. It goes without saying that the Porsche Cayman R is sublime in every respect, but the other 3 vehicles I drove were more a surprise. The absolutely sinister looking Dodge Charger SRT-8 is suitably evil on the road and makes all the right noises to boot. The bordello red suede interior matches the Pitch Black finish perfectly. The Range Rover Evoque endeared itself to me quickly and is actually a vehicle that would fit our family quite nicely. The biggest surprise of the day has to go the Grand Cherokee SRT-8. It is so subtle looking, the neighbors would never guess that a fire breathing Hemi resides under the hood. Until, that is, the beast comes to life. It may just be the ultimate sleeper.
Later today we should have results of the 2012 category winners. Check back this afternoon for the news!