Wednesday, March 9, 2011

WAJ Media Days--Great Fun

From Monday night to Wednesday afternoon, I spent many happy hours in Monterey at the 19th Annual Western Automotive Journalists Media Days.

Besides the great opportunity to drive a wide selection of the latest cars on local roads and at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, it was a chance to reconnect with with my automotive colleagues and favorite industry representatives.

Highlights for me this year included:

  • A special presentation from Chrysler, who brought samples of all of their revamped products as well as the new Dodges, Jeeps and Fiat.

  • A chance to drive local roads, some winding and scenic, in the long-awaited new Fiat 500 (pictured) as well as the Volvo S60, 2012 Ford Focus, Cadillac CTS Coupe--with a manual six-speed, BMW 335is, Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, Honda CR-Z manual-equipped hybrid, and the Mitsubishi i-MIEV and smart battery electric vehicles.

  • A busy track day with a selection of great vehicles including the MAZDASPEED3--which was just as much fun as it is on the road--and the surprising Buick Regal Turbo--with a manual six-speed! The Subaru WRX STi was marvelously tenacious on the curving racetrack. Even the Volt was OK on the track--running only on electricity.

  • There was an impromptu drag race between the smart and the i-MIEV to see who the best electric was--the i-MIEV won.
  • The Hyundai Equus impressed me with its amazing luxury--like a Lexus for less money--incredible.

  • Many tasty meals, including the usual banquet on Tuesday night.

The weather was incredibly good, considering the date. I wore a T-shirt outside both days.

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