Our Perspective on the 2015 Chicago Auto Show

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First and foremost, Fuelfed is not about what new gadgets and nanny tech is debuting at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. Nor are we about the same old regurgitation of manufacturer stats that every other site will duplicate and spit-out. No sir, we go days ahead of the public to see what direction the future of our passion will be taken and who is leading the way in terms of aesthetics and does it connect with a true driver by just sitting there.

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The very first thing we notice is the lack of people. It’s well known in the industry that the Detroit show is for car people and Chicago for the mindless masses. Regardless, we were one of only three cars parked in our usually packed parking area under the old McCormick Place. Young Tyler kept thinking we were setting him up for a prank. We were thinking WTF? Did something change? Are we on the wrong level? Nope. Guess nobody likes to drive anymore.

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Media credentials in hand, we head to the debut of the new Ford GT. You’d think it would be jammed. Not so. Forget the big stats (you should already know that), does the new GT speak too us? Yes! Especially, the flying buttresses via the Enzo. A little heavy on the curves and sharp edges in the back end, but works in a Kim Kardashian kinda way.

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Ford seemed more interested in talking about their new Police SUVs and their canine actor got more camera coverage than the trucks.

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Over to Porsche.

Porsche, Porsche, Porsche, you need to have more than the clueless and uninspired models maning your display. The brunette is muttering to the detail guy that she likes that the fact most “all Porsches will come with automatics”. Great, because she can’t drive stick anyway. With that stab in the heart, every car on display does in fact have PDK.

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So the 911 GTS (in black on black) with PDK gets to 60 half a second faster than a three pedal option (if it was offered). But that’s not the point. A true drivers car is about connectivity with the machine and the tactile satisfaction that comes with it. Having a direct link and command of the gears is what makes driving entertaining. Of all the manufacturers, Porsche still trades on these traits, and in our opinion, will die (in our hearts) with out them. The 911, the best new grand touring coupe.

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The 918 Spyder, better looking than the Kardashian Ford GT, but the Panamera nose seems to miss the mark. The green-go powertrain gets stunning performance numbers to match it’s painful price.

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Over to BMW.

Oh yes, everyone wants to see the i8 and everyone is jockeying around to get a chance to sit in it. It still seems a concept car and just doesn’t hit the heart strings. Over to the silver M3 (four door) and the M4 (2 door coupe). Yeah, that doesn’t sound right.

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But our display hostess Julia with her cute Russian accent does her best to explain the naming logic. Shahin then gets caught in her story about the struggles in Ukraine and her friends torments on Facebook. I decide the M3 (again, 4 door) is better looking than the M4 (2 door) and pull Shahin over to show him why the shorter and sharper rear wheel arch just makes it work. He agrees. The turbo power still seems like a horsepower cop-out in an M car. Thank God they still come in stick!

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Land Rover, Jaguar, Audi, VW, yeah they’re there.

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Over to Mercedes.

Hmmm… that S Class coupe keeps calling. Can’t sit in it, as it’s up on the podium, but damn it looks good. So does the S Class AMG 65. At $240k, it better. Young Tyler has found us and joins Shahin for a nap in the back seat lounge of the AMG.

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The incredible little styling details and stunning Burmeister speaker grills offset the plastic (I believe) dash inlays and unengaging electronic display. Stonking performance numbers make the Kardashian Ford GT seem gentile.

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The AMG GTS of course has a crowd of two journalists around it. Like the S-coupe, it too, is on a podium. The nose has the sharp new look of Mercedes, but the 3/4 view of the rear is a direct copy of a 996 911. Now I can’t ever look at it the same way and move on to expresso cart for a shot.

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Expressos go well with Alfas.

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Yeah, Alfa is back! Hey look! They have a cool display with vintage clay models, steering wheels & grills and such. One even states it’s a 1951 Duetto grill. Wait, didn’t the Duetto debut in 1966? Kurt goes to verify this statement with the two Butzi Porsche look-a-likes sitting in red Barcelona chairs behind the small glass wall. They are too busy sitting to engage with such trivial conversation.

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Ok, we’ll just admire the stunningly gorgeous million dollar red 33 Stradle and it’s mono-posto racing cousins. Wait it isn’t that the C4 coupe and spider? Sorta thought they were chunky Celicas at first. Can’t cross the glass wall to get a better look, so we left with a sense that Alfa doesn’t really want to be here…and that’s a big shame for everyone.

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Not many concept cars less Toyota, who also had a nod to their 1960’s past on hand. Most manufacturers were bragging about their likes on Facebook how they were listening those “friends” comments to make better “youth-oriented” products. We’re looking forward to seeing how many “friends” Paypal them an actual down payment.

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As usual, three hours shot by and we barely got to do the deep drive into any particular mark.

Best display: Alfa Romeo

Best new design direction: Mercedes

Best display hostesses: Maserati

Best driver focus: BMW

Best surprise: Jaguar offering a 6 speed manual on the XK.

Biggest let down: Focus on manufacturer apps and social media and not the cars.

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Overall.

An over-abundance of self-proclaimed car-journalists taking selfies and selfie videos. Best summed up by the skinny-jeaned, bearded expert stating his position that his GranTurismo set-up of the Ferrari FF was better for driving than what Ferrari actually had on the real car.

Detroit here we come for real conversation in 2016.

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