|Yes, that's a PDX Carpet wrap on this 2016 Smart Fortwo. It doesn't get much more Portland that this. Scroll down to see yet another PDX Carpet-wrapped vehicle, and to learn what the hell PDX Carpet is.|
The Portland International Auto Show runs from January 28–31 at the Oregon Convention Center, but we got a sneak peek for media day on the 27th. We also got to hear presentations from a host of automakers and learn about some of the cool new vehicles out there. And while there are a lot of cars on display from nearly every manufacturer (sans Mitsubishi), we were mostly interested in the compact, subcompact, micro, and mini cars on display. Here are some cars that were standouts in those categories.
Here's the strikingly blue 2016 Ford Focus RS, in all of its all-wheel drive glory—it could be the STI killer. This compact bruiser makes 350 horsepower from its EcoBoost 2.3-liter engine. Prices start at $37,730. Oh yes. So much of the awesome.
Another car going after Subaru is the upcoming Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Alltrack. Sitting 1-inch higher than a normal Sportwagen, the Alltrak features VW's 4MOTION driveline. It'll be powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine making 170 horsepower and mated to VW's DSG automatic transmission. No word on pricing yet, but the German wagon ... er wagen ... should be available in the third quarter of 2016.
The 2016 Chevrolet Spark is totally redesigned and features a normally aspirated 1.4-liter four cylinder making 98 horsepower, which is mated to either a five-speed manual or CVT. We sat inside and found the interior to be a nice upgrade from the previous model. We also found the rear cargo area to be a bit deeper. All around it's certainly more mainstream and not as edgy and distinctive as the previous Spark, which was a surprise success for Chevy. We loved it, and look forward to driving a new one. The '16 Spark starts at $12,660 and gets up to 41 MPG.
The all-new 2016 MINI Cooper Clubman is the largest vehicle the company has offered. The Cooper S Clubman, like the one pictured here, makes 189 hp from its 2.0-liter mill. Prices starts around $27,000, although this optioned-up version had a sticker of about $38,000. It's not offered with all-wheel drive yet, but expect that to happen. We're told not to expect the Countryman CUV to go by the wayside when that happens, either. And yes, the new Clubman still has the barn-style rear doors (and they open remotely with the key fob or by swinging your foot under the rear bumper).
Did you always think the Toyota Corolla was boring? This tarted-up version was a SEMA Show concept, and looked pretty dang good Shoot, I didn't know a new Corolla could look this good. It wasn't for sale, but it caught my eye, hence why it's here. It has a body kit, 19-inch TRD wheels, a lowered suspension, and a cat-back exhaust. No, it wouldn't be fast, but it does look great.
It's not new, but the Nissan Versa Note SR, with its 16-inch wheels, side skirts, spoiler, and Peacock Green color, still managed to call out to me. And while I still don't like the seats, I think it looks attractive. Too bad it can only be had with a CVT. Maybe I need to get over it.
"Latte Menta" is a new color for the 2016 Fiat 500, and it looks totally at home on this retro runabout. It's got a bit more green to it than this photo shows.
Original Minis are awesome. What more is there to say about this?
Now this original Mini is one of the last ever made. It is a 2000 model year and is left-hand drive. It's weird to see this old-school body with a modern interior, too. Regardless, it was phenomenal. Bonus points for the ragtop.
If you're not from Portland, you may be wondering what the hell PDX Carpet is, let alone why you've now witnessed two vehicles with custom wrap jobs, including the Scion FR-S, in this bizarre pattern. So here's the deal: The carpet at Portland International Airport (PDX) had this color and pattern. It was installed in the early 1990s and the unique color/pattern became synonymous with traveling to and from Portland. With the advent of social media, many people would take a picture of their shoes on the carpet, which signified they were either leaving or coming to Portland. It became a thing.
In 2015 the iconic carpet was removed and replaced with a far less iconic carpet color/pattern. So with its demise came a cult following of the former carpet. There is now a host of PDX Carpet-related memorabilia available including socks, mousepads, hats, scarves, mugs, and even area rugs made from the original airport carpet. And yes, Mercedes and I actually own some of the original carpet in the form of a door mat and area rug. We may or may not have socks, stickers, and a mousepad with the pattern.
PDX Carpet is something that's uniquely Portland, and hence the two wrap-jobs on the cars. Just keeping Portland weird!
It isn't a compact, subcompact, micro, or mini vehicle, but we did drive the 2016 Land Rover Discovery on the company's off-road course located across the street from the show. The new Disco has a fully independant suspension system and a rear corner would often leave the ground during downhill departures The Discovery has all-wheel drive and no low-range transfer case, so it's not what I'd call a hard-core four wheeler, but it's still a Land Rover. Despite the independent suspension, it felt well balanced and stable on hills as well as off-camber situations.