The 2015 auto show season is in full swing and it is looking to be a great year for performance enthusiasts.  If you fall into the Ricky Bobby “I wanna go fast” crowd, you are going to love the new vehicles coming out this year.

The season opened with the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, which held its preview on Nov. 18-20.  Ford unveiled the 2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang and Cadillac launched its 2016 ATS-V, which goes from zero to 60 in a blistering 3.9 seconds.  Both cars feature Recaro performance luxury seats to help make them confident track performers, as well as a refined daily drivers.

The next stop on the circuit is the North American International Auto Show, being held in downtown Detroit.  Preview week is held Jan. 12-16 and both automakers and suppliers will be making news when the industry comes home to the Motor City.  Among the news will be the announcement of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY).  The 2016 Mustang is a finalist in this year’s program, but the Volkswagen Golf GTI is the quiet contender that might bring home the trophy.

The Volkswagen Golf already has been named Motor Trend’s 2015 Car of the Year and Car and Driver’s 2015 Editors Choice Awards included the Golf and the Golf GTI as one of the best compact and sport compact cars you can buy.  The 2015 Golf GTI recently won Autoweek’s annual “Best of the Best” / Car award.  Not to mention, its 1.8L turbocharged engine made the 2015 Ward’s 10 Best Engines List.

The powerful, prestigious Mustang is looking for its first win and the Hyundai Genesis wants a second trophy to go with its 2009 award.  However, the quick, efficient, moderately priced Golf might head out of Detroit as the 2015 North American Car of the Year on Jan. 12.
If it is your first time heading to COBO Center for the NAIAS, here are a few simple tricks and tips to help you navigate the show:

  • Have $60 in cash on you.  Parking can range from $10 to $40 downtown and a quick bite to eat might run you $10 to $20.  There still are places that are cash-only and you don’t want to have to pass on a good parking spot because they don’t take plastic.
  • Bring water.  COBO air is a desert-dry in January and you will do a lot of walking and talking.  A bottle of water from an onsite vendor now costs more than a gallon of gas.  Avoid the long line for a pricey drink and toss a bottle of water in your bag as you head off to the show.
  • Embrace the People Mover.  COBO parking can be tough to find, if you don’t get downtown before 7 a.m.  Don’t be afraid to park at any of the structures around the various People Mover stops, like the brand-new Z parking structure on Grand River and Broadway.
  • Head to Campus Martius to eat.  Finding a place to grab a quick bite to eat during the show can be painful.  Take a break from the crowds and head up Woodward to the Campus Martius area, where there are quite a few new places to eat.  Everything from Jimmy John’s to Olga’s to Bagger Dave’s can get you in and out in a timely fashion.
  • Take care of your feet.  COBO might not be the largest convention center in the world, but there still is plenty of ground to cover – often in the snow and across icy sidewalks.  As the automotive engineers would say, “form follows function.”  You should strongly consider wearing comfortable shoes that will help you be sure-footed across wintery urban terrain.

Brad Warner is a senior director in the Automotive Practice at Lambert