Opening day at the South Florida International Auto Show presented by Allstate featured debuts of new models by Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Mercury, Bentley, Chevrolet, Nissan and Subaru. The 36th edition of the annual show opened for a 10-day run at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Those who attend this year’s big event can reach new heights in motoring adventure. Almost 20 feet, in fact, an attraction in the table-top terrain that defines Greater Miami. Consumers can visit Camp Jeep at the show and take a "Trail Rated" ride over gravel, rocks, 2,000 wheelbarrows worth of mulch and an 18-foot high bridge designed to deliver the experience of rugged conditions.
 
Dan Tardella, senior marketing manager for Jeep, showed off the longer, wider, safer Wrangler and talked about the global advantage Jeep is getting from the new Compass and Patriot compact SUVs.
 
Mercedes-Benz used the annual show for the world debut of its CL Class model 550 coupe. According to Bart Herring, C-Class product manager, South Florida is the third largest market in the U.S. for Mercedes-Benz and should respond well to the latest expression of its 50-year coupe heritage. BMW also enjoys strong sales in South Florida and held the North American debut of its 355i Coupe. It features a new twin-turbo 3-liter inline six engine that develops 300 horsepower. The president of the manufacturer’s high performance M division, Professor Ulrich Bruhnke, was on hand to describe the technology and capabilities of BMW’s motorsport models.
 
Mercury unveiled its 2008 (sic) Mariner SUV and Chevrolet showed-off a brand new model for its popular new HHR-a panel truck version ideal for delivery van use or for customizers. The new HHR offers up to 63 cubic feet of space and a 40-amp auxiliary plug in the cargo area.
 
Bentley Motorcars President Andrew Stuart unveiled a new GTC convertible model of its luxury Continental GT, along with a "Diamond Series" model of its hard-top Continental GT to celebrate the marquee having been at its Crewe headquarters for 60 years.
 
"We’re off to a great start this year," said Rick Baker, show manager. "We’ve never had 13 press conferences in one day before, and such a diversity of models. We’re going to have an exciting 10-day run."
 
Nissan spotlighted its new subcompact Versa hatchback and a sedan version available next spring. Subaru presented the high performance Spec B version of its Legacy sedan. Other press briefings highlighted new or improved versions of Ferrari, Maserati, Infiniti and Hyundai. Sobre Ruedas, the leading Hispanic automotive magazine, presented 19 "Best Of" awards for the third year in a row at this major U.S. event.
 
Guest speaker for the press luncheon was Jay Spenchian, general manager of Saab Automobile, U.S.A., who identified Saab’s place in General Motors’ strategy to differentiate its brands. The U.S. is the biggest market for Saab, GM’s only European premium brand, said Spenchian.
 
The South Florida International Auto Show is produced by the South Florida Auto-Truck Dealers Association, which comprises 220 dealerships in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe counties. The show runs October 6-15.

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