LA AUTO SHOW CONFIDENTIAL
The straight dope on the biggest show in L.A.
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Wed, Nov 16, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Over 30 Vehicle Debuts Already Confirmed for the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show LOS ANGELES, CA—The Los Angeles Auto Show organizers boast that it will surpass 50 vehicle debuts when the show opens Nov. 16 & 17 for the press and Nov. 18-27 for the public. As a bright spot in the overall economy, the auto industry continues its momentum at the L.A. Show, highlighted by more than 22 manufacturer press conferences. It will be clear that automakers have invested significantly to deliver vehicles consumers want, featuring an unprecedented number of technological advancements, improved performance and design, all while decreasing carbon emissions. In addition to the 1,000 new vehicles at the show, a significant number of manufacturers have upgraded exhibit spaces and added enhanced features with more interactive content and experiences. There will also be more than a half-dozen test drives that put consumers in the seats and on the streets in some new vehicles on select days.
Notable this year will be a significant increase in fuel efficiency across the board in all categories. Nearly 20 highly-efficient, 40-mpg-plus vehicles, using internal combustion engines—such as the world debut of the Chevrolet Spark—will be at the Show. A renaissance is underway for the four-cylinder engine, which in an era of rising gas prices and concern for fuel economy has become a powerplant of choice for many automakers. Completely reengineered to deliver the power and torque normally associated with larger displacement engines, four cylinder designs are not just powering compacts, but finding their way into multiple platforms. Most notably, the hotly contested small crossover segment will feature two head-to-head competitive world debuts—the Ford Escape and Honda CRV. Mazda also has a new entry in this category with the North American debut of its all-new CX-5 crossover. Underscoring that many solutions exist for reducing carbon emissions, a whole pack of electric vehicles are in or entering production and will be highlighted at the show, including Mitsubishi's all-electric i, the Ford Focus Electric, BMW’s i3 Concept, CODA’s Sedan, Nissan’s LEAF and an import from Croatia, the DOK-ING XD. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids continue to grow and highlights at the show include the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid, the new Honda Civic Hybrid and the updated Honda Insight Hybrid. BMW will also have its groundbreaking, i8 plug-in hybrid sports coupe concept.
More than half of the 50 L.A. Show debuts fall in the performance and luxury vehicle category like the Audi R8 GT Spyder, Porsche 911 and Jaguar C-X16 sports car concept. Bentley is returning to Los Angeles this year, premiering the marque’s 2012 Continental GTC ultra-luxury convertible. The show will also feature the BMW M5, the fifth-generation edition of the sports sedan, now powered by a 4.4-liter, turbocharged, V8 engine; the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster, an open-top power statement with a 563-horsepower, 6.2-liter engine producing 479 lb-ft of torque; and what GM is calling the world’s most powerful production convertible, the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, boasting 580 hp produced by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8. The AMG Roadster and Camaro convertible are just two of at least a half dozen convertibles debuting at the Show. The performance and luxury category is also noteworthy this year for being a showcase for new entries into the segment, including Hyundai’s continued push upward with the premiere of the 2012 Azera, as well as the U.S. debut of entirely new manufacturers, like the Mastretta MXT from Mexico. And, showing performance attributes are crossing traditional lines, the Fiat 500 Abarth demonstrates the further evolution of the once-overlooked compact category. A modified, 135-horsepower version of the recently reborn Fiat 500, the 500 Abarth, will join other “super” compact debuts including the Ford Fiesta ST and the Mazda3 SKYACTIV.
High-tech systems have become one of the most important features of the car itself. New technology to look for at the Show includes advanced applications of Bluetooth, radar sensors, embedded telephony and cloud computing. In use, these high-tech systems give drivers hands-free access to personal data, communications, audio entertainment, social networking and advanced safety measures previously unimaginable. New technology developments unveiled at the show are expected from Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Volkswagen and others. The automakers aren’t the only exhibitors debuting new vehicles and products at the show. The L.A. Auto Show also has an entire hall dedicated to the latest specialty vehicles, automotive accessories and customizing trends. Everything from exotic custom cars, wheels, tires and performance products, to the latest mobile, audio and entertainment systems can be found in Kentia Hall. A few highlights include Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) showcase of more than 15 custom vehicle premieres, including the 2012 Ford Explorer XXVI, with a heart pounding 2000 WATT sound system; a 1,000 horsepower wide-body 2012 Shelby Supersnake and “Thunder,” a highly modified 540 horsepower 2012 Ford F-150. High-end tuners and performance experts such as Specialty Car Craft, RTW Motoring and Platinum Motorsports will be on hand to showcase the ultimate in modified exotic, luxury and sports cars from around the world.
Keynote – Takashi Yamanouchi CEO of Mazda Mazda’s CEO bases the company’s long term planning on monozukuri – innovation. Since 90% of the cars presently in operation are powered by internal combustion engines, Mazda’s objective is to increase the efficiency of gasoline engine, currently at 30%. This year, the Hiroshima-based company had to overcome the impact of the tsunami and flooding in Thailand. Nevertheless, it managed to unveil the Skyactiv- the highest compression ratio mass-produced gasoline engine in the world, mated to similarly efficient transmission and chassis, which will increase the Mazda CAFÉ by 30 percent by 2015. There is a new diesel engine which will meet strictest emission standards without the need for chemical treatment of the exhaust. - Zoran Segina About the Los Angeles Auto Show As the first major North American auto show of the season, the 2011 L.A. Auto Show will host some of the industry’s most important new vehicle debuts and set the tone for the rest of the year. The dates are Nov. 16 and 17 for press and Nov. 18-27 for the public. Media registration is now open. Following Press Days, the Show becomes one of the best attended public auto shows in the world. To receive the latest show news and information, follow the L.A. Auto Show on Twitter, visit the Facebook page and sign up for alerts at LAAutoShow.com. Here’s what you’ll see.
AUDI S6, S7, S8 Audi is making several North American debuts in Los Angeles. The company enhances its S line with a new S6 and Avant S6 wagon featuring a 4.0-litre engine spec capable of more than 400 horsepower from twin turbochargers. The Avant S6 promises over 60 cubic feet of cargo capacity while sharing a mid-20s mpg number with its S6 sibling. The S7 is all-new, featuring an interior which observers say is stunning, even for Audi, a company known for putting everything in proper proportion. The S7 is a significant upgrade from its A7 brother, which itself is an AWD beast powered by a 3.0-litre engine. The S8 is the company’s full-size sports sedan offering, a 520-hp monster with an 8-speed tiptronic which allows the car to approach mid-20mpg fuel numbers. – Brian Kennedy
AUDI R8GT SPYDER Those who can’t help but want it all will be happy with Audi’s newest offering: An R8GT Spyder set to appear in showrooms in the spring of 2012. First seen at the Frankfurt auto show, the Spyder will share the R8 GT Coupe’s mechanicals, meaning that 552 horsepower will be on tap from the V10 engine, displacing 5.2 litres. Taking the styling of the current R8 Spyder and notching it up a degree, the R8 GT Spyder promises true supercar performance with panache to match. An aggressive rear wing and functional, purpose-built racing seats are only two of the features designed to attract those who seek to turn their commute into a blast down the Mulsanne Straight. – Brian Kennedy
BMW I3 AND I8 BMW made a major splash at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show with the public debuts of its first two i Series concepts, the 2013 i3 and the 2014 i8. The LA Auto Show will mark the North American debuts. While officially labeled as concepts, BMW has informed its U.S. dealers that the cars will make it to production. Both cars are rear-wheel drive and seat up to four occupants. The i8 is a gasoline-electric hybrid sport sedan, while the smaller i3 is a pure electric hatchback. BMW is launching the i Series as a dedicated family of vehicles and services focused on "sustainable mobility." – Roy Nakano
CADILLAC XTS As other car companies focus on smaller models, Cadillac is still super-sizing with vehicles such as the 2012 Cadillac XTS, a big, comfy and, of course, luxurious front-wheel-drive sedan. A planned plug-in hybrid system didn’t make it to the final production version of XTS, but it does provide plenty of power with a 300-hp direct injection V6 teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission. The interior features premium leather seating and, instead of more traditional buttons and knobs, intuitive touch controls are used on the car’s high-tech dash panel as part of Cadillac's CUE (Cadillac User Experience) system. XTS is elegantly appointed inside and out. – Reed Berry
CADILLAC CIEL CONCEPT Not unlike concept cars at any auto show, one must wonder if the Cadillac Ciel is the product of a vivid futuristic Jetsons-like imagination or a feasible design that may soon be parked in neighborhood driveways. I’d like to think we’ll see a beautiful touring car like this sooner than later. It combines the luxury you expect from a Cadillac with a striking open design reminiscent of the most recent incarnation of the Ford Thunderbird. As for power, we’re talking a twin-turbocharged 425-hp V6 hybrid system. The sleek, contemporary body styling is highlighted by unique vertical LED headlights, long sculpted hood and a bold oversized grille. – Reed Berry
CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 CONVERTIBLE Sporty got even sportier with the introduction of the 2012 Chevy Camaro ZL1. For the LA show, look for the world debut of the ZL1 Convertible. As if the other Camaro models aren’t enough to get the blood circulating, the newest member of the family is a track-capable 6.2-liter 580-horsepower beauty with magnetic ride suspension and a 6-speed manual transmission. And this car is not just powerful, it has definite eye appeal. Big 20-inch forged aluminum wheels and a rear spoiler add to the car’s great looks. Other performance features include front and rear Brembo brakes and an aluminum hood with carbon fiber air extractor. – Reed Berry
CHEVROLET SPARK If you’re in the market for a small car and can’t decide between a Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta and Smart Fortwo, check out the new Chevy Spark. It looks a little like all of them put together in a small, stylish package. This color-coordinated interior of this edgy little 5-door is more spacious than you might imagine thanks to what Chevy calls a ‘motorcycle-inspired’ instrument panel, putting all the controls conveniently close without the need for a bulky center console between the seats. Clearly, the Chevy Spark was designed to be both functional and practical. – Reed Berry
FIAT 500 ABARTH – THE CUTIE WITH A STING Every European teenager in the sixties dreamt of Fiat-based racers with a scorpion logo that were menace on the racetracks. The 2012 version of this dream arrives here, courtesy of the slower- than-expected sales of the base model, in form of the new Fiat 500 Abarth. The cute Italian comes with 1.4 liter, 160-hp/170-lb-ft turbocharged, 16-valve, in-line four, sporty interior, firmer suspension, 205/40-17 inch tires and twin exhaust. Manual transmission and bucket seats complete the picture. After all, the Americans expect from the Italian manufacturers fashionable product (thus the introduction of Fiat 500 Gucci) and sporty exciting product. The Abarth was introduced as a car that arouses without the need for prescription. – Zoran Segina
FORD ESCAPE The Ford Escape has changed over the years, but more incrementally than drastically. That’s all off for 2013. The truck has been reinvented, aping some of the company’s more swoopy offerings (read: Focus) and with a new stance which pushes the rear wheels rearward. Engine choices will apparently be two of Ford’s Ecoboost units, both four-cylinder models, and the car will now be a singular offering for the world market, rather than one of several versions similarly named, as is now the case. The other notable feature on the new model: a power liftgate. – Brian Kennedy
GREEN CAR OF THE YEAR The Honda Civic Natural Gas won the LA Auto Show 2012 Green Car of the Year award on November 17. The winner was announced by Ron Cogan of the Green Car Journal. It was chosen by an esteemed panel of car enthusiasts and environmentalists, which included entertainer Jay Leno, the chairman of the Sierra Club, and the president of the Natural Resources Defense Counsel. The nominees, all strong contenders, included the Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i, Toyota Prius v, and the Volkswagen Passat TDI. Picking a green car of the year these days is difficult because there are so many excellent choices. How does one compare the green merits of an all electric to a turbo diesel, NGV or hybrid? Competition criteria aside, as the variety of power plants within the different nominees demonstrate, the great thing is there is a green car to meet everyone’s wants and needs. As mentioned in my article that preceded the announcement, I’ve always been a big fan of NGVs for a variety of reasons, including the environmental credentials, the national security/peace and prosperity benefits, performance ability, and practicality (even with the natural gas infrastructure as it currently exists.) I stated that I hope the award goes to the new Civic Natural Gas, and I’m so glad it did. That said, I had the opportunity to participate in a green car ride and drive during the LA Auto Show’s media event. This allowed me to experience back-to-back comparison drives of numerous high fuel efficiency vehicles which utilized a variety of technologies. I was impressed by the styling, quality, fuel efficiency, and yes, practicality and performance ability of many of the vehicles I drove. – BT Justice
INFINITI JX The Infiniti JX is a new Crossover from the Japanese automaker. While being smaller than the enormous QX, the JX still provides seating for 7 with a luxurious style and accommodations. While taking styling ques from the Infiniti M sedan, it is very stylish and fashion forward. Equipped with Intelligent All-Wheel Drive and powerful V6 engine (probably a VQ derivative), the JX will be secure performer. This upscale Crossover Utility Vehicle (CUV) aims to drive like a car and maintain the utility of an SUV. The best of both worlds? I guess we will find out in 2012. – Mark Dorman
INFINITI IPL G CONVERTIBLE Infiniti Performance Line is obviously less cryptic than the performance divisions of it's German rivals like Mercedes AMG or BMW's M division. That doesn't mean that IPL cars are any less performance oriented. IPL's G Coupe has been out for the past year and has been met with great enthusiasm. Infiniti's best selling car with a performance package only made sense, so adding the hardtop convertible just made too much sense. Look for it in dealers early next year. – Mark Dorman
JAGUAR C-X16 The C-X16 concept is Jaguar’s latest iteration of its 'Redefining Performance' ethos. The system is based around a prototype supercharged all-alloy V6 which produces 375HP (280kW) and 332lb-ft of torque from 3.0-liter V6. Supplementing this is an electric motor producing up to 94HP and 173lb–ft of torque, available to the driver at the push of a steering-wheel boost button. Allied to an eight-speed gearbox and mounted in a lightweight aluminum chassis this allows the C-X16 to sprint to 62 mph (100 kmh) in 4.4 seconds. By pushing the wheels as far into the corners as possible over the car’s aluminum body, the C-X16 has a taut stance that is familiarly Jaguar. – Roy Nakano
LINCOLN MKS and MKT The 2013 Lincoln MKS and MKT made their world wide debut Thursday at the LA Auto Show. The MKS and MKT Crossover received new lines, including front and rear fascia (with LED tail lights), dashboard, performance enhancements, and upgraded technology. Lincoln intends the 2013 MKS and MKT to drive Lincoln back to relevance, and even prominence in the luxury sport market. The plan is to make a difference today, leading to substantial change tomorrow. To support this, Lincoln execs presented impressive statistics showing significantly increased sales figures in just the past few years. Lincoln also plans to introduce many brand new models in the next few years. Ford is constructing a new design center and has dedicated a new full time design and engineering team to meet its ambitious objectives. Will it succeed? My nostalgic side hopes so, my faithful side believes it will happen, and the buzz on the blogs reveals that that Lincoln may well have winners, with most of the excitement focused on the significantly updated interiors. Regardless of the design, which mostly focus on how these cars look, the true test of the MKS and MKT is how they perform. Looks are important; performance, comfort and feel, as well as lots of good reporting from the auto press, will be essential. There are difficult challenges and strong competition. Time will tell if the MKS and MKT will be vehicles to help return Lincoln to a top notch luxury/performance brand. - BT Justice
MAZDA CX 5 This production crossover is derived from the Mazda Minagi concept car, debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, and featuring the new Kodo styling language. The outside look is well executed albeit without the excitement of the concept. The U.S. power-plant will be a 2.0 liter direct injection four cylinder Skyactiv-G engine with 155 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. The engine’s innovation is based on a 13:1 compression ratio, which increases torque at low- to mid-engine speeds, and improves fuel efficiency. The car comes with Skyactiv automatic and manual transmissions, and the company promises to introduce a 2.2 liter diesel sometime in 2012. – Zoran Segina MERCEDES-BENZ ML63 AMG If you've been asking yourself, where is Mercedes' answer to the BMW X5M, we have an answer. It comes in the form of them ML63 AMG. Powered by Mercedes' well known 6.3 liter V8 found in the C63 AMG as well as other AMG cars. As you can imagine, the suspension has been tuned more for street performance but they have sought to keep the SUV off-roadable, something the X5M does rather poorly. Take a great looking SUV and throw in a huge 503 hp V8, and you pretty much get awesomeness on wheels that just looks mean. – Mark Dorman
MERCEDES-BENZ SLS AMG ROADSTER Pretty much everyone has seen the new SLS AMG Mercedes featuring the legendary gullwing doors in honor of the legendary 300SL from the 1950's. So what happens to a car when you take away it's trademark feature? Well, that's what we found out when they brought out the SLS AMG Roadster. A soft-top convertible that looks absolutely beautiful and still performs like a super car. Yes you could just elect to buy the SL63 AMG, if you wanted a drop top. However the SLS (even without the gullwing doors) has such power and prestige you can't help but love it. – Mark Dorman
PORSCHE 911 It is longer, wider, rides on bigger wheels, and utilizes drive-by-wire technology. The rear mounted 3.4-liter flat-6 direct-injected engine in the base model produces 345 hp and 288 lb-ft of torque, or 394 hp, and 325 lb-ft torque in the 3.8 liter Carrera S. The overall consumption is sixteen percent lower thanks to the use of a start/stop feature and decoupling of the drive wheels. The fully electro-mechanical steering which relies on interaction between two computer sensors through a Porsche developed interface improves performance, but traditionalists may find it objectionable. The base Carrera price is over $80,000; the S comes close to $100,000. – Zoran Segina
SUBARU BRZ One of the most anticipated cars to come out of Japan since the R35 GT-R. The difference is most people will actually be able to buy a Subaru BRZ. The BRZ is the offspring of Toyota and Subaru's joint venture in creating a Rear Wheel Drive (RWD) sports car that's design is focused on handling. The differences between the Subaru BRZ and Toyota's Scion FR-S are not yet completely known. We know they share a large number of part numbers but the exterior styling remains a mystery which should be unveiled at the LA Auto Show. From test mule reports the car is said to be absolutely amazing in its handling abilities and will not disappoint the early awaiting US market place. – Mark Dorman
VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE R CONCEPT Just after introducing the third generation Beetle for model year 2012, Volkswagen will be introducing a high performance R concept of the car to these shores. VW took great pains to made sure its newest Beetle appealed to a more masculine taste. With the R version, the company takes that theme a step further. Like the Golf R and Scirocco R, the R version of the Beetle was also created at Volkswagen subsidiary Volkswagen R GmbH located near to Wolfsburg. The Beetle R Concept is still a design study. Those who are familiar with the Beetle 2.0 TSI (147 kW / 200 PS) know the dynamic potential of this new car. As an “R”, the Beetle could demonstrate a performance potential similar to that of the Golf R and Scirocco R. – Roy Nakano THE DEBUT LIST Audi S6 - North American Debut Audi S7 - North American Debut Audi S8 - North American Debut Audi R8 GT Spyder - North American Debut Bentley Continental GTC - North American Debut BMW i3 Concept - North American Debut BMW i8 Concept - North American Debut BMW M5 - Auto Show Debut Cadillac Ciel concept - Auto Show Debut Cadillac XTS - Worldwide Debut Chevrolet Spark - Worldwide Debut Camaro ZL1 Convertible - Worldwide Debut DOK-ING XD - North American Debut Fiat Abarth 500 - North American Debut Ford Escape - Worldwide Debut Fiesta ST - North American Debut Flex - Worldwide Debut Focus ST - North American Debut Honda CR-V - Worldwide Debut Honda Fit EV - Worldwide Debut Honda Insight - North American Debut Hyundai Azera - Worldwide Debut Infiniti JX Crossover - Worldwide Debut Infiniti IPL G Convertible - Worldwide Debut Jaguar C-X16 concept - North American Debut KIA GT concept - North American Debut Land Rover DC100 concept - North American Debut Land Rover DC100 Sport concept - North American Debut Lexus GS 350 - Auto Show Debut Lincoln MKS - Worldwide Debut MKT - Worldwide Debut Lotus Exige R-GT - North American Debut Mastretta MXT - North American Debut Mazda CX-5 - North American Debut Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG - Worldwide Debut C63 AMG Coupe Black Series - North American Debut SLS AMG Roadster - North American Debut Morgan 3Wheeler - North American Debut Porsche 911 - Auto Show Debut Subaru BRZ Concept STI - Worldwide Debut Toyota Yaris - Auto Show Debut Volkswagen Beetle R - North American Debut Volkswagen CC - Worldwide Debut Volvo Concept You