THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION
at the L.A. Convention
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 Sun, Nov 25, 2012
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Reed Berry, Mark Dorman, John Grafman, BT Justice, Brian Kennedy, Derrick Lim, Roy Nakano and Zoran Segina report Automotive invention, that is (apologies to the late Frank Zappa). The organizers of the Los Angeles Auto Show revealed around 50 big ones—meaning, automotive debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show when it began on November 30 and boes on through December 9, 2012 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. That 50 includes some North American debuts, but brand new unveilings account for about half the debuts. After moving its dates out of the January shadow of the Detroit show, the Los Angeles show has been improving its cred in the international automotive community by leaps. Whereas L.A. was lucky to get a couple of meaningful debuts in the past, today it attracts a couple dozen. The debut lineup this year includes some of the cutting-edge mothers of invention in today’s resurgent automotive industry. World debuts at this year’s show include Acura, BMW, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen. The debuts also include other examples of invention such as the latest in-car technologies and fuel-efficiency highlights. Hybrid, electric and alternative fuel vehicles will be in full swing, with two dozen all-electric or plug-in electric models, at least a dozen clean-diesel vehicles and nearly 20 vehicles achieving 40-plus mpg with highly advanced four-cylinder gasoline engines. Coverage of the mothers of invention include a total of 25 planned press conferences for the show’s press days. Media registration already spans over 50 countries. Here’s a closer look at what to expect, plus some scenes from the LAAS Press Days. – Roy Nakano
IT’S GETTING CROWDED ON RODEO DRIVE Underscoring the L.A. region’s status as the largest luxury and performance market in the country, of the 50 debuts slated, at least a dozen comes from these categories. Planned bows in this segment include the world debut of the latest Acura RLX luxury sedan, the North American debut of the BMW i8 Spyder hybrid roadster concept as well as an undisclosed world debut from the Bavarian marque. The Show will also play host to the North American debut of the Jaguar F-TYPE convertible sports car as well as a yet-to-be-disclosed world debut from Jaguar. Ultra-luxury nameplate Bentley will be showing a North American debut and rounding out the category, a hotly-rumored world debut came from Porsche.
2013 Cadillac ATS It's sporty and stylish, and now this compact luxury sedan has won yet another award. Fresh on the heels of being named Esquire Magazine's "Car of the Year", the 2013 Cadillac ATS has been named Motor Press Guild's "Vehicle of the Year." MPG President Laura Burstein has come to the L.A. Auto Show to present the award to Cadillac's U.S. Marketing Vice President Don Butler. The accolades are quite understandable, as the Cadillac ATS is designed to be both powerful and technologically advanced. A lightweight chassis results in exceptional handling while three available engines (a 321-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, a 2.5-liter inline 4, and a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline 4) provide impressive performance. The crisp, chrome trimmed exterior gives the car plenty of eye appeal. - Reed Berry Three from the three-pointed star
Mercedes-Benz Ener-G Force Concept SUV The Mercedes-Benz Ener-G Force concept SUV seeks to replace the Geländewagen 461 (law enforcement version), launched in 1979, and offers an alternative to the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor 71, designed in 1992. Four in-wheel electric motors - individually calibrated for optimum traction – are powered by a hydrogen fuel cell with a cruising range of 500 miles. The side skirts containing replacement battery packs better be bullet-proof. The built-in rear locker better will have to have a separate lock (to meet the US Secret Service firearms storage specifications), and the roof tanks storing holding "recycled" water for the "hydro-tech converter" should come with a pressure hose attachment to wash out the rear bench after messy arrestees. Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT The 2013 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT comes with 583 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque from a 6.2-liter V8. A seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission and the new adaptive stiffer suspension allow for more demanding driving. While a red leather embossed mark designating the steering wheel center may feel like an overkill during a daily commute, the lack of the “comfort” setting on a the U.S. version could turn the ride uncomfortable. The roar from the V8 engine will feel nostalgic, but upgrading to carbon-ceramic disk brakes may get you rear-ended. The expected price for the coupe will begin at $202,505.
2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series For those seeking a competition performance car, the 2014SLS AMG Black Series is a weapon of choice. A de-restricted air intake, revised valve train, and increased compression ratio, bring the redline to 8000 rpm and power to 622 hp. The seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is faster with pronounced throttle blips on downshifts to keep the torque near its maximum peak of 468 lb-ft.The engine housing is supported by a gas-filled strut brace to minimize unwanted movement. A 29 pounds lighter and louder titanium exhaust system contributes to 154 pounds weight loss. With the carbon-ceramic brakes standard,a fixed rear spoiler, and the way-over $200,000 limited-production price, the car is ready for the track, and a select group of automotive-oriented one-percenters. – Zoran Segina
2013 Porsche Cayman/Cayman S With the recent release of the new 911 and Boxster, many enthusiasts have been awaiting the arrival of the redesigned Cayman. Reined back to keep it from out shining the more expensive 911, what you are really looking at is an amazing mid engine sports car that isn't burdened by a fold away roof. The Cayman is an outstanding car. So how do you improve on something that was so well designed, it had the potential to out-perform its big brother, the 911? The simplest answer is increase power, decrease weight, and improve fuel economy. Easier said than done, Porsche has been quite successful with two of the three. The base engine goes back to the 2.7 liter displacement putting out a respectable 265 hp (the same power as the outgoing 2.9 liter engine). The S model retains the displacement of 3.4 liters of the previous generation however you now get 320 horses. If you didn't catch the joke, that is the same as the outgoing Cayman S. In addition to losing 66 pounds of fat, the Cayman also gains significant structural rigidity. Porsche claims its customers will experience a 15 percent decrease in fuel consumption which is fairly significant. Increases to both wheel base and width, you can expect a much more stable ride with great increases in handling abilities. With bold and more aggressive styling coupled with more improvements than can be listed in a short article, the new Cayman is a great contender in the market and will make an even better name for itself with its second rendition. – Mark Dorman PUMPING UP THE GREEN Green (vegetables) may not be your favorite food group, but when it comes to environmental cars, green definitely has a place at the board room table and on the show room floor. Green is not just about passing the fuel pump because of higher miles per gallon and lower emissions from the tailpipe. Also trending the vehicle greenscape is to plug into the (electrical) grid. Green cars, trucks, SUVs, luxury, and performance vehicles are bumping up their market share with rising sales demand. Leading the pack in California are the perennial hybrids. Close behind their mass market appeal are plug in/all electric, emerging clean diesel, and high miles per gallon gasoline vehicles. – Derrick Lim Ford Fusion Takes the Green Green is "gold" for the Ford Fusion when it comes to the 2013 Green Car of the Year award by Green Car Journal magazine. The Ford Fusion bested the short list of five including another member of the Ford family, the C-Max. The Dodge Dart Aero, Mazda CS-5 SKYACTIV, and Toyota Prius C rounded out the elite field. In contrast to past years where miles per gallon factored heavily into the judging, this year selection and cost also weighed heavily. Fusion starts at $21,700 and is available in Eco-Boost, hybrid, and plug-in models. Ford's green segment is big on miles per gallon and small on the carbon footprint with a variety of power options to choose from. Fusion seems to be hitting its stride since its 2010 Motor Trend Car of the Year award and hybrid version North American Car of the Year award. - Derrick Lim
L.A. goes electric This year’s show also will feature the debut of Fiat’s first electric vehicle, the 500e as well as the first all-electric vehicle for General Motors with the Chevrolet Spark EV, also making its world debut. Ford is moving strongly into the category as well with multiple new releases including the 2013 Ford C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid, the Fusion Energi plug-in, the Focus Electric and an undisclosed world debut. Honda will also debut its new Accord plug-in hybrid. 2014 Chevy Spark EV People may be getting bigger, but cars are definitely getting smaller. If you seek a car of a practical size that’s also easy on the wallet, you’ll get a real charge out of the Chevy Spark EV. Making its world debut here at the L.A. Auto Show, the Spark EV is the electric version of the cute little 5-door Spark hatchback, and GM’s first pure electric vehicle since the controversial (and rather strange looking) EV1 back in the late 90s. Weighing about 400 lbs. more than the gas version due to its hefty battery pack, Spark EV will go from 0–60 in about eight seconds and should take you approximately 80 miles on a full charge. It has a 130-horsepower engine and an impressive 400 lb-ft of torque. – Reed Berry
Other show debuts represent virtually every popular segment on the road today, and include compact performance unveilings such as the world debut of the North American version of the five-passenger Fiat 500L. Mini USA also competes in this segment with the North American debut of the Paceman. Asian automakers have also chosen LA as the ideal venue for multiple unveilings. Hyundai debuted a longer, seven passenger version of its Santa Fe crossover during the press preview, while Honda also has a mystery world debut planned. More unrevealed world debuts are planned by Nissan, Toyota and Subaru. The Mazda6 mid-sized sports sedan will have its North American debut at the Show while Kia will present the Forte sedan for its world debut. Fiat 500e Fiat’s first plug-in electric comes in one color: orange. It’s very orange. Outside of the color, the 500e looks like an ordinary Fiat 500.Driving range is about 100 miles. Expect an EPA rating of more than 100 MPGe. Small numbers of the 500e go on sale next year, limited to California. A cynic would say the only reason the 500e was built was to fulfill the promise Fiat made when it invested in Chrysler to build a “green” car by 2012. Prices were not announced, but expect the 500e to go for about $45,000. - BT Justice
2014 Ford Transit Connect Wagon The Transit Connect Wagon is a high-roof, high-mileage “people-mover.” It comes in five- and seven-passenger configurations, with sliding rear doors on both sides. Ford won’t call it a “minivan,” though the company compares it to minivans. A long-wheelbase version offers 100 cubic feet of space. To put that in perspective, the Nissan Quest gives 108.4 cubic feet, and the largest Chrysler Town and Country minivan checks in at 143.8. Two four-cylinder engines are available. Base is a 2.5-liter. Optional is 1.6-liter, turbocharged EcoBoost, which Ford says will get more than 30 MPG highway. On sale in about a year. - BT Justice 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Mitsubishi might be down, but it’s not out (see Suzuki). The Outlander is the first of several new models coming down the pike from the company that created the Fast and Furious revolution. The 2014 Outlander should be proof the company wants to mount a comeback. The upcoming model boasts a new design and technologically-advanced features including Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC). This also will be among the most fuel-efficient compact CUVs with standard 7-passenger seating. – John Grafman
Nissan Hi-Cross Concept The Hi-Cross Concept vehicle will remind most who see it of a slightly advanced-looking Rogue. Or perhaps, given its size, a more futuristic Murano. In other words, not really all that concept-y at all. Anyway, it was time for the Murano to be updated, since it has had only a minor refresh since its 2007 debut, and speculation is that this vehicle is simply the new look of that model. Some of its more fanciful features, like a complex digital display, are more show than go, and it’s unlikely that the seats shown will make the budget man’s axe. The tech worth noting has the concept powered by a gas engine and a gas-electric hybrid, the latter of which piggyback’s on Leaf’s battery technology. - Brian Kennedy
Subaru Hard to believe the Forester has been around since 1997. The fourth generation of the crossover SUV made its hello in LA to an appreciative audience. At least, those who are fans of the newer Volvo look, boxy but with pronounced, curved accent lines. That seems to be what Subaru was going for when it designed the new car. That, and a little smattering of the BMW X3. Any way you look at it, the new Forester carries on the tradition of the rugged but civilized weekend-trip-to-the-hardware-store vehicle with aplomb. Prices go from just over $21K to around $30, with the up-rated models adding things like leather, dual-zone climate control, HID headlamps, and a rear-vision camera. Buy the base “X” model, and you’ll get a tough looking little car with a station-wagon attitude. Perfect for hauling stuff, like tubas, back and forth to keep the kids on the straight and narrow. Worth noting is that this new Forester gets bigger on the inside while maintaining the exterior dimensions of the car it replaces. Spoil yourself with the 2.5XT Touring, and you’ll find that you have 8.9 inches of ground clearance along with those aforementioned luxury features. That might be the perfect kit for a ski weekend that ends in a long, stylish drive back down the mountain and into freeway traffic coming back to LA from a weekend in Vegas. - Brian Kennedy Volkswagen Subtle. That’s the word most people would use to describe the changes VW made to its Beetle as it updated the car for 2013. Now, it's unveiled a revised version of the droptop Beetle, with a power top that can go up or down in about ten seconds. The idea is to give users the freedom to enjoy the sun but also be able to get out of sudden changes of weather when things turn grey. The convertible features the same, more no-nonsense interior as the coupe. Gone is the flower vase in favor of a spot to throw the phone. The steering wheel, flat on the bottom, is something most enthusiasts will envy, and most buyers will find an interesting curiosity. The car carries the Coupe’s styling, with a more edged, cut look than the prior New Beetle had. The tail lights have a distinct shape, as anyone who has seen the coupe will know. Wheel choices also say whatever the buyer wants, from “I’m retro,” to “Don’t F with me!” Engine choices for the convertible remain as on the hardtop model: a standard gas 2.5 litre, a turbo, and a TDI turbodiesel. The latter will give plus-40 mpg with highway use, and will offer the torque advantage familiar to those who drive an oil-burner. Prices will be surprisingly affordable for the roomy, solid and safe car, at less than mid-20s to start. Let the cross-shopping begin! - Brian Kennedy
Here’s the list of debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show: Acura RLX Acura Plug-in debut Audi TDI (four new ones) Bentley TBA BMW i8 Spyder Plug-in Hybrid BMW TBA BMW X1 Limited Edition Chevrolet Spark EV Chrysler TBA Dodge TBA Fiat 500L Fiat Fiat 500 Turbo Fiat 500E Ford C-Max Energi Plug-in Ford Fiesta EcoBoost Ford Fusion Energi Plug-in Ford Transit Connect Jeep TBA Honda Civic (makeover) Hyundai Santa Fe (long version) and Veloster (new model) Jaguar F-Type Kia Forte Sedan Kia Sorrento Lamborghini Aventar Roadster Land Rover Range Rover Mazda6 Mercedes-Benz TBA Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series Mercedes-Benz GL 63 AMG Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT MINI Paceman MINI John Cooper Works GP Mitsubishi Outlander Nissan Hi-Cross Concept Nissan Sentra Porsche Cayman (revised) Subaru Forester (new) Toyota RAV4 (new) Volkswagen Beetle Convertible Volkswagen CC R SHOW HOURS Weekdays: 11am - 10pm Saturdays: 9am - 10pm Sundays: 9am - 8pm The show entrance closes one hour prior to the show closing. TICKETS Adults: $12 Children: 12 and under are FREE when accompanied by an adult. Seniors: $8.00 (65 & over) – Weekdays only E-Ticket Customer Inquiries: (949) 732-7974 TICKETS GROUP TICKETS Group ticket rates are available on purchases of 50 tickets or more. Tickets must be purchased in advance by contacting Show Management at (310) 444-1850. LOCATION Los Angeles Convention Center 1201 S. Figueroa Street Los Angeles, CA 90015 (213) 741-1151, ext. 3
For more information about the show, go to laautoshow.com Gallery below: Scenes from the LA Auto Show Press Days