LOS ANGELES AUTO SHOW
All eyes on the first show of the model year
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 16, 2014
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
As the first major auto show of the model year in North America, the Los Angeles Auto Show is like the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries of the show circuit. The New York show has the largest attendance, Chicago has the most square footage, and Detroit the most debuts, but the LA Auto Show lays claim as the pacesetter—the show that rides the crest of the new model year wave. It’s a distinction it acquired when it moved the show from January to November. The show takes place on November 21-30, 2014, but all eyes were on the press and trade days on November 18-20th.
Tuesday, November 18th – Connected Car Expo
From the keynote by Peter Schwartz's, the futurist, through several panels which took place during the first day of the Connected Car Expo, the participants discussed vehicle connectivity, automotive apps, and autonomous drive. As the day progressed it became increasingly apparent that the existing technologies by Google and Apple, given their ubiquity, quick upgrade turnaround, and customers' familiarity with the product, may provide advantages over similar applications offered by the car manufacturers. The new generation of potential car buyers is far more connected to their mobile application than to particular car brands.
Press conferences by Jaguar and Land Rover, and the interview with Volvo CEO offered insight into how the mobile phones could be integrated into cars by the application of Just Drive. Whether the cloud based technologies and data can be stable enough for automotive applications remains to be seen. – Zoran Segina
Wednesday, November 19th – Debuts by Audi, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Ford, Chrysler, Porsche, Honda, BMW, Lexus, Volvo, Jaguar-Land Rover, Volkswagen, Scion, Chevrolet & MINI
It's sleek, impressive and designed to take Audi in a new styling direction. Making it's world debut is the stylish Audi prologue concept car which, according to Audi's new Design Chief Marc Lichte, is built to be "timeless, but at the same time very progressive." A massive luxury coupe with all-wheel steering, the prologue was created to combine power, comfort and efficiency. A “butler” software program identifies passengers based on their smartphones and adjusts seating and climate controls according to their preferences. The car is slightly shorter and flatter than Audi’s popular A8 and it has a grille that is lower and wider to convey an image of power. The 4.0 TFSI engine produces up to 605 horsepower, accelerating from 0 – 60 mph in just under four seconds. - Reed Berry
Who would have guess the best competitor of the reigning king of the luxury sports sedan world (the BMW M3) comes from an American car company? BMW has long been throwing down the gauntlet with the likes of Mercedes, Audi, Lexus, and Infiniti chasing after them. Meanwhile, here in the states, Cadillac has been hard at work for the past decade trying to remake themselves into a performance luxury brand that can do more than make rolling boats for retirees. Cadillac reached a new level when they released the ATS Sedan back in 2013. Moving forward, Cadillac decided to build upon the success of their CTS-V and expand their lineup to take on the likes of the BMW M, Mercedes AMG, Audi RS, and Lexus F divisions.
Enter the Cadillac ATS-V (sedan and coupe). The car features the best Cadillac can offer. Everything from a 455 HP Twin Turbo V6 that makes almost as much torque, to the signature magnetic ride control found on the CTS-V. Cadillac claims that over 70 percent of the team responsible for designing and testing the ATS-V are former race car drivers and they had a big part in making sure the car was as viable on the track as it is on the street. Cadillac worked with Brembo to develop the brakes, and with Michelin to design special Pilot Super Sport Summer tires for the car. The automaker added a data logging feature for track enthusiasts so they can record lap times, g-forces, and telemetry for later review and driving improvement. As track ready as the ATS-V seems to be, it still has the creature comforts one would expect from a luxury car. Cadillac claims it can hit 0-60 in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 189 mph from a 3.6 Liter Twin Turbo V6 sending everything to the rear wheels. I think it is time that we start looking at American designed and built cars again. – Mark Dorman
Welcome to 1955, er, 2015 and the Chrysler 300. Originally styled and powered in the Ike Age to catch a post-war spirit of American optimism, the new version of the 300 sets a tone for the Chrysler brand, the theme of which is “Elite cars are not reserved for the elite.” This according to Al Gardner, President and CEO of the Chrysler Brand, who launched the completely new 300 at the LA Auto Show. The new car, which truth be told doesn’t look all that different from the 300 offered by Chrysler in its current generation, is intended to capture a feel of style and sophistication but be affordable. As such, it starts at $31,395, the same as the outgoing model, but with $1000 of extra content.
The new 300 comes in three variants, including Limited (not limited at all—this is the standard model), Sport, and Platinum. That’s all good, except that the Platinum looks like a bad idea from the 1970s, with quilted surfaces on the seats and door panels. It’s like Chrysler is trying super-hard to create luxury at a value price, which is something that doomed American cars of the 1970s as soon as customers realized that there were better alternatives.
So where does that leave the 300? No worse off than the current model, but not a ton better either. Seems like Chrysler substituted fancy lingo (the dial shift selector was described as having “premium furniture-grade precision,” whatever that means) for tons of improvement. But given that the price is the same, maybe that’s good enough. - Brian Kennedy
Twenty-five years after launch, the Ford Explorer is “still the SUV America fell in love with,” according to its manufacturer. But in summer 2015, consumers will be able to buy an updated 2016 Explorer with greater capability, added technology, and a new look. Still the crossover that it became after a 2010 relaunch, the Explorer now has a more aggressive look which borrows from its Raptor ancestor and edges it toward its Jeep competitors. But Ford hasn’t gone too far, since the company understands that the appeal isn’t to mavericks, but to families looking for a safe, capable, and relatively fuel-efficient vehicle. – Brian Kennedy
The air went out of the Honda balloon on Monday, two days before the company was to debut a new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle at the LA Auto Show. Instead, Honda showed its car in Japan, and released a press notice promising that the car would be available in the country in March 2016 with release in the US to follow soon after. The LA crowd instead saw the production-ready 2016 Honda HR-V, which is based on the small Fit wagon. The vehicle has swoopy styling more commonly seen on Nissan models or even the Ford Focus, with rear doors which curve up into the C-pillar. It’s a hatchback, with super-easy reconfigurable seats to support the active lifestyle set’s penchant for carting along their adult-sized toys. Labeled as an entry into the “Crossover” segment, the HR-V coddles driver and passengers alike with what have now become familiar electronic goodies like a 7-inch audio display (some models) and nannies including rearview camera. The car also has lots of safety features, like available lane departure warning. The only mis-Fit potential customers might see is inside, where the styling is considerably toned down compared to the exterior, with more angular (and some triangular) shapes than shown by the curves of the sculpted body. Mechanically, the HR-V will have the Fit’s 4-cylinder engine, which is good for just shy of 140 hp from 1.8 liters, and it will come in AWD for those who want it. The gears will be either a 6-speed manual or none at all—that is, those driving an automatic will get a CVT. – Brian Kennedy
So Cal is the No. 1 market in the world for the F-TYPE, so it’s fitting Jaguar chose LA to announce significant enhancements for the 2016 model. All-wheel-drive is available for the first time, standard on the F-TYPE R. Another first: availability of a manual transmission on rear-wheel-drive models, though only with a V6. The F-TYPE R’s supercharged, 5-liter V8 punches 542 horsepower, 502 foot-pounds and jumps to 60 in 3.9 -- a 10th of a second faster than today’s rear-wheel-drive R. Jag says the AWD models maintain the engaging rear-drive character the F-TYPE known for. On sale in the spring. - BT Justice
Lexus has been a big player in the luxury automotive segment since it released the LS400 back in 1989. Lexus has done a great job in capturing the older car buyer market. With the release of the IS back in 2000, Lexus went straight for a much younger demographic. Since then, Lexus has been on a mission to battle the likes of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes for a bigger share of the performance/luxury market. With the recent release of the all new Lexus RC, and the further development the Lexus F performance division, Toyota's luxury brand has taken on a new sporty face. The debut of the LF-C2 concept is Lexus' way of showing the world where it’s headed. Lexus GM Jeff Bracken said, “The LF-C2 show what's in store for our brand's future design direction.” and "This concept shows consumers around the world Lexus' devotion to emotional designs as well as our passion for an exceptional driving experience." While Lexus did not come out and say the LF-C2 Concept was a RC convertible design, the styling cues and dimension as so close to the RC we would expect to see something like this hit the show room floors in the next two years as a drop top option for Lexus might stand a better chance in this competitive than the old SC430 and the outgoing IS Convertible. – Mark Dorman
Mazda joins the fast-growing small crossover party with the all-new 2016 CX-3. It’s based on the hot-selling Mazda2. A 2-liter engine drives all four wheels. A 6-speed auto trans is standard on all models. Mazda says the AWD system uses the world’s first front-wheel slip-warning detection system, which constantly monitors and adjusts wheel torque depending on driving conditions. The CX-3 promises to be efficient as well as nimble, though it faces tough competition from the likes of the Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax/Buick Encore, and Jeep Renegade. The CX-3 goes on sale in in the spring. - BT Justice
Seeking to recapture the glory of its legendary 600 - the vehicle of potentates - the eighteen-foot ultraluxe sedan stretches the regular S-class with high levels of equipment and unique styling elements. Simultaneous unveiling at Guangzhou and the Los Angeles auto shows (China also gets an S400 version with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6) indicates the marketing focus of the brand. The S600 caters to customers whose expectations of exclusivity and individuality cannot be met by the S class alone and aims to compete with Bentley Flying Spur and the Rolls-Royce Ghost. The Pullmanesque, i.e., longer version of the Maybach may come at next March’s Geneva auto show.
As the two new premieres Mercedes-Benz brought a C638 V8 Biturbo, a high end four door sport sedan, and a screaming yellow (what happened to the silver arrow?) AMG GT S. Designed for track showcasing rather than a street, the GT, in the S variant, showcased in Los Angeles offers a smidgen over 500 horsepower and 47-53 front/rear balance. Both models are aimed at the customers who look for additional performance in a familiar Mercedes AMG package. – Zoran Segina
Forget the mundane, think insane! Scion morphs a five-door hatchback with a race car to create the Scion iM Concept Car. Beneath what we expect are radically exaggerated front and rear ends resides a potentially new model that aims to compete with the Nissan Versa and the recently restyled Honda Fit. The Scion iM features deeply drawn air intakes, an electric blue and silver paint job, a lowered body, 19-inch rims, Vented front rotors and 4-piston calipers, and an adjustable height racing suspension to complete the picture. Again, Scion hopes to attract the ever-elusive younger buyer. – John Grafman
Not much has been released regarding Toyota’s world debut at the 2014 LA Auto Show. Toyota announced the name of its Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle, the Mirai. If Toyota sees the same kind of success and sales that Prius saw, we could be looking at a new trend in the industry. It is reasonable to assume that the new Fuel Cell will look similar to the Prius. The concept photo looks a bit more futuristic, but most do. Predicted features of the Fuel Cell Vehicle are a 300 mile driving range, refueling time of less than 5 minutes, and zero emission of course. With more Hydrogen Fuel Station opening throughout California, there is a good chance we will start to see more Hydrogen Fuel Cars on the road. With Toyota wanting to lead the charge there is a great chance for success. – Mark Dorman
Making its world debut is the Volkswagen Golf SportWagen HyMotion, a research vehicle with a fuel cell powertrain. This intelligently designed front-wheel-drive vehicle accelerates from 0 – 62 in 10 seconds and, because the hydrogen is safely stored in high-tech carbon fiber tanks in the underbody, they do not impede on interior space. The drive components are located in the front of the vehicle while the battery is housed above the rear suspension, further maximizing the interior space of the vehicle. Perfect for an eco-minded driver, the HyMotion has an estimated range of 310 miles of zero emission driving. With this new addition of hydrogen fuel cell technology, Golf becomes the first vehicle to utilize all forms of currently available powertrains. - Reed Berry
Thursday, November 20th – Green Car of the Year announced, debuts by Acura, FIAT, Nissan, Henrik Fisker/Galpin Auto Sports, Mitsubishi & Saleen
Green Car of the Year
The Green Car Journal announced its five finalists for the 2015 Green Car of the Year® program. They were the Audi A3 TDI, BMW i3, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, and VW Golf. “These five exceptional vehicles reflect an expanding ‘green’ car field that embraces diverse fuels and technologies as answers to a more efficient and low carbon future,” said Green Car Journal editor and publisher Ron Cogan. “Each offers a distinctly different approach to driving ‘green’ that appeals to buyers with varying needs and perspectives on how best to lessen environmental impact, while maintaining the joy of driving.” The award was announced on November 20th and went to the BMW i3. - Roy Nakano
Following appearances in auto shows around the country, the award winning "Black Pearl" is featured at this year’s LA Auto Show. A striking custom car owned by Metallica's James Hetfield, the Black Pearl was designed by Hetfield and custom car builder Rick Dore from the Discovery Channel TV series "Lords of the Car Hoards." Inspired by early concept cars of the 1930s, they started with a 1948 Jag chassis and built a one-off body out of steel. With its sleek, stylish lines and lustrous black finish, the car is quite impressive and, according to Dore, turned out to be a very costly 13-month build. - Reed Berry
The LA Auto Show is sponsored by the Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association and is an OICA (Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles) sanctioned international exhibition. How important is is the LA Auto Show to the dealers in the area? “Foresight Research reports that half of our attendees are in the market for a new vehicle in the next 12 months,” says Brendan Flynn, the Senior Director of Marketing & Communications for the LA Auto Show. “Take into account that 11 percent of all new cars sold are in California, one in three of every electric vehicle, a fourth of all hybrids, as well as being the top luxury car market (Porsche alone sells 17 percent of all vehicles in North America in Los Angeles) and we have a very compelling consumer story to tell.”
World debuts at the Los Angeles Auto Show:
Audi A7 h-tron
Audi TT Roadster
Cadillac ATS-V Sedan
Jaguar F-Type R Coupe AWD
Lexus LF-C2 convertible concept
Mazda CX-3 crossover
Mercedes Maybach S600
Porsche 911 Carrera GTS
Porsche Cayenne GTS
Porsche Panamera Exclusive Series
Scion iM concept
Volkswagen Golf R Variant
Volkswagen Sportwagen HyMotion
Volvo V60 Cross Country
To view LA CAR's photo gallery, go to SCENES - from the Los Angeles Auto Show
For more information about the LA Auto Show, go to laautoshow.com