Let’s face it. When it comes to electric cars, there aren’t any attractive options on the lower end of the pricing scale. About the only one that pops to mind is the Fiat 500e, but we wouldn’t be caught dead in a “car” that looks like it came out of a Mattel Barbie catalog. That all changed when we saw this. The Honda e. There’s nothing excessive about this car. It’s a true MVP (minimal viable product) in every sense of the term. But it’s so charming – are we allowed to use that word?! – and really harkens back to the days of the EF and EG Civic.
Honda has repeatedly said they’re bringing the e to the States, but there’s never been a release date for the car. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that this will make it production and come to these shores.
VW, still reeling from the diese-gate disaster a couple of years ago, really needed to make a splash. And a splash it did make with the ID Space Vizzion concept and the more earthly 2020 Atlas Cross Sport. The latter is a looker, with a sloping rear section not unlike the BMW X6 or the Cayenne from VW’s sister company, Porsche.
The new Corvette took center stage at Chevrolet. With a shark like front end (see below) and a rear end that wouldn’t look out of place on a Lambo, the blue Smurf colored convertible variant attracted more than its fair share of looks.
Yawnfest at Honda, Subaru: Nothing to see here, really. Honda touted its commitment to “green cars,” whereas Subaru had a national park kinda booth. The latter announced a special version of the WRX / STI, dubbed “Series White,” that will cost up to nearly $44,000 (for the STI version). Right. Kind of like how they sell you “Recaro” seats that look like office chairs as an optional paid upgrade. We’ll pass.
Sure, Hyundai and Kia are technically two separate car companies… but not really. The former unveiled the Vision T concept, which is a wicked looking cross over. The design language is aggressive with lots of angles. We likes. The latter introduced the 2020 Niro and the brand new 2021 Seltos. A smaller SUV with either an NA 2.0L or a 1.6L turbo I4, it should do well in a market looking for ever more SUV / cross over options.
Toyota for the Family: New for 2020… RAV4 Prime, new Highlander and a new Mirai (which we did not spot).
Lexus: All models in the Japanese maker’s lineup remained pretty much the same – although they FINALLY added Apple Carplay to their 2020 line up (what took so long, I have no clue). The shining star in the booth was the LC500 convertible. I’ve pined for the hard top version since it’s inception and the convertible is no less sexy. The LC500 is what the Supra SHOULD have been. To hell with the price. Nearly 500 horsepower from a V8 is what it SHOULD have been. Not the poor excuse of a Z4 skinned like a MkV. Lame.
At BMW: Two cherries and… um… something to fill yet another imaginary gap in the line up was present. The M2 CS – the “real” M3, in my opinion – accompanied by the new M8. The styling of the latter doesn’t quite feel right. The M6 Gran Coupe is a sexy beast and the M8 4-door variant should have elicited the same emotional response. It didn’t… but the performance figures look healthy regardless. As for the 235i M – or is it the M 235i? It’s like what Merc is doing with the A series. These Germans keeps making cars for the downmarket. That’s not what German luxury performance is known for. Shareholder value, I suppose.
Across the South Hall at Audi: The RS Q8 and the RS6 Avant were on display. Both are beefed up beasts compared to their non-RS versions but these weren’t the cars that excited me. Rather, I’m looking at the Audi S8 with with 563 ponies that’s tickling my pickle.
Not much to see at Lincoln, save for the suicide doors on the Continental. Wow.
The manufacturer formerly known as Fisker returned as Karma. Nothing new in the way of a production vehicle, but they put out two stunning concept vehicles, the SC1 and SC2. The latter was far more stunning – and more practical – than the former roofless vision of the future. But what does practicality have anything to do with concept cars, right?
Despite the rather chilly and rainy weather in downtown LA (yes, it actually RAINED in Southern California), hordes of automotive industry professionals and media heads – although I can’t understand how much of a “media” person anyone can be shooting photos with an iPhone – gathered at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the latest edition of the LA Auto Show. Phew. What a mouthful.
There were a handful of new vehicle debuts to speak about, although few are going to raise anyone’s heart rate.
At the Ford Motor Co. booth: So what did Detroit unleash upon us? Their own version the Pontiac Aztec, it seems. While it’s 100% electric, it’s also 100% ugly. Nothing wrong with going all in on electric but the Mustang Mach-E looks nothing like its petrol-drinking brethren. I would be embarrassed to drive this thing around town. Wow. Speechless.
Meanwhile, at Porsche: The Taycan was the rage. Couldn’t get a clean photo because attendees were too busy leaving the fingerprints all over the car, inside and out. Regardless, I am really excited for this all electric car as it will give Tesla a serious run for its money. And frankly, Tesla’s brand cache will take a serious hit once the Taycan hits the road.
Yes, electric Porsches are cool but I was more titillated by their gas guzzling counterparts. Namely, the new 911 Carrera 4S on display (drool) and the IMSA GTLM winning 911 RSR. Oh my…
Nothing to see at Nissan: Perhaps it’s reflective of their horrible sales numbers… There was nothing to see at Nissan, except a “50th anniversary” edition of the GT-R. And a customized Nissan truck. Neither really excited anyone, AFAIK, but here are some photos for shits & giggles.
Still working on other photos. Coverage will continue tomorrow. Stay tuned!
The 2019 LA Auto Show kicks off in earnest with a bevy of press conferences tomorrow (November 20, 2019), which we are sure will include new vehicle debuts. Manufacturers holding press conferences include:
Look for lots of photos and commentary from the show soon!
Back in the day, Nismo meant something. TRD meant something. And, until recently, Gazoo Racing meant something. They all held the deepest level of respect among car enthusiasts as these sub-brands of OEMs went racing. And they won. And these brands were attached to some of the most iconic Japanese supercars of yesteryears – namely, the Nissan GT-R, the Toyota Supra and, most recently, the Toyota TS050 LMP1 Le Mans and WEC champion. So, I ask, why take such respected names and just, well, screw it all up?
Nissan isn’t doing much better either. They’ve managed to slap the Nismo branding onto the 370Z and the Sentra. Neither of the Nismo versions offer any performance advantages over their non-Nismo brethren. It’s all exterior bullshit. Might as well add a bunch of stickers to the non-Nismo versions (don’t forget the “NOS” sticker!) and save some money. The stickers will add as much horsepower as the Nismo versions!
Toyota and Nissan: instead of making these cars “sticker-fast,” why not start making some cars that are actually fast? Yes, the R35 GT-R is a fast car, but it’s a bit long in the tooth (probably an understatement) and the latest additions have made the car about as attractive as Pete Burns, lead singer of an old band who’s had one too much plastic surgeries.
Day 2 at the LA Auto Show gave us a chance to spend more time at the LA Convention Center, take more photos and delve further into automotive offerings for 2011.
BUICK PULLS OFF THE COVERS ON THE NEW REGAL
Normally, we’re not big fans of sheet metal from Detroit but this Buick made us do a double take. We’re waiting for our chance behind the wheel to decide whether the double take was based on just a mirage or some real substance.
FLAT IS IN AT MERCEDES
Yes, it’s the Mercedes AMG CLS 63 hyper sedan that you see before you. But that’s not what we’re showcasing. Look a little closer. Notice the flat paint? No, it’s not a custom job. Rather, it’s a factory option available to you. Frankly, it was novel when car customizers first started giving cars the flat treatment but it’s rather played out at this point.
CADILLAC UNVEILS FUNKY LITTLE CONCEPT FOR THE “URBAN” SET
The Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept (ULC for short) is a small city car designed for urban dwellers that just can’t do without some bling to complement their brownstone in upper east side Manhattan. Powered by a teeny, weeny 1.0L turbocharged 3-cylinder engine, the ULC supposedly generates 56mpg in the city and 65mpg on the highway with a cadre of technology including start-stop and brake energy recovery system (a la Formula 1 KERS?). Call us skeptics but we can’t see this car seeing the light of day unless Cadillac’s intention is to meet the even more stringent average fleet fuel efficiency mandate set by the EPA. There are already city car-type variants out there (the Smart, for one) and wonder if we really need a microcar studded with so much unnecessary bling. Keep it simple, stupid. That’s what we say.
DROP TOP CHEVY CAMARO
Open top version of the Chevy Camaro. Nothing else to say about it, really.
FORD FINALLY BRINGS THE FOCUS ST STATESIDE
We’ve always been big fans of “hot hatches,” but the announced arrival of the Focus ST didn’t quite have the effect Ford may have intended. With us, at least. This car has been in existence in Europe since 2009 (the turbocharged 5-cylinder variant killed off due to Europe V emissions regulations). Yet again, American consumers are left getting a car far later after introduced to the rest of the world. I personally find the front end boring, looking quite a bit like a fish; resembles nothing like the aggressive snub nosed design on the original European Focus ST.
GMC’S FORAY INTO THE SUBCOMPACT SEGMENT
When you think of GMC, what comes to mind? Fun cars? Probably not. Utilitarian trucks, SUVs and vans? Absolutely. Perhaps the make is looking to change all that with the introduction of the GMC Granite concept. The front end is large and aggressive, keeping in line with the GMC lineage, but the rest of the vehicle is sleek. The rear end looks particularly similar to the current gen VW GTI. Not sure if this little compact will ever see production, but if it does, it will be the first to shake things up in the segment since the original Scion xB.
Wow. That’s about most appropriate word we can use to describe the stunning “green” C-X75 concept. With lines not see since the XJ220 hyper car from the Thatcher era, the concept will hopefully bring new excitement over the old English marquee. But what you find under the sheet metal is completely new school. Each wheel is driven by its own electric motor, with a range of 68 miles from a 6-hour charge at home. Once that juice runs out, however, its lithium ion batteries are recharged by micro gas turbines, extending the “theoretical” range to 560 miles.
Did we mention its claimed top speed of 205mph?
KIA EMERGES FROM HYUNDAI’S SHADOWS
New sheet metal, dimensions, interior and more add up to quite the competition for offerings from sister brand Hyundai. Call it a one-two combo, but Honda, Toyota and Nissan have much to fear from Kia (and Hyundai).
LEXUS’ SPORTY HYBRID HATCH
Funny enough, when we spoke with our friends at Lexus PR, they too agreed that the car looks quite a bit like the Mazda3 / Mazdaspeed3. Mind you, that’s not a bad thing, sharing similar lines as one of our favorites in the segment. No MSRP on this 5-door hatch but we’re hoping to get more info and perhaps our dirty mittens behind the wheel in the near future.
MAZDA’S GORGEOUS CONCEPT
The Shinari concept vehicle in Mazda’s booth was epic. No, it was spectacular. It’s kind of what I envisioned the Aston Martin Rapide would look like, expect this design came from a place a little closer to the shinkansen rather than the tres grande vitesse. No matter. There were more curves and organic forms on this concept than ALL cars on the show floor combined. Perhaps it’s a good indication of things to come from Mazda, as rumors are aplenty about the return of the turbo rotary.
Well, that’s it for us from the second and final press day of the 2010 LA Auto Show. This year’s show was particularly notable as we saw more alternative fuel vehicles than ever before (ed – our take on that coming soon) but came away happy to see that the manufacturers aren’t forgetting about style, sizzle and performance in their offerings.