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Nov 252010
 

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.

JAGUAR’S STUNNER

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.

Until next year!

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