Something for everyone in L.A.


As a bright spot in the overall economy, the auto industry continues its momentum at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show, highlighted by more than 50 vehicle manufacturer debuts including more than 20 world debuts.

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.

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 will be shown. 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.

That said, fully half the reveals fall into the performance and luxury categories, so there is something for everybody.

The 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show will give many a chance to see some of Frankfurt's major models, but the real focus will be on the new product reveals, from the production version of the Infiniti JX, to the Hyundai Elantra Coupe and Azera.

In addition, look for the reveal of the Fiat 500 Abarth as well as an STI-themed concept version of the Subaru BRZ sports car. Other automakers planning original products include Honda, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and Lincoln, while Ford will reveal three all-new cars and General Motors will show off two. Chrysler is showing a group of special editions for Dodge and Jeep brands.

It should be a great show, one that car-centric Los Angeles deserves. One in 12 vehicles are sold in California, more than any other state in the nation; and most of those sales are in the Los Angeles market. That alone makes this show key.

That key to success in LA makes for success nationwide. Those here in LA are the trend setters that set the pattern for design, technology and change. They may build them in the “rust belt” or in the South but they are created here, be it by designers or marketers, but most assuredly by what LA  thinks and what they buy, for LA buyers are the focus group that counts.


R8 GT Spyder — This 5.2-liter V-10 has an output of 552-horsepower, but only 333 customers worldwide will be able to own this new soft-top version. The reports say that the GT can hit 62-mph in a swift 3.8 seconds. If you have to ask the price, don’t bother getting in-line. Also on the stand you’ll find the debut of the S-versions of the 6, 7 and 8 series cars. (North American debut)


Continental GTC — Elegant, modern and muscular describes the newest version of this iconic convertible. The four-place GTC sits on 22-inch wheels and is powered by a 6.0-liter twin-turbo W12 engine with 567-horsepower and 516 lb-ft. torque. The soft top is a tailored, multi-layered fabric. (North American debut)


XTS — First unveiled in Detroit as the Platinum concept the production 2013 XTS sedan will bow here as the DTS (DeVille) replacement. Also making its debut in the XTS is GM’s new CUE infotainment system that bundles infotainment, navigation and communication tools with a new user interface. The XTS will go into production in the spring in Canada. (World debut)


Camaro ZL1 convertible — Ready to out muscle the high-end muscle cars is the upcoming ZL1, the most powerful Chevy drop top ever. The supercharged 6.2-liter LSA V8 brings 580-horsepower and 556 pound-feet of torque to the party. The structurally reinforced ZL1 wears magnetic ride suspension, adjustable dampers and an advanced performance traction taken from the Corvette ZR1. The 2013 will be available late in 2012. (World debut)

Spark — The new min-compact debuts here as both a normally aspirated gasoline model and as an all-electric vehicle, the first for GM since the EV1 in 1996. The gas version of the Spark is slated to go on sale in 2012 and the Spark EV is slated for 2013 production. The Spark is slotted below the new Sonic and is planned for global markets. (World debut)


Two names from Dodge’s past return for 2012 with the Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee and Dodge Challenger SRT8 Yellow Jacket. Both are appearance packages with interior and exterior add-ons including exterior graphics and embroidered seats with nostalgic flair. No additional performance upgrades are part of the packages.

The Super Bee name originated in the late 1960s and made an appearance on the previous Charger generation. For 2012, Super Bee Chargers are available in Stinger Yellow or Pitch Black exterior colors with unique graphic appointments for each color. The outside of yellow Super Bees have satin-black hood graphics; black cars have charcoal graphics. Yellow models also get a matte-black rear spoiler and black cars’ spoilers are body-colored. Both color choices have 20-inch wheels with painted black highlights.


500 Abarth — The official unveiling of the more mighty 500 will feature a 135-horsepower turbo 1.4-liter T-Jet engine. With that much muscle pulling the sporty little hatchback around it can mean nothing but fun. Pricing for the Abarth is still a mystery but the entry Pop 500 is $15,500 so expect to pay a real premium for the extra oomph. (North American debut)


Mustang — Yes, Mustang is making a big splash in Los Angeles, from a new 650-horsepower Shelby GT500 to a sharp new Boss 302 to the new Mustang GT. New exterior designs with bigger grilles, and new LED signature lighting including the iconic sequential rear turn lights. Also new and standard is a SelectShift Automatic that allows manual like shifting. Definitely a response to Ford’s cross town rival brings more to the driver experience by setting the pony muscle car war afire.

Escape — Ford uses the L.A. Auto Show to introduce its all-new 2013 Escape. Escape has been Ford’s best selling CUV and now becomes a global vehicle based on the slick European Kuga. Escape will come with a normally aspirated 2.5-liter four or a choice of two new EcoBoost turbo engines, a 2.0-liter or a 1.6-liter that will actually get better mileage than the class leading hybrid that is being discontinued. Look for the unique foot wave under the rear bumper to open the tailgate trick. (World debut)

Focus ST — Focus ST is powered by the 2.0-liter Ford EcoBoost engine, which offers an uncompromising mix of performance and efficiency; high-pressure direct injection, low-inertia turbocharging and twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) create an advanced combustion system that brings new levels of performance and fuel efficiency. Developed by the RS team in Europe and the SVT in North American the new 5-door brings enthusiasts global performance. (North American debut)

Flex — Ford not only rounds off the hard corners of the Flex but gives it a newish front-end by removing the 9-inch Ford logo in favor of spelling out F L E X above the grille on all models; previously only the Titanium version featured the spell out. Flex also receives a power boost with its standard 3.5-liter V6 – now 285-horsepower, up 20 and enjoys an additional one mile per gallon in both city and highway cycles, now 18/25, to boot.  The twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 remains an option. A refreshed interior features the updated, easier to read and operate MyFord Touch, push-button start and those nifty inflating rear seatbelts found in Explorer.


Fit EV
— Previewed as a concept here in 2010, the production model will debut at this year’s show. The 2013 Fit EV will take Honda’s more than 15-years of electric vehicle experience and put it up against the Leaf, Mitsubishi i, and Focus among others. (World debut)

CR-V — While looking a lot like the 2011 model the new 2012 model will, according to Honda, feature a more fuel-efficient engine, reduced body weight and a more spacious design with a lower cargo floor. Exterior design touches give the CR-V a more aggressive look, something seen on the concept seen earlier this year. (World debut)

Insight — A larger, more powerful, more efficient Insight will make its debut here in LA. The Insight still uses the mild hybrid system but now to greater advantage. (North American debut)


Azera — All but missing in the barrage of product launched by Hyundai, the former leader of the brand before the Genesis and Equus will get a new lease on life as Hyundai fills out its mainstream ranks as a near-lux model to fill the gap between Sonata and its two luxury vehicles. The 2012 Azera should do well in the ever expanding Hyundai showroom with its less dramatic “fluidic” design in keeping with its upscale status. A V6 with direct injection could be its primary power source. (World debut)


JX Crossover — Predicting class-leading roominess the 2013 JX seven passenger crossover features a V6 engine and a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT). The new JX also features a high tech Back-up Collision Intervention system that will detect crossing objects behind the vehicle, and if necessary the system can automatically engage the brakes. (World debut)

IPL G Convertible — Following up on the popular IPL G Coupe, Infiniti introduces an IPL G Convertible for 2013. IPL – the Infiniti Performance Line will flex its muscle with the 348-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 engine and a seven-speed automatic. No word if the six-speed manual will be made available, yet. The IPL will feature a three-piece retractable hardtop. (World debut)


The new Speed Pack for the 510-horsepower XJ Supersport bundles a front splitter, rear spoiler, red-painted brake calipers, black mesh radiator and side vent grilles, choice of 20-inch Venom or Mataiva alloy wheels and a jet-black interior with red contrast stitching.

The new Sport and Speed Pack for the 470-hp XJ Supercharged includes the same front splitter, rear spoiler, red-painted brake calipers, black mesh radiator and side vent grilles and 20-inch Venom wheels, as well as leather sport seats, stainless-steel pedals and piano black trim (carbon-fiber is an extra-cost option).

Jaguar said the additional aero body bits and a recalibrated ECU have enabled an increase in top speed from 155 to 174 mph, with no increase in engine output.

XKR-S drop-top — Jaguar has now officially announced the drop-top counterpart to its new XKR-S here at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The XKR-S Convertible is the most powerful and fastest convertible Jaguar has ever built using its Supercharged V8 engine that produces 550 hp and 502lb-ft of torque. Top speed is 186 mph and 0-60 mph is a quick 4.2 seconds (0-100 kmh in 4.4 seconds). The down side, only 25 examples of the 2012 model year XKR-S Convertible will be sold in the US.


The 2012 Jeep Liberty Arctic package is available only on Liberty Sport 4x4 models. It gets such exterior touches as semi-gloss black 16-inch aluminum wheels, deep tint glass, tow hooks, blacked-out headlamps and standard fog lamps. The cabin gets the black and Arctic Orange color scheme found on the Wrangler models. It also gets gray-faced gauges, a nine-speaker Infinity sound system, Mopar slush mats and heated seats for front passengers only.  Liberty Arctic starts at $27,465. Price includes a $795 shipping charge.  An engine block heater is a $50 option.



GS 350 — The new GS features a 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 and its quick enough to get you to 60 in only 5.7-seconds. It’s matched to a six-speed auto with paddle shifters. There are four driving modes from ECO to SPORT S+. GS also features a new design direction for Lexus, a more hunkered down look that better manages air that gives it class-leading coefficient of drag. The GS is certainly a more expressive car; that’s a good thing for Lexus. (Auto Show debut)


MXT — Designed and built in Mexico, the MXT sports car rushes to 62 mph in a mere 4.9 seconds. Using a Ford turbocharged Duratec 2.0-liter engine with 250-horsepower output and 250 lb.-ft. torque the lightweight vehicle has a top speed near 150 mph. All this and its good looking too boot. (U.S. debut)


CX-5 — Finally Mazda jumps into the fray of small crossovers with its own vehicle. As the Tribute (a version of the Ford Escape) fades into history so immerges the CX-5. The compact SUV utilizes Mazda’s KODO design theme described as “Soul of Motion,” and its new SKYACTIVE technology that we’ve just seen launched in the Mazda3. With its bold new look the CX-5 joins it well received bigger siblings, the CX-7 and CX-9 to complete its family of car based SUVs. (North American debut)


ML63 AMG — A twin-turbo 5.5-liter powers this new Mercedes-Benz high-performance ML giving it additional horses and lots more torque, possibly the same as found in the new E63, 518-hp/516-lb.-ft. Sources say to expect upgraded performance components as well. All this bodes well for the luxury sport utility. (World debut)

C63 AMG Coupe Black — Certainly the most powerful C-Class of all time with 510-hp and 457 lb. ft. torque the new racetrack to street coupe gets to 60 in only 4.2-seconds. The low-slung coupe is impressively muscular so not only is it performance ready, it looks the part too. (NA debut)

SLS AMG Roadster — Take a combination of an aluminum space-frame, a 6.3-liter V8 with prodigious numbers (563 hp/479 torque), a seven-speed dual-clutch tranny and a lightweight sports suspension and your sure to win approval from any real sports car enthusiast. And on top of that it’s a drop-top. Is there anything more you can ask for? (North American debut)


— What is old is new again. The 3-wheel Morgan has a long a varied history that started back in 1909. It has been factory produced and produced under license; and today it’s back with some mid-twentieth century styling and 21st century technology. This 2011 Morgan features a fuel injected S&S motorcycle engine and a Mazda 5-speed transmission including a reverse gear. It has 115-horsepower and a 0 to 60 time of (approximately) 4.5-seconds. It is frighteningly different and amazingly fun. (North American debut)


Innovation, as practiced by Nissan’s creative design, engineering and product development teams can take many forms. And innovation is used by the epicurean innovators behind two of Los Angeles’ most popular food trucks, The Grilled Cheese Truck and Coolhaus truck. Both companies are teaming with Nissan to combine their innovative takes on two food classics — grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream sandwiches — with a pair of custom-outfitted Nissan NV vans that will be serving food at the auto show.


— As unbelievable as it sounds this is the seventh-generation 911. This venerable sports car (the series of 911’s in all its generations has reached 48-years of production) that performs equally well on the street as it does on the racetrack is pantheon to what enthusiast drivers aspire to. The new 2012 Carrera and Carrera S is here today to look at but you’ll have to wait until February to get one. Replacements for the current GTS, Cabrio and Turbo are on the way as well. (North American debut) 


— Featuring both a three-door and five-door liftback the Yaris has been completely redesigned for 2012 ending with a more sporty and aggressive look. On the inside there is 68 percent more cargo room. Both Yaris models are powered by a 1.5-liter, 16-valve, twin-cam four-banger producing 106 horses and 103 lb. ft. torque. Three trim levels are offered for this easy to maneuver B-segment player. (Auto Show debut)


CC — VW’s stylish four-door coupe receives some major updates for 2013 including new front and rear styling changes and nice long list of standard equipment. Lot of new technology for the CC pushes it toward that entry-luxury class. No word at this writing if its top notch 2.0-liter gas turbo will be the standard engine. On sales in the Spring of 2012. (World debut)


C70 Inscription
— What was the world’s first four-place convertible hardtop at its launch has since had a varying degree of success. The Inscription is sure to give the smart looking vehicle a boost – but it faces a limited worldwide production of only 2,000 units, making more of a halo car than a volume producer. The new Inscription edition blends distinctive exterior details such as the high gloss painted grille, some glamorous LED lighting and black 18-inch wheels with exclusive interior features, including Sovereign Hide upholstery and a leather-covered dashboard. There are a plethora of aluminum inlays and Volvo’s iconic ultra-slim center stack. (World debut)

Concept Cars


i3 — With its zero-emission electric drive and a range of approximately 93 miles, the four-place BMW i3 Concept has been specifically developed for use in an urban environment, and features a 125 kW electric motor and rear-wheel drive. The i3 will mark the launch of the first volume-produced car featuring bodywork largely made of carbon saving between 550 and 770 pounds as compared to a conventional electric car. The BMW i3 does the 0 to 62 mph sprint in less than eight seconds, while a high-speed charger achieves an 80% battery charge in just an hour.

i8 — The BMW i8 Concept sports car also using carbon body technology goes from 0 to 62 mph in less than five seconds and boasts mileage ranges between 46 and 77 mpg on the European test cycle depending on usage. Its plug-in hybrid drive with a system output of 260 kW allows a range up to approximately 21 miles in electric mode. For more dynamic driving or out-of-town routes, a high-performance three-liter gas engine kicks in. The sports car has an electronically governed top speed of 155 mph and space for up to four occupants.


LaCrosse GL — An elegantly understated cosmetic package that uses brushed and tinted chrome on the exterior and inside a suede headliner reminiscent of a flocked lining found in jewelry boxes gives the Buick softness usually associated with brands such as Lexus. Could the GL be a new trim level for the iconic brand? Time will tell.


— Ciel (pronounced C-L) is an open-air grand touring car; it’s not a convertible as there is no top as the name aptly translates from the French – “sky.” Chief designer Clay Dean described Ciel as “the romance of the drive, emulating the great touring cars...but with a modern flair that projects Cadillac’s vision for the future.” The interior features reclaimed olive wood and brushed aluminum surrounding transparent gauges with dual readouts. Sitting on 22-inch brushed nickel plating over milled billet aluminum wheels the GT is powered by a 3.6-liter twin-turbochargers putting out 425 horses matched to a hybrid all-electric drive transmission.


Fiesta ST
— Making its world debut in L.A. the Fiesta ST concept shows us the next step in its global performance vehicle strategy following on the heels of the Focus ST introduction in Frankfurt. The Fiesta ST uses “eye-catching” sporty styling that is muscular both in looks and dynamics. Ford says this five-door sports concept will house a sports chassis and a high performance powertrain that will deliver impressive fuel economy. We should note here that Ford just introduced its 1.0-liter EcoBoost in Europe. We’ll have to peek under the hood to find out.


— The new two seat concept, maybe the future of the XK, is seen in this most striking design that has inspired new advances in engineering and technology as well. Chief designer Ian Callum says, “Jaguars have always been dramatically different. With the C-X16 we have moved the current award-winning design language on to the next generation, creating a car that is the very essence of future Jaguar performance.” Under the muscular hood is a supercharged V6 producing 375 horsepower and 332 lb. ft. torque enhanced by a hybrid boost system with a steering-wheel mounted button for on- demand acceleration, matched to an eight-speed gearbox.


GT — Kia enters the world of rear-wheel drive with this concept. Idealized as a four-door performance sedan this GT takes on the persona of the elegant, athletic, confident spirit of mid-20th century touring cars without being aggressive or overbearing. Powered by a 3.3-liter turbocharged V6 producing 389 horsepower and 394 lb. ft. torque matched to an eight-speed transmission you can visualize a fun run up the coast. A glass instrument panel with three layers of LED lights gives an interesting 3D view of the display.


DC 100
— Call the modern interpretation of the iconic Land Rover Defender it portends the future of the Defender in mid-century. Building on the essential elements and character of Defender the journey to a production model is just beginning with input expected from within and from outside the company as how the new Defender will take shape. Although we see the concept here in LA there has been no decision as to whether the vehicle will be sold in North America.

DC 100 Sport — Capable, usable and abusable (sic) and appropriate for the Third World market and maybe for some California “surfer dudes.” As noted there is no official declaration that the Defender will be sold in North America, but….In the meantime some changes have been made since the Defender concept duo was first seen in Frankfurt that further tell what is in-store as the vehicles continue in development.


— For those who loved the last sports coupe from Subaru (the SVX with its unique window in window design) you’re sure to like this BRZ – STI concept powered by Subaru’s naturally aspirated 2.0-liter flat four. The 2+2 shares a rear drive platform with the upcoming Scion FR-S, although Subaru prides itself for it all-wheel drive prowess, and the SVX sported all-wheel drive.



Concept You
— If Ford is MyTouch then this elegant new Volvo is YouTouch. The You’s controls are distilled down into a single touchscreen mounted in the center console, partnered with a head-up display on the windshield. Eerie but cool is the screen sits dormant until the driver casts his/her eyes in the direction of the screen and wakes the display from sleep via the use of infrared cameras that register the eye movement of the driver. Lots of tricky, fun stuff that moves information to the head-up display or use of accessible climate, audio and internet controls by the front passenger that can be shared by those in the back seat makes Volvo’s infotainment really slick.


Beetle R
— For this Beetle the designers completely reworked the front and rear bumpers, which are widened by 1.2-inches. In front three air intakes are highlighted by high gloss black paint. The mid intake is operational. The rear spoiler is larger than the one found on the Turbo. Painted in “Serious Grey” it offers a glimpse of what a production version might look like. The wheels mimic those found on the Golf R and Scirocco R, although these are larger at 20-inches.