The 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show opened today with a slew of introductions. I’ll try and go through as many as I can with some color commentary:
Art Center College of Design always has some excellent concepts that the automotive design students present. This Hybrid Sports Bicycle (HSB) caught my eye. The concept design and body fabrication was done by Tomas Bubilek and the chassis design and fabrication was done by Michael R. Bowser.
Concept Hybrid Sports Bicycle presented by Art Center College of Design students.
I also liked this Mazda concept 3-D mock up:
Mazda Design Concept
Acura: Honda’s luxury brand has a lot of work to do to regain sales that its lost over the past decade by not focusing on a brand image and just phoning in the cars and going a little off the range with the famous Acura Beak aluminum grille. Acura introduced a new flagship, the 2014 RLX. No, it’s not rear drive, and in some ways it seems like a face lifted all-wheel drive RL, but it does look better. I’m simply not impressed. Maybe it drives well.
2014 Acura RLX – Front. I do like the all-LED headlights.
Rear taillight detail for the 2014 Acura RLX. I like the light show in the rear too, if not the overall look of the tail.
The interior of the 2014 Acura RLX, the brand’s flagship.
Audi: Audi really had nothing new to show the world at the LA show, so instead we were graced with the announcement that Audi would sell the A6, A7, A8 and Q5 with a 3.0L V6 TDI engine. The clean diesel power plant will likely sell well given the significant increase in fuel economy over the gasoline analogs. This lovely A8L TDI should get 24 mpg city and 36 highway — stunning numbers given the heft of Audi’s flagship. The diesel engine is rated at 240 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque and powers all four wheels through an 8-speed ZF automatic. Audi says it will do 0-60 in 6.4 seconds.
The 2014 Audi A8L TDI
This A8 had the rear seat package that makes for a very comfortable passenger. Check out the controls for the passenger!
The driver of this 2014 Audi A8L TDI is in the lap of luxury. Audi still sets the bar high for luxury interiors.
Bentley: If you want something a bit more rarefied than an Audi, the Volkswagen Group owns Bentley too. Not much new for LA, but we got another iteration of the company’s Continental GT. This is the “Speed” version with Bentley’s 6.0L twin turbo W12 engine making 616 ponies with 590 lb-ft of gut-wrenching torque to go from zero to 60 in 4 seconds flat and top out at 212 mpg. It’s at least $225,000.
2013 Bentley Continental GT Speed.
If you have a bit more money to burn, Bentley also showed the 2013 Mulsanne. It’s sort of the old school Bentley using a thoroughly updated 6.7L V8 making a healthy 505 hp and a stunning 752 lb-ft of torque. It is all channeled thorough the ZF 8-speed automatic used in several other VW Group products. You get the feeling of a locomotive when you’re behind the wheel because the Mulsanne weights in at 5,700 lbs. Yikes! But if you can afford the $296,000 (before options), who cares?
2013 Bentley Mulsanne. Check out those Gatling Gun headlights!
You may not mind being stuck in LA traffic if you are sitting behind this wheel. Beautiful real wood and top quality switchgear.
BMW: Our friends from Munich showed off the latest iteration of their upcoming i3 electric car. The i3 Concept Coupe is really just the standard i3 less two doors and some length. Still, it looks nice. I’d love to know what the final production version will look like when it shows up sometime in 2014.
BMW i3 Concept Coupe, front.
BMW i3 Concept Coupe side, from the rear.
If you’re not as interested in the i3, BMW dragged out the i8 Concept that was last seen a year ago in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. So just to tease you again, here are some pictures. It won’t look quite this amazing and flamboyant when it finally shows up for sale, sometime after the i3 goes on sale.
BMW i8 Concept Hybrid.
The i8 Concept Hybrid certainly has the futuristic interior to match the great exterior.
How about a BMW you can actually buy? This 2013 Gran Coupe is certainly a looker, particular in this expensive matte finish:
This lovely 2013 BMW 650i Gran Coupe starts at $87,395. The Frozen Bronze Metallic paint is a $3,500 option.
The Gran Coupe has one of BMW’s most sumptuous and well-crafted interiors. You won’t (and shouldn’t) find any cheap plastics inside here.
BMW likes to show off expensive cars, and this auto show is no different. How about the M6 and M5 in the background? If six digit prices offend you, avert your eyes.
The price of the 2013 BMW M6 starts with a six digit number.
Buick: It was kind of lonely at the Buick booth. I mean, LA is not very friendly to Buick. There aren’t many Buick dealers and the brand hasn’t sold well here in decades. GM’s wants its near-luxury marque to appeal to a budget-minded Lexus customer. That’s a tough hill to climb, given the years of neglect and the 25 years Lexus has been honing its luxury credentials.
However, to entice younger buyers, Buick is introducing a small crossover called the Encore. Opel sells a version of it called the Mokka in Europe and, like the Mokka, the Encore is imported from GM’s South Korean subsidiary.
2013 Buick Encore
2013 Buick Encore – from the rear.
The interior of the Encore is nice, but built to a price. I mean, this is a car in the $20,000 range, so you can’t expect top quality plastics. GM did go to great lengths to make the colors pleasing and the dash is distinct, if not a stand-out.
Space isn’t bad for a little CUV. I’m not sure if a young family with no kids and a dog will want this of if empty-nest retired baby boomers will go for it. Time will tell.
Cadillac: Another GM division that’s got fresh product is Cadillac. The all-important, all-new rear-drive ATS was introduced earlier this year to much fanfare and pretty good reviews. The ATS’ stated target is the BMW 328i and it’s the first time Cadillac has real skin in this game. While the press is slobbering all over the ATS, I’m not impressed by the interior. The plastics feel cheap, the wood looks fake (even if it is real) and the shiny digital center console with the “Cadillac User Experience” (CUE) featured prominently only looks good when it’s turned on and the sun isn’t shining on it. The hepatic touch-control feedback is overrated and feels clumsy. Certainly not something I’d like to futz with while driving. Maybe I’ll enjoy the driving experience.
2013 Cadillac ATS
The cockpit of the 2013 Cadillac ATS with CUE. This one looks better without the wood inserts.
The rear seat of the ATS isn’t any worse than the BMW 328i or the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Chevrolet: Not to be left out, GM’s mainstream division, Chevrolet, has new product too. First, the “big deal” is the 2014 Impala. It’s basically the Chevy version of the Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac XTS. It’s big and it looks it. No more rental fleet for this Impala, right? Time will tell.
The 2014 Chevy Impala. Big. New. But I just don’t care, sorry, guys.
Chevy picked LA to show off its new 2014 Spark EV. The Spark is the smallest car Chevy’s ever sold. It’s a product of GM South Korea (a.k.a. Daewoo). It’s better than the Aveo, but still a bit too rental for me. The EV is a big deal because California requires all the major manufacturers to sell zero emissions vehicles by a certain date. I think the first two markets for the Spark EV will be California and Florida. What it has going for it is price. It’s cheap, as far as EVs go – below $25,000 after a federal tax credit. The electric motor is good for 120 hp and a whopping 400 lb-ft of torque. The Spark EV is quick too – GM says zero to 60 is 8 seconds. But the big news is the fast charging system. The Combo DC Fast-Charge system promises to deliver an 80% charge in just 20 minutes. We haven’t seen range figures yet, but the magic target is usually 100 miles per charge.
2014 Chevrolet Spark EV
The 20 kWh lithium-ion battery pack adds a whopping 560 lbs to the Spark. But that weight on the floor should make for a great low center of gravity and add to stability.
The 2014 Spark EV is a bit spartan, but interior parts painted in the exterior color ads some visual interest. It’s not bad for the price point, but there are lots of hard plastics.
This 2013 Corvette ZR-1 is always a crowd-pleaser with its striking good looks, carbon fiber bits and a 6.2L LS9 V8 supercharged engine producing 638 hp and 604 lb-ft of torque. It can go from zero to 60 in 3.4 seconds and its top speed is 205 mph. Take that, Viper! A bargain at a base MSRP of $112,600.
2013 Corvette (C6) ZR-1 from its sexy rear.
The front end of the 2013 Corvette ZR-1. Next year, the all-new C7 (7th Gen) Corvette will be introduced to the world.
Prepare to yawn. Here is the 2013 Malibu. It should be a contender in the large mid-size family sedan segment, doing battle with the likes of the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion and Hyundai Sonata; however, I think the Malibu will continue to find its place in the rental fleets.
Here it is: The all-new 2013 Chevy Malibu.
The best viewing angle for the 2013 ‘Bu is definitely from its rear.
It’s the best interior of any Malibu in the past 40 years, but that might be damning with faint praise.
Chevy recycled some concept cars too. Both the Code 130R and Tru 140S appeared nearly a year ago at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January. Nice to see them in the flesh, but they are old news. What remains to be seen is if GM will do anything with these concepts. Of particular interst is the small rear-drive platform for the Code 130R.
Chevy Code 130R Concept. Love the paint.
Chevy Tru 140S Concept
More to follow…..