We Visit the 2014 LA Auto Show

By | December 31, 2014

2014 LA Auto ShowOne month and one hard drive crash later, we look back at the LA Auto Show.  Most auto shows we, like you, sit in front of a computer and watch the new unveilings online.  This time is different.  We actually went in person and saw it all right before our eyes.  This was made possible because of good timing.  You see, my wife and I got married in San Diego five years ago and we try to go back each year if we can.  The LA Auto Show just so happens to land on the same week as our anniversary!  Let’s just say I have a very awesome wife to allow me to drive up to LA on our anniversary trip just for the show.

Toyota MiraiToyota has always been one to push alternative energy.  They were the first to offer a hybrid for the masses and have been quite a big seller as well as the butt of many jokes.  Toyota is yet again taking new technologies and opening hem up for the public.  This is the Mirai.  In many ways it is like the Prius, ugly, is eco-friendly, and a first for the masses.  The Mirai is the first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell car to be sold.  Toyota promise a 300 mile range and thee car will be leasing for $57,000 or $499 per month.  Now that sounds like a lot, but then Toyota is throwing in free hydrogen to all buyers.  Only time will tell if Toyota can turn hydrogen power into gold like they did their Prius.

Mazda CX3Mazda is jumping on the cute ute band wagon and served up this Mazda2 based CUV.  The CX3 follows suit with the rest of the Mazda product line with its KODO design language.  It will be offered with a Skyactiv turbo four and al-wheel drive.  Specifics are yet to be announced but we speculate it will use the same 155 hp 2.0 found in the base models of the Mazda3.  If it is anything like the rest of the Mazda lineup it should be a hoot to drive.Volkswagen Golf R VariantDo you ever look at you Volkswagen Golf R and think, “I really wish I could haul more stuff…”  Well now you can with the new Golf R Variant.  The Golf R Variant is basically a Golf R drivetrain engineered to fit in its Golf Variant packaging.  It uses the Golf R’s 296 hp 2.0 turbo, six speed dual-clutch transmission, and 4Motion all-wheel drive.  The Golf R Variant is good for 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds (.2 sec slower than the normal Golf R) and has 57.2 cubic feet of cargo space.  It goes on sale in Europe in the spring but there is no word if it will be sold this side of the pond.

Scion iM ConceptScion brought what can only be described as what Toyota would have built if they still sold the Matrix.  In actuality the iM Concept is a modified version of the Toyota Auris which has been on sale in Europe and Japan since 2012.  The iM Concept shows that Scion is still very serious about building fun cars for the younger generation.  The iM gets its name from “individuality” and “modern” and it is just that.  Scion says the iM has been given the green light for production and should cost less than $20,000.  We expect the production version will loose its aggressive stance, large wheels, and body kit.  More details on the production version are expected to come sometime in 2015.

BMW X5 MThe ultimate driving machine and SUV don’t get said in the same sentence very often but don’t tell BMW.  They brought new versions of both their X5 and X6 M division SUVs.  Neither are particularly beautiful and both are rather pointless.  Both are powered by a 4.4L twin turbo V8 producing 567 hp and 553 lb/ft of torque.  That is enough to move their 5000 lb masses to 60 mph in a claimed sub 4 second time.  If anything, that is very impressive.  Prices for the X5 M and X6 M start at $99,650 and $103,050 respectfully.

Audi Prologue ConceptPerhaps Mercedes-Benz is to blame for this ridonculous car.  Earlier this year Mercedes launched the S-Class Coupe.  It should come as no surprise that Audi decided to take a bite out of that cake as well with the Prologue Concept.  Although it isn’t based off any current Audi, the Prologue Concept could very well be a look into the future of the A8 but in coupe form, an A9 if you will.  featuring new tech such as laser headlights, 4 wheel steering, 5 link air suspension, and nothing but touch screens inside for the controls and instrument panel, the navigation system can even be controlled from the rear seats!  Imagine that on a road trip with kids…  Power comes from a tuned version of the 4.0L twin turbo V8 used in the RS7 and Bentley Continental GT3-R and has 605 hp.  Such power should scoot the Prologue Concept along to 62mph in just 3.7 seconds.  Pair that with its good looks and the S-Class Coupe would have a serious challenger on its hands.  Unfortunately for now it is only a design study but we say build it!

Mercedes Maybach S600The Mercedes-Benz S-Class has been the luxury car of choice for thousands around the world.  But what if that is too common for you?  What if you want something bigger and more exclusive?  What if you want to kick back in a recliner and let someone else do the driving?  Well, Mercedes has once again joined forces with Maybach to make this possible.  Say hello to the Mercedes-Maybach S600.  From the outside the car looks longer, 8.1 inches longer.  That makes it longer than the Bentley Mulsanne.  The rear seat is replaced with two reclining seats that can recline up to 43.5º back, have fold out ottomans, and massage you.  The cupholders will also keep your drink hot or cold for you.  What more do you need in the back seat of your personal limo?  The driver is well taken care of too with a 6.0L biturbo V12 making 523 hp attached to their right foot.  Prices are estimated to start at $200,000, a relative bargain to the Maybach 57 from ten years ago.

Bentley Grand ConvertibleBentley hasn’t had a big convertible car for a while now. Sure there is the GTC but that is small compared to what Bentley brought to LA which is where most of these will likely be bought.  Meet the Grand Convertible.  In short, it is a convertible version of the Mulsanne Speed.  It puts the same 6.75L 530 hp V12 to use and offers miles of headroom.  Expect to see these cruising down Rodeo Drive if Bentley decides to put it into production.

Chevrolet Chaparral 2X Vision Gran TurismoPerhaps the most outlandish car of the show was this, the Chevrolet Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo.  The wordy name references both Chaparral Racing, who was famous for their experimental Can-Am race cars with massive wings, and Gran Turismo.  This Chaparral is purely and theoretical fantasy car that can be downloaded and driven in Gran Turismo 6.  Inspired by BASE jumping wing suits and adapted to look like a car.  The idea is the driver lays down face first and your limbs angled toward each wheel.  The powertrain is also complete fantasy using a 671kw laser, lithium-ion batteries, and an air-powered generator to propel the car forward with 900hp of thrust.  See the fantasy?  This powertrain allows 1.5 sec 0-60 times and a 240 mph top speed, er, in Gran Turismo 6.

Lexus LF-C2 ConceptLexus has had some of the most controversial designs in recent memory and the new LF-C2 Concept is no exception.  Look past the Predator mouth and the piss-yellow paint and you’ll see something that is a bit of a cross between the recent LF-LC Concept and the Lexus RC but in convertible form.  The 2+2 has no roof meaning open air driving 100% of the time.  As of now it is just a concept and there has been no mention to drivetrain or price.  If it does get the go ahead we expect it will take the place of the bland IS Convertible and create a RC Convertible.  Until then we are stuck trying to look past that hideous paint to make a real judgment on this creature from Lexus.

Ford Shelby GT350 MustangThe most anticipated car of the show had to be this, the new Shelby GT350 Mustang from Ford.  Technically revealed a few days prior, the GT350 features a 5.2L V8 make more than 500 horsepower according to Ford.  Other features include upgraded suspension including MagnaRide (Ford’s version of Magnetic Ride Control), massive brakes, equally large tires, and a mesmerizing exhaust note thanks in part to a flat-plane crank.  Look for the GT350 to undercut the Camaro Z28 in price and perhaps knock it off its high horse.

The next stop on the auto show circuit is the North American International Auto Show in Detroit January 12-25.

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