By on November 21, 2013

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I spent my usual time wandering around the LA Auto Show yesterday but rather than focus on breaking news, let’s talk about what’s new, improved and noteworthy on the floor.

2015 Subaru WRX

The new WRX is just what I expected from Subaru but what I didn’t expect is the WRX to get practically a unique chassis. Subaru claims that large portions of the unibody are different with 80% of the sheetmetal being unique and the chassis being upgraded for greater stiffness. The interior is shared with the Impreza except for the shifter, steering wheel and some trim parts. The big deal is of course the CVT which may just be the first time “performance sedan” and CVT have been used in the same sentence. Subaru says that power isn’t reduced when you equip the car with the CVT and I’ll hold out my judgment until we can drive one but it is likely to be the faster way to get to 60. Not the most fun, but likely faster.

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Subaru Legacy Concept

Subaru also brought along their Legacy concept which is supposed to show the styling direction of the Legacy when it bows in a few years. The Ford-inspired grille is handsome and the interior looked fully functional so I assume we can apply most of this directly to the production model. No comment on timing from the folks at Fuji.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

2015 Chevrolet Colorado

Diesel lovers rejoice! Not only is GM bringing the world Colorado to America, it’s coming with their 2.8L diesel engine which should produce somewhere between 190-200 horsepower and around 360 lb-ft of torque based on the figures from the international model. There’s also a 2.5L four-cylinder engine and 302HP 3.6L direct-injection V6, both loosely lifted from Cadillac’s ATS. Instead of hobbling them with an old 4-speed transmission GM is tossing in their 6-speed unit from the Silverado to make the most exciting small pickup in America. Admittedly that’s not a particularly high bar these days, but thankfully GM didn’t stop at a small improvement over the Tundra, this appears to be a true leap-frog. Sadly the new Chevy MyLink system based on Cadillac’s CUE is also along for the ride rather than the software found in the Malibu which I find more intuitive and reliable. GM giveth and he taketh away.

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Cadillac

Speaking of Cadillac, the brand now occupies more floor space than in the past. The 2015 Escalade and the El Miraj concept took the places of honor. The Escalade is certainly big and certainly bold and it does appear to be better differentiated from the Chevy Tahoe than in the past, but the family resemblance is still there. I’m sure that won’t bother Escalade shoppers however. The El Miraj is the sort of thing Cadillac does well: make concept cars that never see the daylight as a production model. Pity. The car is big and brash and I can see plenty of reasons people would want something like that over a BMW 7-Series. Instead we’re getting the ELR which, in Cadillac’s defense, does look appealing and has a gorgeous interior, it just seems to be a bit late to the party. If you’re going to the show, don’t expect to be able to sit in the ELR, it’s roped off for a second year in a row.

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Maximum MINI

Although we weren’t invited to the MINI launch party they have plenty of them on the show floor. Having grown substantially in this generation the MINI is more comfortable than ever with a bigger back seat. There’s just one problem: how is something this big a MINI? Nobody had the answer. Because redesigning retro is tricky, the car looks very much the same as the other “new MINIs” until you park them next to one another and you can see the changes over time. MINI tells us that almost nothing is shared with the outgoing model despite everything looking identical. Because 2015 is the year of the 3-cylinder, MINI has stuffed one under the hood with a 4-cylinder available as an option. We also get the latest MINI-version of iDrive in the dash if you feel spendy enough.

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 The Audi A3 family

Audi brought along three A3 models to the show. First up is the long awaited A3 sedan which is expected to be the A3 volume seller. Pricing will start just under $30,000 and there are two turbo gasoline engines and one diesel to choose from. Audi also tells us to expect an S3 model at some point in the future with nearly 300 ponies.  The A3 hatchback that we’re all familiar with will now be the brand’s volume hybrid model with a gasoline engine and electric motor along the lines of the Jetta Hybrid. The Germans have also seen fit to ship the A3 Cabrio to America although it’s arriving after the sedan. The A3 launch was packed with trash talking about Audi’s sales success and basically telling Mercedes and BMW to watch their back. Unfortunately, no matter how you slice it the Mercedes CLA is twice as sexy as the A3 and the BMW 1 Series 2 Series is RWD. Enough said.

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BMW

BMW brought along the new 4 Series convertible which is just a 3 Series convertible +1. All the usual engine options you’d expect will be on offer and for the first time you can get AWD in your BMW drop-top so you can ski topless. The incredibly sexy and insanely expensive carbon fibre BMW i8 came along, complete with its $136,625 base price tag. Looking much sexier than the BMW i3 that was parked right next to it, the i8 claims to have a Tesla matching range and a 3-cylinder engine so you don’t get stranded when your battery runs out. There was no comment on quick charge times, but I suspect it will offer the same SAE quick charge connector as the i3 when it goes on sale. I asked if the i8 would catch fire if it hits a small metal object in the road but the Germans returned a blank stare. The i3 on display was even stranger looking in person than in photos but seems fairly practical aside from the suicide rear doors. The interior looks like something IKEA would make for Volvo as a concept car.

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Jaguar F-Type Coupe & Land Rover

Jaguar’s F-Type coupe is even more stunning in person than in photos, however it’s still not as sexy as the F-Type convertible. Helping make up for that is a new F-Type model with Jaguar’s 550HP 5.0L V8 under the hood. I had originally thought that they would keep the high horsepower version as an XK exclusive to help justify the older coupé’s existence, but I guess there were too many people demanding MOAR POWAR. Jag brought along their crossover concept which looks good but I have to continue to ask: isn’t that what Land Rover is for?

Speaking of Land Rover, the Range Rover Sport is on the floor and it looks like it will be unlocked for commoners like me to paw at on the public days, so head over and check it out. The Evoque with the 9-speed transaxle that has given Chrysler so many problems is on the floor as well but JLR says it won’t be meeting the press until early next year so stay tuned.

IMG_6720Porsche Macan

It was only a matter of time before Porsche created a small crossover. While many consider this polluting the brand, you can always think of it as the top trim of the Audi Q5 on which it is loosely based. Speaking of Audi, the SQ5 starts at about the same price as the Macan although the Porsche is probably slightly slower with its naturally aspirated 3.6L V6. Jump up to the 400HP Macan Turbo and there is no contest. Say what you like about product positioning and brand dilution, the Macan looks good in person and has one of the best interiors you can buy for this kind of cash.

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Kia K900

Tying with the Porsche Macan for “biggest news from the show” is the Kia K900 luxury sedan. Yes, Kia and luxury sedan are now used in the same string of words. The K900 isn’t a “Kia Genesis”, as it turns out it is more of a “Kia Equus” having been based on the same platform as the larger of the Hyundai sedans. While the outside looks a little sedate the interior is what the fuss is all about. The K900 will offer features such as power reclining rear seats, the largest LCD instrument cluster in a production vehicle, Nappa leather, a color heads up display, full speed range cruise control and enough wood trim to make Jaguar concerned. The drivetrain is shared with Hyundai meaning you get a 3.8L direct-injection V6 or a 5.0L V8 sending power to the back via an in house designed 8-speed automatic. Pricing hasn’t been announced but we were told to expect it to start “around 50″ and to top out “under 70″. While I don’t expect many German shoppers to take notice, I can see Infiniti and Lexus shoppers checking out the value alternative.

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Subaru XV Crosstrek Hybrid

Subaru brought along the brand’s first hybrid and Toyota had nothing to do with the design. The XV Crosstrek Hybrid is being billed as the only compact crossover hybrid on the market (if you can call a jacked-up station wagon a crossover). The biggest news is that it looks exactly the same as the regular XV except the wheels aren’t black.

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38 Comments on “LA Auto Show Recap Day 1...”


  • avatar
    nezromatron

    Were you able to sit in the WRX? Are the seats still wide?

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Let us know if Chrysler finally changed that awful 200 model greenhouse.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    What possesses manufacturers to show silver cars like that Kia for a critical new launch? Silver is just shiny primer. It nauseates everyone from overexposure beginning with the ubiquitous Japanese silver cars of the ’80s.

    Chevy’s slow-responding turd of a website introduced the new Impala with a silver feature version even though they have that deep, lustrous metallic red. They’ve since switched the images to a black Impala. Not much of an improvement.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. Vehicle launch color was the subject of a thread here at TTAC one time. Silver is blah.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      Silver, white and black. The roads look like a rolling gulag. There is hope though as some manufacturers are offering more options on certain cars but others sadly are not (ie. Jeep unless you consider five shades of gray options).

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Agree 100%.

      Y’know, I do not like the color blue on any car, but I recently saw a new Impala in a very dark blue and it was stunning! I had to re-think my color preferences, and yes – I would drive an Impala in that color!

      Every car has its right range of colors, so make them stand out, not sink into stealth colors where you don’t even notice them.

  • avatar
    hubcap

    I think both Macan gas powered variants are turbocharged.

  • avatar

    As far as I understand, diesel Colorado is way delayed and we won’t see it until actual 2016 in 2016 MY trucks, if that. Funny if a full-size transmission fits well into a mid-size truck, as you mention. And finally, I don’t think they are trying to leapfrog Tundra.

  • avatar
    bachewy

    “GM didn’t stop at a small improvement over the Tundra”

    Did you mean Tacoma?

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Jaguar did exactly what I knew they would, release an F-Type with its 550hp unconstrained by marketing only AFTER they released the detuned convertibles, better trade those babies in and buy the fastest and hottest model!

    Subaru wants you to have a CVT, eh whatever, I’m just tired of everyone drooling at that BRZ CUV thing. Volvo already did a shooting brake and it didn’t pretend to be a CUV, and you could get it with a decent stick and a turbo.

    GM still makes trucks, they just look a bit weird now.

    Kia is still trying to sell an overpriced Hyundai

    Hyundai is still trying to sell an overpriced, and frankly ugly Hyundai

    Porsche is…something I still don’t care for.

    The new new new Mini is bigger and looks like it just had a wedgie, meaning that Fiat will soon copy it.

    The Audi A3 is the only thing here that actually looks like some resembling a normal car.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Can’t help but see a lot of 3rd gen Lexus GS in that KIA. Not necessarily a bad thing.

  • avatar
    ATLOffroad

    The Colorado with a diesel is big news. I will be interested to drive one when it comes out.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Subaru building the new WRX on a mostly unique chassis should not be a surprise – that is old news. As far as the CVT, according to other publications it is both slower to 60 and has worse EPA-rated mileage. R&T quoted a 166 lb weight penalty for the CVT.

    According to Edmunds, the lower mileage for the CVT is due to some quirk with the EPA drive cycle testing all of the CVT’s drive modes and retaining the selected drive mode through key cycles, rather than defaulting to the most efficient setting. Subaru thinks the car can get better mileage, but they had to be conservative with the EPA ratings to avoid ending up like Hyundai. So the story goes anyway. Guess we have to wait until people start driving them and reporting on fuelly to find out.

    Some cars are supposed to have great automatics (VW DSG, Mazda’s automatic) and the choice comes down to personal preference. If you can’t or won’t drive a manual, this CVT does not sound like a great alternative considering the WRX’s mission brief. Just pick a different car.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The new MINI and the BMW i8 have the same 1.5 liter inline-3. Obviously it is just a range extender in the i8, but it is interesting that the least expensive and most expensive cars at a BMW dealership will have the same engine.

    The Subaru WRX is a overall a better sedan than the Audi A3 (longitudinal engine, AWD standard) for less money, but does not look as good or offer as much badge snob appeal.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “The Subaru WRX is a overall a better sedan than the Audi A3 (longitudinal engine, AWD standard) for less money, but does not look as good or offer as much badge snob appeal.”

      Agreed and the badge appeal is a strong lure to some. I like the WRX. Thing is, the car itself has badge appeal as well as the brand. Is it similar to Audi’s? No, its a bit less pretentious but its there and helps move metal.

      I can’t tell from the pics but if Subaru fixed the interior squabbles the WRX becomes a nice choice. And like you said you get a longitudinally mounted engine and a real time performance AWD system for under 30K. If you’re considering a Focus ST, MazdaSpeed 3, GTI/GLI you owe it to yourself to check one out.

      IMO its the ringer of the category.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      The WRX is definitely worth looking at if you are also considering the Focus ST/GTI/etc, and maybe even the A3. I don’t think you can say it is a better overall sedan than the A3 though. Subaru gets you the hardware and the spec sheet numbers, but I expect the A3 to offer more refinement in things like the engine and transmission, as well as much better interior materials and a quieter, more comfortable ride. A WRX is definitely performance biased, while non-S Audis are balanced for everyday driving.

      Different cars with different purposes. Whether one is better than the other depends on your priorities.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Certainly some people would be best off with a Fusion. What I meant to say is that if people want Audi features like a longitudinal engine and AWD the WRX is the better sedan, since unlike the more expensive base A3 it has those.

        I wish Subaru would tone down the styling. Hood scoop? Really?

        • 0 avatar
          Brian E

          OMG, a hood scoop on a WRX. What is this world coming to?

        • 0 avatar
          tnk479

          They did tone it down. The tail lights are normal and there are fewer fake air scoops.

          The black wheels they are showing are somewhat hideous but overall, to my eye, the car is more understated and I like it.

          I have the ’11 WRX hatch and will seriously consider this when it arrives. I am really hoping for a tan interior that isn’t overly boy-racer like the black with red trim. Perhaps the Limited will offer that.

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        “I expect the A3 to offer more refinement in things like the engine and transmission, as well as much better interior materials and a quieter, more comfortable ride.”

        Minus the transmission (since you can’t get a manual if I recall) I’ll agree.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Cars are today what trucks were 35 years ago? In that there’s only a few cookie cutter designs. The WRX looks nearly identical to the current Civic. And the Legacy concept looks like a VW CC. I guess the money for interesting style is in the crossover segment.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I wanna see this K900 interior

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Re: Legacy, “The Ford-inspired grille”.

    Why not give credit to the original, rather than the copier? We know what Ford grills look like and no one takes inspiration from them.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    It’s been a while since car shows had really interesting stuff to show. This show has some interesting stuff. The nice thing about the US market is that it is not hard to put something interesting out there. Just put a diesel in it, put something other than a straight up automatic in it, make it smaller or delete the trunk…

  • avatar
    madman2k

    I’ll be going up to the show tomorrow. Looking forward to it, hope they have good test-drives, those are my favorite part of auto shows.

  • avatar

    The i8 went from being one of the most interesting and radical concept cars to one of the most plain looking production sports cars EVER. Especially for the price. If you take a close look you can see where all the production compromises had to be made to keep some connection to the hybrid but it wasn’t enough. Bland bland bland.

  • avatar
    RHD

    The ’15 Escalade looks like a chunk is missing behind the rear tire.
    (Just like the good old days: “Ah, who cares, they’ll catch it at the dealer!”)


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