You’ve no doubt read Alex’s coverage of the Cadillac XTS, Mazda CX-5 and others on TTAC all day, but there’s a lot that goes on at auto shows besides just new car introductions. I’m here to fill in the gaps.
Category: LA Auto Show
Volkswagen personnel at the LA Auto Show is intently studying reactions to a Beetle with possibly 270 hp. After all, it was public reaction at the 1994 NAIAS that brought the New Beetle to life. Originally, it was meant as a lark, but enthusiasts pounded the table until the car was made. It suffered the fate of cars powered by enthusiasts: An initial pop, then declining numbers. On display in LA is what they call the “Beetle R Concept.”
Careful: This is NOT the 2012 Beetle Turbo as tested by Jack Baruth. If they ever build the Rrrrrr model (and the ooohs and aaahs in LAhhhhh will influence that), it will come with an impressive added oomph. Nothing is known about the motorization of the brawny bug, but Volkswagen’s press department offers-up enough material for educated guesses:
“At Volkswagen, the letter ‘R’ as an added identifier promises top-notch performance. Currently, this claim is being validated with turbo pressure by the Golf R with 199 kW / 270 PS of power and the Scirocco R (currently only in Europe) with 195 kW / 265 PS. As an ‘R’, the Beetle could demonstrate a performance potential similar to that of the Golf R and Scirocco R.”
Well duh, all three are based on the same platform. All it needed were extra air intakes for the blower and a rear spoiler that is “significantly larger than the one on Beetle production models with up to 200 PS in power” to generate the required “ideal downforce values.”
Police in Texas have the right to stop motorists if a license plate recognition camera system suspects the vehicle’s owner lacks automobile insurance. In an unpublished ruling last Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Texas Court of Appeals refused the attempt by Kenneth Ray Short to have a March 2010 traffic stop declared illegal.
In a decision that has wide-ranging implications for photo enforcement, speeding tickets and driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) charges, the US Supreme Court yesterday reconfirmed the Sixth Amendment right to confront one’s accuser applies to analysts who claim to have certified evidence from a machine. The 5-4 decision concluded that “stand-in” expert witnesses are not a substitute for the individuals who actually conducted the tests. The decision broadens the applicability of the landmark Melendez-Diaz ruling from 2009, which has already led to appellate division cases in four California counties to throw out red light camera evidence.
The LA Auto Show was our first opportunity to get out hands on the new Saab 9-4x. Since the 9-4x is mostly a re-skinned Cadillac SRX, the Saab should offer similar driving dynamics, especially from the turbo V6 model. The interior is certainly a step in the right direction for this downtrodden Swede, but does seem like long-term exposure might make one weary of the acres of black plastic inside. While all the materials feel fairly premium, I’m not sure I care for the style of the center console where there are a heap of small buttons and a small nav screen in a sea of flat black plastic. Models without the Nav system get a much smaller screen with more plastic and some small buttons. Aside from this quibble the interior and interior are well sorted. Still, it will remain to be seen if the 9-4x can score any success in American markets with the extremely well executed Q5 and XC60 already in play not to mention the redesigned X3 on its way to our shores.
Honda had been the first automaker that had the Insight to sell a hybrid in the U.S. But what about pure battery-powered ones? After a lot of hesitation, Honda will throw an all-electric Fit on the U.S. market, says Bloomberg. The plug-in will arrive in 2012, which might as well be pronounced “year of the EV.”
The car will be standard EV fare: Lithium-ion-powered, range about 100 miles between charges – on a good day. A price has not been announced. Expected volume? It “will be small” said Honda President Takanobu Ito at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Read More >
Louise Roe was on hand this morning at the Jag/Landie booth, continuing the LA trend of hiring fashion professionals to flog cars. When did models become the vision of all things automotive? Especially when you’re showing something as unabashedly alluring as CX-75 turbine-electric concept car. Why invite the awkward comparisons? Anyway, as supercar concepts come, the CX-75 is about as cool as they come. Not only can it claim to be a “Jet-Hybrid,” it looks like it could seduce an F-16 too. Drool.
Hyundai’s new 2010 Tucson has landed in LA. Basically the same as the model dropped at Frankfurt a short while ago, it’s a total refresh of the Tucson that leaped Hyundai into the CUV market in 2005. We all know that Hyundai has built their lineup on copying the basics from Japan while adding value and flair, and the Tucson is no different. The CUV’s lines are more than a little reminiscent of the Lexus RX, for about half the price. New for 2010 Hyundai is touting the Tucson’s 31 mpg on the highway, 61 lb lighter kerb weight, panoramic sunroof, and long overdue bluetooth and larger screen navigation system. Like it’s Sonata sibling the Tucson gets only the Theta II direct injection four pot mated to their new 6 speed transmission.
Today, on the last day of media access to the LA Auto show, the mystic powers that be continued VAGs green run by selecting the Audi A3 TDi as the 2010 Green Car of the Year (The Jetta TDi won last year). In the running this year were the Audi A3 TDI, Honda Insight, Mercury Milan Hybrid, Toyota Prius and Volkswagen Golf TDI. According to the LA Auto Show,
The Green Car of the Year® award is a program that honors environmental leadership in the automobile field and recognizes vehicles that are readily available to consumers during the award year. Green Car Journal/ editors perform an exhaustive review of vehicle models to identify the five finalists. The winner is ultimately decided by jurors such as Jay Leno, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Carroll Shelby, Matt Petersen of Global Green USA and the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope, along with Green Car Journal editors.
Interesting then that this same bunch of car czars chose the Chevy Tahoe two years ago for getting 1 MPG better than the gasoline version. Anyone feeling some Volt love in 2011?
We all hoped/thought that Tron was a relic left to the distant 80′s acid trips, but Audi has decided to bring it back again. Shown at the Frankfurt motor show their e-tron concept looks strangely close to production to me. Supposedly debuting two years from now as a 2012 production model buyers willing to fork out huge sums of cash will be treated to more than 3,300 ft-lbs of torque and 313hp, for no doubt very limited distances between charges.
Ford’s worst kept secret lately has been the new for North America Fiesta. Those who were hoping for a direct translation of the Euro-spec Fiesta might be a bit disappointed. The Fiesta shares a mere 60 percent of its parts in common with its European cousin, but thankfully gets a few improvements like Sync system and a new sedan variant. Er, if you consider those improvements. Inside the Fiesta’s plastics are typically frugal but overall no worse than the ubiquitous Corolla. Trunk room is fairly miniature sized but rear headroom even in the sedan is fairly good even with a 6’6 driver in the front seat.
Hyundai is continuing their roll in North America with their latest Sonata, and they know it. In (now) typical Hyundai fashion they stuck it to Toyota and Honda, touting not only their increase in sales in 2009, but their industry-besting CAFE numbers as well. Hyundai is claiming 35mpg highway for their new Sonata with the 2.4L GDI engine, and say the turbo GDI expected mid-2010 will get the same 35mpg on the highway. According to the President of Hyundai North America, the Sonata will be in showrooms in January 2010 and should list for under $20,000 with the usual bevy of standard equipment you expect in a Korean car. Check out TTAC’s review of a Korean-spec 2011 Sonata here.
Fiat be warned, Toyota is striking at the heart of Chrysler’s market: the minivan. The new 2010 Sienna takes the game one step further, featuring barcalounger class middle seats with leg and foot support. Toyota continues where others have left off, retaining their AWD option as well as a four and six cylinder engines, all equipped with six speed transmissions. The interior doesn’t reverse Toyota’s trend towards cheap and nasty plastics, but at least they should be easy to clean baby puke off of. Middle seats sport a sliding rail feature making it easy to insert three sprogs in the rear, but Kate plus 8 need not apply as seating is still a standard septuplet.