LA Auto Show

LA Auto Show

There are two things you can count on finding at the LA Auto Show: hybrids and convertibles. For 2008 there were plenty of both, as well as just a few sportscars, exotics and a sprinkling of SUVs.

2009 Audi Q5

The Q5 has been a long time coming for Audi and while the SUV market might not be booming at the moment, the demand for entry-level luxury SUVs and crossovers is still hot. Audi’s striking looking Q5 is sure to be a hit among the young and urban crowd with good Q7-inspired looks and a 3.2L V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Rumors of a 7-speed DSG gearbox are, at this point, just rumors.

2009 Bentley Azure T

Bentley’s T models are known for being more performance oriented versions and the Azure T certainly comes through on that promise, delivering even more power to the four-seater convertible platform. The Azure T will get Bentley’s 6.75L twin-turbo V8 engine that makes 50 more ponies than the standard model for a total of 500hp. More impressive is the 738 ft-lbs of torque that help propel the Azure T to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 179 mph.

2010 Ford Fusion & Fusion Hybrid

Ford is continuing to push the three-bar front fascia design to new limits with the 2010 Fusion. Things are also different underneath with a brand new chassis that is shared with the new Mazda6. Engine choices are also improved with a standard 175hp 2.5L inline-four, a 240hp 3.0L V6 and a 263hp 3.5L V6. The V6 models come with a six-speed automatic transmission and can be had with AWD.

Fiord also plans to launch a Fusion Hybrid that is expected to get 39 mpg in the city. It’s the same powerplant used in the Escape Hybrid but Ford says it has been improved upon to deliver 20 percent more power with a smaller battery.

2010 Ford Mustang

It’s finally here, although the all-new 2010 Mustang certainly looks like a cautious evolution from the outgoing success story. Power is up slightly with the V8 now pumping out 315 horses. The interior, suspension and chassis have all received mild adjustments and stability control is now standard.

An interesting new offering is the optional glass roof.

Honda FC Sport

Continuing on the excitement generated by the FCX Clarity, Honda introduced the more lustfully-designed FC Sport in LA. This car is about more than just looks, however, as it uses the Hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrain situated both lower and more centrally located for improved handling.

Dodge EV

This exciting new concept from Dodge is one of very few vehicles that is strictly powered by electricity and does not have an onboard gasoline engine as well. And it doesn’t need one. The EV concept makes 268 hp and 480 ft-lbs of torque thanks to a 26 kilowatt per hour lithium-ion battery pack. Dodge says the EV has a range of 150 miles, can be recharged at a standard household outlet and can rocket to 60 mph in just under five seconds!

Hyundai Blue Drive

Hyundai unveiled its Blue Drive hybrid system in LA and announced that will see its first production use in the 2010 Sonata. The Korean manufacturer also stated that it will be the first company to achieve a fleet average of 35 mph. The hybrid drivetrain will match Hyundai’s current 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and operate in a similar fashion to Toyota’s popular system.

2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible

Heavier, slower and more expensive; it’s the price you pay to have the sun on your face no matter what convertible you opt for, and the G37 is no exception. All convertibles do have a certain mystique, however, and Infiniti’s drop-top version of the G37 is definitely a stunning piece of work.

Interestingly the G37 Convertible is actually wider out back to accommodate the hard-top convertible roof. The body of the car is 1.1-inches wider and incredibly the track is even extended 1.4-inches.

Power is supplied by the 325hp 3.7-liter Nissan V6 with a seven-speed automatic standard and an optional six-speed manual.

In total the G37 Convertible weights 442 lbs more than the coupe.

Jeep Wrangler EV

Like the Dodge EV, the Jeep EV makes use of a similar electric powerplant except that here it gets its juice from both a gasoline engine and an outlet in your garage. On pure electric power it is good for 40 miles but after that the gasoline engine kicks in to provide a 400 mile of range.

2010 Kia Soul

Looking a lot like a Scion xB, the Kia Soul will be aimed at the same consumer and has a lot to offer, including all those crazy options and trim levels. The Soul is based on the Kia Rio platform and will come with two engine options, a 122hp 1.6L four-cylinder and a larger and more powerful 142hp 2.0L four-cylinder. The smaller engine is available with only a five-speed manual (finally a car for the economy minded), while the 2.0L model can be had with an optional four-speed auto. (Apparently a six-speed is in the works).

Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 Spyder

Lamborghini is known for making its roadster versions with a little extra style and much like the LP640 roadster, the LP560 Spyder gets a higher rear end with a noticeable redesign – including new taillights and a different diffuser.

Unlike the top in the LP640 though, this one is a full power unit. It automatically folds up behind the driver’s compartment rather than requiring 20 minutes of fiddling to fit it in the tiny space under the hood.

Sharing the same all-wheel-drive system and 5.2L V10 engine as the Coupe, the Spyder can hit 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and reach a top speed of 201 mph.

As expected it does weigh more than the coupe, but just 309 lbs more, for a total curb weight of 3,616 lbs.

2009 Lotus Exige 260

Lotus continues to improve upon the already perfect Exige. For 2009 the sportscar gets 17 more ponies for a total of 257. More importantly, the Exige will drop another 50 lbs thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber. In total it will weight just 2,020 lbs thanks to a carbon fiber front splitter, roof, rear engine cover, front access panels, side air intake ducts, a rear spoiler, sill covers and even the top of the dash.

2010 Mazda 3 Sedan

For 2010 the new Mazda3 certainly has European styling. In fact it looks a lot like a Peugeot. The new model receives suspension adjustments and while the chassis remains mostly the same, the body has been extended by three inches.

As for engines, the base powerplant remains the same with a 148 hp and 135 ft-lbs 2.0L four-cylinder. The S model does, however, receive a power increase thanks to a larger 2.5L four-cylinder engine. Power for the S is now rated at a significant 167hp and 168 ft-lbs of torque. The base model comes with a five-speed manual and the S comes with a new six-speed manual. An optional five-speed automatic is available for both models.

Fuel economy has also been improved with a 25/33 mpg city/highway rating for the base engine with the manual transmission and a 21/29 mpg city/highway rating for the S with the manual.

A hatchback will be offered soon, however, there is no word on a MazdaSpeed version yet.

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK

Impressively MBUSA has undercut its German competitor significantly by offering the standard GLK350 at just $34,750. The AWD 4Matic will retail for an additional $2,000 and will be the first model to hit showrooms.

Initially just one engine will be available, a 3.5L V6, which produces 268hp and 258 ft-lbs of torque. Fuel economy isn’t exactly impressive, despite the use of a seven-speed transmission. The EPA rating is 16/22 mpg.

2010 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series

With its DTM good looks the SL65 AMG Black Series makes the SLR look like a toy. This Black Series version of the iconic SL-Class has been completely reworked by the boys at AMG. The body features huge fender flares and underneath the track has been widened as well with a 4-inch wider rear track and a 4.5-ich wider front track. The body has been so significantly reworked with better aerodynamics and cooling vents that the only body panels that remain unchanged from the stock SL are the doors.

The SL65 Black Series also gets a boost in the power department, sporting the same twin-turbo V12 found in the standard SL65 but with reworked turbochargers that pump out more boost. The final numbers are 661hp and 738 ft-lbs of torque. Surprisingly, AMG chose to match this powerplant to a five-speed automatic transmission… pity.

Great efforts were also made with this vehicle to keep the weight down, however, much of that was thwarted by US safety regulations. Impressively the vehicle is 200 lbs less than a standard SL, but the Euro-spec version is 340 lbs lighter still – due mostly to light-weight seats.

Only 350 of these menacing beasts will be produced, with 175 making it to the US for an asking price of $299,000.

2009 Nissan 370Z Coupe

When the GT-R came out the Nissan Z car was all but forgotten. Nissan hopes to build interest in the “regular” sportscar segment with the new 370Z – a car that seems to be bucking a trend in the auto industry. Yes, it’s getting smaller, lighter and yet… more powerful!

Not surprisingly the new Z gets Nissan’s larger 3.7L V6 engine that makes 332hp and 270 ft-lbs of torque. The real shocker, however, is that the 370Z has a shorter wheelbase and overall length than the 350Z… and it even weights less. Curb weight with the manual transmission is just 3,232 lbs. All this and the car is 1.3-inches wider as well. The revisions should make for an even better handling sportscar.

Two transmissions are offered, a six-speed manual and a seven-speed automatic. Interestingly Nissan says they have devised a way to offer rev-matching on the downshifts… with the manual transmission. This we have to experience for ourselves.

2009 Nissan Cube

Kia wasn’t the only one at the LA Show offering a box with wheels as Nissan unveiled its Cube. Already a successful platform overseas, the Cube will arrive here in Spring of 2009 looking much like the past models.

It will only come with one engine, a 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 122hp and 127 ft-lbs of torque. Two transmissions will be offered, a six-speed manual and a CVT transmission.

2009 Porsche Cayman & Boxster

Some of the biggest news from LA came from Porsche, which simultaneously launched the new Boxster and Cayman models. Looking mostly similar to the outgoing models (what did you expect from Porsche?) the real changes can be found under the hood… err… trunk… err… engine cover.

The boxer engines in each vehicle receive a bump in power. The 2.9-liter engine in the Boxster now makes 10 more ponies for a total of 255hp while in the Cayman the increase is 20 points for a total of 265hp.

As expected the 3.4-liter boxer engine found in the Boxster S and Cayman S models also gets a boost in power – thanks in part to the use of direct injection. The Boxster S goes up 15hp for a total of 310 and the Cayman S gets 15 more for a total of 320hp.

These improvements translate into real performance gains as the Cayman S is rated at a 0-60 mph sprint of just 4.9 seconds. That time, however, is for models equipped with Porsche’s new double-clutch PDK transmission, which is being offered for the first time in both the Boxster and Cayman for 2009.