Top 10 Cars of the 2013 LA Auto Show

Luke Vandezande
by Luke Vandezande

Porsche debuted its new compact sport crossover, the Macan, along with the monstrous 918 Spyder.

Jaguar brought its brand-new F-Type Coupe and there’s some awkward looking bespoke blue car-truck thing that most of the press made jokes about during this year’s media preview.

Convertibles, hybrids, sports cars and anything else you might want to poke and prod all await your most scrupulous inspection at this year’s LA Auto Show. Take the Nissan GT-R NISMO (above) – it’s just one of many spectacular sports cars sitting around feeling bored because you’re not there. Shame on you for being so selfish.

Actually, the GT-R NISMO didn’t even make our list of the best world premieres in Los Angeles because it debuted first at the Tokyo Motor Show across the Pacific just a few hours ahead. To find out where it placed on our Top 10 Cars of the Tokyo Motor Show list, click here.

Or don’t. Feel free to click through this top 10, too. They’re both designed to entertain and inform ahead of your visit.

Stop rubbing your specs; you’re reading correctly. The new WRX made this list, but barely. Subaru stirred fans into a frenzy when the WRX concept debuted during the New York Auto Show earlier this year. That made it all the more difficult to swallow when Subaru announced that its new WRX would come with a minimal power increase and the automotive antichrist: a CVT.

Now to be fair, a six-speed manual is part of the standard equipment list, so things might not be all that bad. But it’s hard not to bemoan the new car when it seems like Subaru is walking away from its most enthusiastic fans. Here’s to hoping the STi gets a bigger performance boost…

Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but it’s hard not to hope that Subaru will stick more closely to the design of its concept preview to the Legacy than it did the WRX.

Bear in mind that Subaru has a history of unveiling exciting designs only to tone them down to territory more boring than tapioca pudding. The current Legacy isn’t anything to be particularly excited about, but it’s a solid product in the mid-size sedan segment on the worst of days. Jumping from “before” to “after” with the WRX might offer some idea of how the production model will look.

For its second generation, the MINI Cooper and Cooper S grow longer, taller and wider with more powerful engines to boot. Using BMW “TwinPower” turbo technology, the powerplants both benefit from output increases.

For the Cooper, that means moving to a 1.5-liter three-cylinder engine, while the Cooper S comes with a 2.0-liter turbo four. Both six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are available in either model, and MINI made some practical changes to the cabin as well. The window switches move to the doors and the cars finally get a more traditional gauge cluster rather than the oversized indicator mounted mid-dash. Jolly good.

It’s supposed to hold five people, travel 300 miles and emit only water vapor as a tailpipe emission.

You’ve probably been hearing rumblings of hydrogen cars for quite some time. They’re yet another environmentally friendly alternative to burning fossil fuels and a handful of automakers are ready to take a crack at moving them to the mass market. Honda is one such brand and it fittingly chose to preview the future of its hydrogen cars in L.A. this year.

Its styling is one “possible” direction Honda could take with the hydrogen car it plans to sell simultaneously in the U.S. and Japan starting in 2015. Consumer feedback from shows like these will likely play a major role in this design being scrapped or saved.

Nissan’s NISMO performance arm is supposed to be expanding its reach into more the Japanese brand’s products. Exciting as that might sound, early vehicles to wear the NISMO badge haven’t always been particularly thrilling. Take the Juke NISMO as an example: it’s better than the normal Juke but still a far cry from the motorsport implications its badge carries.

Now, the company seems to be toying with the possibility of lending its less-than-exciting Sentra compact sedan a little panache courtesy of a turbocharger, limited-slip differential (LSD) and stiffer suspension among other things. Sentra SE-Rs of generations past offered an optional LSD, and the other modifications shown here don’t seem outside the realm of possibility.

The revival of GM’s mid-size truck in North America is enough to put the Colorado mid-pack in this list. While it won’t be available from the start, GM will offer its small-ish pickup with a 2.8-liter diesel. From launch, Chevrolet is offering a 2.5-liter four cylinder gasoline engine that makes 193 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque or a 3.6-liter V6 with 302 hp and 270 lb-ft.

It looks like Toyota will finally have a good reason to revise the long-untouched Tacoma.

Based on Mercedes’ MFA architecture, the GLA-Class will soon follow the new CLA-Class line of four-door coupes. Essentially a taller version of the new Benz, the GLA will also be offered in an AMG variant using the same 355-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Power will be sent to all four wheels via AMG’s newest version of 4Matic all-wheel drive, and the brand promises this thing will launch from 0-60 mph in under five seconds.

As if the convertible model wasn’t impressive enough, Jaguar unveiled its F-Type coupe during this year’s L.A. Auto Show. The car uses the same line of V6 engines as its soft-top siblings, but gains a more powerful 5.0-liter V8 to send 550 hp to its rear wheels. Both of the six-cylinder models come at a $4,000 discount to their convertible counterparts, but the blown V8 will be more expensive, coming in at just under $100,000 after delivery fees.

Based on the same platform as the Audi Q5, Porsche unveiled its Macan compact crossover in Californ-i-a this week. The car comes with a choice of two turbocharged V6 engines: a 3.0-liter unit with 340 hp or a 3.6-liter version with 400.

All-wheel drive is standard as is a Porsche seven-speed PDK transmission. There will be a diesel version offered in other markets, but North America is restricted to the two gas engine choices for now. Porsche also started small with the Cayenne line and inflated its drivetrain choices after the vehicle took off. It wouldn’t come as any surprise if the same thing happened here.

In person, the AMG Vision Gran Turismo Concept looks like a pit viper made of quicksilver and it sounds like a roaring lion. Lucifer himself might struggle to play a crueler trick than Mercedes has by building something so attractive, only for onlookers to know that they will never drive it. The AMG-built V8 pushed out 577 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque.

Thankfully, the thing will appear in Polyphony Digital’s upcoming Gran Turismo 6 racing simulator. Best of all, the PlayStation 3 is pretty cheap these days, so if you’re dead-set on “driving” this car, it’s very affordable.

Luke Vandezande
Luke Vandezande

Luke is an energetic automotive journalist who spends his time covering industry news and crawling the internet for the latest breaking story. When he isn't in the office, Luke can be found obsessively browsing used car listings, drinking scotch at his favorite bar and dreaming of what to drive next, though the list grows a lot faster than his bank account. He's always on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> looking for a good car conversation. Find Luke on <A title="@lukevandezande on Twitter" href="">Twitter</A> and <A title="Luke on Google+" href="">Google+</A>.

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2 of 5 comments
  • Ticleve2 Ticleve2 on Nov 28, 2013

    These all suck! Nothing new, nothing inspiring.

  • Bo Treat Bo Treat on Nov 30, 2013

    and we are finally seeing/being sold the technology of the 50's we've had shit like this for decades, and they just slowly give out reasonable technology, now that oil is decreasing, the manufacturers will stop selling cars that drink it like fucking coke.