If you sit on one of LA’s crowded freeways these days, you’ll probably notice a lot of hybrids and other “green” vehicles surrounding you. Los Angeles is one of the biggest markets in the USA for eco-friendly vehicles, and this isn’t lost on exhibitors at the annual LA Auto Show. Each year the show brings a number of new hybrid and EV production cars, as well as futuristic concepts with even bolder aspirations. But let’s not forget that LA is also considered by many to be the birthplace of Hot Rodding, Lowriding, Japanese import customization, and many other more exciting aspects of car culture.
For all its openness toward green technology, LA still loves its hot automobiles. I visited the show during press days last week and was pleased to find plenty of red-blooded performance cars being shown alongside the green machines. Among the debuts at LA was the new Jaguar XFR-S, just the latest addition to the increasingly amazing Jag lineup.
Essentially a four door version of the Jaguar XKR-S, this is the most powerful sedan Jaguar has ever built. Under the hood is a 550 horsepower supercharged V8, just like the XKR-S.
It also shares the coupe’s aggressive bodywork and beefed up chassis making an instant contender in the super sedan wars.
Priced at just under $100,000 Jaguar is only planning on importing 100 of these cars to the United States and based on the reception in LA I think they’ll go quite fast.
Porsche chose LA as the place to make the world debut its all new Cayman. Like the new Boxster, the car is still immediately recognizable as a Cayman but has been improved throughout.
Compared to the old model, Porsche says the new Cayman is lighter, longer, and lower. Of course it’s also more powerful.
The standard Cayman comes with a 275 horse 2.7 liter flat six while stepping up to the Cayman S will get you a 3.4 liter mill making a stout 325 horsepower.
The interior is the perfect mix of luxury appointments and the classic simplicity that has defined Porsche over the decades. Naturally, the car will be available with both Porsche’s PDK unit our traditional manual boxes.
There aren’t too many vehicles better suited to carving up the canyon roads that surround Los Angeles. The new Cayman should be on sale in the spring of next year.
This isn’t the first time the world has seen the new Mazda6, but LA did mark the North American debut of Mazda’s new midsize sedan.
While the previous US market Mazda6 was built in conjunction with Ford at the Flat Rock, Michigan plant, the new one will be imported from Japan. This was my first time to see the new 6 in the flesh and the car looks great. Just another entry in a midsize segment full of increasingly competitive cars.
What’s especially exciting about the new 6 is that in addition to a naturally aspirated four cylinder engine, it will also be offered with Mazda’s SKYACTIV Clean Diesel powerplant.
You can count of plenty of torque of course. Mazda says the diesel 6 will make an impressive 310 foot pounds with its 2.2 liter engine.
A torquey and fuel efficient diesel combined with Mazda’s talent in building great handling chassis? This has the potential for greatness.
When it comes to pure sexiness, I’m not sure if there was any car on the show floor that could touch the blazing yellow Mercedes SLS AMG Black Series.
For most the “standard” SLS AMG is more than enough car, but for those who just need more the Black Series delivers.
Through the efforts of the wizards at AMG, the 6.3 liter V8 in SLS Black Series makes 622 horsepower at an increased redline of 8,000 rpm.
The increased number of ponies also has less heft to move around thanks to an 150+ pound decrease in weight over the standard car. Total weight for the car comes in at just 3,417 pounds.
The overall design borrows a lot from the SLS GT3 race car, and I have to hand it to AMG for adding the right amount of aggression without looking cheesy or over the top. Look for it to be available in the summer of 2013 with no word yet on pricing.
Another of one of the more exciting machines from this year’s show can be found in Volvo’s display – the S60 Polestar Performance Concept.
Polestar has been creating some pretty bitchin’ Volvos over the last couple of years, and this one is perhaps the most extreme. Every part of the car has been tweaked for serious street performance.
It’s powered by a turbocharged three liter six cylinder making just over 500 horsepower…
…which is sent to all four wheels using a Haldex AWD system. The transmission is a six-speed manual.
The fact that Volvo of all brands is showing a 500 horsepower AWD beast of car is surely a sign that we are living in good times. While Polestar says the car is more or less a one-off project, it is open to building more if there is a market for it.
But let’s not think that all of the new performance cars shown in LA were of the high dollar or limited production variety. My personal favorite, and one of the most important debuts is actually one of the most affordable – the new Ford Fiesta ST.
Following in the path of the Focus ST, the hot version of the Fiesta is looking to bring some serious fun the subcompact segment. I’m quite excited that Ford has gone ahead and put this into production, and even more excited that they are bringing it to the states.
The Fiesta ST will be powered by a turbocharged 1.6 liter four cylinder making 197 horsepower and an even more impressive 214 foot pounds of torque. Better yet, it will get 34 miles to the gallon on the highway.
Like the larger Focus ST, the Fiesta ST will also include a variety of chassis and suspension upgrades to match its increased horsepower.
The idea of subcompact making nearly 200 horsepower is pretty amazing, and the word is this car will be priced just a little over $20,000 when it goes on sale. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want one.
So there you have it, six of the most exciting new vehicles from the 2012 LA Auto Show. I will return tomorrow with some more general observations from the show floor.