It’s the last motor show of the year, before it starts all over again with Detroit
The last motor show of the year is upon us, so let’s take a look at what to look out for this time around. Doors open to the public on 1 December
Welcome to Autocar’s live coverage of the Los Angeles motor show, also known as Auto Mobility. This year’s show looks as exciting as ever, with crucial models for big brands making their respective debuts across the next 24 hours.
At the show we have Autocar editor Mark Tisshaw, and news editor Rachel Burgess, while back in our Twickenham base camp we have online editor James Attwood, senior staff writer Sam Sheehan taking care of the news, editorial assistant Sam Jenkins doing all things social media, and Jimi Beckwith compering for the live blog. Scroll down to read all the action of this year’s LA motor show.
Los Angeles motor show – live blog:
“Possibly one of the most surreal scenarios I’ve ever found myself in: famed designer Chris Bangle talking me around his new crazy Chinese city car. The idea is that the interior is a genuinely useable space, and not just for on the move. That means there’s a foot massage function in the passenger footwell of the car. Chris insisted I tried it… one of the most relaxing interviews I’ve ever done, I must say.”
Rachel’s getting inside info from the locals: “New Subaru Ascent looks decent in a boxy, American-like way. Expert opinion overheard from American journalist: “it looks like the Forester.”
More BMW snippets from Tisshaw: “There’s no official update to the production version of the BMW iNext concept car shown at the recent Frankfurt show and again in LA, other than BMW is “on time” for a 2021 launch, according to BMW i boss Robert Irlinger. He did confirm that the car would be built on a development of the same rear-wheel drive architecture that underpins the rest of BMW’s rear-drive range, and in the same Dingolfing factory that makes the 5 Series and 7 Series.”
BMW’s in a solid state of affairs about future battery tech: “Solid state batteries are a technology that BMW’s i brand is investing in and developing as one of a number of different battery chemistry investigations in a recent €200 million investment, according to i boss Robert Irlinger.”
Tish is admiring Jimi’s next long termer. Maybe. “The design is already a few years old but standing and admiring the Ford GT never gets boring. Just look at that colour, those stripes… Want.”
Tesla’s on the PR offensive: “Tesla doesn’t tend to ‘do’ motor shows, yet here it is in LA with its Model 3, the model currently involved in ‘production hell’ according to boss Elon Musk. The cheery stand staff are courting breakfast tv media here, with some success. What crisis? Ahem.”
Tish has stumbled across the betracked GMC too: “New niche alert: the car without wheels.”
Ah, the quirks of the American car industry: “I must admit a seven-seat Lexus isn’t awfully interesting to me – but in the US, this is likely to be an important player for premium SUVs. The amount of people filming it or getting in and out of it also telling, compared to plenty of other cars here,” says Rachel.
Meanwhile, Tish has been talking electric BMWs with i boss Robert Irlinger. He says the i8 Roadster will outhandle the old coupe model following the chassis changes made, most significantly to the rear suspension and axle. Fear not though i8 coupe buyers, for the changes (that also include a bigger motor and battery pack) are also being rolled out to the coupe model at the same time.
Based on how much we enjoyed our BMW i8 long termer, I suspect his Roadster would be in heavy demand in the Autocar office…
We’re always distracted by a car under a cloth, and Rachel spotted this at the Hyundai stand…
…don’t get too excited though. “It’s the new Kona,” reports Rachel. “Old(ish) news for Europe.” It is indeed: you can actually read our review of the SUV here. We quite like it.
Meanwhile, Mark Tisshaw spotted, well, something. He said: “Have always lusted over the Carrera GT, until I saw this…”
Rachel has been admiring a good old-fashioned American truck: the GMC Sierra 2500HD All Mountain concept. It runs on Mattracks 150 Series Tracks, which ensures it can get the 445hp from its 6.6-litre turbodiesel engine down in pretty much any conditions. It’s not all rugged though: apparently it has premium interior features, including leather trim and Bose speakers. “Even by American standards, this is out there,” remarked Rachel. “Certainly the transport I’m intending to use for all future ski trips.”
Tish has just been past the Corvette stand, and taken time to appreciate some fine American metal. “The Corvette ZR1 is the ultimate version of the last ever front-engined Corvette,” he says. “I still remember my first acquaintance with the standard car a few years ago at Castle Combe and was staggered and just how well it handled. And look how far it’s come since: it’s America’s truly world class supercar.”
And then Tish spotted what was parked next to that Corvette… one without a roof! And the convertible looks stylish, and goes pretty well too: it’s got a top speed of 212mph, and is powered by a 745bhp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine. As you can read in our full story, it also features a mode which the firm says could give it the world’s loudest exhaust note. Now that’s a bold performance claim you’re unlikely to hear Elon Musk make the next time he wheels a Tesla out the back of a lorry…
Volvo boss Hakan Samuelsson has been telling a bunch of American journalists about the new Care by Volvo subscription package, which brings the number of countries in which its offered up to eight, including the U.K. Samuelsson said the scheme was a reflection of changing customer demand, citing the mobile phone as the catalyst for changing attitudes.
Rachel has just walked past the Jaguar stand, where there was a display of I-Pace models, including the racing version that will be used for a one-make Formula E support series from late 2018. She said: “Jaguar is trying to keep momentum up for its electric I-Pace ahead of going on sale next year. Big question: who will get there first – Jaguar or Audi with its E-Tron?”
In the build-up to the show, Jaguar named the first team to have signed up for the I-Pace eTrophy race series: US squad Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The team is run and part-owned by Bobby Rahal, a three-time Indy car champion and former Indianapolis 500 winner, and former US chat show host David Letterman. The team currently runs cars in the US IndyCar Series and endurance racing.
Nervous, Tish? “Excuse the blur but the dog unexpectedly barked and it made me jump. LA breakfast TV at its finest: apparently we can find out why he had the dogs with him after the break. Forgive me for not hanging round to find out why.”
Things are quite different for Subaru in the US, says Mark: “The Subaru Ascent is a long way from being the most exciting new car at the LA show, yet it’s the latest evidence of the flexibility of Subaru’s new architecture, and should find success in a market where Subaru is so successful.”
Aren’t some people hard to please? Sam Sheehan is underwhelmed by the i8’s interior: “I love the i8. It’s a brilliant piece of design and the hybrid powertrain still impresses to this day. But I can’t help but notice how dated the interior looks now (never thought I’d say that when it was launched) – especially when it’s on full view via the i8 Roadster.”
Always one for carrying some refreshments on his travel, James Attwood was quite taken with Subaru’s boast that its new large SUV, the Ascent, features 19 cup and bottle holders – quite a lot, even for a car that can seat up to nine. Still, Atters reckons all those cup holders should just about hold all the coffee he drinks during the average motor show…
The covers have come off the Mazda 6. It’s a subtle tweak, granted, but the chassis modifications are what will make the most difference. Here’s the reveal story.
The new Aston Martin Vantage has made its motor show debut in LA, in a lurid shade of flourescent yellow. We’ve already taken a ride in one, albeit in prototype form. You can read that here.
Bangle’s had it hard from the press in the past, but unnecessarily, says Tish: “God bless the creativity of Chris Bangle. His comeback car, the Redspace, is wonderfully weird and as creative as you’d expect. Cars shouldn’t all look the same, and Bangle’s ability to challenge the status quo should be celebrated and not sneered at.”
“No new metal from Jaguar in LA,” says Mark, “but pay attention to the sticker on the side of Project 8. It’s the Nurburgring lap record time of the car, and enough that should sell the last 100 or so remaining cars by the end of the week.”
There goes another – Lexus’ seven-seat RX, the RX L, has been revealed, and is almost identical to the five-seat version. Need a clue? Look at the angle where the boot lid meets the roof.
Tish is scoping out the competition to Mercedes – could Genesis pull off a four-door coupé like the CLS? “Smart looking Genesis G80 Sport is the Korean 5 Series. Genesis styling is headed up by ex-Lambo and Bentley design boss Luc Donckerwolke, who has created a look to shame the creativity at Audi. The cars are good to drive too.”
There’s another one – the new Mercedes-Benz CLS has been revealed. It’s got the new face of Mercedes on it, although at Autocar HQ it’s dividing opinion with the rear styling. What do you think?
One of the biggest car makers in the world has one of the biggest stands, says Rachel: “Prize for biggest stand so far? Toyota. Awash with pick-ups (of course) and the C-HR.”
A trio of exciting news stories for you:
First up, BMW has revealed the i8 Roadster at the show. It’s got 369bhp, two seats and a roof which retracts in 15 seconds. Read more about it here.
Next, Nissan has revealed no fewer than six (SIX!) concepts devoted to the brand’s partnership with the Star Wars franchise. They’ve gone to quite some lenths for these.
Last, and not technically LA news but something you should be excited about anyway, is that Lamborghini has revealed the official reveal process for its first SUV, the Urus. No more camouflage, no more fleeting, blurry shots; the actual car. Well, a tiny fragment of it.
Rachel’s taking in the first impressions of the show: “Given where we’re at, it only seems fitting the first car maker on sight as I walk into the hall is… Tesla.”
Mark sure knows how to convey all the information you need without any fuss: “Now in.”
Rachel’s in! And some familiar faces were there to greet her: “The calm before the storm here at LA motor show. The world’s media is waiting patiently to be allowed into the halls where we’ll find lots of shiny new metal. Amid the people, Ive spotted a life size advert of those three incorrigible ex-Top Gear presenters plugging the new series of Grand Tour.”
Wednesday 29 November, 1630 (0830 Pacific Time)
Remember, LA time is eight hours behind the UK, so while the UK leaves the office for home, Rachel and Tish are readying themselves for a long day of action at the Los Angeles convention centre.
The doors are opening soon, so expect a barrage of new metal in a matter of minutes. What’s been happening before the doors open, though? We’re glad you asked – take a look at what’s been going on in the pre-show events:
Infiniti revealed its QX50 late last night; a rival to the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 with a variable compression ratio engine. It’s pegged, again, as a car which could boost Infiniti’s rather loose hold on the European market when it arrives.
Yes, another SUV, but this one’s not for us – Subaru revealed its Ascent large SUV, in production form, ahead of the show. And yes, it’s got a boxer engine, with 256bhp.
Bangle’s back, and his design is as divisive as ever. He’s been working on REDS – an electric city car for China, and he’s been working with Chinese electric truck company CHTC to bring it to fruition.
Rachel’s been chatting with Mercedes and AMG executives, who have confirmed the power outputs of the new CLS 53 hybrid, and the next AMG A45; 429bhp and more than 400bhp respectively. Goodness. Read more about the CLS 53 here, and get the latest on the A45 here.
Bored of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 already? Chevy’s got it covered, or in this case, uncovered, with the unveiling of the ZR1 convertible ahead of the show.
Toyota will be showing a large, rugged SUV concept. Yes, another, but SUVs are the new whatever-the-last-trend-was, and this one looks like it’ll actually venture off road. If it ever makes it to production. It’s called the Future Toyota Adventure Concept, or FT-AC. Good initials, Toyota.
Los Angeles motor show: the cars
California-based engineering company Aria is revealing a high-performance concept model in LA, as shown by a single preview image. The picture reveals little other than that the car will have a fixed rear wing and intakes over the rear, suggesting it will be mid-engined.
BMW i8 Roadster
The drop-top version of BMW’s hybrid supercar has been spotted testing and hinted at a few times now, so a reveal in sunny, eco-friendly Los Angeles fits the model perfectly. It’ll spearhead the facelifted i8 range, following the facelift of its smaller i3 sibling.
Genesis pulled the wraps off of its rear-wheel-drive G70 saloon in September, but the car makes its public debut at the LA motor show. Despite its imminent arrival in the US, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class rival isn’t due to make it to Britain until 2021.
Yes, it’s another SUV, but they are the voiture du jour. Infiniti’s QX50 – a rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC – is a close follow-up to the QX50 concept that was revealed at the Detroit motor show less than a year ago.
Despite being leaked earlier this year, we get our first proper look at the most rugged Jeep in the brand’s stable at LA. Expect ferocious go-anywhere ability, throwback looks and a smaller entry-level engine – a 2.0-litre rather than the current car’s 2.8-litre.
Range Rover and Range Rover Sport facelifts
Mild refreshes to the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport have brought a more Velar-inspired front end to each, as well as a hybrid powertrain. They’re two more cars that have been given the big pre-show reveal long ago, but the first in-depth, in-the-metal look we get is at the show.
Lexus RX L
Lexus’ largest SUV, the RX, is about to get even bigger, with the introduction of a three-row version at LA. It’ll be available in 350L and 450hL versions, meaning there will be a choice between petrol-only and hybrid powertrains. Rivals include the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz GLS, as well as the upcoming BMW X7.
Mazda 6 facelift
Mazda’s handsome saloon is reaching the mid-point of its life cycle, so it’s getting a nip and tuck to keep it competitive with rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. Mazda has already shown most of the car’s front-end styling in a preview image, so it’s clear where the tweaks are. There’s also a new 2.5-litre petrol engine added to the 6’s line-up.
We’ve already had a ride in the next-generation CLS, but we’ve yet to see what it looks like in full. It’ll be one of two new four-door coupés in the Mercedes line-up, with a four-door AMG GT model to be revealed later. Expect the CLS to keep things more on the tame side in comparison.
Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman GTS
Porsche has given the 718 range a spruce-up with a new performance flagship model. There’s 361bhp on tap – that’s up by 15bhp – thanks to a new intake system and turbocharger tweaks, as well as styling changes to mark it out from the standard 718 Boxster and Cayman. GTS badging seals the deal.
Subaru has revealeed a production-ready three-row SUV called the Ascent at the LA show, fitted a new direct injection boxer engine. Although primarily focused on the US market, the large model’s powerplant will likely make it to Britain in future applications.
Toyota has released a teaser image of a concept machine it will launch at the show. The Future Toyota Adventure Concept is understood to be an off-road SUV-style machine. The firm showcased an urban SUV concept, the FT-4X, at this year’s New York show.