Los Angeles is a hot market for cars. Ever heard the song “Walkin’ in LA”? Nobody walks in LA, and nobody takes the non-existant public transportation either. Pretty much everyone needs a car to exist in this hectic city. Not only do us So Cal natives love to drive, we also love to make a statement. Combine these attributes with our stellar weather, and LA is quite easily the best market in the US, if not the world, to debut the latest and greatest car companies have to offer. This past week I got a sneak peak of what consumers will see when the LA Auto show opens to the public.
Here’s a quick look at some of this year’s show highlights.
The Bentley Grand Convertible was easily one of this year’s best in show. With it’s sleek, muscular styling, classic Mulsanne-inspired good looks, and standard beefy Bentley engine, this car is in a class of its own. With the Grand Convertible, Bentley hopes to redefine the standard of luxury, open-air driving and they succeed. The bonnet of this impressive vehicle is covered in a silver, liquid metal, while the rest of the car is painted a lovely Sequin Blue, a color created from the sequin of a customer’s couture gown. Everything about the Grand Convertible from it’s elegantly designed exterior, to its rich, luxurious interior, makes me want to put the top down and get this bad boy out on the open road. I can already feel the wind in my hair.
The big buzz at the Mercedes booth this year was the all-new 2016 Mercedes-Maybach S600. The new Maybach combines the style of the extremely popular S Class with the luxury of the Maybach. Launching stateside in April 2015, the car is touted to be the world’s quietest production sedan.
The exterior holds true to characteristic S Class design while featuring a bold new side line. While the wheel base is 8.1 inches longer than the standard S, the rear door has been shortened 2.6 inches, allowing the door to effortlessly blend into the side line of the car. The rear triangle window has been eliminated and moved to the C-Pillar, which places the rear seat solidly behind the window, allowing the occupants ultimate privacy from the road outside. Although if I were in the back seat of this ride, I would want everyone to see. But that’s just me.
The V-12 biturbo engine cranks out 523hp, hitting the maximum 612 lb.-ft of torque at 1900 rpm. The Mayback will hit 0-62 in 5 seconds flat. Sadly all that power has an electronic limit of 155 mph. While most people wouldn’t really need to go that fast, I would be curious to see what the actual top speed is.
According to Ola Källenius, member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars responsible for sales, “As an addition to the portfolio of S-Class sedans, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class sets new standards in the luxury segment. The vehicle satisfies the very highest requirements in terms of exclusivity appointments and comfort.”
Mercedes has obviously set the bar high for this new Maybach incarnation, and next April, we will see if consumers agree.
Audi debuted its new large concept coupe, the Audi prologue. Audi Head Designer Marc Lichte was on hand for the big reveal. Lichte had this to say about the new concept: “Audi stands for sportiness, lightweight design and the quattro permanent all-wheel drive. In the Audi prologue, we are expressing this know-how in a new form – we have put the sportiest car in the luxury segment on wheels. Our team took new approaches in both exterior and interior design.”
The prologue body shape combines elegance and tight, sporty lines. While I found the exterior to be quite modern and beautiful, the interior unfortunately took me back in time to my grandmother’s Oldsmobile, and not in a good way. To me, the dash configuration is a throwback to the Buicks and Cadillacs of the 1980’s and simply put, looks dated. The only thing modern about the interior are the digital displays. Even the gear shift and steering wheel look “vintage”. I expect Audi to provide more luxury and innovation in a dash configuration than the prologue offers. The seats do look quite comfortable and I love the bucket-seat styling in the back seat.
I would be willing to live with the interior for what’s under the hood. The 4.0 TFSI has 605 hp and 553.2 lb.-ft of torque. All that power gets the prologue from 0-62 in 3.7 seconds. The all-wheel steering allows each wheel to turn up to 5 degrees, providing a stable and responsive ride. With all that giddy-up, you can get past the weird interior pretty quickly and enjoy the quick, graceful Audi handling. Should this car make it to production, I seriously hope the interior gets a major overhaul.
Once again Toyota finds itself at the forefront of automotive ingenuity. With the launch of the 2016 Mirai, the car company will be able to offer consumers a four-door, mid-size sedan that uses no gasoline and has zero emissions except for water vapor. This fuel cell electric vehicle gets its power from hydrogen, refuels itself every five minutes, and will drive a whopping 300 miles on a full tank. Instead of using a large battery to power the car, the fuel cell combines hydrogen from tanks with oxygen to generate electricity. The car also has one of the world’s highest power outputs at 3.1 kW/L, providing 153hp and a 0-60 time of 9 seconds.
If it’s unique options you’re going for, look no further. Some Mirai models will come equipped with a power take off (PTO) device that allows the vehicle to act as a mobile generator in case of emergency. This means the Mirai is able to successfully power home essentials to the average house for up to a week during an emergency, all while emitting only water vapors. That’s a great feature for those of us in So Cal waiting for the “Big One” to hit.
Consumers looking to own the vehicle will find the technology incredibly wallet friendly. When it hits dealerships in 2015, Toyota will be offering an initial $499/month/36 month lease option. Add to the price the free hydrogren refills for up to three years from Toyota, and this could be a very competitive option for those looking for cutting edge technology at a more budget friendly price point. Toyota will also offer a 24/7 concierge service by a dedicated fuel cell representative, 24/7 roadside assistance, 3 year maintenance up to 12k annual miles and complimentary hydrogen fuel for up to three years. Saving the environment just got a little more exciting.
The big headline was California Adventure at the Kia booth this year as the all-new 2016 Sorento made it’s North American debut in LA. The redesigned model is now made with premium materials, comes equipped with many amenities, more head and leg room in all three rows, and three engine options, including the new 2.0 liter turbo charged, the 3.3 liter V-6, and an improved 2.4 liter normally aspirated engine.
Inspiration for the new design came primarily from the 2013 concept Cross GT and incorporates a much stronger body structure, providing CUV drivers the stability and confidence they demand in a vehicle.
“The core principles in the development of the all-new 2016 Sorento were simple: Deliver class-up premium materials and features in a capable, confidence-inspiring CUV,” said Orth Hedrick, Vice President, Product Planning, KMA. “During the development process, engineers started from the ground up by reinforcing an already stiff body structure. This added rigidity pays dividends when conditions are less than perfect and helps deliver a premium driving experience. By painstakingly crafting a vehicle with significant reductions in NVH and substantial gains in overall driving comfort and dynamics, the 2016 Sorento sets a new standard for Kia in the highly competitive mid-size CUV segment.”
Kia also delivered an all-encompassing experience to the press this year, focused on the California lifestyle. Amongst the plethora of new Sorentos on display, Kia had California wine and cheese bars, professional rope climbers and a virtual ski experience press could try.
I continue to be impressed by Kia’s climb out of the average runaround car category. Year after year they step up not only their technology and design, but the quality of their cars. With this step up comes a higher price tag, but should Kia establish themselves as a more aspirational brand, it’s a price tag consumers may be more willing to consider. At the very least, I give them style points for their booth, which was by far the most interactive and interesting at the show.