100th Anniversary Los Angeles Auto Show
return to brian1.net
If I thought last year's show was mundane compared to 2005... well, the January 2006 show was worlds better than the December 2006 show, so that's saying something.
Quite a few debuts at the show, but nothing terribly interesting. The Acura Advanced Sedan concept was pretty angular in the old-school Japanese slab-sided in-your-face way (much like the 1st gen US-market Infiniti M45), which is pretty ugly from quite a few angles, IMHO. The Audi TT Roadster was pretty sweet looking, very sharp. Definitely a pretty car. The BMW X5 was... meh. very mild evolution from the old one. The BMW Hydrogen 7 looked just like a regular 7-series, and the new Ford Escape looked almost like the old one. Honda's FCX, REMIX, and STEP BUS concepts were much more innovative, and unlike the Acura concept, much more likely to resemble a production vehicle. Pretty cool actually, gave the current Honda Element some perspective.
The Callaway C16 was a snoozer; fast and powerful, fancy high-end toys like magnesium/carbon fiber wheels, but it lacked that down-from-the-gut-good feeling. It failed to scream "look at me!" like it should for that much money. The Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 Roadster was sweet like a regular Murcielago Roadster, but that's it-- and we've seen that car for a while now. Nothing against it, extremely sexy-- particularly with the models in it-- but nothing too fundamentally new. The Nissan Altima coupe was a surprise-- not bad, but nothing invigorating about it. Presumabing Nissan gets it right, it might be a formidable competitor to the Toyota Solara, which is to say, a bland but solid four-seat coupe. At least it wasn't barf-inducing like the new Sentra SE-R, which is at least less barf-inducing than the regular Sentra. o_O
The Mazda Nagare concept and the Giugario Mustang concept both looked very sleek, very dramatic... the Mazda looked sleek as hell, while the Mustang concept was an interesting blend of modern and throwback. The windshield on it was sweet. Not to short Audi-- the new R8 was one sleek little thing. Having seen the Lamborghini Diablo in person many times, it's sort of what it felt like when the Diablo was new-- small, sleek, and powerful. Drool.
Lotus Exige S was nice, but not terribly new-- ditto for the Porsche GT3. The GT3 in person does look dead sexy (relative to other new 997s), while the Volvo C30 was... well... I don't know. Part of it looked okay, the interior was quality but not quite what I was expecting, and the trunk area of the hatch-- tiny. Buy a Civic. =P That's not quite the insult it seems to be, but a perception of value; the Civic or a Fit or a Yaris is an excellent value, period. The Volvo C30 is a nice premium to pay for... well, the Volvo name. To really appreciate the quality of a Volvo, you need something nicer, and the C30 isn't it, nor would it be price-competitive if it was nicer.
Whoever's filming the upcoming movie, Redline, must have a lot of money. They had on display the cars they used-- a Konigsegg, two Porsche Carrera GT's (one of them wrecked in filming), a Saleen S7, and a Ferrari Enzo. Damn. The movie has good odds of being horrible, but just to watch that much car in action might persuade us to see it! Tesla Motorsports had their electric car neaby, too-- it's a cute little toy.
Porsche did their usual stellar job. Sitting in the Cayman and the 911, they felt much more worth the money than the equivalent Jaguar XK8 or whatnot-- or maybe that's just the driver in me rather than the luxury side. Sitting in the current 911 didn't feel too different than the previous 911 (996), while the Cayman felt surprisingly good for the "cheap" Porsche.
In the West Hall the main displays got started. Ford had the concept Mustang, the Mustang Shelby GT500, and the new Escape/Escape Hybrid. The former two were nice enough, the latter was underwhelming. We even sat in the Ford Five Hundred, which had an impressively large trunk and not too much else. Mazda's Nagare concept was cool, as was seeing the CX-7 and CX-9, but nothing super exciting. Moving over to Jaguar afterwards was moving into a much more sedate feeling of vehicles. The S-type's new front end looked very soft, while the XK8, as noted earlier, was not as nice feeling as expected. Still dead sexy on the outside, which never hurt. Perhaps their thunder was stolen a bit by Aston Martin as their neighbor. Nothing too new aside from roadsters-- very nice for the luxury crowd. This is the down from the gut "good" that the Calloway C16 lacked in looks.
Volvo got a little look the first day and a lot of time the second day. The new S80's interior is unusually well done for Volvo, while other changes throughout the lineup were more mild. The new C70 is nice but still not a drivers' car, and the C30 looks nice... but like all small luxury cars-- like the Audi A3-- it'll have a hard fight to determine its real value and sales, particularly when the build quality of competing small cars is so good, even in a Honda that's only half or two-thirds the cost.
Speaking of Honda, the new FCX concept looked sweet. Previous FCX's have looked like golf carts or econoboxes, the new one looked very sleek. Particularly in comparison to the other two Honda concepts, both of which had their charms (in other ways-- the REMIX concept looks nice but practical details look scarce, while the STEP BUS looked like an Element with... dorkiness added!). The new Fit looked very good for its price, and unlike some of the competition, the back cargo area is huge and very usable. The Civic caught my friend's attention as a very nice small car, and the newer Civic Si sedan looks like a nice little FWD daily driver.
Mercedes did some interesting things with the brakes on their new xx63-engined vehicles, strange looking 6-piston electrohydraulic brake calipers. The SLK280 caught my friend's eye as well, and was one of the few vehicles there we could sit in. A display of diesel-powered Bluetec Mercedes were also on hand-- an E320 Bluetec, an ML320 Bluetec, and I think one other. Very plain looking and absolutely understated-- too bad they're not available for sale in California. The engine display for the Bluetech was interesting too-- very clearly cutaway, colored, and polished.. Maybach was next door, with their Exelero concept car. Flashbacks of '50's era monsters, anyone? The Maybach 62 was next to it, complete with the backseat bigger than most people's living rooms...
Toyota had the new Yaris on display, plus prominent features for Scion, but the lack of anything new and high-performance killed things. Even the short-lived Corolla XRS is gone. The Yaris looks like a solid competitor in a crowded small car market with the Nissan Versa and Honda Fit, and having ridden in a few in Malaysia, experience suggests that it will sell well. Next door was Lexus, who had a series of hybrids on display. The new LS is impressive, and the new GS450h's tiny trunk is almost equally impressive. (7 cubic feet, eeek!) The use of booth babes was much more subtle here, but prominence for the GS450h was subtlely enhanced here.
Ferrari had the 599 on display and a classic Ferrari 275GTB stuffed in the back, but nothing super interesting like the SuperAmerica that was present last year. Bentley was similarly dull, as was Bugatti-- I think they even brought back the exact same Veryon 16.4 they had there last year. Morgan was almost the same as last year as well, while Spyker had a race car and a nearly unrecognizable SUV present. Spyker is one brand that remains a curiousity-- they have some very interesting looking cars that the styling reminds me of a cross between a 50's era spaceship and something modern, with a result that's very eye-catching, to say the least. Yet... they don't really seem to sell any cars in any measurable volume. I think I've seen more Saleen S7's around than Spykers... and those are rare as hell. Lotus had a very similar display to last year, with the Exige S being the new addition. Cool, yes, even affordable-- crossing the barrier to buy one was very tempting-- but again, not too much more to see than last year.
The only marque in the exotic hall to make a real impact was Lamborghini, and even they didn't do much. Last year's cars all had the default polished aluminum wheels, and were either black or white. This year the cars were also all either black or white, but the wheels on all of them were black. Looked very mean. The Murcielago LP640 Versace edition was present as well as the roadster, but neither was particularly different looking than one you could see on the street. The real killer was the addition of booth babes in white, one of which, uh, displayed herself to good advantage in the Murcielago Roadster. (legs indeed...)
Sadly, the South Hall got the short shrift. Ran out of times both days to properly explore it; the first day we simply ran out of time, while the second day with a different friend, we got hung up by her Volvo obsession...
Nissan surprised me with the Altima coupe and the Sentra SE-R. The former was decidedly bland and average looking, but evidently with the HOnda Accord coupe and Toyota Solara, there's ample market for dull, boring family-sedan based coupes. The `07 Altima's new back end even looks decent. On the other side, the new Sentra is one ugly piece of sheetmetal, and the SE-R Spec V trim continues its ugliness. Nissan needs to compete with the Civic Si sedan, and this effort falls far short. Chrysler had a new Sebring convertible, which is quite a bit more impressive than its precedessor, although still bland. The Dodge Challenger concept and the new Nitro were on display as well, although like Mitsubishi it also got the short shift due to time constraints and their lack of anything new to show.
Audi had the new R8 on display. Drool.
Having seen the S6, A8L, and other new ones on the road, I was less impressed than I would have been otherwise. The new TT looks very sharp and may actually be a legitimate small sports car contender, which would be very welcome in the segment. Volkswagen was nearby with their new Tiguan, which I missed. Oops. o_O
Saab with their Aero X concept looked unusually bad*ss for a Saab, and translated the usual Saab funkiness into a new direction with the truly amazing body panel layout. We walked right past Hummer, because they held no interest for us. Acura had a race car present, plus the new TL Type S. The TL is pretty decent looking, but in Type S trim, the chunky body looks a little too chunky, particularly at the squared-off backend. The Advanced Concept Sedan was discussed above-- it looked ugly from some angles, particularly because it just looked... out of proportion. It's a very classic Japanese slab-sided aggressive look. Acura's new ALMS LMP2 race car was pretty sweet. Infiniti had nothing new-- the new `07 G35 sedan is already on sale and is one sweet looking car, but I've seen a few on the road already. If anything, at least, it looks much more flowing than the TL Type S body, plus it's RWD like a proper sports sedan.
Caught Maserati as well, including the MC12. We see so many of the regular Quattroporte's and GranSports that they're a common sight. The MC12 was awesome to see, but too far away to get a real good look at the detail work that went into it. Mini was nearby, with the newer, larger 2nd gen Mini, and BMW was next door. The new 335i coupe and sedan were both present; the look of the sedan is growing on me, while the coupe isn't. Then again it's hard to argue since the sedan is $2k cheaper and both make stupid amounts of power.
Other makes missed include Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Hyundai, Pontiac, Saturn, and Subaru. We covered the West Hall very throughly, afraid that Mercury and Lincoln would put us to sleep (or be really ugly) with the MKX or the Navigator's horrorific throw-back gauges. Suzuki's small car isn't bad, but doesn't hold up to the Honda Fit, which was nearly adjacent to it. Land Rover was nice enough, but again we had very little interest.
It's probably unfair to judge much of this so harshly, but the main thing was the lack of change. Mazda did a nice job with lifts, putting cars in the air to see the whole car, while Lotus and Bugatti were particularly unimaginative. Also, many cars "new" at the show, such as the 2nd-gen Mini and 2nd-gen G35, were already seen (or even for sale!) already. That steals a lot of thunder from the show. World debuts such as the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster should have been more attention getting, but with so many Vantages already on the road... and the new 2nd-gen Ford Escape got almost no attention. I was surprised at how things were handled, so little fanfare. At least put a model on the display next to a car to show it off, to prevent casual walkers-by.
Recent events such as the Taste of Lexus furthered my distraction.
Was it a good show, if you don't go to shows often, don't see fancy cars every day, or just want a good overview? It definitely was!
Was it anything new, as the hype from last year suggested? Bringing the show forward from January to December to attract more debuts didn't seem to do the trick for me, and neither did the displays by many makes that were clearly reused, almost untouched, from previous years.
Wednesday, 6 December:
Porsche Carrera GT
Under the CX-9 (?)
Land Rover LR2
Honda STEP BUS
Civic Si sedan
Kean goes hmm
and its gearbox
Are they included?
Or is she included?
Lotus Elise Sport
Sentra SE-R Spec V
Audi TT coupe
Audi TT roadster
Audi Q7 (?)
Saab Aero X
Kean + Saab = ?
Saturn Sky Redline
TL Type S
BMW 335i coupe
BMW 335i sedan
New BMW X5
Thursday, 7 December:
outside- "UC PROF"
Inside a Cayman
Ford Five Hundred
in the trunk
Aston Martin... drool
Volvo V50 R
V8 Vantage Roadster
Volvo seating area
Civic GX (CNG)
All images (c) 2003-2006 Brian J. Won (homepage). vq30de.net and brian1.net are property of Brian J. Won. VQ30DE is Nissan's engine designation for their all-aluminum 3.0L gasoline DOHC engine. No infringement or misuse of the VQ30DE designation is intended.
This site hosted by Dreamhost.