New Convertibles, American Luxury Sedans, and Much More
As far as auto shows go, this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show was pretty low-key. There weren’t any stunning concept cars or technology moonshots instead, automakers displayed concept and production cars that more often than not were grounded in reality, and aimed at the everyman (or woman) buyer. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything of interest, though. With that in mind and in no particular order, here are our picks for the 9 most interesting cars of the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show.
Three-row family crossovers aren’t easy to design, as the necessity of making a vehicle fit seven passengers often means the design takes on a big, bulbous shape. Thankfully, Mazda‘s Kodo design language translates quite nicely into the big CX-9. What makes the CX-9 so interesting is its powertrain: The 2.5-liter turbocharged I-4 under its hood is the first application of a turbocharger in a Mazda SkyActiv engine. At 250 hp and 310-lb-ft of torque on 93 octane, the engine isn’t particularly powerful for a big crossover like the CX-9, but toss it into something like the Mazda3 or CX-3 and we’ll be cooking with fire.
The long-awaited ‘Fiata’ has arrived. Based on the Miata platform, equipped with a Fiat turbocharged I-4, and built by Mazda in Hiroshima, Japan, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is a more luxurious, more powerful Miata. Personally, I don’t love the 124 Spider’s design (hell, I’m not particularly fond of the original). I feel like Fiat missed an opportunity to make a truly beautiful car; instead, to my eye, it’s merely OK. That said, I do think the Fiata is an important car for both Fiat and Mazda. It gives Fiat a halo car that’s both aspirational and affordable. It allows Mazda to leverage the research and development work it did on a niche rear-wheel drive platform into a payday from a bigger company, much like Subaru did with Toyota/Scion and the BRZ/GT86/FR-S. Anything that puts more rear-drive sports cars on the roads is certainly of interest to us and the enthusiast world.
2015 Fiat 500e Stormtrooper
There’s nothing that interesting about this Fiat 500e done-up to look like a “Star Wars” Stormtrooper, but I’m psyched for the new movie. Sue me.
Chew on this: Buick has sold 900,000 LaCrosses since 2009, and most of those have been in the People’s Republic of China. With such heavy Chinese demand, you might think GM would be keen on letting its Chinese design studio take charge on the updated Lacrosse, but it opted to design the car in Michigan, in order to boost sales in America. While the verdict is still out on that, there’s no denying that the updated LaCrosse features a truly striking design for a front-drive-based luxury car, and it signals a bright future for Buick’s design language.
Subaru has a tendency to overpromise with the design of its concept cars and under-deliver with its production cars. The evolution from Subaru WRX Concept to WRX production car went that way, and I would be quite surprised to see many of the features of the striking Impreza concept car make it to production. That said, the Impreza Concept does represent an important shift for Subaru, as the automaker says that the next-generation Impreza will be built here at its Indiana plant, rather than in Japan. The new Impreza’s platform will also be scalable and will underpin almost all Subarus in the coming years.
With Scion’s youth-oriented image and the subcompact crossover segment blowing up, Toyota would be foolish to withhold product from Scion. Debuting in Tokyo with a Toyota badge, the CH-R Concept proudly sports a Scion badge here in the U.S. While its design will be significantly watered down for production (I mean, can you imagine sitting in the concept’s back seat?), the production CH-R will be the first crossover for Scion, and possibly the first vehicle the brand’s ever offered with any really mass youth appeal.
Associate editor Scott Evans articulated what makes the Volvo Concept 26 so interesting better than I ever could in his First Look, “Volvo’s Concept 26, or C26 for short, is a dashboard, center console, and driver’s seat. That’s it. But it’s also more than that. It’s the first realistic look at what an automotive interior might look like in the near future when autonomous driving comes to market.” Unlike autonomous concepts from the automakers such as Mercedes-Benz, the C26 looks as if it could be found inside an XC90 or S80 at the dealer tomorrow. This, ladies and germs, is our first realistic look at the future.
What makes this refreshed Mercedes-Benz SL-Class so interesting? Well, look at it: It’s gorgeous. After the last car was designed by three different people on three different continents, Mercedes finally gave the job of styling the SL to one designer, and we’re all the better for it.
The question of the ages: What would a Ford Fusion RS look like? Answer: the new 400-hp Lincoln MKZ. Somewhat of a surprise, the updated MKZ gets the new Lincoln corporate grille, a Jaguar-like headlight treatment, and most important, a Lincoln-only 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 making 400 hp.