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January 16, 2013

The 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show: RACY CARS ARE THE STARS in The City of Angels

LogoIt was a cornucopia of cars that glistened and twirled at this year’s 2012 Los Angeles International Auto Show (stay tuned for our “trucks’ piece that follows soon!). Hundreds of models from 42 brands were parked under the bright lights of the Los Angeles Convention Center, 50 of which took the runway and shed their nighties to make a global debut, kicking off the annual big-city-auto-show season in the U.S. Upcoming are auto shows in Detroit, Chicago, New York and other cities across the nation.

SoCal’s City of Angels, the largest performance car market in the country, was the focus of the auto world, with a cadre of the globe’s top manufacturers, along with members of the international and national automotive press, regional and local dealers (GLAADA), and approximately one million car lovers that rode the convention center’s escalators to gaze at the evocative sheet metal and check out the latest and greatest in automotive technology and aftermarket parts for all types of vehicles, along with a showcase of historical models.
As a ‘car girl’ that loves performance—and especially racing—it was like being a kid in a candy shop, parading on a carpeted field of dreams, gazing at drives to come and technology to unfold—it is the adult version of a science fair, with autos that will go on sale soon, cars that will be released in the next year and futuristic concept models that are place markers and fantasy-build exercises from designers and engineers charged with crafting the future. Here, temporarily removed from the talk of the nation’s ‘Fiscal Cliff’ and automaker’s upcoming more stringent fuel economy requirements, I was at a party where the cars are the stars. The best part? Engineers and designers have infused a number of racy cars with next-gen technologies once found only in true race cars…turbo chargers; computerized engines, transmissions, and performance dynamics; and the ability to reach dizzying speeds, at lightning-quick times.
Among the eye-pulsing unveilings—all heightened by ear-throbbing music—and the captivating aroma of new car smells, were vehicles large and small, with engines that scoot silently or roar on every type of propulsion known to man today and dressed in the jewelry of today’s design language, with in-your-face grilles, evocative headlamps and alluring wheels.
Here are a few of my favorites in the cars list. I made one exception to include Audi’s diesel announcement as it was one of the top press conferences and most exciting news announcements at this year’s show!
Top Stars on the Runway:
Audi Diesel- Big news came from German automaker Audi, adding a quartet of clean diesel variants to its line-up to include Audi6, Audi7, Audi8 and Q5 oil-burning models. Forget that there are bold, new turbo-charged and racy powertrains and remember this: Audi says some 22,000 diesel owners have saved more than 4 million gallons of gasoline at a savings of approximately 26 million dollars-even if the four-rings is off a tick on any of the numbers, it was some of the best news at the show and for our environment.
Jaguar- This British luxury sports car brand livened the show with two new models: the Jaguar F-Type two-seater sport convertible, being dubbed as the “spiritual successor” to the iconic E-type, and the Jaguar XFR-S flagship luxury ultra-high performance sport sedan that will fly to 60 in 4.4 seconds. Both are a blend of sumptuousness from this marque that has authentic racing chops.
Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Black Series-The beastly ‘Black’ was wearing an eye-piercing yellow and, no matter what the color, is one of the fastest and most sensual sports cars on the planet.
Ken Block FiestaThe Ford Fiesta and Fiesta ST-Standing out as the only aurally-authentic heartthrob with the alluring perfume of smokin’ tires was Ken Block’s demonstration of car control and tire shredding on a roof top deck at the Convention Center. Kudos to action-sports superstar and race-car driver Ken and Ford for its new ’14 Fiesta 3-cylinder turbo and updated Fiesta ST. Ford says Fiesta redefines the small, value-priced car.
Acura RLX- Slipping on to our racy list, Acura’s 2014 RLX plays a huge role as the uplevel brand’s flagship model and the new sedan that wants to be seen as “smart luxury” is the hope of Honda’s luxury marque. It gets our  vote because Acura has the talent and the cred-we wish it well!
Honorable Mention:
Production Models and Concepts that caught our eye included the Dodge Charger Daytona: While it’s really a trim package, with the “Daytona”stamp on its rear flank, we like it’s message and have loved to drive its predecessors on tracks. The next-gen Mazda 6 mid-sized sports sedan looks and sounds ready to increase the “zoom-zoom” factor, plus Mazda will offer a diesel version; the Japanese automaker also announced its race schedule for the upcoming year.
BMW RoadstersOthers of note include the opulent and visually-engaging Bentley Continental GT3 concept; the Lexus LF-CC 2 +2 sports coupe and LFA supercar; the updated, lighter and faster Porsche Cayman the sleek and sexy BMW i8 that goes into production in 2014 and the BMW Roadster Concepts—this German brand known for sporty design and driving dynamics also wowed with its roadsters, which harken the future of racy motoring!
The Fun Awards
Volkswagen —There was so much literal brilliance at the VW exhibit that autowriters and others that attended this German marque’s unveiling of its all-new VW Beetle Cabriolet required sunglasses. Actually, polarizers were handed out to show-goers for the clever introduction of the 2013 Beetle Cabriolet. This car’s not about speed, unless you consider racing to the sun and fun an activity you’re hurrying to do—but, speaking of speed, the top drops in less than 11 seconds and covers up again in a tick under 9 seconds-now, that’s fast!
Hyundai-BikeHyundai Veloster C3: There’s a reason Hyundai has taken the American car market by storm of late; price, warranty, content, and beautiful design language. The Veloster was designed after “listening to folks who prefer the path less taken”. Roll back the top and stow your bike? Check!

Sue Mead


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