By Staff Contributor
What is it like to attend a major auto show as a member of the automotive press? Well, we have to say it’s exactly like a day in your average High School except you race from Ford to Toyota to VW class instead of Algebra to French. Then, of course, there are cliques and a non-stop eruption of harsh critique and judgment of the works of countless automaker engineers and designers over the past year. So after our couple of days back in High School, here were our opinions of the major launches at the 2013 LA Auto Show.
While execs were gushing over what amounted to a new trim level for the CC sedan, the big news at the Volkswagen stand was the introduction of the 2013 VW Beetle Convertible. On display in a dazzling array of appealing colors for exterior, interior and top—it’s clear that VW wants buyers to see this ragtop as a rebellious, independent choice. Only thing is, if VW is to reach its North American sales goal of 800,000 units annually then it needs more mainstream fare. Like a less expensive SUV lineup? (Answer: Missed but was fun).
Some called it a grotesquely elongated vision of J-Lo’s very famous posterior while still others thought it was cute, no doubt the four door 2014 Fiat 500L five door hatch was controversial. We felt that it was a natural progression in the Fiat line-up although we aren’t sure we see a reason for the 500 Convertible to get the Abarth treatment. You buy a Fiat 500 Abarth if you love to drive; you buy any other Fiat because you think they are cute. Most especially this is true for the aforementioned convertible which admittedly did look cooler with Scorpion badges. We’d still buy the hardtop. (Answer: A miss)
Mix in this brand’s traditional strengths in luxury vehicle value for money and advanced technologies with the two main models displayed by Acura this year and it’s easy to see a resurgence coming. Acura was the first Japanese luxury automaker and at this year’s LA Auto Show not only can you see the outrageously sexy Acura NSX concept car and the 2014 Acura RLS flagship that shares nothing with the rather sterile style and drive dynamics of the old RL.
But that should all be different for 2014 thanks to a stylish new interior design, a new direct-injection 3.5 liter 310 horsepower V6, best in class rear seat room and the return of “Precision All-Wheel Steer” to the Honda line-up as it has been absent stateside since the departure of the Prelude. Yes, even the rear wheels can turn thereby aiding the driver pull off heroic feats of sporty driving. How do we know? We drove a prototype vehicle with this technology at Honda’s Twin Ring Motegi track last year and loved it. Best of all, Acura has more coming…(Answer: Hit!)
We loved the smaller, sexier Jaguar F-Type roadster that was on display at the Jaguar stand but were less impressed by the new looks of the Range Rover. The last generation was perfect; this one looks like a 68 year old man in trendy $500 sunglasses. Really, the headlights are a disaster as is the overly button and switch heavy interior. Again, it’s hard to restyle a classic. (Answer: A solid attempt ending in a miss)
This Japanese automaker has always been the rebellious type with its new entrant into the rather staid and conservative midsize family sedan segment proving to be anything but—the 2013 Mazda6 does of course feature SkyActiv Technology but the question is will the looks sell to middle Americans? We hope it does because we can’t imagine a world where Mazda didn’t exist nor did its exemplary manual transmissions. We will have to wait until we get one to road test later this year so we can put it to the test against our favorite 2013 family sedans. (Answer: Unclear)
At this year’s 2013 LA Auto Show it was quite clear that the General had finally turned green. But we don’t mean this automotive monolith looked car sick, in fact we mean that this once rather truck reliant automaker now has one of the most exciting environmentally sensitive line-ups out there. In addition to the amazing Volt sedan, GM also brought out a new itsy bitsy Chevy Spark EV that also boasted an updated version of the very simple and intuitive Chevy MyLink system. Not only did Chevy further refine this impressive piece of technology for 2013, they also showed the guys at MyFordTouch that useful doesn’t necessitate flash in the pan complexity and routine software crashes. (Answer: The General has quite a Few Hits Coming! Most excited for new Impala and 2013 Buick Encore.)
Sure, the newly restyled 2014 Cayman might not look all that different to untrained observers but to aficionados of this German sports car brand the changes should prove easy to spot. In addition to a higher quality interior with more stylish interior color options, the exterior of this sport coupe named after a frog no longer looks so frog-like. (Answer: Porsche is Always a Hit and a Smart Buy!)