Posts Tagged ‘la auto show’

New Mazda CX-9 Lighter, Roomier, Less Thirsty

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Last year at the LA Auto Show, Mazda unveiled their new baby-ute, the CX-3 and also gave the larger CX-5 and Mazda6 design refreshes and now for the 2015 edition of the LA Auto Show they complete their crossover makeover by giving the CX-9 the overdue refresh with their KODO design. When I saw the CX-9 with the updated KODO design language for the first time, all I see is skeptical dog (google it if you don’t know). I guess the design doesn’t translate well into a full sized, three-row crossover. The CX-3 and CX-5 both look great, but I’m undecided on the CX-9.

This update wasn’t limited to just bringing over the new design language to the CX-9, Mazda made quite a few changes. For starters, the new CX-9 is just over an inch shorter than the outgoing model, but the wheelbase has been extended by over 2 inches resulting in much more room in the rear. The tapered fenders and shorter overhangs both in the front (2.3 inches) and in the back (1 inch) give the appearance of a wider more aggressively looking vehicle. The paintjob you see in our pictures, Machine Grey, is the newest color choice available for the CX-9.

Under the hood, Mazda has done what every manufacturer has done in recent memory and have chosen to go with a turbocharged 2.5L four-cylinder instead of a V6. What’s new however is what Mazda calls a “Dynamic Pressure Turbo”, the world’s first turbocharger with the ability to vary the degree of exhaust pulsation depending on engine RPM. At low RPMs exhaust gases are routed through a smaller outlet allowing the turbo to spool quicker creating instant boost up to 17.4 psi. At higher RPMs, exhaust gases are routed through larger valves allowing more exhaust gas to pass through the turbo. Just think of a garden hose when you put your finger over the end. The end result? 310 lb-ft of torque at just 2000 RPM and 227 horsepower at 5000 RPM on 87 octane fuel. Fill up with 93 octane premium and that figure jumps to 250 horsepower.

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Honda Seeks Redemption with 2016 Civic Coupe

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After much criticism garnered by the public for the last iteration of the Civic couple, Honda is ready to step things up by introducing the all-new 2016 Civic coupe which very much resembles the concept Honda revealed at the New York Auto Show. Jeff Conrad, Vice President of America Honda, says, “Our customers are going to be utterly surprised by what this new coupe delivers in terms of refinement, safety, efficiency and fun-to-drive performance”.

Sharing an all-new platform with the sedan, the 2016 Civic has a longer wheelbase and wider track than the last generation giving it a much needed boost in the styling department. The coupe will be an inch lower and 5.5 inches shorter than the sedan while the cabin gains 8.4 cubic feet and rear legroom stretches five inches more than the last generation.

Powertrain will be shared between the coupe and sedan with a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine paired with either a six-speed manual gearbox or an optional continuously variable transmission. Power output is expected to be 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. Performance oriented customers can opt for the 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine optional on higher trim levels which pumps out 174 horsepower and 162 pounds-feet of torque.

One look at the 2016 Civic from the LA Auto Show and you know the goal was to amp thing up. Lead Exterior Designer, Guy Melville-Brown, says, “We took the philosophy of the sedan and cranked up the volume. Everything had to get a little louder…This car had to be more charismatic, more sporty, even more ambitious.”

We can’t wait for the next iteration of Civic to hit the showroom floor. More photos of the new Civic Coupe below.

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Audi S8 Plus, RS7 Performance and New R8 in LA

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Audi opened up their LA Auto Show press conference by tackling the TDIGate scandal by reaffirming their commitment to investigate and resolve any TDI issues found as part of multiple investigations going on right now regarding the cheat software found in TDI vehicles. There was no mention of the misstated CO2 emissions numbers on their gasoline powered vehicles.

Audi quickly segued on a brief introduction of some new vehicles including the S8 Plus and RS7 Performance as well as the new R8 making its North American auto show debut before wrapping up with a summary of Audi’s plans for an electrified future.

Audi’s main stage was occupied by an A3 e-tron and the e-tron Quattro Concept vehicle that we’ve seen before at past shows. Audi is aiming to have 25% of their vehicle sales to be electric vehicles in 10 years time and a part of that lofty goal is Audi’s plans to launch a country-wide electrical charging network. The charging network will provide about a 320km range in just 30 minutes. Audi’s confidence in electric vehicles also comes at a time where battery costs have dropped dramatically and are now only about 10% of what a battery cost just years ago.

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Subaru Unveils Another Impreza Concept

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Fresh off the unveiling of the Impreza 5-door Concept in Tokyo, Subaru is taking the wraps off of the Impreza Sedan Concept. I’ve been wrong about this in the past, but I’m going to do it again and say that the next Impreza, and other vehicles based on this concept will look pretty good. I say this because the concept doesn’t look overly conceptual and looks pretty production-ready. Throw on some normal door handles, properly sized side mirrors, raise it up a bit, put on some standard wheels and smooth out the taillights and you’ve got yourself a great looking vehicle. It’s quite the departure from this great looking WRX concept that unfortunately never materialized. Hopefully this more sedate looking Impreza concept sees the light of day.

One big announcement Subaru did make is that the next-generation Impreza will be manufactured in the United States instead of in Japan. Plant upgrades that were scheduled have been moved forward by 6 months as well. This is a bit surprising to me as the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement being worked on right now was supposed to benefit Japanese auto manufacturers the most. The move will add about 1200 jobs in the USA.

Subaru says to look out for more news regarding the development of the next generation Impreza next year in New York.


Range Rover Evoque Drops Its Top in LA

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I always thought the Nissan Murano convertible was a strange automotive anomaly but here I am in Los Angeles at Jaguar Land Rover’s booth wondering how in the world this abomination of an Evoque Convertible ever got green lighted by their executives. They have taken what I consider one of the better looking crossovers, the Evoque Sport, and chopped the roof of it and the result is a vehicle that looks like you could drive it into a lake and it would float (bloody shame). The Evoque caused the Macan to be redesigned before release it looked so good, why would they do this?

To house the roof, the rear cargo space is obviously sacrificed, but what JLR has done differently is that instead of providing a pull out barrier to delineate the rear compartment from the roof storage compartment allowing for more storage when the roof is up they have chosen to make the rear cargo space fixed. That is, whether the roof is up or down the same amount (not much!) of space is available. Thankfully there is a rear seat pass-through to fit larger items.

Speaking of the canvas roof, it can be retracted at speeds up to about 50kph and folds down in seconds. If there is going to be a market for this vehicle, it is definitely going to be California so I suppose this is THE show to be unveiling it. See more pictures in our gallery, let us know what you think.

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Dear Kia, Please Stop Making Me Sound Biased

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It seems like I leave every auto show thinking that the Koreans are killing it. For a while I thought it was just Kia and Hyundai exceeding expectations, but it’s been happening for so long that expectations are higher than ever. They just won’t quit being the underdog in my mind, and maybe that’s what they’re going for.

I sat down at Kia’s booth knowing that I didn’t give two shits about the CUV segment. I’ll never buy one and I automatically assume they’re driven by people who bought their driver’s license from a cousin who knows a guy. That didn’t stop me from smiling when the new Sportage was revealed, and spending more time than was strictly necessary inside it. Yet again, I left feeling like Kia just needs to release a RWD coupe (Kinda like the GT4 Stinger concept from a couple years ago) and they’ll be poised to have the ear of everybody under 35.

The new Sportage has a new look compared to the outgoing model but is instantly recognizable as it follows Kia’s current design language quite closely. The top trim enjoys luxurious bits like LED fog and taillights, as well as HID headlights and 19″ wheels. None of which are things you see often in the segment. The interior is packed with leather, soft-touch materials and/or piano finish bits which all give it the feeling of a more expensive vehicle.

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VW Apologizes Again, Tries to Distract Us With Beetles

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Did you come here to read about the two new trims of Beetle or did you come here to hear about VW sweating on stage in LA? Doesn’t matter, you’re gonna be disappointed.

Michael Horn (President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America), is the most human speaker at most of the shows I’ve been to. The guy who, despite reading from a prompter like the rest, feels like he’s speaking his own words. He cracks jokes that make you smile, not groan, and it never feels like he’s trying to put a spin on things. So when he got on stage and addressed Dieselgate, there was no fear, no fidgeting and no fluff. He acknowledged that it’s a big deal, he took responsibility for it, he apologized and throughout the whole thing he maintained that a solution would be found. Honestly, when something goes wrong at my day job, that’s exactly what I want. “I made a mistake, let’s fix it, and then let’s figure out if we can prevent it from happening again”. Of course VW doesn’t have the luxury of finger-pointing and throwing others under the bus like my coworkers do so they didn’t really have a choice. Ah well.

Full disclosure, I have a Golf R on order and I don’t plan on walking away from it. I don’t care about this scandal, at least not to the extent that some people are claiming to. I’m a Formula 1 fan, I fully expect manufacturers to take whatever regulations they’re given and do whatever it takes to beat them without being caught. I would be blown away if every other manufacturer wasn’t doing something similar. Personally, I think emissions regulations are too strict. You’ve got some of the smartest people in the world engineering these vehicles and some of the dumbest creating legislation around them. If these guys can’t meet consumer expectations and regulations then the regulations need to be reworked. The automotive industry is one of the few where I think consumer expectations are lower than they could be. Watch 90% of people test driving new cars and, I promise you’ll catch yourself smiling along with them as they repeat “That’s so cool!” at each and every feature their existing vehicle doesn’t have.

Now please don’t think I’m a climate change denier or that I don’t understand the impact of vehicles on the environment. I’m not trying to say that vehicles should not be getting consistently more efficient, my problem is that they ARE getting more efficient, it’s just not fast enough for some people. Fuel efficiency is and always will be a selling point for vehicles. Because of this, manufacturers will spend loads of money attempting to make their vehicles as green as possible while still being as fun, luxurious or safe as people want. Isn’t that the goal here? Why do they need extra motivation?

I dunno. I understand why this situation is big news, but I honestly think most people who are legitimately angry either don’t fully understand the impact – both of the emissions themselves and fixing them – or suffer from “I need something to be outraged about” syndrome. I hope VW makes it out of this alive, because they make fantastic cars and it would be a shame to lose them.

Oh, right, they also announced the Dune and Denim variants of the Beetle and brought out the Dune Beetle, which looks just like the first concept we covered in Detroit back in 2014. I’m sure if you cared about those you skipped right to the pictures anyway.

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Volvo’s Concept 26: Better Autonomous Driving

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While they had nothing new in terms of new vehicles or any concept vehicles to show, Volvo still had something to show us. In their booth was a white tarp covering something really small. They had fans blowing air under the tarp to keep it inflated to look bigger but it was obvious there was no vehicle under there. What they ended up unveiling was a concept interior that Volvo’s Monitoring and Concept Center was working on.

Tisha Johnson, Senior Design Director introduced us to what Volvo sees as the driver’s console of the future–one where autonomous driving will be the norm. In modern day vehicles with autonomous driving capability, the interiors are not quite optimized for non-driving activities. With the steering wheel in the way, and the small infotainment screens there is not much room to be productive.

Enter the Volvo Time Machine Concept. By holding down both shift paddles for a few seconds, the driver engages the autonomous driving mode, or rather, disengages from driving. The steering wheel retracts, the seat moves back and reclines and a 26″ screen unfolds on the passenger side of the dash. All the while the control tablet in the center console remains within reach.

Volvo is so confident in their non-existent autonomous driving system that they claim they will take on full liability when the vehicle is in this mode. This sounds great, but all this tells me is that there probably won’t be an autonomous driving capable Volvo for many years.

Something that will be available earlier is the child seat concept interior they showed off of the XC90. With this option, the front passenger seat is removed, replaced by a base that a child car seat can attach to. The front passenger airbag is also removed along with the seat. This seems like a great option for those with just 1 child that requires a child seat as it allows the parent to drive and check on their child. For a parent sitting in the back with their child they can now interact with them much more comfortably. Look for this to become an option in the XC90, and possibly other vehicles in Volvo’s line up.

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Hyundai Is The New Toyota with 2017 Elantra

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The new Elantra is here, and I’m thoroughly whelmed…

I mean, I had expectations and, overall, they were met. The exterior is a little blander than I expected, but it’s still nice. The interior looks about as good as I wanted, but feels better than I thought it would.

I knew I’d have trouble writing about it, but my deadline is approaching and I seriously don’t know what to say. I don’t want to sit here and rattle off specs, because there’s nothing on the list that will make you say “Oh, neat” or “Hm, I’m disappointed it’s missing that”. It’s exactly the car you expect it to be, so it’s difficult to have anything but a neutral opinion about it.

Oh, hold up, it’s got collision avoidance and bending headlights. Rare to find those on a compact car. Lots of interior space, too. So it’s got that going for it. Which is nice. Seriously, they’ve got an entire page in their press release dedicated to how much interior space it has. So much so that it’s classified as a mid-size by the EPA.

It’s a Toyota Corolla. I’d call that the highest praise a boring car can receive, but I’m not actually sure what boring people consider praise for their cars. That said, for Hyundai to be able to have, and meet, such clear expectations says a lot about the brand. I gush about the Koreans a lot, I’m aware of it, but the fact that the Elantra is in to “Well, it’s no longer surprising that it’s this good” territory means Hyundai has succeeded. Good for them. Shame it means I’ll never be interested in half their cars again.

Well… Enjoy the pictures!

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Scion C-HR Concept Was Designed By Thirteen Year Old Me

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Scion’s C-HR (Compact – High Ride height) concept gives us a look at how teenage me would design a competitor to the Fiat 500X and MINI EntireLine-upOfVehicles. I still haven’t figured out whether or not that’s a good thing. I love me some 90s concepts, they’re ridiculous in all the right ways, but something about this one just doesn’t do it for me.

If you’re sick of Hellaflush, don’t worry, Scion’s got you covered with Nothingflush. The taillights protrude from the rear end, the wheels overlap the tire sidewalls and the entire vehicle looks like a strange growth on top of the even-guys-with-300Cs-are-like-whoa oversized wheels. But whatever, it’s a concept and concepts are supposed to be silly. Not even fun-loving Scion is immune to taming their vehicles prior to production.

I’m not sure when we’ll be seeing the production variant of this thing, but I’m not confident I’ll have figured out whether or not I like the concept by then.

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