At every auto show there are certain vehicles that seem to inspire a buzz. These might be new versions of very popular models, they might incorporate the latest in design or technology, or they might simply be arrestingly exotic or outlandish.
Here are some of the cars that have been stopping traffic at the L.A. Auto Show so far.
Nissan’s DeltaWing race car looks like something out of a Batman movie and boasts super-power performance to match. Having made its debut at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in France and then completing the Petit le Mans in Atlanta in October, this wild creation is making its first North American auto show appearance downtown.
Designed to minimize air drag, the DeltaWing has one of racing’s all-time oddest shapes — a long needle of a nose with a wing-like tail end — and has been drawing a constant crowd at the Convention Center since opening day. Though over 15 feet long, the DeltaWing’s carbon composite means it weighs just over 1,000 pounds. Its 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection engine launches it from a standing start to 62 mph in a face-rippling 3.3 seconds.
5 New Fiat 500s
Italian auto giant Fiat chose the 2010 L.A. Auto Show for its return to the U.S. market after a 27-year hiatus with the unveiling of its bug-like 500 city car. A year later, it returned to the show to debut the super-cute 500’s sporty Abarth variant. Variety seems to have been the secret behind improving stateside sales of the 500, and the automaker is now back downtown with an array of new takes on the feisty Fiat.
The regular 500 is still something of a head turner on American streets, and crowds of curious onlookers have been flocking to the Fiat exhibit to check out the new 500 Abarth Cabriolet, the all-electric 500E, the 135-horsepower 500 Turbo, the five-door 500L MPV and rugged-looking 500L Trekking. Stay tuned, because a 500X crossover and a seven-seat 500XL are apparently in the pipeline.
Jaguar’s F-Type is a super-sexy two-seater based on a shortened version of the platform underpinning the British company’s acclaimed XK roadster. Having made its global debut at the Paris Auto Show at the end of September, the F-Type is being shown for the first time in North America at the L.A. show. Due in U.S. dealerships this summer, this curvaceous convertible carries over much that was to be admired aesthetically from the stunning C-X16 concept and, at $69,000 for the base model, is priced below Jaguar’s current XK grand tourer. The F-Type will be offered with a supercharged V-6 engine delivering 340 horsepower (or 380 horsepower in the $81,000 F-Type S). A $92,000 F-Type V8 S variant generates a fearsome 495 horses and is able to leap from 50 to 75 mph in just 2.5 seconds.
Three New Minis
Mini isn’t a car, but rather a British marque now owned by German automaker BMW. Since 2001, the re-emergent nameplate has graced an ever-expanding range of compact vehicles, from convertibles to crossovers, all of which are instantly recognizable. A trio of new Minis was unveiled at this year’s L.A. Auto Show: the Mini Paceman “Sports Activity Coupe” (essentially a two-door version of the Countryman crossover), the extended-length, business-oriented Mini Clubvan, and the turbocharged 150-mph Mini John Cooper Works GP — the fastest Mini ever. The Paceman is also available as a turbo Cooper S, producing 181 horsepower. All three are due early next year, with the John Cooper Works (of which only 500 will be sold stateside) starting at $39,950.
As Nissan’s flagship supercar, the GT-R has been raising pulses since 1969. Earlier this year the Japanese automaker entered a stock GT-R in Germany’s Nürburgring 24 Hours endurance race, emerging not only as winner in its class but also with numerous lessons learned, some of which are now evidently being applied to the 2014 edition, due in January. Making its world debut at the L.A. Auto Show, this latest GT-R will boast improved midrange engine response and acceleration at higher RPMs, plus updated suspension and increased body rigidity. Though its peak power output seems to have remained steady at 545 horsepower, Nissan says that overall performance, ride quality and speed stability have been improved. The new GT-R should also be more customizable, with interior options expected to include Recaro carbon bucket seats and semi-aniline leather.
Custom Publishing Writer