Chevrolet Code 130R Concept

Chevrolet Code 130R Concept (December 3, 2012)

Hollywood is all about star power, so it’s no surprise that the L.A. Auto Show is positively loaded with A-list luxury and exotic luminaries ready for their close-ups on a worldwide stage.

The first major automotive event of the season shines a bright spotlight on all that the motoring world has to offer for 2013 and beyond, featuring nearly 50 world and North American debuts. But the real showstoppers are the sexiest dreams on wheels, must-see models that draw the biggest crowds and loudest buzz.

With the auto industry surging worldwide, the lineup is deeper than ever. And Southern California is, after all, the No. 1 destination for high-end rides.

According to AutoTrader.com, consumer interest in luxury vehicles had a strong rebound late this summer. 

“When you combine heightened interest with the fact that L.A. is the biggest luxury car market, you have a recipe for some drool-inducing luxury and performance debuts,” said Brendan Flynn, director of communications for the L.A. Auto Show.

Let’s take a trip around the world with several of the most exciting high-profile stars at the show. Bring a bib.

The New Black

One of the most anticipated world debuts, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series coupe takes AMG to a new level, with more muscle (631 horsepower) and a top speed of nearly 200 mph from its 6.3-liter V-8 engine.

That’s right, a step-up AMG. This beautiful gull-wing beast has the feel and look of a rare luxury race car, offering an aerodynamic package to make it even faster and lighter on its feet. It’s inspired by the SLS AMG GT3, making its North American debut at this year’s L.A. Auto Show.

“Boasting numerous lightweight components and fascinating driving dynamics, our fifth Black Series model guarantees pure unadulterated driving performance,” said Ola Källenius, chairman of Mercedes-AMG.

Benz is also busting out the GL 63 AMG, bringing sport-utility to a new level, and an Ener-G-Force concept that previews the green future of G-Class.

Code Blue

Chevrolet is exhibiting a pair of sporty coupe concepts aimed at younger drivers (and which were developed at GM’s North America Advanced Design studio in Los Angeles). The Code 130R looks like a fun, affordable application of General Motors’ new rear-wheel-drive Alpha platform (which also underpins the Cadillac ATS). With proportions similar to the BMW 1-Series, the Code 130R’s 150 horsepower should be sufficient to deliver plenty of thrills. 

The more overtly exotic Tru 140S shares the 130R’s inline engine but is a front-wheel-drive two-door hot hatch built on the same platform as Chevy’s Cruze and Volt models. Both cars, should they reach production, are expected to deliver up to 40 mpg highway and to carry MSRPs of around $25,000.

Germany Weighs In

It’s also a big year for Porsche, unveiling the all-new 2014 Cayman compact sports car, which shares a platform with the Boxster, and a bold new 911 Carrera 4, a next-generation speedster with a broad rear section and long red light strip. The Carrera 4 rocks Porsche all-wheel-drive muscle with enhanced rear-wheel power.

Audi brings the green with a landmark lineup of four new TDI clean-diesel models, headlined by an A8 TDI rated up to 36 mpg.

Asian Beauties

Leading the way for Acura is the buzzed-about RLX, a new flagship sedan that takes the luxury brand’s game to a new level. The 2014 RLX is heavy on high technology unique to Acura, such as the Precision All-Wheel Steer that automatically adjusts rear-wheel angles to make the front-wheel-drive handling extraordinarily precise.

Lexus’ future is on display with the LF-CC Concept. And by all accounts, the future is near. The LF-CC is reportedly quite close to production in some form.

A more aggressive new breed of Lexus, this premium midsize coupe is a full hybrid, packing a 2.5-liter engine with class-leading low emissions. The bold new look features wide haunches and a full rear spoiler. The LF-CC is a result of the Lexus LF project, an ongoing exploration in advanced design and technology.

British Bombshells

A bastion of luxury and speed, Jaguar unveils the new F-Type, a convertible sports car that establishes a dramatic new design language. This two-seat feline (called the spiritual successor to the iconic E-type) comes in three models, with the high-end F-Type V-8 S clocking a top speed of 186 mph and a 0-to-60 time of 4.2 seconds.

And it’s awash in advanced technology, a retractable spoiler and convertible top that folds in 12 seconds, even at speeds up to 30 mph, being just a taste.

“The F-Type isn’t designed to be like anyone else’s sports car. It’s a Jaguar sports car — ultra-precise, powerful, sensual and, most of all, it feels alive,” said Adrian Hallmark, global brand director of Jaguar.

Bentley gets racy with its new Continental GT3, marking its first foray into motorsports since its Le Mans victory in 2003. It’s based on the Continental GT Speed, Bentley’s fastest-ever road car, also taking a bow at the show. The GT Speed is a breathtakingly sophisticated piece of work with a 6-liter 48-valve W-12 engine that tops out at 205 mph. Inside is all handcrafted walnut elegance and comfort.

Another British legend, Aston Martin reveals the Vanquish, muscular and predatory with all the classic cool of James Bond. The Vanquish adopts design and engineering cues from the revered One-77 supercar, with superior handling aided by the striking Aero Duct on the rear boot that counteracts lift, a marriage of design and technical expertise.

“Vanquish is the ultimate expression of Aston Martin design ethos, engineering innovation and technical ability,” said Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin CEO. “It offers luxurious, continent-crossing capability and pure driving excitement without compromise.”

No need to hop continents to leer at these beauties. They’ll be at the Convention Center through Dec. 9.

 

BOB YOUNG
Custom Publishing Writer