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Venezia: A car show not to be missed

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A Mustang 2015 Shelby GT350 at the L.A. Auto Show.
(BARBARA VENEZIA, Daily Pilot)

It’s Thanksgiving week, and if you’re looking to walk off some of that turkey and have fun, check out the Los Angeles Auto Show at the L.A. Convention Center.

For car addicts like me, this is the premier event in our automotive universe.

I know cars are kind of a guy thing, but nothing excites me more than the thrill of a high-performance vehicle.

Last week I attended one of the show’s several press days. Huge LED screens and thunderous music helped introduce the top brass from the major automotive manufacturers as they unveiled new technology, concept cars and 2015 models to the world press.

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Though hybrid and all-electric vehicles were a main theme, technology took the spotlight at this year’s show. No longer found only in higher-end models, features like Wi-Fi, lane assist and apps that can turn the car on and off and lock and unlock it are available as options in most models across the board.

A representative at Cadillac showed me how to locate an address on her smart phone, open the navigation app and send that destination to the car so the GPS would be ready to go before she entered the vehicle.

It seemed every manufacturer had, or was introducing, a version of a crossover vehicle. In this category, Volkswagen’s Golf R was impressive. It was voted Motor Trends’ car of the year for 2015 for its styling and performance.

But the Mini Cooper Countryman is still my favorite in this class.

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New at the show this year for Mini is the hardtop four-door S Turbo. Previously available only with two doors, this car is pretty sweet for those who prefer something smaller than the Countryman.

And for the Mustang lovers, Ford introduced its new version of the classic Shelby GT 350. White with the traditional blue racing stripes, the 2015 version is a beauty with more than 500 horsepower.

Expect these to hit dealership showrooms by fall 2015.

While the show was about looking forward, Ford had a display of classic Mustangs, including an original 1965 Shelby GT 350 that was cherry.

Newport Beach is an important market for high-end auto manufacturers, Brett Boydell of Bentley Motors explained to me.

Boydell, standing in front of a blue and silver Grand Convertible, developed specifically for display at the L.A. show, said the interior featured lofted diamond quilting stitched by hand — the convertible’s signature feature.

Boydell also pointed out the book-matched veneer tonneau cover, which is the largest single piece of wood Bentley has ever crafted. The car is truly amazing and the ultimate in luxury.

Look for it in showrooms in 2015, but catch a glimpse online at the Bentley Motors website.

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Then I took a look at what’s new from one of my favorites, Porsche. The display in Petree Hall of the convention center was packed with media people.

One model getting a lot of attention was the 2015 Porsche Macan. Smaller than the popular Cayenne SUV, the Macan comes in an S and a turbo version. The car premiered at the show last year and continues to create a lot of buzz.

It is one sweet ride. I went to Porsche of Newport Beach the next day to test drive one, and the handling, speed and comfort were awesome.

Porsche sales executive Matt Gemici told me that when the car premiered at the 2014 auto show, customer reaction was overwhelming.

“They were willing to buy it pretty much based on what they saw at the show — without driving it — and waited months to get it,” he said.

The first wave of Macans arrived in Newport this past May, and Gemici says the dealership can’t keep them in stock.

“Customers are very impressed with the car’s handling and size,” he said.

The 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show is huge and takes the better part of the day to really see.

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To get a firsthand look of my experience at the show, watch my Barbara’s Bits video on YouTube.

For more information on hours and pricing, visit the auto show’s website, https://www.laautoshow.com.

BARBARA VENEZIA, whose column appears Fridays, lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.


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