This year's Los Angeles motor show featured plenty of cars – just not that many new ones
Maserati is a brand on the up and up, so naturally its presence is large in LA
It's the last motor show of the year, before it starts all over again with Detroit
The i8 is one of this year's biggest cars in LA
The new Mazda 6 has had a nip and tuck, but was a handsome thing to begin with
It's not just new metal in LA
The i8 Roadster maintains the coupé's dihedral doors, despite its lack of roof
Audi has an imposing presence at LA
Spot the non-SUV...
Not sure this livery will come in handy inside the convention centre
The long-wheelbase SVAutobiography Range Rover has legroom of over 1.2 metres in the rear. Yes, really.
The Range Rover Sport SVR's talents lie elsewhere. Obviously.
The CLS is another of the show's big stars this year, although its new look divides opinion
The car of choice for those not wanting to get bogged down.
Lexus' RX L is hard to make out from the five-seater; look for the more upright boot lid
News editor Rachel talks to Chris Bangle about his Redspace project
The BMW M5 in deep metallic blue went down better than the matte red in which it was presented at Frankfurt.
Our editor was rather fond of the Ford GT in this colour combination.
There's that other thing that America does big, like its cars...
The Infiniti QX50 is a striking-looking rival to the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC
You might remember this shy little number from Frankfurt
Mini wheeled out its all-electric concept again for LA
The Redspace is Chris Bangle's car for urban-living Chinese customers
Tesla could spare a Model 3 amid its 'production hell' for the LA show
Chris Bangle's Redspace comeback car is proving to be a star of the show
Toyota's stand at LA is one of the biggest
The Genesis G80 is Korea's answer to the BMW 5 Series
The Jaguar XE SV Project 8 might not be new, but its 'Ring record is...
Subaru's Ascent is the brand's largest car, and won't come to the UK. Just as well really, as, it's the size of the Isle of Wight
Insert cliche about room for three kids and a dog here
The Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 gets its second motor show outing in LA. It was revealed initially at the lesser-known Dubai motor show...
...LA is the venue for the convertible ZR1's debut, mind
It's in shouty orange, as if the car wasn't loud enough.
GMC's on the right track with this. (sorry)
Tesla's stand is placed prominently at the show
Three British blokes are there greeting people, too
There’s usually an overriding theme at a motor show. For example, Frankfurt this year was dominated by carmakers detailing their long-term electric plans, while January’s Detroit show had an air of the unknown as the world awaited Trump’s inauguration a few days later, wondering what impact he would have on the US car industry.
But this week’s Los Angeles show was a very different affair: there were plenty of large, shiny stands from car makers – as you’d expect at a motor show, really – but very little all-new metal.
For example, the Honda stand, though decent in size, had nothing new, with the main attraction the already revealed new CR-V. That was unusual because we’ve already seen it at an American motor show this year, yet the European version – near identical – is yet to be seen. It will make its European debut at Geneva in March, we’re told.
There were some new cars, although many were public debuts more than grand reveals. Many manufacturers chose to reveal images of their new cars over the last few months, ahead of real-life debuts at the show. Those included the Porsche Boxster and Cayman GTS, Carrera T and the new Jeep Wrangler. That’s all well and good, but it means their appearance in a press event lacks the wow factor of a model never seen before show day.
There was some all-new US-focused metal – for example, the Subaru Ascent large SUV. “Looks like a Forester,” noted one US journalist to no-one in particular. There was a Lexus RX-L, a three-row version of the RX, most notable because it only counted six cup holders, compared to the Ascent’s 19.
The Infiniti QX50 sparked interest because a) it is the first model to adopt the brand’s nifty variable compression turbo engine and b) it could well be the model to help boost UK sales for the brand when it arrives late next year. Shortly before the show we sampled the new engine in a prototype QX50.
Talking of UK sales boosts, Mazda revealed an updated Mazda 6, on sale late next year, with exterior changes so mild you might miss them. The biggest changes are engineering ones, with new chassis settings intended to make it handle better and be more comfortable.
Jaguar Land Rover’s stand stood out – mostly as a reminder of how very important the US market is for them. The updated Range Rover took pride of place as did the I-Pace and an I-Pace racer, both of which will be aimed at making sure the electric SUV stays in the forefront of people’s mind ahead of its on-sale date next year.
You can always rely on American shows to have some outlandish models on show, most of which are probably more remarkable to us as foreigners than the locals. The customs hall, a dark room with hip hop blasting out, is worth a visit if only to see a customised 1923 Ford Model T, which is so out of this world, it’s hard to conceive. In a quiet corner, there was also a Galpin-modified, new Aston Martin Vantage in all its brash, yellow glory.
And of course, there were the obligatory pick-ups, which as a sensible Brit, are always absurd, yet amusing. Toyota fashioned theirs with kayaks on the back, while GMC’s All Mountain Concept replaced wheels for tracks, plus obligatory ski gear.
The choice to launch the CLS in LA, Mercedes says, was based on two reasons: it fitted the car maker’s product cycle, and, as a “designer’s car”, Mercedes has a history of launching slightly different cars here which aren’t mainstream in the way, say, an E-Class or S-Class is.
The long-awaited i8 Roadster seems the most obvious fit of all the reveals. Californians love electric cars and it’s a roadster, which obviously suits the climate (it was 20 degrees here during the show days, though you wouldn’t know it in the LA convention centre).
And then there’s Chris Bangle’s angular car, called Reds, for a little known (at least in the UK) Chinese firm CHTC. Talking us around the car, Bangle was incredibly enthused about the premium city vehicle aimed at young Chinese urbanites. He reckons it will make production by 2020 and despite the wacky design, says he doesn’t expect much to change much looks-wise.
And so we round up coverage from the final motor show of the year. We’re already gearing up for Detroit in January, which promises the new Mercedes G-Class, petrol-hybrid CLS53, Infiniti electric car, and Volkswagen Jetta at the very least. That’s already more than LA…
Los Angeles motor show - as it happened
Updates by Jimi Beckwith and James Attwood
Read on to check out all out coverage from the show's press day.
At the show we had Autocar editor Mark Tisshaw, and news editor Rachel Burgess, while back in our Twickenham base camp we had online editor James Attwood, senior staff writer Sam Sheehan taking care of the news, editorial assistant Sam Jenkins doing all things social media, and Jimi Beckwith compering for the live blog. Scroll down to read all the action from this year’s LA motor show.
The action of the show is largely over, and Tish and Rachel are writing up their notes. Keep your eyes peeled for any last-minute news stories from the show, but until then, take a look at what LA has had to offer this year. Let's recap...
The Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster GTS - remember these? They were revealed so long before the show that they don’t feel like LA cars, but they are, and they pack 361bhp. Another Porsche, the 911 T, also went on display, as a pared-back purist’s special. Yes, another one. We're not complaining, mind.
Jaguar XE SV Project 8 – No, it's not new, but it did just set a new lap record for four-door cars around the Nurburgring Nordschleife. And it's great to look at too...
Mazda 6 - Although it might not look much different to the old one, the Mazda 6 facelift also showed its newly nipped and tucked face at LA. Wait a few months and we’ll see the European version.
Genesis G80 - We got a look at the G80, Korea’s answer to the BMW 5 Series. The country's car makers are coming ever closer to upsetting the status quo in the car industry, by edging ever closer to German rivals.
BMW i8 Roadster - One of the biggest cars of the show, the BMW i8 Roadster, raised the roof at the LA Convention Center. See, that's a pun, that is, because the Roadster doesn't have a route. Sorry.
Aston Martin Vantage - The new-look Vantage made its public debut in LA. It’s another new car design that has split opinion, being more quirky and less conventionally attractive than its larger DB11 sibling. Possibly more divisive than the design is Aston's choice of colour...
Lexus RX L - The world has gained another SUV. This is a seven-seat version of Lexus’ largest SUV, rivalling the Range Rover and upcoming BMW X7.
Mercedes-Benz CLS - One of the absolute stars of the show, and with a fresh design that has split opinion a bit. The front, with styling elements that will also feature on the next A-Class, has gone down fairly well, but it’s the rear where opinion is divided. Speaking of dividing opinion, we suspect this piece by editor Mark Tisshaw will - he's unsure if Mercedes even needs the CLS any more.
Nissan Star Wars cars - Nissan has gone to town (Mos Eisley, presumably), and then past town to outer space, for its LA efforts. It has developed six concepts to promote its tie-in with the Star Wars franchise. It's worth taking a look just so you can see a Nissan X-Trail with X-Wings on. Really.
Editor Mark Tisshaw has been over to the Jeep stand to take a look at the new Wrangler. His view: "Don't be fooled by the familiar appearance: it's all-new. The whole car has been redesigned from the ground-up, one highlight being a 9% aerodynamic improvement."
Tish also had a quick chat with Jeep boss Mike Manley, who reckons a busy couple of years lie ahead afor the firm. After the launch of the new Wrangler comes a replacement for the Cherokee later next year, followed by a Jeep pick-up in 2019 and the Grand Wagoneer range-topper in 2020.
Rachel recounts a surreal experience: "Possibly one of the most surreal scenarios I’ve ever found myself in: famed designer Chris Bangle talking me around his new crazy Chinese city car. The idea is that the interior is a genuinely useable space, and not just for on the move. That means there’s a foot massage function in the passenger footwell of the car. Chris insisted I tried it... one of the most relaxing interviews I’ve ever done, I must say."
More BMW snippets from Tisshaw: "There's no official update to the production version of the BMW iNext concept car shown at the recent Frankfurt show and again in LA, other than BMW is "on time" for a 2021 launch, according to BMW i boss Robert Irlinger. He did confirm that the car would be built on a development of the same rear-wheel drive architecture that underpins the rest of BMW's rear-drive range, and in the same Dingolfing factory that makes the 5 Series and 7 Series."
BMW's in a solid state of affairs about future battery tech: "Solid state batteries are a technology that BMW's i brand is investing in and developing as one of a number of different battery chemistry investigations in a recent €200 million investment, according to i boss Robert Irlinger."
Tish is admiring Jimi's next long-termer. Maybe. "The design is already a few years old but standing and admiring the Ford GT never gets boring. Just look at that colour, those stripes... Want."
While we're thinking about the Ford GT, why not take a break from reading all these words and check out Matt Prior's excellent video review of it?
Tesla's on the PR offensive: "Tesla doesn't tend to 'do' motor shows, yet here it is in LA with its Model 3, the model currently involved in 'production hell' according to boss Elon Musk. The cheery stand staff are courting breakfast tv media here, with some success. What crisis? Ahem."
Tish has stumbled across the betracked GMC too: "New niche alert: the car without wheels."
Ah, the quirks of the American car industry: "I must admit a seven-seat Lexus isn’t awfully interesting to me - but in the US, this is likely to be an important player for premium SUVs. The amount of people filming it or getting in and out of it also telling, compared to plenty of other cars here," says Rachel.
Meanwhile, Tish has been talking electric BMWs with i boss Robert Irlinger. He says the i8 Roadster will outhandle the old coupe model following the chassis changes made, most significantly to the rear suspension and axle. Fear not though i8 coupe buyers, for the changes (that also include a bigger motor and battery pack) are also being rolled out to the coupe model at the same time.
Based on how much we enjoyed our BMW i8 long termer, I suspect his Roadster would be in heavy demand in the Autocar office...
We're always distracted by a car under a cloth, and Rachel spotted this at the Hyundai stand...
...don't get too excited though. "It's the new Kona," reports Rachel. "Old(ish) news for Europe." It is indeed: you can actually read our review of the SUV here. We quite like it.
Meanwhile, Mark Tisshaw spotted, well, something. He said: "Have always lusted over the Carrera GT, until I saw this..."
Rachel has been admiring a good old-fashioned American truck: the GMC Sierra 2500HD All Mountain concept. It runs on Mattracks 150 Series Tracks, which ensures it can get the 445hp from its 6.6-litre turbodiesel engine down in pretty much any conditions. It's not all rugged though: apparently it has premium interior features, including leather trim and Bose speakers. "Even by American standards, this is out there," remarked Rachel. "Certainly the transport I’m intending to use for all future ski trips."
Tish has just been past the Corvette stand, and taken time to appreciate some fine American metal. “The Corvette ZR1 is the ultimate version of the last ever front-engined Corvette,” he says. “I still remember my first acquaintance with the standard car a few years ago at Castle Combe and was staggered and just how well it handled. And look how far it's come since: it's America's truly world class supercar.”
And then Tish spotted what was parked next to that Corvette... one without a roof! And the convertible looks stylish, and goes pretty well too: it's got a top speed of 212mph, and is powered by a 745bhp 6.2-litre supercharged V8 engine. As you can read in our full story, it also features a mode which the firm says could give it the world's loudest exhaust note. Now that's a bold performance claim you're unlikely to hear Elon Musk make the next time he wheels a Tesla out the back of a lorry...
Volvo boss Hakan Samuelsson has been telling a bunch of American journalists about the new Care by Volvo subscription package, which brings the number of countries in which its offered up to eight, including the U.K. Samuelsson said the scheme was a reflection of changing customer demand, citing the mobile phone as the catalyst for changing attitudes.
Rachel has just walked past the Jaguar stand, where there was a display of I-Pace models, including the racing version that will be used for a one-make Formula E support series from late 2018. She said: "Jaguar is trying to keep momentum up for its electric I-Pace ahead of going on sale next year. Big question: who will get there first - Jaguar or Audi with its E-Tron?"
In the build-up to the show, Jaguar named the first team to have signed up for the I-Pace eTrophy race series: US squad Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The team is run and part-owned by Bobby Rahal, a three-time Indy car champion and former Indianapolis 500 winner, and former US chat show host David Letterman. The team currently runs cars in the US IndyCar Series and endurance racing.
Nervous, Tish? "Excuse the blur but the dog unexpectedly barked and it made me jump. LA breakfast TV at its finest: apparently we can find out why he had the dogs with him after the break. Forgive me for not hanging round to find out why."
Things are quite different for Subaru in the US, says Mark: "The Subaru Ascent is a long way from being the most exciting new car at the LA show, yet it's the latest evidence of the flexibility of Subaru's new architecture, and should find success in a market where Subaru is so successful."
Aren't some people hard to please? Sam Sheehan is underwhelmed by the i8's interior: "I love the i8. It’s a brilliant piece of design and the hybrid powertrain still impresses to this day. But I can’t help but notice how dated the interior looks now (never thought I’d say that when it was launched) – especially when it’s on full view via the i8 Roadster."
Always one for carrying some refreshments on his travel, James Attwood was quite taken with Subaru's boast that its new large SUV, the Ascent, features 19 cup and bottle holders - quite a lot, even for a car that can seat up to nine. Still, Atters reckons all those cup holders should just about hold all the coffee he drinks during the average motor show...
The new Aston Martin Vantage has made its motor show debut in LA, in a lurid shade of flourescent yellow. We've already taken a ride in one, albeit in prototype form. You can read that here.
Bangle's had it hard from the press in the past, but unnecessarily, says Tish: "God bless the creativity of Chris Bangle. His comeback car, the Redspace, is wonderfully weird and as creative as you'd expect. Cars shouldn't all look the same, and Bangle's ability to challenge the status quo should be celebrated and not sneered at."
"No new metal from Jaguar in LA," says Mark, "but pay attention to the sticker on the side of Project 8. It's the Nurburgring lap record time of the car, and enough that should sell the last 100 or so remaining cars by the end of the week."
There goes another - Lexus' seven-seat RX, the RX L, has been revealed, and is almost identical to the five-seat version. Need a clue? Look at the angle where the boot lid meets the roof.
Tish is scoping out the competition to Mercedes - could Genesis pull off a four-door coupé like the CLS? "Smart looking Genesis G80 Sport is the Korean 5 Series. Genesis styling is headed up by ex-Lambo and Bentley design boss Luc Donckerwolke, who has created a look to shame the creativity at Audi. The cars are good to drive too."
One of the biggest car makers in the world has one of the biggest stands, says Rachel: "Prize for biggest stand so far? Toyota. Awash with pick-ups (of course) and the C-HR."
A trio of exciting news stories for you:
First up, BMW has revealed the i8 Roadster at the show. It's got 369bhp, two seats and a roof which retracts in 15 seconds. Read more about it here.
Next, Nissan has revealed no fewer than six (SIX!) concepts devoted to the brand's partnership with the Star Wars franchise. They've gone to quite some lenths for these.
Last, and not technically LA news but something you should be excited about anyway, is that Lamborghini has revealed the official reveal process for its first SUV, the Urus. No more camouflage, no more fleeting, blurry shots; the actual car. Well, a tiny fragment of it.
Rachel's taking in the first impressions of the show: "Given where we’re at, it only seems fitting the first car maker on sight as I walk into the hall is... Tesla."
Mark sure knows how to convey all the information you need without any fuss: "Now in."
Rachel's in! And some familiar faces were there to greet her: "The calm before the storm here at LA motor show. The world’s media is waiting patiently to be allowed into the halls where we’ll find lots of shiny new metal. Amid the people, Ive spotted a life size advert of those three incorrigible ex-Top Gear presenters plugging the new series of Grand Tour."
Wednesday 29 November, 1630 (0830 Pacific Time)
Remember, LA time is eight hours behind the UK, so while the UK leaves the office for home, Rachel and Tish are readying themselves for a long day of action at the Los Angeles convention centre.
The doors are opening soon, so expect a barrage of new metal in a matter of minutes. What's been happening before the doors open, though? We're glad you asked - take a look at what's been going on in the pre-show events:
Infiniti revealed its QX50 late last night; a rival to the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 with a variable compression ratio engine. It’s pegged, again, as a car which could boost Infiniti’s rather loose hold on the European market when it arrives.
Yes, another SUV, but this one’s not for us - Subaru revealed its Ascent large SUV, in production form, ahead of the show. And yes, it’s got a boxer engine, with 256bhp.
Bangle’s back, and his design is as divisive as ever. He’s been working on REDS - an electric city car for China, and he’s been working with Chinese electric truck company CHTC to bring it to fruition.
Rachel’s been chatting with Mercedes and AMG executives, who have confirmed the power outputs of the new CLS 53 hybrid, and the next AMG A45; 429bhp and more than 400bhp respectively. Goodness. Read more about the CLS 53 here, and get the latest on the A45 here.
Bored of the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 already? Chevy’s got it covered, or in this case, uncovered, with the unveiling of the ZR1 convertible ahead of the show.
Toyota will be showing a large, rugged SUV concept. Yes, another, but SUVs are the new whatever-the-last-trend-was, and this one looks like it’ll actually venture off road. If it ever makes it to production. It’s called the Future Toyota Adventure Concept, or FT-AC. Good initials, Toyota.
Los Angeles motor show: the cars
California-based engineering company Aria is revealing a high-performance concept model in LA, as shown by a single preview image. The picture reveals little other than that the car will have a fixed rear wing and intakes over the rear, suggesting it will be mid-engined.
The drop-top version of BMW’s hybrid supercar has been spotted testing and hinted at a few times now, so a reveal in sunny, eco-friendly Los Angeles fits the model perfectly. It’ll spearhead the facelifted i8 range, following the facelift of its smaller i3 sibling.
Genesis pulled the wraps off of its rear-wheel-drive G70 saloon in September, but the car makes its public debut at the LA motor show. Despite its imminent arrival in the US, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class rival isn't due to make it to Britain until 2021.
Yes, it's another SUV, but they are the voiture du jour. Infiniti’s QX50 - a rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC - is a close follow-up to the QX50 concept that was revealed at the Detroit motor show less than a year ago.
Despite being leaked earlier this year, we get our first proper look at the most rugged Jeep in the brand’s stable at LA. Expect ferocious go-anywhere ability, throwback looks and a smaller entry-level engine – a 2.0-litre rather than the current car’s 2.8-litre.
Mild refreshes to the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport have brought a more Velar-inspired front end to each, as well as a hybrid powertrain. They’re two more cars that have been given the big pre-show reveal long ago, but the first in-depth, in-the-metal look we get is at the show.
Lexus' largest SUV, the RX, is about to get even bigger, with the introduction of a three-row version at LA. It'll be available in 350L and 450hL versions, meaning there will be a choice between petrol-only and hybrid powertrains. Rivals include the Range Rover and Mercedes-Benz GLS, as well as the upcoming BMW X7.
Mazda 6 facelift
Mazda's handsome saloon is reaching the mid-point of its life cycle, so it's getting a nip and tuck to keep it competitive with rivals such as the Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. Mazda has already shown most of the car's front-end styling in a preview image, so it's clear where the tweaks are. There's also a new 2.5-litre petrol engine added to the 6's line-up.
We’ve already had a ride in the next-generation CLS, but we’ve yet to see what it looks like in full. It’ll be one of two new four-door coupés in the Mercedes line-up, with a four-door AMG GT model to be revealed later. Expect the CLS to keep things more on the tame side in comparison.
Porsche has given the 718 range a spruce-up with a new performance flagship model. There’s 361bhp on tap - that’s up by 15bhp - thanks to a new intake system and turbocharger tweaks, as well as styling changes to mark it out from the standard 718 Boxster and Cayman. GTS badging seals the deal.
Subaru has revealeed a production-ready three-row SUV called the Ascent at the LA show, fitted a new direct injection boxer engine. Although primarily focused on the US market, the large model's powerplant will likely make it to Britain in future applications.
Toyota has released a teaser image of a concept machine it will launch at the show. The Future Toyota Adventure Concept is understood to be an off-road SUV-style machine. The firm showcased an urban SUV concept, the FT-4X, at this year's New York show.