Steve Cropley's full verdict on the LA motor show, plus pics of every show star
Steve Cropley Autocar
18 November 2010

Nobody thinks of California as mainstream, and this year's Los Angeles motor show certainly wasn't mainstream, either.

Not, at least, if you list automotive arrivals and events that were as far from convention as a Nissan Murano convertible (surely the ultimate answer to a question nobody asked), a Ferrari-red, big-winged, go-faster version of Honda's fuel-sipping CR-Z hybrid coupe, an all-new Subaru Impreza that actually looked handsome, and a new and rather weird link between Mercedes' AMG cars and Ducati's high performance motorcycles. Apparently the latter go to the same track days as the former...

See pics live from the LA motor show floorRead all the latest news from the LA motor showLatest blogs from our team of reporters in LA

Yet something was missing at each end of the LA automotive spectrum. Compared with recent shows, there were far fewer 'hair shirt' cars: models that go out of their way to suggest an austere motoring future ahead for us all.

And there were fewer unashamed muscle cars in evidence, too; the closest thing to an unabashed performance model was the Porsche Cayman R, a lightened, sharpened and modestly more powerful version of Stuttgart's most sensible sports car.

Only CODA, one of those worthy little electric car companies, squeezed into one end of the pavilion, opposite Suzuki and beside Smart, did the full-on green planet thing, featuring a sign claiming that 'the average person consumes 3375 gallons of oil in a lifetime.

Most of the economy cars were usefully more efficient versions of cars the market wants now, effective hybrids proposed for the near future, or cute electric cars like Kia's terrific little two seater, the battery-powered Pop.

Lotus – helped by actress Sharon Stone – drew big crowds with a repeat of the Dany Bahar-orchestrated unveiling of five all-new models proposed between 2012 and 2016. The new crop of onlookers was just as impressed as the original group in Paris, though they had been warned to be a little more sceptical. Lotus's 'ask' is one of the largest in automotive history. Yet the cars looked good, and Bahar seemed an even more sympathetic character than before.

The US-spec Fiat 500, built in Mexico, not the Czech Republic, looked reassuringly familiar to a European's eye – I had been worried they would corrupt the superb little car – though a couple of its switches and its tiny centre console (containing the indispensable cup-holders) looked very good.

Europeans will envy the MultiAir version of the 1.4 litre engine which has similar power to ours but 10 per cent more torque and better economy, and especially the six-speed Aisin automatic available to American buyers, which must knock the crummy Dual Logic semi-auto available in European baby Fiats for six.

Henrik Fisker was there with his big Karma saloon, showing off the first version to have been built by Valmet, where Audi TTs are made. Seems former US vice president Al Gore and former defence secretary Colin Powell, are to be among the first 10 owners (Fisker isn't saying who gets the very first) and the company holds 3000 orders at about £85,000 a time.

It's an ecologically pure range-extended electric car, the Karma, but also fast, imposing, luxurious and expensive.

These were the kinds of car that drew the interest in LA this year: austerity and joylessness, for once, seemed to be on the back foot.

Steve Cropley

See pics live from the LA motor show floorRead all the latest news from the LA motor showLatest blogs from our team of reporters in LA

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Comments
11

18 November 2010

Why are some pics dark & blurry? Did someone forget their flash?

18 November 2010

Given the recent trend of designing vehicles which make the Ssangyong Rodus look good, it's good to see some fine looking cars in LA. Even Mazda have gorgeous looking saloon... never thought I'd see the day!

The penny still hasn't dropped with the likes of Buick though, just look at that LaCrosse! Basically it's an Insignia with all the signature markings which apparently American customers like - ie big ugly massive chrome grilles. The car just looks cheap and nasty - it's true place in the 1990's hall at a classic car show

If you want to see a LaCrosse, go to your nearest Alamo agency, no need to bother about LA motor show.

18 November 2010

[quote ronmcdonald]American customers like - ie big ugly massive chrome grilles. The car just looks cheap and nasty - it's true place in the 1990's hall at a classic car show[/quote]

I know, it’s ridiculous isn’t it.

You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
—Robert Allen Zimmerman

18 November 2010

Not even the european Fiat 500 is made in the Czech Republic, it's made in Poland! Autocar, really.

18 November 2010

Absolutely love the Cadillac ULC,if a little A-class ish

18 November 2010

[quote Lupe]Did someone forget their flash[/quote]

They forgot their flash but rememebred their phone!

18 November 2010

[quote ronmcdonald]The penny still hasn't dropped with the likes of Buick though, just look at that LaCrosse[/quote]

What amuses me most about the LaCrosse is what the name means to Canadians. It is slang for erm how to put this delicately - pleasuring oneself - alone....

19 November 2010

[quote ischiaragazzo]What amuses me most about the LaCrosse is what the name means to Canadians. It is slang for erm how to put this delicately - pleasuring oneself - alone....[/quote]

Hmmm, Wikipedia definition…

"Lacrosse (in particular box lacrosse) is the national summer sport of Canada."

I could see how that could be taken out of context though. ;)

You don’t need a weatherman
To know which way the wind blows
—Robert Allen Zimmerman

19 November 2010

Talking of Jaguar, I can see Words Being Had with Subaru:

20 November 2010

[quote Lupe]Why are some pics dark & blurry? Did someone forget their flash?[/quote]

No, no it's art, you stupid boy. It's questioning the relationship between the object and the space it occupies, challenging our perception of reality. Everyone knows that!

I particularly like the one of the suit fighting to keep the hacks off Heidi Klum

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