The 2011 edition of the Los Angeles motor show was a slightly tentative one from the major car makers. With Frankfurt still fresh in the memory and Tokyo just a fortnight away, this was a show for displaying new models that either filled important gaps in manufacturers' respective ranges or, in the case of the US firms, bring their line-ups more in tune with the rest of the world.
Headline grabbing world premieres were thin on the ground, with even the biggest new car there - the Subaru BRZ - having already been seen several times before as a Toyota. Even so, it looked the part after its STI makeover, which ensured almost every interview with Subaru execs after the press conference started: "Are you going to make the STI version?" Go on, Subaru…
From the Big Three, it was General Motors and Ford who made the headlines. For GM, Chevrolet confirmed plans to give US buyers its smallest model yet, the Spark, an interesting decision in a week where Fiat had to cut production of the 500 for North America due to falling sales.
Cadillac presented its new BMW 5-series-size XTS saloon flagship, which looked suspiciously like a Saab 9-5. The XTS though "is for a new world where old formulas don't apply", claimed GM of the XTS. How Saab, an LA absentee, could do with its own new world right now. More significant for the UK at Cadillac was confirmation of the new 3-series-sized ATS for summer 2012. Will GM finally be able to crack the volume junior executive segment?
Ford's all-new Escape will come to the UK as the Kuga in late 2012 with only subtle tweaks for European tastes. It's a much bigger car than before, but one that addresses the biggest issues of the current Kuga: interior and luggage space. One Ford UK buyers won't be getting though is the five-door Fiesta ST, even though most were in agreement it actually looked better than its supposedly more sporty three-door sibling that's destined for sale here in a year's time.