2013 Los Angeles Auto Show Studs and Duds
It's finally auto show season again, and this week we managed to weather the first round at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Out of the show, several dozen new concept and production vehicles emerged. We waded through all of them to choose our five studs and five duds of the auto show. It's important to note that our five duds aren't the worst things since Joseph Stalin; we just found them underwhelming amid so many big debuts. An auto show ought to be a showing of a company's best feet forward, and sometimes those efforts just fall flat. Conversely, we love the studs on our lists, but there's no guarantee they'll sell worth a darn when they reach showrooms. With all of the prefaces and disclosures now out there, it's time to go through our Studs and Duds. Stud: 2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe For all of our fawning for the Jaguar F-Type, we wouldn't have been able to make this list in good faith if the hardtop version of our favorite rolling embodiment of desires and fantasies weren't included. The 2014 Jaguar F-Type convertible made its debut last year at the L.A. Auto Show, and the 2015 F-Type Coupe follows up with two notable differences: The swooping canopy that cocoons the driver and passenger and an engine upgrade that's exclusively for the F-Type Coupe, a 550-horsepower, supercharged 5.0-liter V-8. We loved our time in the F-Type V8 S convertible; we can't wait to let 'er rip in the coupe. Stud: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Several of our staff members expected this one to be a full-blown dud. Surprisingly or not, the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado might just be the sort of vehicle that could upset the status quo when it arrives next year. Power comes by way of a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, a 3.6-liter V-6, 0r a 2.8-liter Duramax V-6. That's right, it'll have a diesel engine in it, which will be a novel among light-duty midsize pickup trucks. The truck is wholly more civilized than the one it replaces, as well as the international version of the same truck, and it'll have an interior that is frankly nicer than the one in the current Chevy Malibu. Stud: Nissan's Nismo lineup Perhaps the biggest surprise of the L.A. Auto Show wasn't with any single vehicle, but with the onslaught that was Nissan's revamped and reinvigorated Nismo lineup. For those of you not in the know, Nismo is short for Nissan Motorsports. Before the show, we were privy to the 2014 Nissan Juke RS, and even more insane version of the Nissan Juke. Now, it has 215 horsepower from a 1.6-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine and Recaro bucket seats straight out of a race car. We were also aware that a revamped 2015 Nissan GT-R would be on its way, too, but instead of getting it as planned, Nissan dropped its 600-horsepower Nismo variant off in the U.S. as a surprise, along with Usain Bolt. Finally, Nissan revealed its Sentra Nismo concept, instilling its dowdy compact sedan with all the power and performance that would make us stand up and take notice. And believe us, we're taking a lot of notice. Stud: 2015 Audi A3 This whole compact luxury sedan class is filling up quite quickly. We were mightily impressed with the style of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, but its substance could be a bit lacking. Not so for the 2015 Audi A3, which comes with two available gas engine--a 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder--a new diesel engine, front- or all-wheel drive, and hatchback, sedan, or convertible variants. There will even be a plug-in hybrid variant available. There's an Audi A3 for everyone, and it'll be accessible, too. That could put a serious buzzkill on the wave of enthusiasm that has come with the CLA. Stud: 2015 Porsche Macan Yes, please. Sure, it's a little more expensive than we would have initially anticipated, starting at just under $50,000 for the mid-grade Macan S that currently serves as the cheapest model available. And it shares a bit of what's under its sheetmetal with the much cheaper Audi Q5. But the 2015 Porsche Macan is otherwise one we'd love to see in our garage now. Sitting inside it, it becomes readily apparent that this little crossover is of the utmost quality, with materials and technology that aim to challenge more expensive rivals. Porsche claims 4.4 seconds to 60 mph with its available 400-horsepower, turbocharged V-6. If there is a flaw with this one, we can't think of it. Oh yeah, except for maybe its price, which can top 100 grand if you're not too careful. Dud: Ford Edge Concept We knew what to expect with the Ford Edge concept, seeing as how this one leaked from the company vault months ago. But seeing the crossover in the sheetmetal was more than a tad underwhelming, to be completely honest. Even with the trick door handles, big wheels, and more chrome that come with a concept version, we couldn't help but think Ford took a backstep with the creativity that came with the first-gen version. The 2015 Ford Edge will probably sell well, and it will probably correct many of the foibles that plague the current model, but Ford could have done so much more with it. Why didn't it? When a car we see in a parking garage has more presence than the model that debuted on the show floor, there's a problem. Dud: 2015 Subaru WRX It's certainly not going to be a bad car, not with a larger rear seat, added power, and more refinement. But is that why you buy a Subaru WRX? No. Hell no. You buy a Subaru WRX to be brazen, in-your-face, and maybe even a little juvenile. You buy it to live out your rally-car dreams and obsessively tinker with your car along with throngs of other Subie people. The new WRX will likely be little of the above, at least compared to past models. In fact, our consensus said it was honestly a little boring. Sitting on the show stand in red paint with gunmetal-colored wheels, this isn't the futuristic WRX we were promised at this year's New York Auto Show; it's an Impreza with a different nose. It's even available with a continuously variable automatic transmission for the first time, a rarity among sporting products of any sort if only because CVTs rarely ever make for the best transmission choice in cars that aren't geared for maximum fuel economy. CVTs are for hybrids and and family sedans; not for cars you're supposed to fling around sideways on a muddy Sunday afternoon. The 2015 Subaru WRX looks rough and tumble, and we're sure looking forward to it exceeding our modest expectations. But on the surface, this looks like one of the most introverted sport compact cars to ever come from Subaru, and we wonder if its substance will make it a better sporting machine than the model it replaces as much as we expect it to be a more polished ride. We hope Mitsubishi stays viable long enough to produce a next-gen Lancer Evolution with some real bite in its personality, and we hope the next STI version is a real fire-breather. So far, this WRX just looks bland. We hope we're proven wrong. Dud: BMW X4 Concept The BMW X4 concept has made the rounds for several months now. This one is more a preview used for publicity than an actual concept, as BMW has already stated that it will be headed for production in Spartanburg, South Carolina quite soon. It's not bad-looking, either. We just think it's pointless. And useless. And redundant. And we can't figure out why it needs to exist. Essentially a sportier version of the BMW X3, the X4 cuts cargo capacity and rear headroom and does so for what will likely be more money than the crossover on which it's based. It will also contend with the far more useful, but less aesthetically pleasing, BMW 3 Series GT. For us, we'd rather have something more straightforward like a fun-to-drive station wagon if we're going for that sort of thing. Or maybe just a BMW X3. Dud: 2015 Kia K900 Was this one a shoo-in for the "Duds" list? You might think so, but there were those of us who thought the car was pleasingly inoffensive and probably priced to move, even at prices likely to start above $50,000. So what's the holdup? The 2015 Kia K900 offers precisely nothing new to the segment, and it does so with a brand that carries less prestige than your average household appliance supplier. Its name also sounds like that of a household appliance. The top-spec model will have some 420 horsepower available from its 5.0-liter V-8 engine, and its interior mimics the BMW 7 Series in nearly every respect, but at a fraction of the price. It's just wholly unsatisfying in terms of bringing something truly innovative to a cutthroat segment. We don't expect it to be a bad car, but will it be a good one? Time will tell. Dud: 2015 Mini Cooper So this car has been dubbed "The new original," as Mini finally has to move beyond the looming shadow of the diminutive 1959 model that inspired the brand in the first place. On the original designer Sir Alec Issigonis' birthday, the 2015 Mini Cooper was unveiled. During the week, we heard, "It looks surprised" and "How big can a Mini be before it's a Medium or a Maxi Cooper?" We wondered the same thing. This car is a substantial 4.5 inches longer than the outgoing model, and it looks fine by itself. Still, its interior is cramped, and next to even a 2014 model, it looks like it's had a few too many burgers. Mini's goal with this car is to broaden its appeal beyond baby boomers, and we think it will mightily succeed. But we also think that BMW, Mini's parent company, is missing the plot for what a Mini ought to be. Innovative with a new turbocharged three-cylinder engine or an engine borrowed from the BMW 320i for the Cooper S, the 2015 Mini should be a great car. But it's no longer a Mini, and it's not quite the charmer it used to be.
This week was filled with coverage from the Los Angeles Auto Show.