2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: Introduction
If the mention of cars and Los Angeles has you thinking of the Governator cruising in a drop-top Porsche and Eva Longoria straddling Lamborghinis, well, you're not far off the mark. Stars are big business in sunny SoCal, but it'll be cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and concept vehicles taking center stage at the 2008 Los Angeles auto show. Usually simply serving as a warm up to the bigger-and-better Detroit auto show, Chicago auto show, and New York auto show, this year L.A. plays host to a variety of significant debuts, from sexy German convertibles to overhauled American muscle.
When the gates open on November 19th, we'll be reporting on all of the action directly from the L.A. auto show, but in the meantime, we've put together a preview of some of the vehicles that will be headlining in the City of Angels.
By Thom Blackett
L.A. Auto Show Photo Montage: Ron Perry
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: 2009 Audi Q5
First displayed at the 2008 Beijing auto show, the 2009 Audi Q5 makes its North American debut at the L.A. auto show. As its name suggests, the Audi Q5 slots in under the larger Audi Q7 and will compete with the BMW X3, the Infiniti EX35, and the all-new Volvo XC60. Power for the all-wheel-drive Audi Q5 comes from a 270-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 mated to a six-speed automatic gearbox. The arrival of the Q5 puts Audi into consideration for the plethora of buyers looking for SUV/crossover utility in a smaller package, and features such as real-time traffic information and a 505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system should help seal the deal.
Photo Credit: Audi
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: 2009 BMW Z4
Based on spy shots and spy video, the 2009 BMW Z4 should be larger than the current model, thankfully loses some of its Bangled angles, and will likely adopt the convertible flavor of the day – a retractable hard top. Look for the new Z4 to draw motivation from existing Bimmer powertrains, possibly including the twin-turbo sixer used liberally throughout the brand's lineup. Whatever changes are made, they'll need to be enough to draw buyers away from the reinvigorated Audi TT and BMW's own 1 Series convertible.
Photo Credit: James Fabin
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: 2010 Ford Fusion
Today's car shoppers certainly face obstacles, but not having a wide variety of family sedans from which to choose ain't one of 'em. Among the choices is the front-drive Ford Fusion, due to receive notable updates for 2010 in an effort to remain competitive in a sea of Honda Accords and Nissan Altimas. Behind the reworked styling will be three engines – a 175-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder, a 240-hp 3.0-liter V-6, and a 263-hp 3.5-liter V-6 reserved for the Fusion Sport. And for buyers interested in top-notch fuel economy but not sold on the hybrids currently available, 2010 will mark the introduction of the all-new Ford Fusion Hybrid.
Photo Credit: Ford
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: 2010 Ford Mustang
More than 40 years after being introduced amid tremendous fanfare, the original ponycar continues to grace Ford showrooms nationwide. The current Ford Mustang remains a bargain, despite being pimped out in more flavors than Ben & Jerry could imagine and boasting an interior only the Plastics Council of America proud. Tack on the return of the Chevy Camaro and Dodge Challenger, and it becomes clear that the redesigned 2010 Mustang has to be a hit. Styling appears to be evolutionary, and powertrain rumors range from straight carryovers to adoption of the upcoming EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6. Regardless, get ready for a year of killer comparison tests.
Photo Credit: Ford
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible
It's been more than 15 years since Infiniti's one-and-only drop-top model, the M30 convertible, bid adieu. That changes for 2009 with the introduction of an Infiniti G37 convertible with a retractable hardtop. Having driven the coupe and sedan versions of the Infiniti G37, we're led to believe that this new variant will be a freakin' hoot. Set to take on the BMW 3 Series convertible and the upcoming Lexus IS convertible, Infiniti's G37 convertible will house a 3.7-liter V-6 engine good for 328 horsepower. As a special treat for those who must beat the Joneses, 200 Premier Editions are available through Bloomingdale's.
Photo Credit: Infiniti
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: 2010 Lexus RX
A hybrid model not withstanding, the Lexus RX has changed relatively little since first being introduced. Look for that theme to continue with the introduction of the 2010 RX, due to debut at the 2008 L.A. auto show. Thanks to spy shots and images leaked from a Japanese brochure, we can see that the new RX is larger than the current version and borrows its slightly revised shape from the LF-Xh concept vehicle. With the expansion comes the possibility of a third-row seat. Powertrain choices will likely include a 3.5-liter V-6 and a more powerful hybrid system.
Photo Credit: Lexus
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: 2010 Mazda 3
Anyone who suggests that small, affordable cars can't be fun obviously hasn't spent much time with the Mazda 3. This little ride has been a hit with buyers looking for fun and style on a budget. But like everything, the 3 needs to be spiffed up now and again to stay fresh and relevant. The 2010 Mazda 3 gets a mild facelift and what the company describes as "a more refined sporty ride." Engine choices will include the existing 2.0-liter and a new 2.5-liter four-banger. Five-door fans fear not – the release of the Mazda 3 wagon will come on the heels of the sedan's L.A. auto show debut.
Photo Credit: Mazda
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: Mini E Concept
Leave it to a car with a little name to make a big impact at the 2008 L.A. auto show. That's the idea behind the Mini E, a fully-electric edition of the entertaining Mini Cooper. The Mini E boasts a 150-mile range and 204 horsepower. An electric motor draws its juice from a lithium-ion battery and uses a single-stage helical gearbox as a conduit for delivering grunt to the front wheels. Mini suggests that a full recharge can be accomplished in less than three hours. Upon introduction, 500 Mini E models will be leased to the public, but forget about toting the kids around – the rear seat has been axed to make room for the battery.
Photo Credit: Mini
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: 2009 Nissan 370Z
We're not sure anyone could've seen this one coming. Roughly 40 years and 45 years after first rolling off their respective assembly lines, the Nissan Z and Ford Mustang remain highly relevant members of the American car scene, and it is only appropriate that they appear as overhauled models at the 2008 L.A. auto show. Dubbed the 370Z for 2009, Nissan's iconic two-passenger sports car will draw power from a 3.7-liter V-6 that, in Infiniti guise, produces 328 horsepower. Styling is evolutionary with edgy headlight and taillight treatments and an interior that appears to be more refined (one can only hope).
Photo Credit: Nissan
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: Scion iQ Concept
American fans of microcars currently have a bounty of choices, provided they like the Smart Fortwo and, well, the Smart Fortwo. However, the list of options may double if rumors about the Scion iQ prove true. This little runabout debuted as a Toyota at the Geneva auto show but will likely adorn the Scion booth at the 2008 L.A. auto show. Should the Scion iQ secure a spot in the U.S. market, plan on seeing this ultra compact arrive with two things you won't get from your Smart dealer – a rear seat and a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine borrowed from the Toyota Yaris.
Photo Credit: Scion
2008 L.A. Auto Show Preview: Volkswagen Roadster Concept
We've arrived at the end of our preview list, and to be honest, the Volkswagen Roadster Concept is our wildcard. When we requested information and/or images for this roadster/coupe concept, VW reps remained non-committal. If Volkswagen does pull the cover off a new creation at the L.A. auto show, expect it to pay homage to the sleek and sexy VW Concept R previously unveiled and pictured here. To make a case for itself, the VW Roadster concept would need to be smaller and lighter than the existing Eos, but would hopefully still be available with the lively 2.0-liter turbocharged four.
Photo Credit: Volkswagen