Fun Stuff

Best of the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show

It’s fair to say that electrification is dominating most of the new and exciting automotive products unveiled in Los Angeles this week.

The LA Auto Show was an extravaganza of eye candy, future tech, not-as-future-as-you-might-think tech and even some intriguing new mainstream models.

This is our round-up of favourites, as chosen by five of the contributors on hand for the show.

Best in Show

Alfa Romeo Stelvio (Paul Williams and Stephanie Wallcraft)

Two of our journalists, Paul Williams and Stephanie Wallcraft, picked the Alfa Romeo Stelvio as their favourite car of the show. Paul simply said, “Red-hot Alfa SUV. Looks ready for business.”

Stephanie noted that Alfa is playing catch-up but says the Italians are doing it well. “A performance SUV breaking power and speed records – why not, when everyone else is doing it?”

Chevrolet Bolt (Michael Bettencourt)

Our Managing Editor and EV enthusiast/owner Michael Bettencourt was lit up by the Chevrolet Bolt, “Not because it wrapped up awards at an even greater pace than the Tesla Model S did when it launched, but because it may be the first pure electric vehicle to succeed in the mainstream market.”

Porsche 911 RSR (Lesley Wimbush)

“Just when you think Porsche couldn’t possibly do it any better – they just did,” gushed Lesley Wimbush.

“Unlike Jeremy Clarkson’s “arse-engined” regular variants, the 911 RSR’s flat-six is in the middle for better balance and handling.”

The mid-engine 911 RSR should have its share of admirers and interest.

Jaguar I-Pace (Benjamin Hunting)

“The Jaguar I-Pace shows us that once the luxury world gathers steam with its EV programs, Tesla will have to suddenly start competing as both a car company and a tech company,” said Ben Hunting, who was astounded by the electric SUV Jaguar will produce within the next two years.

Best Concept

Cadillac Escala (LW)

“This long, luscious land yacht is a stop-you-in-your-tracks stunner; its carbon-fibre and aluminum body looks dipped in molten glass,” said Lesley of the US luxury marque’s latest creation. Perhaps we’ll see this one hit the roads sooner than you might think too: this concept wasn’t just a dummy model.

“Under the Escala’s long, aristocratic nose is a fully functional, 4.2L V8.”

Jaguar I-Pace (Everybody else)

With Lesley the lone dissenting voice, all of our contributors were “all-in” on the Jaguar I-Pace.

Michael was impressed by Jaguar’s leap forward: “Late to the game on gas SUVs, ahead of all other traditional luxury automakers for all-electric SUVs.”

“Impressive cutting-edge technology in a package that crosses over about five vehicle types,” said Paul, who gave the nod to the I-Pace here for its versatility.

While Stephanie was shocked (get it?) to see that Jaguar has kept its EV word: “When they said they were all-in on electrification, it looks like Jaguar wasn’t playing around.”

Best Production Model

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 (BH and LW)

“The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is the first time the Tacoma has been slapped in the face on an off-road trail in more than a decade,” said Ben, who sees the ZR2 as the new whiz-kid of the small pick-up truck segment.

It’s fair to say Lesley was equally impressed: “Chevy’s new out-of-the-box hardcore off-roader boasts super-car suspension dampers custom-designed exclusively for the ZR2 by Multimatic. It’s the same technology that underpins the Ford GT, Aston Martin One-77, and the champion Red Bull Formula 1 cars.”

Audi A5 Sportback (MB)

Audi went all Justin Timberlake on the Audi A5 and managed to lure Michael to the party. “Bringing a sexy back to a sexy car,” he said of the new A5 before erupting into dance.

Volvo V90 Cross Country (PW)

Paul split the difference between Michael’s luxury and Lesley and Ben’s off-road ability by choosing the Volvo V90 Cross Country. “I can’t believe how long and sleek this vehicle is. A really bold and striking vehicle.”

Mazda CX-5 (SW)

“Mazda massaged it in all the right places to beef up the CX-5’s consumer appeal, and the introduction of SkyActiv diesel to North America is a key development,” said Stephanie while defending her choice for best production model. The CX-5 is a mainstream unit whose new engine might just elevate it to a new level.

Best Technology

Chevrolet Bolt’s Electric Powertrain (LW)

When choosing a bit of technology to highlight for this piece, Lesley chose one with genuine mainstream impact. “The General’s rather unassuming little hatch/wagon/crossover plug-in, with its real-world 383 km range, has finally managed to do what everyone else has tried and failed: deliver a mainstream driving experience without range anxiety for under $40,000 with rebate,” she said of the Chevrolet Bolt.

DSSV Shocks (BH, SW)

More love for the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 from Ben, with another voice joining him in selecting this suspension unit as Best Tech in Show.

“The DSSV suspension in the ZR2 is something no other automaker currently offers in an off-road pickup – and you can’t find it in the aftermarket, either,” said Ben.

Stephanie was impressed by the Canadian connection: “For wanting to stay out of the spotlight as desperately as they do, Toronto’s Multimatic sure does an awful lot of brilliant work.”

Jaguar and Nissan VR (MB)

Michael was impressed as much by the tech used to show off new cars as that attached to them in LA. Highlighting Jaguar and Nissan for using VR to launch their vehicles. “Jaguar used them to introduce the I-Pace in spectacular fashion, Nissan used them to tease Star Wars fans for the upcoming movie” he said.

Land Rover Semi-Autonomous Advanced Tow Assist (PW)

Opening himself up for ribbing as a bad tower, Paul nonetheless wanted to give a hat-tip to Land Rover for their new towing tech.

“According to the Land Rover rep, this system offers hands-free parking with a trailer hitched to the back of your Discovery. Sounds pretty slick to me!”

Most Earth-Shattering Racing Reveal

Porsche 911 RSR (SW)

“The debate may rage for months: is a mid-engine 911 still a 911?”

Best Thing We’re Not Getting in Canada

Buick Cascada Convertible or Chevrolet Spark Activ (MB)

“A lovely, comfortable convertible for a reasonable price, even if it’s not quite as energetic as Cascada the dance artist. But seriously, why aren’t we getting the Chevy Spark Activ?”

Hyundai’s Ioniq/WaiveCar Alliance (LW)

“Free driving within a 20-mile radius of the city – as long as that city’s Los Angeles. Sure, you’ll have to accept that the car’s essentially vinyl wrapped like a rolling billboard, but hey, a free ride’s a free ride. Although the plan is to increase the fleet to 250 cars and three major cities, none of them are within Canada. Yet.”

Most Ominous Sign of Regime Change

The Hulking TIE Fighter at the Nissan Booth (BH)

“Reminding us all that the watchful eye of the evil Empire never blinks.”