LA auto show: familiar models, new features

Last Updated: Fri, Nov 30, 2012 03:23 hrs

The Los Angeles auto show, which opened on Wednesday with press previews, features a large number of new cars that don’t look new.

Familiar models, with new features, new technologies and internal improvements, dominate the offerings. The concept cars and flights of design fancy that are the raison d’être of major auto shows will be scarce here. Only Hyundai, teasing a California-themed concept, seems to have anything that might rate as a surprise, still behind the curtain, so to speak.

The Los Angeles auto show, the first major show for coming model year debutantes, promises the first look for American audiences at more than four dozen new models. The caveat in that wording is that international audiences have already seen most of these cars, at shows like the one last month in Paris. So, in that regard, the Los Angeles stop on the international auto salon circuit seems to be struggling once again to retain its tenuous hold on relevance.

Many of the industry’s most anticipated new models are likely to have their introductions in mid-January at the prestigious North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

That said, the Los Angeles show, always heavy on convertibles, sports cars and alternative forms of propulsion that epitomize California, will have a more robust assortment of new models than usual. Here are some examples:

Acura – The “production version” of its RLX flagship will be shown; it shouldn’t be too different from the concept version first shown at the New York show last April.

Audi – New diesel powertrains will be offered in the A6, A7, A8 and Q5. The cars introduced here will be visually indistinguishable from the long-ago-introduced gasoline-powered versions.

Bentley – Bentley will display its GT3 race car and have end-of-day champagne toasts on Wednesday. Very civilized.

BMW – Along with several new models shown previously overseas, BMW says it will introducel a sporty, coupelike variation of its four-door i3 electric car.

Chevrolet – An electric version of its Spark minicar is due; it will be sold, initially, only in California and Korea.

Fiat – Several variations of the 500 minicar will be shown, including electric, turbocharged and elongated versions; a convertible Abarth is also among the collection.

Ford – Ford has a people-mover version of its Transit Connect van; the boxy wagon makes up in utility for what it lacks in curb appeal. Also expect a Fiesta powered by a tiny new 3-cylinder turbocharged engine.

Honda – Just 18 months after Honda unveiled a new Civic, the company is showing a hastily produced re-design; though not obviously different, this new Civic is intended to silence the last model’s many and vociferous critics.

Jaguar – As if its XF sedan wasn’t powerful enough, a new high-zoot version, called the XFR-S, will be shown.

Kia – A new Forte sedan will be unveiled; internationally, the car has been shown as the K3.

Mercedes-Benz – The German automaker is showing a completely different take on its iconic G-Class all-terrain vehicle, called the Ener-G-Force. One of the show’s highlights, this concept may portend an expansion of the G-Class family.

Mini – The Clubvan is the latest effort to expand the company’s offerings. For deliverymen, the Clubvan is aClubman with a rear cargo area instead of a rear seat, and no back windows.

Porsche – The new Cayman, the hardtop version of its recently re-styled Boxster roadster, will be shown.

Subaru – A new Forester wagon will be unveiled.

Volkswagen – The long-awaited convertible version of the latest Beetle will finally break cover.

© 2012 The New York Times News Service

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