Show Stoppers and Highlights from the Los Angeles Auto Show 2019
Show Stoppers and Highlights from the Los Angeles Auto Show 2019
While some of the world’s major auto shows are dimming, Los Angeles’ seems to be shining brightly. While some automakers like Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche have pulled back on their participation at some show venues, they remain stable in Los Angeles. Porsche even had its own dedicated space at Petree Hall. LA is a prime car culture location, and it helps, of course, that the area is a top sales locale for such marques. We’ve selected 10 vehicles we thought were highlights at this year’s show.
Mach-E by Ford
In its early development days, this first major electric vehicle (EV) from Ford, the Mach-E, didn’t have a visual Mustang theme. That initial image wasn’t working, so the automaker looked to its past for inspiration and considered the fact that it has sold over 10 million Mustangs in the last half-century. After a redesign, we see the Mach-E contains those recognizable headlights, galloping Mustangs on the nose and the tail, and includes the classic three-section taillights.
To some, this is a logical step to launch Ford’s answer to the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi’s E-Tron or several Teslas. To others, it is a travesty, milking the famous Mustang name to draw attention to an electric SUV. Opinions at the auto show seemed to be split.
Overall, the Mach-E is a bit smaller than Ford’s Explorer with seating for five, though four would likely be more comfortable. In the back of the car is 29 cubic feet of storage space. Upfront rests a small trunk that could double as a beer cooler. Typical of electric vehicles, thanks to Tesla, the instrument panel is kept to a minimum with a 15.5-inch display screen to the right.
The Mach-E is a rear-drive single-motor layout with the option of a front axle motor for all-wheel drive. Two batteries are offered, one with 288 cells, another holding 376 cells. There is a wide variety of power, acceleration and range options through the six different versions of the Mach-E. Some models will be available in the spring of 2021, including a pair of GT editions. The horsepower can range from 332 to 459, and the battery lasts between 235 and 300 miles (depending on the model), plus the car has quoted 0-60 mph records from 3.5-6.5 seconds.
Interestingly, for comparison, Ford matches Mach-E performance to that of various Porsches. Go to https://www.ford.com/buy/mach-e/build-and-price.html#/model, and you can configure a Mach-E, with prices starting at $43,895 and hitting $59,950 for these first editions. Then factor in your e-vehicle rebates. You can then plunk down $500 to reserve one for yourself.
ID. Space Vizzion by Volkswagen
Volkswagen has now shown seven electric vehicles based on its MEB platform, with the batteries packed inside the floor. The latest is saddled with a complicated name, ID. SPACE VIZZION, and shows a sleek body shape with a drag coefficient of just 0.24. The car is equipped with a high-waist and low roof silhouette and 22-inch wheels.
The car is powered by a rear-mounted, 275-horsepower motor, and you could add a front motor for all-wheel drive and 335 horsepower. With its 82 kWh battery, the range is claimed to be up to 300 miles. VW says 60 mph comes up in 5.0 seconds with AWD, and weight is distributed 50/50 between front and rear. Basic instrumentation is kept to a minimum with the necessary information shown on a heads-up display. Infotainment, vehicle settings, online functions, etc. are on a 15.6-inch screen to the right. The material covering the seats is called AppleSkin and contains a percentage of “residual matter from apple juice production.”
Taycan 4S by Porsche
If the prices of Porsche’s all-electric Taycan Turbo ($159,900) and Taycan Turbo S ($185,000) are beyond your bank account, the German automaker presented an alternative at a mere $103,800. The Taycan 4S has plenty of strength for most drivers. The all-wheel-drive is powered by motors at the front and rear axles with a two-speed transmission at the back. There are two battery possibilities, one that provides 429 horsepower (522 on overboost), while the high-performance version with its two-layer battery is at 482 horsepower (563 with overboost). In either case, it runs 0-60 mph in just under 4.0 seconds on the way to 155 mph. The range is likely around 250 miles with the smaller battery, 280 with the larger version, though final US numbers aren’t quite ready. No surprise, the 4S rides on the Porsche 4D Chassis Control system with adaptive air suspension and electronic damper control. All this resides in a non-traditional Porsche 4-door body style that looks appropriate for an EV from the German company. Unlike some electric vehicles, the Taycan 4S has a somewhat traditional dashboard with an array of gauges ahead and a 10.9-inch infotainment screen set in the dash. And, of course, you’re looking at the Porsche crest in the steering wheel. The vehicles are available next spring.
Defender by Land Rover
Land Rover hasn’t sold the Defender in the US for several decades. The newest Defender was launched last September, and Land Rover is wasting no time shipping it to the US. We’ll get the four-door version in the spring; the two-door form arrives this summer, followed by the full lineup in the fall. An exciting cargo addition can be seen in the back window. Add-ons like accessory packs include a gearbox attached to the back, side window. It’s designed to hold wet or dirty items while you’re out on an adventure. The updated styling smoothly shifts the Defender’s boxy design into this century.
There will be two forms, the four-door Defender 110 and two-door Defender 90. Plus, two drivetrains with the standard four-wheel drive fitted to all Defenders. The base is a turbo 2.0-liter with 296 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. This force will scoot a 110 to 60 mph in 7.7 seconds. The step-up engine is a mild-hybrid 3.0-liter straight-six that develops 395 horsepower, 406 lb-ft of torque, and clips through to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Under both Defenders is all the equipment one expects from a vehicle with its traditional off-road capabilities. Expect prices that start somewhere around $50,000 with a model and options list that can bump that up over $80,000.
LC 500 by Lexus
It seemed a given for Lexus to add a convertible to its LC 500 line of luxury sports cars. It takes 15 seconds to fold the convertible top under a tonneau cover. Then 16 seconds to put it back over the cockpit, both at speeds up to 31 mph. There are available screens to go behind the passengers to minimize wind buffeting. As a safety feature, hidden roll bars will pop up to protect riders in case of a rollover. Naturally, engineers had to beef up the chassis to allow for no upper structure, which added about 125 pounds to the 4,500-pound LC 500. As with the coupes, power comes from a 5.0-liter V-8 engine with 471 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Mirai by Toyota
Toyota’s Mirai has always received mixed reviews. The advanced hydrogen-fuel cell drive system with only water as a byproduct offers a clean ride. However, the body styling was previously best left in the corner of the design studio and hidden from view. The automaker has thankfully changed that, particularly in the side view, as the second generation Mirai is modern and attractive and riding on 20-inch wheels. The Mirai now has a front-engine, rear-drive layout and range upped by 30% from the old model’s 312 miles. After that distance, you must find a hydrogen refueling station, which can be difficult. This refueling issue is why Mirai deliveries have been limited to California, and for the most part, the vehicles have been leased. Toyota has only assembled 10,000 Mirai vehicles but aims to triple the number in annual sales with the new version.
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AMG GLE 63 S by Mercedes-Benz
A large vehicle like an SUV is the perfect car to cart the kids off to school, then continue on to the shopping center and perhaps a round of golf. Mercedes-Benz will take you from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds with its AMG 2021 GLE 63 S. That acceleration is provided by a dual-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine that pounds out 603 horsepower and 627 lb-ft of torque. Thanks to a 48-volt starter-generator, for short bursts, you can add 21 horses and 184 lb-ft of torque. All this spins out through a 9-speed automatic transmission to all-wheel drive. Active Ride Control helps keep all that power in check when you are cruising quickly.
The GLE 63 S also features adaptive air suspension. No surprise, there are various drive modes, some for speed that lower the GLE 0.4-inches over 75 mph, some for slow motions, like a 2.0-inch vehicle rise when in Trail or Sand mode, climbing over rocks and challenging terrains. You’ll be able to spot the AMG GLE 63 S when it speeds past you thanks to its large Panamericana grille, the side skirts and those 21-inch alloy wheels. The SUV will arrive in dealerships by mid-2020… but hold on; this isn’t the only powerful German SUV at the show.
RS Q8 by Audi
We wanted to offer an alternative to Mercedes-AMG’s thundering 2021 GLE 63 S. That competitor is the Audi RS Q8, which was a whiz at the Nürburgring racetrack. It also has a duo-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine that boasts 591 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque in European specs. That brings up 60 mph in 3.8 seconds. The top speed is 155 mph unless you pay for the optional dynamic package, at which point it goes up to almost 190 mph. Naturally, it has Audi’s quattro® all-wheel drive, while the automatic transmission has eight speeds. The RS Q8 not only has the power, but it looks the part. The Q8 looks hunkered down on as much as 23-inch alloy wheels inside muscular wheel arches. The Audi looks less like an SUV and more like a station wagon that’s been to the gym. You can expect the RS Q8 in the US by mid-2020 priced around $120,000.
Tonale by Alfa Romeo
We’ve wondered if Alfa Romeo would be selling its Tonale SUV in the US, and assume its inclusion at the LA Show confirms that. Smaller than Alfa’s Stelvio, the Tonale would go up against Volvo’s XC40, BMW’s X1 and X2 and the Audi Q3. There are still only minimal details available, like the fact it will be a front-engine, front-drive design with a hybrid version that adds a rear-mounted motor. Likely built on the Jeep Renegade platform, the Tonale will seat five. We don’t know much beyond that. Anything else would be speculation, but we hope to see a $30,000 price tag in the near future, sometime in 2020. It’s a good guess, however, that the Tonale will be available with those “telephone dial” alloy wheels. Alfisti, stay tuned.
We’re told Władziu Valentino Liberace owned about 35 cars, and it’s a good guess none of the flamboyant pianist’s machines were subtle. How about the stylish Rolls-Royces or the VW Bug done up as a Rolls? Or this unique 1981 Zimmer Golden Spirit? Galpin Auto Sports had it in its extensive LA display of exotic cars. This creation was from a time when there was an interest, confusing to many, in new vehicles that looked as though they’d come from the pre World War II era.
Zimmer created just that on a Mustang chassis for Liberace and the car, as Galpin puts it, “fully embraces every chrome-slathered bit of Zimmerian detailing.” Plus, gold plating on the dashboard and steering wheel. The pièce de résistance? Seven separate candelabras atop the hood of the car.
Be honest, would you rather drive the Zimmer Golden Spirit or the Ford Mustang Mach-E?
John Lamm worked for Road & Track for 37 years and is equally happy behind a keyboard or a camera. He has written ten automotive books and has been honored with the International Motor Press Association’s Ken Purdy award and the Motor Press Guild’s Dean Batchelor award for writing. He is on the organizing committee for the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and has been a judge at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance for two decades.