Whether or not you believe that all American automotive trends emanate from the left coast, it’s clear that this year’s L.A. Auto Show (happening now through November 28) is packing in more than its share of momentous motorhead moments. Our picks, hot off the show floor:
1. Electric Feel
The soft glow of electric sex is here to stay. Hot on the heels of the just-arriving Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf plug-ins (buzz on the floor: both will be hits), Toyota shows off its RAV4 EV concept, developed in a partnership with Tesla Motors, while Honda bows the Fit EV, a plug-in vehicle that will go 100 miles on a single charge. Both are expected to hit the production line as 2012 models. Meanwhile Mitsubishi is pimping the i-MiEV (above), a diminutive, four-seat, 63-horsepower plug-in with a face that looks like a Chuck E. Cheese robot with its faux fur pulled off.
2. Speed Lives
Despite the show’s MPG-obsessed bent, a few sexy neck-snappers stand out. Peep Porsche’s Cayman R (above), a harder-edged, lightweight version of the company’s mid-engined sports coupe (330hp, $66K.) Oh, and also on hand for Porsche aficionados…
Mercedes showcases the 2012 CLS63 AMG, a 550-hp super sedan ($TBA) decked in carbon fiber and a magnificent, malevolent matte gray paint job. (Matte gray: the new matte black. Just watch.)
And in a low-ceilinged space off the main show floor, don’t miss British manufacturer Lotus’s entirely revamped line of stunners, here in the States for the first time. Last, but not least…Ian Callum’s Jaguar C-X 75 hybrid supercar concept, another Paris premiere. Pure sex.
3. The City Car goes Luxe
As the small but seductive Fiat 500 drew crowds on the show floor for its North American debut, GM hosted a party at its Advanced Design Studio in North Hollywood to roll out the Cadillac Urban Luxury Concept, a glammed-out, four-seat jewelbox of a city car complete with scissor doors. The stars showed: Jay Leno went unmolested waiting in line at the bar, while Smokey Robinson looked like the coolest guy in the room taking a studio tour with GM’s head of design Ed Wellburn. Whether the Caddy concept gets produced or not, the message is clear: small cars are moving upscale.
4. Booth Professionals
Exhibit A, above.
5. America. F*** Yeah!
Chrysler rolls out an entirely revamped line, including a muscular new Dodge Charger. Ford pulls the silk off 10 new models. GM stock sells fast. And the car with the world’s most technically advanced hybrid powertrain in the world? It’s a Chevy. In the gearhead universe, sure seems like it’s a good time to be ‘Murican.