LA Auto Show 2012: Mild Quaking in SoCal

If you live along one of America’s active fault lines, it’s never nice to wake up to the ground bumping and surging like those adorable twin babies dancing in their high chairs on Youtube.  But if you’re from an older, less shifty/grindy region of the continent, an earthquake is always kindof interesting.  It doesn’t change your life, but you’ll be talking about it for days.

Which is rather how last week’s Los Angeles Auto Show went down.  It wasn’t the San Andreas blowout that an auto show can sometimes be, but it did produce some very cool conversation pieces:

Ford Fiesta ST

With 197 hp and 214 lb-ft of torque, this tiny, turbocharged fishface promises a hostile takeover of the still-warm-from-the-laying hot hatch (see what I did, there) market here in America.  We gushed at length about the FieSTa on Friday, so check back there for details.

Mazda 6 Diesel

The most beautiful girl in class just walked in, halfway through the semester, wearing glasses for the first time.  Logically it wouldn’t make her any prettier, but somehow it just does.  We already knew that Mazda was bringing their gorgeous new 6 to America (sadly sans the perfect wagon variant), but they showed up in LA with a SKYACTIV-D diesel-powered 6, and we nerds flipped out.  Horsepower is irrelevant, right?  So the 2.2 liter version makes 310 lb-ft of torque at 3600 RPM, which will run through an optional 6-speed manual.  We should never have doubted you, Mazda.  You’re one of us.  Here’s your pocket protector, and what are you doing on Friday?

Cooler still, we found out that Mazda will be taking some be-winged, twin-turbocharged diesel 6s racing.  We’ll see it at the 24 hours of Daytona next month.  Swoon.

Speaking of diesels, either Audi knows something we don’t, or they’re a bit crazy.  Probably it’s both, but they had enough mental capacity in LA to announce a whole range of diesels for the US market, starting next year: the Q5, A6, A7, and A8.  While we wish Audi could get more creative with their labeling, we love that their 3.0 TDI V6 will be rattling down our roadways soon.  It shoves the A8, a luxobarge to end all luxobarges, to 60 in 6.4 seconds and gets 36 mpg.  What a perfect alternative to a hybrid.

Mercedes’ Beautiful Dream

Another alternative to a hybrid, at least if you have a reliable imagination, is the Ener-G-Force Concept by Mercedes.  A design study for the eventual successor to the impressive (and impressively overpriced) G-Wagon, the Ener-G-Force Concept is an actual sport utility vehicle, and looks like it actually wouldn’t get high-centered on the speed bumps in the Costco parking lot.  In fact, the stance is quite striking.  Also striking is the hopefulness of the designers that it could someday run on hydrogen it processes from air and falling rain water, thus the big bucket on the roof.  At least is looks awesome.

Test Drive the 2014 Corvette

And on the subject of looks, we still haven’t seen the new Corvette, though the official sheet pulling is next month, so we’ll know what it looks like before the tax refunds come in.  But if you can’t wait that long, and you own a copy of Gran Turismo 5 for the Playstation 3, you can download the newest Vette and drive it, still in its Michigan camouflage, all over the world.  It’s a free plug-in, so get it while you can and see if the zebra-trimmed tux its wearing effects its drag coefficient.

Jaguar XFR-S

While we’re discussing smooth transitions aerodynamics, would you slap a breakfast-table spoiler on the boot lid of a Jaguar XFR sedan?  You probably would if it was the fastest Jaguar sedan ever built.  The new-new-powder-blue S variant of Jaguar’s flagship Judi Dench-carriage comes with a supercharged, 5-liter V8, which makes 550 hp and 5.2 lb-ft of sidewall flex.  It has been limited to 186 mph, so it will only beat the older Lamborghinis.

Volvo S60 Polestar Concept

Do you want another European performance sedan with mad power and very blue paint?  Too bad.  There’s only one Volvo S60 that’s been modified by tuning house Polestar to produce 508 hp and 424 lb ft, and it’s probably going to a private collector with a big chin and a late night talk show.  Polestar wrung all of that power from the S60’s turbo’d straight-six, and they claim, Sir Jag, that it can go faster than 186 mph.

Yet you can’t buy one, and only 100 examples of the Jaguar XFR-S are coming to the states, so you can’t buy one of those, either.  And there you have it: a shrouded Corvette, a sci-fi SUV, and some diesel love from the Germans and Japanese.  It’s not cork-popping excitement, but certainly some very cool stuff.

What were your favorite cars at LA last week?

Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.

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