With 2014 inching into sight, this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show is living—driving—proof that the manufacturers are not only willing to take chances on new designs but are becoming increasingly successful at doing so.
Since our coverage last year, a number of key models have both delighted and impressed with their styling, performance and engineering. This year’s roundup of our favorite models debuting across the spectrum leans heavily to the European league, who much prefer to compete here on the West Coast near the Mansion, as opposed to American automakers’ home turf in Detroit at NAIAS come January.
All in all, we’re facing an extremely competitive group of performance and luxury models due to come onto the scene in the next year, with a couple of updates and surprises that will make you want to twerk. Well, almost. Check back soon for previews and reviews for each of these as they start rolling off the line. Here we go!
Anchoring our lineup at the top of the list, and our Best in Show choice for L.A., is undoubtedly the 2015 Jaguar F-Type R Coupe, which was both expected and a naughty surprise for the pouncing cat. While we’ve known since the F-Type’s launch that this versatile sports convertible would eventually put its top back on (the legendary E-Type was known for being a coupe), lead designer Ian Callum has brought to life his C-X16 concept with a shape so primal and sculpted, it will certainly be a collector’s edition down the road. The surprising addition of the R performance badge boosts the V8 engine up to 550 horses alongside flagships the XKR-S and XFR-S. Visceral, uncompromising beauty and unleashed performance; we think we need a minute to recuperate.
Long the demon of Japanese speed, our pick for Best Sports Vehicle is two-timing with dual auto show debuts for its 2015 revamp, both in L.A. and at the puzzlingly scheduled Tokyo Motor Show, which happens to be going on at the exact same time. Good thing everyone is still taken with the Nissan BladeGlider over there, because this baby completely deserves the attention on this side of the Pacific. The Nismo tops the GT-R line with 595 horses of power, enough, Nissan claims, to make it the world’s fastest volume car with a 7:08 track time around the Nurburgring. Debuting at close to $200,000, this edgy performance coupe is sexy and bold and has the guts to back it up.
The new Mini is, well, new yet again! In its third generation debut, our favorite pick for Best Compact is once more in the spotlight for its innovative engineering, boasting four- and three-cylinder engine options across its Cooper and Cooper S variants for the first time while giving the quintessential Brit hardtop a little more room by elongating it just under five inches. Modern conveniences abound here with the introduction of LED headlamps, improved mileage and a sleek new mug. Those who love the brand will be pleased with its new look.
Hot on the heels of test-driving its fame-stealing older sibling, the 2014 Cayenne Turbo S (stay tuned for the review), Porsche has finally delivered on its years-long promise of bringing a crossover to market. Introducing the Macan. Sleek, stylish and compact, the Macan is everything a younger Porsche owner would hope for. The model offers affordability (in the low $50Ks), convenience, versatility and a 0-60 of 5.2 seconds in the base 3.0-liter V6. Not bad, Porsche; not bad at all.
It’s common knowledge that Playboy has a thing for the pinnacle of SUV luxury: the all-new Range Rover. When we heard the folks over at Land Rover were planning to expand the already spacious cabin with a long wheelbase variant, we were initially hesitant. Until we realized how many more Bunnies could come along for the ride. The flagship Autobiography has been upgraded to the ultrachic new Black lineup, which adds 18-way adjustability for the front seats, 17 degrees of incline for passengers, 10.2” screens and a built-in ottoman. Oh, and it starts between $185,000 and 199,000. Regardless, Skyfall Bond Girl Bérénice Marlohe (above) is a fan, as are we.
Bloody fantastic. Gorgeous. Never going to happen. Our reaction to Benz’s ode to the future may seem outrageous, except it really isn’t. The AMG Vision is the world’s sexiest concept that will never be sold or driven—unless you buy Gran Turismo 6 when it comes out next month for PS3. In the hottest automotive marketing stint in years, the Haus of Benz put their top designers on building this elaborate behemoth in virtual form, only to decide the world needed to really see it in person. The result: flawless form that will set a precedent for years to come. Runner Up: Benz’ own GLA 45 AMG Concept.
Just because Motor City has its own party in just over a month doesn’t mean they can’t steal a little thunder in the form of the revived 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. Once thought dead and gone by the powers that be, Chevy has decided to reemerge in the midsize truck category to face the Asian dominance that has stolen most of the market share away up until now. Our Best Truck pick is coming back with a vengeance that includes a sporty but muscular presence that is both sleek and eye-catching, while promoting übercustomization in its strategy card deck. With 2.5-liter V4 and 3.6-liter V6 options to play with and an endless slate of options to choose from, there is no hiding that the Colorado is on a Toyota Tacoma manhunt. May the best truck survive.