2018 Los Angeles motor show
Blockbuster premieres happen almost every day in Los Angeles.
But this week it wasnt all about Hollywood, as the red carpet was rolled out for a number of new automotive stars at the LA motor show, the last automotive expo of the year.
And, just as cinemas prepare for the holiday season - and the Oscars - there was something for everyone, with significant debuts for a wide variety of machines; including a popular family car, an iconic super star, an all-action adventure hero, a high-tech glimpse into the future and more.
Heres the eight cars the stole the spotlight.
The Japanese car maker held a major presence in LA with the official reveal of its new 3 small car, introducing a bold-looking hatch and classy sedan which the company says will re-set its model range for the future and march it closer to becoming an alternative to established luxury brands.
Introducing an evolution of its Kodo design language, and taking inspiration from the stunning 2015 RX-Vision and last year’s Kai concept from the Tokyo motor show, the 3 also brings increased safety, improved comfort and world-first engine technology designed to reduce fuel consumption.
While affordable variants are expected to be powered by updated versions of the 2.0-litre and 2.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder motors in the current car, the new 3 will be offered with the world’s first compression spark ignition motor - dubbed Skyactiv-X - that can operate like a diesel engine at low engine speeds for maximum efficiency and yet reverts to conventional petrol engine processes at higher revs for optimum torque and power.
Mazda has yet to reveal full details of the Skyactiv-X motor, including its capacity, power outputs and fuel consumption, but it is expected to have the ability to match the consumption of a hybrid (such as a Toyota Prius) without the complexity and weight penalty of a petrol-electric powertrain.
But it has confirmed the car will be built around a new platform that is stronger than before and rides on a longer wheelbase to liberate more interior space. It will also be offered with a raft of new safety systems, including a camera in the dash that monitors the driver’s facial behaviour to detect for fatigue and semi-autonomous cruise control in heavy traffic, as well as an overhauled infotainment system that features a new interface and has smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android devices as standard from the outset.
Full details of the 2019 Mazda 3 will be revealed ahead of its scheduled arrival in Australian showrooms around April next year.
In stark contrast to Mazda’s revolutionary approach to design, Porsche continued the natural evolution of its iconic 911 sports with the introduction of the eighth-generation model in Los Angeles.
Looking similar to its predecessor and remaining utterly faithful to the concept of a 911, the new Type 992 is - as expected from Porsche - faster and more powerful than before, yet more efficient and more luxurious.
Set to arrive in Australia from early 2019, with an initial line-up that consists of the $265,000 Carrera S and $281,100 Carerra 4S, the new underpinnings are exclusively offered in the wide-body configuration that was previously reserved for GTS, Turbo and GT3/GT2 variants while four-wheel steering will be fitted to all models and a new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic will be offered alongside the current seven-speed manual transmission.
The 3.0-litre twin-turbo flat six-cylinder engine has been tweaked to generate an additional 22kW of power in the Carrera and 4S models, lowering its ability to accelerate from 0-100km/h to 3.7 seconds in standard rear-drive form and 3.6 seconds in the all-wheel drive 4S. It can go even quicker when equipped with the optional Sport Chrono function that brings a launch control function.
However, the most radical changes are reserved for its interior which adopts a digital-led makeover featuring haptic buttons in the centre console, a large touchscreen display in the dash and a part digital instrument cluster.
The all-new 911 is officially on-sale in Australia now with deliveries expected to begin early next year.
While the 911 has changed little in concept for more than 50 years, Jeeps equally iconic Wrangler four-wheel drive has been steered in a new direction with the launch of a dual-cab ute variant called Gladiator.
Revealed a year after the latest-generation JK Wrangler was first shown in Los Angeles, the Gladiator uses the same fundamental basics as the off-road legend - from its tougher but lighter ladder-frame chassis, revised suspension with a decoupling front anti-roll bar in the high-end Rubicon variant, and a choice of 3.6-litre petrol V6 and 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 engines with an eight-speed automatic gearbox (or a six-speed manual gearbox with the petrol engine).
The frame has been extended by 787mm in overall length and theres an additional 492mm between the front and rear axles to accomodate the 1.5 metre tray at the rear.
The Gladiator will be offered in both hard top and soft top body styles, giving the car a unique place in the marketplace.
It is expected to arrive in Australia later next year.
Audi e-tron GT
Audi has given a glimpse at its next electric car, unveiling the e-tron GT Concept in Los Angeles.
Set to see production by the end of 2020, the low-slung four-door is a sister model to the Porsche Taycan, with which it shares an aluminium intensive platform as well as key elements of its electric drivetrain and chassis, and will join the e-tron quattro SUV as part of the companys expanding electric car portfolio.
Power for the e-tron GT comes from a pair of synchronous electric motors - one mounted up front and the other sited at the rear in a move aimed at providing the new four-door with the best possible front-to-rear weight distribution.
The two motors deliver a combined system output of 434kW. An electronic quattro four-wheel drive system is used to constantly vary the amount of drive delivered to the front and rear axles as well as between the left-hand side and right-hand side wheels dependent on prevailing grip levels and yaw rates.
Computer simulations for the new low slung sedan point to a 0-100km/h time of just 3.5 seconds - a time that would make it second fastest accelerating Audi model behind the R8 if they hold true. To underline its heady performance potential, Ingolstadt officials also suggest the production version will deliver a 0-200km/h time of “just over 12 seconds”.
Bentley Continental GT Convertible
Bentley used the LA show to drop the top on its latest-generation Continental GT with the global reveal of the third-generation convertible.
Taking 3.8 seconds to launch from 0-100 km/h, with a top speed of 333 km/h, the convertible will be powered by Bentley’s 6.0-litre W12 TSI engine, mated to a dual-clutch eight speed transmission driving all four wheels.
The soft-top opens and closes in 19 seconds and is made of contemporary tweed materials for the first time, with seven colour options.
Newly designed headrests with neck warming function are said to be warmer and quieter than previous models, and a heated steering wheel, heated arm rests and heated seats are all integrated as standard.
Surprisingly, Hyundai showcased the most prominent new SUV arrival with the reveal of its full-size Palisades, an eight-seater that sits above the Santa Fe.
The bold-looking machine continues to mature the South Korean car makers new SUV design language, built around a spacious three-row cabin. It also comes with the choice of a seven-seat interior layout that swaps the second-row bench for a pair of captains chairs for a more premium experience.
Power comes from a 3.8-litre V6 petrol engine paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Hyundai Australia has expressed interest in adding the Palisades to its local line-up, even though the machine is currently only earmarked for left-hand drive production.
Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro
At the other end of the scale, Mercedes-AMG revealed its most narrow-focused model yet, the road racer GT R Pro.
Featuring track-ready modifications inspired by its GT3 and GT4 race machines, the Pro has more power, stiffer suspension and stickier tyres than the standard GT R coupe, which last year set a new lap record for a production car around the Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst.
Outside are a number of carbon-fibre aerodynamic enhancements, such as GT3-inspired fins flanking the nose, carbon side skirts, active aero front lip spoiler and a Gurney flap on the big boot-mount GT wing. The gaping mouth underneath the Panamericana grille has also opened up for better flow.
Weight is reduced over the GT R – though by how much is not yet known – thanks to a carbon-fibre roof, ceramic brakes, lightweight forged alloy wheels and AMG Performance seats made from carbon-fibre with a glossy clear coat finish. Underneath the vehicle is a shear plate of thin carbon-fibre which stiffens the rear-end and sharpens communication and response.
It still uses the same 430kW, 700Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine as the GT R but has proven itself faster than all other GTs, shaving six seconds from the GT Rs best lap time around Germanys famous Nürburgring.
Rivian R1S and R1T
Tesla cars are everywhere in LA, but the American electric car company is set to face a new rival from Silicon Valley start-up, Rivian, which revealed a pair of electric cars at the LA show.
The latest electric car company showed its R1T full-size pick-up and R1S seven-seat SUV, claiming the dual-cab ute will hit the market in 2020 with the chunky off-roader to follow 12 months later.
Both utilise the brand’s skateboard platform, which packages the battery pack, drive units, suspension, braking and thermal system below the height of the axles to save cabin space.
With four motors (one driving each wheel), Rivian provides three fast-charging battery packs to choose from – 105kWh, 135kWh and 180kWh – with a claimed range of between 370km to 650km is available.
Both will also come with Level 3 self-driving capabilities, meaning the driver can have both hands off the wheel and eyes off the road – but only for highway driving.