This week marks the opening of the Los Angeles Auto Show, the nation’s first big car show of the 2018 model-year. Over a dozen manufacturers will roll out new products in Tinseltown, some making their global debuts, others appearing for the first time in North America.
While there are a few surprises in store, a number of manufacturers have already offered insight into what they’ll introduce at the L.A. Convention Center. That includes Jeep, which will lift the covers off the much-anticipated new Wrangler sport-utility vehicle. No surprise, in fact, that utes will dominate the show’s schedule, though we’ll see some intriguing products on the passenger car side, including the third-generation Mercedes-Benz CLS and, for mainstream buyers, the new Mazda6.
The Los Angeles show has a tradition of focusing on green technology and there’ll be plenty of alternative tech to check out, including the new roadster version of BMW’s plug-in hybrid i8, as well as the new Infiniti Q50 which introduces the first variable-compression turbo engine.
Here’s a look at some of the most important introductions we’ll be seeing this week:
Audi A8: While SUVs may dominate today’s luxury market, sedans like the A8 still provide the halo for high-line brands. And the all-new 2019 Audi A8 is a definite stand-out, featuring the new design language developed by styling chief Marc Lichte and an array of new comfort and safety features. That includes a major update of Audi’s familiar MMI infotainment system, as well as the semi-autonomous Traffic Jam Pilot that can operate almost entirely hands-free at speeds under around 40 mph. There’s also a new active suspension system and a 48-volt mild hybrid driveline.
BMW Concept X7: The BMW X5 helped sell luxury buyers on the concept of upscale SUVs. Now, BMW wants to move its sport-activity line even more up-market, and the Concept X7 gives us a hint of what’s coming. It’s essentially a 7-series on steroids, adding a third row of seats to the mix. The latest 7-Series is the most technically sophisticated BMW yet, but the Concept X7 is expected to add a variety of new tech features, including a near-autonomous drive system, as well as a plug-in hybrid drivetrain.
BMW i8 Roadster: The Bavarian maker’s electrified sub-brand adds its third model with the debut of the new Roadster. Like the existing i8 Coupe, it is powered by a distinctive, multi-motor plug-in hybrid driveline with a 7.1 kWh lithium-ion battery. The Roadster is expected to double the size of that pack and roughly double the i8 Coupe’s 15 mile EV-mode range. The package is also set to jump to 400 hp, improving off-the-line acceleration. As for the top, expect it to open in 14 seconds at speeds up to 37 mph. There’ll also be a number of new advanced driver assistance systems onboard.
BMW M3 CS: Take your already impressive BMW M3, add some lightweight carbon fiber body panels and then punch up your Twin-Power six to a whopping 453 horsepower and you’re talking some serious performance numbers. That makes it the most powerful M3 model ever offered, and the fastest, launching from 0 to 60 in just 3.7 seconds, with a top speed of 174 mph.
Chevrolet Corvette ZR1: First seen at this month’s Dubai Motor Show, the ZR1 is now set to debut at home. And while ‘Vette fans are still waiting for word on the long-anticipated mid-engine C8 Corvette, there’s plenty for performance enthusiasts to love about at ZR1, the most powerful version of the two-seater yet. The “King Kong Corvette’s supercharged 6.2-liter LT5 V-8 churns out a solid 755 hp and 715 pound-feet of torque and is expected to nip 60 in less than three seconds. It also gets a beefed-up MagneRide suspension and a choice of two different rear wings to keep it firmly planted at high speeds.
Genesis G70: The upstart Genesis brand has already shown it can compete in the upper reaches of the luxury market, but now the Hyundai spin-off is taking aim at one of the most formidable competitors of them all: the BMW 3-Series. Two engines will be offered, including a turbo-four making 252 hp. And, at a time when manual gearboxes are an endangered species, the G70 will be offered with a stick. It will also offer an adjustable exhaust sound and a system intended to help a driver find their optimal seating position.
Hyundai Kona: Hyundai’s new crossover slots under its existing utes, the Santa Fe and Tucson, to target one of the world’s fastest-growing vehicle segments. And it takes aim at such offerings as the new Nissan Rogue Sport, the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR. The Hyundai Kona could prove a critical move for the Korean carmaker, which has found itself short of SUV models even as U.S. buyers by the millions switch from sedans and coupes to utes. Hyundai hopes to win over buyers with what it claims will be best-in-class interior space and lots of comfort and safety technology systems.
Infiniti QX50: Nissan’s luxury arm is billing this new crossover as its “most advanced car ever,” and there’s no question it brings to market a revolutionary new gas powertrain that could give conventional hybrids a run for the money. The variable-compression turbo engine can vary its ratio from 8:1 up to 14:1, depending on a variety of factors, and reduce the traditional compromises made between performance, mileage and emissions. Expect to see the VC-Turbo engine roll out in other Infiniti and Nissan models in the coming years. Visually, the QX50 update gets a new grille and headlamps and a more modern, feature-filled interior, as well.
Jeep Wrangler: Few new models have been the subject of more speculation, but waiting is finally over and Jeep appears to have found a way to modernize its classic off-roader while maintaining the features and overall look – down to the seven-slat grille and round headlamps – that its legion of fans loves. Expect an aluminum-intensive body that reduces mass, lowers the center of gravity and, along with improve aerodynamics, helps deliver notably better mileage. As before, there’ll be a variety of configurations, including two- and four-door Wrangler, as well as hard, soft and removable tops.
Lexus RXL: The big dog in the midsize luxury SUV segment is apparently set to get a bit bigger, Lexus announced plans to launch a three-row version of its familiar RX sport-utility vehicle. The move should come as no surprise. If anything, one might wonder why it has taken so long for the luxury brand to bring out a three-row version of the RX, the best-selling midsize ute on the market. Since it was first introduced 20 years ago, the standard-edition RX has become the go-to vehicle for suburbanites looking for an alternative to a minivan.
Lincoln MKC: Set to roll into showrooms next summer, the 2019 Lincoln MKC picks up on some of the brand’s latest design cues – starting with a Continental-style grille – while adding a number of more upscale details and an array of the latest in safety and convenience technologies. Visually, the big change will be the adoption of the new Lincoln grille found on highline models including the Continental and all-new Navigator. Add features like 4G LTE WiFi and forward collision warning with auto braking. Buyers will also get the option of several new Lincoln Black Label packages.
Mazda Mazda6: Although crossovers, sport-utes and trucks are all the rage, Mazda is looking to ensure its sedan loyalists are having their needs met. This will be the third update to the midsize four-door since the Mazda6 was fully redesigned in 2012. The new model gets new technologies, including a cylinder deactivation system for the SkyActiv-G 2.5-liter engine. There’s also an array of new i-Activsense advanced driver assistance technologies. But the focus will be on a sexy new design update.
Mercedes-AMG Project One: What happens when you take Formula One technology and put it on the street? This adrenaline-package two-seater actually looks a bit more like a Le Mans prototype, but who’s going to quibble when there’s 1,000 horsepower at the ready. What might come as a surprise is that the F1-derived KERS hybrid system will also provide as much as 25 miles in EV mode. Project One will hit 125 mph in just six seconds and tops out at 217 mph. First seen in Frankfurt, potential buyers will have to wait, Mercedes-AMG not set to begin delivers of the $2.5 million hypercar until 2019.
Mercedes-Benz CLS: Few cars have had a bigger impact on automotive design than the original Mercedes-Benz CLS which introduced the concept of coupe-like sedans that seemingly every automaker has now copied. Now, an all-new third-generation version will be making its debut, and Mercedes has walked a fine line, aiming to retain the original theme will pushing the coupe-like sedan design language to new extremes. Inside, meanwhile, the new CLS will feature an interior influenced by both the 2018 S-Class update, as well as the maker’s AMG GT supercar.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross: Don’t be confused by the name. While the long-struggling Japanese brand is reviving the Eclipse badge it is no longer a sporty coupe but an aggressive new crossover-utility vehicle. We got a first look at what’s coming last month in the form of the e-Evolution Concept, and it’s going to be the most aggressive entry yet among Mitsubishi’s growing line-up of utes. With a peppy, turbocharged engine, it also aims to deliver the sort of sporty behavior that once made the old Eclipse Coupe so popular.
Subaru Ascent: We got a first look at the three-row SUV when it was unveiled in concept form at the New York Auto Show last April. Though billed as a “concept,” what you saw is largely what you will get when the Ascent rises into the production category, making its debut in Los Angeles this week. Long known for its rugged little crossover-utility vehicles, the Ascent is the biggest vehicle Subaru has ever brought to market, and it’s also the most lavishly equipped, with all sorts of family friendly features, including a rear entertainment system.
Volvo XC40: Volvo is rapidly fleshing out its showrooms, and with the launch of the new XC40 sport-utility vehicle it is taking aim at one of the world’s fastest-growing market segments. The new crossover follows in the tire tracks of the well-received XC90 and XC60 models and marks the debut of an all-new Compact Modular Architecture, or CMA platform, which will be used for a range of additional, downsized products to come over the next several years. Expect most of the same safety and infotainment technology found in the more upscale models, and a range of new, electrified drivetrains.