Dispatch from LA: Auto show offers intriguing debuts
However, Los Angeles can also present its own big news to the automotive world. The show does have some serious debuts of its own that will connect with enthusiasts and consumers alike. Here are a few.
CADILLAC ATS-V (pictured above): General Motors, with its compact luxury sports sedan that arrived at showrooms a few years ago, focused its efforts on matching, if not outperforming, the BMW 3-Series. In GM’s latest addition to the V-Series lineup, the ATS-V had one mission to accomplish: to beat BMW at its game—again. This time, the target is the BMW M3 sedan and the M4 coupe. The ATS-V meets these two models with a sedan and a coupe–both with a 3.6-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 spewing out 455 horsepower and a sub-four-second 0-60 mph time. Both body styles feature the trademark chromed mesh grille seen on the old CTS-V, but with even more aggressive aerodynamic aids to add to the ATS design. Enthusiasts asked for this one, and GM and Cadillac are finally delivering on it.
CHRYSLER 300: In the wake of the revised Dodge Charger, it was anticipated that its winged-badge cousin would go through the same nips and tucks that caused some split opinions across the board. Chrysler accomplished its update by making over the nose to a more aggressive angle and texture and moving the winged badge into a “floating position.” The front fenders also receive some aggressive refreshes creating a wide stance to augment the front clip. The rear end also went through changes with a new decklid and taillight treatment. The 300 also now receives a full suite of active safety features that includes forward collision warning and lane departure warning. You will find these on the new 300 C Platinum model, a new level that Chrysler considers its top of the line model. In all, the restyled 300 went beyond the skin by adding new standard equipment without charging a dollar more on the base price.
FORD MUSTANG SHELBY GT350: Mustang fans have been eagerly anticipating the Shelby GT350 and Ford delivered. The new high performance Mustang features a new 5.2-liter V-8 with a flat plane crankshaft, good for over 500 horsepower. This new engine is designed to rev higher than other V-8s making this the most powerful naturally-aspirated Ford engine ever produced. Now in its 50th year, the Mustang has always been the image of performance among the Ford family of cars. The Shelby GT350 only whets the appetite of the enthusiasts. It will be a ride you may never forget.
HONDA HR-V: Shown as a concept in Detroit in 2012, this Fit-based subcompact crossover is now going into production. Honda has been the top seller among smaller crossover/SUVs for quite some time. Adding the HR-V will position Honda as part of the “next big thing” in small cars.
MAZDA CX-3: Honda will not be alone in opening up the subcompact crossover market. Mazda’s CX-3 will join the ranks later in 2015 with an aggressive twist to the segment. The CX-3 will arrive late in 2015 as a 2016 model.
SCION iM CONCEPT: Toyota’s “youth” brand began a new model initiative that will give consumers better choices. In doing so, Scion will be dropping three models – the iQ, the xB and xD – and replacing them with more competitive choices. As the first of two new models to be introduced for 2016, the iM appears to be right on target. It is actually going to be the North American version of the Corolla hatchback sold elsewhere around the world – also known as the Auris or Levin, depending on the market. The iM is only a concept, but it is ready to be sold at your local dealer in a matter of months.
—Randy Stern, freelance automotive writer