LA Auto Show 2011: Part 2

Words by Matt Willis

Continuing coverage from the Los Angeles Auto Show.

We left off at the Mercedes section, from where we then found a little adjacent hall with some hidden jewels…

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This is the Morgan Aero Supersports, a modern take on the British car-maker’s trademark look. It is powered by a 4.8-liter BMW V8 engine and produces around 370 horsepower. It also sports a targa-top, nifty side-exit exhausts and the shares headlights with the modern Mini Cooper line.

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While the one above keeps the classic Morgan style in-check, I think this one looks far more aggressive with the black wheels and red interior. I’m not a big Morgan fan by any means, but I still think the Aero is a badass car…

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This micro city dweller is made by a Croation manufacturer that, up until seeing it, I’d never heard of. It’s called DOK-ING and this car is called the “XD” concept. I was reading the display at the show and supposedly, aside from being all-electric, its got some pretty cool features. The driver seat is centered, a la McLaren F1 and the cockpit is accessible through scissor doors. The XD is powered by a 32 kWh battery that can go for up to 8 hours (depending on driving environment) or around 130 miles on a single charge. It also has 360-degree airbags…so basically it turns into a giant marshmallow when you crash, which is beneficial since most of these micro cars don’t seem to be all that safe in the first place…

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Of course, there were bigger and better things on display, like this Aston Martin One-77. The wide body on this car is phenomenal…

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Didn’t expect to see the Mexican Mastretta MXT here. This car reminded me a lot of the Colin McRae R4 prototype rally car, which never came to fruition…I wonder if some of the development plans were handed to Mastretta or if they just had a similar vision…

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We looped around back into the main hall, where Yokohama had this Porsche GT3 Cup R on display…

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Lincoln had this cool, low-laying roadster in their section…

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I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again…Ford continues to impress me with almost every car they’ve recently come out with. Much like Chrysler and General Motors, Ford has found their new vision and revamped their entire fleet. The new exterior styles look great, and I love the modernization they’ve done on their interiors…I can’t stand the chunky, plastic, archaic-looking interiors of most current Chrysler and GM cars. As I mentioned back in our SEMA coverage, I am going to further elaborate on Ford and other domestic auto makers as we approach the end of 2011…

This is the new Fiesta ST, which has not shown its face anywhere in the world as of yet. The 3-door ST is aimed to grace Europe and North America by the 3rd quarter of 2012, with a 5-door ST option looming for the U.S. market. Everywhere I look, I see these new “performance trim” sport compacts coming out…and they’re calling 110, 120, 140 horsepower numbers “high performance”. Of course, the base model only makes 90 or something, but still…it just don’t seem worth it. Ford, however, decided to keep their values. While there are faster cars, the Fiesta ST is fitted with a 1.6-liter Ecoboost engine, producing around 180 horsepower. In my opinion…that’s enough pep for a little commuter car.

If that’s not enough, there’s always the Focus ST, another performance variant of the popular Focus line. You guys all remember the old Focus, aka the “ugly duckling” of the late 90s that had Millennium-era geometric styling but nothing really exciting going on with it…

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Well, the latest model is not all too amazing on the exterior either, but it has certainly come a long way in terms of refinement. It has “found its place”, so to speak, and has adopted a very bold, modern style in the year 2011, rather than looking like a deer in headlights out in the woods somewhere.

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The back is the same story. In the same way the forked taillights on the Nissan 370Z makes my left eye twitch involuntarily, there’s just something about the Focus that’s a bit too “flowing”. But that is the modern style, and it doesn’t look all too bad. I just believe it’ something the market will have to get used to. I’m just happy they are off of the rear pillars. Now I won’t get the Honda CR-V confused with the Focus hatchback when I’m spotting cars on the road. Overall, it carries the ghost figure of the Mazdaspeed 3, which I am also a huge fan of. It produces around the same amount of power, too, at 250 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter Ecoboost engine. The MS3 does make more, so the deciding factor for most will be the price tag…currently speculators are saying between $23k-$26k…

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Ford also had their signature modern-era Boss 302 Mustangs on the show floor, drawing some decent crowds. Another prime example of the refined styling and how Ford is finding their “look” for the decade and beyond…the millennial Mustang did bring back the classic look (much like the current Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger models), but left many feeling kind of empty inside. It didn’t have that “shit your pants” effect that you get when you’re staring a ’67 Shelby or a ’69 Boss in the face. I think the new models definitely adopt a meaner, more aggressive facade.

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Speaking of feeling empty on the inside, here’s the Kia GT concept that left me with nothing but a big fat question mark. Sure, it looks appealing…but not for its concept state. I won’t hold my breath with this one…I’ll look again once it gets closer to a production model. It’s got a couple years to go in my opinion…

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Fiat had three of their 500 Abarth models on display for people to check out. I haven’t warmed up to Fiat yet…In fact, whenever I see one of the road, I kind of glance at it like it should be driving on the opposite side of the road or something…but they’re certainly catching on and I praise them for coming out with a performance model…

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Cool looking “Abarth” badge…

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I think the black model looks great with the gunmetal wheels…

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As we prepared to wrap things up, we grabbed a few finals shots and left…and then halfway to the parking garage, I got a feeling that something was missing. There was a lack of rear-engine cars…so we found a map that took us to the Porsche exhibit, which was separate from the main hall in it’s own little showroom. Gracing us at the entrance was another GT3 Cup R, this one from Black Swan Racing – an ALMS team.

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Left-center-stage was the ’13 Porsche Panamera GTS. This is definitely new to the lineup, but not really too exciting. It features a 300-horsepower V6, under-coming the V8 S model. It is more affordable, though.

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The black trim, the Michelin (instead of Pirelli) tires and non-flashy, undersized wheels identify it as a lesser model.

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Right-center-stage was the new ’12 Porsche 911, or “9-9-1” chassis. As most people know, the Carrera model doesn’t change drastically all too often (or ever, for that matter). It just evolves little by little. Like the face-lifted 997 chassis, the 991 chassis only changed the rear for the most part. The front stays the same, minus a slightly longer wheelbase and taller center point (larger altogether). The engine is still in the back as usual, and is also a bit beefier, with a new 3.8-liter flat six. SPEED said it best on their first review…”Brand spanking familiar”…

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That concludes our coverage of the 2011 LA Auto Show. Thanks for reading! – Matt

Ford Focus photo credit: (C) Auto Galeria

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This entry was posted by fullcoupe.

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