This week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, automakers displayed their best efforts for the year to come. There was plenty to see, from a 755-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette that is the fastest in the world to an all-electric Mini that is the first of what will eventually be a 100-percent electric portfolio.
As with previous years, midsize SUVs and crossovers dominated, especially on the luxury front, while autonomous driving and electric-powered power trains were prevalent among everyone from BMW and Mercedes to Land Rover, Porsche, Volkswagen, and Mini. There was even an all-electric, all-wheel-drive Defender-style SUV from an obscure company called Bollinger.
“There’s no question that this is the show where automakers want to talk about alternative fuel and alternative power trains,” said Joe Wiesenfelder, the executive editor of Cars.com. “In California especially, it’s such a hot segment.”
Elsewhere, as sales decline among sedans, sales among sport utility vehicles continue to rise. To that end, Subaru, Lexus, Volvo, and Hyundai all showed new compact and midsize SUVs, while Jeep’s new Wrangler was perhaps the most anticipated of the lot. That was the first major update for the brand’s most iconic offering in 10 years.
“The 2017 show saw another round of utility-vehicle introductions overshadowing car reveals,” said Michelle Culver, the associate director of IHS Markit research. “Jeep Wrangler [was] among the most-watched UV introductions: Wrangler sales are forecasted to increase, and North America will be Wrangler’s most significant market.”
Most of the vehicles uncovered this week in L.A. will be available in spring 2018, though some will arrive as late as fourth-quarter 2018. And there is still plenty of time to see them before making a purchase. The show remains open to the public until Dec. 10.
Fastest Corvette Ever
The 2019 Corvette ZR1 Convertible made its world debut Tuesday. It has a 755 horsepower, LT5 6.2L supercharged engine with a new, more efficient intercooled supercharger system that offers 52 percent more displacement volume than the supercharger on the current $80,000 Corvette Z06. That helps the ZR1 get at least 100 horsepower more than the Z06 and 300hp more than the $55,000 standard base version of the Corvette Stingray.
The ZR1 convertible will start at $123,995; a coupe version will ring in just under $120,000. They both will go on sale in the spring of 2018.
The Driver’s Car
The new Porsche 718 Cayman GTS joined the new Porsche Boxster GTS as the latest GTS versions of Porsche’s sports car line. It comes standard with adaptive dampers, Porsche’s Sport Chrono package, torque vectoring, a limited-slip differential, a sports exhaust system, black-painted 20-inch Carrera S wheels—and best of all, a six-speed manual transmission. Both the 718 Boxster and Cayman GTS can reach 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, which is a 10th of a second faster than the existing 718 S models. Top speed is 180 mph.
Pricing for the 718 GTS starts at $80,850 for the Cayman and $82,950 for the Boxster. Deliveries start in March 2018.
The Turbo-Boosted Wagon
The Porsche Panamera Turbo S e-hybrid is the world’s most powerful luxury sedan. The hatchback sedan gets 680 total horsepower and 626 pound-feet of torque, more than both the 911 GT3 and Cayenne Turbo SUV. Its high-voltage, lithium-ion battery will go 30 miles on electric power alone before the regular combustion engine takes over. It can hit 60 mph in 3.2 seconds; top speed is 192 mph.
Base models start at $188,400, with deliveries beginning next spring.
Million Dollar Star
The Mercedes-Benz Project One has been around for a year now, but this is the first time it has shown up in real life in California. At an expected sticker price of more than $2 million, the hybrid supercar can make more than 1,000 PS and reach top speeds of more than 217 mph. The technology inside comes directly from Formula One racing, including the 1.6-litre V6 hybrid-gasoline engine with direct injection and electrically assisted single turbocharging. It can hit 125 mph on its eight-speed manual transmission in fewer than six seconds. All-wheel-drive is standard.
The car is still in concept status, but when it does go on sale for real, production will be extremely limited.