All the new metal that debuted in the home of Hollywood. Pick your favourites
BMW i8 Roadster
BMW used the LA show to finally show off the i8 Roadster. It looks every bit as desirable as an i8 drop-top ought to and was revealed alongside an updated BMW i8 Coupe.
The good news is it brings more of everything: improved battery technology means more energy, so the motor now produces 143bhp – up 12bhp, taking the car’s total petrol and electric output to 374bhp. The electric-only range tops 30 miles now, too.
The Roadster is very similar to the Coupe, using the same carbon-reinforced plastic core, whose rigid structure has maximised the size of the roof opening and negated the need for lots of extra strengthening. So the Roadster weighs just 60kg more than standard, at 1,595kg, while it retains the bold dihedral doors, albeit frameless versions.
Its roof is a folding fabric item that whirs backwards or forwards in “almost silent hush”, which is handy given the car’s powertrain tries to do the same thing. Opening or closing takes 16secs and can be done at up to 31mph, while the roof’s storage is designed to barely impede on luggage space. It folds in a Z-shape and is stored vertically, while some of the mechanism’s shapes have only been possible via 3D printing. Because the future.
Ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for the new Mercedes-Benz CLS, the third generation of the genre-busting saloon/coupe, showing off Merc’s svelte new design language.
Yep, third generation. Remember how astonishing the first one was? Fair to say it knocked it right out of the park design-wise, followed up by the second-gen’s ‘difficult-second-album’ syndrome. Third time around? That’s up to you to decide.
The new car serves up a sleek new profile with a high arching waistline, low roofline and frameless side windows to squish the whole thing down and make it look less four-doory. Around the CLS you’ll notice fewer creases and simpler lines than before, making it easier on the eye. Plus there’s a host of all new engines.
Corvette ZR1 convertible
The ZR1 convertible was one of very few surprises at the LA show, coming just two weeks after the quite mad coupe. And yep, there’s no special name or confusing spelling of the word spider. Just ‘convertible’ with a lower-case C. Simple.
It uses the same 755bhp supercharged 6.2-litre V8 as the coupe, with the option of seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearboxes. With the auto, the hard top has a top speed of 341kph and does 0-97kph in sub-3.0secs, but that’s with a special aero package.
Chevrolet says the convertible will still have a top speed ‘over 322kph, though, which is probably more than enough. And all that unholy supercharger whine and V8 roar – unencumbered by a roof – should make up for any performance deficit.
And here’s the more roofy ZR1 - the fastest and most powerful ‘Vette ever.
Under the bonnet is a new supercharged 6.2-litre ‘LT5’ V8 engine good for 755bhp and 969Nm of torque. Yes, you read that correctly. Seven hundred and fifty-five horsepower.
All that extra oomph from the ZR1’s new, dry-sumped pushrod V8 is largely thanks to a 52 per cent larger supercharger, the largest throttle bodies (95mm) ever fitted, as well as an upgraded crankshaft and a dual-injection system (direct injection as well as supplemental port injection) that’ll mean the ZR1 will spit flames like Spyro the Dragon.
That adjustable rear wing is known as the ‘high wing’ option and is part of the ZTK Performance package. Amazingly, it’s bolted straight to the chassis like the Corvette Racing C7.R. Which is a brilliant bit of pub ammo. More than that, it can be manually adjusted by five degrees and gives 430kg of downforce at its top speed. That’s like driving around with a grand piano bungee corded onto the back.
Mercedes-AMG Project One
You may remember Project One – Mercedes-AMG’s Formula One car for the road – from Frankfurt. But this was the first time the 1,000bhp, 350kph hypercar has been seen Stateside. And you don’t want the Americans to miss out.
Talking to AMG’s boss Tobias Moers, he gave us a status update on the project. “After a delay, we are back schedule regarding the powertrain,” He told TG. “As expected, we did have a little delay so we’ve got to hit the track next year, rather than this year. We’ve run the whole powertrain on the dyno doing the Nürburgring and it’s performing great.”
When we asked Tobias about Tesla’s claimed sub-two-second 0-100kph acceleration time for the fully-electric Roadster (one that betters the Project One’s) he was very clear on the subject. “Project One runs at the slip limit of all four tyres in two-point-something seconds. It’s unachievable in under two seconds.”
Say hello to the new Jeep Wrangler. Yes, really. It’s a brand new Wrangler that’s lighter and techier than ever. Jeep, perhaps sensibly, has just kept it looking largely the same as before.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t tweaks. A more steeply raked grille might actually introduce a modicum of aerodynamics to the Wrangler, while the lights are familiar in shape but are fancy LEDs. Aluminium panels drop the weight. Interestingly, there are several choices of body style.
But it’s beneath the skin where the really new stuff happens. While a distinctly old-school V6 engine kicks off the range, there’s a 2.0-litre turbo four with less power (268bhp) but more torque (400Nm) sitting above it.
There’s a choice of two- and four-wheel drive and manual and automatic gearboxes, while a diesel and hybrid should follow in due course. The turbo engine comes with a mild hybrid system, but a proper petrol-electric powertrain has already been hinted at.
Click here to read more about the new Jeep Wrangler
GMC Sierra All Mountain Concept
We’re rather partial to the notion of a car – a wheeled vehicle designed for road usage – being fitted with tank tracks for use on snow. It’s a recipe that’s been used to strong effect by Nissan with the Juke Nismo RSnow concept that we drove on a not-very-frozen lake, and by the master of mechanical mayhem himself Ken Block in one of his earlier video stunts.
And now, digest the fact that GMC has utterly demolished these piffling offerings with the magnificent Sierra All Mountain Concept. The result of a union between a luxury SUV, a snowmobile, a tank and a quantity of terrible American light beer, we presume.
The Sierra All Mountain is effectively a Sierra 2500HD Crew Cab truck balanced on four separate miniature tracks. It’s been fitted with extra lights, bigger speakers and snowboard racks. It is powered by an engine that appears to have been designed for a cross-Channel ferry.
Lexus RX L
Trying to accommodate the families that just can’t stop having, erm, what leads to kids, Lexus has introduced the RX L, a stretched RX with three rows of seats to make it a seven-seater.
With a sweeping roofline with a weird stylistic pinch in the D-pillar, the new RX is longer by 110mm and features a steeper tailgate window angle than two-seat-row model.
The RX L comes in two flavours, a 350 L and 450h L. The first gets a 3.5-litre V6 with 290 horsepower and 357Nm of torque. In classic Lexus style, the latter is a hybrid with two electric drive motor-generators producing 308bhp combined. All-wheel drive is optional on the base car and standard on the hybrid. They start at $47,670. So Lexus fans, go back and make some more kids, as there’s now more room for them.