As the last major automotive event of the year, the LA motor show is the last proper chance until March’s Geneva show to show off new metal, of which there was plenty of on the West Coast.
The likes of Audi, Bentley and Jaguar had plenty to reveal to the world, be it concept or future production model. The LA motor show also had a strong presence of new hydrogen cars on show, with manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen all bringing the latest technology that isn’t a million miles away from showrooms.
Starting with VW, the German mega firm brought with them Hymotion versions of its Golf and Passat models, both of which showcasing similar low temperature proton exchange membrane propulsion systems. The fuel cell technology has been developed in-house at VW, with the Golf utilising the hydrogen system to create electricity and produce 134bhp in the process and is also given additional power through a lithium ion battery. The secondary power source is used to store kinetic energy produced through the trailing of the throttle and under braking, before being put back through the powertrain during the start up phase and also boosts acceleration.
Toyota, meanwhile, displayed its Mirai, meaning ‘future’ in Japanese. The saloon is the end product of two years of research from Toyota which has culminated in a four-seater with a range of 300 miles from its twin high-pressure hydrogen tanks. The two power a hydrogen fuel cell that produces electric power to the front wheels and only emits water vapour. The car will be on sale in Europe and US in summer 2015 and could be priced around the £40,000 mark.
As a successor to the FCX Clarity, Honda showed its FCV model to US audiences and could be on sale in March 2016. Power comes from the FCV’s electric motor with an increased power density of 60 per cent over the FCX and it’s also the first car of its type to feature the entire fuel cell powertrain packaged within the engine bay. A similar range of 300 miles should be achievable.
Away from fuel cell contingent, Audi unveiled its luxurious Prologue concept in LA, a car that is meant to resemble the upcoming Audi A9 flagship saloon set to be launched in 2016. The Prologue’s exterior and interior styling showed a car obviously aiming for the most premium of markets and looks to be gunning for the new Mercedes S-Class coupe, with the model’s engine further evidence of this ambition. Under the bonnet is a twin-turbo 4.0-litre powertrain capable of a hefty 597bhp, while an aluminium high-strength steel body makes up the body of the Prologue at a length of 5100mm – 40mm shorter than the current A8.
In another area of the VW Group, Bentley arrived in LA with its Grand Convertible concept. Set to make production, the model is a pure example of Bentley’s capability to produce the “ultimate expression of British automotive luxury.” Bentley has equipped the sophisticated convertible with the same turbocharged V8 engine from the Mulsanne and Mulsanne Speed, producing 530bhp and a rather extreme 811b ft of torque and could cost close to £300,000. Bentley has said the production model should carry the same Grand Convertible name, however customers will apparently be able to give their own personal label to the car. Bentley has taken the last five years to get the car to this state thanks to the efforts being made to develop the company’s upcoming SUV, while a coupe version could join the open-top in the future, too.
Jaguar didn’t bring any all-new models to the LA motor show, but did have on show its new all-wheel-drive F-type, as well as manual version, bringing the total number of models in the sports car’s range to 14 in 2015. The manual will be the first to be fitted in a Jaguar sports car since the E-type and will go under the name Quickshift and have “closely spaced ratios”, while only being available on the V6 S variants. The purists may find the manual option exciting, but a move to bring in electrically power steering for the F-type may not be received with such open arms; however, Jaguar engineers believe it outperforms its existing steering systems. The addition of all-wheel-drive is an interesting decision and will put the F-type in direct competition with the likes of the Audi R8 and Porsche 911 Carrera 4S and Turbo S. The top-end R coupe will make the 0-62mph run in 3.9sec, which is 0.2sec faster than the rear-wheel-drive equivalent, with the roadster version also achieving the same figure; meanwhile, the convertible F-type will now be available in R guise for the first time. A torque vectoring system will come as standard and help the AWD F-type become more agile by reducing the power to a wheel in case of a loss of traction.
On a domestic standpoint, Henrik Fisker made his return at the LA motor show with his latest creation, the Rocket, a heavily modified version of the latest Ford Mustang. With the help of Galpin Motors boss Beau
Boeckmann, Fisker has produced a car with an all-carbon body apart form the doors and roof to sell in small numbers through Galpin – the world’s biggest Ford dealer – armed with an astounding 725bhp supercharged V8 and cost between £80,000 and £100,000. The Rocket is said to be influenced heavily by the Mustangs of the ’60s and ‘70s, with the Shelby GT500 of ’68 a particular inspiration.