California is a focal point for greener motoring, but at the Los Angeles Auto Show it is the Europeans who are grabbing much of the attention.
The last major international motor show of the year is currently on in Los Angeles, city of angels, big dreams and traffic jams. The annual LA Auto Show dates back more than 100 years, to the dawn of the 20th century.
The first one, in 1907, comprised a display of 99 vehicles on a city skating rink. The 2016 one, at the big LA Convention Centre in Tinseltown’s central downtown, is a giant display cabinet for almost 1,000 cars from around the world.
American models dominate, of course, but much of the most interesting machinery under the spotlights there is from this side of the Atlantic.
Audi’s Q range is growing, and coming soon after the new Q2 we reviewed recently, the mid-range Q5 is now making its debut in an all-new version.
Changes include redesigned suspension and a strongly updated cabin, with more space shoehorned into it and technical upgrades to add the virtual cockpit already available in other models. This gives a 12-inch display screen across the dash in front of the driver.
A notable highlight of the new Q5 is a personal route assist system, that learns from driver behaviour to suggest optimised route planning. The new Q5 goes on sale next spring, priced from £37,170.
In the same week that the Jaguar F-Pace has been named as the supreme winner of the 2016 Women’s World Car of the Year, Jaguar is wooing the crowds at the LA show with its voluptuous electric concept car, the I-Pace.
It is the company’s first electric car, ahead of a pledge that by 2020, half of all Jaguar Land Rover vehicles will be available as electric models. The I-Pace is a five-seater SUV with a sleeker body shape than its hunkier F-Pace sibling. Jaguar is promising sports car performance to match its supercar looks and a Tesla-like range at 220 miles.
Making its world debut in LA as the star of Jaguar’s show stand, the F-Pace looks breathtaking in silver paint, with a pale dappled interior fabric setting off show-stopper styling.
Land Rover Discovery
One of the world’s most capable all-terrain vehicles has been updated and given its first airing in LA. Although it doesn’t look any bigger than the current model, the new Land Rover Discovery is almost six inches longer, although the roofline is fractionally lower.
But the advantages of the old drop-down lower section have been maintained with an inner floor panel that’s hinged to fold out electrically for you to sit on when the tailgate opens. It will support the weight of a couple of people, up to 300 lbs. The new Disco will be on sale in the spring.
It shows how important the US is to MINI that the new Countryman is getting its world debut in Los Angeles. It is the biggest car ever to wear a MINI badge, and its soft-roader looks are more accentuated than before.
Even larger than the current model, which is already more of a maxi than mini, the new Countryman is almost eight inches longer, with a wheelbase stretched by three inches, and it stands just over five feet tall.
A plug-in hybrid is going to be the range-topping Countryman, with a three-cylinder engine and electric motor producing a combined 218 bhp. The new MINI is another spring arrival.
Another debut in LA is the new Mazda CX-5, a chunky SUV-crossover with a big mouthy grille. The body has been restyled, although most of the changes are relatively subtle. Visually, it is a more pumped-up version of Mazda’s smaller crossover model, the CX-3.
The new CX-5’s centre-of-gravity has been lowered to give it a sportier feel on the road. Its boot size has been increased, and the cabin redesigned with added features, such as head-up display, and reclinable rear seats with seat heaters.
Not that those will be very relevant to Californian customers, but they’d be very welcome back here in the UK this week.
Other new models revealed in Los Angeles include the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Jeep Compass, and latest Ford EcoSport.
All Images: Sue Baker