The LA auto show is one of the big three shows in America along with the New York and Detroit shows, and like every year, this year’s show (November 20-29, 2015) did not disappoint. Cities like Chicago and San Francisco also host serious car shows, but the “big three” offer so much more than next year’s models — world debuts, exclusive test drives, one-off concept cars, and aftermarket manufacturers. Here, you can find everything from remote-controlled cars and audio systems to custom motorcycles and giant RVs.
The aftermarket hall featured a real gem this year — Zelectric Motors, a small shop from San Diego that specializes in restoring old Volkswagen Beetles and vans with electric motors and batteries.
On display, they had a VW Beetle hard-top, a cabriolet version, and a van.
All restored from the 1970s and with prices ranging from $70,000 to $120,000, they come with a 160,000 mile warranty. Not a whole lot cheaper than a modern Tesla, but their website indicates some cheaper models.
One of the best parts of walking around the vast halls of a show like this is that you can fantasize about the next car on your must-drive list.
With so many gleaming options on display, I was really spoilt for choice this year. Alfa Romeo debuted the new Giulia — which looks like a very serious car. Gorgeous though, like every Alfa.
Their super-light 4C Spider was also on hand in multiple colors and with a vast display of accessories.
Jaguar too, had a pretty exciting booth this year. I waited in line to hop into the new Jaguar F-type, which though available for the past few years, is easily one of the most beautiful cars out there.
Since the Tata group purchased Jaguar, they’ve started taking the American market much more seriously and are recalibrating the DNA of the company towards the American opportunity. They featured the 2017 XE — the new baby Jag, which starts at just under $35,000 and is aimed at making a dent in the market of the big German trio — BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.
And for the first time ever, Jaguar introduced an SUV, the 2017 F-PACE, which starts at just over $40,000. A few years ago when Porsche introduced their first SUV, the Cayenne, the sports car community was enraged over Porsche diluting the company’s sporty DNA. But that decision proved to be a good one and it quickly went on to become their best selling car in America. Jaguar has finally succumbed to the same irreresitible temptation.
In the supercar category, Audi had the R8 V10 with the new side-blade and Acura brought their long-awaited NSX.
Mercedes-Benz debuted the AMG C63S Coupe Edition 1 and the 2017 SL and GLS.
In all, about 30 models debuted at this year’s show and one of the more anticipated debuts was the limited edition Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, which is a PDK successor to the GT4.
Unfortunately, I found out that this car is not street legal and is sold to racing enthusiasts by invitation only. Saddened by that news, I hurried myself to the Volkswagen booth to catch a glimpse of the futuristic GTE Sport concept, which definitely looked like a car from 2050. I think it did an excellent job of attracting people to the brand, which is a challenge for them considering recent events.
Some of the premium brands like Ferrari, Lamborghini, and McLaren weren’t available at the show, which was fascinating to me. It seems that since they all project themselves as premium lifestyle brands, they prefer to not mingle with commercial car brands. Porsche, thankfully, makes themselves a little more accessible by having a booth, but insists on having their own hall. All’s fair in the name of maintaining exclusivity!
The highlight of the show for me was the new Fiat Spider 124.
It is such a happy car and Fiat has found a fun way to market it (skip ahead to minute 21 for their latest ad). However, the reception of this car has been mixed and people seem to either love it or hate it. Fiat has set itself up with an ambitious goal to compete directly with the refreshed Mazda Miata, which has such a solid fan base. Fiat could have timed this launch a bit better to not coincide with the new Miata, but I think it will still do really well in the US, and especially in California.
Our data shows that convertibles are the most popular category rented in California and I can’t wait to rent one of these via the Turo marketplace soon!