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Culture / Cars

The 10 Coolest New Cars Unveiled at the L.A. Auto Show

Scenes from a Fast Future

BY Jim Shi // 11.29.16

The 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show offered a car for every lifestyle imaginable. From an ultra-luxe convertible to a rough-and-ready pickup, automakers came ready to impress.

Here are the 10 must-see cars that made the biggest impact at the just-finished show:

MERCEDES-MAYBACH S650 CABRIOLET
If the already-ultra-luxe S550/S63 AMG Cabriolet variants aren’t enough car for you, well, have you met the 2017 Mercedes-Maybach S650 Cabriolet? Just 300 will be built, with only 75 of those slated for the United States, so chances are you won’t run into another one on the road.

Inspired by the Mercedes-Mayback 6 Concept, performance specs are familiar: a 6.0-liter turbocharged V12 produces 612 hp and 738 lb-ft of torque. To set the Maybach apart, however, this edition receives a new front bumper, chrome accents and 20-inch Maybach-exclusive forged wheels. Maybach badging is subtle: a set of logos aft of the front wheels and letters on the back, plus light-up sill plates and embroidered and embossed insignia on the inside.

Only three color choices are available—zircon red, Cote d’Azur blue or diamond white—but everything else is standard, including a set of luggage, a car cover the same color as the car’s soft top, a special certificate signed by Mercedes-Benz chief Dieter Zetsche… the list goes on and on. Price: approximately $323,000 

GENESIS G80 SPORT
Hyundai’s new Genesis brand receives another edition for 2018, with the G80 Sport that sits directly below the Equus-derived G90. This time around, the G80 is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V6 good for 365 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, but will actually occupy the middle spot in the G80 range. The base naturally-aspired 3.8-liter V6 model offers 311 hp and 293 lb-ft of torque, while the range topping 5.0-liter V8 G80 generates 420 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque.

While that’s all fine and dandy, G80 Sport is definitely the looker of the bunch. What you don’t see are upgraded brakes with ventilated rear discs, a suspension with Continuous Damping Control and a retuned eight-speed automatic transmission. What you do see is is restyled front and rear fascias, copper-colored styling elements, a dark chrome grille and 19-inch dark alloy wheels.

The cabin will offer a different steering wheel design as well as redesigned pedals, carbon fiber trim, black microfiber suede headliner and bolstered seats with contrast stitching. Price: approximately $50,000; in showrooms by spring 2017.

HONDA CIVIC SI PROTOTYPE
Finally, the tuner-special Civic Si is back! It’s technically a prototype, but this is what the street-ready version will look like. The Si, which Honda says will be the fastest, best-handling Si it has ever produced, completes the Civic lineup as its halo car, which now includes a sedan, a coupe, a hatchback and Type-R (no hatchback at the moment).

The coupe and sedan Si get a direct-injected, turbocharged 1.5-liter four with variable valve timing dubbed VTC, delivering more than the last Civic Si’s 205 hp (more specific details to come) to the front wheels only. Bonus: all models get a six-speed manual. For the first time, the Si will get active dampers and active steering. It also comes with a limited-slip differential; high-performance tires — and 19-inch, 10-spoke wheels.

Inside, note exclusive front sport seats, red stitching, a leather shift boot and an aluminum shift knob. It also comes with a red touchscreen and audio system illumination, as opposed to blue in the rest of the Hondas. Pricing: TBA; the Si will launch next year.

ALFA ROMEO STELVIO 
The first crossover from the resurrected Alfa Romeo brand is out to redefine the idea of a performance SUV. Named after a harrowing mountain pass in the Italian Alps, the Stelvio is built on FCA’s new Giorgio platform, also underpinning its sister Giulia sedan. The Stelvio comes with two available engines.

A 2.0-liter direct-injected turbo four powers the base and mid-range Ti models, making 280 hp and 306 pounds-feet of torque. A 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 engine (505 hp, 443 pounds-feet of torque — good for a 3.9-second 0 to 60 mph time) powers the top-end Quadrifoglio. The V6 also features cylinder deactivation, shutting off half of its cylinders when not under load, for better fuel economy. Inside the Stelvio shares a several features with the Giulia, including its flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddle shifters, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-compatible infotainment system, and climate controls.

They also share Alfa’s “DNA” selector knob, allowing the driver to change the crossover’s driving dynamics, including Race modes for the Quadrifoglio. A second rotary dial in the center console controls infotainment. Price: starting at around $43,000; launching in 2017.

LAMBORGHINI HURACAN SPYDER RWD 
Filling out its ever-growing lineup of niche vehicles, Lamborghini’s rear-wheel-drive installment of its successful Huracan Spyder supercar sports the familiar folding roof from the LP 610-4 Spyder, which adds just under 260 pounds for a total 3,320 pound weight. But because of its new RWD drivetrain, it will still weigh less than its all-wheel-drive stablemate.

Just about everything else will be carried over from the LP 580-2 coupe that debuted in 2015, including a ferocious 5.2-liter V10 generating 572 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission good for 0-60 mph in just 3.6 seconds.

Look for top speed to come in at just under 198 mph. Pricing: TBA; available January 2017. 

AUDI A5/S5 SPORTBACK
Confirmed for the U.S. are the Audi A5 and S5 Sportbacks, which will arrive in two in two different flavors as scaled-down versions of the A7/S7 lineup. Just like with its coupe brethren,  the A5 Sportback will be powered by the familiar 2.0-liter turbo-four-cylinder churning out 252 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque paired to a seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission.

The S5 Sportback will get a 3.0-liter TFSI V6 engine producing 354 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission sending those horses to all four wheels for a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. Both models come standard with AWD.

Just about everything else, save for two extra doors, will carry over from the A5 and S5 coupes, melding the packaging of sedan and coupe models into something more versatile and cargo-friendly. When it comes to infotainment, expect to see the new Audi virtual cockpit and MMI touch with handwriting-recognition technology, in addition to optional 4G LTE connectivity. Price: TBA; launching in Spring 2017.

JEEP COMPASS
The redesigned Compass offers a budget-friendly off-roader that stylishly keeps many of the design cues from its big brother Grand Cherokee. Replacing both the existing Compass and the Patriot, the Compass, which shares a platform with the Renegade, will have a new top-end Trailhawk trim level with added capability off-road.

Powered by a 2.4-liter I-4 engine mated to either a nine- or six-speed automatic transmission, depending on its configuration, a six-speed manual will also be available in two-wheel-drive versions. The Compass will be equipped with stop-start technology to improve fuel economy, which is expected to be about 30 mpg highway.

Inside, one of four optional Uconnect infotainment systems, including Fiat Chrysler’s 8.4-inch touch screen system, will be available. The crossover will also, for the first time, have an optional dual-pane sunroof. Price: TBA; arriving in Spring 2017.

JAGUAR I-PACE EV CONCEPT 
The I-Pace EV Concept previews a fully electrified production vehicle Jaguar aims to have on sale in 2018. Everything presented is more or less plausible and buildable. Instead of far-out autonomous features, it pledges a 220-mile useable range and a 0 to 60 mph time of around four seconds thanks to its 400 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Not quite a crossover, not quite a sedan, it gets the characteristically aggressive Jaguar haunches—with a windshield that sweeps up from beneath the hood and into a panoramic sunroof.

Like the C-X75, it uses a cab-forward design which pushes the visual mass and cabin volume as far toward the front as possible. Inside, a large touchscreen dominates the center of the console; a smaller touchscreen below controls some infotainment and climate functions, with physical rotary knobs doing the rest. The center console floats. The lack of an internal combustion engine and transmission tunnel allows it the interior room of a large sedan. 

The I-Pace can be charged in two hours using a 50 kW DC fast charger; an 80-percent charge takes 90 minutes. A production version will emerge in late 2017, and it will go on sale in the second half of 2018.

PORSCHE PANAMERA LWB EXECUTIVE 
Porsche has expanded its completely-redesigned 2017 Panamera line to include two new models at the top end. The top-of-the-line, long-wheelbase Executive versions get an additional 5.9 inches of wheelbase and will be available in both rear- and all-wheel-drive versions. 

The Panamera 4 will make 330 hp and comes with added standard features, including a panoramic sunroof, adaptive rear suspension, rear sunshade and heated seats. Step up to a Panamera 4S Executive or Turbo Executive making 440 hp and 550 hp, respectively, and the Porsche-for-the-person-who-wants-to-be-driven gets additional features like soft-close doors and rear-axle steering. The Turbo Executive gets even more standard equipment, such as four-zone climate control, dynamic LED lights and ambient interior lighting.

In all of the Executive models, you can get a revamped rear entertainment system with 10.1-inch displays that can be removed from the car and used as tablets, as well as a new rear console that includes tray tables and an inductive antenna to help improve cellphone signals. Pricing: $97,350 to well above $200,000.

CHEVROLET COLORADO ZR2
The Colorado ZR2 that first seen as a 2014 concept will see the day of light, its production-spec offering truck lovers a true, old-school off-roader. A total nine different power flow configurations are at the fingertips—the driver is at full control—engaged via toggle switches on the dash.

The traction, stability, and hill-descent systems calibrations change in response to the transfer case and locker settings; Off-Road Mode optimizes the electronic safety net settings, shutting off ABS at low speeds, and traction control can be turned off entirely. Sadly, no manual transmission is offered,  but this hard-core off-road 4×4 offers serious rock-crawling capabilities.

No other pickup will leave you fully in charge like the ZR2. Price: TBA; launching in Spring 2017.

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