Showstoppers

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ShowstoppersTHE 2015 LOS ANGELES Auto Show is gaining fame globally. With a staggering 50 vehicle debuts including more than 30 world unveilings, it’s stealing the spotlight from January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich. Canadian auto dealer was on the show floor for all the action. Here are the highlights.

WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Optimism was in the air at the 2015 LA Auto show as thousands of journalists, designers, and industry leaders from around the globe gathered in the city of Angels on the press and trade days, Nov. 17-19, 2015. Gone are the days of gloom and doom in the auto industry — replaced with confidence and enthusiasm as manufacturers rolled out the newest vehicles, coolest technology, and cleanest cars coming to a showroom soon.

With 2015 being another record-breaking year in auto sales in Canada and the U.S. the result was an upbeat mood and positive outlook at the show. There’s no doubt the future looks bright for automakers, dealers, and customers alike. 

WHAT’S THE THEME AT THIS YEAR’S AUTO SHOW?

Traditionally, the LA Auto show focuses on cutting-edge green technology, fuel efficiency, and the latest advances in alternative fuel vehicles including everything from all-electric and fuel-cell vehicles to clean diesels and plug-in hybrids.

But this year, green wheels took a backseat to performance cars, stylish convertibles, funky compact crossover vehicles, and cool concepts. Don’t get me wrong — there were some green car unveilings like BMW’s 2016 330e Drive plug-in electric sedan with a gas engine. It lets you travel about 640 kms without requiring a recharge or fill up.

The car is not just a car. It’s an extension of a person. It’s always been, but the degree of extension is increasing

But this green machine was overshadowed by world premieres such as the high-performance 2017 Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe and the all-new 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio. Built in Italy, the rear-wheel-drive Giulia Quadrifoglio raises the bar in performance in the four-door midsize sedan segment. With 505 ponies under the hood, it’ll hit 0 to 100 clicks in only 3.9 seconds.

And of course, you can’t be in California without a few world convertible debuts including the 2017 Porsche 911 Targa 4S and the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider, which revives the legendary Italian nameplate nearly five decades after its original introduction. Powered by a 160-hp turbocharged 1.4-litre engine mated to a manual or automatic transmission, this iconic roadster will arrive in North America in the summer of 2016.

WHAT ARE THE BIG TRENDS?

Interior design is a big trend to watch. With consumers spending more time behind the wheel and connecting with their cars like never before, designers are focusing on decluttering the cabin, customizing interiors, and improving connectivity on the road.

Buick’s redesigned 2017 LaCrosse, for example, is the first Buick with a single cockpit design that sweeps across the instrument panel and into the doors. With its new 4G LTE network up to seven devices can be connected into the car’s built-in Wi-Fi hotspot so it’s easy to stay connected while driving.

The 2017 Ford Escape’s interior is a beacon of eco-agriculture design. It uses food by-products and other recycled materials such as soybeans in the headliner, plant-based, caster-oil foam in the instrument panel, and recycled denim and cotton in the sound insulation under the carpet and between the car and engine.

When it comes to customizing your ride, Nissan’s Colour Studio personalization program lets you add bold shades of the rainbow to the 2016 Versa Note for extra flare and a youthful, hip look.

Bright colours such as orange or yellow appear as accents throughout the interior and exterior of the vehicle to make it a one-of-a-kind ride that stands out on the road, but won’t break the bank.

This year, green wheels took a backseat to performance cars, stylish convertibles, funky compact crossover vehicles, and cool concepts

WHAT ARE THE SHOWSTOPPERS?

A convertible SUV? That was one of the showstoppers from Land Rover. Range Rover’s first convertible SUV blends beauty, brawn, fun, and functionality together.

Top up or down, the 2017 Range Rover Evoque convertible is sleek and stylish. And it’s easy to go topless, too. With the push of one button, the fabric top drops in 18 seconds, and it doesn’t eat up any cargo space. There’s still 251 litres of cargo room — top up or down. This convertible SUV drives into bold territory and will likely spark a new segment in the ever-expanding auto sector.

Luxury compact crossovers are all the rage these days. It’s no surprise — after all, it’s one of the fastest-growing markets worldwide. Infiniti got into the game with its stunning all-new 2017 QX30, which turned heads everywhere.

With gorgeous, sleek lines, an elevated ride height, and a stylish cabin, it’s a versatile, compact, and luxurious package filled with cool, innovative technology, a powerful 2.0-litre turbocharged gas engine, and an all-wheel drive system for added security on the road.

Geared toward larger families, Mazda had its world debut of the all-new 2017 CX-9, a smart mid-sized crossover with an elegant shape, three rows of seats, and the latest fuel efficient SKYACTIV technology. It’s the first model with Mazda’s new 2.5-litre direct-injection turbocharged gasoline engine. It will hit dealerships in North America in the spring of 2016.

Scion stood out from the crowd thanks to its edgy C-HR concept vehicle, which is short for compact size and high ride height. It’s bold, muscular, and sporty in design. Painted bright red with a blacked-out roof, its funky eye-catching style garnered plenty of attention.

With five doors and a hatch, it’s designed to appeal to Scion’s so-called “yuccies”—young urban creatives who inspired the funky design. Expect to see a production version of the C-HR in 2016.


The future of car design

With technology changing on a daily basis we asked two global design leaders how design is changing in relation to the connected car. Here’s what Shiro Nakamura, Senior Vice-President and Chief Creative Officer, Nissan Motor Co., and Alfonso Albaisa, Executive Design Director, Infiniti Motor Co., Ltd. had to say.

“You look at the interior of a 1960s car and compare it with the interior design today. At that time, it was a single radio and single gauges. Now, we have screens, head-up displays, navigation, and so many new functions in the car. So interior design has to be completely redesigned because the capabilities in the car have become much more complex… I don’t think people today are really using all of the functions of the car. Maybe they use one or two features because there are so many functions and too many are complex. So the future is how can we make it simple and simplify the functions? That is what we are working on,” said Nakamura, during a roundtable discussion with Canadian journalists.

“We’re seeing the decluttering of the interior, the iPhoning of the interior— where things are apps and stuff like that. The biggest shift will be when we start designing cars you don’t have to drive all of the time. Then, we start to consider what is the person doing? And how can design help them? There’s a sense that you’re not always in control — there are times when you sit back and check mail. That’s the connection with the connected car,” said Albaisa, in a one-on-one interview following the global reveal of Infiniti’s all-new QX30 luxury compact crossover.

“Environmentally-friendly cars are getting much lighter. They’re driving themselves and parking themselves. These changes are fundamental. The car is not just a car. It’s an extension of a person. It’s always been, but the degree of extension is increasing. It’s exciting because the customers are really embracing that the car is becoming more than it used to be” added Albaisa.

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