BMW's M6 does not have a bad angle; you can't take a truly ugly picture of it. Even with all the fussiness and busy-ness and what the stylists like to call "surface excitement" on this 500-horsepower V10 brute, the car's cabin remains surpremely comfortable with bolstered front seats and a rear seat good for, well, two child seats, maybe, and/or relatives or friends you don't really like all that much.
BMW seems to "getting their groove back" when it comes to styling, having survived the severe case of ugliness the company was apparently suffering from when the latest 7-series came out of the factory, with a rear deck that didn't look to be quite finished. This M6 almost makes up for that ... almost.
Rear disc brake of the BMW M6. Note the use of "ventilated" discs, which provide as much stopping power as they would if not ventilated, but this method makes the brakes lighter and allows them to dry when wet and cool when hot much more quickly.
As in Tokyo just a few weeks ago, the Mini Clubman was one car you couldn't get near, even on that show's Press Days. Something about the station wagon (or "shooting brake", as they call these cars in the UK and elsewhere) simply seems to draw people to it so they can inspect it close-up.
Here's a rare "clean shot" of the new Mini's profile. The car's 1.6 liter Inline-4 cylinder engine can pump out a manufacturer claimed 120 horsepower or 175 horses in the Clubman S turbo version. The code word for this car while it was under development was "Traveller", which we actually like better than "Clubman", which is a bit harder to say and even pronounce than Traveller.
Different from the car from VW which we saw in Tokyo (or maybe just painted a different color ... We were tired!), Volkswagen's "Space Up!" captured the attention of the media at the show, especially those of So Cal origin, who fondly remember the Volkswagen Bus of the '70s, the one which always blew their engines, underpowered little boxer-style 4-bangers which leaked oil like a sieve. But my 1971 model provided many happy memories! Will VW ever build anything resembling this Van-a-Gon throwback? Don't bet it, at least it will not be sold anytime soon in the US.
Close-up of the interior reveals extra-thin seats to help with fuel mileage; VW on-scene execs told us that the company won't produce a van like this "for several years".
A wider interior picture of VW's Space Up! concept at the LA Auto Show. Front driver and passenger doors open in the traditional manner; rear doors slide open and closed as in many of today's minivans.
Talk about cars where you can't tell which end is which! The Space Up! from VW is full of hip, cool gadgets, most of which would never make it to production. But with VW talking about building a factory in the US (again ... they used to have one in Pennsylvania, of all places), then there would follow a large drop in the costs of manufacturing VW models here for this market (something the Japanese car-makers figured-out how to do many years ago).
Here's the clean diesel 2.0 liter engine which VW wants to sell in the US, and start selling it in their products as soon as they can. The engine churns out 140 horsepower, and VW says that they will stick with their nomenclature, using "TDI" as their name for clean diesel products (Mercedes is using the BluTec name for the same technology, developed in Europe jointly by several car-makers).
With one of their TDI clean diesel engines installed in this new Passat, it appears that VW has done all their homework on this process; now they just need permission from the EPA and the state of California to clear the engine for sale in the US (and don't forget about California, either).
At last year's LA Auto SHow, VW showed a concept which was clearly ready for production. I can't remember what they called this concept, but the finished product, their all-new Tiguan, smaller than VW's Touraeg, was on display at this year's LA Auto Show. So now there are two vehicles from VW with unpronounceable names.
Tiguan is a very nice-looking vehicle. It's a bit like the smaller brother of VW's Touraeg. Equipped with all-wheel drive and a V6 motor, this little crossover can probably handle just about anything the dirt or the desert can throw at it. But keep in mind: Less than 5% of all the people who buy SUVs ever take them off the pavement for any reason.
VW's TDI clean diesel tech is under the hood in this Passat. The 140-horsepower powerplant can produce gobs of torque, and for that reason alone, many buyers might forego the larger Touraeg and take their changes with this all-new Tiguan.
A cut-away of Volkswagen's all-new "dual clutch gearbox". What this does is optimize the engine's revs for shifting at the appropriate moment, so what the driver might ask of the transmission won't happen until the engine revs are correct for a shift, and the driver's shift request won't harm the engine in any way. Smart car, huh?
Interactive games were a big part of many of the companies exhibits. These "games" usually are very simple, and which, at the same time one is playing with them, also tries to "teach" the operator some factoid or nugget of info which might steer the game-player to one of the company's dealerships. Insidious, aren't they?
The VW exhibit at the LA Auto Show was an eye-catcher, that's for certain. Using huge light-emitting diode (LED) screens to help tell the "VW story", these displays were also very hot. Visitors can literally feel the heat from the LEDs when they are called upon to, say, all turn white or any other color, and the LEDs are asked to do it in less than a second.
The LA Auto Show held the first "official" introduction of the Smart car to American audiences; their first public showing, as it were. Only when one gets close to them do they realize how small these things actually are. Driving one on the freeways, with the huge trucks which dominate the traffic whenever their drivers get the urge to do so, would be a risk even I might not take. We'll be testing one soon, so remember to check back on this site and look for that test!
Interior of the Smart "fortwo" (the only Smart being imported into the US at this time) shows all the usual bells and whistles, plus a MP3 hook-up for music players like the iPod. The steering wheel is thick and well-covered with some kind of "leathey" product.
Some cars just make you smile, and the grill on this Smart fortwo car certainly is in the running for membership in that small league. The dealerships owned by Roger Penske's United Auto, the largest group of dealers in the nation (Penske's company owns over 100 dealers) is the only place where Americans can buy their Smart.
The Smart's fortwo model reveals a larger-than-expected amount of room in the "trunk", such as it is. The Smart is an eight-foot-long product of France that gets upward of 40 miles per gallon. It has two seats and three cylinders and a 0.7-liter, 61-horsepower engine. And it is shorter than a golf cart.
Smart, naturally, has to make a big deal about how 'safe' their cars are. They claim the same level of protection a NASCAR driver has when they have a wreck on the track going near 200 miles per hour. We don't know how true that is, but after seeing this cutaway of the tiny Smart, well, it looked ok to us ... But we don't want to be the ones who actually find out how safe Smart is or isn't while cruising on the I-10 with the Big Boys, if you know what we mean ...
The huge video wall behind the Smart display shows two rather hefty and jovial gentlemen climbing into a Smart and settling in for a long drive. It's funny, and great marketing, too.
Photo of the Smart fortwo model at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The rear projection screen offered many answers to some of what are probably the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) the salspeople must handle on a daily basis.
Home from having visited Tokyo and Las Vegas in just the past three weeks, our trip to Los Angeles to cover the LA Auto Show was a lot of fun, probably because we didn't have to walk as much as we usually do there. But we're going back next week to shoot more photos to post, with our opinions, of course, and for our "CAR NUT TV" program seen in So Cal's Coachella Valley (Palm Springs and environs) and San Diego County on all the Time-Warner systems in those areas. And how my Carey got that single LA-bound suitcase to weigh as much as the ones we took to Japan for a ten day trip, I will never know. There are just certain things you don't ask a lady.