Stateside stars at the LA Show

The 2016 motor show season is, like the year itself, almost over. But the Los Angeles Auto Show proves that manufacturers still had a few surprises up their sleeves, with an impressive number of debuts – some 50 in all.

Now many are for the US market, quite naturally, such as start up Elio Motors with its low-cost, highly fuel efficient commuter vehicle – the E1C. It’s a tandem two-seater three-wheeler, and rather more futuristic than Del-Boy’s yellow machine!

Then there was the Lincoln Navigator Concept with its gullwing doors and massive wheels. In fact, everything is massive about this car. Massive. And impressive.

More European in flavour are these six picks of mine that I think will be making news in 2017 over here rather than just over the pond!

 

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

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The Italians wowed enthusiasts of the brand with the next model in the iconic Italian sports car manufacturer’s renaissance – its first SUV – the Stelvio. Called Stelvio, after the Stelvio Pass, which is the highest in northern Italy. And very twisty.

Four-wheel drive only, the Stelvio was revealed in range-topping, sportiest 503bhp Quadrifollio form at the LA Show. Although the Italian company expects the majority of right-hand drive Stelvio models to be powered by diesel when it reaches UK shores next year.

In the crowded SUV market, you won’t miss the Stelvio and its shield-like front grille. We’re also told to expect handling to match the sports car badge. The additional of Alfa Romeo is sure to add some excitement to the SUV market, even at the expected £40,000 starting price.

 

Jaguar i-Pace

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Just a concept at the moment, but the Porsche Macan-rivalling Jaguar i-Pace SUV, is predicted to make production in 2018 and stole the show at the LA Auto Show with its predicted Tesla-bashing performance figures.

The i-Pace boasts 394bhp from its all-electric drivetrain, made up of a pair of 197bhp permanent magnet electric motors on each axle. The i-Pace’s new electrical architecture also equals four-wheel dive, 0-60mph acceleration in a supercar-bashing 4.0 seconds and predicted Porsche Cayenne levels of interior space!

According to reports I’ve read, the i-Pace concept’s curvy looks are close to the i-Pace’s final appearance, which will be revealed at the end of 2017. Even as a concept, with the i-Pace, I reckon Jaguar is on to a winner.

 

Jaguar XKSS

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Jaguar’s LA Autoshow stand might have looked to the future with the i-Pace electric SUV, but it also paid homage to its past in the form of the first re-made XKSS since 1957. This one-off, which Jaguar’s Classic division spent 18-months researching and building, will form the basis for nine further cars, which have already been sold to lucky buyers at a price in excess of £1 million each.

The reveal of this XKSS at the LA Auto Show was not a coincidence, as in 1957, nine cars bound for North America were destroyed in a fire at the Browns Lane factory and these nine cars will complete the XKSS run. Yes, I know they’re all sold out, but that doesn’t stop me wanting one very badly!

 

MINI Countryman

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Just when you thought MINIs couldn’t get any bigger than last year’s Golf-rivalling Clubman, here’s the 20cm longer new Countryman SUV. The growth of the Countryman sees the MINI SUV move into the C-Segment, with tough rivals such as the Volkswagen Tiguan.

On top of the growth in size, the Countryman sports a more rugged, off-road look – although the styling link between the first and second-generation Countryman is obvious.

Inside, the dashboard design is all new and unique to this latest Countryman – with rectangular rather than circular air vents, plus better quality trims and finishes indicate a move upmarket. That extra 20cm also means more rear legroom and a 470-litre boot.

Engine choices mirror the current hatch and Clubman estate ranges, although one interesting addition is the first plug-in hybrid MINI – the Countryman Cooper SE. I’m certainly looking forward to having a closer look at the Countryman when it’s launched early in 2017.

 

Mazda CX-5

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It seems like the LA show was an opportunity for manufacturers to show their all-new SUV offerings – well, Stateside they do love an SUV – Mazda choose to roll out its all-new CX-5.

Mazda’s new version of its biggest SUV should give rivals such as the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai a serious fight. Why? Well, it sports the same sleek look as the rest of the modern Mazda range, with the shorter overhangs, sculpted headlights and wide family grille at the front, chunky wheel arch detailing and sculpted flanks at the side and the tall rear with the high-set rear lights.

CX-5 interior highlights include the sporty three-spoke steering wheel, the 7-inch infotainment display, plus a 4.6in high-resolution display in the instrument display and a head-up display. There’s no more rear space in the CX-5, but the new model is lower and wider and moving the A-pillars back by 35mm gives better all-round vision than before.

Petrol and diesel engine choices are unchanged, but from what I understand, prices are expected to increase when the new CX-5 goes on sale next year.

 

Porsche 911 RSR
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Everyone loves a Porsche 911 and even though the 911 RSR is a race rather than a road car, I still want one to go with that Jag XKSS in my dream garage. Why? you mights ask? Well, to compete in the 2017 Le Mans and World Endurance Championships, this wide-arched, angry-looking, usually rear-drive beast, has gone all mid-engined!

Described as the biggest evolution to Porsche’s GT model, the reason for the engine’s move, is the fitment of a trick, large rear diffuser at the back. The result is that diffuser helps create more downforce at the rear, plus with the engine moved – the 911 RSR’s weight balance will also be improved.

I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how this Porsche gets on in its first race at Daytona at the end of January