Star cars at the LA Show

Star cars at the LA Show

Posted by

Andy Bruce

November 2023

While manhole covers were being sucked up at the Los Angeles Formula 1 Grand Prix (resulting in urgent track repairs and red faces), downtown at the Los Angeles Convention Center the 2023 LA Auto Show was getting underway with fewer glitches.

LA is a long way from the fleet market in the UK I know, but as ever, motor shows have a great way of throwing up new products that we will be seeing over here.

Let’s start with Kia

Here was a chance to see the EV3 and EV4 concept models. The EV3 is a compact SUV, while the EV4 is a small saloon. Both feature Kia’s new Opposites United design themes – angularity meets traditional design tenets – which we have already seen in the new EV9 SUV. I like this fusing of styles. It certainly creates a very distinct presence on the road.

Inside the EV3, there’s a variety of sustainable materials made from bioplastic (sources include vegetable oils, corn extract, sawdust and sugarcane) and Bio Polyurethane as a replacement for animal-based leather.

Interestingly, with the EV4 concept, we have a saloon design, which brings a welcome change to the constant diet of electric-cars-must-be-SUVs approach.

With a long bonnet and extended coupe tail, if you can imagine a lowered, sleeker and extended EV6 GT, you’ll be close to what we have here. And very effective it is, too.

Offering rather more of the here and now was the debut of the facelifted Kia Sorento, which features more of the design language featured on the EV9 in its bolder grille and front light treatment.

Inside, the seven-seat arrangement continues, while the key model for fleet drivers will be the PHEV version.

New Hyundai Santa Fe larges it up

Also on show and making its US debut was the Hyundai Santa Fe. This enormous seven-seater SUV provides greater space inside thanks to a longer wheelbase on this new version, although the two rearmost seats are definitely for smaller or younger people.

Hyundai says the rear tailgate opening is the roomiest in class, providing a ‘terrace-like space’. It sounds ideal for football or rugby families at the weekend. Expect it here in the UK by mid-2024. Fleet drivers should head for the PHEV model.

New Kona makes an appearance

More fleet mainstream was the appearance of the Czech-made Kona compact SUV from Hyundai. The all-new electric Kona retains the rounded frontal aspect of its predecessor, giving it an identifiable road stance.

Hyundai says there will be two versions of Kona Electric with different battery capacities, with both offering higher performance and range than their predecessors. The 65.4-kWh battery version is equipped with a 160-kW electric motor and offers a really handy range of 319 miles, while the entry-level 48.4-kWh battery pack version with its 114.6-kW electric motor offers 234 miles.

Fleets interested in the new Kona can order it from us now.

Subaru sticks to rugged formula for new Forester

The Forester is a minority interest in fleet, but for some drivers, its four-wheel drive ability is essential for the jobs and terrain they need to tackle. They’ll be pleased to hear that the new model comes with an updated version of its sure-footed Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive system, offering a faster response time and better control both on- and off-road. There’s also the distinct possibility that a hybrid petrol-electric engine will be on offer when it comes to the UK next year.

Lucid – a taste of things to come?

You might have heard of Amercian EV start-up Lucid. Its first model – the Lucid Air – has a range of 440 miles and won the 2023 World Luxury Car Award.

Now there’s the Gravity, a large SUV estate with seven-seat capacity and again, the ability to travel some 440 miles on a single charge. It certainly looks impressive, combining high levels of luxury in a polished and pleasing design.

How likely are we to get the chance to experience Lucid models in the UK? According to an interview in Autocar with the company’s CEO, Lucid is two years away from a UK debut. Let’s hope they make it over here because they sound like impressive vehicles.

Finally, Honda hints at Prelude revival

Honda can sometimes serve up a take-it-or-leave-it mix of models, but it always hits the button when it comes to sporting cars: think NSX, Type R, S2000 and…Prelude, which is what we have here.

I think this concept model looks great. It was first displayed at Honda’s home Japan Mobility Show last month, but made a surprise display at the LA Show, where it will be an important halo model in the North American market.

But what is expected to be a hybrid-engined coupe would do equally well here in the UK where it was last on sale in 2001. Bringing back the Prelude would certainly give the brand a bit of pizzazz. Let’s hope Honda agrees.

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