Audi Prologue Concept
There's a new guy sitting in the big chair of Audi's design department: Marc Lichte. His job is to steer the styling and expand the visual vocabulary of four-ringed cars. Here is what he (and no doubt his team) has come up with so far. It seems Stewie Griffin went into the future with his time machine and brought this car back. It doesn't even look like it should be powered by fossil fuel. Maybe a thorium reactor. The inside is just as Jetsons, with organic LED displays, 3-D screens, and leather possibly sourced from cloned cows (probably not). Size-wise, think of it as a coupe based on the A8; this could be a foretaste of an A9. But Lichte also says there are elements of the Prologue that will go into the next A6, A7, and A8. Thinking about it, it was probably Brian hoping to impress some woman.
Audi A7 Sportback H-Tron Quattro Concept
Considering Audi has been big on diesels and hybrids, and even diesel hybrids, should we assume the hydrogen fuel cell powering this car is the near future? It uses a plug-in element to the drivetrain, which helps out because hydrogen is still not easy to buy. And there are four hydrogen tanks on board. In EV mode, it's possible to travel for 31 miles. Total range is 311 miles, and consumption is claimed to be the equivalent of 62 mpg. One good thing about electron power is the torque—in this case, it's a healthy 398 lb-ft. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are still only available on lease in selected states. If this A7 ever went into production, it might well follow the same route.
'15 Audi R8 Competition
No, this is not a way to win an R8. Competition is the name of this extremely limited edition of Audi's wonderful supercar. Only 60 units are being built for customers in the United States, and it's a nod to the marque's highly successful LMS cars. The best part of $200,000 buys the fastest and most powerful Audi ever. Its 5.2L V-10 develops 570 hp as 60 mph clicks by in 3.2 seconds on the way to a top speed of 199 mph. The sole transmission is the seven-speed S-tronic. This model also bids farewell to the R8 as we know it. A second generation is due in 2016.
Bentley Grand Convertible
This open-topped iteration of the magnificent Mulsanne Speed is not necessarily a production no-brainer. If it ever did reach that stage, Bentley says it will be "highly exclusive" and "extremely limited." So only a small fraction of the One Percent might be able to enjoy the Herculean 530 hp and gargantuan 811 lb-ft of torque emanating from the 6.75L, twin-turbo V-8. Almost makes you feel sorry for the merely well off, doesn't it?
'15 BMW 2 Series Convertible
Now that the 2 has taken the place of the 1, it's inevitable that an open-top version would arrive soon. Here it is, in all its compact, rear-drive (or optional all-wheel-drive) glory. As buyers have come to expect, the roof will open or close in 20 seconds and can do so at speeds of up to 31 mph. The range starts at $38,859 for the four-cylinder 240hp 228i and goes up to $48,650 for the six-cylinder 320hp M235i. Incidentally, the M version comes with a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed auto trans.
'15 BMW X5 M/X6 M/X6
Anyone who has driven an X5 M or X6 M on a track has probably had this thought: "Wow, I'm having so much fun here. This car is amazing. Hang on a second... I'm driving an SUV. How can this be?" Only BMW knows how this can be, because the company's M division has managed to transform these all-wheel-drive heavyweights into fast and lithe machines. Both are propelled by mighty 4.4L, twin-turbo V-8 engines endowed with 567 hp and 553 lb-ft of torque—that's 12 more horse and 53 more units of twist than the previous model. Zero to 60 mph takes place in a mere 4 seconds flat. And it's a shame there are no numbers for how confidence-inspiring and tactile the suspension and braking systems are. Pricing starts at $99,650 for the X5 M. The Los Angeles Auto Show was also where the second-generation regular X6 made its debut, said to be 22 percent more fuel efficient than Gen One, starting at $73,850 for the 35i.
'15 Fiat 500X
Although there's a 500 in its name, this subcompact crossover is not based on the tiny and adorable runabout we've all come to know and, um, adore. The turbocharged 1.4L engine option, buzzing with 160 hp and 184 lb-ft, is the same as the one in the Abarth. But this vehicle is bigger and heavier than a regular 500, so Fiat also offers a 2.4L four making 184 hp. The smaller engine connects to a six-speed manual transmission, while the bigger unit employs a nine-speed auto. The 500X uses the same platform as the upcoming Jeep Renegade, but goes for urbane styling compared with the Jeep's more rugged countenance.
'16 Jaguar F-Type
It's really rather good, the F-Type. And the 2016 model year will be even better. Jaguar is offering a six-speed manual transmission. It's supposedly 22 pounds lighter than the auto unit. But that's not all—some versions will come with four-wheel drive. All the torque goes to the rear wheels in normal driving conditions, but the system can shoot 50 percent of it up to the front axle if necessary. It weighs 176 pounds, but if it's anything like the system in the XF and XJ (and it probably is), then it should be smashing fun as well as jolly useful for year-round driving.
'15 Mercedes-AMG C63/C63 S
New C-Class, new AMG version. It's a predictable formula, but no less wonderful for that. Actually, there are two new versions. There's the C63, with 469 hp, 479 lb-ft of torque, a zero-to-60 sprint time of 4 seconds, and a top speed of 155 mph. Sounds great, doesn't it? But there's also the C63 S. Oh, yes: 503 hp, 516 lb-ft, 3.9 seconds to 60 mph, and a top whack of 180 mph. Just for comparison, a '15 BMW M3 has 425 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Both C63 models get their juice from a twin-turbo, 4.0L V-8 and use the rear wheels to set the tarmac alight via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Mercedes-Benz also claims that this new engine is the most fuel-efficient of high-performance V-8s.
'16 Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG
Yep, pretty much a gung ho AMG version of the CLS making its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles show. But that's still reason to celebrate and revel in a hand-built 5.5L twin-turbo V-8 kicking out 577 hp with 590 lb-ft of twist. Standstill to 60 happens in a fleeting 3.6 seconds. And it's such a handsome package.
'16 Mercedes-Benz S550 PHEV
If anyone has just woken up from 1983, PHEV stands for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Yes, the newest, most glorious, and technologically rich flagship sedan wearing a three-pointed star now comes in hybrid form for buyers in the United States. Mercedes-Benz claims V-8 performance with compact-car fuel consumption. A twin-turbo 3.0L V-6 colludes with an electric motor to bring 436 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque to the chauffeur's right foot. Using just the battery, the S550 will trundle for 20 miles, but probably less if the occupants keep switching on that wonderful hot-stone massage function. At least the car has a special navigation function that will calculate the ideal route for a plug-in hybrid.
'16 Mercedes-Maybach S600
Once upon a time, the Maybach name was associated with zeppelins (not the Led kind) and made luxury cars as long ago as 1939. But since the Second World War was just kicking off, that was not a good year for Germany, and the marque subsequently sank into oblivion. Mercedes-Benz resurrected it in 1997 to spearhead ultra-luxurious versions of its then-aging S-Class platform. Despite the plush leathers and fine-wood trims, it never really took off, and Mercedes-Benz stopped building Maybachs in 2012. That hasn't stopped the company from creating a Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand, though, and outfitting the current S-Class (still new and incredibly tech-rich) with all the upscale appointments any emperor would be pleased to enjoy. Along with 523 hp and 612 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbo 6.0L V-12. Lovely.
'15 Mini Hardtop Four-Door
Actually, the big news from Mini's 2014 L.A. Auto Show stand was much smaller than a Mini. It was the Citysurfer Concept, a scooter with electric assistance that folds up small enough to fit into, you guessed it, a Mini. But the serious stuff is a four-door version of the regular Mini. After all the SUV-wannabes and funny roofs, it's almost surprising that it's taken Mini this long to come up with a practical, no-nonsense version. The wheelbase has been stretched by 2.9 inches for extra passenger space. The four-door comes in Cooper trim with a 134hp, 1.5L, three-cylinder turbo or in Cooper S with a 189hp, 2.0L four-potter. Prices start at $22,550, including destination.
Mini Superleggera Concept
The Italian coachbuilders, Touring Superleggera, are responsible for this charming Mini concept. The company took part of its name from a construction process that allows vehicles to be super-light; this car is crafted from large sheets of aluminum. Light weight is especially welcome in this car because it deploys an all-electric drivetrain. Incidentally, Touring Superleggera is responsible for several gorgeous cars over the years, including the Aston Martin DB4. This car obviously won't go into production, but some of these elegant styling details might well find their way into road-going Mini models. Although probably not the pert tail fin and the Union Jack rear lamps.
'15 Porsche Cayenne GTS
In european car world, there are two sets of three-letter initials guaranteed to get attention. Not so coincidentally, both of them begin with "GT." Porsche has produced GTS versions of practically everything it makes, denoting high performance and extra-handling prowess. Even the Cayenne gets the GTS treatment as the company revamps its whole big SUV range. We're looking at a lowered and tuned suspension, aero appendages, sport exhaust, cosmetic upgrades, and a power lift gate as standard. Output is 440 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbo 3.6L V-6, propelling this 2-ton-plus beast from standstill to 60 mph in a brief 5.2 seconds. Cost: $96,495, including destination.
'15 Porsche Panamera Turbo S Executive Exclusive Series
This is no ordinary Panamera Turbo S. For a start, it has a longer wheelbase than standard, the two-tone paint is applied by hand, the rear seat entertainment system has 10.1-inch touchscreens, and the upholstery is Nappa leather. There's an optional matching luggage set finished in high-end Poltrona Frau Italian leather. A twin-turbo, 4.8L V-8 thrums with 570 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. Only 100 will be made for the whole world. Which goes some way to justifying the $264,895 (including destination) required to obtain one. But why bother? It's probably sold out already.
Volkswagen Golf R 400 Concept
Well, this white-hot hatch has finally made it to the United States. At least an American car show. It's a take on the Golf R (sorry to state the obvious) with all four wheels driven not by the usual 292 hp but 394, which works out to 400 PS in metric measurement. The electronic stability control has a "race mode" for greater track-related shenanigans before bringing in the electronic co-driver. Zero to 60 mph takes just 3.9 seconds, and top speed is 173 mph, according to VW. But it's a concept, not a production model. Which sucks. Here's a suggestion: how about a limited run of 400 examples? We're sure there must be at least that many takers for what would be The Ultimate Golf.
Volkswagen GTI Roadster Concept
There are times when life imitates art and times when it imitates Sony PlayStations. This is one of the more positive results of the latter, inspired by a digital version in the Gran Turismo 6 driving game. This two-seater uses a 3.0L V-6 to send 503 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels—20-inchers, no less—through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The body is a carbon-fiber monocoque, while the interior is swaddled in dark Alcantara. VW estimates this car could sprint from standstill to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 192 mph. It turns out that the inventor of Gran Turismo, Kazunori Yamauchi, is a fan of the regular GTI and has one in his collection of fab cars.
Volkswagen Golf R Variant
Back in the days of the VW Type 3 (the '60s, essentially), the people's car company made a wagon version and called it the Variant. That name is revived with this concept. Think of a Golf R crossed with a Jetta SportWagen, 296 horses plus 57.2 cubic feet for the German Shepherds, and that's the Golf R Variant. But conventional wisdom says Americans don't like wagons, so why would VW unveil this car in Los Angeles? We just don't know. Now if there was a slightly lifted version with crossover pretensions, that might get the soccer moms and dads interested. A missed opportunity by VW's product planners, wethinks.
'15 Volvo V60 Cross Country
The new generation of Volvo V60 compact wagon is excellent. But, y'know, Americans and wagons, yada, yada. So this is a smart idea: take the V60 and give it a bit of crossover attitude, much like Audi does with its Allroad vehicles. Ground clearance is raised by 2.6 inches, the tires have higher sidewalls for greater comfort, scuff and skidplates are added, along with "fender extenders," and the all-wheel drive system gets Hill Descent Control. Mix in a fine 2.5L five-cylinder engine making 250 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque while returning an average of 23 mpg, and the starting price of $41,925 seems quite reasonable. Especially when the level of standard equipment is taken into account. And we know it will have comfortable seats, because it's a Volvo.
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen HyMotion
More than a concept, really, since everything about this hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicle works and is being tested on the road right now. The electric drivetrain and lithium-ion batteries are already available in the e-Golf, although this model has 134 hp compared with the e-Golf's 113. As well as the SportWagen, VW has a fuel cell Passat version running. Range is around 310 miles. Refueling the four carbon-fiber hydrogen tanks takes about three minutes, and naturally there are functions like regenerative braking for optimum efficiency.