A bevy of new SUVs, some interesting high-performance cars and a few heart-stopping prototypes.
That pretty much sums up the next generation of vehicles unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Here are our picks for hits and misses of the last big show of the year.
Porsche Taycan 4S
For those who dream of owning this electrically powered Porsche sedan comes a cheaper version than the Turbo model already launched – and one that is just as desirable.
The 4S can deliver the electric equivalent of 389kW. As if that isn’t enough, there’s an optional battery system that delivers an extra jolt, boosting that horsepower to an immense 419 for sudden acceleration power. Thus, the 4S can rocket from 0-96kmh in 3.8 seconds.
What’s captivating about this car isn’t just raw power. It’s a sweet profile that makes it instantly recognisable as a Porsche design while still seeming entirely fresh.
Perhaps best of all, Taycan 4S should be a relative bargain compared with the Turbo models.
A new SUV model, the Kia Seltos, isn’t one of the great lookers, but we include it among our hits because it’s well done overall, nicely packaged and a bargain.
The Seltos shows how carmakers are so anxious to market new SUVs that they will risk cannibalising sales from their existing lineup. Seltos is a compact SUV that will compete directly against one of Kia’s best-known and most quirky models globally, the Soul.
The Soul is a bit of a combination of a car and a crossover, while Seltos is intended to be more of a pure SUV, explains Michael Cole, president of Kia Motors America.
Seltos has some features that few other compact crossovers can match, including the six-color mood lighting that has been a hit in the youth-oriented Soul. It also has more cargo room than a Toyota RAV4.
Hyundai Vision T
Every auto show needs a few new concept cars that offer a peek into the future, and Hyundai supplied one of the better ones.
It’s the Vision T, a carbon-black plug-in hybrid SUV. We expect its simple yet captivating style will show up for years in the next generation of Hyundai crossovers.
As opposed to the more wild concepts, this one is understated. Downright elegant, really. The Vision T’s lines are subtle and pure. It’s the kind of clean design at which German automakers seem to excel, especially Volkswagen. The front is a little crazy, though, with a geometric design for the grille and a stacked array of headlights.
But hey, it will turn heads – and that’s the point.
Toyota, along with Honda and Hyundai, continues to pursue the hydrogen fuel-cell dream that is yet to catch on.
Each generation of fuel-cell vehicles improves technologically. Now Toyota hopes its new Mirai sedan will have more appeal with startlingly better looks. Want a stealth Lexus? This may be it.
There’s no getting over the polarising looks of the outgoing Mirai. The new one goes to the opposite end of the design spectrum with modern looks that some compare to the Toyota Avalon and that seems to fall too far on the bland side.
Now it doesn’t stand out enough. If hydrogen-powered cars are going to catch on, they need to be distinctive on the highway so that motorists can start to say “There goes one! And there goes another!”
California has 38 hydrogen stations that can fuel a Mirai. Toyota has only sold 6000 Mirais since 2015 which, executives point out, is about equal to the number of RAV4s that fly off dealership lots in a single week.
Hyundai Ioniq Electric
Given the other innovative things that Hyundai has done lately, we expected more from the next generation of the Ioniq Electric.
Yes, its battery range was boosted, besting the Nissan Leaf. But that’s still short of Tesla models, which are quickly becoming the defacto benchmark for EVs. (We are impressed, though, that Ioniq’s battery can be recharged to the 80 per cent level in less than an hour from a fast charger, according to Hyundai).
And yes, there’s nothing ugly about it its design. But there’s nothing especially interesting about it either. It’s not memorable.
Plus, we think the plastic panel where the grille would normally be looks cheap and cheesy.
Content credit: stuff.co.nz