THE LAST major motor show of 2018 is gearing up to provide a smorgasbord of hot new metal, mere weeks before we toss our calendars in the bin for another year.
The Los Angeles Auto Show will feature exhibits from almost 40 manufacturers, and there are some key debuts of keenly anticipated cars lined up for the opening press days.
It’s a big deal for American brands, and fast becoming one of the premier destinations on the automotive calendar for European and Asian OEMs given the importance of stateside sales.
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We’ve been keeping our ears to the ground to compile this preview, which will be updated as we get closer to Los Angeles for the show’s opening on November 28.
Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro
Not content with the already seriously fast Mercedes-AMG GT R, the power-crazed engineers at Affalterbach have moved the dial to 11, teasing a hardcore AMG GT R Pro.
Teaser images have been released, but the car’s full reveal will happen at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Power and torque figures remain secret until then, as do production numbers, but AMG says the GT R Pro will be focused on improving racetrack performance, using knowledge gained from the GT’s GT3 and GT4 racing duties.
The announcement of the GT R Pro also raises an interesting question about the possibility of a Black series farewell for the GT – how much fat can be left in the chassis and engine at this point?
Mercedes-AMG has also confirmed that an updated range of GTs will be revealed alongside the GT R Pro at LA. The updated two-doors will have interior and exterior changes to “emphasise the close relationship” to their recently launched four-door sibling.
Mini special editions
While Mini has said its John Cooper Works GP concept from last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show will spawn a production car, it won’t be appearing at the 2018 LA Auto Show. What will be appearing on Mini’s stand are four new special editions.
The first is a John Cooper Works Knights Edition, which is a regular JCW hardtop dressed up with red painted accents, and a JCW exhaust.
An International Orange Edition will also be on the stand, wearing a – you guessed it – orange paint job, alongside the Countryman Cooper S Yin Yang edition.
The Clubman S receives similar trim changes for a new Starlight Edition model.
The Korean brand has teased the next-generation Soul for 2019 ahead of a full reveal in the City of Angels. A shadowy preview makes it clear the third-gen Soul will continue with boxy exterior styling the SUV has become known for.
Inside, its infotainment has received a significant update, along with driver assistance systems like active cruise control and lane keep assist added.
A more rugged X-Line variant will also be released, giving the Soul an off-roader’s spirit with jacked up ride height and more aggressive bodywork. It’s expected the Soul will be offered with a choice of a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre, or 1.6-litre turbo four-cylinder engine.
Audi E-Tron GT
Tesla’s Model S could finally get a serious competitor, with Audi announcing the long-awaited E-Tron GT electric sedan will be revealed in Los Angeles.
While still in concept form, it’s likely the E-Tron GT shown in LA will be closer to its production specification than when we last saw it, with a launch expected in 2020.
Developed in conjunction with Porsche, the E-Tron GT will share the same underpinnings as the Taycan, and should have similar charging capacity as its E-Tron SUV sibling arriving here next year.
Expect claims of big range, and incredibly fast charging speeds, along with the traditional electric hallmark of eye-watering acceleration figures.
Porsche 911 (992)
We’ve already sneaked a ride in a pre-production Porsche 992 911, but the real thing in factory trim should be on show for real at the LA show. It’s expected to retain much of the iconic 911 design cues and a turbocharged six-cylinder engine, but there’s no doubt 911 die-hards are eager to see a new generation of 911 and it’s raft of incremental changes in the metal.
Mazda has been keeping relatively tight-lipped about its next-generation 3, but LA is where it’s expected to break cover. So far we’ve learned it will receive a digital dash layout and should take design elements from the Mazda Kai Concept, which was revealed at the 2017 Tokyo Motor Show. This is a hugely popular car in Australia and we’re sure to be seeing a lot of these on our roads soon enough. Let’s hope it looks good.
Electrified Ford Mustang
Speculation continues to rise around the marriage of the Ford Mustang with an electric drivetrain. We first heard about Ford’s EV-intentions for the Mustang back in January 2017, and Ford has recently fuelled the fire by releasing a new ad campaign depicting a Mustang with a closed-off grille and glowing blue badge. Could it be?
Back in September BMW caught us a little off-guard when it announced the X3M and X4M at a DTM Championship round. We saw the car’s enhanced M-derived design, shrouded in a camouflage wrap of course, but little was said about their performance characteristics. We’re looking forward to seeing the fully unveiled duo at the show, sans-camouflage.
Last week saw the unveiling of BMW’s largest, most luxurious SUV, the X7. Built to rival the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, the X7 will be shown in the metal on the show floor alongside BMW’s other recent releases; the X5, 3 Series, 8 Series and Z4.
BMW 8 Series Convertible
The recently unveiled BMW 8 Series is expected to drop its top in a new convertible body style destined for the LA Auto Show. Similar to the coupe, the M850i model will be powered by a 4.4-litre V8 and hit 100km/h in under 4 seconds. Belgian auto site autotijd.be even managed to sneak some press images of the new model.
Although the Nissan Maxima hasn’t been on sale in Australia since 2013, nor the Altima since 2017, Nissan will debut its refreshed Maxima sedan at the LA Auto show. We’re keeping a keen eye on it in order to gauge the brand’s latest design language.
While it’s been around for almost 10 years as a technology company, Rivian only recently announced a move into the electric car space with an SUV and pick-up truck, named A1T and A1C respectively. Big claims are touted, with the off-road duo supposedly able to wade through 1.09 metres of water, climb a 45 percent incline and hit 100km/h in under 3 seconds. We’ll have more of an idea about this up-and-comer next month.