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The Professional's Guide to the LA Auto Show - DrivingScene

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The Professional’s Guide to the LA Auto Show

Posted on 29 November 2012 by Adam Kaslikowski

The LA Auto Show is upon us boys and girls, and that means a plethora of new cars, booth professionals, and convention B.O. As always, there is too much to take in in one day if you try and see everything. To help you get the most out of this and other auto shows, we’ve created a play-by-play to show you how a media professional navigates this sordid and distracting world. Below you will see what our day looked like. Tread carefully and learn from the best…

6:45 – Alarm goes off with some emo song. God it’s early. I started writing about cars so I wouldn’t have to wake up this early anymore.

7:26 – Out of bed finally. Because $%&@ mornings.

7:50 – Finally on my way with 10 minutes to get to the show

9:00 – Finish with LA traffic and arrive at the convention center an hour late. In style.

9:20 – Eventually found the media center to get my wristband. Why are all convention centers some version of a poorly carpeted labyrinth?

9:22 – In the actual show!

9:23 – First thing I see in the hall is a 2013 Audi S8. Tre sexy and seemingly scowling at the Hyundai stand next door.

9:29 – Cadillac ATS, XTS, and CTS-V Racing Coupe. Love the fact that the center consol design is the same across the Cadillac line-up – it creates a tight lineage and strong brand language. Also, the Racing Coupe just looks devilishly awesome.

9:30 – New Mazda6. Design on the profile looks a little fussy. It is catching and different now, but I have doubts about how it will age. Every automaker is serving breakfast and espresso at their exhibits. God it’s good to be press.

9:32 – Bentley. Another great aspect of being in the media is that all the cars are open and velvet ropes mean nothing. A press pass means you are allowed to do anything everywhere, so obviously I sat my fat ass in some Bentleys. Also, my camera stopped working for some reason. Something always goes wrong or gets left behind when you do big events like this.

9:40 – Toyota Avalon. Outside aesthetics aside, the interior is a weird hodge-podge of upscale switches and shitty plastic. Matched with the ugly steering wheel fitted to this car, and the price premium over a Camry doesn’t seem worth it.

9:45 – Camera working again, I head back to Bentley to grab pics that I know you my reading public demand. These pictures and all others in the gallery at the bottom of this piece.

9:47 – Toyota RAV4. Bunch of press of about this for its launch, and I’ve got to say “blah.” Outside styling is ambitious FOR TOYOTA, but the interior is just another grey plastic fest with nothing new or old but interesting to look at. I’m sure your mother will love it.

9:50 – Scion. Nothing interesting here.

9:51 – TRD. Something interesting here, the freak of nature Sequoia race truck!

9:52 – Just saw Kanye West talking to a TRD rep.

9:52.5 – Totally not Kanye West, just some black dude with short hair and a goatee. Great, now I feel racist.

9:57 – Mini Paceman. Stupid car, but here’s an insider tip: overhead auto show lights suck for taking pictures of shiny metal objects like vehicles. To get your pictures to look somewhat decent, try getting lower or switching sides of the vehicle to get away from the glare spots created by the lights.

9:58 – Subaru Forester and Crosstrek. Those crazy Japanese cut their brand new Forester cabin in half! I always love seeing this expose internals like engines and transfer cases, but Suby has decided to skip all that and just show you what the inside of the cabin looks like – you know, what you could see anyway if you just opened the door… The Crosstrek on display looks great. Inside it is any other Subaru, but outside it looks like it is ready for the zombie apocalypse.

9:59 – I just saw German hipsters walking around hall. Weird.

10:00 – Turns out VW is courting the millennial crowd by giving out thick-frame sunglasses to attendees. Their whole exhibit looks like Williamsburg right now.

10:05 – Chevy Spark EV. Strange looking little car but I actually can’t wait to get behind the wheel. The only EVs I’ve driven so far have been large sedans, and having a micro car propelled by electrons would be interesting.

10:07 – Not to be outdone by Subaru, Chevy also cut its Spark EV in half, then went ahead and cut a Volt into only its drive train.

10:08 – Chevy Tru1405S and Code130R. WTF is this?!?!??!? These look great. Make more of these please! These two concepts first bowed at the Detroit auto show earlier this year as examples of possible future “sporting” Chevrolets. Please do make these, they look fantastic in the flesh.

10:10 – Talk to Andrew Lipman with Audi Communications regarding their show line-up and why they brought such a big diesel push to LA. Oh, and confirmed our invitation to Audi’s sweet roof-top party in Hollywood later that night. I love my job.

10:20 – Acura NSX. Just as stunning in person, and the roof only reaches waist-high. This is one low-slung technical tour de force.

10:24 – Volvo C30 Polestar Edition. Looks properly good, smells awful inside. I suppose this is the price for exclusivity.

10:30 – Lexus LS F Sport, LF-CC, , LF-LC, LFA Nurburgring Edition. The LS F Sport is just blah in person, and doesn’t carry nearly the gravitas of an M5’s exterior. The LF-CC Concept really feels like Aston Martin with its tight sheet metal skin seemingly stretched over the car’s frame. The LF-LC Concept is the better looker of the two, but that’s like comparing swimsuit models. Finally, the LFA Nurburgring is, of course, quite tasty. I prefer the original car’s lack of wing for street-use, but if I was headed to the track I can think of few better steeds.

10:35 – Infiniti LE Concept. Very ungainly in person. Hopefully the large rump on this car doesn’t accurately signal future design language choices.

10:37 – Jeremy Scott Smart. So some fashion designer made himself a Smart with wings on the back. Makes sense to me.

10:38 – Just saw either Angus MacKenzie or a white trash David Bowie, not really sure which but I’d enjoy a conversation with either.

10:41 – SLS AMG, SLS AMG Black, Ener-G-Force. Nothing big or new with the SLS, but it is still a striking automobile. The SLS Black has been the real talk of town this show, but it’s hard to tell why. I don’t think it looks that drastically different (compared to say the difference between the C63 and C63 Black), and driving dynamics don’t enter into it because 1) the SLS drives like an ancient muscle car anyway and 2) you can count the amount of these that will ever be on a track on one hand. The Ener-G-Force is a stupid name for a great looking concept. Like with all the best concepts, almost none of this design will ever make it onto the next G-Wagen.

10:47 – BMW i8 Roadster, i3. Dubstep is playing in the background at the BMW stand, because of course it is. The i8 roadster looks fantastic in person, until you get closer and start to notice just how much matte plastic is on the exterior of this car. Far from revolutionary, in fact Saturn used plastic for it’s bodies in the 90’s. The i3 is just a stone’s throw from being a Smart, so no major points here. Both the i cars have very interesting and genuinely design features, I just hope they eventually make it to market intact.

10:59 – Lunch break! Time to eat my sad, bruised apple be glad I’m not paying extortion-level prices for the concession’s food.

11:10 – Back to it, you’re not reading this to hear how my lunch was.

11:12 – Saleen S7 still gorgeous all these years later but the interior is pretty dismal.

11:15 – Morgan 3-wheeler. The one word that ran through my mind when I saw this oddity is “cute.” If you’re looking for as far a left-field transportation choice as you can get, this is it.

11:17 – Lotus Evora. Apparently there’s a technique for getting in and out of this low-slung rocket. Open the door and back into the door frame with your ass facing your unfortunate passenger. Place your right foot into the cabin then plop down un-gracefully into the bucket seat. Now bring your left foot up and into the car trying not the scuff the side-plate which for some reason is leather instead of metal. Even on the show car this leather portion was already showing marks, so good luck keeping it looking clean once you own it.

11:23 – Aston Martin. Galpin Motors brought a full selection of Aston Martins to the show, all apparently from one owner’s collection. Ranging from a James Bond Goldfinger DB5 to the slightly less but still incredibly exclusive Dragon 88 edition (which is only supposed to be in China…).

11:27 – Lincoln. This troubled automaker is in the middle of trying to turn itself around. To showcase both great deeds in the past and where they are headed, Lincoln brought a collection of their historic cars. The interesting part, though, was in a security-blocked room in the back of the stand where there sat a MKZ and large letters reading “This is Lincoln Now.” Very interesting.

11:35 – Ford Focus ST. We’ve been seeing this little trouble-maker hit all the global shows, and we can’t wait to get your hands on it and toss it around some canyon roads.

11:40 – Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. For the 10th anniversary of the Rubicon badge, Jeep has rolled out this latest and greatest example for the adoring masses. There is no doubt that this Wrangler will have mountain goat levels of mountain climbing ability.

11:42 – Nissan GT-R. So this is the 2013 flavor of Nissan’s world-beater. I’ve never been in a GT-R before, and I couldn’t believe how ugly the interior was. It looks and feels like a Nissan, and that is not a compliment. Why would I want a 370Z-level interior in my $100K sports car? And it’s not just looks, the car does not feel as “tight” or well-engineered as the Europeans it is attempting to dethrone. Closing the door results in an ugly and tinny clank where a Porsche or Ferrari gives you a confident thump of low-tolerance machining and craftsmanship. You’ve always been able to hot-rod simple rides enough to beat the exotics, but it is the full package that is worth the price of entry into Maranello or Stuttgart. Rant over.

11:47 – Nissan DeltaWing. Why is this not the current car for Indy, or even F1? I want to see a fleet of these technological wonders battling it out and swapping paint. Bold technological steps are always feared when they are introduced, but hopefully sooner rather than later the powers that be will adopt some version of this design.

11:53 – Honda EV-STER. I’m calling it now, total vaporware. Although this little roadster looks like an able replacement for the S2000, here on the show floor it looks like Honda has just plopped it down and left if to rot. There are no booth professionals drawing crowds over, there is no literature explaining the concept. Nothing. This is a very bad sign for a concept car, and one that signals that the development is dead in the water.

11:55 – SRT Viper. Papa is back, and he looks like he’s learned a thing or two while on vacation. This viper looks more grown-up and well executed than any previous example, and even appears to be better executed than the recent Corvettes. SRT is really swinging for the fences with this one, but it looks like it’s worked.

11:57 – Fiat 500 Abarth. Nothing major or new here, although Fiat did debut the “convertible” version. The Abarth is the next car we want to test here at DrivingScene, so we’ll have more in depth experience coming soon.

12:00 – Porsche 904 Carrera GTS, Boxster. The first thing you see once you find Porsche’s hidden pavillion at the convention center is an absolutely beeeeeeautiful 904 Carrera GTS. Of course the vehicle is in mint condition, and it’s easy to see the similarities between this classic sports coupe and the other low-slung cars here like the NSX and Evora. Next to this classic metal, Porsche has placed their new Boxster. Now that the money-changers have allowed the Boxster to have its own doors (rather than sharing them with the 911), this car finally has it’s own look. Porsche also has a big unveil planned for 5 minutes from now, and the stage is absolutely swamped.

12:05 – Porsche unveils the brand new Cayman. They promise the new car is now lighter, more powerful, and more fuel efficient than before. Pegged to come in at $52,600 and available in April. Because it’s Porsche, the Cayman looks exactly like Boxster with the exception of the side intakes that have been borrowed from the turbo.

12:35 – Stole a Porsche cookie on my way out and I head home.

That’s how it’s done. See everything you want to see, skip everything else. Get into any car that interests you, but don’t waste time talking to the booth professionals. if you want to painlessly cruise through shows, do like us. You’ll escape with your sanity and plenty of good auto experiences.

– Adam Kaslikowski

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