Show for the buy­ers

The Advertiser - Motoring - - HEAD TO HEAD - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING ED­I­TOR

FI­NALLY — a mo­tor show with cars you can ac­tu­ally buy.

That’s how the 2015 LA Auto Show will be re­mem­bered. Here are the high­lights we can ex­pect in show­rooms next year.

MAZDA CX-9

The ar­rival of the sleek-look­ing Mazda CX-9 seven-seat fam­ily SUV com­pletes the com­pany’s makeover. All Mazda pas­sen­ger cars now carry the Ja­panese com­pany’s bold new look.

The sec­ond gen­er­a­tion CX-9 — due in Aus­tralian show­rooms in June 2016 — may look smaller than the cur­rent model but it is wider, longer and slightly lower than the orig­i­nal launched in 2007.

The new-from-the groundup de­sign is slightly roomier than be­fore. Mazda has stretched the mid­dle of the CX-9 to make third-row ac­cess eas­ier for kids but says cargo space is un­changed.

The new model prom­ises a 20 per cent im­prove­ment in fuel econ­omy be­cause the V6 has been re­placed by a 2.5-litre turbo four-cylin­der.

Mazda in­sists it has learnt its les­son from its last turbo SUV, the now-dis­con­tin­ued CX-7, which copped heavy crit­i­cism over its thirsty 2.3-litre turbo four. Mazda says the new CX-9 adopts new en­gine tech­nol­ogy that will de­liver gen­uine im­prove­ments in real-world fuel econ­omy, not just the rat­ing la­bel.

Mazda un­veiled the CX-9 in LA be­cause the US ac­counts for four out of ev­ery five sales of the model. Aus­tralia is the sec­ond big­gest mar­ket.

FIAT 124

Honey, I’ve melted the MX-5. This is Fiat’s take on Mazda’s pop­u­lar sports car.

The Ital­ian com­pany has done a deal with Ja­pan’s Mazda to take a version of the MX-5.

It has fit­ted a unique body — com­plete with a bold nose and rec­tan­gu­lar tail-lights — but the in­te­rior is iden­ti­cal to the MX-5 but for the badge on the steer­ing wheel.

The big news is un­der the bon­net. The MX-5 has 1.5 and 2.0-litre op­tions but the 124 uses a 1.4-litre four-cylin­der turbo with slightly more power than the MX-5 and far greater torque.

Both mod­els are made on the same pro­duc­tion line by Mazda in Ja­pan; the Fiat deal was done be­cause it was cheaper for the Ital­ian maker to do a joint ven­ture ve­hi­cle than de­sign its own.

The Fiat 124 is not yet con­firmed for Aus­tralia, how­ever. The lo­cal dis­trib­u­tor prefers tak­ing only the high­per­for­mance Abarth version, which is yet to be un­veiled.

There is spec­u­la­tion it may get the 1.7-litre four-cylin­der turbo used in the Alfa Romeo 4C, be­cause Fiat is try­ing to cre­ate fur­ther dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween the Abarth and Fi­ats.

Ei­ther way, a Fiat 124 of some de­scrip­tion should be in Aus­tralian show­rooms by this time next year. Price is still any­one’s guess but it will be dif­fi­cult to jus­tify a pre­mium over the MX-5, which starts from $32,000.

RANGE ROVER EVOQUE

The Evoque with­out a roof will start at $85,000 when it goes on sale lo­cally next year. The start­ing price for one with a roof is $52,000. Land Rover chose to un­veil its sun-lover in sun­drenched LA, where the ma­jor­ity are likely to be sold.

HYUNDAI ELANTRA

At the show it wore Avante badges but this is the all-new version of Hyundai’s top-sell­ing sedan, the car we know as the Elantra. The new gen­er­a­tion Elantra, taming some of the sharp creases used in cur­rent Hyundai styling, is due in Aus­tralian show­rooms in early 2016. Its twin un­der the skin, the Hyundai i30 hatch, is not due for an over­haul un­til 2017.

A 2.0-litre turbo is avail­able in the US but Aus­tralian ex­am­ples will stick with reg­u­lar 2.0-litre petrol power and a rear-view cam­era will be stan­dard.

Prices and other de­tails are yet to be con­firmed. The cur­rent model starts at about $20,000 plus on-road costs.

SUBARU IM­PREZA

The next gen­er­a­tion Im­preza hatch was well-re­ceived at the Tokyo mo­tor show and the sedan mir­rors its low-slung, sporty look.

The big ques­tion is: how much of the show-car styling will make it into pro­duc­tion?

Subaru fans have been burnt be­fore, with pro­duc­tion mod­els bear­ing lit­tle re­sem­blance to their con­cept car cousins.

Subaru says lit­tle about the sedan, other than it “hints at the de­sign di­rec­tion not only of the next Im­preza, but of Subaru’s fu­ture mod­els gen­er­ally”.

The wedge-shaped, low and wide stance gives the con­cept a sportier feel than the cur­rent model, al­though the clas­sic Subaru hexag­o­nal grille and hawk-eye head­lights re­main.

MAZDA

CX--9

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