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The new model promises a 20 per cent improvement in fuel economy because the V6 has been replaced by a 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder.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