This year’s Los Angeles Motor Show proved to be the backdrop for a kaleidoscope of vehicles ranging from regular, forthcoming models to luxurious, high-end vehicles to please plutocrats the world over. Of course, what would a motor show be without concept and design visions looking at alternative forms of propulsion and design language?
Take Chevrolet for instance, which unveiled the Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo concept, which is developed exclusively for fans of the Sony Playstation 3 racing game, Gran Turismo 6. According to Frank Saucedo, who oversaw the team that worked on the concept, the model was created in a no-rules atmosphere to challenge designers and test engineers to deliver the most exhilarating sensations. It weaves advanced aerospace technologies into the design to help it achieve its performance goals. Propulsion is in the form of a 671kW laser, which itself is powered by lithium-ion batteries, and an air powered generator.
“The Chaparral 2X VGT is a vision of how advanced technology may shape the look and driving experience of racing,” said Saucedo. “Chaparral’s race cars and methods were seen as outlandish four decades ago, and with the innovative spirit still burning at Chevrolet, the Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo concept might just be a harbinger of motorsports in the next four decades.”
Mazda is also intent on making its solo exploits that much more convincing since its break with Ford with an array of new models, including its first compact crossover, the CX-3, to take on the likes of the Nissan Juke. It will be available in SA in the third quarter of 2015. The company also unveiled updated variants of its 6 sedan and CX-5 SUV, which will be offered locally next year.
Mercedes-Benz is relaunching its exclusive luxury brand, Maybach, to now be known as Mercedes-Maybach following the demise of the standalone brand in 2013. The first model to adorn the nameplate will be the S-Class in this instance, the S600 V12 variant. Offering an extra 20cm of legroom for its rear occupants over the regular long-wheelbase model it is based upon, it features exclusive interior materials. The model will be made available to the company’s biggest markets, namely the US and China, in February next year, while SA is scheduled to see its allocation in the fourth quarter.
The Nissan BladeGlider looks like something out of a sci-fi movie with its scissor doors, narrow front-end and wide rear — similar in architecture to the Zeod RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car), which will debut at the 2015 Le Mans 24-Hour race. Much like the Zeod RC, the BladeGlider’s design is a result of having the best possible aerodynamics, all the while enhancing downforce for maximum grip and stability at high speed. It will have in-wheel electric motors in the rear wheels powered by lithium-ion batteries similar to those employed in the Leaf, but mounted low and towards the rear to enhance stability and handling. The model’s body is made of carbon fibre, which offers low weight without compromising on structural rigidity.
Bentley unveiled the Grand Convertible, which is loosely based on the Mulsanne sedan and touted to take on the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead convertible. Resplendent in blue hue, dubbed Sequin Blue it also features a silver bonnet and windscreen frame, which oddly echoes that of the Roller. Under the bonnet of the handmade Bentley nestles a 6.75l twin-turbo V8 pushing out 395kW and 1,100Nm. The interior is bespoke with diamond pattern quilted seats made from 14 naturally tanned leather hides, while the roof stowage cover, just behind the rear seat headrests, is finished in a high sheen, Burr Walnut wood veneer.
Looking as though it came straight from the Sema (Speciality Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas, the Toyota Sienna MPV, liveried in animated SpongeBob Square Pants’ colours to commemorate the 2015 movie, seems at odds with the show. Featuring pink coloured seat backs and a sea of blue hue in the interior the steering wheel is replaced by a wooden helm from a ship, which looks ridiculously impractical to use, but succeeded in adding a hint of humour to the show. While there were some interesting unveils at this year’s show, it would seem that some manufacturers may be holding back a few surprises for the Detroit Motor Show next year as 2015 looks to be yet another bumper year for the industry.