The best cars from the 2018 LA auto show

By Hannah Elliott, December 2 2018

Visitors to this week's Los Angeles Auto Show might find it feels a little different from the other trade shows that have dominated headlines in 2018.

In addition to showing the electrics and massive SUVs that dominated headlines at the trade shows from Geneva to Detroit this year, LA had something for everyone – or at least, closer to it.

Along with the likes of Audi's electric E-Tron GT and BMW's first-ever three-row SUV, the 60 debutantes included updates on large luxury sedans, a couple of practical and expensive convertibles, and the latest imagining of the 54-year-old Porsche 911.

Here are some of the best cars from the annual LA auto show, which is open to the public through to December 9.

Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Pro

The Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Pro is a super-aggressively tuned version of AMG’s twin-turbocharged V-8 engine, paired with AMG’s seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox.

It has a stiffer suspension, less weight, and stickier tires to provide greater grip and speed. The carbon-ceramic braking system, optional on the regular AMG GT R, comes standard on the Pro, as do lightweight, twin five-spoke forged alloy wheels. A lot of standard carbon-fiber trim appears inside and outside the car.

Meanwhile, it has the same 577-hp, 4.0-liter, twin-turbo V8 and seven-speed, dual-clutch, transaxle setup as the excellent Mercedes-Benz AMG GT.

Pricing and availability dates haven't been announced. We do know that only 750 examples of the GT R Pro will be made.

Audi E-tron GT concept

The Audi E-tron GT concept is a 590-hp, all-electric 'coupe. It has a 100-kWh battery pack, a 248-mile range, and a zero-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds. It will be able to charge to 80 percent battery strength in 20 minutes. More than 60 percent of the car has the same components as Porsche's electric Taycan sedan.

Audi unveiled the E-Tron SUV in September and the PB18 E-Tron supercar a few weeks before that. An Audi E-Tron Sportback will come next in the lineup. The Audi E-Tron GT will go into production by 2021.

“By 2025, 30 percent of our volume will be electric,” Audi of America President Mark Del Rosso has said.

Read more: First look: Audi E-Tron GT will target Tesla using Porsche DNA

Porsche 992 GT2 Carrera

Porsche showed the eighth-generation 911, known internally as 992, in two versions for its world premiere: a two-wheel-drive 911 Carrera S and an all-wheel-drive 911 Carrera 4S.

Porsche executives have stopped short of promising a hybrid, but have for months said it’s a strong possibility for future 911s. The 992 shows how it could be done: Its new, eight-speed PDK gearbox is slimmed down enough to easily accommodate a hybrid motor in the future.

In the meantime, the turbocharged, flat-six engine produces 443 hp, a 23-hp improvement over previous models. There's a totally new configuration of cabin instruments and computer screens. A manual version of the car will come out in 2019.

China's love for fast cars is helping Porsche experience unprecedented demand, even as industry sales fall for a fifth straight month. Still, the 992's main allure for Porsche enthusiasts is the bragging rights associated with having the very freshest 911.

Read more: Porsche 992 to hit Australian roads in April 2019

BMW M340i

BMW returns to the show in LA with its largest-ever product offensive, featuring three world premiere production vehicles and a new concept, the Vision iNext SUV, that will preview the German automaker’s vision for the future. 

With the M340i, BMW has used a 3.0-liter, six-cylinder inline engine that gets 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. According to early numbers, it will be able to hit 62mph in 4.2 seconds and have a top speed of155 mph. A 2020 M340i xDrive version will offer all-wheel drive.

Pricing is unreleased, but the 'performance in a suit' M340i the car will hit dealerships from mid-2019.

There's also the M850i xDrive convertible, an open-air version of the handsome M850i coupe that BMW showed earlier this year.

Both models have an impressively low, wide stance and a long, elegant body; the M850i convertible comes with a V-8, 523-horsepower engine that can hit 60mph in 3.9 seconds. Its fabric roof deploys in 15 seconds.

More important, it’s one of the few convertibles on the market with folding rear seats, allowing a lot more storage in the rear, even with the top down.

BMW, which showed a pre-production version of the M8 earlier this year in Geneva, is engaged in its biggest rollout of new models and variants in history. The push is skewed toward higher-margin products such as these six-figure coupes to help pay for a slew of 12 battery-powered vehicles by 2025. 

The M8 will ultimately be available in three versions: a two-door coupe, a convertible, and a four-door.

BMW X5, X7

BMW also showcased two X5 variants: the X5 xDr40i and the X5 xDr50i.

The xDr40i comes with a six-cylinder engine that gets 335 horsepower, and the xDr50i has a new V8 engine that gets 456 horsepower. Both engines are turbocharged and come with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The new model is larger than its predecessor, adding from one to almost three inches to the vehicle’s length, width, height, and wheelbase. The additional size will help it compete with such offerings as the Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7, Range Rover, and Infiniti QX80.

The X7 is BMW's direct challenge to the biggest of the big SUVs on the market, such as the Mercedes-Benz GLS, Cadillac Escalade, and Lexus LX.

It is 5.15-meters (16.9-feet) long, offers space for as many as seven passengers, and can lug as much as 2,120 liters (74.9 cubic feet) of cargo.

Inside, in addition to the customary touchscreen, voice command, and gesture-control features, BMW has built a panoramic “Sky Lounge” roof option that can be illuminated with more than 15,000 graphic patterns.  It comes standard with three rows of seating, with captain's chairs available in the middle rows.

Read more: BMW X7 to see Australian debut early 2019

BMW iNext concept SUV

The BMW iNext concept SUV will have a range that approaches 300 miles, power equivalent to 600 horsepower, and a zero-to-60mph sprint of fewer than four seconds.

But its real focus is the back seat: “The focus of this car is not that it’s electric. That’s normal for us; we have been doing it since 2013,” said Klaus Fröhlich, the BMW board member responsible for development, referring to the i8 supercar and i3 economy car.

By 2025, Fröhlich said in September. BMW will offer 25 hybrid and electrified vehicles, 12 of which will be fully electric. “We are now making what will be your favorite space.”

BMW’s star designer, Adrian van Hooydonk, said the interior was inspired by boutique hotels. Indeed, the jewel-toned carpeting over a back seat shaped like a lounge chair seems an array you might find it in a hotel.

The wooden console and flooring along the base of the car in front look like Swedish furniture. Tall windows and a panoramic rooftop provide enough room for four adults to recline comfortably, drenched in daylight.

Also in the front, a flat dashboard has two digital display panels with a steering wheel that can be pushed back when the car goes into autonomous mode. 

Pricing on a production version of the Vision iNext is far from announced, but manufacturing is slated to begin in 2021.

Read more: BMW's Vision iNext concept puts the 'passenger experience' on wheels

Jeep 2020 Gladiator Rubicon

Jeep is using the Wrangler-like pickup truck to re-enter the popular midsize truck market for the first time in more than two decades.

To make the Gladiator Rubicon, Jeep lengthened the Wrangler wheelbase by 19 inches and gave it a modified high-strength steel frame, adding 400 pounds in the process. The new model still has Wrangler’s fold-down windshield, removable top and doors, and four-wheel drive for maximum off-road pleasure.

Hannah Elliott
Hannah Elliott

Hannah Elliott

Hannah Elliott is the resident motoring writer at Bloomberg.

anthony watts

anthony watts

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Mar 2015

Total posts 78

Would appreciate if these articles could be "de-americanised" for the several billion people who don't live in the US and insist on remaining with imperial measurements and its variants.

Ian_from_HKG

Ian_from_HKG

CX

05 Jun 2012

Total posts 101

Oh dear. That picture of the BMW xDr40i (there's a name that trips off the tongue).

Whoever designed the image clearly has no idea what effect you really get from charging through a muddy field, and thought “I know what, let’s point a leaf blower at it and drop a bag of diarrhoea into the airstream, it’ll look just the same"


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