The 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show kicked off this week and Design Milk founder Jaime Derringer and I escaped from behind our computers to preview the latest offerings in person – including some notable world premieres – before the general public rushes through the doors of the LA Convention Center on the weekend weekend. Between discussions about cars we most wanted to drive back home (she: Jaguar, me: Mazda), we spent the day kicking the proverbial tires of the latest models, taking note of these following automotive designs as favorites:
Available in January 2016, this new model introduces Jaguar into the luxury SUV segment, giving the Macan and BMW’s X series a run for their money. It’s got a nice mix of lines seen in most other modern SUVs, and yet somehow still feels fresh.
Range Rover Evoque Convertible
I liked the Evoque when it first came out, and I think this might be the first car I’ve seen since the VW Cabriolet that has an edgy, unique look amongst its convertible peers. I’m curious to see whether this car soon becomes the choice amongst Sweet Sixteens here in SoCal.
Alfa Romeo Guilia
This one was a surprise. I simply fell in love with the way Alfa Romeo was able to create a curvy sedan with slight aggression without overdoing it like some other brands on the market right now. It’s sleek, it’s sexy, it’s stylish, and so very Alfa Romeo!
Lincoln Continental Concept
This car carries the same name as the one my mother drove when I was growing up. It was a tired, old baby blue boat that felt like a grandpa car. Thankfully Lincoln seems to be moving away from their Grandpa-esque reputation, creating cars that still feel imposing, but refreshed with a modern-aggressive spirit and imbibed with a sense of luxury (a handsome 2017 MKZ update was also revealed at the show). I’m impressed and excited about where this brand is headed. Let’s hope they don’t veer off this path.
Both of us agreed this Swedish crossover sits atop of our lists for the most beautiful interior of any car on the market (it also proved a fine drive). Its minimalist and understated Swedish aesthetic features only what’s necessary: doing away with too many buttons or the feeling like anything was an afterthought.
And, for good fun, the Fiat 500e Star Wars storm trooper-mobile!
Volkswagen Golf GTE Sport
To be honest, as a TDI owner affected by the recent scandal I have a bone to pick with VW. But I couldn’t deny this new plug-in hybrid 2-seater coupe powered by a 395-hp engine with gullwing doors was amongst the most exciting vehicles revealed at this year’s somewhat staid show (there was a notable dearth of concept models this year).
Subaru Impreza Sedan Concept
This concept design was almost too close to a production model in styling for us to love. But then we kept looking at the Impreza Sedan Concept’s angular lines, its 19-inch wheels, and the “Ruby Red Metallic” finish (side note: unusual shades of red veering into oranges and blush lipsticks were a trend) and this 4-door eventually made its case as a sleeper favorite.
I don’t know if anything need be said about why this car deserves attention and praise. It’s an iconic design reborn under the talented vision of exterior designer, Michelle Christensen, I like it because it still refers to the vocabulary of the original while injecting a wholly new set of aggressive adjectives that make it clear this 573hp hybrid supercar can go fast…very fast. I still think the NSX shows its lines best in red, but it takes on an icy-hot spirit in white.
Porsche 911 Targa 4
While Jaime was busy inspecting her dream ride nearby (the Panamera), I found myself eyeing the newly unveiled Targa 4 with nodding approval. The profile is undeniably 911 – an accomplishment I’ve long admired about the brand, continually updating while retaining their core design DNA. The characteristic silver B-pillars announce you’ve got great taste for things that move fast and occasionally like the wind blowing through your hair while doing so (also, I love that Sapphire Blue Metallic).
Volvo Concept 26
While we both agreed the interior of the XC90 is our favorite today, I’m throwing my chips in and already predicting my favorite interior of the future will also come from Volvo. The Concept 26 takes its name from the average time Americans spend commuting (26 minutes doesn’t seem too bad to this Angeleno), and is designed as an “interior design concept and innovation platform” for the nearing era of autonomous driving. The seat shifts backward to expand legroom, the steering wheel hides away like a turtle, and a combination of display and work surfaces become available while the car goes into autopilot mode. It’s all part of Volvo’s Vision 2020 initiative, aiming to make autonomous driving not only safe, but relaxing. Count me in.
My bonus pick: The Toyota Back to the Future Tacoma
I’ve got the newly updated 2016 model on my radar as a possible future truck purchase (Jaime found it amusing my other option is the on-the-complete-opposite-end-of-the-spectrum, Mazda MX-5), and of course have fond memories of the tricked out Tacoma from the movie, Back to the Future. Decades later, I still love those beefy tires and yellow KC light covers, just like Marty did.