LOTUS (multiple models)
Beloved for its sexy sports cars, Lotus comes to the L.A. Auto Show with an array of North American debuts (production models and concepts). The 2011 Evora S sports a 345-horsepower V-6, while the Evora IPS (Intelligent Precision Shift) hits 60 mph in 5.3 seconds and tops out at 155 mph. The Exige S RGB Edition celebrates former Lotus director of vehicle engineering Roger Becker with a premium equipment package. The company’s obsession with names beginning with E continues with first looks at Elan, Esprit, Elise, Elite and Eterne concepts.
MAZDA SHINARI (concept)
Mazda’s beautiful Shinari four-door sports coupe serves as an introduction to the Japanese company’s new “Kodo” (“soul of motion”) design language. We’ll be seeing its aesthetic echoes in Mazda’s production vehicles for years to come. Fleeting reminders of the RX-8 aside, the Shinari is a departure from recent Mazda designs, having more of a muscular Aston Martin/Jaguar stance. Commanding attention are headlamps meant to mimic animals’ eyes, minimalist rearview cameras in place of mirrors and the most impressive Mazda interior ever.
MERCEDES-BENZ B-CLASS F-CELL
Wondering why there’s a crowd gathered around what appears to be a mini minivan? In spite of appearances, this new Mercedes is an engineering marvel, packed with some truly incredible technology. The B-Class F-Cell is a zero-emission, hydrogen-powered people carrier that’s poised to change the way we drive. Mercedes-Benz actually produced the first fuel-cell vehicle in 1994, but Honda’s FCX Clarity was the first to reach consumers. The B-Class F-Cell is due next month, having successfully tackled the traditional issues of bulky fuel cells and battery packs encroaching upon interior space. Its range is 240 miles and refueling takes just three minutes.
NISSAN MURANO CROSSCABRIOLET (concept)
While some of us are still getting used to the “crossover” tag to describe vehicles combining car and SUV qualities, Nissan has already come up with a sub-class: the convertible crossover. Their Murano CrossCabriolet is the world’s first droptop 4x4 crossover and is apparently only intended to be produced in limited quantities. But it’s no novelty vehicle: The CrossCabriolet offers space for four adults and their luggage, a premium interior and all the wind you can handle. Expect modest sales but a devoted cult following.
— Paul Rogers, Custom Publishing Writer