2004 Los Angeles Auto Show
New models from GM, BMW and Porsche highlight the year's first show.
General Motors drew the most attention, with more debuts than any other automaker. According to Gary Cowger, president of General Motors North America, 24 percent of GM's lineup will be new in the next year, with introductions coming from GM's Buick, Chevrolet, Hummer, Saab and Saturn divisions.
There weren't as many world debuts at this year's show as there have been in the past; however, a number of vehicles were seen in North America for the first time. There were also a few names that haven't made much news in America recently.
Here's a look at the highlights.
There are ten new models expected from GM's volume brand in the next 20 months, and one of the first made its debut in Los Angeles. The Cobalt is Chevrolet's all-new premium small car. Available in coupe or sedan, the Cobalt will replace the long-lived Cavalier in Chevy's lineup. While the coupe and sedan feature similar styling at the front, the two are quite different from the A-pillar rearward. Four trims will be available for each body style, ranging from the Base to the Supercharged SS. Options not typically found on a car of this class will include XM Satellite radio, leather trim, an OnStar system and up to 18-inch wheels. Cobalt pricing will be announced in late summer, and it hits showrooms in the fall of 2004.
First introduced as a concept in Times Square with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mayor Rudy Giuliani during the 2001 New York Auto Show, the Hummer H2 SUT was shown in production form at the LA Auto Show. With all the styling and abilities of the current H2, the H2 SUT provides a pickup-truck bed. The new SUT features a midgate similar to that found on the Chevrolet Avalanche, making it possible to fold the rear seats down and extend the cargo bed into the cabin. The H2 SUT will be built at the AM General assembly facility in Mishawaka, Ind., and will go on sale in the second quarter of 2004.
In addition to the SUT, General Motors gave a glimpse at the next path for the Hummer brand. The H3T Concept is a compact pickup truck featuring side-access doors to the pickup bed, a power-operated folding canvas sunroof and drop-down rear window. Styling, of course, is all Hummer.
The latest model to wear a Saab badge is evidence of the many partnerships GM has built in the past few years. Called the 9-2X, this all-wheel-drive sport wagon is based on Subaru's Impreza Wagon. The 9-2X features standard Saab styling cues in the front; however, the ignition is not placed in the center console as found on other Saab models. Two versions will be available: the 2.5 and Aero, which features the 227-horsepower turbocharged engine found in Subaru's WRX. Look for this newest Saab to arrive in dealerships this summer.
Buick and Saturn
Both Buick and Saturn will add minivans to their model lineups this fall. The Buick Terraza and Saturn Relay are being referred to as "crossover sport vans," and feature the front-end styling of an SUV while retaining the versatility of a minivan. Expect Chevrolet and Pontiac versions to be shown later in the model year.
New Sports Cars
A number of high-performance automobiles were featured at the L.A. Auto Show. Aston Martin had the North American debut of its all-new DB9 coupe. With a 450-horsepower V12 engine, the DB9's aluminum-intensive body is both 25 percent lighter than and twice as rigid as the one used in the outgoing DB7. The DB9 Volante convertible will make its world debut next week in Detroit.
Also making its first trip to North America is Maserati's new Quattroporte. With a classic sedan layout—front engine, rear-wheel drive—the Quattroporte features a very roomy interior. Rear seats are quite comfortable, with plentiful legroom. A compact 4.2-liter V8 engine producing 400 horsepower resides under the hood.
Lotus is making news with its long-awaited Elise. Finally meeting U.S. safety regulations, the lightweight 2-seat Elise will be coming to America as a 2005 model. Lotus has not introduced a new model to the U.S. market since the Elan in 1990. The U.S.-spec Elise will most likely be powered by the 1.8-liter inline-four cylinder engine found in the Toyota Celica GT-S.
One of the more unique cars shown at the Los Angeles show was the new Morgan Aero 8. The British automaker will build just 300 of these high-performance cars, which feature a high-tech aluminum chassis combined with a traditional ash wood body shell and 'Superform'-molded aluminum panels. Power comes from a BMW 4.4-liter V8 engine producing 325 horsepower. The company claims that this elegant vehicle is the lightest production V8 sports car in the world.
BMW brought two new models to L.A. for their North American debuts—the 6-Series Coupe and the powerful X5 4.8is. The original 6-Series ceased production about 15 years ago, so the arrival of the new 6-Series marks the return of the luxury coupe to BMW's lineup. The 645Ci will sport the company's 4.4-liter V8 that will produce 333 horsepower. A 6-speed automatic, 6-speed manual, or the Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) will be available. The 6-Series Cabriolet will debut next week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The top of the line BMW X5 4.6is was discontinued for 2004 to make room for this more powerful X5 4.8is. With a 4.8-liter V8, the newest X5 boasts 355 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. As with the rest of the X5 lineup, the exterior has been freshened for 2004 and all models feature BMW's new xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
Porsche also made two North American debuts in Los Angeles. The automaker's new flagship Carrera GT was unveiled for the first time on these shores. The sleek, lightweight roadster sports a 605-horsepower V10 engine, which rushes this car to 60 mph in less than four seconds on its way to a top speed in excess of 200 mph.
On the other end of the scale, Porsche introduced a lesser-powered Cayenne SUV. On sale in January, 2004, the base-level Cayenne is the first Porsche ever to offer a V6 engine. The 3.2-liter V6 produces 247 horsepower and is priced starting at $42,900.
Acura showed off a modified version of its new TL sedan called the TL A-SPEC Concept. Two inches wider than a standard TL, the TL A-SPEC features 21-inch wheels, wide fender flares, and an overall more aggressive appearance. Power from the 3.2-liter engine has been increased to 300 horsepower, and a high-performance suspension package with track-tuned shocks and springs lowers the car by one inch and enhances the TL's handling.
An A- SPEC kit that features a track-tuned suspension that lowers the TL by one half inch, 18-inch wheels and high performance tires and an aero kit that accents the TL's aggressive new styling are available as a dealer-installed option and are covered by a full factory warranty.
Ford announced that its new GT supercar would be priced at $139,995 when it goes on sale this summer. This does not include the destination charge, which is estimated to be around $1,225.
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