10 best cars at LA Motor Show 2014
We pick our top 10 highlights of the 2014 LA Motor Show - now with video
The LA Motor Show 2014 has produced a bumper crop of new metal for the Auto Express team to get excited over.
The high-end luxury and performance cars that we've become used to seeing in LA over recent years were out in force, with Mercedes reviving the Maybach brand and both Porsche and BMW showing obscenely powerful SUV flagships, but we've also seen cars that you don't need a starring role in a Hollywood blockbuster to afford.
Below you'll find the ten cars that we've identified as the pick of the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. Let us know your thoughts on our selection in the comments section at the bottom of the page and check out our main LA Motor Show page for all the latest news from this year's event.
1. Mazda CX-3
Our number one star car at LA Motor Show 2014 is the Mazda CX-3 crossover. Not only is it a production-ready car that promises to have a big impact on the UK market, it also looks great.
The CX-3 will target the likes of Nissan's Juke and Peugeot's 2008 when it arrives in the summer of 2015 with prices kicking off around the £13,000 mark. The latest SkyActiv engine and chassis technology features under the skin while the cabin offers a fresh driver-focused layout similar to that in the MX-5 roadster, complete with head-up display.
2. Audi prologue concept
The prologue concept is Audi's way of lifting the lid on the future design direction for its larger cars. On this evidence the brand isn't retreating to the drawing board wholesale but instead plans to sharpen up its familiar look with many of the design cues already seen on the TT coupe.
The car is stunning in the metal – a very clever, beautifully detailed reinterpretation of Audi design. We can’t wait to see how designer Marc Lichte moves his new look onto production models, but just as exciting is the super hi-tech interior - some of which, we're told, will make it into production in 2016.
3. Lexus LF-C2
It's gold and it doesn't have a roof, so the Lexus LF-C2 concept might seem a little out of place in the British wintertime - but it was a perfect fit in LA. The 2+2 roadster clearly points to a future convertible version of the Lexus RC coupe and, we're told, a V8 powered RC-F performance version. In production form, it's a safe bet that a roof will be included too.
4. Mercedes-Maybach S600
LA 2014 saw the return of Maybach, the super-luxury car brand that's back to have another crack at the market currently cornered by the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley.
This time, Maybach will be positioned as a luxury subset of the Mercedes range with cars like the Mercedes-Maybach S600 offered to S-Class customers looking for something even more prestigious. The interior is luxurious in the extreme and crammed with technology. Not a single plastic surface escapes without a soft leather covering but you'd expect that in light of the £130,000 pricetag.
5. Bentley Grand Convertible
Bentley casually pulled the silken dust sheet from its Grand Convertible with very little build-up or fanfare, but from that moment on the giant drop-top was the centre of attention.
The Mulsanne-based car features a 530bhp 6.75-litre V8 producing 1000Nm of torque under a silver ‘liquid metal’ bonnet. The rest of the bodywork is painted in Sequin Blue but the highlight, if you like that sort of thing, is the hand-polished burr walnut finish that hides the roof canopy.
6. Jaguar F-Type
The Jaguar F-Type is a brute of a sports car, all visceral thrills and musclebound beauty, so it was always a disappointment to the car's hairier chested owners that you couldn't order one with a manual gearbox.
All that changed in LA with the arrival of the first manual F-Type along with the first all-wheel-drive models and a range of other improvements including an upgraded infotainment system. With a range increased to 14 models at prices starting from £51,000, the F-Type is set to be an even stronger rival for the Porsche 911 going forward.
7. Toyota Mirai
LA brought the news that Toyota is ready to sell its first hydrogen-powered fuel cell car to the public. The Toyota Mirai is due on sale in Japan in April and offers a 300-mile range with prices expected to start from around £45,000.
The car's styling is best described as challenging but our first drive of the Mirai was promising and if anyone can make an alternative-fuel vehicle work, it's Toyota - remember the Prius?
8. BMW X5M/X6M
If a 567bhp high-performance luxury SUV is wrong, then we don't want to be right! BMW unveiled no fewer than two of them in LA, with the X5M and X6M flagships attracting more than their fair share of attention. Both feature the same 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 and will be priced from £90,170 and £93,070 respectively.
9. Porsche Cayenne GTS
Porsche also had a searingly-quick luxury SUV on its stand in LA but the revised Cayenne GTS actually has a downsized engine. While the pre-facelift GTS used a thumping 414bhp 4.8-litre V8, the new version gets a 3.6-litre bi-turbo V6 producing 20bhp more. That's a total of 434bhp, while torque jumps by 85Nm to 600Nm. It now covers the 0-62mph sprint in 5.2 seconds (5.1 with the optional Sport Chrono pack) while economy jumps from 27 to 29mpg - that's progress.
10. Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
It wouldn't be an American motor show without a muscle car or two and the Shelby Ford Mustang GT350 is a thoroughbred of the genre. The most important change made to the high performance Shelby version concerns its 5.2-litre V8, which ditches its traditional supercharger in favour of high-revving natural aspiration. It uses a flat plane crankshaft – a first for any Ford V8 – to produce in excess of 500bhp and 540Nm of torque.
Although the standard Mustang is due in the UK for the first time in 2015, it's doubtful if the Shelby GT350 will be joining it. We can only hope.
Which car is your pick of the 2014 LA Motor Show? Let us know in the comments section below...