The debuts are coming fast and furious at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show so we’re going to be on our toes to stay on top of the action as more cars are unveiled.
One that got our attention was the Kia Optima SX World Challenge GTS Race Car. Given the fact that Kia is a relative neophyte in the world of auto racing, we’ve been pleasantly surprised in the company’s aggressive stance in building race cars. Last month at SEMA, they even introduced their new Rio B-Spec Racer and an Optima USTCC Pace Car. Now, it’s the Optima’s turn to be tuned to racing specifications, this time for the Pirelli World Challenge Championships.
One possible explanation behind Kia’s sudden enthusiasm in auto racing was born out of the success they’ve had in the sport, despite only being active in competitive racing for the past two years.
"As a brand with no previous racing experience in America, for Kia to win two motorsports championships in just its second year is an incredible accomplishment, and expanding our motorsports footprint with the turbocharged Optima entering World Challenge will continue to build passion and enthusiasm for the brand with an entirely new fan base at different race tracks across the country," said Michael Sprague, vice president, marketing & communications, KMA.
The cars were built as a collaborative project between Kia Motors America and Kinetic Motorsports where they will be competing in a racing series that features race-prepped versions of production vehicles from many of the world’s most popular manufacturers. The pair of Optimas that were unveiled at the LA Auto Show have been tuned with aerodynamic styling and outstanding driving dynamics that should make them well suited to handle the high-octane, steel-scraping world of World Challenge racing.
Launched in 2011, the Ford Escape has shortly become America’s best-selling SUV. For the 2013 model year, Ford has raised the bar even higher with the debut of an all-new model that features 11 new exclusive features and an improved fuel economy. The new Escape made its world debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show and will be sold worldwide starting in 2012.
"We call our all-new Ford Escape the ‘Smarter Utility Vehicle’ because it offers the strengths that customers today really value – fuel economy, versatility and new technology that makes driving and living with the vehicle easier and more fun – all wrapped in a sleek, more modern design," said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. ’Ford understands that more people every year are looking at vehicles like Escape, and we want to give them even more reasons to buy."
Initially, Ford will offer the Escape with three four-cylinder gasoline engines, with the 1.6- and 2.0-liter options boasting of EcoBoost technology. A hybrid variant has yet to be announced.
UPDATE 01/26/11: There’s no doubt that the Ford Escape has quickly become one of the most popular models in Ford’s fleet. So it isn’t all that surprising that the 2013 Escape is quickly ascending the ranks of some of the hottest buys you can make. If you’re already in the process of doing so, you can hop over to the Ford website and tinker with the newly-released online configurator for the Escape. If you’re still on the fence, then the configurator may be all you need to make the jump.
Hyundai has unveiled the second generation Azera at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show. This is the fifth vehicle to adopt the company’s signature Fluidic Sculpture design language next to the Tucson, Accent, Elantra, and Sonata models. The Hyundai Azera will go on sale in February 2012.
The new Fluidic Sculpture design language the Azera has adopted allows the luxury sedan to be longer, lighter, and lower. With these changes, the model will offer more than 45 inches of legroom and 40 inches of headroom for front-seat passengers.
Under the hood, the new Azera will offer a new 3.3-liter V6 engine with direct injection that will deliver 293 HP and 255 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to Hyundai’s six-speed automatic transmission and will deliver a fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.
UPDATE 11/16/11: This review has been updated with the official details and images for the Hyundai Azera.
UPDATE 02/15/12: Hyundai has officially released the official price for the 2012 Azera that is now officially on sale. Prices will start from $32,000 for the extraordinarily well-equipped Azera and $36,000 for the range-topping Azera with Technology Package.
Every automaker that has small car on their line-up has taken to modifying these models for B-Spec competition. We saw a couple of them introduced at the 2011 SEMA Auto Show - the Kia Rio and the Toyota Yaris come to mind - and now, it appears that one more will be making its debut at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.MINI USA, together with MINI of Charleston in South Carolina, have announced that a MINI Cooper Hardtop will formally enter B-Spec competition for the 2012 season.
"B-Spec racing is a great fit for MINI because the car is developed with racing heritage in mind and the races are run with vehicles very similar to those already sitting in the driveway,” said Jim McDowell, Vice President – MINI USA.
As race-spec models, the Cooper B-Spec will be completely overhauled to adhere to the standards and regulations of the B-Spec class. One of the most important modifications on the Cooper will be made on the interior, where almost all of the accessories and features of the road-going car will be stripped out and replaced by racing and safety equipment. Among the items that will be fitted into the Cooper B-Spec racer include a new Kirkey Intermediate Road Racing Seat, a Kirk Racing Roll Cage, Schroth Hybrid III Harnesses, Cage Nets, and Window Net.
As far as the engine is concerned, the Cooper B-Spec Racer will retain the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine of the road car, together with the 121-horsepower and 114 lb/ft of torque numbers it comes with. Moreover, the suspension set-up of the race car will feature KW V1 Coilover Struts and Shocks/ Vorshlag front camber plates while the wheel/tire set-up will comprise of a new set of 15" Kosei K1 aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in Hoosier SM6 tires.
Subaru has already promised we would see the production version of their long rumored BRZ Concept in December at the 2011 Tokyo Auto Show, but they’re soaking in as much publicity as they can get until then with the BRZ STI Concept unveiled at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The BRZ STI Concept’s exterior shines with a hexagonal front grille, hawk eye headlights, fin-shaped fog lamps, an aero-tuned lower front spoiler and unique rear fascia, a rear wing for added down-force, and a carbon-fiber roof to lower its already record setting center of gravity specification. At the rear, Subaru has affixed polished stainless-steel quad-tailpipes, bold rear fender flares, and a large rear-diffuser. The car is painted in a "WR Blue Pearl II" paint finish and sits on a new set of 18-inch wheels.
Under the hood, there’s a 2.0-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder boxer engine which was designed with a square bore and stroke of 86 X 86 mm. Nothing has been said about the vehicle’s final output, but previous rumors suggested that the STI version would deliver up to 300 HP. It was also rumored that the BRZ would come with a very low center of gravity and optimal weight distribution. These rumors turned out to be 100% correct with the Subaru BRZ STI engine sitting lower than in any other Subaru model - 4.7 inches lower - and positioned 9.4 inches closer to the center of the chassis.
The Subaru BRZ will go into production in the spring of 2012.
UPDATE 11/16/2011: This review has been updated with new details and images on the Subaru BRZ Concept STI.
UPDATE 11/17/2011: After yesterday we have seen the BRZ STI Concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show, today Subaru has unveiled a pretty cool video of the concept. Enjoy!
A refreshed Ford Flex is coming to the Los Angeles Auto Show, except that its "refreshed looks" don’t do much in the way of improved aesthetics. Sure, it’s different, especially the front fascia, but it still looks a little weird and takes a design cue from, of all things, the Range Rover.
Peculiar looks notwithstanding, the 2013 Ford Flex does have some good qualities, particularly the impressive engine line-up and the bevy of safety and technological features that no other crossover in its market can compete with.
If there ever was a Ford model that fits the description of ’polarizing,’ it’s the Flex. Some people will find the quirky look endearing while others will probably just opt for something else. But whatever you may think of the new Ford crossover, you can’t deny that it’s an attention-grabber, for better or worse.
Find out more about the 2013 Ford Flex after the jump.
There’s been plenty of talk about the new generation Ford Mustang coming at us in 2015, but in order to keep buyers interested in the top-selling muscle car, Ford is offering an updated version for the 2013 model year. This refreshing take on the Mustang will come with a few exterior changes as well as a power upgrade. And with only one day before its official debut in Los Angeles Ford has revealed all the details on the 2013 Mustang.
For the 2013 model year, the Ford Mustang has received a new exterior design with a more prominent grille, a new hood, and new LED signature lighting, all which give the latest Mustang a high-tech look. The standard version keeps the same 3.7-liter V6 that develops a total of 305 HP.
"We are delivering a more distinctive and emotional design presence that celebrates the total performance of Mustang," said Darrell Behmer, Mustang chief designer. "This latest Mustang design is very respectful of its heritage while continuing to look forward with a more powerful and modern look."
UPDATE 11/15/2011: This review has been updated with official information and images.
As part of Ford’s new 2013 Mustang line-up, the Blue Oval is bringing the second installment of their resurrected Boss 302.
While the 2013 Mustang Boss 302 retains the same engine capabilities as the 2012 model, Ford made sure that the new model stands out from its predecessor in sheer looks alone. It comes bearing new styling and design details that allude to the rich and long heritage of the Boss 302 name.
“Last year, we proved the car had what it takes to perform," said Dave Pericak, the Ford Mustang’s chief engineer. "This year, we focused on enhancing its eye-catching looks and celebrating its history.”
No truer words have ever been spoken because the car just looks flat-out smoking hot. The new paint finish has a history, as does the equally fresh hockey stick graphic and reflective stripes. These two, plus a whole lot more, come with the 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302, proving without a hint of doubt that the Boss is indeed back.
And he means serious business.
Find out more about the 2013 Ford Mustang Boss 302 after the jump.
With the Los Angeles Auto Show about a week away, it’s time to see what else will be in store for the crowds when the doors open. As is customary with these type of announcements, Chrysler is among the first to reveal their auto show lineup. One of their more impressive LA show models will be this special Challenger SRT8 392 Yellow Jacket, with an impressive Stinger Yellow exterior paint and added interior elements. The Yellow Jacket will be produced in a limited run - although no specific number was given - and will be arriving in U.S. dealer showrooms in the first quarter of 2012.
Based off the 2012 Challenger SRT8 392, the special edition Yellow Jacket pays tribute to the original Dodge "Yellow Jacket" unveiled in late 1969. The car will feature a very cool Stinger Yellow body color combined with a black grille surround and standard black body-side stripes. It will also come with a special set of 20 x 9-inch, five-spoke cast-aluminum wheels with black painted pockets.
Chrysler made sure that the interior also paid homage to the 1969 Yellow Jacket with leather seats carrying exclusive Stinger Yellow accents, embroidered Yellow Jacket logos, and silver stitching.
Under the hood, the Challenger SRT8 392 Yellow Jacket still has the 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine found in the standard model, which delivers 470 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. The performance numbers for the Yellow Jacket are still top notch with a 0-60 mph time in the high 4-second range, a quarter mile time in the mid-12-second range with the automatic transmission (high 12-second range with the manual), and a 0-100-0 mph time in the low 15s. Top speed goes up to 182 mph with the manual transmission and 175 mph with the automatic.
"The Challenger SRT8 392 Yellow Jacket adds another piece of performance car nostalgia to our rear-drive muscle coupe lineup in 2012," said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO – SRT Brand and Motorsports. "The Stinger Yellow paint and interior accents speak directly to the performance enthusiast who appreciates a memorable and collectible color that helps deliver even more excitement and exclusivity."
UPDATE 11/14/2011: Dodge has unveiled new images of the special edition 2012 Challenger SRT8 392 Yellow Jacket set to be revealed in two days at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Enjoy!
Dodge is bringing back its Super Bee package for one more nostalgic round in the hands of the brand’s ever-popular Charger muscle car. The Super Bee designation was first placed on a 1968 Coronet model before it was moved on over to the Charger model in 1971. It then took a long hiatus before it was applied once again, this time on the Charger SRT8 Super Bee model in 2006, 2007, and 2008. And now the Super Bee name will be offered once again for the 2012 model year.
"The 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee is a salute to the fun-loving past of Dodge muscle cars powered by the legendary 392 HEMI V-8 in a back-to-basics performance machine," Ralph Gilles, President and CEO - SRT and Motorsports said.
The special Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee is set to make its world debut next week at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.
UPDATE 11/09/2011: This review has been updated to include the official specifications for the 2012 Charger SRT8 Super Bee.
UPDATE 11/14/2011: Chrysler has finally unveiled more images of the 2012 Charger SRT8 Super Bee set to be revealed in just two days in Los Angeles.
Hit the jump to read more about the Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee.