LA Auto Show 2013: Where luxury continues to thrive

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Jaguar-F-Type-300Wait 30 seconds on a Los Angeles sidewalk and something tinted, powerful and expensive will roll past. Luxury cars run like clockwork in this crowded city, and despite carrying some of the nation’s highest fuel prices and state taxes, Angelinos keep buying more of them. Automakers sell more cars in California than any state — roughly 11 percent of the total 15.4 million sales expected to close the year.

As is tradition, this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show — despite the march toward self-driving, Internet-connected cars — is buried in the pockets of drivers who just want the best speed and style money can buy.

Only here could two $200,000 cars actually sell in decent numbers, such as the 2015 Mercedes-Benz S65 AMG, a twin-turbo V12 sedan that’s the ultimate version of an already ultimate flagship, and the stretched Range Rover Autobiography Black, an SUV so large it may have created its own sinkhole on the show floor.



Porsche has its own separate wing of the Los Angeles Convention Center to celebrate its all-new Macan, a compact SUV that will become the brand’s most affordable model underneath the wildly popular Cayenne. Tucked in a glass room away from the new 911 Turbo S Cabriolet, Targa and Boxster GTS models is the $1 million 918 Spyder, a hypercar that can do no wrong. Porsche promises this mid-engine plug-in hybrid is more efficient than California’s state mascot, the Prius, and when really pushed is one of the fastest production cars ever made.

Jaguar pulled off a Hollywood-worthy stunt at a movie studio prior to the show’s opening Wednesday. After opening the curtain to reveal a massive, laser-studded sound stage, a white F-Type Coupe gunned it toward the audience at 90 mph straight into the reception area, without killing a single person. This type of display, where stars like Simon Cowell posed for photos, is the rule for automaker debuts in LA, not the exception.



Maserati has its new Quattroporte and compact Ghibli sedans on display as the Italian brand attempts to hit the mainstream sedan market occupied by the Germans. Oddly enough, Ferrari and Lamborghini are absent from the show.

General Motors could have been spotted from adjacent Staples Center with their mammoth trio of full-size SUVs, the 2015 Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade – all of which should make livery drivers and their VIP passengers quite happy. BMW showed the 4-Series convertible, a new model that manages to look just like a 3-Series for much more money, and Lincoln is proud of its new MKC, a suave crossover that barely resembles the Ford Escape it’s based upon. On first touch, the MKC appears to be a bright spot for Lincoln as it struggles to rebuild a lost identity. Even Kia went loose with its new K900 sedan. This $40,000-plus luxury car has all the looks and features of cars costing a good $20,000 more, but those looks come with more than a few hints of copyright infringement.



Regular cars did debut in LA, if you can call the rally-bred 2015 Subaru WRX and bug-eyed 2015 Mini Cooper as normal transportation. Ditto for the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, which will only sell in Southern California due to this area’s relatively high concentration of hydrogen fueling stations.

With all these debuts, you could for once call Audi modest as it displayed its upcoming A3 and S3 compact sedans. In any other U.S. city, where import cars with 500 horsepower don’t dominate the roads, that judgment wouldn’t be fair.

Look for more coverage right here on The show continues until Dec. 1.

Clifford Atiyeh

Clifford Atiyeh

Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Based in Connecticut, he writes for BestRide, Car and Driver, The Boston Globe and other publications.