LA Auto Show 2015 reimagines three vehicles

LA Auto Show 2015 concourse
LA Auto Show 2015 hosted 33 vehicle world debuts, including a convertible crossover and modern day dune buggy. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

Just down the coast from us, the LA Auto Show (LAAS) — on until Nov. 29 — enters its 108th year and continues to establish itself as one of the biggest venues on the show circuit for industry announcements and vehicle debuts. This year features lots of different takes on models people know in love, and we share three of OpenRoad’s favourites.

2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible

When you imagine open air driving, I doubt you think of a roofless Range Rover Evoque, ploughing down a muddy slope. Yet, here it is in all of its drop top SUV glory, the first of its kind to join the lineup.

2017 Range Rover Evoque Convertible side

Marketed as something for people who know no boundaries, what’s truly shocking is that the Evoque sans roof actually looks quite good from all angles. The fabric top folds flush into the rear deck for a clean appearance, and the doors are frameless giving the SUV a sharp silhouette.

The four-seater boasts 240 horsepower and a nine-speed transmission, and will start at $64,990 when it arrives in Canadian dealerships in spring 2016.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune

Some may remember fondly back to the 60s or 70s when dune buggies were all the rage, shown in magazines and on TV screens zipping along sandy shorelines driven by tanned, fun-loving beachgoers. Volkswagen is trying to bring that feeling back with the introduction of the new Beetle Dune.

2017 Volkswagen Beetle Dune side

There is perhaps no better venue than California to launch what VW calls its “first crossover model since the Beetle was introduced over 80 years ago.” Key features include a raised ride height, unique bumpers, black wheel arch flares, body protection trim and two new colours such as the pictured Sandstorm Yellow.

The Dune will be available as either a coupe or convertible, and goes on sale early 2016.

2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport

2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport

First there was the Porsche Cayman. Then we saw the Cayman S, the Cayman GTS and recently, the GT4. What crazier, racier version could it possibly come in? The answer: the 2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.

Before you break out the piggybank, it should be noted that the Clubsport is intended for track use rather than Sunday drives and work commutes. This 3.8-litre, 385 hp Cayman’s chassis has been modified for use on the circuit, as well as its already massive brakes enlarged further. Weight reduction has also been thrown in for good measure.

Look for the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport participating in races worldwide for the 2016 season. 

LA Auto Show 2015 hallway

Best green vehicles at 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show

2015 Vancouver International Auto Show
Visitors to the 2015 Vancouver Auto Show are treated to a wide assortment vehicles, including many green models. Photos by Benjamin Yong.

The 95th Vancouver International Auto Show (VIAS) is happening right now at the Vancouver Convention Centre, and is quite literally bigger, and better, than ever before. Exhibition space has grown by one-quarter this year, to 290,000 square feet, and for the first time the displays spill over to the upstairs ballroom. Fittingly, since it takes place in B.C., VIAS features a heavy focus on alternative-energy automobiles fuelled by diesel, electricity and even hydrogen. These are the green vehicles you’ll want to see.

Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept

Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept

You may have heard about Toyota’s production hydrogen fuel cell vehicle already on sale in Japan and about to hit the roads in the United States later this year. While no Canadian expansion plans have been announced yet, Toyota debuted the Fuel Cell Concept (FCV) that provided the inspiration for the Mirai for the first time in Canada.

The Mirai was actually tested in Yellowknife in -30 C weather to evaluate cold-weather effectiveness. The space-age looking sedan creates electricity by utilizing a chemical reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, refuels in about the same time as a conventional gasoline-powered car and can drive up to 500 kilometres on a single tank.

Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron

The A3 Sportback e-Tron, Audi’s first plug-in hybrid, made its first regional appearance at VIAS.  Besides a few badges and some minor exterior tweaks to the grille and rear bumper, this hybrid looks remarkably similar to the standard version. Power is provided via a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine combined with a 75-kilowatt electric motor making 204 net horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque.

Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI Clean Diesel

Volkswagen Golf Sportwagon TDI Clean Diesel

VW is in Vancouver to prove that even with the crossover SUV craze taking place across North America, wagon’s haven’t quite called it quits. It’s been a good year for the Golf, reaping several industry awards, and the Sportwagon should continue that trend. The diesel powertrain provides plenty of torque and achieves great fuel economy rated at 7.5 L/100 km in city driving at 5.6 L/100 km on the highway.

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Although Hyundai also has a plug-in version coming, it is the standard Sonata Hybrid making the trip to Vancouver. As part of the redesign, the engine is a smaller and more efficient 2.0 litre vs. the outgoing 2.4. The battery pack has a 13 per cent bigger capacity, and now fits under the trunk floor so the rear seats can fold 60/40.

Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

In addition to the Hybrid, the majority of the public had their first chance to get an up-close look at the 2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, the first mass-produced hydrogen-powered vehicle available to Canadians. Available to limited consumers through a lease program, the first lucky owners are a local couple living in Surrey.

Porsche 918 Spyder at 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show

Porsche 918 Spyder

Some visitors to Porsche Centre Langley have already experienced the spectacle that is the $1.3-million Porsche 918 Spyder in person. The hybrid supercar, one of three sold in B.C., uses two electric motors and a 4.6-litre V8 engine to achieve a top speed of 340 km/h.   

The 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show runs until March 29. More pictures below:

2015 Vancouver International Auto Show entrance

Stephen Beatty vice president, Corporate Toyota Canada

Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept rear

Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle Concept side

Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron rear

Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron interior

BMW i3 and i8 at 2015 Vancouver International Auto Show

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid rear

2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid cutaway

Hyundai Blue Drive