2013 L.A. Auto Show: Luxury Car Winners and Losers

2015_audi_a3_cabriolet

The 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show has something that'll interest every type of luxury-car shopper. This year's debuts cover nearly every segment of the luxury market, from full-size SUVs to a plug-in hybrid sports car. Cars.com editors Mike Hanley, Joe Wiesenfelder, Aaron Bragman and Joe Bruzek trekked across the show floor in search of the hits and misses.

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet

Mike Hanley: Winner
Trim and tidy, the A3 Cabriolet looks like a fun car for summer cruising, or, in L.A., year-round cruising. The convertible has nice lines with the soft-top up or down and the upscale interior quality for which Audi is known.

Joe Wiesenfelder: Winner
I'm not wild about the top-up look, but Audi has a good track record with making quiet ragtops. For an entry-level model, this one looks just as impressive as the sedan I glimpsed on the eve of the 2013 New York International Auto Show in April.

Aaron Bragman: Winner
The A3 feels like a legitimate luxury car, unlike the model it replaces, and chopping the top off only makes it better. A beautifully crafted interior, sexy lines, high-quality materials throughout and powerful engines — it checks all of my boxes.

Joe Bruzek: Winner
The A3 maintains a bold appearance even without a fixed roof. That's tough for coupes, or sedans, made into convertibles. Plus, the A3 Cabriolet has available all-wheel drive, making it a rare combination among any convertible, let alone compact ones.

2014 BMW 4 Series Convertible

2014_bmw_4series

MH: Loser
This had no wow-factor whatsoever. Perhaps it was its proximity to the spectacular i8 or maybe because it doesn't look all that different from the previous 3 Series convertible. It'll probably be a sweetheart to drive, but it didn't generate much excitement under the auto-show lights.

JW: Loser
Yeah, it didn't do much for me either. Neither did the 4 Series coupe. Although I like convertibles, this one didn't reignite my fire. Retractable hardtops can give a car a better roofline than a soft-top, but this one's just OK.

AB: Winner
I've always liked the 3 Series convertible, and I find the 4 Series to be a great continuation of an already classic design. The folding hardtop is nifty to watch in action, and more space for all passengers is always a good thing in my book. My only gripe is the floating multimedia panel that looks like an aftermarket add-on to an otherwise fluid, integrated interior.

JB: Loser
The bland white-colored convertible 4 Series lacked any definition under the auto-show lights. One of the most interesting design aspects of the 4 Series coupe is its roofline, which is now gone and replaced by a much less attractive hardtop convertible.

2014 BMW i8 2014_bmw_i8

MH: Winner
The i8 looks amazing, with an exotic sports car presence that's impossible to ignore. High technology abounds with exposed carbon fiber reinforced plastic and a plug-in hybrid drivetrain that promises performance and efficiency. With a starting price of more than $135,000 the i8 is pricey, but it's not that much more than the automaker's own M6, which seems quite average in comparison.

JW: Winner
Once in a great while, something that looks like a concept car hits the streets as a real product. The i8 is one of those. It has design elements not seen before, like the air channels between the rear wheel arches and roof line. Spectacular.

AB: Winner
The list of cars that have made the transition from concept car to reality is short, and the list of ones that that look better than the concept on which they're based is even shorter. The i8 looks phenomenal; it's a technological tour-de-force and truly feels like a 21st-century supercar. I just wish it didn't come with supercar dimensions. The interior is downright cramped and difficult to get into.

JB: Winner
If you want a good laugh at the auto show, watch people get in and out of the i8. It's worse than a fourth-generation Corvette where you had to essentially fall into the driver's seat and have someone ready to pull you out after driving. Regardless, the i8 is surprisingly ready for production as you see it on the show floor. Its design is wild and totally out there, but everything on the outside and inside appears ready for the road.

2015 Cadillac Escalade 2015_cadillac_escalade

MH: Loser
I know there are limits when designing a two-box SUV like the Escalade, but the Escalade ESV on the show floor just seems so blocky, especially in profile. Nice cabin materials befit a Cadillac, but the front row is confining with a large center console separating the seats. For a vehicle that's this big on the outside, there needs to be more room inside for passengers.

JW: Loser
Mike's right. The design isn't particularly pleasing, and while I have no problem with a big luxury SUV in theory, an extended version like the Escalade ESV better justifies its existence. This one's mostly flash.

AB: Winner
Why do you guys hate America? The Escalade does exactly what it needs to do — update an already popular model with a fresher, smoother appearance and an interior worthy of its price tag. If you want a smaller, swoopier SUV, go buy a Range Rover. If you want the ultimate domestic luxury vehicle, there really is nothing else like it.

JB: Winner
I'm with Aaron. It's a big flashy SUV and won't be mistaken for anything but a Cadillac Escalade.

2015 Jaguar F-Type Coupe 2015_jaguar_ftype

MH: Winner
I loved this as the C-X16 concept car and I love it now as a production coupe. The car's classic proportions work to perfection, and the cabin is as beautifully styled as the exterior. Rearward visibility is limited, as some colleagues complained, but it didn't seem worse than the sports car norm.

JW: Winner
Stunning. The F-Type roadster is a looker, sure, but the coupe adds the appeal of a beautiful roofline and a more organic rear-quarter view. The way the black roof flows into the rear window is a nice aspect, too.

AB: Winner, barely
It definitely looks good, but there's no new ground broken here. This is basically the same shape that designer Ian Callum has been penning for years. The Jaguar XK and Aston Martin DB7, DB9 and Vanquish all basically look like this. Frankly the only thing keeping this in the winner column for me is the beautifully crafted interior and engine noises that will shake you to your soul.

JB: Winner
New design, old design, whatever. It finally exists! And that's what matters. I'm excited to see the C-X16 concept a reality. The F-Type convertible merely seemed like a stepping stone to the coupe everyone was waiting for, and it doesn't disappoint.

2015 Kia K900 2015_kia_k900

MH: Loser
The K900 is a nice car with premium cabin materials and a roomy backseat, but I just don't see the point, especially with a brand-new Cadenza full-size sedan testing the waters for Kia in the large-car segment. The K900 is larger still with rear-wheel drive like a traditional flagship luxury car, but luxury is just as much about the name as the specs, and that's a problem for Kia.

JW: Winner
I'm with you on the whole non-luxury-brand issue, but that's mostly a problem for Kia — as it is for Hyundai with the Genesis and Equus — and anyone who's more concerned about image than the opportunity to get a big, luxurious car at a bargain price. It's a win for practical consumers.

AB: Loser
I just don't see the point. The car itself is beautifully done, but a full-size luxury Kia sedan makes even less sense to me than a full-size luxury Hyundai. This seems like Kia is bringing in whatever vehicles they can to try and maintain market share in the face of constrained supply. "We need more cars, but can't make more Fortes … hell, let's throw a big luxury car in there and see if it swims!" Talk about a confused brand message.

JB: Winner
I'm still back and forth on the K900. It would likely be a loser if pricing weren't hinted at during the reveal: $50,000 for a car the size of a BMW 7 Series with all the standard equipment Kia offers is a deal. The inside is an odd blend of luxury and value with high-end features but so-so material quality.

2015 Lincoln MKC 2015_lincoln_mkc

MH: Winner
The right car at the right time, the MKC small crossover has a sporty, low-slung look, and the brand has finally figured out a way to make its split-wing grille look good. Cabin materials are top-notch, but even better is the presence of real knobs and buttons instead of the disastrous touch-sensitive sliders and pads of the larger MKX. This might be the model that gets Lincoln back on its feet.

JW: Winner
Mike hit all the points on this one. We have yet to see if it will be a winner in this competitive segment, but it's good on its own merits and a big improvement for Lincoln. I can call that a winner.

AB: Winner
Can it be? A Lincoln based on a Ford that looks nothing like the Ford upon which it's based? It is! And it's good! No, not just good, it's really good. As in fully competitive, perfectly styled, well-appointed and exactly the right car to get Lincoln back in the game. Now, here's hoping Lincoln doesn't do something stupid with pricing …

JB: Winner
Lincoln's MKC has a ton of potential success ahead. It's unique but not awkward, stylish without going overboard and has technology that shouldn't intimidate users.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 2015_mercedes-benz_gla250

MH: Loser
Much smaller in person than photos suggest, the GLA250 small crossover is quite confining inside. The raked windshield contributes to extremely limited front-seat headroom and a hint of claustrophobia. As the Buick Encore shows, it doesn't have to be this way. This crossover is going to test how small luxury shoppers are willing to go.

JW: Loser
Yeah, it's too small, with limited backseat headroom, too. I also think it looks awkward with its substantial body and short greenhouse, though the Concept GLA45 AMG at the same show had body elements and decals that made it look better somehow.

AB: Winner
Not sure how everyone thinks the Lincoln and the Porsche are winners, but the GLA250 is a loser. To me, it looks like the same competitor group with similar interior dimensions and a style that's clearly Mercedes-Benz, inside and out. Personally, I can't wait for a matchup between the GLA AMG and the Porsche Macan.

JB: Loser
Pricing is going to be important once the GLA-Class is on sale; it's currently TBA. Mercedes won't be able to get away with asking too much because the GLA-Class is small and not very nice on the inside. Think of it more as a hatchback than an SUV, with a small backseat and tight headroom.

Mercedes-Benz Gran Turismo Vision Concept Mb_gran_turismo_concept

MH: Winner
Incredibly sleek and impossibly low, the AMG Vision Gran Turismo is a throwback to the outlandish concepts of auto shows past and it took a video game — "Gran Turismo 6," where it will star — to bring it to life. While an increasing number of concepts are just precursors to production versions, this one dazzles.

JW: Winner
This is definitely a throwback to the days of outrageous concept cars at a time where they're still the exception rather than the rule. I like how the automakers are building working versions of their Vision concepts, though I'm pretty sure this one's tires would mash its fenders if it rolled over loose change.

AB: Winner
I'm hoping this starts a trend toward bringing back concept cars that are fun and whimsical, not just loosely disguised versions of soon-to-come production cars. The Gran Turismo concept will never see production, but since it came from the minds of Mercedes-Benz designers, I wouldn't be surprised to see elements of this car make it into future product, and that's a very good thing. This car is absolutely gorgeous.

JB: Winner
I haven't seen anything like the Vision concept in recent years. Automakers have strayed from flashy concepts, but Mercedes brings one back and does it right. How the roof meets the rear fenders and swoops into the rear deck is gorgeous.

2015 Porsche Macan 2015_porsche_macan

MH: Winner
With its low-slung stance and fastback crossover styling, the Macan looks like an instant winner for Porsche in the growing small crossover luxury segment. Cabin materials are appropriately premium, and there's decent passenger room, too. I don't think it will take long for this to become Porsche's best-selling model, surpassing its other crossover, the Cayenne.

JW: Winner
Never bet against Porsche. How many times have critics, who might or might not have included me, forecast doom because Porsche was going into the wrong category or adding too many doors or the like? Not just a me-too model, the Macan looks like a really good one.

AB: Winner
Purists said that the Porsche Cayenne would destroy the brand, and they couldn't have been more wrong. Now that there's a baby Cayenne unleashed on the world nobody's saying it's wrong for the brand. It's better looking than either the Cayenne or Panamera, and it may be the best expression of the traditional Porsche silhouette on a four-door vehicle yet.

JB: Winner
Distinctly Porsche, the Macan's dashboard could be mistaken for a 911 or Boxster if blindfolded and brought inside. The quality of materials is right, the style is right and the specifications are right as Porsche offers a choice of two potent twin-turbocharged V-6 engines for under the hood. The backseat and cargo area could use a little more room, but that's unlikely to detract potential buyers who need a little extra versatility than the Boxster that sits covered in the garage.

Comments 

The Mercedes Grand Turismo, The Lincoln MKC and the Jaguar F-type are my personal fave at the car show. Hopefully they drive as well as they look.

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