In a strange way, the recent Los Angeles Auto show offered glimpses of the past and the future.
It was as politically correct as it could be, but the petrol-loving beast of yesteryear reared its gas-guzzling head frequently too.
For every electric or hybrid motor, there was a mega-engined Dodge or GMC – petrol, of course.
And for every moderately sized SUV or crossover, there was a monster truck with God-knows-how-many litres of an engine under the bonnet.
My, how America loves its big, big cars (okay, let’s call them what they are: gas-guzzlers).
It’s a past that will stay present for a long time, I feel.
As a result, it was not a breakthrough show by any means. It was quiet by European shows’ standards and, as is increasingly the case these days, much of what was on display had already been previewed or leaked.
Yet there was an undercurrent of vibrancy if you looked a little closer.
Hand on heart, the stand that caught my attention most was that adorned by Jaguar/Land Rover models – for one major reason.
It had the astounding looking Jaguar i-PACE Trophy (racing version).
If I was mad about it, imagine how they feel. To say they are mega-excited would be an understatement.
I also found it strange, in a nice sort of way, to see a face-lifted Range Rover plugged-in for electric charging. A symbolic moment I think. (Read my First Drive report on this in Saturday’s Review section of the Irish Independent).
The world debut of the new Mercedes CLS (with a new straight-six engine) 4dr coupe was an important event too. It is due in Ireland next year.
There are new engines, including a 48-mild hybrid option. It’s an elegant looking car, still unmistakably CLS but the front heralds a new design direction.
In complete contrast the new Jeep Wrangler designers just went for it – a massive, brash and dramatic mix of muscle and might. Not exactly everyone’s cup of tea, but it will be huge in the US, no doubt.
Adding future vibrancy to one hall were Nissan’s six Star Wars-themed concept cars, celebrating the release of The Last Jedi.
Back to this real world … there were plenty of plug-ins but little, if anything, by way of diesel. Hardly surprising, is it?
Electric? Yes, a smattering. Volkswagen had their I.D. on show – one of the closer-up glimpses of the future.
A future-is-here vision was provided by the Tesla Model 3, making its public/sales appearance.
Everyone seems to want, but few can get, one due to production problems and long waiting lists.
There is supposed to be a ‘hot’ variant of the new compact EV mid-2018. Let’s see if they can get the basic car moving first.
And then there was the news of the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 breaking the Nürburgring circuit record. The new 592bhp saloon was developed by Jaguar’s Special Vehicles Operations. It recorded a time of 7min 21.23sec. Awesome.
It was quiet around the Mazda6 stand, though they were at pains to emphasise that while the visual facelifts, nips and tucks of this mid-size favourite are subtle there’s a lot of unseen comfort and dynamic work done under the smooth exterior. Look forward to a drive in that sometime in 2018.
One of my favourite cars to look at was BMW’s i8 roadster (369bhp). Gorgeous. The range itself gets more power and some tweaks for next year too.
Aston Martin’s new Vantage made its US debut. What a great looking car.
And Lexus added a third row of seats to its RX hybrid. It’s now RXL, and it gets to Ireland in May – in time for 182-reg plate.
Speaking of SUVs, the place was full of them, such as the Infiniti QX50 (with its 2-litre 4cyl petrol engine that can change compression levels depending on demand) and Subaru’s large Ascent SUV. The latter is likely to make it to Europe at some stage, but I’m not gone on the look of it at all.
Porsche, meantime, showed off their revised and uprated 718 Cayman GTS and Boxster GTS (361bhp) models – more power and sharper chassis.
And finally they laid bare their back-to-basics 911 Carrera T.
That’s the sort of motor you’d love to drive – a car that summed up the show, in many ways, with bits of the past, present and future all rolled into one.