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LA Auto Show: 4 Standout Cars, Leonardo DiCaprio to Auction Fiats to Support Climate Rescue


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Pre-pandemic, the LA Auto Show was a hotbed of celebrity-headlining product unveils, flashy new cars and a lot of private events for the wheel-heeled and vehicular inclined. The last big show, in November 2019, had the likes of John Mayer playing a private party for Land Rover and Idris Elba hosting the launch of a new Ford EV among a smattering of off-site events for luxury and supercar manufacturers.

This is year, the show is much more subdued, with most of the luxury OEMs — Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi, to name a few — declining show space, leaving more room for a slew of experiential driving experiences (off-roading a Ram truck or a new Ford Bronco; getting a ride in the new electric Nissan Ariya), all within the confines of the Los Angeles Convention Center’s North and West Halls. That said, there were still some standouts to see, and if one’s lucky, nab one from still supply-chain challenged dealers. The LA Auto Show runs from Nov. 18 to 27 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar

Fresh off an IPO and quarter-after-quarter record sales, Porsche has created another limited-edition object of desire with their 2023 911 Dakar model, the brand’s modern take on their 1984 Paris-Dakar Rally winning car. For a base price of $222,000, the Dakar has a 3” lifted suspension (similar to the ride height and ramp-over angle of a conventional SUV); custom designed Pirelli Scorpion off-road tires; and a 0-to-60 time of 3.2 seconds and a top speed limited to 150 mph. Add the optional roof basket and tent and Rallye Design Package — with its two-tone White and Gentian Blue Metallic paint and decorative livery — and you have the makings of a Gen-Y and Z dream car, especially if you had the Rothman livery 1984 911 rally car on a poster on a wall when you were a kid.

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar - LA Auto Show

2023 Porsche 911 Dakar models

Courtesy of Porsche

“Catering to people’s desires and to people’s dreams is something that we really enjoy doing,” Frank Wiesmann, manager, product communications at Porsche Cars North America told THR from the Porsche display at the Convention Center. “We find it really resonates with our customers. The way our cars channel historic race cars on historic road cars is because the people developing these cars now had those cars on their walls when they were kids too. So it channels from one generation to the next and it’s about being able to share that passion.”

The Dakar is limited to 2,500 units globally, making acquiring one’s dream car a challenge. “The best thing I can say,” Wiesmann continued, “if you’re looking to get a car, be patient. Right now, we’re seeing strong demand, especially for limited or specialty cars like this one but hopefully the dream of a new car will come true for a number of people.”

2023 Toyota Prius and Prius Prime

Remember the days of A-List stars arriving at the Oscars red carpet in a Toyota Prius? The Prius, first launched back in 1997, once dominated both the driveways and conversation in the industry, only to be replaced by EVs as the Hollywood car du jour.  

Toyota, looking to replicate their prior success, unveiled the fifth generation Prius and the plug-in Prius Prime to the happy surprise of those in attendance, as the new models looked fresh, modern and quite desirable. 

2023 Toyota Prius - LA Auto Show

2023 Toyota Prius

Courtesy of Toyota

With its raked roofline, wider stance and more power from both the gas powered engine and the batteries, the new Prius models offer what the outgoing ones didn’t: a sense of sportiness. 

The Prius offers 60 percent more power, up to 196 horsepower, a 26 percent improvement from the last model, while offering 57 miles to the gallon. The Prius Prime now sports 220-horsepower as well as a larger lithium-ion battery, for an almost 40 miles of electric driving range, up from the previous generation’s 25 miles.

“The Prius was a game changer when it first came to North America many years and five generations ago now,” Toyota’s Michael Moore told THR over the din of the crowd at the Downtown Fashion District unveiling. “What the Prius represented in terms of what it meant to the environment and to the technology that it was bringing to the market really resonated with people that were forward thinkers. I think that really struck a chord with so many people, not just in pop culture and Hollywood, but throughout North America. With the new models, we did not want to take away from what Prius was fundamentally and in terms of efficiency but what may be a little bit surprising to Prius owners from the past is that we wanted to make the new models fun. When they get into this one and see the zero to 60 time is three and a half seconds faster, that’s a huge difference.”

The new Prius goes on sale in early 2023.

All-electric 2024 Fiat 500e

While the new Fiat 500e has been on sale in Europe since late 2020 and is one of the best-selling cars overseas, the new US-spec EV won’t be coming to America until early 2024. While the new 500e is larger, roomier and offers more power and range, Fiat is still working on the final U.S. versions to make their way from Fiat’s Turin, Italy, factory to the States.

That didn’t stop Fiat brand CEO Olivier Francois from unveiling a trio of concepts designed in partnership with Italian brands Giorgio Armani, Kartell and Bulgari with each offering their own take on the iconic Cinquecento. Francois also announced that Fiat has partnered with Leonardo DiCaprio to auction off these three one-off Fiat 500e designer concepts with all the proceeds used to support climate rescue. While all of this is good news, we hope Fiat brings back the Fiat 500 by Gucci Edition in the line up next year.

Genesis X Convertible concept and 2023 Genesis G90

One of the biggest surprises at this year’s show was Genesis, which not only won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for their ultra-luxe flagship, the 2023 Genesis G90 sedan, but also showed the Genesis X Convertible concept, an EV-powered two-door, four-seat luxury convertible which completed the brand’s X concept trilogy. 

The previous two X concepts — the Genesis X Speedium Coupe shown at the 2022 New York Auto Show and the Genesis X Concept shown on a rooftop in downtown L.A. in March 2021 — built on the brand’s new design language. The Genesis X Convertible, shown at an oceanfront house on Malibu’s Broad Beach, is a stunner. 

Genesis X Convertible Concept Car - LA Auto Show - 2022

Genesis X Convertible concept

Courtesy of Genesis

Genesis, with record 2022 sales and a massive internal initiative to move into the luxury and electric vehicle markets, seems to be doing things right as, anecdotally speaking, the amount of Genesis sedans and SUVs seen on roads of Los Angeles appears to be exponentially higher.

SangYup Lee, formerly head of design for Bentley and now executive vice president and head of Genesis design, explained the brand’s ethos and how it can stand out in a crowded luxury market.  “First we have to be audacious because the luxury car world is perfectly fine without Genesis,” Lee said with a laugh, “Second, we have to be progressive and the third most important thing is that every luxury brand has to have an original origin and we all do a call this distinctly Korean.”

When asked how this distinctly Korean point of view can affect a luxury car brand, Lee replied, “Genesis is a Korean luxury brand. Look to the fashion industry for examples, with Chanel there’s always Paris written underneath, right? With a Burberry, it’s always Burberry London. It’s the same thing, I always see Genesis and underneath there is the word Seoul. Seoul is an absolutely fantastic city because the culture is so good and the service is unbelievable and it’s also very sophisticated. If we can add this level of service and this level of sophistication, if we can add this into our cars, this is actually for me what the brand is.”

2023 Genesis G90 on sale now.

Genesis X Convertible Concept - LA Auto Show

Genesis X Convertible concept

Courtesy of Genesis

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