In Los Angeles – the home of Hollywood – you expect to find some quirky vehicles, and that’s exactly what Ishan came across at the LA Auto Show. Fortunately, there were also some products that he hopes can make it to the Indian market.
BMW i8 Roadster
Three years after the introduction of the ground-breaking hybrid sports car from the Bavarian automaker, comes its convertible version – the i8 Roadster. Publically revealed for the first time at the LA Auto Show, the i8 Roadster shares the majority of its design with its coupe cousin. In this drop-top avatar, the roof takes 16 seconds to close or open and is stored perpendicularly behind the passenger compartment. Of course, given the roof stowage, gone are the rear seats of the i8, making it a two-seater as compared to the 2+2 configuration of the coupe. Mechanically, the i8 Roadster is equipped with all the recent upgrades of the coupe. As a result, both battery pack capacity and energy capacity have increased – the latter from 7.1kWh to 11.6kWh. This means the i8 Roadster accelerates from 0-100km/h in 4.4 seconds. The battery only range of the car has also gone up to about 30 kilometres. With the launch of i8 Roadster, customers with environmental concerns, who want their cars to be a little more stylish, will have a viable option.
Perhaps as ‘California’ as design studies get, the Toyota FT-AC presents an interesting look at what production vehicles of the near future would look like if we were to combine usability with eco-friendliness. And this comes through in its official name as well – the Future Toyota Adventure Concept. Presented with a design that has an extra dose of aggression, the FT-AC looks ready to tackle the off-roading and camping requirements. It’s a rather aggressive front-end with a bold grille, which is supplemented by even more aggressive wheel arches with huge plastic cladding and large 20-inch wheels with off-road biased tyres. It also has a set of nifty features, such as detachable LED fog lamps, designed to be used as auxiliary lights mounted to bicycles, and infrared cameras mounted on the side mirrors that can help track a trail run. Add to this a next-generation hybrid powertrain with all-wheel drive, and the FT-AC would be an ideal companion for a weekend in the woods.
To say that the first-generation CLS was a trendsetter for modern four-door coupes would be a bit of an understatement. Launched at a time when the design aspect of Mercedes’ product line-up was getting quite predictable and boring, the CLS brought in a breath of fresh air. It made manufacturers across the spectrum realise that, if styled well enough, customers would pay a premium for a four-door coupe with a smaller interior than a traditional saloon. Of course, the competition picked up on this quickly – as a result of which the sales numbers for the CLS of late have become quite tardy worldwide. Mercedes, of course, is hoping to change all this with the third-generation car, which, in our opinion, looks too similar to most of its sedan counterparts. However, compared to the last-gen car, it has a sharper style and a hugely improved interior, which of course is a plus point. However, it remains to be seen if the new CLS can keep the four-door coupe tradition going.
Lexus RX350 L
Under normal circumstances, there’s not much in common between the products showcased at a major American auto show and those that make their way to the Indian market. However, with Lexus launching the 7-seat version of the RX350 at LA, things may change. Lexus’ entry into India has been challenging – it lacks a local assembly facility in India, and it’ll continue to do without one until our government policies change – but there are glimmers of hope in their current product line-up, which could make an impact in the Indian market – take, for instance, the new NX300h. The 7-seat RX350, if introduced into India, too could have a similar impact. A relatively compact SUV with seven-seat capability could be advantageous for the brand in appealing to a wider audience. However, our sources at Lexus India remain resolutely tight-lipped regarding any possibility of this happening anytime soon – if at all.