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StopTech Tours the 2011 Los Angeles International Auto Show
by Frank A. Filipponio | Nov 18, 2011

The LA Auto Show is kicking off this weekend at the LA Convention Center, so we stopped by on the first press day to check out the new model debuts. Manufacturers are showing a ton of new 2012 and 2013 models this month in LA, with nearly 50 North American debuts and over 30 world debuts. Below are some of our favorites.

ZLI Camaro Convertible
ZL1 Camaro Convertible

Chevrolet officially unveiled the production 2012 Camaro ZL1 Convertible, sporting the same supercharged 6.2L LSA engine as found in the coupe. With 580 hp and 556 lb.-ft. of torque this is the most powerful production Camaro ever. The ZL1 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 184 mph. Pricing for the coupe starts at $54,995, including Performance Traction Management and Magnetic Ride suspension.

2013 Shelby Mustang GT500
2013 Ford Boss 302 Mustang and Shelby GT500

Meanwhile, Ford showed off a freshened lineup of Mustangs that feature new exterior details, updated technology and new driver tools for 2013. When they go on sale in the spring of 2012, the two versions that will stand out the most will likely be the 444-hp retro cool Boss 302 and the big bruiser 650-hp Shelby GT 500.

The 2013 Boss 302 pays homage to the '70 Boss 302 complete with hockey stick graphics. The 5.0L Boss V8 yields 444 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque and is backed by a short-throw, close-ratio six-speed manual transmission and race-inspired clutch. The Boss also sits 11 mm lower in front thanks to an enhanced version of the GT suspension.

The GT500's 5.8L V8 aluminum-block engine produces 650 hp and 600 lb.-ft. of torque and can propel the 3,850-lb. car to a top speed of 200-plus mph, while staying gasguzzler tax exempt.The Shelby GT500, meanwhile, raises the stakes in the musclecar wars with "the most powerful production V8 engine in the world.”

Abarth Edition Fiat 500
2012 Fiat 500 Abarth

Besides having the longest job title of the day, Olivier Francois, head of Fiat Brand Worldwide and chief marketing officer of Chrysler and Fiat groups, unveiled the hotly anticipated 160-hp Fiat 500 Abarth Edition. This tuned version of the retro-cute 500 offers better handling and the more powerful1.4L multi-air engine.

Fiat hopes that the Abarth will further the Fiat 500’s image as an enthusiast-oriented vehicle. The Fiat 500 was named “Hottest Sport Compact” of the Show, after all at the 2011 SEMA Show earlier this month. Watch for the little Fiat to battle the Mazda2, Ford Fiesta, Mini Cooper and other sporty runabouts in next year's B-Spec racing class that will appear in virtually every production based racing series.

.Subaru BRZ concept
Subaru BRZ Concept

Subaru revealed a “concept” called the BRZ, their edition of the car being jointly developed with Toyota that is also being shown as the Scion FR-S Concept. Despite the name, Subaru announced that this concept is very close to the actual production vehicle coming in May.

Even if the platform is shared with Toyota, the driveline seems to be all Subaru, with their trademark horizontally opposed boxer four-cylinder engine for power and promised WRX-like driving dynamics.

Mario Karts 

Nintendo and West Coast Customs unveiled a pair of functioning, authentic Mario Karts — Mario’s signature ride and Luigi’s “Bumble V” kart . Built as part of an upcoming episode of the West Coast Customs reality show, the front-wheel drive cars are equipped with 18-inch rear wheels and disc brakes. Luigi’s kart even has a propeller add-on for traveling through water - at least in theory.

Other Notable Debuts

showed off their all-new S6, S7 and S8, all of which originally appeared at the Frankfurt Motor Show two months ago.

Bentley revealed the updated version of its Continental GTC Convertible.

 spotlighted the all-new twin-turbo V8 M5, as well as the new i3 battery-powered city car and the more performance-oriented i8 plug-in hybrid.

 introduced a new flagship XTS sedan, which replaces both the STS and DTS models. Caddy also showed its Ciel Concept, which has been shown in Frankfurt and Pebble Beach this year.

offset its all new ZL1 Camaro firebreather with the new, Korean-made Spark, the smallest Chevy ever.

Dodge showed it isn't going to let Mustang and Camaro steal all of the stoplight grand prix honors, introducing the Challenger SRT8 392 Yellowjacket Edition in LA.

Ford took advantage of the spotlight brought about by the introduction of the all-new Shelby GT500 and the other 2013 Mustangs to unveil a sporty Focus ST and Fiesta ST, as well as a completely redesigned Escape and a fresh-faced new Flex wagon.

 staked claim to being the most diversely green carmaker with the introduction of an all-electric Fit EV, which now joins hybrid, natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cell models in the manufacturer's lineup. They also introduced the larger and better equipped fourth generation CR-V.

 introduced its seventh new model in 24 months, the large Azera sedan, the latest to adopt its so-called Fluidic Sculpture design language. Looking like a cross between the company's own Sonata and the rival Toyota Avalon, the materials in particular seemed to put the Azera right at the top of the class.

 provided a glimpse of its new 3-row, 7-passenger JX crossover during a preview at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August, but in LA they brought out the final production version.

Jaguar released the new XKR-S Convertible, but it was woefully upstaged by the North American debut of the C-X16 plug-in hybrid concept, which is likely to reach production if all goes well.

Kia showed off its stunning GT concept, which has been getting a bit of press since its European preview at the Frankfurt Motor Show. A production version is still up in the air.

 is a new Mexican automaker with a new sports car, the MXT. This vehicle would be fun to drive, but by the time it actually reaches the streets in a acceptably polished form, it will already be a bit outdated.

 unveiled an all new CX-5 small crossover that may seem a bit conventional on the outside for this Zoom-Zoom company, but under that rather bland skin lies a whole slate of new technologies the company is introducing under the SkyActiv tag. Comprising transmissions, engines and other technologies, the SkyActiv program brings a whole new level of fuel efficiency to Mazda's lineup.

Mercedes didn't have to do much to impress us this year. All they had to do was park their current lineup and walk away. The new drop-top SLS AMG, SLK roadster, C-Class C63 Black Series Coupe, ML63 crossover, CLS63 four-door coupe, and on and on. It's hard to think of any car in that range that isn't available in a 500hp sporty variant that we would pass on.

Nissan didn't have a lot to offer in terms of new hardware, but they did draw a large crowd thanks to two food trucks serving grilled cheese sandwiches and ice cream sandwiches.

 had factory drivers Romain Dumas and Patrick Long pull the cover off a new Panamera GTS model, which slots in between the S and Turbo in the lineup. They also unwrapped the new, seventh-generation 911 Carrera, which is longer, lower, wider – and a lot more powerful than the sports car it replaces, plus it gets up to 15% better mileage.

 took home one of the biggest awards of the day when Motor Trend named the all-new American-designed and made 2012 Passat as its Car of the Year. The German automaker also showed off  a freshened CC, as well as the sporty new Beetle R.

 gave Americans their first look at the Concept You, a glimpse at Volvo's intended assault on the premier luxury ranks.


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