Jaguar Land Rover unveiled its first luxury compact convertible SUV not at the auto show, but on the beach in Santa Monica with Bond star Naomie Harris. The Evoque Convertible will go on sale next spring. With seating for four, the new model features a Z-fold flush fabric roof that will lower in 18 seconds and rise in 21. The glass rear window is heated. There is a 10.2 inch touchscreen with the firm’s new InControl Touch Pro infotainment system with 3G connectivity. Land Rover insists the Evoque has the off road capability that its products are known for. Power comes from a four cylinder “petrol” engine with a nine-speed automatic transmission. Pricing will be announced later.
And speaking of convertibles, Mercedes displayed an SL that will launch in the U.S. in the spring with a more powerful engine, a new transmission and “Active Body Control.” The SL450 gets a V6 up rated to 362 horsepower, a gain of 34, while the SL gets a 449 horsepower V8, both with a 9-speed transmission. A wide variety of engine, transmission, and steering selections await the operator’s whimsy. If all that is not enough, the V12 powered SL65 is still in the lineup with 621 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. A couple of nifty interior features are an analog clock and an available 900- watt Bang & Olufsen sound system with a dozen speakers and tweeters with LED light strips. With any kind of options, look for a six figure price tag.
Hyundai displayed a reworked 2017 Elantra offered with a 1.4-liter turbo four with 128 horsepower or a 2.0-liter four with 147 ponies under the hood. The 2.0 liter comes with either a six speed manual or six speed automatic and the 1.4 with a seven speed dual clutch automatic. Look for the new model to appear in January. Premium features include a driver’s seat memory, dual automatic temperature control, and “advanced ergonomic front seats.”
Over at Mazda the redesigned three-row midsized crossover known as the CX-9 came into view. Sales will start next spring with a new 2.5-liter direct-injection turbo four engine. While it produces only 250 horsepower on premium unleaded, it cranks out 310 lb-ft of torque at just 2,000 rpm. The idea, Mazda said, is to produce the most torque low in the rpm range where a majority of drivers spend their time. Check the box for the new Signature interior trim and pick up some items that might surprise you in a Mazda such as real Rosewood trim, French stitching, and Nappa leather. It should be more peaceful inside thanks 53 pounds of additional sound deadening material and acoustic laminated glass.
Nissan showed off a revamped Sentra with front end styling like the Maxima. New interior appointments were added with a TFT-type LCD flat panel display and available Siri Eyes Free Voice Recognition. More safety equipment has been added including Intelligent Cruise Control and Forward Emergency Braking. The current powertrain is carried over – a 1.8-liter, 130 horsepower four with a six-speed manual available on base models, and a CVT on more upscale choices. Nissan said prices will start at $17,605 when the Sentra goes on sale by the end of the year.
At the Volvo stand was the Concept 26, a look at what interiors might look like when people don’t have to focus on the task of driving. That is a 25 inch flat screen monitor that flips up from the passenger side dashboard. There are three interior modes. The Drive Mode is about the same is what we have now with a human in control. The Create Mode is for autonomous operation and allows the driver to read, work on their next big product or whatever. The Relax Mode reclines the driver’s seat and the car can suggest appropriate media for the right mood.
Truly new is the 2017 Buick LaCrosse with “sweep sphere” styling that will set the pace for other models to follow. The new sedan on the block is 300 pounds lighter and gets a 3.5-liter V6 engine with 305 horsepower and 263 lb-ft of torque that GM claims will top the current model in fuel economy of 36 mpg on the highway. Inside there will be a choice of three trim levels, including upgraded leather seats with massage and even paddle shifts. One option for those in states where the snow flies will be All-Wheel Drive. Look for the LaCrosse early next summer.
More to come!