A number of world debuts by BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and others were highlights of the first day of the Los Angeles Auto Show. Among them:
Cadillac Elmiraj concept
Lincoln MKC small crossover SUV
BMW 4 Series Cabriolet
BMW i8 EV
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Final Edition
Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo concept
Mercedes-Benz GLA small crossover SUV
Volkswagen Cross Blue Coupe
There are more to come. The Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Type Coupe, BMW X4 Crossover and Infiniti Q30 Crossover are on my list for photos today.
Note the emphasis on the small crossover, especially in the luxury segment. Mercedes-Benz (GLA), BMW (X4), Lincoln (MKC), Infiniti (Q30) all have new vehicles coming. With a new push for fuel efficient, low emission vehicles, and buyers who want to move down from their current behemoths without giving up any luxury features, the marketplace has spoken and the manufacturers are listening. Audi has a Q3 coming, and Lexus teased a LF-NX compact crossover this past fall at the Frankfurt auto show.
I had a great conversation with a BMW designer. We discussed the use of run-flat tires on much of the BMW line-up. He said that they are now working with the third generation of run-flat tires, and that they are much improved and not worthy of their current reputation for a harsh ride. He admitted that the ride is firm, and that the tires are not as compliant as regular tires.
However, he pointed out one fact that I hadn’t considered. The safety factor.
If a run-flat tire loses air pressure on the highway, the vehicle can still be controlled and driven, albeit at a lower speed. I’m not talking about a catastrophic failure, where the tire has hit something and is badly damaged. If you hit a sharp object and the tire is punctured, the tire will still function. Not so with a normal tire. He has put run-flat tires on his wife’s car.
Martin went on to tell me about the wind blocker used in the 4 Series Cabriolet. This version of the Cabriolet has a fold-down rear seat, allowing for a much-needed pass-through from the very tiny trunk. But, fold the rear seat forward, and you’ll find the wind blocker, neatly stowed. It’s not in your garage or basement gathering dust. It’s kept in the car, where it’s needed. It needs to be moved when you want to use the pass-through, but that’s a minor inconvenience. The wind blocker is light, can be used at 200 km/h without being knocked down, and is easily installed by one person.
Martin also reiterated BMW’s commitment to quality. If the new 4 Series is any indication, this is holding true. The last generation of 3 Series sedans and coupes seemed to suffer from hard plastics, and interiors that didn’t fit with the price paid. BMW seems to be getting back on track.