We know, the auto industry is in dire straits. No one has money to buy cars and governments are clamping down on emissions. Yeah, yeah. But the show must go on, and so it did last week at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. The first auto show to kick off the North American auto show circuit provided us with a bunch of new concepts that make us believe the future of cars isn't so bleak after all. Take a look at our 10 favorite new cars from the '09 LA Auto Show. Maybe you'll start to believe, too. Either that, or make you at least want to give up your bus pass...
CAR: Audi E-Tron (Concept)
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: We were all a little sad when we learned that Audi wasn't going to build the R8 V12 TDI concept we saw at the '08 North American International Auto Show: it combined one of the best looking and best handling sports cars with the awesome competition bred V12 diesel engine. However, once we saw their E-Tron concept, we kinda forgot that whole thing ever happened. Like the V12 TDI, the E-Tron is an attempt at a green sports car: it's powered by four electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack producing a pedestrian 313 hp but a crazy 3,319 lb-ft of torque! Yeah, you read that right.
CAR: Jaguar XJ
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: Jaguar's been on their renaissance game lately with the XK and XF models showing out against their German competition. But we all know you can't really mess with the big boys until you, well, have a big body in the stable. Now they do with the all-new XJ. The new XJ puts Jaguar back in the conversation when talking about ultra automotive luxury. Its design is forward thinking while its interior evokes class, comfort and big money. Don't be surprised if hear it popping up in rap songs.
CAR: Lexus LFA
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: Lexus has been working on their first supercar for so long that the V10 F1 engines they based their engine on aren't even used in Formula 1 anymore, but that's no matter. What you have here is the pinnacle of Japanese engineering. (Well, one of them, at least). The design may not scream "supercar" but check the specs: 9,000 RPM redline, 0-60 in around 3.7 seconds, a body made of 65% carbon fiber and a top speed of 202 mph. If all that doesn't make you want to ride in one, maybe the fact that it costs damn near half a million dollars will.
CAR: BMW Vision EfficientDynamics (Concept)
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: We know this one of those concepts that will never see the light of day. We're OK with that. Why? Because we know BMW plans to keep developing this diesel-based plug-in hybrid drive system for use in future cars. And since they're claiming that this drivetrain will deliver M3 like performance, we can't wait.
CAR: Cadillac CTS Coupe
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: Cadillac's CTS line is one of our favorite model lines, period. We pretty much loved everything they've put out: the so-wild-it-should-be-made-in-Australia CTS-V and the classy but fast CTS Sport Wagon. So, we're guessing that the CTS Coupe, with two fewer doors and smaller curb weight will be just as, if not more, fun to drive.
CAR: Mini Roadster Concept
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: If you've never driven a Mini, do yourself a favor and get a test drive. While not as nimble as the originals, they're sure to invoke the "red mist" when you push 'em hard on winding roads. When we look at this, all we can think, (besides, "Damn, our girlfriends are gonna love this", is it may just be a viable contender for the Mazda MX-5.
CAR: Ford Fiesta
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: It started to change in 2009, but for the most part the Fords sold around the world were, for the most part, more appealing that those sold here in the states. Until now. Looking to bring the same cool, small cars that do so well in other countries to America, Ford has been hyping up their Ford Fiesta all year. And from what we've seen and heard, it's pretty damn good. Great styling, great performance, great gas mileage. What more could you ask for in a car?
CAR: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: No, it's not a direct descendant of the celestial Mercedes-Benz 300SL, but it is the heir apparent of the Mercedes supercar throne. After they ditched longtime partner McLaren to give their in house skunkworks team, AMG, a chance to build their first car from scratch, The SLS AMG is half the price of the $455,000 carbon-fiber Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren that's being discontinued, but on paper looks just as good, if not a tad bit better. We'll see...
CAR: Porsche 911 GT3 RS
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: The most performance focused Porsche you can buy is a handful if you don't know what you're doing, but that makes it all the more fun.
CAR: Buick Regal
WHY WE WANT TO DRIVE: A Buick? Yep. Now that GM has killed off all their other brands, each one has to be on point like a Sharpie, and Buick is no different. The all new LaCrosse blew us away when we tested it, and we can't wait to test their smaller, sportier offering. It's already a hit in Europe where it's sold as an Opel and a Vauxhall, let's see if it'll have the same success here.