In Los Angeles, despite the abundance of shared electric scooters appearing abandoned and strewn across footpaths sidewalks, and a motor show where mobility solutions were being posited, it was clear that the automobile is still king. Well, more accurately it is the SUV that is the potentate in La La Land.
Public debuts of flagship SUVs weren't sautomobilece at this year's running of the LA Auto Show. The BMW X7 may have limited appeal on our shores, but Stateside the crowds couldn't get enough of it, lapping up its luxurious details - though I'm still not convinced by the tacky crystal gear selector. Hyundai's Palisade should also do very well. However, it isn't destined to head to Europe.
While oversized SUVs outgunned electric vehicles, the ones that did make debuts in LA grabbed plenty of attention. Kia's new Soul keeps its boxy silhouette, but gains a more modern image. Whether it will migrate from being a niche model for the Korean brand in Europe is still uncertain, but the prospect of a decent driving range sounds promising and could land it a supporting role to the new Kia e-Niro.
The big EV news (and one that seemed to get the most attention judging by the popularity of its stand) was the Rivion. America loves pickups so making an electric one that claims to deliver on both battery range and performance was always going to be a winner. Here's hoping that Rivion doesn't become another Faraday Future.
Audi continued its push towards introducing fully electric models and this time around it was a slinky four-door coupe. The e-tron GT, as it is presently known, certainly wowed the crowd, but I felt it was just a bit too close in appearance to the Porsche Taycan. Yes, the two will share the same platform setup, but having seen Porsche's effort at Zuffenhausen http://changagoidem.info/automobile-news/article/8616/Electric-Porsche-Taycan-tech-details-revealed a couple of months ago, I'd hope they will differ more come production time.
Porsche's new 992-era 911 drew some criticism for not moving the design game on enough, but I think a closer inspection ought to mute some of its critics. The detail throughout is just what you would expect from Porsche: well thought-out to the smallest degree and superbly executed. The rear light bar looks fantastic and the interior seems bang up to date.
Despite the fat lady finally singing on this hugely successful generation of 911, there isn't any excess weight in the GT2 RS Clubsport. Its stripped-out interior is pure race automobile spec and soaking up the details took some time. The hollowed-out automobilebon fibre doors are so impossibly light that I daren't slam them shut.
Back in reality, Mazda continues excellent design form with the debut of the new Mazda3, which will come as both a five-door hatch and four-door saloon. The exteriors of the two automobiles are so different that only the bonnet and windscreen are shared. For me, it's the hatchback that is the real head-turning design, but Mazda's design team has done an excellent job on the saloon, too. Just as interesting is the introduction of its SkyActiv-X engine. We'll be driving it next spring.
As for the automobile I'd most like to drive home from the show? That would have to be the new Jeep Gladiator pickup. One of the worst-kept secrets In the US automotive world in recent years, the Gladiator delivers Wrangler looks and versatility with a load bay that's large enough to swallow up a pair of enduro bikes. I'll have mine without doors, roof and a windscreen please; this is La La Land after all.