Saturday, January 08, 2005

L.A. Autoshow: First Impressions

The Autoshow was quite similar to the previous L.A. autoshows I've been to. It wasn't too crowded, I think the fact that I went on a weekday, and that there was a Laker game on at the same time meant a smaller turnout.

One of things I like to notice is what car marques draw the most interest. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Mini all were crowded. Cadillac had a decent amount. So did Toyota, and Scion. Infiniti, Saab, Suzuki, Isuzu, all were pretty empty. So was Mercury. Infiniti was a surprise, especially considering how many can be seen on Los Angeles roads. I think if a company doesn't have a big new car showing, people aren't going to come.

Of all the new cars making their first American appearances, only one, the VW Jetta, was open to people to sit in. That's unfortunate. The fifth generation Jetta is a tad bit of a disappointment, but the interior borrows some Audi parts, which is always a good thing. The car doesn't seem as well put together from a design standpoint as the current Jetta, but I think it will sell well, if it is priced well. I also learned that a diesel version will be available eventually, just not when the car is first released. Still one of the better quality small cars being sold.

When I went to the Chevrolet exhibit, I wanted to sit in a Corvette, and I wanted to see the new Cobalt. When I sit in cars at an autoshow, I think one of the biggest things I take into account is seat comfort. I have a bad back, like many human beings, because the human spinal cord is not designed well for upright walking. I'm six feet tall, 185 lbs, so I'm about average American male weight and height, perhaps a little below average in weight. The Cobalt is a HUGE step forward for GM. It is the best quality small car they have ever produced. It's not up to the par of any of Scion's offerings, but it easily competes with the current Civic, Sentra, and Corolla. The Civic though is on its way out, but it's good to see that GM is now current in the competition, and not a couple generations behind. I also sat in the Aveo, which was a very decent cheap small car. Competently done, and if they improved the mileage just a tad, would be a real winner.

The Corvette, a car I regularly dream about, is the lowest to the ground sports car below 80 grand in price. The seats are surprisingly comfortable though, but getting into the car is a challenge. You fall in. The interior is decent, and the best interior on a Corvette since the third generation in the sixties and seventies. Though that's not saying much.

Unfortunately I ignored most of the truck offerings. I'm not a truck person, admittedly, but I wish I had seen the new Pontiac Torrent for its interior. I don't think Pontiac deserves a truck, but this proves that GM can make quality SUV interiors. I couldn't sit in the G6 coupe or converible, because they were introductions, but from what I've read about the G6, the fact that it is a six speed manual, and ok aesthetically makes it interesting. The exterior of the G6 still seems like an Accord copy to me, and the fact that the Accord coupe and G6 coupe are almost identical in the exterior is a little disappointing. I guess Lutz is hoping that a cheaper price will make the choice easy. Pontiac is improving, but it still has a way to go.

More later...

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