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L.A. Auto Show: Boss Mustang, Camaro Convertible and Subaru BRZ Cars Revealed

Boss 302 Mustang
The new '13 Boss 302 Mustang, with the “hockey stick” retro-graphics package.

2013 Mustang Fires Up Musclecar Wars

Ford displayed a modernized line of Mustangs that feature a new exterior, updated technology and new driver tools for 2013. The '13 Mustang, in all its variations, will go on sale in the spring of 2012. Perhaps most interesting to enthusiasts will be the Boss 302 and 650hp Shelby GT 500.

Drawing considerable attention at the show was '13 Boss 302, which pays homage to the '70 Boss 302 with a hockey stick graphics package. The newest Boss engine yields 444 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque but is designed to deliver a smooth idle and low-end torque for comfortable around-town driving. A race-inspired clutch with upgraded friction materials transmits power, with a short-throw, close-ratio six-speed manual transmission.

Power is delivered to a 3.73-ratio rear axle using carbon-fiber plates in a limited-slip differential to improve handling and longevity. For those who want even more precise control over power delivery, a torque sensing (Torsen) limited-slip differential is available, coupled with Recaro front seats.

Abarth Edition Fiat 500
Olivier Francois, head of Fiat Brand Worldwide and chief marketing officer of Chrysler and Fiat groups, reveals an Abarth Edition of the Fiat 500.  This tuned version offers better handling and 1.4L multi-air engine.  The Abarth is intended to further the Fiat 500’s image as an enthusiast-oriented vehicle.  At the 2011 SEMA Show, the Fiat 500 was named “Hottest Sport Compact” of the Show.

Working to make the Boss the best-handling Mustang ever, an enhanced version of the GT suspension is used, with higher-rate coil springs on all four corners, stiffer suspension bushings and a larger-diameter rear stabilizer bar.  Boss models are lowered by 11 mm in front and 1 mm at the rear versus the Mustang GT. Adjustable shocks and struts will be standard on all Boss Mustangs. Pirelli PZero summer tires are sized specifically for each end of the car, with the front wheels receiving 255/40ZR-19 tires while the rear gets wider 285/35ZR-19 rubber. Brembo four-piston calipers are matched with 14-in. vented rotors up front. In back, standard Mustang GT brakes are upgraded with a Boss-specific high-performance pad compound.

The GT 500 represents another move in the game of one-upmanship in the musclecar world. Carroll Shelby was on hand to give the crowd a wave at pre-show media days, a fitting moment to announce more about the Shelby GT500, described as “the ultimate Ford Mustang with the most powerful production V8 engine in the world.”

Ford says the GT500 will still geared for everyday drivers and track-day enthusiasts alike. The newest Shelby offers 650 hp, top speeds of 200-plus mph, and optimized vehicle systems.

The 5.8L V8 aluminum-block engine produces 650 hp and 600 lb.-ft. of torque. The 3,850-lb. car also stays exempt from the gas-guzzler tax.

The new Shelby GT500 also has new downforce-generating front grilles, an aggressive splitter, a new quad exhaust system and new forged-aluminum wheels.

Subaru BRZ concept
The Subaru BRZ concept is thought to be very close to what will appear in showrooms in May.

Next Up For Subaru: BRZ

Subaru revealed a “concept” called the BRZ, their edition of a car jointly developed with Toyota that will also be offered by Scion. The audience was told that the concept is very close to the actual vehicle as it will appear in Subaru showrooms in May.

The driveline seems to be all Subaru, with their trademark horizontally opposed boxer four-cylinder engine. The engine is a normally aspirated 2.0L.  Brakes are by Brembo, and the suspension is STI-developed. The Scion version of the joint venture will be revealed November 30, and it’s likely that a SEMA Measuring Session will take place in the spring. Subaru/Scion tuners should stay tuned for more information on that subject.

Regardless of how the two companies decide to divvy up the sales and marketing chores, the new BRZ promises to carry on the WRX tradition of seriously-fun, relatively affordable sport-compact cars.  

The Next Defender?

Land Rover unveiled two concept vehicles intended to signal what the company might do about replacing the beloved military-grade Defender 4x4s, which were never adapted to comply with North American federal regulations.

Land Rover Defender
Land Rover’s Defender concept vehicles show a new Defender, due in 2015, that may or may not come to North America.

The two DC100 concepts unveiled were designed to retain essential elements of Defender and allow Land Rover to discuss and inspire dreams of a future Defender. The concepts were designed around 2.0L, four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines with hybrid and plug-in capabilities.

Both concepts feature three-across front seating for increased versatility. The middle seat lifts to reveal a secure stowage area, while the outboard passenger seat can be folded away to increase carrying capacity.

Both interiors feature rugged, durable and sustainable modern materials designed for comfort. Those chosen for the DC100 are the latest in high-tech, tough fabrics that will survive a lifetime of the roughest treatment. In the shorter-wheelbase DC100 Sport, the materials are more luxurious, featuring leather with a subtle Tribal Tech pattern, referencing a legacy of exploration.

What the future holds for Defender fans in North America remains unclear. Land Rover confirmed its global intention to launch a new Defender in 2015, but with no current decision on whether or not the next generation Defender will come to the North American markets.

ZLI Camaro Convertible
Chevrolet Vice President Chris Perry unveils the '12 ZL1 Camaro convertible at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

ZL1 Camaro Convertible

Chevrolet revealed the '12 Camaro ZL1, now available in convertible form. The '12 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Coupe accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 184 mph. Pricing for the coupe starts at $54,995, including Performance Traction Management and Magnetic Ride suspension; pricing for the convertible will be announced later. 

“From the original Camaro to the current Corvette ZR1, Chevrolet has a long history of delivering world-class cars that outperformed competitors at several times the price,” said Chris Perry, vice president, Global Chevrolet Marketing. “The ZL1 is no exception. There are very few cars at any price that can match the power, features and track-capability of the Camaro ZL1.”

Chevrolet spokespeople noted that for the price, which includes the $900 delivery fee, the ZL1 compares favorably to much more expensive cars, such as the Audi R8 GT and Mercedes SLS AMG.

The heart of the Camaro ZL1 is a supercharged 6.2L engine, SAE-rated at 580 hp and 556 lb.-ft. of torque, making it the most-powerful production Camaro ever. The LSA engine features a Roots-style blower with an efficient four-lobe rotor set and compact intercooler.  The ZL1 also features a standard dual-mode exhaust system, with vacuum-actuated valves in the exhaust pipes for a refined exhaust note at low speeds as well as a free-flowing system for peak performance. Power is delivered to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission.