2016 Los Angeles Auto Show Recap

By Clint Simone

The 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show took on a new role this year as “AutoMobility LA”—a re-focused show with technology and mobility at the core of its purpose. Building on this change in format, several OEMs launched new and updated vehicles looking toward the future with technological and performance advancements.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

alpha romeo
Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Alfa Romeo unveiled the all-new Stelvio SUV, its third new vehicle since making a return to the U.S. market. The Stelvio follows the 4C Coupe/Spider and the Giulia mid-size sedan. The SUV is named after the famed Stelvio Pass—widely considered to be the best driving road in the world. Taking cues from Alfa’s extensive and historical racing heritage, the Stelvio competes directly with Porsche, Audi and Mercedes in the high-performance SUV category.

Three trim levels will be available on the Stelvio, including two that use a 2.0L turbocharged engine. Both the base trim and Ti model make a class-leading 280 hp from the four-cylinder, providing a top speed of 144 mph.

However, the crown jewel of the Stelvio lineup is the Quadrifoglio—a 505-hp monster that can achieve a zero to 60 time of 3.9 seconds, the first SUV to do so. The Quadrifoglio, in addition to the other two trim levels, will each feature the Q4 all-wheel-drive system adding to the vehicle’s performance and handling abilities.

The Stelvio enters an incredibly crowded market segment, with vehicles such as the Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC already selling in massive quantities. Market saturation aside, the Stelvio is certainly the most important vehicle for Alfa Romeo’s return to the United States, as the compact SUV segment is currently a hot market.

Nissan Sentra NISMO

nissan sentra
Nissan Sentra NISMO

The new, first-ever Sentra NISMO is the first mainstream U.S. Nissan model to offer motorsports-inspired NISMO factory-tuned performance. The NISMO version includes an aggressive exterior treatment, performance-oriented interior, stiffened body structure, unique suspension tuning and an advanced turbocharged engine.

The Sentra NISMO is powered by a new 1.6L Direct Injection Gasoline (DIG) turbocharged engine. Rated at 188 hp at 5,600 RPM and 177 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,600–5,200 RPM, the 16-valve DOHC aluminum-alloy inline four-cylinder engine includes a 10.5:1 compression ratio, Continuously Variable Valve Timing Control System (CVTCS), spray-coated and mirror-finish cylinder bores, a variable pressure oil pump and a low-pressure EGR system, which helps lower exhaust gas temperature and improve knock sensitivity.

The DIG system helps improve combustion, enhancing power, torque, economy and emissions, while the use of the turbocharger and intercooler helps boost power. The variable timing control for both intake and exhaust cycles improves low-end engine response.

The engine is matched with choice of a six-speed manual transmission, with gear ratios selected to take maximum advantage of the engine’s powerband and torque curve, or an advanced, tuned Xtronic transmission. For buyers choosing the Xtronic transmission, it has been specially tuned to match the engine’s performance.

The NISMO-tuned independent strut front/rear torsion beam suspension is enhanced via lightweight monotube rear dampers and unique tuning of the front springs and struts. The lightweight monotube shocks feature separate oil and gas chambers and a high-pressure gas charge to help provide quicker response to damper stroke and velocity changes. NISMO tuning of the springs and struts improves roll and pitch for higher-demand cornering. By utilizing NISMO 18-in. aluminum-alloy wheels mounted with newly developed 215/45ZR18 Michelin Pilot Sport all-season tires, cornering power and grip levels are improved, even over the new Sentra SR Turbo. Ride height has been reduced by 0.40 in. The Sentra NISMO utilizes a four-wheel disc brake system with 11.7-in. vent front discs and 11.5-in. solid rear discs.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

chevy colorado
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

The Chevrolet Colorado is already a big player in the mid-size truck market, offering notable diesel/gasoline and cab options. Looking to make major strides in off-road ability, Chevrolet just unveiled the Colorado ZR2.

Using the base Colorado as a platform, the ZR2 adds off-road capability with a much wider track and lifted suspension.

Functional rockers have also been added to better performance over rocks and other obstacles. Both front and rear bumpers have also been modified to increase ground clearance.

Additionally, front and rear electronic locking differentials, available diesel engine and Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) damper technology are part of the ZR2’s package.

Chevrolet is betting on this specialty truck to be a standout in a segment that includes tough competitors, such as the Toyota Tacoma.

Honda Civic Si

Honda Civic Si
Honda Civic Si

The ’17 Honda Civic Type-R recently made its North American debut at the 2016 SEMA Show. Another important car in the Honda performance lineup, the Civic Si, made its first appearance this week at the LA Auto Show.

Honda did not give an official power figure, but was quick to mention that this will be the most powerful, most capable Civic Si to date. Additional new features, such as active steering, active suspension, limited-slip differential and high-performance tires, will be included in the new Si. Perhaps most importantly to enthusiasts, all Si models will feature a short-shifting six-speed manual transmission.

The Si will be available in both coupe and sedan form, joining the 10th-generation Civic lineup in 2017.


Mazda CX-5

Mazda’s big news at the L.A. Auto Show was the clean-diesel option for the new CX-5 crossover SUV—the SKYACTIV-D 2.2, which is the company’s first diesel engine model for the North American market.

mazda cx5
Mazda CX-5 (Photo courtesy of Mazda)

The SKYACTIV-D 2.2 was designed to combine a torque-rich driving experience and high fuel efficiency. The engine also adopted Natural Sound Smoother and Natural Sound Frequency Control, proprietary technologies that reduce diesel knock sound for an overall quieter sound.

Another priority is passenger comfort. With a quiet cabin and pleasant ride feel, the CX-5 adopted G-Vectoring Control, the first of the SKYACTIV-VEHICLE DYNAMICS vehicle motion control technologies. The body color lineup includes the newly developed Soul Red Crystal, intended to highlight Mazda’s KODO design.

A lower center of gravity and 10mm wider front and rear tread give the new CX-5 proportions that convey a more powerful stance. The A-pillars are repositioned approximately 35mm rearward compared to the previous model, and the relative positions of the front axle and A-pillars are optimized.

The fully redesigned model will be launched in Japan in February before its roll out to global markets. It will be available in North America beginning the second half of 2017.