Big concepts and little gems dominate at the Tokyo and LA motor shows
Two motor shows on opposite shores of the Pacific are vying for the limelight, but major new product is in short supply
Mercedes Benz’s concept vehicle MG AMG Vision Grand Tourism - a striking eyeful at the LA show
Jaguar’s new F Type coupé
The new Mini on display at the LA show. It featured on either side of the Pacific.
Honda’s fuel celle FCEV concept at the LA show.
The Ford Edge concept
Two major motor shows on opposing sides of the Pacific ocean, with their big press reveal days on the same day? Someone in the international motor show planning office (that’s a thing, right?) clearly forgot either to carry the one or allow for the international dateline. Still, it gives us the chance to talk about lots of new production and concept cars, all of which have rather different flavours thanks to their appearances in two very different nations.
Not surprisingly, it is the Jaguar F-Type Coupe and Porsche Macan that have jointly been grabbing most of the headlines. Jaguar’s new sports car has been a runaway critical and commercial success since it was launched earlier this year, but the new hard-top version adds to it some rather new dimensions. For a start it’s significantly cheaper.
Much was spoken of what seemed an over-inflated price for the convertible Roadster version, which seemed to pitch it way above the level of its most natural rival, the Porsche Boxster S, and close to the mighty 911. The Coupe goes a long way to sorting that problem. The most affordable version, which uses Jaguar’s 340bhp supercharged V6 engine, costs £50,000 in the UK which puts it into direct contention with the Porsche Cayman S. Secondly, there’s now an even harder edged model using the 550bhp supercharged V8 engine from the XFR-S saloon. Considering how quickly that engine pushes the heavy, steel-bodied XF along, it should be close to unbearably fast in the lithe, aluminium F-Type R.
The Macan we’ve covered more extensively elsewhere but it’s worth mentioning again here that it’s a hugely significant car for Porsche. Its bigger brother, the Cayenne, has sold in such numbers that for a time it was effectively bankrolling Porsche. The Macan, which should come close to doubling Porsche’s annual sales volumes, could yet be the most successful car of all time to wear the Zuffenhausen badge.
Speaking of SUVs, Ford took the opportunity of the LA show to present a concept version of the next-generation Edge. Now, we haven’t had the current Edge on this side of the Atlantic but we will definitely get the second generation one this concept previews.
The Edge has been something of a major success for Ford, stateside, and while a big SUV seems hardly the sort of thing to be launching but Ford says that, increasingly, affluent European buyers are calmouring for just this sort of high-spec, high-utility car. So the new Edge will come to Europe, the UK and Ireland, with right hand drive. Ford isn’t talking about specific engine options yet, but it is demonstrating a clever new Active Radiator Flap system, which makes that big, brash grille a technical item as well as a design statement.
Bridging both events in a pretty impressive feat of marketing management is the global public unveiling of the latest generation Mini hatchback. The benchmark for the brand this evolutionary restyling heralds the onset of a revamp of its entire model line-up, from Countryman to Roadster and the like. Aside from the external changes, the big news is the car’s platform which will form the basis for future small car models from BMW. Given that it’s front wheel-drive it will also represent a major - if well-signalled - change in the firm’s devotion to the rear-wheel drive format.