California is widely known for its influence on car culture. With over 37 million residents, California ranks higher than many countries in terms of annual automotive purchases. Whereas the LA Auto Show was once just another mid-sized auto show, over the last few years it joined the ranks amongst the big three shows. And many argue that the LA Auto Show is the most important show for all but domestic manufacturers.

This past week we made the trip out to the show for press days and we are excited to give you a glimpse at the highlights. While we were sure to checkout all vehicles on display, our main goal was to see what our brands had to offer.

We will be piecing together our video footage shortly for each of our brands, but in the meantime we’ve put together the synopsis below to tide you over.

 

Bentley

Bentley GT3 Coupe and 2014 GT Speed

 

Undoubtedly, the most noticeable vehicle at Bentley was the new GT3 concept. The Bentley GT3 Coupe and 2014 GT Speed made their North American debut at the Los Angeles Auto show. The GT3 racecar, first revealed at the Paris Auto Show, marks Bentley’s return to competitive GT sport car racing. While the car is still considered a concept, it is currently undergoing testing with the goal of participated in motorsports events towards the end of 2013.

One thing we do know is that the GT3 coupe is loosely based on the new 2014 Bentley GT Speed, which also debuted at the show. The 205 mpg GT Speed is Bentley’s fastest car ever. The reworked bi-turbo 6.0l W12 that propels it generates 616hp and reaches 60 miles per hour in 4 seconds. Bentley reports that the GT Speed can sprint from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds and I have no reason to doubt them. The GT Speed rolls on unique 21 inch wheels, which accompanied with the 10mm decrease in ride height, really make the GTSpeed pop. Stiffened springs and anti-roll bars reportedly sharpen handling and massive 16.5 inch carbon brakes with 8-piston calipers provide substantial stopping power.

Bentley also displayed the latest Mulliner driving specification on the Mulsanne, but the two GT models certainly garnered the most attention.

 

Ford

2014 Ford Fiesta

 

This year Ford’s emphasis was on the Fiesta. For 2014 the Fiesta gets a mild refresh, but the biggest news was what is to come under the hood. At the show, amidst much pomp and circumstance including a live outdoor Ken Block Gymkhana show, Ford confirmed that their 1.0 liter Ecoboost engine will join the Fiesta lineup. Ford expects the Ecoboost Fiesta to be the most fuel efficient non-hybrid vehicle on the market in the US. Despite exceeding the current 1.6 liter engines horsepower and torque figures, the 1.0liter turbocharged 3-cylinder is expected to deliver fuel economy in the neighborhood of 45 miles per gallon. This makes the Fiesta a legitimate competitor to more expensive, fuel sipping hybrids.

Ford also announced the addition of an ST model to the Fiesta range. The Fiesta ST massages the 1.6 liter Ecoboost engine to generate 197 horsepower and 214 lb./ft. of torque. Despite the cars elevated levels of performance, it is still projected to return up to 34 miles per gallon. This of course assumes that you’re not constantly flooring the loud pedal.

Overshadowed by all of the Fiesta fan-fare, Ford also debuted the new Transit Connect 7-seat van.

Kia

2014 Kia Forte

 

Kia took the wraps off of two new production cars at the show, as well as two DC Comic inspired concepts. With the 2014 Forte, Kia has an opportunity to increase market share. Besides its sharp new styling, the new Forte is longer, lower and wider than the previous model. Coupled with a wheelbase that is 2-inches longer, the Forte offers noticeably more interior volume. Under the hood, the Forte has an economy focused 1.8 liter engine generating 148 hp and mated to a standard manual transmission. An optional 2.0 liter 4-cylinder creating 173hp provides extra oomph for performance minded drivers. While it will be available in early 2013, Kia has not yet published official pricing.

The 2014 Kia Sorento made its North American debut at the LA Auto Show. Kia took this refresh seriously. On top of modest changes to the exterior styling, the Sorento benefits from interior and engine compartment improvements, The Sorento is the first Kia to offer their UVO eservices feature that amongst other things, allows parents to create custom profiles for their children and provides warnings if they travel into restricted territories. Other new tech features include a blind spot monitoring system and power rear tailgate. With now standard electric power steering, the 2014 Sorento offers Kia’s Flexsteer system that offers three different levels of steering weighting. While the Sorento continues to offer 4 and 6 cylinder engines, both have seen updates including direct injection. Another first for the Sorento is the new “Limited” trim level. This higher-end trim includes self leveling HID headlights, 19 inch wheels, red brake calipers, Napa leather interior, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, plus more.

 

Hyundai

 Veloster C3 Roll-top concept

 

Arguably one of the most upbeat press conferences, Hyundai integrated live spray painting, a live 5 piece band and a unique conceptual twist on a popular model.

In terms of overall Hyundai wow factor, the Veloster C3 Roll-top concept vehicle won hands down. This twist on the Veloster Turbo combines open-air freedom with the style of a coupe and the functionality of a tailgate. When the sliding ragtop is opened and coupled with the unique hatchback, extra space is created for larger items such as the fixie bike Hyundai showcased. While it is only a concept not slated for production, I would not be surprised to see elements of the C3 Roll top in future Velosters.

On the heels of the Santa Fe Sport, Hyundai unveiled the all-new 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe. Offering a longer wheelbase and seating for six or seven, the Santa Fe is a great transition for growing families. Seven-passenger models feature a 40-20-40 folding second-row seat that offers cargo carrying flexibility. The third-row seat features a 50-50 split folding design. The vehicle offers a myriad of dynamic safety features that ensure safe passage regardless of where you are going. Some of these features includes a driver-selectable steering mode, Active Cornering Control all-wheel drive, Hill start Assist Control, Downhill Brake Control, and Vehicle Stability Management, which utilizes the vehicle’s electronic stability control system and the electric power steering to counteract instability on split-traction (slippery/dry) surfaces.

 

Lincoln

Lincoln Vintage Lincoln Fleet

 

Auto shows typically focus on what is new and fresh, but Lincoln opted to showcase vintage models entirely on the first press day. In fact, until press day number no modern era Lincolns even hit the floor. Highlights of the vintage Lincoln fleet included a car once special ordered for Elizabeth Taylor. When the new models rolled out on day two the focus was entirely on the new MKZ. The MKZ, takes the place of the Zephyr, and is a refreshing improvement on the car it replaces. Lincoln overhauled the car from top to bottom and without a doubt the most striking change is the cars appearance. The sophisticated MKZ, which shares the same platform as the Fusion, brings an added level of sophistication to the interior. With features such as active noise control, Lincoln drive control and push button shifting the MKZ proudly elevates itself above the car it replaces. The car is available with three power plant options including a 2.0 liter Ecoboost four cylinder, a 3.7 liter V6 and a gasoline-electric hybrid. The MKZ prices out competitively with its rivals, with a base price of $36,900.

 

Mazda

Mazda6

 

The big news for Mazda was the North American debut of the brand new Mazda6. Having commercially evolved from the Shinari concept vehicle, the new 6 reiterates Mazda’s commitment to the segment and to increasing vehicle efficiency via Skyactiv technology. As many had previously speculated, the Mazda6 will be the first Mazda available with the new Skyactiv-D engine. This 2.2 liter turbocharged diesel will be available in the second half of 2013, while the Skyactiv 2.5 liter four cylinder will be available when cars arrive on US shores later this month.

In addition to the Mazda6 debut, Mazda used the show to announce details of its motorsports plans. Mazda will be fielding a diesel powered Mazda6 at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in January. Based on the production Skyactiv-D, power was bumped to 400 horsepower in the racecar. The impressive part is that the race engine utilized approximately 60% of the stock components found in the production engine.

 

Nissan

Nissan Hi-Cross Hybrid Concept

 

The highlight for Nissan was the Hi-Cross Hybrid Concept. This concept vehicle hints at Nissan’s future design direction for crossover vehicles. The Hi-Cross is a hybrid model that couples a 2.0 liter gasoline direct injected engine with an electric motor powered by a lithium ion battery similar to what’s found in the Leaf. Illustrating Nissan’s commitment to continuously variable transmissions, the Hi-Cross utilizes their next generation xtronic CVT.

The Hi-Cross interior offers practicality not typically seen in concept vehicles. General Manager and vice president for Nissan US operations, Al Castignetti notes that the Hi-Cross “displays a more realistic view of what crossover customers are looking for in the real world – style plus efficiency, clever but practical features and an enhanced driving experience. While there are no official plans to produce the hi-cross concept, it certainly hints at what we’ll see from Nissan in the near future.

 

Subaru

2014 Subaru Forester

 

Subaru is debuted the all new 2014 Forester at the LA Show. According to Subaru, The all-new five-passenger 2014 Forester preserves the optimal blend of SUV capability and car-like ride and handling that have made the Forester one of the Subaru brand’s best-selling models for the past 15 years. Available with either a 2.5 liter naturally aspirated 4-cylinder with 170 hp, or a 2.0 liter turbocharged and direct injected 4-cylinder with 250 hp, the 2014 Forester is truly a compelling offering. Subaru reports that fuel economy will increase with new model, due in part to increased engine efficiency, as well as the introduction of two new transmissions. The design stays consistent with past Foresters, but brings a new level of refinement to the model. Living up to Subaru’s reputation for road handling prowess in all weather conditions, the 2014 Forester integrates new suspension with 8.7 inches of ground clearance and of course, their legendary symmetrical all wheel drive system.