Not so la-la land: LA motor show stars revealed, CAR+ January 2016

Published: 15 December 2015

► We take a look at the 2015 LA motor show stars
► No concepts here, these are production-ready
► Mercedes, Cadillac, VW and Infiniti vie for show honours  

Infiniti QX30

Is this the way to win brand recognition? Following swiftly on from the Infiniti Q30 hatchback, this is the Infiniti QX30 hatchback-on-stilts. Both apparently have an affinity for the colour brown, both are based on the Mercedes A-class platform, and both will be built at the Infiniti arm of Nissan’s facility in Sunderland.  However, only the QX30 gets black plastic bodywork spats and fake skid-plate technology. It’s not all show, though, as the crossover also features four-wheel drive and the as yet unspecified increase in height. Infiniti is promising high levels of refinement, and says that despite control-enhancing stiffer suspension it will retain a comfortable ride. On sale next summer, for circa £28,000.

Need to know 

What it is: Re-engineered Mercedes GLA with added badge confusion  
Engines: Unconfirmed but expect 1.6 and 2.0 petrol and diesel 
Aimed at: Luxury seekers with an adventurous streak 
On sale: Summer 2016, from £28k (tbc)

Taking the fight to the Ferrari California. In SL65 form you get a staggering 621bhp

Mercedes-Benz SL

’Tis the season to make tenuous Star Wars references, so could this be the moment the Mercedes empire strikes back against that rebel upstart, the Ferrari California T? In the battle of the boulevard cruisers, the Fezza’s trick turbocharging has been helping its conquest buyers feel the force; now, behind that overhauled schnoz, even the entry SL400 V6 packs 362bhp (an increase of 34bhp), the SL500 V8 449bhp, and both get a new nine-speed automatic; SL63 and SL65 AMGs crank out 577bhp and 621bhp, respectively. Then the S-class Coupe’s curve tilting function joins the fray to help the SL maintain maximum composure, while the roof now operates at up to 25mph to help owners achieve maximum exposure.

Need to know

What it is: Mid-life facelift for the Mercedes SL  
Engines: 3.0 V6, 4.7 V8, 5.5 V8, 6.0 V12  
Aimed at: New Active Body Control targets more dynamic clientele; we fear this is not the roadster they are looking for  
On sale: April 2016, prices from £75,000 (tbc)

Jacked Beetle hits the market

Volkswagen Beetle Dune

If you really want to make an impression at the next meeting of the local green lane appreciation society, forget the Infiniti and rock up in one of these. Yes, VW has finally done what it’s been threatening since the turn of the century, and put a jacked-up Beetle Dune into production. Clearly all those emissions-cheating savings have been put to good use. Supposedly influenced by the Baja Bugs of days of yore (aka, the 1960s), the new Dune also appears to be channelling a touch of early 911 Turbo, what with the tea-tray rear wing and 18-inch alloys. No danger of four-wheel drive here, but you can have a convertible version. Perfect for making those Evoque drop-top buyers look po-faced. Or something.

Need to know

What it is: A Beetle with altitude. And possibly attitude 
Engines: 104-217bhp turbo petrols, 109-148bhp turbodiesels 
Aimed at: Err, you’ve got us there 
On sale: UK prospects still being evaluated, but best prepare for small numbers mid-2016

Cadillac fancies turning it's hand at a Q5/GLE competitor

Cadillac XT5

First in a brand new range of XT-labelled Cadillac SUVs that will eventually number four separate models, the ‘Crossover Touring 5’ plans to give the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLE the hard stare in the fast-growing premium soft-roader segment. An all-new platform not only helps it weigh 126kg less than the SRX it replaces but undercut Q5 by 45kg and GLE by 295kg, supporting Cadillac’s claim of ‘superb driving dynamics’. We’d scoff if it wasn’t for the recent, well-sorted ‘V’ high-performance models. Tech includes Apple CarPlay, cylinder deactivation on the 310bhp V6 and a camera-enhanced rear-view mirror. A fine choice to lead Cadillac’s UK return, should this ever happen...

Need to know

What it is: Harbinger of a new sporting Cadillac SUV dynasty 
Engines: 3.6 V6 (USA), 2.0T (China) 
Aimed at: The Audi Q5, fans of chrome wheels, lovers of plasticky leather 
On sale: US and Chinese production begins in spring 2016

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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