In keeping with the heightened environmental sensibilities, the Los Angeles Auto Show pitches itself as a showcase for green technology. Manufacturers are more than happy to oblige, rolling out electric cars, hybrids and high-mileage fuel-sippers while Green Car Journal uses the press days as a platform to anoint its Green Car of the Year. And yet, there is another side, one that shows the resiliency of the California love affair with cars, specifically high performance cars. As a counterweight to the EVs and fuel-sippers, the L.A. Show announces that the Pony Car Wars are still raging and that there is indeed a market for $1 million supercars.
Mean: 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible
If you want proof that there is still plenty of life left in the concept of the American pony car, look no further than the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible. The Los Angeles Show is the official kick-off for the coupe and drop-top versions of this icon, and the pumped-up Camaro boasts 580 bhp from its supercharged 6.2-liter V-8. With pavement-scorching acceleration of 0–60 mph in 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 184 mph, this ZL1 is the most powerful Camaro ever. And even though its offers supercar levels of performance, price of the coupe starts at $54,995.
Green: 2013 Honda Fit EV
For American Honda, the Los Angeles show is its opportunity to showcase its first pure electric vehicle, the 2013 Honda Fit EV, which will go on sale next year. The car promises about 100 miles of range, a top speed of 90 mph, and a recharge time of 12 hours on a standard 110-volt outlet, while 240 volts cuts that time in half. Other than its electric drive, the car is identical to the standard Honda Fit 5-door hatchback.
Mean: 2012 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible
The horsepower wars aren't confined to the traditional domestic manufacturers as Jaguar checks into the show with its own high-powered convertible that offers the same levels of performance as the Camaro ZL1. The 2012 Jaguar XKR-S Convertible is also supercharged and its 5.0-liter V-8 pumps out 550 bhp and 502 lb.-ft. of torque, which enables the car to sprint to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and gives this droptop cat a top speed of 186 mph. Only 25 copies of this car will be sold in the U.S., with a sticker price of $138,000.
Green: BMW i3 and i8
While both these alternative fuel vehicles made their debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show earlier this year, the Los Angeles show marks the first stateside showing of this new family of vehicles from the Bavarian automaker. Known as the Megacity vehicle, the new BMW i3 is a pure electric hatchback designed to be an urban runabout. Its single, rear axle-mounted 170-hp electric motor propels the car to 62 mph in under 8 sec. The i3 features a lightweight carbon body mated to an aluminum frame.
The more sporting BMW i8 is a plug-in hybrid that uses the 170-hp electric motor from the i3 positioned over its front axle, while a 3-cylinder engine making 220 bhp is positioned over the rear axle. The combined power of the two enable the i8 to accelerate to 62 mph in less than 5 seconds. This futuristic 2+2 sports coupe can also travel up to 20 miles in pure electric mode between charges.
Mean: 2012 Ford Shelby GT500
Not to be outdone by its cross-town rivals, Ford rolled out its mildly facelifted lineup of 2013 Mustangs including its halo car, the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500.
Like the ZL1 Camaro, which offers Corvette levels of performance, the GT500 offers the Ford GT-like output from its supercharged 5.8-liter V-8. On tap is a whopping 650 bhp and Ford promises a top speed of over 200 mph. In addition to the massive bump in output, the car is equipped with an adaptive suspension, aggressive aerodynamic aids, upgraded brakes and revised gearing that enable the car to reach top speed. Meanwhile, the standard Mustangs have also been upgraded to where the base car's 5.0-liter V-8 now makes 420 bhp, while the Boss 302's output remains at 444 bhp.
Green: 2013 Chevrolet Spark
Being green isn't just about being electric or hybrid, it's about being efficient. On that note, the 2013 Chevrolet Spark bowed in Los Angeles as the division's entry into the city car market represented by the Honda Fit and Scion iQ. The Korean-built hatchback is powered by an 85-bhp 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine that promises to hit the 40 mpg highway benchmark set by others in the class. As did Honda with the Fit, Chevrolet plans to use the Spark as the basis for a full-electric city car within the next year.
Mean: Aston Martin One-77
Taking its cue from the notion that nothing succeeds like excess, the Aston Martin One-77 will be shown at the Los Angeles Show more to attract attention than potential buyers. Only 77 of these 750-bhp 7.3-liter V-12 supercars will be built and virtually all of them are spoken for. This particular car is a test vehicle from the factory fleet and as a result, is showing a bit of wear from its road miles. With a sticker price of somewhere between $1.5–$2 million (the factory is tight-lipped on the actual costs since if have to ask, you can't afford one), the One-77 is a rare bird indeed. It's not every day you get to see a 200-mph supercar in the flesh—well, at least in downtown L.A.
Green: Car of the Year Contenders
The five finalists for Green Car Journal's Green Car of the Year couldn't be more disparate. At one end of the scale is the diminutive Mitsubishi i EV while the other extreme is the nearly full-size 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI, with its fuel-efficient turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel. In between are the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, the 2012 Toyota Prius V hybrid and the 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas.
Mean: 2012 Dodge Challenger Stinger/2012 Dodge Charger Super Bee
Taking a page from its fabled muscle car history, Dodge is dusting off the Super Bee name and introducing a new Stinger package for its respective Charger and Challenger SRT8 offerings. The 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Stinger is equipped with a 6.4-liter 392 Hemi V-8 that makes 470 bhp and 470 lb.-ft. of torque, enabling 0–60 mph acceleration of less than 5.0 sec. Available only in Stinger Yellow, the Challenger features a unique graphic treatment, 20-in. wheels, a 3-spoke sport steering wheel and on automatic equipped cars, paddle shifters. The 2012 Dodge Charger Super Bee is also available in Stinger Yellow or can be had in Pitch Black with yellow accents. It too comes with 20-in. wheels, 3-spoke steering wheel and paddle shifters with its automatic. The Charger is also equipped with the 6.4-liter 392 Hemi making 470 bhp.