New York Times contributor blogs about cars and other interesting ways of getting around.
Los Angeles Auto Show preview: Hot hatches, hybrids and electric vehicles
GREENING THE SHOW: Lexus' LF-Ch is a hot compact that will be available in a hybrid version.
Lexus LF-Ch. This is the year of weird car names. The Lexus is a welcome fuel-efficient compact (with a hybrid variant) that will actually go into production. Aimed at European cars such as the BMW 1-Series, Mercedes B-Class and the Audi A3, it’s an attractive hatchback that, alas, might not be sold in the U.S. The show car sports hybrid badges, and a lot of “hot hatch” performance cues. The hybrid supposedly will have electric-only capabilities, but that doesn’t make it a plug-in hybrid.
Volkswagen L1. This two-seater car (with the passenger behind the driver) beats the 70-mpg Polo BlueMotion hands-down: 170 mpg is claimed from a tiny 800-cc diesel engine mated to an electric motor and a seven-speed transmission. To get that mileage, the vehicle better be very light, and the L1 (with a carbon-fiber body) weighs only 838 pounds. It’s also extremely aerodynamic, with a drag coefficient far more slippery than any production car: just 0.195. Again, VW says it’s ultimately headed for showrooms (“near-production,” is what they say), though it may shed such big expenses as the carbon-fiber skin.
Honda P-Nut Coupe. Love the name, and I wish I could say I love the car, too, but all I know is that it emerged from Honda’s Advanced Design Studio in Los Angeles and is “a futuristic concept for an ultra-compact, aggressively designed coupe.” The concept is said to be more about smart packaging for a very small urban commuter car than any powertrain innovation. Honda’s headline says, “Futuristic design study demonstrates potential of ultra-compact, city-focused vehicle.” And P-Nut stands for “Personal-Neo Urban Transport.” The car will be revealed tomorrow, though, so I’ll let you know.
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