L.A. AUTO SHOW: 2010 Mazda 3, Honda Insight, Touareg TDI, Seinfeld at Boxster/Cayman release and Germans love the word "efficient".

BMW Honda Mazda Porsche Press and News

By Kurt Gensheimer

Here’s the straight poop on what’s happening at the Los Angeles Auto Show…

2010 Mazda MAZDA3

Since its release nearly five years ago, the MAZDA3 has become a global best-seller due to its incredible balance of sportiness, practicality, fuel efficiency and affordability. In fact, one in every three cars Mazda sells worldwide is a MAZDA3. With the 2010 MAZDA3, Mazda yet again expects to raise the standard of what “economy” cars can deliver with more refined ride quality, a more luxurious-yet-sporty interior, attractive exterior styling resembling the RX-8, improved luggage space and new safety features. In addition, the MAZDA3 will offer new features like dual zone climate control, 8-way power seats, push button start and Bluetooth phone and audio; items not normally optioned in an economy car. The 2010 MAZDA3 will carry over the first-gen 2.0L four-cylinder, but will offer a new 2.5L with the company’s innovative new Start Stop technology that should put out between 175-185 horsepower and deliver up to 33 mpg.

Click the link for video of the new 2010 MAZDA3 sedan

BMW ActiveHybrid System

Germans love the word “efficient”. They love to say it, ad nauseaum, ad infinium. It makes them as giddy as first-graders watching Sesame Street. And although German automakers originally dismissed the concept of hybrids, BMW has accepted its popularity with American consumers. They’re highlighting the “efficiency” of hybrids and will be releasing its ActiveHybrid technology in 2009 with the new 7-series and X6. As compared to a traditional combustion engine, the ActiveHybrid system delivers a more…you guessed it…efficient driving experience while reducing fuel consumption by up to 20 percent. ActiveHybrid’s advantage over conventional hybrids comes through combining a turbocharged V8 combustion engine with two high-performance 20 kw electric motors that put out 210 nm torque for greater…efficiency…over a much larger speed range. In addition, it’s two-mode active transmission combine the combustion engine and electric motors in two ranges, delivering power and …efficiency… not seen in traditional hybrids.

Honda Insight

Capitalizing on last year’s release of the FCX Clarity at the L.A. Auto Show, Honda today released the flashy new FC Sport fuel cell sports car concept. Although it attracted a throng of attention, what we were more interested in was the release of the Insight; a hybrid that Honda promises will be more affordable and accessible than any other hybrid on the road. Honda engineers were challenged with delivering a car with top level safety while still putting out maximum fuel efficiency, and of course, still making the driving experience fun; a cornerstone of the Honda brand. To enhance the fun factor, Insight will offer Eco-Assist, an instant and time-based computer that measures the driver’s ability to drive fuel-efficiently, quantifying performance with an “eco-score”. In other words, its like driving a video game. While motorheads see how fast they can run the quarter mile, eco-boobs will be bragging to each other about their new highest eco-score. We can see this video game concept getting out of hand really fast. Another notable feature of the Insight include an Econ button, which remaps the ECU to help the Insight deliver even better fuel efficiency.

Volkswagen Touareg Gets Dirty with Diesel Technology

There’s a difference between dirty diesels and diesels that get dirty, and Volkswagen is making sure the distinction is clear with its 2009 Touareg. To make VW’s flagship diesel SUV clean enough to be legal in all 50 states, the 2009 Touareg will feature urea-injection exhaust in a smaller-yet-powerful 3.0 V6 TDI motor which puts out 240 horsepower and just over 400 lbs.-ft. torque. And to further prove the Touareg’s penchant for dirt, VW and Red Bull unveiled its Baja 1000 Touareg Trophy Truck powered by a clean diesel V-12 that puts out a crushing 550 horsepower and what one Volkswagen executive was quoted as saying “unlimited torque”. Unlimited up to about 625 lbs.-ft, perhaps, but after that, it’s limited. Another impressive and advantageous aspect of running a diesel engine is the Baja Touareg’s capability of running over 400 miles on one tank of fuel.

Seinfeld shows up at Porsche Boxster and Cayman World Premier

There’s nothing more entertaining than watching a German executive making contrived jokes and reading from a teleprompter, except when a guy like Jerry Seinfeld shows up at the world premiere of the 2009 Porsche Boxster and Cayman. Although he cracked no jokes and kept a low profile, some knuckleheads in the back of the room still couldn’t resist the urge to mutter “Hello, Newman.”

Porsche prides itself on its heritage of mid-engine sports cars, and the 1996 release of the Boxster brought new customers to the brand. It’s sales success was astounding, helping Porsche since double the size of the company. And because the largest market in the world for the Boxster and Cayman is Southern California, what better place to launch these two redesigned models.

Although they’re not much different visually than their predecessors, the new Boxster and Cayman will hit U.S. showrooms in March 2009 with more…there’s that word again…efficient engine performance. The 2.9 L will put out 255 horsepower in the base Boxster and 265 in the Cayman, while the S models get a 3.4 L powerplant that delivers 310 horses in the Boxster and 320 in the Cayman. Direct injection coupled with Porsche’s Double Clutch transmission will not only improve acceleration numbers, but also reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 percent. All that performance and efficiency hoopla aside, what we’re most stoked about is the ventilated seats which heat and cool all while ventilating. Finally, Porsche’s figuring out what really matters to customers!

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