The fastest and the fittest: Sport cars in Los Angeles (photos)
Although missing some well-known marques, other automakers were willing to pick up the sports car slack at the 2009 LA Auto Show. Porsche, Spyker, and Lotus brought speedy cars with fine coachwork, while Fisker showed off its convertible Sunset prototype, adding a green twist to sport.
Porsche Boxster Spyder
Citing the 1953 550 Spyder as inspiration for the Boxster Spyder, this new model represents Porsche's attempt to look back to its roots. Using the Boxster model as its base, Porsche simplified and lightened the car, bringing it down to 2,811 pounds.
The engine is a 3.5-liter V-6 sourced from Toyota, which Lotus has tweaked and tuned to produce 276 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. For better packaging and weight distribution, the engine is transversely mounted and tipped to the side, making one bank of cylinder almost vertical.
The dashboard uses real polished aluminum, with metal buttons inset, a very nice quality touch. For cabin tech, Lotus uses an Alpine double-DIN navigation head unit. This unit has a removable GPS device.
Spyker, an automaker started up in 2000, just released the second generation of its Aileron coupe and Spyder. These striking cars are designed by company founder Victor Mueller, a lawyer who gained his automotive experience from owning a Le Mans team.
The Aileron is motivated by a 4.2-liter V-8 sourced from Audi, but Spyker uses port injection rather than Audi's direct-injection system. Lotus supplies some suspension elements, and the cars lack stability or traction control, relying on a limited slip differential and tight suspension tuning to keep grip.
The unique look to the shifter was achieved by removing the cover and exposing the linkage. This shifter works a six-speed automatic transmission, a new option for the Aileron. Previous Spyker models have used manual transmissions.
Despite all this old-world coachwork and mechanical suspension design, the Aileron still gets modern technology, such as this iPod connector sticking out of the console. A navigation system and Bluetooth interface is also included.
The hybrid Fisker Karma may not have made it to production yet, but Fisker is already showing off a convertible version in concept form. Like the Karma, the Karma S will use the Q-Drive range-extending serial hybrid system.
The Karma S' hybrid system incorporates two electric drive motors generating 403 horsepower and 959 pound-feet of torque, capable of sending the Karma S to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, and a gas engine generator, giving the car additional range beyond the 50 miles it can manage on batteries alone.
Being an electrically driven car, the middle bar gauge details available range. The right gauge, where a tachometer might normally sit, shows when the car is accelerating and when it is generating electricity for the batteries.