The BMW i8 Roadster will arrive in SA in March 2018 with the updated coupe.   Picture: NEWSPRESS USA
The BMW i8 Roadster will arrive in SA in March 2018 with the updated coupe. Picture: NEWSPRESS USA

The Los Angeles Auto Show is the final show for the year, but that did not stop vehicle manufacturers hauling out their latest wares.

Subaru unveiled its seven-seater SUV, the Ascent, which essentially replaces the company’s now long defunct Tribeca. The Ascent will be the Japanese marque’s SUV charge in the US market, where Volkswagen will also be playing in that space with its Atlas.

Based on the Subaru Viziv-7 shown last year, it will sit above the Forester and Outback in the range. There is currently no news on what engines the model will use, but there is a rumour that it will likely have a 2.4l, four-pot turbo petrol boxer engine. At this point the model is under consideration for SA and it will be interesting to see where it is priced relative to the competition should it be made available here.

Subaru’s Ascent seven-seater is under consideration for the local market.   Picture: NEWSPRESS USA
Subaru’s Ascent seven-seater is under consideration for the local market. Picture: NEWSPRESS USA

Lexus has unveiled the RX-L, essentially a longer version of the current model that can seat seven people. This will be introduced in SA in the first quarter of 2018 and you can expect it to have engines mirroring its regular sibling, which means a 3.5l V6 petrol for the RX-L350 and a similar engine paired with a hybrid system for the RX-L450h. It makes sense for the Lexus brand to offer that much versatility in this segment, where seven seats will make it more appealing to a larger family.

The Lexus RX-L with its seven seats will arrive in SA in the first quarter of 2018.   Picture: NEWSPRESS USA
The Lexus RX-L with its seven seats will arrive in SA in the first quarter of 2018. Picture: NEWSPRESS USA

While I was in Portugal last week to drive the latest BMW M5, which you can read about elsewhere in this issue, the company was also pulling the covers off its i8 Roadster. We have been waiting for the production version of the model, which also coincides with the updated coupe variant that will be introduced in SA in the second quarter of 2018. The Roadster will offer a soft-top to keep the weight down, while it will retain the upward swinging doors of its hard-top sibling. You can expect to pay a premium over the coupe, but then you will be getting a different driving sensation.

Lifestyle SUV

Toyota has unveiled its FT-AC (Future Toyota Adventure Concept) SUV, which is a concept hinting at the future of the company adventure and lifestyle SUV. There are roof racks, a retractable bicycle rack, wheel arch claddings and huge 20-inch off-road tyres.

"FT-AC is perfect for those outdoor enthusiasts who want to dial up the adventure on their weekend getaways," says Jack Hollis, group vice-president and GM, Toyota division in North America. "No matter the roads, the activities or the people, FT-AC sparks authentic fun and conversation."

Although currently a design experiment, FT-AC has been imagined as a thoroughly capable gasoline powered vehicle with an advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system. This enables power to be routed as needed for controllability and maximum traction. Variable terrain response settings and four-wheel lock functionality are set to manage traction control and throttle response to maximise grip at each wheel.

The company says the model, should it make it into production, will likely be powered by a petrol engine, while a hybrid model could be a consideration.

Toyota’s FT-AC concept shows it hasn’t given up on the Tonka toy fun factor.   Picture: NEWSPRESS USA
Toyota’s FT-AC concept shows it hasn’t given up on the Tonka toy fun factor. Picture: NEWSPRESS USA

The Kia Sorento facelift, which was first shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show, will make its way to SA in the third quarter of 2018. Offering LED head and tail lights and a spruced up cabin, the model remains one of the most underrated on the market.

It will still feature petrol and diesel engines similar to those of the current model, but with refinement and efficiency dialled in. For the most part the 2.2 turbodiesel will be the one to go for, although there are rumours that a 1.7 turbodiesel will also be introduced as the cheaper oil-burner version.

Kia will launch the updated Sorento in the third quarter of 2018.    Picture: NEWSPRESS USA
Kia will launch the updated Sorento in the third quarter of 2018. Picture: NEWSPRESS USA

The cabin will feature an eight-inch infotainment screen with Apple Carplay and Android Auto applications, while there will also be a GT-Line model with all the bells and whistles, much like the Sportage variant. This updated model will move things even further upmarket when it arrives here next year.

The LA show is again proving a popular event among manufacturers to showcase their latest concept and production cars, many of which will be made available in SA, so there is much to look forward to in 2018.

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