Best and worst of the LA Auto Show, or why passion matters

For a gathering of the automotive world within the same smog basin as Hollywood, the Los Angeles Auto Show lacked a lot of star power.




For a gathering of the automotive world within the same smog basin as Hollywood, the Los Angeles Auto Show lacked a lot of star power. The hottest car in Los Angeles -- the new Lamborghini Aventador Spyder -- never made an appearance. Neither did the industry's car of the year, the Tesla Model S, perhaps influenced by the fact that auto shows are organized by auto dealers, which are suing Tesla over its plans to bypass them and sell directly to customers.

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And the show reflected the strange state of the industry; massively profitable, but increasingly passionless, with many models stuck with designs dictated by regulations more than aesthetics. Yet the best were able to stand out and offer a promise of something different, and better. Here are the three new models that impressed us most, and the three that left us cold.


HOT: Ford Fiesta ST [photos]

With cars like the Volkwagen GTI getting larger over the years, a lot of sports compacts aren't, well, compact any more. And since VW stubbornly refuses to release the Polo GTI stateside, Ford is there to fill the B-segment performance niche with the Ford Fiesta ST, following in the already popular footsteps of the Ford Focus ST. A featherweight hatch making nearly 200 hp and getting up to 34 mpg? We don't need Ken Block doing donuts to get excited about that.

COLD: Fiat 500E [photos]

As with the Chevy Spark, Chrysler has to build a Fiat 500E to meet regulations requiring electric vehicles. And as such transformations go, the 500E sports several nice tweaks to stand out from everyday Cinquecentos, albeit with an orange shade not often seen outside running shoes and Donald Trump's mirror. But Chrysler chief Sergio Marchionne has made clear he's no fan of electric cars, and as with the Spark, there's no revolutionary technology under the hood. Among large automakers, only BMW and Nissan have committed to purpose-designed electric cars meant for the mass market. Everyone else is marking time.




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