Los Angeles Auto Show 2012: European firms dominate

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Porsche unveiled the Cayman sports car

It comes second to Detroit Moto Show in the American automotive calendar but this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show was dominated by foreign manufactures with Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche and Mercedes, Hyundai and Toyota among the firms unveiling new models.

Click here or view gallery above to see some highlights from the show

The majority of the 50 new models on show at the LA convention centre will not be new to European or British drivers, but among the most important models are the new RAV4 from Japanese carmaker Toyota, the all-new Beetle Cabriolet from VW and the Cayman sports car, which Porsche took the sheets off for the first time.

Most interesting for British drivers (and UK Plc) was the Land Rover Jaguar stand which made a splash with the US premiers of its third-generation Range Rover and its Jaguar F-Type. It also played host to the global premier of the Jaguar XKR-S, its latest and most powerful saloon ever. Both the F-Type and Range Rover have been unveiled before but take on new relevance for the expanding firm in California, which is the biggest and most lucrative car market in the world.

In California, unlike the American market as a whole where the Big Three (GM, Ford and Chrysler) takes 45 per cent of the market, European cars often outnumber US-badged cars, says JLR’s North American President, Andy Goss. “It is a really important market for us and Los Angeles is second only to the New York area for us in terms of Range Rover sales.”

Jaguar has had a tougher time in America with a weaker reputation for reliability a poor choice of engines and a lack of all-wheel drive but the F-Type and XFR-S mark the start of a new offensive, which sees the XJ and XJ models get all-important V6 engines (previously they’d only had the larger V8) and all-wheel drive, a crucial item for American luxury saloon buyers. Ian Callum, the Design Director for Jaguar who created both cars described the XFR-S as “something very special” and “as sporty as a Jaguar saloon can get.” He also suggested that he’d like to give the new F-Type, launching in Spring, a hardcore version to rival the Porsche GT3 high-performance sports car.

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