OC Auto Show 2015

This past weekend, I was able to attend the OC Auto Show. This was my first time attending the event at the Anaheim Convention Center. I was a little let down by the relatively small size of the show compared to the LA counterpart. Despite the lack of vehicle debuts and the meager footprint, there were still plenty of cars to ogle at.

Ford brought their highly-anticipated Focus RS to the show. This hot-hatch was engineered to go toe to toe with the Subaru WRX and Golf R. Using the 2.3L powerplant found in the 2015 Ecoboost Mustang, the Focus RS is capable of up to 345 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque.

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Although I’m not a fan of the color, I am a huge fan of hatchbacks and the practicality they provide, while retaining a compact form. ANDesignCSULB-9

The aggressive styling and Brembo brakes let others know this hatchback isn’t anything to mess with.

Walking past the Ford area, something caught my eye – the Alfa Romeo 4c. ANDesignCSULB-19

Automotive journalists are hailing the Alfa Romeo 4C as the ultimate driver’s car. Weighing in a little bit over a ton, the 4C gets from 0-60 in 4.2 seconds thanks to its turbocharged 1.8L engine. Creature comforts like cupholders and even power steering are left to the wayside for the purest driving experience possible. Even though the car is a manual transmission, it uses a six-speed paddle shifter to get through gears. Although I understand the advantages of having a flappy paddle gearbox, I think that a proper driver’s car should come with a third pedal and stick.

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To keep the weight down, the 4C uses a carbon fiber tub to wrap its driver and passenger.

The carbon fiber trim throughout the car keeps the weight down while ensuring maximum rigidity for back country roads and hairpin turns.

 

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Is the carbon fiber necessary for a headlight? Probably not, but it sure looks cool!

Hyundai also brought their Santa Cruz concept vehicle that debuted earlier in the year. It reminds me of a new take on the Chevy El Camino or Ford Ranchero, although it might be more along the lines of a Subaru Baja or Brat. The overall shape looks quite slick if not a bit boat-ish.

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Without a doubt though, my favorite concept car of the show was Toyota’s FT-1. I had seen it at last year’s LA Auto Show, but the kid in me still lusts for the 90’s – a time when Toyota had a focus on building reliable, but brutally fun sports cars (like the Supra or Celica GT-Four)

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Check out that sweet heads-up display!

The highlight of my visit was test driving the new Mazda MX-5, more commonly known in the states as the Miata.

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Sadly, they didn’t have a manual version on the lineup. Even as an automatic, I found the manual mode pretty quick to shift and find the gear. The rev-happy engine takes off quick, and the small chassis is still a lot of fun to throw around bends. I think I might’ve scared my ridealong salesman when I floored the throttle off a red light. The new design is undoubtedly much more aggressive and angular than the previous cutesy and rounder generations. Implementing what they call the “gram strategy,” the engineers of the new MX-5 looked at every component and tried to shave as much weight as possible. The result? The latest iteration of America’s best selling sports car is almost as  light as its 1994-self!

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Gone is the cloth and padding from the visors. Mazda’s engineers shaved off as much weight as they could off every little screw and part.

Auto Shows are by far the best place to go for the newest models of cars, but Honda brought out a vintage 1975 Civic.

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This gorgeous hatchback weighing it around 1,500 pounds was powered by a 4-cylinder, 1.5L engine good for… 53 horsepower. This little guy didn’t need much oomph to get to its top speed of 86 MPH. What it did lack in power, it did make up for in fuel economy as this civic got up to 47 MPG – without any battery or electronic do-dads!

As I said before, the OC Auto Show isn’t the most amazing show – it’s a show that lives in the shadows of it’s big brother – the LA Auto Show. Still, seeing all the cars without the crowd of the LA Auto Show was an enjoyable experience. Now, I’ll count down the days until I get to see some new automotive goodies at the LA Convention Center in roughly a month.

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