The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

LA Auto Show: New Jaguar F-Type and Land Rover Range Rover (photos)

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At this week's L.A. Auto Show, Jaguar-Land Rover (JLR) pulled the cover off the new F-Type for the first time in the U.S. (it had already debuted in Paris earlier this year) and unveiled the new Land Rover Range Rover, its top-of-the line SUV.

In top trim, the F-Type comes with a supercharged V8 engine that makes almost 500 horsepower and can do 0-60 in 4.2 seconds. It costs $92,000. It was also mobbed by photographers at the L.A. Auto Shows media preview days pretty much all day long.

JLR ensconsed its new Land Rover Range Rover in a shallow pool of water filled with stones, perhaps to depict the machines august stream-fording capabilities. The Range Rover is ideal for the aspiring country squire of means — and he'd better have the means, given the $83,500 price tag for the 2013 model. 

For that, you get an insanely well-appointed and luxurious interior, vault quiet, and a very capable five-liter V8 that delivers 375 horsepower along with full-time four-wheel-drive, because, you know, you're not just supposed to drive this thing to the office and back.

The JLR booth at the L.A. Auto Show is definitely worth a visit, if you head down to the Convention Center this week or next weekend. For my money, the Range Rover is a bit flashy, but the F-Type is the best-looking car at the show.

Jaguary and Land Rover represent two of England's most storied brands, and they now belong to one of England's most storied former colonies, India. Well, actually, they belonged to another colony for a while, too: America. Ford controlled Jag and Land Rover for a number of years prior to selling the brands in 2008 to India's Tata Motors for $2.3 billion. 

It was an open question whether a company with no experience managing two exceptionally well known, even beloved, luxury automotive brands would be able to hack it. So far, it looks as if Tata has, although of late sales have been disappointing. JLR spent most of 2011-'12 racking up positive sales month after positive sales month globally until this September, when sales declined. (If you're wondering who Tata is, it also produces the world's cheapest car, the Nano.)

In the U.S., the brands are fairly negligible in terms of market share: Each has far less than 1 percent. But when they do sell cars, they sell them in California, and particularly in Southern California, where the culture is car-obsessed and the cars that feed the obsession are luxury imports.

So far this year, JLR sales are up 11 percent overall in the U.S., but in November they slipped by 7 percent compared with 2011. Jaguar sold fewer than 1,000 vehicles — which sounds bad until you consider that its cheapest ride, the XF sedan, starts at about $47,000.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter. And ask Matt questions at Quora.

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