Alfa's U.S. return is still under review, so while we wait for word from Signore Marchionne, we can only dream about a few of our favorite Italian beauties.
What: A highfalutin crossover from Aston Martin wearing the badge of a revived British marque.
Dirt-track Aston? Like the 2009 concept, the production variant will be based on Mercedes-Benz GL-class mechanicals. Expect the concept's V-12 to be traded for something less exotic -- but don't worry, custom bodywork, a handcrafted interior, and meticulous assembly at Aston's U.K. facility will all be retained.
What: Aston's signature 510-hp V-12 in a V8 Vantage body.
When: Late 2010
Crashing The States: Originally launched as a Europe-only vehicle, the V12 Vantage challenged engineers to shoehorn a larger engine into the compact engine bay and still meet U.S. crash regulations. Their success means we'll get the power of a DBS at a huge discount.
What: A smaller, affordable, mid-engine sports car in the spirit of the R8.
And The TT? The R4 doesn't necessarily mean death for the TT -- some insiders say the front-engine roadster and coupe could move upmarket. Really?
What: Audi's contribution to the mutant four-door coupe/hatchback segment with requisite plush luxury.
When: Late 2011
Another Four-Door Coupe? Yes, but at least Audi's effort, seen here in concept form, is better looking than some. The production version, which foretells the next-generation A6, debuts in August at the Moscow auto show, of all places.
Audi's powertrain strategy calls for fewer V-6 applications and more use of the company's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Along with finding its way into products like the Q5 and the A6, the 2.0T is also part of a new hybrid system that debuts in the Q5 crossover. The company will also phase in the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic over most of its lineup, replacing the current transmissions in everything but the A3, the TT, the S4, and the S5.
Fall 2010: Audi A8 and A8L hit dealers, supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 for the Q7.
Early 2011: R8 Spyder goes on sale, TT receives more powerful 2.0T.
Late 2011: A7 and hybrid models of the A8 and Q5 arrive.
Early 2012: All-new A6 launches, offering both the 2.0T four-cylinder and the 3.0T V-6.
This fall, Bentley will unveil the next generation of the car that has been so crucial to its success over the past decade, the Continental GT. It may appear to be a mere face-lift, but there are big changes under the hood. The W-12 engine will soldier on for grand-touring trims, but a twin-turbo, Audi-sourced V-8 will power a new line of sporty models and should match the current twelve-cylinder's 552 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. After the coupe lands in 2011, the sedan will arrive in 2012, the convertible in 2013, and the high-performance Speed models starting in 2014.
What: A sedan as only Bugatti could do: the world's most powerful and most expensive.
Best Parts Bin Ever: The Galibier draws power from the same 8.0-liter W-16 as the Veyron, but it uses two superchargers in place of the two-door's four turbos. Output is somewhere between 800 and 1000 hp, with a top speed of 220 mph. The carbon-and-aluminum-bodied 16C is expected to sell for a cool $1.5 million.
Our spy illustrators bring us our first look at the new family of 3-series cars, which will break cover in 2012. BMW's 3-series rollout will stretch into 2014 -- that's a long time, but it's a big family, especially with the addition of a Gran Turismo four-door hatchback. The GT, which uses a conventional liftgate rather than the dual-piece unit in the 5-series GT, is said to be lower and more sporty than its bigger brother. It and the wagon get a longer wheelbase than the other 3-series models and will offer a full-length glass sunroof. The sedan resembles a shrunken 5-series, while the coupe and the convertible get more sculpted sheetmetal, a lower roofline, and a more steeply raked windshield. The convertible again will feature a retractable hard top, but a Speedster version with a manual fabric roof and a lower-profile windshield may be sold by the M division. Speaking of which, the next M3 will be sold as a coupe and a convertible with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo six in place of the current V-8; it should put out about 450 hp. For the other 3-series models, the engine lineup (with ballpark output figures) looks like this: 220-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four (325i); 270-hp six (330i); 300-hp turbo six (335i); and 245-hp turbo-diesel six (330d).
BMW's great-looking CS concept from the 2007 Shanghai auto show was to sit above the 7-series in the BMW hierarchy. Instead, the brand's first four-door "coupe" will be part of the 6-series family, selling alongside the two-door coupe and convertible, which are being redesigned for 2012. In the engine room, we find a 2.0-liter twin-turbo four (in the 625i) that makes about 250 hp, enough to supplant the standard I-6. A 300-hp turbo six powers the 630i. The V-8 in the 650i makes some 400 hp, and the M6 will get about 575 hp from a twin-turbo V-8 (in place of today's V-10). An optional F1-inspired kinetic-energy recovery system provides a temporary 100-hp boost.
New Mini-Based Subcompacts
The first-ever front-wheel-drive bmws will appear in 2013 as siblings to the next-generation Mini. The two- and four-door hatchbacks, interpreted here by our spy illustrator, will be longer and taller than the Mini; a roadster is possible as well. A range of powerplants include a hybrid, an EV, and three- and four-cylinder turbocharged, direct-injection engines of up to 1.4 liters and about 170 hp. A six-speed manual and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic are planned; all-wheel drive will be optional.
What: New range of ultraefficient green machines.
When: Early 2014
It's A Go! Radical Frankfurt show car will become BMW's eco-friendly sports car.
At this fall's Paris auto show, we'll see the second generation of BMW's X3. The current car was the first German entry in the compact SUV arena, but the passing of time has allowed newer competitors to surpass it. The next edition loads on more luxury options and offers buyers a choice of 245-hp or 300-hp sixes (but no diesel). An ActiveHybrid model is due in 2012. The new X3 will be built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and will be joined by the even smaller, German-built X1 in the spring of 2011.
With an available manual transmission, the Regal will have more to offer enthusiasts than any Buick in recent memory. But there's more on the way. Due in 2012, the Regal GS, previewed as a concept in Detroit, shares its styling and some components with the Opel Insignia OPC, but there will be several key differences. First off, whereas the top-of-the-line Insignia employs a 321-hp, 2.8-liter V-6, the GS will run with a lighter, more efficient, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for about 255 hp. Also, the OPC's all-wheel drive might not make it here, because Buick is worried about pricing the car out of its segment.
What: A compact sedan, courtesy of Europe's Opel Astra.
Learing From Mistakes: Unlike the ill-fated Saturn Astra, the Buick gets upgraded powertrains, easier-to-decipher controls, and a revised suspension.
What: A five-seat crossover, effectively a baby Enclave.
Is This Necessary? It's hard to see why Buick needs a small crossover when the same dealers already sell the GMC Terrain.
3-series in the crosshairs: With the CTS aiming at the BMW 5-series, the ATS won't pull any punches in its quest to take on the segment's standard-bearer.
What: Volt-based concept that was previewed at the 2009 Detroit show to rave reviews.
When: Probably Never. Too bad.
Not Happening? GM decided that it could not make a business case for the Converj, and in any event, the company feels confident that the Chevrolet Volt and the Opel Ampera will take up all available production capacity for its electric-vehicle platform in the next few years.
What: Large sedan introduced at the 2010 Detroit auto show.
Dream On: Although the XTS will be Cadillac's biggest, most premium sedan, Cadillac insiders still pine for an even more exclusive high-performance sedan -- in the vein of the 2003 Sixteen concept -- that would serve as the ultimate expression of the brand.
Minimal Size, Maximum Savings
The good news for chevrolet is that, for the first time since REO Speedwagon topped the Billboard charts with "Can't Fight This Feeling," more people are buying Camaros than Mustangs. The bad news is that the Blue Oval boys have responded in a big way and now have a faster, more efficient pony car. Chevy will return fire with a Shelby-fighting Z28, now back on track for a late-2011 arrival with supercharged V-8 motivation. Burning the rear tires should be easy with the 556-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 from the Cadillac CTS-V, but the Z28 should be marginally quicker due to a lower curb weight. Additionally, look for continual improvements each model year rather than the typical mid-cycle face-lift. The 2011 model year introduces the convertible, and the V-6 will get an 8-hp bump (to 312 hp). Engineers are also fine-tuning the handling to address complaints that the car doesn't turn in quickly enough. Further out, expect the Camaro to get more efficient, likely by offering turbocharged four- or six-cylinder engines. The next-generation car will also get lighter by switching from the Zeta architecture to the smaller Alpha platform.
Chevy's Cobalt replacement will debut as a sedan only, but insiders are pushing hard for SS and four-door-coupe variants.
It's finally coming! However, the rollout will be slow, moving region by region. Production could eventually ramp up to some 60,000 units annually.
The new Aveo, seen here in concept form, is both bigger and much more refined than the current model, and it will be built in the United States rather than in Korea.
A chunky, seven-seat concept that could spawn a mechanical twin similar to the GMC Granite concept.
American tax dollars put to excellent use
The debuts of both the charger and the Chrysler 300 aren't far off, yet company officials are unusually quiet about the coming products. Word is that's part of CEO Sergio Marchionne's plan, which has products being unveiled just a few months ahead of their showroom arrival. Will the see-it-then-buy-it strategy pay off for the automaker the same way it does for tech superstar Apple? Who knows? Despite the hush in Auburn Hills, a few finer points have slipped out, and our spy illustrator has detailed the softer, more graceful curves that the new Charger will sport. This isn't merely a face-lift, either; the mechanical changes qualify the Charger as a new vehicle. Under the hood, the next Charger will use Chrysler's new Pentastar V-6, the familiar 5.7-liter Hemi, and an upsized 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 in the SRT8 variant, which will make roughly 450 hp.
Chrysler's new 3.6-liter pentastar V-6 needs to carry a huge load for the company's comeback to succeed. For starters, it's set to replace seven different V-6 engines ranging from 2.7 liters to 4.0 liters of displacement. You can't really call it innovative, but to illustrate just how outdated some of those old engines are, compare the V-6 powerplants of the 2010 and 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokees.
What: Ferrari's next hyperexpensive, hyperexclusive halo.
What: A road-going version of Ferrari's track-only 599XX.
Yours To Keep: Ferrari's 599XX touts improved aerodynamics, more power, and less weight than the plebeian 599 GTB Fiorano. The only problem is that Ferrari treats the car as a racing development program, so you can purchase the 599XX, but you can't have one. Instead, ownership merely gives you license to drive the car at Ferrari-organized track events. The 599 GTO solves that by reinstalling the necessities for a street-legal car while still leaving 661 hp of the 599XX's 690 hp intact. Compared with the 599 GTB, the limited-production GTO also boasts a lighter weight at 3296 pounds, faster shifts, and a 3.4-second 0-to-62-mph sprint.
2010: 458 Italia goes on sale in America, 599GTO launches.
2011: 612 Scaglietti replacement debuts.
2012: 458 Italia Spider arrives with a retractable hard top.
2013: Ferrari Piero sells to a few hundred lucky, very wealthy buyers.
2014: Lighter and more powerful Scuderia model arrives at the tail end of the 458 Italia's life cycle.
Fiat's first contribution to the U.S. market arrives by the end of this year in the form of the diminutive 500. Although the 500 will look very much like the European version, it will have actually received many changes for this market, including a reinforced unibody with improved crashworthiness and refinement. The convertible arrives in 2011, followed by the high-performance Abarth and an electric model in 2012.
After largely ignoring america for the last four years, Ford's global performance team will make up for it with a pair of hot hatches that will arrive in quick succession. Although the desert-runner Raptor pickup is plenty cool, the upcoming models based on Ford's new compact cars have broader and more practical appeal. Not that practicality matters. We're excited for cheap speed.
What: The classic SUV softened for the fuel-economy age.
When: Late 2010
A New Era Emerges: The first good spy shots reveal that, as expected, the 2011 Explorer will be more of a crossover than a traditional SUV. Switching to unibody construction drops weight, while a turbocharged four-cylinder engine could push highway fuel economy above 25 mpg. It's a big shift in the direction of the Flex, but the Explorer will maintain its distance with more ground clearance and stouter hauling capabilities. Seven-passenger seating continues.
Ford is planning at least ten different vehicles on its revised C1 architecture. Over the next couple years, more details will emerge, but here's a preview of what we expect:
You wouldn't expect a minivan to make a major styling statement, but the next Odyssey, previewed as a concept at the Chicago auto show, might do just that. The "lightning bolt" beltline and aggressive, CR-Z-like front fascia signal Honda's shift toward more expressive, dynamic design. Still, don't expect form to overrule function, as Honda is promising more interior space and better fuel economy.
The CR-Z won't be a screamer, with a 0-to-60-mph time of nearly ten seconds, but rumor has it that Honda is at work on a more powerful electric motor that could push output closer to 200 hp. Sorry, still no gasoline-only version.
Honda's luxury brand hasn't quite succeeded in its mission to move upmarket. A new strategy will rely heavily on hybrids to distinguish the brand, starting with the TSX.
What: Sporty, economical two-plus-two.
When: Early 2011
What: Mercedes-Benz S-class rival (really).
When: Summer 2010
Pampering Practice: Having just shocked Us with the Genesis, which goes up against the e-class, Hyundai is wasting little time making its next, even more ambitious move upmarket. Based on a stretched Genesis platform, this full-on luxury sedan is sized between the Lexus LS460 and LS460L. Hyundai hopes to duplicate the Lexus ownership experience on a smaller scale -- to that end, the Equus will be displayed in a separate area of the showroom, and not all Hyundai dealers will be allowed to sell it.
What: Hyundai's hope to finally take on the Honda Civic.
When: Late 2010
Catching Up With The Wagon: An all-new platform underpins the Elantra sedan and hatch. both launch with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder and an optional six-speed automatic; a 1.6-liter direct-injected four comes later. The same platform will be used for the new accent, which debuts early next year. the highly regarded elantra touring carries on unchanged.
What: A smaller V-6 hits the G spot.
When: Fall 2010
Smaller And Smaller: We expect that the short-stroke, 2.5-liter V-6 will be smoother than Nissan's current V-6 engines. It will rev to well over 7000 rpm and make about 220 hp, close to the BMW 328i's 230 horses.
What: A mild-hybrid version of the M sedan.
Lean And Green: The most economical car in Infiniti's history -- says the manufacturer -- will use a 3.5-liter VQ-series V-6 and a 67-hp electric motor. That combination should ensure that it's also a quick green machine.
Hyundai's sister division has already taken the wraps off three upcoming new models: the sportage (on sale later this summer), the redesigned Optima (a 2011 model), and the Forte hatchback. Next year, Kia will roll out the Cadenza, a front-wheel-drive, V-6-powered sedan that sits above the Optima in size and price and replaces the current Amanti. Following the Cadenza comes Kia's first-ever rear-wheel-drive car, which -- no surprise -- is based on the Hyundai Genesis. Referred to as the K9 (although that name might attract some dog lovers, Kia won't use it in North America), the Kia will be smaller than its Hyundai counterpart and will use either a V-6 or a small V-8 engine. The K9 will get Kia's first eight-speed automatic, which will also soon migrate to the Hyundai Genesis and Equus.
What: A smaller, sportier Jag.
When: Convertible in 2013, coupe in 2014
What: The replacement for the Murcielago.
When: Early 2011
How Do You Pronounce It? Who knows? Ho-ta. Cho-ta. Yo-ta? Whatever-ta. The Murcie's replacement, rendered by our spy illustrator below, consists of a 700-hp V-12 bolted into a lightweight, carbon-fiber tub. The Jota moniker might not stick--and if it doesn't, we recommend finding some other unpronounceable name that means "up yours, mpg standards."
What: A Lambo four-door sedan.
Why? Look at it. Pronounced "Es-to-kay," the car you see here was just a concept. But Lamborghini can tap parent VW's resources for the new chassis that underpins the Audi A7 and the Bentley Continental, slip in a high-powered engine, and double its sales. Whether a four-door sedan has any right being in the Lambo lineup depends on one thing only: how outrageous it looks. And we'd say that the concept fits the bill just fine.
What: Excess is over, Rover, it's time for a small crossover!
Where's The Beef? With styling based on the show-car Land Rover LRX (below) and a chassis based on the LR2, this new, small Range Rover will come in both two- and four-door flavors. Look for the production versions to make their first appearances on the auto-show circuit this fall.
What: A sporty Lexus Prius.
When: Early 2011
Youthful Aspirations: Lexus already has a compact hybrid in the HS250h, but the CT200h targets a younger crowd with its Euro-hatch body and promises of more engaging dynamics. Compared with the HS, the CT200h uses a smaller (1.8-liter) gas engine that should come close to the 50-mpg EPA combined rating of the Prius. Can one car shift the demographics of Lexus buyers
What: A Mini SUV.
When: February 2011
The Next Logical Step? Or the beginning of the end? To many, the Mini has been the anti-SUV. What, then, to make of the Countryman, the first Mini SUV? Mini marketers will have a delicate job with this one, but they expect that the first Mini with four real doors and available all-wheel drive will eventually account for 40 percent of the brand's sales. That would make it the second most popular model in the lineup, well ahead of the Clubman and the convertible. Thus, Mini will offer the Countryman in a full range of configurations: base and S, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, manual and automatic. The Countryman also will benefit from the same 2011 model-year updates as all other Minis, which include more power and improved fuel economy from both engines, thanks to parasitic-loss management and Valvetronic on the Cooper S.
What: Two-seat notchback with a fixed roof or a soft top.
When: Coupe in 2011, Roadster in 2012
Lighter And Lower: First seen as concepts at the Frankfurt auto show, the Mini Coupe and Roadster are both headed to showrooms. Below the beltline, the two are identical to the current Mini Cooper and Cooper convertible. But the new cars are some two inches lower and feature a more steeply raked windshield and a stubby trunk -- although they are the same length as a standard two-door Mini. Both, however, are strictly two-seaters, and thus they will be roughly 175 to 200 pounds lighter than a four-seat Mini. No word yet on whether these sportiest Minis will offer the full range of powerplants or only the Cooper S and John Cooper Works turbocharged units.
Just one year after the last of the current-generation Mini models arrives in 2012, the renewal process starts with the first of the next Minis. It seems safe to predict another retro urban vehicle with a sporty stance; early spy photos indicate an interior that once again mixes circular styling elements, eye-catching design, and mediocre ergonomics. Less easy to predict is the direction of the next Clubman or the shape of the final member of the family: the MiniVan. We do know that the next Clubman will get four proper doors, but what remains to be seen is whether it will adopt a more aggressive and less squared-off roofline or will instead head down Retro Lane with a woody theme, like the Mini Traveller of the 1960s. As for the MiniVan -- which was supposed to be part of the second generation -- it's a highly space-efficient one-box design, but an even more extreme flat-nosed concept is also in the running. Under the hood, we'll see a 1.5-liter direct-injected three-cylinder turbo (125 hp for the Cooper, 185 hp for the S) and a 2.0-liter direct-injected twin-turbo four-cylinder (250 hp) for the John Cooper Works version. What we won't see are the European-market 1.2-liter gasoline and diesel options. Our transmission choices will be a six-speed manual or a seven-cog dual-clutch automatic.
WHAT: A smaller sports car derived from SLS mechanicals.
SMALL, BUT NOT CHEAP: The limited-production SLV will cost as much as $100,000 - in the ballpark of the larger, but less exotic, SL550.
WHAT: A two-door model of Mercedes' compact car that targets the Audi A5 and the BMW 3-series.
WHAT: Smaller Benzes to combat BMW.
WHEN: bls in Late 2011, blk in Early 2013
2011 Based on the CLS, a sporty four-door hatch called the CLT arrives; The SLK roadster delivers all-new bodywork and a tinted glass center section in the folding hard top; A sleeker and sportier ML-class has a hybrid-centric powertrain lineup.
2012 The aging S-class is replaced. A new, aluminum SL bows.
WHAT: MP4-12C supercar.
WHEN: May/June 2011
SON OF F1: The MP4-12C will be the first exclusively McLaren-branded road car since the F1, perhaps the most storied supercar of all time.
What: The electric vehicle that's content looking like a golf cart.
When: Late 2011
Looks Can Be Deceiving: Despite its toylike appearance, the iMiEV is a bona fide car with capability almost on par with that of the Nissan Leaf. Range is said to be roughly 75 miles, with propulsion provided by a 63-hp motor and 16 kWh of lithium-ion batteries. The 110-volt charger requires twelve hours for a full battery fill-up, but a quick charger could restore 80 percent of range in twenty-five minutes.
What: The Outlander's little brother, starting at less than $20,000.
When: Fall 2010
Names Can Be Deceiving: This isn't just an Outlander with a sporty engine and chassis tuning. The new crossover is actually a smaller and very different vehicle from the standard Outlander, and fuel economy is its forte. Power comes from a 148-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and front-wheel-drive models will be rated at 31 mpg on the highway. All-wheel drive will be available, and gearbox choices will include a manual or a CVT.
What: The first mass-market all-electric car.
When: December 2010 (kind of)
Shocking Answers: An electrified future begs two questions: how far and how much? Nissan is the first mainstream maker to answer both. Its Leaf will cover 100 miles on a charge and cost $32,780. But that price doesn't include a $7500 federal subsidy and state incentives. The Leaf goes on sale late this year in small numbers. Widespread consumer sales come in 2011.
What: A small, sporty crossover aimed at young men.
When: Fall 2010
Sonic Youth: The Juke is the widest-track derivation yet of Nissan's global B platform, which already underpins the Versa subcompact and the Cube. It will be powered by a 1.6-liter turbo four-cylinder making more than 180 hp and 170 lb-ft of torque and will be mated to a manual gearbox or -- what else? -- a CVT. Athleticism is amplified with available torque-vectoring all-wheel drive. The Juke was penned at Nissan's design studio in London and is, its designers claim, a mix of toughness with sports car sleekness. Maybe Nissan should have just built a sports car instead.
What: The story here is Nissan's new, global V platform, which underpins this tiny new Micra that just debuted in other international markets. We won't get the Micra, but we'll get something based on the same architecture. When: 2011, maybe
Build It Cheap: The Micra, and presumably anything else on the V platform, will be built in factories in four low-wage countries: India, Thailand, China, and Mexico.
The concept car stunned visitors to the Geneva auto show, but it's on the street where the 918 will really make a splash. The last concept Porsche showed was the Boxster, and like that car, you can expect a production version of this one. In show form, the hybrid 918 promised to...uh...save the planet with a racing engine using no apparent emissions controls. A twin-turbo V-8 is a far better bet for this roadgoing Carrera GT replacement.
The current 911 -- chassis code 997 -- hasn't even been fully rolled out yet: we're still expecting a fresh GT2 to join the lineup. But its replacement, the 991 chassis, has been spied undergoing testing. The 991 will be longer, lower, and wider than the 997, with an all-new suspension and a four-inch-longer wheelbase. The 2012 911 will debut in S and RS trim, with flat-sixes displacing 3.4 and 3.8 liters producing about 350 and 400 hp, respectively. Later, we'll see a 450-hp GT3, a 525-hp Turbo, and a 550-hp GT2. And, of course, Cabriolet and Targa body styles will trickle into the lineup.
What: The last new truck from Porsche.
When: July 2010
The Big Loser: The Cayenne has only just begun its big diet, but it dropped nearly 400 pounds for 2011. This more svelte SUV is a stopgap measure, though -- the next Cayenne, due in 2017, will be lighter and better aligned with the Porsche brand. In the meantime, look for the Audi V-6 hybrid to show up here, too.
What: 981-chassis replaces the 987 and is based on the 991-chassis 911.
Business As Usual:The Boxster moves to the new 911 chassis, remaining sufficiently upmarket not to step on the 356's toes.
What: A soft-top version of Porsche's luxury sedan.
Look How Pretty: A four-door convertible is a rare sight, indeed, but what's even more surprising is how well the ovoid Panamera's styling takes to having its roof chopped off, at least in the hands of our spy illustrator. No word yet on which of the sedan's powertrains will show up in the droptop--there's an all-new Porsche-exclusive V-6, the V-8, the twin-turbo V-8, and the hybrid, which uses Audi's 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 and an electric motor.
What: A subcompact entry from the maker of the Hayabusa sportbike.
When: Late 2011 (at best)
What's The Holdup? Less than two years ago, American Suzuki planned to launch a new version of the Swift in 2010. Unfortunately, the financial crisis delayed Suzuki programs worldwide, and the company's recent partnership with Volkswagen means that Suzuki had to cauterize its supply relationships with General Motors. The design of the Swift (current generation shown) is more or less finalized, but the car will likely end up switching powertrains before it hits U.S. showrooms no sooner than late next year. Suzuki officials assure us that the Swift is too far along to adopt Volkswagen (Polo?) underpinnings, but we'd be surprised if the Swift has anything other than a VW powertrain if and when it finally gets here.
What: More powertrains for the sporty new mid-size sedan.
When: Not this year, but maybe next...
Stuck On Four: Hybrid and V-6 models were waiting in the wings when the Kizashi arrived last fall with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder as its only engine. But now that VW has taken Suzuki under its ample wing, the planned GM powertrains have been scrapped in favor of powertrains from Suzuki's new partner. at this point, it's undecided whether the hybrid will be of the "full" or "mild" variety, and the most powerful Kizashi might now end up with a turbo four-cylinder instead of a V-6.
What: Scion has decided that this quirky European city car is fit for U.S. drivers.
When: Early 2011
A Smart Move: The iQ will go head-to-head with the Smart ForTwo, but the Scion offers room for two more with its three-plus-one seating (only a child can fit behind the driver). The packaging is so tight that one of the ten air bags covers the rear window to protect back-seat occupants' heads in the event of an accident. The U.S. iQ will use a 1.3-liter four-cylinder engine with a CVT; expect combined fuel economy to be in the high 30s. An electric version is also on the way.
subaru is well aware that the Impreza WRX STI understeers too much and doesn't turn in as quickly as a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. That's why the new four-door STI also has a revised suspension that finds its way into its hatchback sibling. The key changes are a lower ride height, stiffer spring rates, thicker antiroll bars, and firmer bushings for the rear subframe. Lesser WRX models now share the STI's wider body for 2011, along with wider wheels and a track that grows by 1.5 inches.
What: Toyota's long-overdue rear-wheel-drive sports car.
When: Late 2011
When: Fall 2010
Heading Backward: And not in a bad way: the Mark 6 Jetta harks back to the 1999-2005 fourth-generation edition--both in its torsion-beam rear suspension and its gotta-have-it styling.
Shown here in concept form, the Bluesport previews a mid-engine sports car shared with Audi and Porsche.
What: A far less bubbly replacement for the aging New Beetle.
What: Late 2011
No More Daisies: As the corporate machine tried to decide between front-, mid-, and rear-engine layouts, the current New Beetle slowly slipped into retirement. The decision is now in, and the Mexico-built Beetle -- based on the same basic front-engine chassis -- returns for the 2012 model year. Gone are the flowery curves, replaced with more macho looks to appeal to a more masculine audience. Or at least a less feminine one.
What: A Passat replacement sized for, priced to, and built by Americans.
What's The Big Deal? Its big size, and the fact that it'll also be priced significantly lower than the current Passat. Built in Tennessee specifically for the U.S. mid-size market, the NMS (a code name) takes direct aim at the most successful and well-established players from around the world -- and it will finally be able to compete on price. That leaves the current Passat extinct, except for the low-roofed CC, which carries the torch as the VW brand's halo sedan. At least for now.
China's Geely is clearly in the honeymoon phase with its newly acquired Swedish bride. The company has lofty goals of growth centered on its home market, including a Beijing factory capable of turning out 300,000 Volvos annually. The March purchase, though, shouldn't have any effect on the autumn 2010 arrival of the S60 sedan. That car features a 300-hp, turbo in-line six and a pedestrian-detection system that can slow or stop the car before a collision. There's an upcoming wagon variant called the V60, but Volvo has no plans to sell it in the U.S. as buyers favor the XC60, XC70, and XC90 crossovers.