After adding a TSX wagon in 2011 and refreshing the TL for 2012, Acura might be expected to turn its attention to the slow-selling RL. But a talked-about V-8 engine for its flagship is now off the table, and plans to revive the NSX sports car appear to be dead. Instead, the company will add a hybrid within the next two years, likely using a version of Honda's Integrated Motor Assist. It's not known whether the hybrid Acura would be a distinct (possibly smaller) entry or a version of one of the company's current models.
Following the 2011 return of Fiat, Sergio Marchionne is poised to introduce a full Alfa Romeo lineup to the U.S. starting in 2012. A new mid-size sport sedan, the Giulia, will lead the charge. This is no BMW 3-series, though. Most models will be front-wheel drive, but the top GTA trim should receive all-wheel drive along with a 300-hp V-6 and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The Giulia eventually will be joined in U.S. showrooms by a face-lifted Giulietta compact hatchback, the 4C sports car, and two crossovers.
Alfa Romeo 4C
WHAT The Alfa Romeo to look forward to.
A HELL OF A COMEBACK CAR The beautiful 4C, shown recently in Geneva as a concept, is set to headline Alfa's return to the United States. A turbocharged four-cylinder mounted behind the seats will produce about 250 hp, which should be plenty to propel the carbon-fiber-and-aluminum body. In concept form, the 4C coupe weighs just 1784 pounds. A roadster is already planned, and the price should come in at about $60,000 or $70,000.
Just as Aston Martin begins to face the reality of independence, the Mercedes-Benz tie-up that's been in gestation for more than two years is back on. That means the Lagonda SUV pictured below is a go, thanks to its Mercedes-Benz GL-class mechanicals. The 2009 concept was poorly received, but Aston is already promising more elegant styling for the production version. More important than the SUV platform, though, is access to the Mercedes-Benz engines that will replace the aging Ford units now in use. Aston will continue to develop its VH architecture -- which currently underpins all of its models -- but will simultaneously enter into a joint project with Benz to develop a front-engine sports car that will also replace the SLS AMG. As part of the deal, Mercedes is likely to shift production of the next Maybach to Aston's low-volume assembly lines in Gaydon.