BMW 3-Series Coupe/Convertible/M3
WHAT: Popular and profitable variants of BMW's most important car are attired in all-new, de-Bangled sheetmetal. The coupe, convertible, and M3 will help the 3-series sedan, which arrives this summer, fend off challengers for the entry-luxury-segment crown. The coupe and convertible will be motivated by the same six-cylinder engines as the sedan, while the M3 will have a 400-hp V-8 under its hood.
WHEN: Coupe, 2006; convertible, 2007; M3, 2007
HIGH HOPES: The 3-series should help placate the BMW faithful who have been whining about Chris Bangle's styling direction.
Pontiac G6 Convertible
WHAT: The droptop G6 has a retractable roof that raises or lowers in less than thirty seconds. The two-piece, clamshell-style hard top, engineered with help from Karmann, stores beneath a hard tonneau cover. When dressed in GTP trim, the G6 convertible will be powered by a 3.9-liter, 240-hp V-6 mated to a four-speed manu-matic transmission (a six-speed manual will be offered only with fixed-top GTPs). GT examples get the same 3.5-liter, 200-hp V-6 as the four-door G6 GT. All G6 convertibles get eighteen-inch wheels and should command $3000 to $4000 over comparable fixed-roof coupes.
WHEN: Early 2006.
HIDDEN FROM VIEW: While both this version of the G6 and its coupe sibling look great, the cabrio's chunky rear quarter-panels mean shorter back-seat passengers may have difficulty seeing out or being seen. But this car brings an affordable hardtop convertible to the masses.
WHAT: The longer, wider, taller, and more powerful fourth-generation Eclipse is based heavily on last year's Detroit concept. This latest version is extremely important for beleaguered Mitsubishi, which hopes to recapture the younger buyers lost with the previous-generation car. GS models will be equipped with a 2.4-liter, 165-hp four and either a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual transmission. GTs will get one extra ratio per gearbox and a 3.8-liter, 260-hp V-6.
WHEN: Coupe, mid-2005; Spyder, 2006.
WHERE'S THE BEEF?: The concept's voluptuous curves were sexy and dynamic, but the production version seems a bit boring by comparison. Let's hope the driving is not.
Saturn Sky Roadster
WHAT: Saturn's version of the Pontiac Solstice, the Sky exhibits the new face of Saturn, which will add a mid-size sedan and a large crossover sport-utility to its lineup over the next two years. Aimed at the Mazda Miata in price with dimensions close to the pricier and slightly bigger Honda S2000, the sub-$25,000 Sky gets a 170-hp, 2.4-liter Ecotec four mated to manual or automatic five-speed transmissions and near 50/50 weight distribution. We also expect a Red Line version.
WHEN: Early 2006.
WHAT WAS SATURN'S BRAND IDENTITY AGAIN?: We're wondering what sister division Pontiac thinks of the supposed budget-brand Saturn becoming more performance-oriented.
Porsche 911 Turbo
WHAT: Beyond the requisite boost in horsepower to an estimated 480, the next 911 Turbo, due in just over a year, features the long-awaited dual-clutch automatic transmission. With weight barely increased, the all-wheel-drive Turbo will blast from 0 to 60 mph in well under four seconds. Wider fenders house the widest tires ever fitted to a 911, and a multitude of air intakes accentuate the fast and furious proportions.
MEGA 911s: The Turbo follows both the Carrera 4S and the 400-hp GT3, which again will be a lightweight, nonturbo track star.