2011 Sneak Preview
At board meetings, on test tracks, and in design studios, decisions are being made today that will influence what you drive tomorrow. Automakers are hard at work creating the next generation of automobiles -- cars that are faster, sexier, more efficient -- while trying to keep their development secret. Like you, we are nosy as hell. Unlike you, we have a vast network of snoops, gossips, and disgruntled former employees who have helped us uncover the information we present here. Our annual Sneak Preview feature contains the industry's future products -- as far out as 2019 -- that are worth saving your milk money for.
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.
At Audi, diesel trumps hybrid
Selling diesels in THE U.S. is nothing new for Audi, but we were still surprised to hear that the American arm is planning a massive diesel expansion while passing on multiple hybrids. It all revolves around the Q7's 3.0-liter TDI V-6, which will find its way into the A6, the A8, and the Q5 by 2013. Product planners are also looking at a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel for the next A4 around 2014. A 27-mpg hybrid Q5 will arrive in 2012, but we won't get the gas/electric A6 or A8.
WHAT The next-generation small Audi will be a sedan, specifically to address the U.S. and Chinese markets.
THE HATCHBACK GETS THE HATCHET About the size of the original 1996 (B5-chassis) A4, the handsome A3 sedan was previewed by this show car in Geneva, which is a reliable indicator of the production version, save for the lower ride height, flared wheel arches, and pop-out door handles. Unfortunately, America won't get the Sportback. The TDI, however, will return, along with two turbocharged four-cylinders: a 170-hp 1.8-liter and a 211-hp 2.0-liter.
WHAT Audi's answer to the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.
THE HARDWARE'S ALL THERE The RS5 sounds like a sweet machine: All-wheel drive, a torque-vectoring rear diff, a seven-speed dual-clutch Automatic, and a screaming 4.2-liter V-8 that hits its 444-hp peak at 8250 rpm. Whether it can match the BMW and Mercedes titans is yet to be determined.
WHAT Audi's sport coupe, turned up to 340 hp.
WHEN Late 2011
DEFINITELY NOT A CHICK CAR If there were any doubt about the TT's performance credentials, the RS's turbocharged five-cylinder should clear the air. It'll help the car do 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 174 mph. Oh, and it comes only with a manual.
WHAT The sub-Q5 compact crossover.
A SMALL GAMBLE The Q5 has been a big hit for Audi in North America; the smaller Q3 is less of a sure thing, but we wouldn't bet against it. Privately, U.S. execs tell us they'd be very surprised if it didn't end up coming here. If and when it arrives, it'll offer a trio of 2.0-liter engines -- gasoline versions making 170 and 211 hp and a 140-hp diesel.
S6, S7, and S8
WHAT High-performance versions of Audi's medium and large four-doors.
END OF THE TEN The V-10 engine is booted in favor of a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8. Compared with the V-10 in the current S6, power is slightly lower and torque slightly higher: 408 hp and 406 lb-ft in the new S6 and S7, where the turbo V-8 is mated to Audi's seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The S8's version is more potent, with 520 hp and 488 lb-ft; it's paired with an eight-speed automatic.
The second-generation Continental GT that recently went on sale is a modest evolution of the last car, with lightly massaged sheetmetal and a slight uptick in power. At the 2012 Detroit auto show, a significant change arrives when a less expensive engine -- a twin-turbo V-8 -- joins the boosted V-12. It should produce north of 520 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque.
The convertible, previewed by our illustration at top, should show up in 2013 and will be followed by the Flying Spur sedan, likely in 2014. The requisite proliferation of Speed, Supersports, and silly limited editions will follow thereafter.
WHAT A sedan of superlatives: the most powerful and most expensive four-door the world has ever seen.
STICKING WITH WHAT WORKS Although the official line is that nothing has been green-lighted yet, we hear that there will be another Bugatti after the Veyron, and it is the Galibier. The sedan pictured here first debuted in 2009, but a second concept will arrive next year with revised packaging and lower weight. Like the Veyron 16.4, the 16C Galibier will use a boosted, 8.0-liter sixteen-cylinder engine, but rather than quad turbochargers, the 16C's forced induction comes courtesy of two superchargers. Peak power hovers somewhere between 800 and 1000 hp and is routed to all four wheels through an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic.
BMW has no choice but to embrace front-wheel drive if the brand is to survive tougher emissions standards and an industry dominated by megacorporations. The long-term plan calls for six small front-wheel-drive cars -- two of them illustrated above -- to appear between 2014 and 2017.
1-series GT | 2014, FWD/AWD
Like a 5-series GT but smaller, lower to the ground, and better looking.
X1 | 2015, FWD/AWD
The next-gen small crossover.
1-series Touring | 2016, FWD/AWD
A higher roof, more cargo capacity, and a more flexible interior than the 1-series GT. Not likely for the U.S.
Timing Unknown, FWD
BMW's answer to the Audi A1 and the Mercedes-Benz A-class. Not likely for the U.S.
1-series | 2017, FWD/AWD
Third-generation models of the two- and four-door hatchbacks that aren't sold in the U.S.
"Now six years into the life cycle of the current model, it's just about time for a new 3-series. A new one is coming, but it won't be ready in time for Germany's hometown auto show in Frankfurt this fall. Instead, it will appear in 2012. First out, in May 2012, are the sedan (illustrated above) and the wagon (unfortunately not for us this time). Then come the coupe and the convertible, the latter again with a retractable hard top. Finally, look for a four-door hatchback GT version (oh, no!) in late 2013. The GT has a one-piece hatch and a longer wheelbase than its siblings. We should see the turbo four-cylinder as the base engine in addition to a 270-hp straight six; the 300-hp, 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo six; and a turbo-diesel (possibly a four-cylinder). As for the M3, it will drop its V-8 and return to a straight-six engine -- turbocharged, of course -- making about 450 hp from 3.0 liters, with the choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The M3 is due in early 2013.
WHAT The sixth generation of the iconic German sport sedan.
WHEN May 2012
DON'T MESS WITH SUCCESS BMW has every reason to play it conservatively with the next 3-series. We just hope it doesn't lose its edge in the name of refinement.
WHAT Having freshened the 7-, 5-, and 3-series, BMW arrives at the bottom of the deck.
ONE FINAL (RWD) RIDE The second-generation 1-series adopts BMW's tauter, more chiseled look and a turbocharged four-cylinder in entry-level trim. The major changes, though, will arrive in 2014, when BMW introduces its first front-wheel-drive small cars and puts the writing on the wall for the rear-wheel-drive 1-series. a front-wheel-drive onslaught is inevitable, but executives are currently mulling a plan to leave the third generation of the 1-series coupe and convertible on a rear-drive platform into the early 2020s.
WHAT BMW's baby SUV.
WHEN Good question
DELAYED BY POPULAR DEMAND The X1, which is already on sale in Europe, was supposed to arrive here in the first quarter of 2011, but so far it's a no show. The problem is that demand elsewhere has eaten up every X1 that BMW can crank out. The X1 is still planned for our market, but executives can't say exactly when it will arrive. When it does, it should be available with the new N20 turbo four-cylinder and the 3.0-liter turbo six.
M5 & M6
WHAT 5-series sedan and 6-series coupe/convertible, with that special dose of M love.
WHEN Early 2012 (M5); mid-2012 (M6)
EIGHT IS ENOUGH Like Audi with its S6, BMW is stepping away from its V-10 in favor of a turbocharged V-8 -- specifically, the 4.4-liter unit used in the M versions of the X5 and the X6. For the M5, output is expected to climb to 570 hp and 530 lb-ft of torque. Working with the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox (sorry, no manual), the turbo V-8 should produce a 0-to-62-mph time of 4.4 seconds. Top speed will reach 188 mph. This "concept" teaser, from the Shanghai auto show, is a highly accurate preview of what the production M5 will look like when it's rolled out at the Frankfurt show this fall. The car will go on sale in the States in early 2012. Mechanically identical to its four-door sibling, the M6 follows it into U.S. showrooms by a few months, arriving here midway through 2012.
WHAT The first vehicle of BMW's electrified "i" sub-brand.
BEYOND THE BATTERY
the i3 -- once known as the Megacity Vehicle -- isn't just another compact, low-volume electric car. BMW is doubling down on the tech, using carbon fiber and aluminum to keep weight at a minimum. It sounds expensive, but the price should be about $40,000. A 150-hp electric motor drives the rear wheels, drawing power from a lithium-ion battery pack good for 100-plus miles of range. It doesn't debut until fall, but our spy illustrator delivers an early look below. The i sub-brand will grow to include a two-seat city car in 2015 and a larger five-seater in 2017.
WHAT The next-generation supercar.
AN UNLIKELY SUPERCAR As BMW's first exotic since the 1981 M1, the i8 will stand well above the compact commuter cars that'll make up the rest of the i range. But like those efficiency mavens, the i8 will be made with carbon fiber and powered by electricity, positioning BMW as one of the first of many to electrify the supercar. The powertrain concept is a plug-in hybrid driving all four wheels. the two electric motors are good for 321 lb-ft of torque, and with the 1.5-liter, three-cylinder diesel engine running, output climbs to 328 hp and a monstrous 535 lb-ft.
A compact crossover?
More than a year ago, General Motors teased the media with a preview of several upcoming products, including an attractive Buick crossover smaller than the Chevy Equinox. Although that design looked ready for showrooms, production is still a ways off. Expect the crossover's auto-show debut sometime in 2012.
WHAT A Buick sport sedan, less than what it could have been.
WHEN Late 2011
LET'S HOPE THERE'S A GNX The Regal GS's Opel contemporary touts a 300-hp turbo V-6 driving all four wheels. Yet in America, we have to settle for the turbo 2.0-liter turned up to 255 hp and front-wheel drive. GM's HiPer Strut front suspension helps quell torque steer, and electronically adjustable dampers can be switched among three modes.
WHAT Another Buick brand expansion, this time into small cars.
WHEN Late 2011
BETTER BADGE ENGINEERING Buick has designed a handsome exterior and an upscale interior with features like a heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, and keyless ignition. Based on the European Opel Astra, the Verano's debut engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder good for 177 hp and 31 mpg on the highway. A 2.0-liter turbo will arrive later.
WHAT Cadillac's long-awaited competitor to the BMW 3-series.
WHEN 2013 for the sedan; coupe, convertible, and V models will follow
WATCH THE WEIGHT GM vehicles tend to tip the scales more than their competitors. Engineers realize that they must do better with the ATS's all-new Alpha platform. How well they do will have heavy (pardon the pun) implications not only for the integrity of this sport sedan (illustrated below), but also for the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro. Power will likely come from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder and a 3.6-liter V-6, with the V-series using either a small-block V-8 or a turbo V-6.
WHAT Owners tell Cadillac not to mess with the current Escalade formula, but that doesn't mean Cadillac won't also build a seven-passenger crossover.
LAMBDA PARTY GM has for several years been considering a Cadillac based on its Lambda platform, which also underpins the Chevrolet Traverse, the Buick Enclave, and the GMC Acadia. Sounds dangerously like old-GM rebadging to us.
WHAT A large sedan -- Cadillac pointedly has not referred to it as a flagship -- that will replace both the STS and the DTS.
NOT YOUR GRANDPA'S DEVILLE The fact that the XTS will ride on the same front-wheel-drive architecture that underpins the Buick LaCrosse has generated some hand wringing in the enthusiast community. But a low-slung test mule spotted wearing Brembo brakes indicates that Cadillac isn't renouncing its performance religion. The XTS initially will be powered by an updated version of GM's 3.6-liter V-6, with more powerful and more efficient engine options likely to follow.
To fight against Ford, count on more Camaro variants
As soon as it became clear that the top-dog Camaro would bear the name ZL1, enthusiasts began connecting the dots between the unused Z28 badge and Ford's Mustang Boss 302. Chevrolet appears to be connecting those dots, too, albeit more slowly than we might like -- a Z28 won't arrive before sometime next year at the soonest. Although it's always possible that GM could pull a special engine from its portfolio -- the Corvette Z06's 7.0-liter LS7 is especially tantalizing -- the Z28 would most likely mimic the Boss, combining mild improvements to the base V-8 with major suspension upgrades. In the meantime, Camaro buyers in search of better handling can opt for a new "FE4" handling package. Available only on SS models, the aggressive new setup attempts to address the understeering tendencies we've complained about from day one with retuned antiroll bars and firmer dampers. Six-cylinder cars get a bump in power to nearly 325 hp -- as much as the last-generation SS -- thanks to better-flowing cylinder heads that feature integrated exhaust manifolds. All models receive an interior update that bids adieu to the good-looking but hard-to-grip deep-dish steering wheel. Buyers have responded well to special appearance packages, so expect plenty more of them, including a unique trim level celebrating the Camaro's forty-fifth anniversary.
WHAT A 550-hp, supercharged Shelby GT500-fighter.
WHEN Early 2012
GO FAST FOR LESS With magnetically controlled dampers, Brembo brakes, and a blown 6.2-liter, the Camaro ZL1 spec sheet reads just like that of the Cadillac CTS-V, which is a very good thing. But the ZL1 also has its own reasons to exist. Along with the menacing looks, there's an intoxicating dual-mode exhaust and a $15,000 discount.
WHAT A much-needed update for Chevy's mid-size car.
WHEN Late 2011
KEEPING UP WITH THE PACK The current Malibu debuted near the head of the class in 2007, but time passes quickly in this segment. The new 'bu thus receives significant changes, including Camaro-inspired design cues; an interior with a true nav system; and, quite possibly, a four-cylinder-only engine lineup that includes a hybrid. It also will shrink a few inches to ride on the same wheelbase as the Buick Regal.
WHAT A larger and (we hope) better replacement for the Aveo.
WHEN Late 2011
READY FOR ROUND TWO The subcompact market was a very different place when the Aveo debuted in 2002. To reset its reputation, Chevy is starting with a fresh name and much more substantial, attractive styling. The Sonic could also be one of the quickest cars in the segment, as it will be using the same engines as the larger Chevy Cruze, including a turbocharged 1.4-liter that makes 138 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. A Sonic-based crossover is also in the works.
Should that Chevy come here?
"General Motors is making significant strides in globalizing its product portfolio, but there will always be region-specific vehicles. Below are some of Chevy's upcoming products, along with both our take and Chevy's take on whether they belong in the U.S.
Colorado It debuted in Thailand, where pickup trucks account for 40 percent of the market. In America, though, buyers and automakers alike seem to prefer full-size trucks.
They say: Maybe
We say: Hell, yes!
Orlando A small, seven-passenger people carrier originally slated for U.S. consumption but later dismissed because it wouldn't meet American quality standards.
They say: no
We say: Good choice
Spark We were under the impression that the Spark's only role in the U.S. was to loosen the government's purse strings by proving GM can do small and efficient. Apparently we were wrong.
They say: yes
We say: Why?
Volt MPV5 All the Volt running gear in a tasteful, five-seat crossover package. Electric range drops to about thirty miles with the increased weight and aerodynamic drag.
They say: no comment
We say: Yes
For all twenty-seven years that Chrysler has built minivans, it's been selling them under at least two brands. With the 2014 model year, that's finally about to end. That's when a next-generation minivan arrives and the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan go their separate ways. Crucial to splitting the two lines will be a new architecture that allows for much more flexibility, including the ability to underpin a large sedan. One possible approach could be a mini-minivan in the vein of the Mazda 5 for one marque. Also expect to see hybrid technology under the hood later in the vehicle's life cycle.
Chrysler 300C SRT8/ Dodge Charger SRT8
WHAT More power and more technology for Chrysler's sportiest sedans.
WHEN Late 2011
HIGH GAS PRICES BE DAMNED The newest go-fast renditions of Chrysler's big sedans are both more powerful and more efficient than the previous versions, thanks to more displacement combined with cylinder-deactivation technology. Under low-load, steady-state cruising, the burly 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 fires only four of its cylinders. With all eight cylinders in action, both SRT8s have an impressive 465 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque to play with. Shift paddles, adaptive dampening, blind-spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control are all new to the 2012 SRT8 sedans.
Dodge compact sedan
WHAT A Caliber replacement riding on Fiat underpinnings.
FIAT'S FIRST FIX The flagging Caliber is the first Chrysler product to receive major Fiat first aid. The next Dodge compact will be a sedan in place of the current hatch and will be based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta chassis. A special fuel-economy package will yield 40 mpg.
WHAT Dodge's V-10 sports car gets an attitude adjustment.
WHEN Late 2012
TAMING THE SNAKE Expect the 2013 Dodge Viper to be an entirely different animal than the raw beast that scared the snot out of drivers for eighteen years.
Is a Viper without the venom still a Viper?
In both looks and mannerisms, the 2013 Viper will be more refined and much less brutal. "I want the new Viper to be a more forgiving car to drive and accessible to more people," Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles told the Detroit News. Dodge's two-seat supercar will be getting stability control for the first time -- although that's probably due more to a new federal mandate than marketing. A more civilized bent moves the Viper from a class of one into direct competition with the Corvette ZR1 and the Porsche 911 Turbo, and while the next Viper won't pull from the Ferrari parts bin, Gilles has said that Fiat (read: Ferrari) will have a hand in tuning the chassis. One defining Viper gene, however, will likely remain intact: the V-10 engine. A revised variant of the 2010 model's 8.4-liter should push the power output well over 600 hp, with a six-speed manual. The Viper's new found civility will be reflected in the styling as well, with more compact dimensions and a more elegant shape. Gilles says the styling is inspired by "a naked woman on the beach." Along with the Coke-bottle profile, you can expect shorter overhangs and less visual mass, as our illustrator has envisioned here.
Filling out the 500 lineup
Fiat returned to America a few months ago with much fanfare surrounding its stylish, affordable 500 hatchback. The Italian captain of the Chrysler Group will try to keep the buzz going with the 500 convertible, scheduled to reach showrooms by the time you read this. (With luck, Fiat's fledgling American dealer base will be running smoothly by then.) The 500C keeps its pillars intact, so its top is more of a full-width canvas sunroof instead of a traditional convertible top. The upside is that the Fiat's rigidity isn't compromised as much as that of most convertibles. The 500s that excite us most, however, are the racy, turbocharged Abarth editions. Expect about 160 hp to start, a whopping 60 percent increase over the standard 500, but it'll be about a year from now before you can buy one. An all-electric, lithium-ion-powered 500 is also slated for release in 2012. Beyond that, Fiat promises a "full pipeline" of products for American and Canadian customers -- a four-door Fiat is rumored for 2013 -- but we expect that lineup to focus on smaller vehicles that don't interfere too much with Dodge's mainstream models.
Like so many vehicles coming from the Ford Motor Company these days, the next Escape is built on the global C-segment platform that underpins the Focus and a bevy of other small cars (page 66). The Vertrek concept shown above portends a production model that will replace both the Escape here in America and the popular Kuga in Europe. Ford insiders hint that both names will be retained in their respective markets, as each has very high recognition with consumers. J Mays, Ford's worldwide design chief, admits that the Vertrek is very close to what the production vehicle will look like, and he's understandably pleased with what his design team has created. It is modern, progressive, and upscale, with very origami-like side creases. Production modifications -- sideview mirrors, smaller wheels, door handles, and a steel roof -- should have little impact on the vehicle's good looks. A trio of four-cylinder engines will provide the power, starting with the 168-hp, 2.5-liter base unit. A 180-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter paired with automatic start/stop should offer the best fuel economy but will also command a premium price. The current Escape's V-6 will be replaced by a turbo 2.0-liter good for about 240 hp. All engines will be paired with six-speed automatics.
WHAT Ford's small crossover, evolved from stale to sexy.
WHEN Early 2012
IT'S ABOUT TIME With relatively few major changes in its lifetime, the Escape that sits in showrooms today is pretty much the same one that debuted eleven years ago.
WHAT A bad-to-the-bone Focus hatchback that could make Volkswagen GTI owners shake in their lederhosen.
WHEN Early 2012
EVERYTHING WE'VE WANTED IN A FOCUS It's no RS, but the Focus ST is a damn fine consolation prize: a high-powered hatch that can run with the GTI and the Mazdaspeed 3. The ST will produce 247 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Power is routed to the front wheels through either a six-speed manual or a dual-clutch automatic transmission. To keep torque steer in check, the ST does without a mechanical limited-slip differential -- and instead uses its brakes to eliminate one-wheel peel.
WHAT A nimble subcompact with a raised ride height.
THREE'S COMPANY As is Chevy, Ford is looking to get into the subcompact crossover segment started by the Nissan Juke. And much like the Juke, expect the Fiesta-based vehicle to use a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
WHAT A 180-hp turbocharged Lilliputian.
A LITTLE SIBLING RIVALRY Ford's edgy subcompact will turn up the fun factor even more with a tuned suspension and an additional 60 hp. To avoid stealing any of the Focus ST's glory and sales, the Fiesta will debut later in the car's life cycle.
Beyond the basics
Ford is betting big on small cars, adding four models to the U.S. market on top of the bread-and-butter Focus and Escape.
Late 2011 the 100-mile range from its lithium-ion battery is impressive, but What really sets the Focus apart is a high-power charger that delivers a full charge from a 240-volt outlet in less than four hours.
Mid-2012 Ford is getting back into the minivan game, but this time the seven-passenger people mover is a mini-minivan, similar to the Mazda 5. Power comes from either a 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder or the new 1.6-liter turbo four.
Late 2012 We Won't get the gasoline-powered European C-Max with four conventional doors, but it will serve as host to two hybrid powertrains. The conventional hybrid operates much like the Fusion Hybrid, with a CVT splitting power between the engine and the motor...
Late 2012 The plug-in variant will offer a short electric-only driving range before the gas engine kicks on. Ford's not saying how many miles that is, but we're guessing it's closer to fourteen than forty.
Sierra All Terrain HD
WHAT GM gets into the off-roading game.
GETTING DIRTY GMC's Sierra All Terrain HD concept splits the difference between the desert-running Ford F-150 SVT Raptor and the rock-crawling Ram Power Wagon. The long-travel suspension uses Fox dampers for high-speed off-road sprints, while front and rear differential lockers and a disconnectable front antiroll bar improve traction and wheel articulation. The production All Terrain will likely drop the concept's diesel engine and will be assembled by a third party but will still be sold through GMC dealers.
WHAT Honda's spacious subcompact -- with seventy miles of electric driving range.
BATTLE OF THE BATTERY-POWERED Honda may be withholding the Fit Hybrid from Americans, but a pure-electric version of the small hatchback will reach our shores next year. With a range of seventy miles, the electric Fit makes the perfect foil to the Nissan Leaf. Drivers who take shorter trips can switch to sport mode, which mimics the acceleration of a small car powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
WHAT A mid-size vehicle with between ten and fifteen miles of electric range.
ALTERNATIVE ENERGY, ALTERNATIVE BODY Honda says the powertrain package can be integrated into any number of mid-size or large vehicles. We'd bet on the technology debuting in a new, unique body.
WHAT A small, sporty two-plus-two.
ANOTHER 4-0 The Veloster steps into the space vacated by the Tiburon, but -- reflecting the times -- it puts greater emphasis on fuel economy and connectivity. Sized about midway between the Honda CR-Z and the Scion TC, the four-seat Veloster has a single door on the driver's side and two on the passenger's side. (The rear door opens conventionally; it's not rear-hinged.) Under the hood is a direct-injected 1.6-liter four-cylinder (138 hp and 123 lb-ft of torque) mated to either a six-speed manual or a dual-clutch automatic transmission -- the latter gets a 40-mpg highway rating. The audio system features a standard touch screen, Pandora radio (via an iPhone), satellite radio, a video-game console plug-in, and Bluetooth. Hyundai's Blue Link adds a host of additional OnStar-style services for a subscription fee.
What to make of the entry-level, front-wheel-drive, CVT-equipped Etherea hybrid concept? Don't worry; any Infiniti with those kind of credentials would likely be for Europe only. We, however, eventually will receive a front-wheel-drive EV based on Nissan Leaf running gear. With a larger battery, the Infiniti's range should stretch beyond the Leaf's seventy-three miles. To add volume, Infiniti is also planning a conventional crossover that's more practical than the FX.
Jaguar's plans for its new small four-door, scheduled to arrive in 2014, reveal how the automaker has evolved since its days under Ford ownership. Whereas the Ford Mondeo-based X-type tried to compete with the likes of the BMW 3-series on the cheap, the new model, code-named X760 and previewed below by our illustrator, will attempt to leapfrog the Germans by using a rear-wheel-drive platform and aluminum construction. Then there's the design. Jaguar is considering several body styles in addition to the usual three-box sedan, including a hatchback and a four-door coupe. The biggest challenge, beyond keeping costs in line, will be sourcing or developing the required four- and six-cylinder engines. Rumor has it that Jaguar has even approached BMW for the engines it needs to power its 3-series-fighter.
WHAT A compact sport sedan from Jaguar.
AIMING HIGH The new four-door and its variants are critical in Jaguar and Land Rover's plans to triple combined sales to 750,000 by 2018.
WHAT An affordable Jaguar sports car.
OK, RELATIVELY AFFORDABLE The aluminum-intensive XE will give Jaguar a lower-priced partner for the new XK, which will hit the market about the same time. But it still won't be cheap -- think somewhere between the Porsche Boxster and 911, or about $65,000 to $70,000.
WHAT A pillarless, four-seat coupe based on the XJ sedan.
MERCEDES-BENZ CL, JAG-STYLE "To make it work, this car would have to be much more dynamic and emotional than a Mercedes CL," comments Jaguar global brand director Adrian Hallmark. That shouldn't be an overly demanding task, considering that the XJ is already the friskiest car in its segment. The coupe will ride on a shortened wheelbase and feature new sheetmetal topped with a glass roof.
WHAT Performance-oriented, bewhiskered companions to the Land Rover Evoque and the Range Rover Sport.
WHEN 2014 for the small crossover; tentative for the large crossover
ISN'T THIS WHAT LAND ROVER IS FOR? Yes, but management believes that the two brands have to share technology, and even risk overlapping, to survive. The Jaguar crossovers -- particularly the smaller one -- would have to be much more aggressive and more geared toward on-road performance than their Land Rover companions.
To say that the ungainly Jeep Commander was unworthy to take up the mantle of the classic Grand Wagoneer, last sold in 1991, is stating the obvious. Jeep will have a chance to redeem itself when it revives the Grand Wagoneer nameplate for a new luxury SUV. Based on the vastly improved new Grand Cherokee and the related Dodge Durango, it's planned for the 2014 model year and might look like our spy illustrator's artwork here. Like the recently discontinued Commander, the new Grand Wagoneer will feature a third row, which Jeep sees as essential for a full-size luxury SUV. But this time, Jeep will stretch the wheelbase and add extra rear overhang to accommodate it. The idea is for the biggest Jeep to compete with the likes of the Cadillac Escalade. Pricing will likely start at more than $40,000.
Grand Cherokee SRT8
WHAT Hot-rod version of the new Grand Cherokee.
WHEN Late 2011
MORE POWERFUL, MORE POSH The previous Grand Cherokee SRT8 was seriously fun, but the new generation's additional polish should make this superfast Jeep a real challenger to the German high-performance-SUV crowd. Using the bored-and-stroked 6.4-liter Hemi from the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 and the Challenger SRT8, output increases from 420 (hp and lb-ft) to 465 (hp and lb-ft), which we hope will be enough to overcome the new Grand Cherokee's weight gain. The five-speed automatic returns but adds shift paddles, and adaptive dampening is new. Brembo again supplies the brakes, which are visible behind twenty-inch wheels. The previous model's center-exiting exhaust gives way to a more substantial towing package. LED lighting, unique lower bodywork, a body-color grille, and black roof rails set the SRT apart visually.
WHAT Compact front-wheel-drive/four-wheel-drive crossover -- a successor to today's underachieving duo.
WHEN Late 2013
A SECOND CHANCE AT SMALL The next small Jeeps will be one of the first tests of Fiat/Chrysler compatibility. It will use the B/C architecture that underpins the current Alfa Romeo MiTo/Giulietta and will be built at a Fiat factory in Turin. But beyond the synergies, this new model also needs to redeem the whole idea of a compact Jeep crossover.
Kia's upward swing hasn't been as rapid or as strong as Hyundai's, but recent products like the Optima and the Sportage suggest that little brother might be just one step behind. At the New York auto show, Kia took the wraps off the subcompact Rio sedan, which will go on sale later this year with a 140-hp, 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. In 2012, expect Kia to finally get around to replacing the frumpy Amanti. Although that car hasn't been sold here for more than a year, its successor, the Cadenza, first appeared back in 2009. The styling is much more tasteful, but Kia's flagship will retain front-wheel drive and V-6 power.
WHAT Supercar successor to the Murcielago.
WHEN Late 2011
GET IN LINE Lamborghini loyalists are clamoring for the brand's first all-new car since 2003, which means that the Italian maker already has buyers for the first twelve months of production. The chassis -- using a carbon-fiber monocoque, aluminum subframes, and a pushrod suspension -- allows the Aventador to be 199 pounds lighter than the Murcielago. The running gear is less revolutionary but just as radical: a V-12 good for 691 hp and 509 lb-ft, a seven-speed automated manual, and the usual all-wheel drive. The price for polygonal performance? About $360,000. Expect 0 to 62 mph in 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 217 mph.
Range Rover Evoque
WHAT The epitome of a roadgoing Rover.
WHEN Late 2011
ON THE ROAD WITH ROVER Although early talk had enthusiasts in a tizzy over front-wheel drive, all Evoques sold in the U.S. will have all-wheel drive. Power comes from a new turbocharged 2.0-liter making about 240 hp. The adjustable Terrain Response system is standard, but the optional Adaptive Dynamics with magnetically controlled dampers should pay dividends on pavement. The Evoque comes in both two- and four-door body styles, starting at about $45,000.
WHAT A cleaner, more efficient Land Rover icon.
IT'S BACK, BUT NOT AS BADASS Land Rover's most rugged vehicle was booted from America when air bags became a requirement in 1998, but now that the company has to overhaul the Defender by 2016 in order to meet emissions requirements in Europe, the American market is back in play. The Defender will be the first of up to six vehicles built on a new space frame architecture. Don't expect a hard-core utilitarian offering here, though. The Defender will appear in two versions: an indestructible, no-frills Land Rover for Costa Rican coffee farmers and a chic, road going Rover for the Malibu in-crowd.
WHAT A much-needed new generation of the slow-selling mid-sizer.
FORETELLING THE FUTURE Beyond introducing an updated hybrid powertrain, the New York debut of the LF-Gh previews the styling direction for the Lexus brand and carries a new rear-wheel-drive platform eventually destined for the IS as well.
WHAT A Ford Mondeo-based replacement for Lincoln's mid-size car.
WHEN Late 2012
A LITTLE MORE LINCOLN The MKZ finally steps out of the Ford Fusion's shadow with a more distinctive exterior design. Under that unique sheetmetal, though, will still be plenty of family ties, as the MKZ moves onto the same global mid-size platform as the next-generation Fusion and Mondeo. It also will catch Ford's engine-downsizing fever, relying on a lineup of four-cylinder powerplants, including a turbo 2.0-liter as well as another hybrid.
WHAT Something smaller from Lincoln.
SMALL BUT TALL The 2009 Lincoln C concept was a four-door hatchback, but the latest discussions at Lincoln suggest that the small offering could be a baby crossover.
WHAT A sharpened Maserati Coupe.
SORT-OF-LIMITED EDITION Maserati intends to sell only about 200 GranTurismo MCs in the U.S., but we hear that number could easily climb if buyers demand more.
WHAT An Italian luxury SUV with Detroit DNA.
MASERATI BY JEEP The Chrysler LeBaron-based TC by Maserati was a massive flop in 1989, but that's not stopping Sergio Marchionne from forcing another mashup between Motown and Modena. Based on Jeep Grand Cherokee hard points, the unnamed Maserati SUV will be powered by either a 3.0-liter version of Chrysler's Pentastar V-6 boosted to achieve 350 hp or a Ferrari-designed twin-turbo V-8 making 450 hp. We just hope it's less conflicted-looking than the Giugiaro-designed 2003 Kubang concept.
WHAT A challenger to the Ferrari 458 Italia, the Audi R8, and the Lamborghini Gallardo.
NOT AFRAID OF COMPETITION The five-car lineup positions Lotus in direct competition with several big names, a huge change for the company that builds the peerless Elise and Evora. No future Lotus is as ambitious as the Esprit, facing off against the big names like Ferrari and Lamborghini with a mid-mounted, supercharged V-8 that makes 620 hp. Lotus also says it's planning an optional hybrid system in the vein of Formula 1's KERS, which offers a power boost at the push of a button.
WHAT Sedan. Hybrid. Lotus?
IS IT GETTING CROWDED IN HERE? The Eterne is aimed at the segment occupied by the Aston Martin Rapide, the Porsche Panamera, and the Maserati Quattroporte, not to mention the alternatives from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. Somewhere in a computer the Eterne exists with a front-mounted V-8, rear- or all-wheel drive, and the ability to run to 60 mph in four seconds.
WHAT Not the Elise you know now.
PACKING ON THE POUNDS The next Elise is a more civil, more accommodating car with easier entry and more amenities. But in broadening its appeal, Lotus engineers have subtracted lightness, with the Elise rising from its current one-ton weigh-in to more than 2400 pounds. The engine -- either a boosted four-cylinder or a V-6 -- still sits behind the driver and powers the rear wheels.
WHAT A mid-engine V-6 car, squeezing the Evora out of the market.
WHEN 2013, maybe
CONFUSED YET? Yeah, we can't keep them straight, either. The Elan is apparently on ice right now, as delivering five new cars in three years is quite a stretch for a company as small as Lotus. But you can bet that the company's hungry execs want this Porsche 911-fighter to happen.
WHAT A front-engine hardtop convertible at the top of a greatly expanded Lotus range.
HAS LOTUS LOST ITS MIND? After the sportier Esprit and Elan arrive, the Elite -- more of a grand touring street performer -- is proof that Lotus has changed direction dramatically. Although the concept debuted with a Toyota V-8 up front, Lotus is now planning to build its own V-8 and V-6 engines. The Elite is ten inches longer than the current Evora and will have a power-retractable hard top, hence the relatively portly 3600-pound curb weight.
Once written off as dead, Mercedes' megaluxury brand will get a jump-start from the next S-class. Starting in 2015, the extended Maybach range will be structured like this:
57 Replaces the current car with new packaging, in-car entertainment, and chassis technology.
62 The long-wheelbase flagship model with a possibility for a Landaulet version.
55 A new four-door Maybach coupe with frameless side windows and a bespoke exterior and interior.
53 A new extended-wheelbase, four-seat, two-door coupe inspired by the Exelero one-off.
53 cabriolet A two-door convertible, the spiritual successor to Mercedes-Benz's Ocean Drive concept.
WHAT A move upmarket and the addition of a diesel engine.
MOVIN' ON UP Freed of its Ford ties, Mazda is looking to move upmarket with nicer interiors and more luxury features, an ambition that should first manifest itself with the next Mazda 6. The striking proportions of the Shinari show car likely won't translate to a front-wheel-drive mid-size sedan, but that car is a harbinger of Mazda's new design direction. We've sampled the forthcoming 2.2-liter diesel with sequential turbos and can tell you that it's just as good as the 310 lb-ft of torque and 43-mpg highway rating suggest.
WHAT A small crossover that trades boxy for beautiful.
AN UGLY-DUCKLING STORY Expected to adhere closely to the Minagi concept, the Tribute replacement could go from the stodgiest crossover to the most stylish. A direct-injected four-cylinder gasoline engine is certain, a diesel less so.
McLaren has promised a new model every year for the next five years. You can count on the first two being riffs on the MP4-12C, likely the convertible first and then a club racer similar to Porsche's RS variants. Eventually we'll see completely new models, which will bracket the MP4-12C in price and performance. That means a legitimate F1 successor on the high end and a Porsche 911 competitor on the low end.
WHAT Four-cylinder, front-wheel drive four-door coupe that's smaller than a c-class.
FINALLY FIT FOR THE U.S. The current B-class looks about as beautiful as a Honda Fit, but with the CLC, Mercedes should have a car as stylish as it is small.
When you look at the CLC (rendered above by our spy illustrator), it's hard to believe that it's actually riding on a compact-car platform. Yet the so-called "baby CLS," scheduled for a 2013 debut, is about the same length as a Toyota Corolla and will share underpinnings with the next A- and B-class. That means the CLC will not only introduce Americans to a smaller Benz, it will also introduce them to a front-wheel-drive Mercedes. Its maker learned with the last-generation C-class coupe that hatchbacks don't work in the United States, so the CLC will instead have a trunk to swallow nearly 16 cubic feet of luggage. An internal marketing document describes the CLC as "young, aggressive, chic, individual, athletic, and daring." In this case, the spiel is accurate. The design clearly has been inspired by the CLS, although the CLC avoids controversial details such as pontoon rear fenders and an in-your-face-grille. The CLC likely will be equipped with the 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that debuts in the 2012 C-class; all-wheel drive will be optional. In 2014, insiders expect an AMG edition featuring all-wheel drive and a 2.2-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder good for 300 hp.
WHAT A sports car positioned below the SLS AMG. It's also been referred to as the SLV, the SLM, and the SSK.
DECISIONS, DECISIONS Mercedes management is still vacillating on how to execute its sub-SLS sports car. Some in the company are pushing for
a mid-engine car to rival the Audi R8. Others, however, prefer to stick with the front-engine layout of the SLS and simply downsize it. Pricing is also an issue, as the new sports car must elbow its way between the SL ($103,475) and the SLS ($181,175). At least Mercedes has an enticing new engine ready regardless of layout--
a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 good for
as much as 450 hp.
C-class coupe/C63 AMG coupe
WHAT A sporty, two-door version of the entry-level Mercedes.
WILL THE REAL C-CLASS COUPE PLEASE STAND UP? Some might recall that the E-class coupe introduced last year actually rides on the same basic platform as the C-class. Nevertheless, this new coupe is decidedly different both in its composition and its character. Whereas the two-door E-class is a comfortable and fairly large grand tourer, the C-class coupe clearly has its sights set on the BMW 3-series. The C-class is shorter, narrower, and lighter than the E-class overall, although they share the same wheelbase. The car's two engines come directly from the revised C-class sedan. The C250 features a new four-cylinder producing 201 hp, and the V-6-powered C350 edges out the 335i with 302 hp. For the C63 AMG, Mercedes has retained the 6.2-liter V-8, which is good for up to 481 hp. All engines are paired with a seven-speed automatic.
WHAT The Next-generation Mercedes flagship.
PREPARE TO BE CONFUSED Mercedes is readying a dizzying number of variants for the new S-class, including multiple wheelbases, a coupe (which replaces the cl), a convertible, and a four-door coupe. Meanwhile, Mercedes is still expanding the lineup of the current S-class, rolling out the S350 diesel this summer.
and did we mention that there could be multiple Maybach versions of the new car, as well? Dizzying, indeed.
SLS AMG E-cell
WHAT An electric Gullwing.
SAME LOOK, NEW FLAVOR the e-cell looks just like a gas-fueled Gullwing, but all-wheel drive and a massive 48-kWh battery alter the car's dynamics. Four electric motors positioned at the wheels deliver a total of 526 hp and 649 lb-ft of torque. At 800 pounds heavier than the V-8 SLS, the E-cell doesn't feel as agile, but mounting the battery pack low in the center of the car makes for profoundly less body roll.
Roadster and coupe
WHAT Lighter, spunkier two-seaters.
WHEN Coupe in late 2011; Roadster in 2012
MATCHED TO MINI'S MISSION To emphasize their sportier statures, the Roadster concept debuted in 2009 with the 175-hp S engine and the Coupe received the 208-hp Works engine. When they arrive in showrooms, though, we expect both cars to be available with all three of Mini's 1.6-liter engines. Although the Coupe and the Roadster are the same length as the Cooper, they're about 200 pounds lighter.
WHAT A two-door Mini Countryman.
READY TO RACE Mini is already fielding two Countrymans in the 2011 World Rally Championship, but expect the team to adopt the lighter two-door Paceman soon, possibly in time for the 2012 season.
With the Paceman, Mini's lineup grows to seven models. Keeping those models fresh means plenty of work for the brand in the next eight years, especially with the addition of two more new vehicles.
2014 » New Cooper
2016 » Cooper convertible and Clubman replacement
2017 » Two new vehicles: the people-carrying Mini Activity Tourer and a Rocketman-esque model smaller than the Cooper
2018 » Countryman Replacement
2019 » Next-generation Coupe and Roadster
WHAT Mitsubishi's pint-size EV, heretofore known as the i-MiEV.
WHEN November (in Western states); 2012 (nationwide)
RECHARGING THE BRAND Mitsubishi plans to reinvent itself as an EV leader, and the i is the first fruit of that effort. Using a 63-hp electric motor powered by a 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the i likely will have a range of somewhat less than Mitsubishi's eighty-five-mile prediction. The price will be under $30,000.
Nissan has a handful of excellent niche cars with the frisky Juke, the electric Leaf, and the updated 2012 GT-R, but mainstream models like the Sentra and the Maxima have struggled. The mid-size Altima still does well in its cutthroat class, but a new one isn't far off. It will appear first as a lightly disguised concept in 2012. The 2010 Ellure concept provides some direction for the design, which will be led by Alfonso Albaisa, who oversaw the Juke. A redesigned Sentra follows later in 2012. A new Titan is about two years away now that the company has decided to develop the full-size truck on its own, rather than adapting the Ram 1500. Nissan's extensive investment in electric propulsion will produce a light commercial vehicle next.
WHAT Pagani comes to America at last, just when we were getting bored with the Bugatti Veyron.
WHEN Late 2011 or early 2012 (which gives you some time to save up the necessary $1.3 million)
BEYOND THE ZONDA The Italian supercar maker's follow-up to the Zonda is even more outrageous. Named for an Andes wind god, the Huayra features active aerodynamic aids front and rear, the better to keep the car from launching itself into space with its 700-plus-hp V-12. The twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter engine, which again is supplied by Mercedes-AMG, is longitudinally mounted amidships and makes 811 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is a seven-speed sequential manual. Composites (and titanium!) keep the total vehicle weight below 3000 pounds.
Porsche 550, Audi R5, and Volkswagen BlueSport
Porsche takes the lead in developing a small, mid-engine sports car for the VW Group
Volkswagen first teased enthusiasts with a mid-engine roadster in 2009 with the BlueSport concept, just months before the German giant made a move to purchase Porsche. That deal means that a trio of relatively affordable mid-engine sports cars (interpreted by our spy illustrator above) is now more likely. Based on the new MSS architecture, the Porsche 550, Audi R5, and VW BlueSport make up one of the hottest future projects under development at the VW Group. Porsche's 550 has the difficult task of slotting under the Boxster/Cayman without cannibalizing sales. Power will be supplied by a four-cylinder boxer engine, likely a turbocharged 1.9-liter good for some 210 hp and 215 lb-ft of torque. Porsche signatures such as active dampers, a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, and a Sport Chrono pack raise performance potential. Audi will likely use the 340-hp five-cylinder from the TT RS mated with Quattro all-wheel drive, aiming for a higher price somewhere between that of the TT and the R8. The BlueSport is slated to receive a 180-hp four-cylinder and will incorporate parts from mainstream VWs to keep costs down. Developing only the Porsche would have allowed for a 2013 arrival of the 550, but group development has pushed the timetable back by a couple years.
911, Boxster, and Cayman
WHAT New versions of the Porsche icons.
WHEN Late 2011 for the 911; 2012 for the Boxster and the Cayman
MORE OF THE SAME Although they're based on the new 9x1 architecture, the next 911 (code 991) and Boxster (981) will feel like evolutions rather than new cars. The big changes are electric power steering, an electric parking brake, and a seven-speed manual.
WHAT Cayenne junior, every bit as spicy as its bigger brother.
STEP ONE OF MANY Under the umbrella of the Volkswagen Group, Porsche is aiming to almost double sales to 150,000 units by 2013. The first all-new model, the Cajun, will be dimensionally similar to the Audi Q5 that it's based on, albeit slightly lower, shorter, and wider. To ensure a sports-car-like driving position, the Cajun receives all-new seats, a less steeply raked steering column, and the dashboard of the upcoming Boxster. Power will come from a 3.0-liter V-6 producing about 290 hp and
295 lb-ft of torque routed through Quattro all-wheel drive. There's a chance that we'll also receive the turbo-diesel V-6. In addition, a Cajun Turbo S is in the works. It features Porsche's own twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6, rated at 350 hp.
WHAT An $845,000 plug-in hybrid porsche supercar.
WHEN Late 2013
AS RADICAL AS IT SOUNDS The showstopping Porsche 918 concept from the 2010 Geneva auto show is now a reality -- or at least it will be for a few lucky individuals. Production of the plug-in-hybrid supercar is limited to just 918 copies. A 500-hp V-8 connected to the rear wheels provides the majority of the thrust, while electric motors (adding another 218 hp) sit on both the front and rear axles. Electric driving range is modest -- about fifteen miles. The 0 to 60 mph time of 3.1 seconds and top speed of 199 mph are anything but.
"Pajun" mid-size sedan
WHAT Another sedan, smaller than the Panamera.
IS THIS EVEN CONTROVERSIAL ANYMORE? Following up on the "Cayenne Junior" theme, Porsche is poised to add a "Panamera Junior" mid-size passenger car, first as a sedan and later as a coupe and a convertible. The smaller sedan would trade the panamera's egg-shaped, 911-inspired rear end for a sporty three-box stance. The new entry-level model relies heavily on a brace of 3.0- and 3.6-liter V-6s born from the modular V engine program that's under development. The turbocharged, direct-injected units produce between 400 and 550 hp. Alternatively, customers can choose from two Audi-sourced 3.0-liter V-6 turbo-diesels rated at 265 and 335 hp. Also in the cards are a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 good for 600 hp and a plug-in hybrid with a 250-hp four-cylinder range extender.
WHAT Newly independent Saab's first test, the next 9-3.
WHEN Late 2012
HELLO, HYBRID The new 9-3 is being developed using a heavily revised version of the current platform that is both lengthened and widened; this new architecture will also underpin the next 9-5 and 9-4X. The new 9-3 will offer a "through-the-road" hybrid system, with the front-wheel-drive gasoline-engine powertrain supplemented by electrically driven rear wheels, which will be able to provide torque vectoring across the rear axle to aid cornering. Body styles for the 9-3 will include a hatchback. The wild Phoenix show car (pictured above), by design chief Jason Castriota, hints at the new look -- at least up front; the rest is pure fancy. Speaking of wishful thinking, the much-talked-about 9-2 compact isn't happening anytime soon. Saab would love to do one, with a teardrop shape that harks back to the very first Saab, but departing CEO Jan Ake Jonsson recently acknowledged that it's "not in our business plan" unless Saab can find a development partner.
WHAT The 9-5 station wagon.
ONE TO START Unlike the sedan, the 9-5 wagon will be offered as only one model: an Aero with the 220-hp turbo four and all-wheel drive. Pricing is likely to come in about $1500 more than the sedan.
WHAT A Toyota sports car to fill the small gap between the $18,995 Scion tC and the $375,875 Lexus LFA.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? At the New York auto show, Toyota pitched a changeup, showing the two-year-old Toyota FT-86 concept as a Scion. That would inject much-needed volume into the flagging youth brand at the cost of an equally needed dose of enthusiasm for Toyota. Ultimately, we don't care what it's called, as long as it has a manual transmission and drives its rear wheels as promised. The unapologetically aggressive styling of the updated Geneva show car, pictured above, wouldn't hurt either, particularly if it's backed by one of Subaru's explosive turbocharged engines. Currently, though, only a normally aspirated boxer four-cylinder is confirmed.
WHAT smart-sized microcar that squeezes four seats into a vehicle barely ten feet long.
WHEN Late 2011
WAIT FOR THE ELECTRIC Scion expects the iQ to achieve combined fuel economy in the high 30s with its 1.3-liter four-cylinder and CVT automatic. That's frankly underwhelming, considering what we've seen from the latest compacts and subcompacts. The battery-powered iQ, which debuted at the Geneva auto show with an estimated range of sixty-five miles, seems like a much more compelling city car.
WHAT A new small Subaru that's focused on fuel economy.
WHEN Late 2011
MOVING TOWARD MAINSTREAM Subaru credits some of its recent success to the fact that its newer, larger models are finally the "right size." To that end, the 2012 Impreza should stretch a bit in length and width. Aiming for fuel economy improvements rather than power gains, the base engine is downsized from 2.5 liters to 2.0 liters. Power drops from 170 hp to 148 hp while fuel economy rises by 30 percent to 27/36 mpg city/highway. All-wheel-drive is, of course, standard.
WHAT A gas/electric Subie.
A HYBRID THAT'S LOYAL TO THE BRAND Subaru's foray into hybrids won't compromise the brand's core tenets, as the 2013 model will retain all-wheel drive and will likely use a boxer four-cylinder.
WHAT A rear-wheel-drive Subaru, sister of the Scion FR-S.
STILL A SUBARU While it lacks the signature all-wheel drive, Subaru's sports car still boasts a horizontally opposed four-cylinder. Displacing just 2.0 liters, the engine should be good for about 160 hp. Of course, that leaves plenty of room for a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive STI model.
Suzuki recently entered the second year of its collaboration with Volkswagen. So, development cycles being what they are, few of the Japanese carmaker's future products are set in stone. The strong-selling Swift subcompact, which debuted last year and was engineered to comply with U.S. regulations, still hasn't reached our shores because Suzuki can't manipulate the spreadsheets to make selling the Japan-built econocar profitable here. However, hybrid and turbocharged versions of the mid-size Kizashi are slated to arrive here by early 2013. Suzuki developed a boosted version of the Kizashi's existing 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, but VW powertrains should start appearing in Suzuki products very soon.
WHAT A luxurious electric sport sedan.
THE PRICE OF ELECTRICITY Starting at $57,400, the Model S can cover 160 miles before needing a charge. An additional $10,000 buys a bigger battery pack that's good for 230 miles. Another $10,000 ups the range to 300 miles.
Toyota's pioneering hybrid grows into a brand with the addition of the Prius V, a high-roof model, and the Prius c, a smaller, entry-level offering. The former debuts this summer and employs the same powertrain as the current car, but it offers about 50 percent more cargo room. The Prius C launches in the first half of 2012 and aims to undercut the Honda Insight's price and surpass all current hybrids in fuel economy. Although European and Japanese customers will have a choice of a Prius V with lithium-ion batteries and seven seats, the U.S. model sticks with a bigger nickel-metal-hydride pack that limits seating to two rows. Toyota is testing higher-capacity (and higher-price) lithium-ion batteries with the Prius PHV, a plug-in that promises a thirteen-mile EV range. It should enter production sometime in 2012.
Now that Volvo's transfer to Chinese ownership is complete, the days of developing new cars together with Ford are over. It's unclear, however, whether Volvo will seek to team up with another automaker for specific programs or go it alone. For now, the brand is dropping the slow-selling S40 sedan and V50 wagon, and yet there are no plans to import the V60 wagon currently available in Europe. The UNIVERSE design study shown in Shanghai previews one direction that Volvo might take for a future large car.
WHAT A subcompact people carrier that's meant to channel the Microbus.
WHEN 2014 (about a year after its debut in Europe)
A MICRO-SIZE MICROBUS The Bulli was a hit at the Geneva auto show, and it now appears to be headed for production. Short (about the length of the original Golf) but wide, the Bulli would be built on the MQB (next-generation Golf) platform and will be powered by a 1.4-liter engine. The concept's exterior styling is very close to the real deal; inside, the production version would skip the three-person front bench in favor of conventional, five-passenger seating.
WHAT The four-wheel-drive ueber GTI.
WHEN Late 2011
R RENEWED Rather than the narrow-angle V-6 of the previous R32, the 2012 Golf R uses the GTI's turbocharged 2.0-liter cranked up to 267 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard fare, as is a six-speed manual. In fact, Volkswagen won't import any Golf Rs with the dual-clutch automatic that was the only transmission offered on the 2008 R32. The specs of the $33,000 Golf R make for a natural comparison to the rally-bred Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and Subaru Impreza WRX STI, but the cabin, equipment, and composure are much more sophisticated.
The squatter, sportier new Beetle made its debut at the New York auto show -- appropriate given that the outgoing New Beetle has been far more popular in the United States than in its home country. Based once again on the Golf platform, the Beetle will launch with the oh-so-familiar 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine and an optional 2.0T, with a choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. The 2.0-liter turbo-diesel will arrive later. Initially available only as a hardtop, a convertible will be added as sure as the sun rises. (The Beetle droptop will keep the new Golf convertible
out of U.S. showrooms.)