Posts Tagged ‘Best Upcoming Cars of 2012’
January 4th, 2012
#1 – 2013 Scion FR-S / Subaru BRZ
Something delightfully wicked this way comes by way of Japan: the new Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ rear-wheel drive sport coupe twins will launch next year and have rocketed to the top of our list of cars to look forward to in 2012.
The FR-S and BRZ are two distinct cars with enough minor differences to fill a page, but they are more alike than different and buyer preference will ultimately be a question of styling. The compact sport coupes share a common platform, powertrain and basic exterior and interior styling elements, with suspension tuning and finishing touches left to their respective parent companies.
Toyota (Scion’s parent company) and Subaru developed this car using the legendary AE86 Toyotas of the 1980s as a spiritual blueprint. Powered by an all-new 200-horsepower lightweight 2.0-liter Boxer flat four-cylinder mounted low for a near-ideal center of gravity, the FR-S and BRZ use either 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmissions and come standard with a limited-slip differential and rear-wheel drive.
Light weight has been a key part of the development process, and with the result a hair under 2,700 lbs. engineers have accomplished their goal in creating knife-edged performance machines without excess baggage. Early test drive reports show two capable performers with a very high thrill-to-dollar ratio.
The closest competitor currently at market is Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe, though if Scion and Subaru are successful, expect more inexpensive rear-wheel drive coupes on the horizon to the delight of enthusiasts everywhere.
Both cars are set to launch right around the same time with a release date in spring of 2012. Base pricing for each will sit right around $24,000 with the Scion variant likely a little cheaper but missing a standard navigation system.
Top 10 Cars Coming in 2012 Results:
January 4th, 2012
#2 – 2013 Tesla Model S
Tesla’s long-gestating Model S is set to launch by the end of 2012 as a 2013 model, with the initial model year’s run of cars already sold out through preorders. The family-size battery-electric car, with optional seating for up to 7 thanks to a small rear jump seat, sets some lofty goals for itself, including up to 300 miles in range with the addition of an upgraded larger battery.
And then there’s the price. Tesla says the Model S will start at a rather reasonable $49,990 (after the full Federal tax credit of $7,500) with its 160-mile-range battery pack. Upgrading to 230 miles will cost an extra $10,000 with the 300-mile model an extra $20,000. That’s a little more than $20,000 more expensive than a Nissan LEAF in the base configuration, more than doubling that car’s range while offering true luxury features. The top-of-the-line Model S Performance will start at $79,999 after tax credits.
Initial test drive impressions have been positive, with the Model S noted for its quiet operation (it’s an EV after all) and surprisingly sporty suspension response. CEO Elon Musk has made one bold claim after another, including 0-60 in 5 seconds with Performance package, or 5.5 seconds for the standard Model S.
Tesla pioneered long-range electric cars with its $100,000-plus Roadster, and is now primed to bring its considerable knowledge to a much more civil, everyday package and at half the price. Sounds like a recipe for success if we’ve ever heard one, but first the company must make good on all those bold claims.
Would you pay $50,000 for an electric car with the interior size and luxury and all the straight-line grunt of a BMW 5-Series? Tesla is currently taking orders.
January 4th, 2012
#4 – 2013 Honda Fit EV
Though competitors may be able to boast higher mpg numbers, Honda’s Fit continues to show up on Car and Driver’s 10 Best List and at the top of countless subcompact comparisons. Its blend of sharp handling, good looks and a feeling of quality missing from much of the segment have won it countless converts. What better platform to start with for Honda’s first production electric car? It’s called the 2013 Fit EV, and while it’s not a game-changer from a technology standpoint it could soon be the most appealing electric car on the road.
Powering the lightweight Fit EV to zippy around-town performance won’t be a problem: the plug-in electric car features a front-mounted AC synchronous, permanent magnet coaxial traction motor making 123 horsepower and 189 lb-ft. of torque. A 20kWh lithium-ion battery pack is capable of being charged in as little as 3 hours using a 240-volt dedicated EV charging circuit.
As for range, Honda predicts the Fit EV will be rated at 76 combined miles by EPA methods, though notes an unadjusted range of 123 city/95 highway miles. As we’ve learned from the Volt and especially the Nissan LEAF, your mileage will vary based on factors like driving style and climate control use.
One more factor of note: thanks to batteries placed under the floorboards, the Fit EV retains nearly all the cargo capacity of its gas-powered platform mate, including Honda’s innovative vertically folding rear seats to accommodate tall items.
The Fit EV will be available first in selected California and Oregon markets in summer 2012, expanding to more markets in early 2013. Base MSRP will be $36,625 or right around that of the Nissan LEAF and a little cheaper than the Ford Focus Electric. A $399/month lease will also be available.
#3- 2013 Dodge Dart
To say Chrysler and its string-pullers at Fiat have a lot riding on the upcoming Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based 2013 Dodge Dart is a huge understatement. Chrysler has watched literally all its competitors release technologically advanced, fuel-efficient new compact cars while its own dated Caliber has languished on lots.
The Dart will change all that, offering three new engine choices, an available 9-speed automatic transmission and at least 40 highway mpg in some configurations. That last bit is especially pertinent to Fiat, as its deal with the U.S. government will allow Fiat to automatically increase its stake in Chrysler from 53.5% to 58.5% contingent on the delivery of a small car with that lofty 40 mpg highway rating.
As for the engines, Chrysler’s new-generation Tigershark four-cylinder will be available in 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter configurations, offered along with the MultiAir turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder that now sees duty in the Fiat 500 Abarth.
The name “Dart” is a little strange, as that Dodge model never received the high recognition as a classic as say, the Charger or Challenger, but Dodge is betting it will appeal to consumers who are too young to remember the Dart and those who fondly remember the quirky slant-6-powered small Dodge Dart of old.
The Dart will be officially revealed at the North American International Auto Show in January with an expected production release date by fall 2012 priced right in line with compact competitors at around $16,500.
January 4th, 2012
#6 – 2013 Cadillac XTS
While Cadillac’s CTS has become a reputable alternative to the world’s best luxury sport sedans, GM’s luxury brand has not managed recently to produce larger sedans that stir an emotion connection with buyers… that is, until now.
The 2013 Cadillac XTS will replace both the STS and DTS in Cadillac’s product portfolio, providing a more fitting competitor to the large luxury sedans of Europe while retaining the front-wheel drive and cushy suspension the brand’s retirement community set have come to expect.
Cadillac has equipped the XTS with a 3.6-liter V6 making 300 horsepower and 264 lb-ft. of torque, with a 6-speed tap-shift automatic transmission. A more performance-oriented all-wheel drive system will be an option. A new Magnetic Ride Control suspension system reads the road every millisecond and can make adjustments to suspension damping settings every 5 milliseconds for a smooth, controlled ride.
The XTS will also debut Cadillac’s new all-encompassing CUE touchscreen infotainment system, complete with internet radio and other driving-enriching apps using a smartphone-based data connection, combining with navigation functions on a high-resolution 8-inch multitouch display. A separate 12.3-inch screen reconfigurable instrument cluster-level display offers four driver-selectable information display modes.
The 2013 XTS is set to begin production this spring with a base price of around $47,000.
#5 – 2012 Toyota Prius c
It’s no secret that here at NCPI, we love the Toyota Prius. Its unique blend of oh-gee-whiz technology and everyday usability gets owners excited about mpg numbers, numbers which no other hybrid can touch. Now Toyota’s decision to offer a smaller, cheaper, even-more-efficient and dare we say more-attractive compact hybrid, the 2012 Prius c, is met with applause.
The Prius c, at 157.3 inches long, is nearly 20 inches shorter than the standard model at 176.4 inches. Called the Aqua in Japan, its sleek profile features integrated wave-like designs swelling around the rear wheel wells that give a fun and whimsical look.
Power comes from a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine running Hybrid Synergy Drive with a high-output electric motor in a hybrid powertrain that shaves 88 lbs. off the one used in the Prius and Prius V. Toyota expects 52 city mpg, which would make the Prius c the only car on the market reaching the 50-city-mpg milestone.
Inside the c will offer Toyota’s new Entune infotainment system, which uses a smartphone data connection to offer connected apps like Pandora Internet Radio, Bing internet search, OpenTable.com restaurant reservations, and movietickets.com tickets. The new hybrid features nine standard airbags and standard Bluetooth functionality.
Think of it as a high-tech Yaris, more expensive but with more nifty features and better than 10 additional mpg. The Prius c will go on sale in the first half of 2012 at a base price reported to be under $20,000.
January 3rd, 2012
#8 – 2012 Porsche 911
The new 2012 Porsche 911, carrying internal model designation 991, marks the biggest evolution of the 911 platform since the switch to water cooling during the Clinton administration and some key advances for Porsche’s hallowed rear-engined sports car.
The 991 grows considerably over its predecessor, though its overall styling shows a subtle evolution of classic 911 lines rather than shaking things up too much. Wheelbase has increased 3.9 inches while overall length is up 2.8 inches. The rear wheels have been moved back 3 inches relative to the position of the engine, creating more stable cornering in the hands of your average driver.
First out of the gate will be the base Carrera with its 3.4-liter flat six-cylinder making 350 horsepower and the Carerra S, making an even 400 horsepower from its 3.8-liter flat six. Porsche will then roll out the inevitable countless variations, adding all-wheel drive, convertible and targa tops, track-focused equipment and turbocharged power.
A new 7-speed conventional manual transmission will be the first of its kind fitted to a production vehicle, while Porsche will continue to offer its PDK 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. Either transmission will send power to the rear wheels, though all-wheel drive will follow in the Carrera 4.
The 991 will be built alongside the current-generation 997 for a time as more variations make their debut on the new platform, including the inevitable track-ready GT2 and GT3 versions. The new 911 will go on sale in February 2012 priced from $82,100 for the Carrera and $96,400 for the Carrera S.
#7 – 2012 BMW 3-Series
The BMW 3-Series is quite possibly the most award-winning car of all time, making Car and Driver’s 10 Best List for the past 21 consecutive years and winning countless converts as a sublimely handling, truly luxurious compact sport sedan. Early next year we’ll be treated to the all-new F30 3-Series, which will debut in rear-wheel drive 328i and 335i sedan variants.
The new 3-Series grows in length, width, interior size and cargo capacity while actually shaving weight. Design-wise, changing a great thing is always dangerous but BMW’s new design language has trickled down to create the best-looking BMW model among the current crop, its sharply raked hood extending backwards toward a nicely executed package that avoids looking chunky despite the model’s larger dimensions. Its stance has broadened and its structure is 10% more rigid. And it still handles like a dream.
Under the hood the big news is BMW’s new twin-turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which replaces the 3.0-liter inline six in the 328i and is also found in the 528i and Z4. With 240 hp and 260 lb-ft. of torque, the new motor bests the outgoing six’s totals by a fair margin.
The upscale 335i will continue to use BMW’s excellent turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder, making 300 horses and 300 lb-ft. of torque. A new ActiveHybrid 3 will follow in fall 2012, as will diesel-powered and xDrive all-wheel drive models.
Base pricing for the 328i will start at $35,795 with the 335i starting at $43,295 when the sedan models see their release in February 2012.