Model-year 2012 cars are now flooding into showrooms as the last 2011 models find their way to new homes or rental car fleets. Here are 10 of the most exciting all-new or redesigned models of the coming year and why each deserves your consideration.
2012 Volkswagen Beetle
VW’s redesigned Beetle is aiming for the sportier end of the compact car segment, especially in the 2.0T model with its 200-horsepower engine. Don’t let them hear you call it “cute.”
2012 Chevrolet Sonic
Chevrolet hopes the Sonic can do for the subcompact segment what the Cruze has done in the compact. A modern replacement for the aging Aveo cannot come too soon.
The TT RS will use a powerful turbocharged 5-cylinder to produce 360 horsepower, sent through quattro AWD and a 6-speed manual transmission. The coupe-only high-performance 2-seater is a stunner.
2012 Buick Verano
Buick’s new Verano is based from the successful Chevrolet Cruze compact and will be entering a premium/entry level luxury compact car segment with few competitors. Can the Verano build off the Regal’s success?
1991 Acura NSX: 20 years later, still beautiful as ever.
The Acura brand has come to stand for forward-thinking styling, true driving thrills, legendary reliability and continued innovation, offering full-featured luxury cars at price points a little below most of its competitors. Acura is now celebrating its 25th anniversary, having made its debut in 1986 as the first Japanese luxury brand. At that time the product line consisted of just two models, the smooth and powerful Legend sedan and the fun-to-drive Integra sport compact.
1987 Acura Legend
Just how did Acura advance so quickly to sit near the top of a short list of the world’s best luxury brands? The answer is through a continued commitment to quality. Simply put, Acura has always produced cars that are better-engineered than they need to be. A strong commitment to pushing the envelope has led to a host of first-to-market innovations (see video below).
By 1990 Acura was already outselling Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the U.S. market with sales of around 138,000 units, or almost as many as those two German brands combined. Now joined by Toyota’s Lexus and Nissan’s Infiniti brands in the Japanese luxury car market, Acura needed to diversify to stay on top.
1997 Acura Integra
The 1990s saw an expansion of the model lineup and an increased focus on luxury. By the early 2000’s sales had slipped a little, so Acura switched their naming structure from conventional names (Integra) to alphanumeric titles (RSX) as is now the custom by the world’s luxury car makers. An expanded model lineup grew to include one of the first-ever crossover SUVs, the MDX, which was an instant hit at market. Sales improved once again, led by the red-hot TL midsize luxury car and its sophisticated Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system.
2007 Acura MDX
Today Acura has seen a drop-off in sales due in large part to hotter-than-ever competition from Lexus and Infiniti. The situation was not helped at all by 2011 supply chain problems as a result of Japan’s natural disasters. Models like the ZDX and the newest TL show a styling direction that has appealed to some buyers while proving unpopular with others.
As Acura looks toward the future it looks poised to recapture lost sales while improving its brand image once again through a new styling direction and updated products. Its flagship RL full-size luxury sedan will a see a redesign soon as it has been overshadowed by the more-exciting and cheaper TL. A new supercar-level NSX successor is in the works. Soon the brand will offer its first hybrid models, using Honda’s readily available Integrated Motor Assist technology.
2012 Acura TL
Perhaps the greatest testament to Acura’s quality and success with consumers is that a huge portion of all the cars it has ever produced throughout the last 25 glorious years are still on the road today.
The 2013 Lexus GS 350 is all set for its official reveal very soon, but that hasn’t prevented an enterprising photography ninja from capturing the new midsize luxury sport sedan devoid of camouflage. Parent company Toyota has taken the design from its flagship Lexus LS line and run with it, giving the new GS a sharp-edged yet flowing design that should be a hit with some potential customers while alienating others.
The front end is particularly striking, with its new trapezoidal grill accentuated by a pair of viper-fang contrasting accents. The car’s front splitter pokes inward then bulges out again moving back toward the oversized wheel wells that aren’t quite filled out by the multi-spoke alloy wheels.
Moving toward the rear, the oversized integrated exhaust outlets and taillights give a sporty look, though the whole rear is somewhat reminiscent of the new Hyundai Sonata.
The total picture is distinctly Japanese and looks truly luxurious if not completely cohesive. We’ll reserve judgment until we see this car in person. The new GS will be officially revealed Aug. 18, and you can see it live on Facebook.
Some breaking news thanks to the sharp-eyed folks at F30Post.com: BMW’s all-new F30 3-Series has been captured in the flesh with no camouflage, giving the best look yet at what’s to expect from BMW’s new luxury sport sedan.
Design wise the car is a stunner, taking the more-muscular theme from the new 5-Series but with even better execution. Especially striking is the car’s domed hood, accentuated by rakish body lines that make sporting intentions clear. The trademark front kidney grills are quite large, though don’t look as strangely proportioned as on BMW’s other new models. Rather than extending smoothly rearward as is the case with the current 2011 3-Series, the 2013 BMW 3-Series’ rear end is stretched taught over the car’s hindquarters, with tidy tail lamps well integrated into the car’s rump.
Power is said to come from a new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine likely displacing 2.0 liters for lower trim levels and BMW’s tried-and-true turbocharged inline 6-cylinder in the upscale 335i, Car and Driver reports. The car will be offered in sedan, coupe and convertible body styles, though the two-doors may switch to the new “4-Series” name at some point during the car’s model life. The F30 3-Series is set to be officially revealed this November with U.S. sales to begin in Spring 2012.
Lexus is set to unveil its all-new 2013 GS 350 midsize luxury sedan at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and you’ll be able to see it live on Facebook today, August 18 at 6:45pm EST. The new GS should really shake things up in a segment where Lexus needs to do something bold to keep up with competing luxury models. Look to the LF-Gh Hybrid concept (shown here) for design cues.
“Today, buyers in the mid-size luxury segment want a more engaging driving experience, styling that makes a statement, and a roomier interior package,” said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. “With the all-new GS, we’re giving them what they asked for, and more.”
Like the smaller IS 350, the current Lexus GS line of rear-wheel drive luxury sport sedans offers plenty of comfort and refinement while trailing the world’s best from Germany, Japan and the U.S. when it comes to handling and driver engagement. Hopefully the new GS will be a step in the right direction. You can see all the info on the big Facebook reveal here and sign up for the latest details from Lexus as they hit the street later this month.