Aston Martin V8 Vantage
In an effort to widen its appeal to a younger market, Aston Martin's new $99,900 'budget' coupé - based on the V8 Vantage entry level model - arrives with more power than its predecessors and, in a move that will have fan boys drooling, a proper 6-speed manual. The GT brings output up to 430 horsepower (translation: 0-60 in 4.6 seconds) coupled with a new exhaust and brakes, not to mention a stiffer sport suspension and quicker steering rack. Visually, the vehicle is identified via a graphics package that puts contrasting colours on the side view mirrors, diffuser, A-pillar and around the front grille. While it harkens back to Aston's racing liveries from the 1950s, for those who find the trim a bit too intrusive, the 'lipstick' grille can remain black.
Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4MATIC Coupe
Coupés are clearly having a major moment in the auto industry, and Mercedes sets the bar high with its new twin-turbocharged S63 AMG coupé. This grand tourer, which replaces the CL line, is not only the automaker's most powerful version, but has an equally aggressive new look, shaving off 140 pounds in the process. Mercedes die-hards will want to opt for the AMG ceramic high-performance composite brakes -being offered for the first time. And for those who crave even more exclusivity, the 'Edition 1' launch model will come in an exclusive Magno Alanite Grey matte paint and LED headlamps embedded with Swarovski crystals.
Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept SUV
There are concepts, and then there is the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept SUV. Thanks to a splashy introduction aboard the USS Intrepid and a partnership with Virgin Galactic, JLR have created some major street cred for Gerry McGovern's new baby. The concept foreshadows a total reinvention of the Discovery range, starting next year with a compact 'Discovery Sport'. Ultimately the name will grace two- and three-row offerings, all of which boast a more functional, outdoors-y feel than their Range Rover siblings. The concept is laden with tech; bumper-mounted cameras employ lasers to scan and project an image onto the windshield of any rough terrain under the front of the car, creating a 'transparent bonnet'. Other conceptual ideas: seating is configurable using a smartphone app, smart tinting on the glass can be darkened or lightened by remote control and even the traditional door handles have been replaced by motion sensors operable by the wave of a hand.
Alfa Romeo 4C Launch Edition
One of the most-buzzed-about US launches came courtesy Alfa Romeo, whose small mid-engine 4C sports car will hit American streets this fall after a near 20-year absence. Parent Fiat Chrysler will ship the first 100 4C's Stateside by early July; a limited Launch Edition model of 500 units, with a track-centric package of performance and handling tweaks, will debut in June and be priced at $70,000. Subsequently, they will start at $54,000. All feature a 237-horsepower 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine paired with a twin-clutch transmission - all this, from a car that weighs barely 1,000 kilos.
Volkswagen Golf SportWagen Concept
The Golf SportWagen Volkswagen debuted in New York is still technically a concept, but there isn't much that doesn't look street ready. 'VW Diesel Wagon' is a statement that tugs at the heartstrings of a certain kind of auto aficionado - and this vehicle doesn't disappoint. With a slantier body, a four-wheel-drive option and a name change from Jetta to Golf, it plays to America's long love affair with the car. Add in the optional manual transmission and R-Line body kit and you get an enthusiast's car.
Corvette Z06 Convertible
Chevrolet introduced the new Corvette Z06 at the Detroit Auto Show; three months later, we have the Z06 convertible. Same engine, chassis and transmission options, but now you can go top down. This car, debuting this fall and priced at under $100,000, is pure muscle, from the flanges, flares, tire smoke and LT4 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine that leaves most other vehicles in the dust. With over 625 horsepower feeding power to the rear wheels through a 7-speed manual or paddle-shiftable 8-speed automatic, this is an all-American interpretation of the supercar. Bodywork wise, noticeable distinguishable elements from its brother Stingray include wider fenders, wider-set taillights and a larger hood vent.
Mazda MX-5 Miata 25th Anniversary Edition
A quarter century after launch and with over 940,000 units sold, Mazda's Guinness World Record-setting Miata (known as the MX5 in Europe) remains the best-selling two-seater open-top sports car in history. To celebrate its silver anniversary, Mazda is releasing 100 editions of a special model, distinguishable thanks to its metallic red paint job coupled with contrasting black roof, off-white leather interior, Bilstein shocks and plenty of special badging. Each of the anniversary edition models will also come with a custom Tourneau watch.
Nissan Sport Sedan Concept
Penned by Nissan Design America in San Diego, California, the as-of-yet-unnamed Sport Sedan, which made its first debut at the Detroit Auto Show, provides design cues as to what future Nissan sedans will look like. With blacked-out A-pillars and side-window glass that subtly hides the B-pillars, the low roof is as striking and sleek in design as is its wide and low stance. Rakish boomerang-shaped headlights and taillights and the 'V-Motion' trapezoid front end chromed grille are likely to become a reality, as are the 21-inch wheels pushed out to the corners. The colour seen here is called 'Strad Amber' and was inspired by the finish on classic violins. Full of angles and symmetry, this front-wheel drive Nissan is coupled to a 300-plus horsepower 3.5-liter V6.
Audi A3 TDI Sportback
When it comes to its newly introduced compact A3, Audi's expansion is only beginning. The German automaker unveiled this tidy hatchback for an early 2015 release, joining five other A3 models to be offered in the US. Mixing upscale amenities with a practical design, the TDI Sportback is powered by a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder engine that produces 150 horsepower paired with a six-speed automatic. While fuel economy will be one of its best selling points, so, too, will its technological offerings: 4G LTE connectivity, pop-up navigation screen and Bang & Olufsen sound system.
BMW B6 xDrive Gran Coupe
Out of the four all-new models BMW introduced in New York, perhaps only the M4 convertible threatened to steal the spotlight from this striking Alpina edition 6 Series Gran Coupe. Much faster, with all-wheel drive, a higher top speed and hand-stitched leather interior, this grand tourer - based on BMW's handsome 650i xDrive model - delivers 540 horsepower and 540lb-ft of torque. The xDrive AWD system and 8-speed automatic transmission are carried over, but the B6 will outpace the current M6 Grand Coupe to 60mph. Something else to love: the custom body kit and 20" multispoke wheels.
BMW M4 Convertible
While the M3 sedan and M4 coupe are already familiar to enthusiasts, BMW's aggressive new M4 convertible, which made its global debut at the New York auto show and arrives in showrooms this summer, is a sunshine seeker of the finest calibre. The powerplant is carried over from the M3 and M4; the car's TwinPower 3.0-liter inline-six delivers 425 horsepower and 406lb-ft torque. While a six-speed manual is standard, the optional M seven-speed dual-clutch may be the better option (you'll shave 0.2 seconds off the 0-60 sprint). This retractable hard drop-top nicely rounds out BMW's revamped 3-series/4-series lineup, which recently saw the 4-series coupes replace the now-discontinued 3-series coupe.
Ford Mustang 50th Anniversary Mustang
Riding a wave of emotion and nostalgia, Ford heralded 50 years of its iconic Mustang - which first debuted at the 1964 New York World's Fair - by revealing the 2015 Mustang 50 Year Limited Edition model. Just 1,964 examples will be made, based on the 2015 Mustang GT fastback with the performance pack, and it will only be available in two colours: Kona blue or Wimbledon white (a nod to the first-ever Mustang Serial No. 0001, was sold to Capt. Stanley Tucker in April of 1964). The 50th Anniversary car will be powered by the upgraded 5.0-liter V8 making 420 horsepower. Extra special touches include a cashmere-stitched, leather-wrapped steering wheel, instrument panel, shifter boot, centre armrests, door inserts and seats.
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