Mercedes GLE coupe
Nobody was more surprised than BMW, we imagine, when the universally panned X6 SUV became a runaway success, flogging over 250,000 units to date. Mercedes was also so surprised that it took them over six years to produce a competitor: the GLE. The entry level variant screws a 3.0-litre V6 under the bonnet, offering 328bhp through a nine-speed auto transmission, with a V6 diesel less excitingly offering 255bhp and 457lb ft. We’ve pictured the sporty AMG version. Because it looks nicer. And will go faster. It’s car algebra.
Or “Honda NSX” in metric currency, this supercar has been to more motorshows than Clarkson’s carry on and had more people look up its exhaust pipe than a death row inmate, but Acura – what Honda calls its luxury marquee in that America – have at last unveiled the final design of their carbon fibre dripping, computer tuned, possible Ferrari 458 beater. And it’s a hybrid, to boot, with the twin-turbocharged V6 assisted by three electric motors – two up front help with traction and torque vectoring, with the one at the arse helping acceleration, braking and transmission shift quality. Shame we still can’t get any performance figures out of Acura. Or even Honda. Or price. We’ve failed here, basically.
Alfa Romeo 4C Spider
The 4C was heaped with an embarrassment of praise last year, making most lead-footed journos’ car of the year list. So, as is mandatory these days, now Alfa has taken an angle grinder to the roof of this pretty supercar and left basically a small hole for rain to get through. The performance remains unchanged, with the carbon fibre tub and turbocharged, 1.7 litre, four cylinder engine ensuring that 60mph is passed in 4.1 seconds. Just now with more added ruffle.
Chevy’s all electric Volt was uninspiring aesthetically, had all the range of an egg toss and sold like cold cakes. This year’s is hardly more inspiring, upping the range from 38 to 50 miles. But GM is serious about taking all-electric mainstream, hence the Volt. It’s a $30k sedan concept with a range of 50miles per charge, and Chevrolet are hoping to have it in showrooms by 2017. By which time Teslas will traversing the globe on a ten-minute charge, presumably. And hopefully oil prices have risen past their current, hybrid-wedgieing $2 a gallon.
Looking for something with more range? Check out the Chevrolet Bolt..
Ford revived the iconic GT40 racing car in 2005 as just the GT. It had a few tweaks here and there to meet today’s stringent safety and emissions standards, but was still essentially the same car. Now it's redefining that supercar with an all-new, next generation model called… the Ford GT! Under the carbon fibre and aluminium shell is the most powerful EcoBoost production engine ever – a new twin-turbocharged V6 producing more than 600 horsepower. Stop sniggering. Ford’s EcoBoost engines are terrific, and this is a V6 that will kick bottoms and take names. The very definition of a halo model, Ford is hoping that the adoring light cast around this supercar will rub some sales magic into their more vanilla, family offerings. We say who cares! And bless you, Ford, for making it.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R
The “regular” Mustang Shelby GT350 packs the most powerful naturally aspirated engine that Ford has ever produced: a 5.2litre V8 hawking up over 500bhp. That “R” on the end means that this is the “track” version, so they’ve stripped out all the superfluous stuff, like air conditioning, stereo, rear view camera, carpets and spare. In comes carbon fibre wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber, a new aero package and a tuned engine offering “well over” 500bph. Performance promises to be “grinny”.
Ford F-150 Raptor
Fuelled, presumably, at fat American pumps of high octane testosterone and refined chest hair this is a muscle man pose on wheels. And 2016’s F-150 actually has a smaller engine, another Ecoboost, this time a 3.5 litre V6. But it’s actually more powerful than the outgoing lump. So expect more than last year’s 411bhp and 434lb ft of torque. It’s 500lbs lighter, too, so it’ll be faster. To a degree. Beloved in America, the F-150 is essentially a fight with an MPG rating, and sort of wonderful for it.
Stepping into the BMW 4 Series’s face and hoping to run off with its dinner money is the Q60 “sports concept”. It’s a two-door coupé hewn from the world’s finest aluminium and carbon fibre, will stick a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 between the two front wheels, powering all four, borrowing the “fly-by-wire” steering tech from the Q50 saloon and adding directional LED lights. We think it also looks nicer driving away than heading at you, but that’s just us.
Porsche 911 Targa 4 GTS
It’s just three, tiny letters away from one of the best, and most bristlingly handsome cars of 2014, but “GTS” is Porsche shorthand for “more grins”. It’s the tuned up Targa, so they’ve rammed a sports exhaust into a more powerful 3.8 litre, 430bhp engine, added Porsche’s Sports Chrono package, stuck it on the 20-inch rims from the Turbo and increased torque – the fun stuff – to 590 lb ft. This means a 186mph top speed and 0 to 60 met in 4.1 seconds. Plus, look! It’s a bona fide beauty!