The New Year promises to bring lots of automotive cheer and new sheet metal to Motor Trend’s garage. Below is a list of more than a dozen new vehicles slated to hit the market in 2012, which should be more than enough to keep us busy with drives, tests, and reviews. The Motor Trend staff was tasked with the difficult job of picking their top three cars from the list below that they can’t wait to drive in 2012, and from there we tallied up the Top 5 vote getters. Do you agree with the winners? Sound off below.
2012 BMW M5
2013 Cadillac ATS
2013 Chevy Sonic RS
2013 Dodge Dart
2013 Ford Focus ST
2013 Ford Shelby GT500
2013 Mini Countryman JCW
2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
2013 SRT Viper
2013 Subaru BRZ/ Scion FR-S
2013 Subaru WRX/STI
2013 Tesla Model S
2013 Volkswagen Golf R
1. 2013 Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Toyota and Subaru have been hard at work jointly developing an affordable and fun-to-drive, rear-wheel drive sports car for the masses. And if you’ve been visiting www.motortrend.com, you’ve probably noticed both companies teasing us with sketches, specs, show cars, camouflaged cars, and on and on and on for years now. Well, 2012 is the year to find out if all the hard work and teasing has been worth the wait. And from our initial drives thus far, the BRZ and FR-S look very promising.
First Drive: 2013 Scion FR-S
First Drive: 2013 Subaru BRZ
2. 2013 SRT Viper
After a years-long hiatus, the Viper is coming back with its snake eyes set on the Corvette and Porsche 911. Expect many changes to the iconic American sports car, especially with Fiat now at the helm of Chrysler. We’ve heard the Italians, who know a little bit about sports cars, have been involved in the new Viper’s development. In addition, the 2013 Viper will be sold under the newly formed SRT brand, s0 it’s more critical than ever that the new Viper will be a world-class performer both on and off the track. As MT’s digital director Mike Floyd states, the 2013 SRT Viper is the “halo car SRT/Chrysler desperately needs if it’s going to be taken seriously as a true global performance brand.” And just to reiterate, “the pressure on this one is massive,” says editor-in-chief Ed Loh. “Looking forward to the return of the beast.”
3. Tied: 2012 BMW M5 and 2013 Cadillac ATS
2012 BMW M5
How will a turbocharged, eight-cylinder M5 perform on the road and on the track? That’s exactly what MT staffers are eager to find out. Road test editor Scott Mortara was among the first bunch of lucky journalists to drive the new M5 and he seemed to like it. “Without a doubt, the new 2012 BMW M5 is better than its predecessor in every way,” Mortara wrote in his first drive review of the 2012 M5. “Some say they’ll miss the high-rpm V-10 screaming under the hood. Not me. I’ll take this subtle torque monster any day. Much like a purveyor of fine spirits, when an automaker starts with quality components, and adds time, insight, and desire, it’s possible to create something amazing — a vintage that can truly be savored. With the new M5, BMW has done just that.”
2013 Cadillac ATS
“Every few years some car maker declares they’ve cracked the 3 Series code,” said senior features editor Jonny Lieberman. “None succeed. However, Caddy actually went to Germany, Bimmer’s home turf. So, maybe.”
Just maybe. So what is Lieberman talking about exactly? Well, as former editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie adds, “the engineering team picked the delightful E46 3 Series as its dynamic benchmark for the new baby Caddy.” And as we’ve seen from the countless videos Cadillac has produced, the development team has spent countless hours and laps around the famed Nurburgring for testing. Given what we’ve seen so far, it’s hard to imagine what else General Motors could’ve done to develop its new 3 Series fighter. MacKenzie continues, “I can’t wait to find out if Detroit can really out-BMW BMW.” Neither can we.
4. Three-Way Tie: Ford Focus ST, Volkswagen Golf R, and Tesla Model S
2013 Ford Focus ST
With past generations of the Focus, we Americans have always lamented that the sportiest Focus models over the years were sadly out of our reach, available only in Europe and elsewhere. That all changes with the 2013 Focus ST. The 2012 Ford Focus has proven itself as having good bones; with the additional performance of the ST model, Ford may again have a real hot hatch competitor in the U.S. — if it’s not priced out of the market. So what are we looking forward to exactly? Basically, it’s the 2.0-liter, 250-hp, turbocharged, Ecoboost four banger wrapped around sleek sheetmetal. “After years of watered-down, rental-fleet Foci, Ford finally brings us a real contender in the ST,” said news director Ed Sanchez. “The VW GTI and Mazdaspeed 3 will have to make room in the sandbox for the new kid from Dearborn.”
2012 Volkswagen Golf R
We liked the first-gen Volkswagen R32, which was armed with the burbling 250-hp,VR6 engine and a manual transmission, and all-wheel-drive. The VR6 carried over in the second-gen R32, but it was only offered with the DSG transmission, which wasn’t a bad thing — unless you, like most of us in the office, are diehard fans of the third pedal. The 2013 Golf R is coming to America in manual transmission-form only and will be powered by a new 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder making 260-hp, and fitted with VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Will we miss the VR6? Stay tuned to find out.
2012 Tesla Model S
Following the incredibly fast Tesla Roadster comes the Model S, the electric car for every (well off) man. Tesla recently confirmed a base price of $49,900, which includes a 40kWh battery and a range of 160 miles, which should be good enough for most Americans. “Sexy styling, cutting-edge tech. What’s not to like,” asks Sanchez. “Granted, Tesla has its share of skeptics and haters, but this could be the breakthrough car for the still-struggling electric upstart.”
5. Tied: 2013 Dodge Dart and 2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
2013 Dodge Dart
It’s been awhile since Dodge has produced a remotely memorable compact car (Dodge Neon anyone?). The 2013 Dodge Dart should change that. “As the Caliber retires, we might soon see an Elantra-like transformation here for Dodge in the compact car segment,” opined copy editor Zach Gale. “I can’t wait to discover whether that nine-speed automatic transmission performs smoothly or constantly hunts for gears.”
2013 Porsche 911 Turbo
Executive editor Ron Kiino recently had some wheel time behind the new 991 Porsche 911 and expects it to continue on as a sports car benchmark. “When we want to say just how quick a car is, or how well it handles, or how amazing its steering is, well, there’s one reference we turn to, Kiino wrote in his first drive of the 2012 Porsche 911. ‘”The new Evo corners as well as a 911!’ ‘This ‘Vette is even quicker than a 911!’ ‘The GT-R is so fast it can hang with a 911 Turbo!’ You get the point.” And like always, Porsche will keep things interesting with a number of variants such as the turbo. “The old 911 Turbo was Veyron-lite; delivering staggering acceleration and a swaggering sense of invincibility on the road,” said MacKenzie. “My wheeltime in the new Carrera S suggests this latest 911 is the best ever. If the new 911 Turbo delivers the same step-change, it’s going to be a helluva car.”
North Carolina is the latest state to line up against Tesla Motors by proposing a bill that would bar direct automaker-to-customer sales within the state, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. Still, Tesla says plans to open a showroom there and has sold about 80 cars to North Carolina residents, with reservations for about 60 more.
According to Slate, a bill pushed by the state’s Senate Commerce Committee – and backed, of course, by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association (NCADA) – would not only prevent Tesla from opening a showroom in North Carolina, it would go as far as banning Internet vehicle sales in the Tar Heel state. We’re not sure how that would be enforced, but it would certainly crimp the success Tesla has had without using the traditional industry dealer distribution model. The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Tom Apodaca (R), who claims the goal is to stop unfair competition between manufacturers and dealers (as Slate notes, Apodaca also received $8,000 from the NCADA last year, the most allowed by law). Tesla’s vice president for corporate and business development, Diarmuid O’Connell, argues that the bill is “a protectionist move to lock down the market so we have to go through the middleman – the dealer – to sell our cars.”
Texas, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New York are among states that have so far taken issue with Tesla’s dealer-free distribution model, prompting Musk to say last month that he’d consider going to Congress to try and get factory-to-customer sales legalized throughout the country. Musk is likely emboldened by the fact that Tesla earned its first quarterly profit this year and sold more of its Model S electric vehicles than General Motors and Nissan did of their Chevrolet Volt extended-range plug-in and Leaf EV, respectively.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
By Danny King
Like it or not, an increasing number of automakers are experimenting with electric vehicles. Whether EVs will supplant internal combustion engines or only complement regular vehicles depends on how well executed they become. On this episode of Wide Open Throttle, host Jessi Lang and Motor Trend technical director Frank Markus attempt to drive the all-new Tesla Model S from Los Angeles to the Las Vegas strip on a single charge – the first real-world range test of its kind.
The Tesla Model S, which is the personal car of Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, is fitted with the larger 85-kW-hr battery pack that is EPA rated at 265-mile range. An earlier test by testing director Kim Reynolds and associate online editor Benson Kong netted about 238 miles – short of the official rating. While Lang’s and Markus’ trip was only about 210 miles, they were facing two 4000-foot mountain passes in route to Sin City. In an effort to reduce energy consumption, the duo climbed the summits at 55 mph with the air conditioning off and the windows up in 100 + degree temperatures.
Check out the video below to see if Lang and Markus made it to Las Vegas on a single charge or if the Tesla Model S ended up on the back of a flatbed tow truck. Don’t forget to check out our two Tesla Model S road trip stories here and here.
By Jason Udy
Some Republicans decry what they say are the liberal leanings of the federal government, but when it comes to rating the single-charge range of electric vehicles, the feds’ Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is decidedly conservative.
At least, this is what Edmunds found in a recent EV road test of nine models, including the Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf and a prototype version of the Volkswagen e-Golf. In fact, all eight non-prototype vehicles beat their EPA ratings in a 105.5 mile course through Orange County, CA, that Edmunds says “includes exactly zero freeway miles, more than a few hills and dozens of signals and stop signs along the way.” Edmunds says the cars, which were driven during rush-hour morning traffic, didn’t hit speeds of more than 50 miles per hour and didn’t use any air conditioning.
The proverbial superstar of the group was the Toyota RAV4 EV, which lasted 144.5 miles (i.e. it had 40 miles left at the end of its lap), or about 40 percent more than its stated range. The Ford Focus EV reached about 100 miles, compared to its 76-mile single-charge range rating, while the BMW ActiveE, Coda Sedan and Honda Fit EV all cleared 100 miles and beat their EPA ratings by 15 percent to 20 percent. The Leaf surpassed its 73-mile rating by 20 miles, while the Tesla exceeded its 265-mile rating by about four miles. The VW came in just short of 100 miles, while the Mitsubishi i beat its 62-mile-range by an impressive 14 miles.
Of course, Edmunds couldn’t resist getting some performance numbers from the EVs, and those held up as well. It’s no surprise that the Model S went from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a tidy 4.3 seconds, but the RAV4 also turned out to be pretty quick, going from 0 to 60 in 7.7 seconds. The Bimmer, Coda, Honda and Ford all went from 0 to 60 in just under 10 seconds, while the VW and Nissan came in at about 10-seconds flat. Only the Mitsubishi turned in a golf-cartish 0-60 time of 14.9 seconds. Check out all of Edmunds‘ summary here.
Related Gallery2012 Toyota RAV4 EV: First Drive
By Danny King
With the holidays fast approaching and enthusiasts planning road trips to visit family and friends, we’ve put together this list of the top 10 coolest road trip cars with 400 hp or more that can accommodate at least four full-size adults. From four-wheel-drive SUVs for those who may traverse deep snow to rear-drive sedans and a wagon for those whose travels will feature sunshine and dry roads, we’ve got the field covered for drivers who demand 400 hp or more.
Click through to read our picks for the top 10 road trip cars with 400 horsepower or more and room for four.
Audi, Crossover/SUV, Dodge, Features, Hybrid Car/EV, Hyundai, Land Rover, Luxury Car, Sedan, Tesla, Top 10 Lists
We Hear: Ferrari’s Next Supercar Could Weigh Just 2425 Pounds, Produce 800 HP
By Jason Udy
Been away from your computer this week and missed all the automotive news? We’ve gathered a few of the top stories of the past week for your convenience.
2013 Automobile of the Year: Tesla Model S
This week we announced five awards, starting with Automobile of the Year. We picked the Tesla Model S not just because it’s an electric car, and not simply because it’s a luxurious car, but for the way it demonstrates how a Silicon Valley start-up has created a world-class car. The Model S impressed us with its solid build quality, long real-world driving range, and effortless (and BMW M5-equalling) acceleration.
2013 Design of the Year: Porsche Boxster
Design editor Robert Cumberford greatly admired the 1993 Porsche Boxster concept, but found the subsequent production models far less attractive. So it’s telling that this year he named the new PorscheBoxster our Design of the Year, thanks to a host of subtle revisions that improve the roadster’s proportions. Credit Porsche design chief Michael Mauer, who has “brought the Porsche design team into a realm it had never before occupied, with pure style and pure functionality fused in products of exceptional elegance.”
2013 Man of the Year: Sergio Marchionne
Chrysler once seemed beyond saving, but today the automaker is profitable, has launched a range of great new products, and has posted thirty consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases. Much of that success can be attributed to the actions of CEO Sergio Marchionne, also head of Europe’s Fiat, who has guided Chrysler from bankruptcy and bailout to being able to pay back government loans. Even though Fiat is struggling in Europe, Marchionne has proven himself a shrewd businessman capable of keeping car companies on the right financial track.
2013 Racing Car of the Year: Ben Bowlby’s Revolutionary DeltaWing
We haven’t named a Racing Car of the Year for some time, but the Nissan DeltaWing project was so revolutionary that we decided to resurrect the award. It may not have won a single race so far, but we think the DeltaWing could easily be named Racing Car of the Decade. Designer Ben Bowlby has created a small, nimble racing platform that has proven dramatically more fuel-efficient than traditional Le Mans prototypes — while still delivering solid on-track performance. It may look weird, but the DeltaWing may render an entire generation of racing cars obsolete.”
2013 Technology of the Year: Cameras!
Cameras have been available in cars for years, but this year we recognized the technology because it is starting to become more prevalent on affordable, everyday cars. The cameras themselves may be less powerful than the ones in your cellphone, but the software behind them has the capability to improve driving and prevent accidents. Whether it’s watching for children behind a parked car, warning of vehicles in a blind spot, or monitoring lane markers in case the driver veers off course, in-car cameras are proving they have untold numbers of applications that could save lives.
Spied: Facelifted 2013 Honda Civic Sedan Caught In The Wild
The 2012 Honda Civic had a lukewarm reception due its perceived cost-cutting, so Honda is in a rush to launch an updated version. As our spy photos show, the car benefits from tweaked fascias and sheetmetal, including revised taillights, a new front fascia and grille that ape the front of the 2013 Accord, new wheels, and a redesigned trunk lid. No major powertrain revisions are expected, although at some point in the future we hear that a new version of Honda’s IMA system will be added to the Civic hybrid, and non-hybrid models may eventually add direct-injection engines. We expect the 2012 Honda Civic will bow at the L.A. auto show later this month.
Report: Hyundai, Kia Repaying Buyers for False Mileage Claims
Hyundai and Kia admitted this week that they will lower the fuel-economy ratings of about 900,000 cars, after determining that the companies’ internal fuel-economy tests didn’t match the tests required by the EPA. That means seven different 2013 Hyundai models and different 2013 Kia models will see their ratings drop by anywhere from one to six mpg. To make amends to consumers, the automakers will mail debit cards that cover the approximate cost of fuel based on the difference between the original and new MPG ratings for each car.
Top 10 Favorite Cars From The 2012 SEMA Show
This week’s SEMA show gave us a chance to admire (and sometimes cringe at) the wide range of tuned, tweaked, and modified vehicles on display at the annual Las Vegas show. We picked through the long list of entrants to select our ten favorite new cars on display at the 2012 SEMA show. Some, like the Chevrolet Camaro Hot Wheels Edition, are destined for showrooms, while others, like the wild Ford Cobra Jet Twin-Turbo concept, are merely meant for automakers and aftermarket tuners to show off their wrenching skills.
2014 Subaru Forester To Debut At L.A. Auto Show
A new version of the Subaru Forester will make its debut later this month at the L.A. auto show. Subaru revealed photos of the 2014 Forester, which adopts more mature body lines, a grille shared with the new Impreza, and a slightly larger body. The company promises more interior and cargo room, better on-road suspension manners, and better fuel economy. The base engine remains a 170-hp, 2.5-liter flat-four engine, while the upgrade powertrain is a new turbocharged 2.0-liter flat-four with 250 hp. Look for the 2014 Subaru Forester to reach showrooms by spring 2013.
First Drives: 2013 Land Rover Range Rover, 2013 Toyota Avalon
This week we headed to rain-drenched Morocco to evaluate the 2013 Land Rover Range Rover. The new luxury SUV proved just as capable as ever of tackling sand dunes, mud, and steep inclines as we trekked across rough terrain in Morocco. And keeping up with the other half of its promise, the new Range Rover kept occupants comfortable, entertained, and ensconced in such luxury that we could easily imagine luxury sedan owners abandoning their cars for this fancy SUV. We also got behind the wheel of the 2013 Toyota Avalon and Avalon hybrid, both of which prove far more interesting and exciting than the previous Avalon. The V-6-powered model is quick but not a sporty car, while the Avalon hybrid impresses with strong fuel economy and the ability to drive on electrical power alone at low speeds.
By Jake Holmes
Courtesy of Terrafugia
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• Have you ever wished you could just fly over traffic like Doc Brown at the end of “Back to the Future?” Massachusetts-based Terrafugia says it will have a flying plug-in hybrid car on the market by 2015 or 2016. The company’s name is Italian for “escape the land,” and its car, the TF-X, is designed to take off vertically with tilting electric rotors. A gasoline engine and fan would then propel the car forward through the air at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Carl Dietrich, Terrafugia’s chief executive, said the TF-X is still in the early design phase, but that it could be built using readily available parts. As with increasingly automated land-based cars, the TF-X would feature an intelligent flight system, Mr. Dietrich said, ruling out the need for a licensed pilot to fly the car. (The Wall Street Journal)
• General Motors won approval from Chinese legislators to build a Cadillac plant in China. Building cars in China would give G.M. direct access to the Chinese market, as well as allow the company to bypass China’s 25 percent import tariff. G.M. said the $1.3 billion plant would have an annual capacity of about 150,000 cars. G.M.’s Cadillac sales in China last year were 30,010, while Audi sold 405,838 vehicles, BMW 327,341 and Mercedes-Benz 196,211. (Bloomberg)
• According to analysts, California’s push to increase the percentage of zero emissions vehicles on the state’s roads could benefit Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla Motors to the tune of $250,000 this year. Tesla sold 2,650 of its electric cars – with a starting price at just under $70,000 – in 2012 and hopes to sell closer to 20,000 this year. According to The Los Angeles Times, California’s energy credits – aimed at hitting the state Air Resource Board’s mandate for 15 percent of cars sold there to be zero emissions vehicles by 2025 – give Tesla as much as $45,000 on top of each car sale. (The Los Angeles Times)
• According to evidence from a military auto insurance agency and other sources, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are 75 percent more likely to die in a traffic accident than civilians. A Washington Post article last week highlighted drunken and reckless driving and driving without seat belts as factors in veterans’ post-deployment traffic fatalities. (The Washington Post)
• Note to motorists: Driving near the ocean is risky business. A Ram public relations team taking pictures of a prototype 2014 Ram pickup found this out when the truck got stuck on rocks at low tide at Moonstone Beach, in Northern California. Help did not arrive before the tide rose and inundated the new truck, attracting the attention of area surfers and photographers. (Automotive News)
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• Dealer associations around the United States have lodged formal protests against Tesla Motors, claiming the company has violated state laws barring manufacturers from operating dealerships. Tesla has opened stores in 10 states as well as in the District of Columbia, without the involvement of franchisees. Some dealers fear the Tesla retail model, if successful, could set a precedent that other manufacturers might follow for their electric-vehicle offerings. (Automotive News)
• Volkswagen Passenger Cars has delivered roughly 4.2 million vehicles worldwide in the first three quarters of 2012, the first time the brand has eclipsed 4 million deliveries during the first nine months of the year. Through September in the United States, sales of VW vehicles are up 37.2 percent over the similar period in 2011. Volkswagen Group has the stated goal of becoming the highest-selling automaker in the world by 2018. (Volkswagen AG)
• Honda announced on Tuesday it, along with Toyota, Hyundai and Nissan, had signed a memorandum of understanding with Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Denmark intended to ease the introduction of fuel-cell vehicles in those markets. Much of the agreement pertains to the countries’ commitment to developing hydrogen refueling infrastructure for the vehicles. The Nordic countries, along with Japan and the United States, expect to take delivery of fuel-cell electric vehicles from the four automakers by 2015. (Honda)
• Reeling from anti-Japan sentiment in China over a land dispute, Toyota’s sales in the country fell by 49 percent, and Nissan’s by 35 percent, in September from their levels last year. Meanwhile, Chinese customers gravitated toward cars from Volkswagen, Hyundai and Kia. The shunning of Japanese brands stemmed from a territorial dispute between China and Japan over islets in the East China Sea, which devolved into riots last month, causing some plants and dealerships for Japanese automakers in China to temporarily close. (The New York Times)
• The Southern California Timing Association recently certified a modified Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid as the fastest production-based car with engine displacement under 1.5 liters with forced induction. The hybrid, which was tuned to produce roughly 300 horsepower compared with the production car’s 170, averaged 186.313 miles per hour over two runs on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, breaking the record set by the same car in August by nearly 19 m.p.h. (Volkswagen)
Tesla Motors chief Elon Musk has always taken pains to pitch how far his cars can go when sufficiently charged. The man himself is proving he can go quite a distance as well.
Sufficiently chafed by a review of the Tesla Model S in The New York Times that said the electric vehicle’s single-charge range was far less than advertised, Musk called the February 8 article a “low-grade ethics violation” in a recent interview at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas, Reuters says.
Musk has had his say in the matter. Citing data logged from the reviewer’s car that differed from his report, Musk called the review “false” and said it was “not in good faith.” Following a spat between Musk and the Times, the Times’ public editor subsequently said that there may have been some inaccuracies in the reporter’s note-taking but defended his integrity. Musk has estimated the Times review cost Tesla as much as $100 million in sales.
But there was apparently another response, one Musk himself wrote, that never saw the light of day. Musk said he sent it to an editor at The New York Times, but it was not published. Musk said he might still publish what he wrote.
Currently, Tesla has reached its full production capacity of 400 Model S sedans a week, and Musk has said Tesla could have its first profitable quarter for the three months ending March 31.
Related Gallery2012 Tesla Model S: First Drive
By Danny King
As the saga between Tesla and The New York Times comes to an end (allegedly), Tesla CEO Elon Musk has released a final, final note on the controversy.
Recently, the publication released a statement in regards to the article, stating that Public Editor John Broder had “problems with precision and judgment,” “took casual and imprecise notes,” and made “few conclusions that are unassailable.” Over last week, several other publications did the same drive as Broder, as did several Tesla Model S owners in order to compare their data with The New York Times.
SEE ALSO: Tesla vs The New York Times: Round Three
Musk took the time to thank The New York Times for looking into the matter, as well as the other publications that did their own individual tests. And of course, he also thanked the rally of hundreds of Tesla customers that helped recreate the same route Broder had driven just to prove a point.
You can read more on Musk’s statement by following the source link below.
Discuss this story at Tesla-Buzz.com
By Jason Siu