20 Cars to Look for in 2012
For the first time in a long while, driver involvement is making a comeback in 2012. Of course, the New Year is bringing its fair share of power hitters – what with a 650hp Mustang debuting and a bevy of 1,000hp cars – but if you look on the more affordable side of the spectrum, driving fun is back in a big way. Car companies are looking past adding “more” of everything into a car to make their offerings lust-worthy. Instead, they’re putting in features that can’t be summed up on a spec sheet, but do show up in the driving experience. Even Toyota is producing a sports car again. With cars like this on the horizon for 2012, it’s shaping up to be the Year of the Driver.
Ford Focus ST
The story of Ford’s small, performance-oriented cars in the United States has been one of a constant disappointment. As Capris, Sierras and Escorts chewed up European roads with turbocharged fury, us Americans only got the lumbering Mustang. This year, however, we get the truly good stuff with the Focus ST. The specs are promising: 250hp from a turbocharged 2.0L engine, independent rear suspension, and all the natural racy bits on the inside and out. Price has yet to be released, but don’t be too surprised to see this car around the 24k mark. Most importantly, for the first time in seven years, Ford has a proper competitor in the hot hatchback class.
Toyota FR-S/Subaru BR-Z
The FR-S/BR-Z was a joint project between Toyota and Subaru to deliver a car that puts driving enjoyment ahead of sheer numbers. This means low price, low weight and a truly amazing driving experience. The result of this Toyota and Subaru marriage is a low-slung coupe with a 200hp flat four. For those that think that is too little power, bear in mind the car weighs a featherweight 2600 pounds. Not to mention, the development team pegged the Porsche Cayman as a dynamic benchmark. The FR-S will be sold as a Scion here in the states, but the Subaru version will also be available as well.
The world’s best sports car gets even better this year. Redesigned from the ground up, the 911 gets a new exterior, interior and more power. The boxer six engine has been given a few tweaks to now produce 400hp. The chassis has been lengthened and widened slightly to provide more stable handing as well. Even though the changes are incremental, the 911 goes to show that evolution, not revolution, is the way to continually improve the world’s best all around sports car.
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Posted in: Cars, Lifestyle
Tags: BMW 3 series, Cadillac ATS, Camaro ZL1, Chevy Spark, Dodge Dart, Fiat 500 Abarth, Fisker Karma, Ford Focus ST, Ford Mustang GT500, Hyundai Veloster Turbo, Infiniti G37 IPL Convertible, Lexus GS Series, Mazda CX-5, Nissan Pathfinder, Porsche 911, Shelby Tuatara, SRT Viper, Subaru BR-Z, Tesla Model S, Toyota FR-S, Zenvo ST1
Mazda unveils new CX-5 Crossover SUV at Frankfurt Motor Show
Mazda invited us to join them in Frankfurt as they unveiled the new CX-5 Crossover SUV at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The crossover market is exploding, and this new vehicle gives Mazda with a strong entry in the small crossover segment. The CX-5 is a completely new vehicle for Mazda from the technology to the design language. Mazda CEO and President Takashi Yamanouchi proudly introduced the new vehicle at the auto show along with Chief Designer Masashi Nakayama and Program Manager Hideaki Tanaka.
As you can see from the photos above, the styling on this all-new crossover is sporty and aggressive. CX-5 becomes the first production model to feature Mazda‘s new design theme, “KODO – Soul of Motion.” Chief Designer Masashi Nakayama explained: “With the CX-5, our focus was on expressing a strong sense of vitality and agility. We looked at videos of cheetahs; their agile footwork and how they use their entire body as a spring to accelerate rapidly and change the direction instantly. They emanate great energy throughout their entire body. Inspired by their efficient yet beautiful movements, we aimed to push the SUV appearance to new levels with KODO design language.” The prominent front and rear fenders and sculptured body sides give the CX-5 a distinctive look, and we’ll start seeing the new front grille and face of the vehicle showing up on other Mazda cars.
The CX-5 will be introduced progressively to global markets beginning early next year. This is the first Mazda developed completely around its new SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY, which includes all-new gas and diesel engines, manual and automatic transmissions, body and chassis. North American president and CEO Jim O’Sullivan explained to us that the CX-5 was truly a clean-sheet design from the ground up using this new technology, and all of these elements will start appearing in other Mazda models in years to come. This approach on the CX-5 also allowed Mazda the opportunity to achieve significant weight savings as well which will have a significant impact on gas mileage.
With this particular vehicle, Program Manager Hideaki Tanaka explained: “We aimed to develop a vehicle with a long-term appeal that would delight owners and make them proud for years to come. I think that these were the most important values we had to embody in the CX-5. We wanted to deliver the best of all worlds in order to suit the various lifestyles and life stages of our customers, and satisfy their high expectations over the long term. Specifically, we focused on providing pleasure through the CX-5’s appearance, its precise handling, its insightful functionality, and its long-term appeal. By aiming to achieve the ideal in each area, we pursued the innovation of driving pleasure.”
The company clearly nailed the styling on this one and it should appeal to single buyers along with consumers with small families. The interior room and functionality was impressive. I’m anxious to drive the CX-5 once it’s ready for production as Mazda consistently delivers on vehicles that are fun to drive.
Posted in: Cars, News, On Location
Tags: 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show, car design, car shows, compact crossover, crossover, crossover SUV, Frankfurt Auto Show, Frankfurt Motor Show, Hideaki Tanaka, Jim O'Sullivan, Kate Hudson, Masashi Nakayama, Mazda, Mazda CX-5, motor shows, Takashi Yamanouchi