The last major American auto show of the season, New York had some interesting debuts for the Urban driver, here are Decisive Auto's editor's picks.
BMW ActiveE 1-series Coupe
BMW’s first electric production car, the ActiveE 1-series coupe will find its way into customer’s hands this fall. Offered on a special lease deal, the cars will go for $499 monthly after a down of $2250. With an estimated range of 100 miles on a single charge, the ActiveE will be one of the most affordable BMWs available. The electric powerplant in the car delivers the equivalent of 170 hp and 184 ft-lbs of torque. This should get the car to 60 in around nine seconds. More test bed than series production car, the ActiveE is intended to generate intel for the development of BMW’s new all-electric BMW i brand.
BMW Z4 Turbo
It’s official; BMW’s roadster will once again feature a four-cylinder engine. BMW fans may recall the two-seat Bimmer’s Z3 ancestor was introduced with four pots rather than six. This new 2.0-liter four employs Valvetronic variable valve timing, Vanos throttle-less intake, direct gasoline injection and a twin-scroll turbocharger to produce 240 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs of torque. Shorter, smaller and lighter than the six it replaces, the four moves the center of gravity closer to the Z4’s firewall, which should have a positive effect on the roadster’s handling characteristics. Pricing wasn’t announced, but the car is expected to go on sale in the fall.
Here’s a hybrid that uh, isn’t a hybrid. Chevrolet is teaming a 2.4-liter 180-horsepower inline four with an electric motor generator, lithium-ion battery pack, automatic stop/start, regenerative braking. Additionally, the electric motor supplements the gasoline engine during acceleration. However, the electric motor will not propel the car on its own. Called eAssist, GM already uses it on the LaCrosse. When a Malibu is so configured, it is called Malibu ECO, and will be the first version of the all-new 2013 Malibu to go on sale in the early part of 2012.
Take the wildly successful Chrysler 300 sedan, update its styling add a 3.6-liter V6, an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear wheel drive and you’ll have the basis of the 300S. On the cosmetic side, the 300S gets body-colored accents in the front fascia, a unique black chrome grille insert with matching black headlamp bezels, and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels with black painted accents. Luxury features include a 10-speaker, 522-watt audio system developed by Beats by Dr. Dre; and cloth-trimmed 12-way power sport bucket seats. On sale in fall, the Chrysler 300S nicely combines style with efficiency and luxury.
Arriving in dealerships this spring, cute goes topless with an Italian flair in the Fiat 500c. More ragtop than drop-top, the roof is cloth and slides rearward to open. This keeps the egg-shaped coupe’s profile intact when the car is closed, yet allows it to claim membership in the open-air club. Mechanically speaking and equipment-wise the 500c is identical to the hardtop. The 1.4-liter, 101hp I4 pumps to the front wheels through your choice of a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic. Pricing will start at $20,000.
Introducing Ford’s new strategy of three to three and a half year product cycles, the 2012 Ford Taurus gets cosmetics updates to improve the muscularity of its appearance. Larger wheels and raised rear quarter panels compliment larger, full LED taillamps.
To label it more of the same in a new body would not be an understatement. And give the same is insanely competitive; Honda didn’t really need to do a lot to rework its most iconic model. Pricing does go up, but only marginally, averaging a mere $30 (or so) above the prices of the outgoing models.
Leave it to Hyundai to attack a segment with more value than it’s seen previously. This time they’re going after compacts with the first direct injection engine in the segment. Making 138 horsepower and 123 lb-ft of torque it’s also the most powerful engine in its class. Plus, it’s rated at 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Transmissions are six-speed manual and automatic. Accent is available in both four-door hatchback and sedan formats.
Jeep Wrangler Mojave
Slated for a complete makeover next year, Jeep’s iconic Wrangler gets a new Mojave Edition to carry it through the 2011 model year. The package combines the side steps from the Wrangler Sahara and the wheels and tires from the Wrangler Rubicon with a black fuel-filler door and taillight guards. Other than that it’s all graphics. Lizard decals and Mojave fender graphics, grace the exterior while the lizard graphic is embossed on the front seats. Wrangler Mojave is slated to go on sale in June.
Inheriting Kia’s new design language to sublimely positive effect, the 2012 Rio and its hatchback Rio5 sibling are quite handsome cars. Power comes from a 1.6-liter, 138-horespower I4, which also makes 123 ft-lbs of torque. Packaged with a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission, the Rio twins will return 30 mpg in the city and 40 on the highway. This, thanks to direct injection and a new start-stop system. The Rio’s beauty is more than skin-deep too; the interior is as crisply designed as the exterior.
Coming up on its third birthday, Kia’s Soul is (for a car) approaching middle age, well for this version of the car anyway. So, that means it’s time for some cosmetic updates and some tweaks to the engine. The Soul’s new base engine is shared with the all-new Rio but produces slightly less power and torque at 135hp and 121ft-lbs. However, the “big” engine, the 2.0-liter’s output has been pumped up to 160hp and 143 ft-lbs. from 143 and 137.Meanwhile, six-speed transmissions, both manual and automatic, conduct power output now. Equipment-wise, new exterior lighting, automatic climate control, heated leather seating, Sat nav and the Uvo system are all Soul-ful now.
The all-new Versa is larger, lighter and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor. Power comes from a 1.6-liter inline four making 109 hp and 107 ft-lbs of torque. Transmissions are either a CVT or a five-speed manual. The base price is $11,750 (incl. destination), and includes air-conditioning, anti-lock brakes, and a radio with CD player. Bluetooth and navigation are options.
Porsche Panamera S Hybrid
Though intro’d at the Geneva Motor Show Porsche’s newest hybrid showed up in NYC as well. Other than a hybrid badge on the leading edge of the front doors and the rear hatch, the Panamera Hybrid looks like the standard Panamera. Porsche’s mean green machine is capable of six-second sprints to 60, courtesy of the 333 hp supercharged 3.0-liter V6 and its 47hp electric partner.
Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate
So, if you’ll ever need a limo capable of slogging through mud three feet deep, or fording swiftly flowing streams, or scaling boulders, or…well, you get the picture, Land Rover’s Range Rover Autobiography Ultimate is the ride you require. The fixed pair of rear seats flaunt power recline, heating, cooling, and massage. The console between them houses a refrigerator box and a foldout wood table. Mounted in the front seatbacks is a pair of iPads. To ease your ascent into the Rover’s lofty interior, power-retracting steps present themselves for your convenience. Naturally you’ll find many board feet of sumptuous wood trim and there are acres of leather too, even on the ceiling. Teak lines the cargo deck as well as the inside of the tailgate. And all it will take to add one to your personal fleet is a mere $170,000. Well, that and a phone call to your Land Rover dealer pretty soon. Only 50 Autobiography Ultimate Range Rovers are coming to the U.S.
A longer wheelbase, and shorter overall than the outgoing model, the 2012 Impreza offers more space in the rear seats for passengers, plus larger doors to let them in and out. Cargo capacity is up as well. And ironically while all those things are bigger, the engine is smaller. The 2.5-liter flat four has been replaced by a two-liter. Power is down too, 147 and 145 compared to 170 and 170 from the previous engine. However the new car is lighter and more aerodynamic and Subaru says the performance differential is negligible as a result. Fuel economy improves too, with the new engine returning 27-city and 36 highway. The previous engine did 20 and 26.
Less bubble, more headroom, a longer and flatter nose, and round fenders all are components of the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle. Bi-xenon HIDs grace its face with crescents of LED running lights framing their outboard edges. Wider, longer and lower too, the Beetle is more spacious than the New beetle it replaces. VW’s 2.0-liter four is the base engine, making 200 horsepower and 207 foot-pounds of torque. The engine feeds either a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission. Buyers can also opt for the 2.5-liter five, but why buy a larger engine and get less power and inferior fuel economy?