Mercedes revamps the C-Class sedan for 2012 and adds an attractive new coupe to the mix. Both begin with the C250 Sport featuring a new 201-bhp 1.8-liter direct-injection 4-cylinder turbo. The C350 nets a 302-bhp 3.5-liter V-6. Targeting enthusiasts, the top C63 AMG has a 451-bhp 6.2-liter V-8. Sedans also offer a C300 4Matic with a 228-bhp 3.0-liter V-6. Standard 7-speed automatics include a Speedshift multiclutch version for the C63. Redesigned interiors gain new audio with a 5.8-in. color display, Bluetooth and USB port. Coupes receive standard paddle shifters, sport bucket seats and split-folding rear seats. Attention Assist, Adaptive Brake with Hold function, Lane Keeping Assist and Blind Sport Assist are among C-Class safety features.
Exotic cars from Italy are commonplace. Every month it seems we hear of a “limited-production” this or a “special-edition” that. Well, if you want to add something different to your stable of prancing horses consider the Lexus LFA. Better yet, consider the LFA Nürburgring Package, of which only 50 units will be available to very well-heeled customers. For a paltry $70,000, you get an extra 10 bhp (for a total of 562), quickened gearshift changes, a sport-tuned suspension, exclusive wheels, a larger front spoiler and a fixed rear wing. This Über exclusive LFA will be available in four colors: Whitest White, Orange, Black and a sinister Matte Black complemented by your choice of black, red or violet interior with carbon-fiber trim.
We're including the standard Murano crossover SUV with the new Murano CrossCabriolet, which is possibly the answer to a question no one asked. The normal Murano is a well-done crossover SUV with all the expected benefits, mixing passenger comfort with, well, station wagon flexibility. The drivetrain includes the solid VQ 3.5-liter V-6, a CVT transmission and front- or all-wheel drive. Biggest change for 2012 is a new Platinum option package. Then Nissan decided to lop off the Murano roof and create a large 2-door, 4-passenger convertible. One can't fault the interior luxury appointments, and the cloth folding top is one slick bit of engineering. The driveline carries over from the standard Murano, but only with all-wheel drive.
The BMW 335i delivers a special mix of sporting performance, practicality and European luxury in a compact package. It's the car that defines 'sport sedan', and the benchmark every luxury car maker from Acura to Volvo aims at when it develops an entry-level luxury sport sedan.
The rear-wheel drive 335i is available in coupe, sedan and convertible bodies, while the xDrive all-wheel drive system is available in coupe only. Power is provided by a 3.0-liter, turbo, inline six-cylinder engine that puts out 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard on all variations, with a six-speed automatic transmission optional. Standard safety features include six airbags, adaptive bi-xenon headlights, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes with adaptive brakelights, traction and stability control, active anti-whiplash head restraints, as well as automatic pop-up roll-over protection on the convertible.
For 2013, the coupe and cabriolet remain unchanged on the E90 platform; the F30 sedan, which was all-new for 2012, adds xDrive to the line-up.
There are now 11 different Mustang variants available and Ford's pony car can literally triple in price depending on which model you choose. The high performance Boss and Shelby variants are the heroes of the range, but there's no shame in opting for a base V-6 model. Starting around $22,000, the entry-level Mustang delivers 305 bhp and returns an impressive 31-mpg on the highway. The next model up the performance ladder is the GT, which comes with a 412-bhp 5.0-liter V-8 engine. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. Selectable electronic steering offers three driving modes: Normal, Sport, and Comfort. However, we can't imagine too many Mustang buyers will opt for the Comfort setting. One clever option worth considering is the panoramic glass roof which offers the feel of a convertible, and the equivalent of 50 SPF skin protection.