The iconic Volkswagen GTI was arguably the first "hot hatch" when VW made a small hatchback fun to drive, now in its sixth generation, the GTI still lives up to the original's sporting intentions.
The GTI is available as a four-door, with a 210-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and the choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed Direct Shift Gearbox, (DSG), which allows the driver to shift sequentially, without doing the clutch work, via paddles on the steering wheel or the shift lever itself. An extensive list of standard equipment is included, features such as well-bolstered cloth sport seats with plaid inserts, halogen fog lamps, alloy pedals, SIRIUS satellite radio, 18-inch performance tires on alloy wheels, sport suspension, six airbags, tire pressure monitoring, an 8-speaker touch-screen audio system, Bluetooth and a multi-function leather steering wheel.
For 2014, the GTI overall is unchanged. The Wolfsburg Edition and Drivers Edition are the only two trims available.
Cadillac's CTS comes in three forms: Sedan, Coupe and Sport Wagon. It's easy to be a fan of either or all. The exterior design is glamorous and unapologetically Detroit. Ditto inside. Even the base models are nicely finished with good detailing. There are several drivetrain combinations: Two aluminum 4-cam direct-injection V-6s, a 3.0-liter (270 bhp/223 lb.-ft. of torque) or a 3.6 (318 bhp/275 lb.-ft. of torque). Manual or automatic 6-speed transmissions. Drive can be via the rear or all four wheels. How much more variety could you want? With independent suspension front and rear, plus standard StabiliTrak stability control, the CTS has beautifully matched ride and handling characteristics. In short, this Cadillac manages to be an engaging car without being too firm.
If you love the tidiness and crisp handling of a Mini but don't see much use for those cramped rear quarters, then the Mini Coupe may just be the perfect vehicle for you. Available in all trims from the standard base Cooper, sporty S and fire-breathing JCW, the Coupe streamlines the greenhouse and nixes the rear seats, providing extra dedicated cargo capacity, a torsionally stiffer chassis (reinforced aft the front seats) and a sportier profile. A Mini first is the new retractable rear spoiler that deploys at 50 mph for added downforce. The roof makes a bold character statement in traditional Mini fashion, and is available in red, black or silver. For even more boldness, you can further customize it with racing stripes or even side graphics called Mini Tattoo.
R&T Overview:First thing to notice: no Altima Hybrid. That model, with its borrowed Toyota technology, is history, but not to worry, there's a new one under development. The other two Altimas—sedan and coupe—sail into 2012 with the same updates we see on most Nissans, mainly reworked option packages that gather items like Bluetooth connectivity and a navigational system with real-time traffic. There is again a pair of engines, the 175-bhp 2.5-liter four or 270-bhp V-6, the latter renowned for its durability. Coupe buyers can opt for a 6-speed manual or the CVT (sedan owners get just the latter), and on the Altima it's not a bad choice. Obviously the coupe, which is almost 10 in. shorter than the sedan, is the sporty choice, but the sedan in 3.5 SR form is no slouch.
New for 2014 the redesigned and renamed Infiniti Q50 sedan is a distinctive and engaging successor to the G37. The dynamic and athletic Q50 has a sporty flare while offering a comfortable ride and a spacious, luxurious interior.
The Q50 is available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and includes a 3.7-liter V6 engine with 328-horsepower. This smooth, powerful engine is matched with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The Q50 comes in Base, Premium, or Sport trims. Standard safety features include six airbags, traction control, vehicle dynamic control, and four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes. Infiniti Intelligent Key, dual-zone automatic climate control, and rearview monitor are standard equipment. Also standard is the new for 2014 Infiniti InTouch communications system with dual touchscreen displays, voice recognition, and smartphone connectivity. Available options include an intelligent cruise control system that matches the speed of the car ahead, an upgraded audio system with Bose sound, and a navigation system.