Perhaps “middle-age Beetle” would be more apt, as the New Beetle is now in its 11th year of production. VW hasn’t exactly lavished lots of attention on the Water Bug during that time, and the same is true for 2010: Changes amount to new colors inside and out. That’s not so terrible, though. VW’s New Beetle remains a cute, perky little coupe (or droptop) with some engaging qualities, from its semi-sporty driving dynamics to its torquey 2.5-liter 150-bhp inline-5. Sadly there’s no DSG transmission option. Otherwise, the rounded front driver remains reasonably well equipped, with ESP stability control, a premium 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo and a Cold Weather package. If only all of us could be so desirable in our middle age.
The made-to-order, Mercedes-Benz-owned Maybach ultra-luxury sedan becomes even more bespoke with the addition of the new Landaulet. Not so much an actual model as it is a treatment, the Landaulet has a folding soft-top for the rear-passenger compartment. The cost? Think, “Well, if you have to ask…” The Maybach may be the ultimate show-the-world-you’ve-made-it-thing on four wheels, particularly the long-wheelbase 62 editions replete with first-class airline-style reclining rear seats. And be it a 57 or 62, occupants will be treated to a remarkably smooth-riding active air suspension, sumptuous leather and wood and optional Internet access; potent S models boost the twin-turbo V-12’s power output to a massive 612 horsepower (up from the standard unit’s 550 bhp).
Nissan has separated its Versa line into two machines, the Sedan being redone for 2012 from the ground up. This Sedan is somewhat curvier than its squared-off predecessor and is based on the company's V platform, which is both lighter and simpler than the B platform still used with the Hatchback. With this new platform and body come added interior room, particularly in the back seat, which has a 60/40 split seatback. All sedans are powered by a revamped 1.6-liter fuel-injected four. Power is now 109 bhp and 107 lb.-ft. of torque and mileage rated at 30 mpg city/38 mpg highway with the CVT transmission. The 5-speed manual's numbers are not quite as good. There are three versions in ascending order of equipment: 1.6 S, 1.6 SV and 1.6 SL.
The ILX Hybrid is an all-new offering from Acura in the compact luxury sedan class, and the first ever hybrid model in the Acura line-up. The ILX Hybrid is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 111-hp when paired with a 23-hp electric motor. A 144-volt lithium-ion battery powers the motor, which allows for engine idle-stop operation. The ILX Hybrid includes a long list of standard features such as keyless access with push-button ignition, heated exterior mirrors, aluminum wheels, speed sensing wipers, leather steering wheel and shift knob, Bluetooth cellular and audio connectivity, Pandora internet radio, power glass sunroof, Homelink and a rearview camera. Standard safety features include electronic stability and traction control, active front head restraints, tire pressure monitoring, six airbags and anti-lock brakes with panic assist. An optional Technology package includes a navigation system, XM satellite radio and a 7-speaker sound system.
The 5 Series may be the middle child in BMW’s lineup, but it doesn’t suffer from the always-forgotten middle-child syndrome—situated between the smallish 3 and gigantic 7, these sedans and wagons offer just-right sizing. The 528i starts things off with a 3.0-liter 230-bhp inline-6 that works hard to move the 5’s 3500-lb. mass. Things pick up with the twin-turbo 535i, which, although less powerful than the 360-bhp V-8 550i, handles better due to its almost 300 lb. lighter curb weight. All-out performance junkies should look to the legendary M5 and its 500-bhp
V-10. Although the 2010 5 Series is carry-
over (save for an upgrade to the latest 7-button iDrive system), an all-new 5 Series will arrive in the second quarter of 2010 as a 2011 model.