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 Lancer is Mitsubishi's answer to the compact segment, and with numerous trim levels, there's sure to be one that interests you. Starting from the bottom, the DE model returns unchanged, but the ES features new interior fabrics and 16-in. wheel covers. The SE sedan will come equipped with all-wheel drive and the race-proven All-Wheel-Control system. Top-level GTS models get a name change; they'll now be called GT, and they are fitted with Ralliart front fascia, new 18-in. alloy wheels and interior fabrics, soft-touch door trim and instrument panel trim. The Evo GSR, Mitsubishi's turbocharged all-wheel-drive top-level sports sedan, gets an upshift light in the instrument panel, while the MR will let you know when you're driving economically with an Eco light.
Nissan's Z car has no major changes for 2012, although we're already happy with the package...rather packages: the 370Z, its Touring version, the drop-top Roadster and, at the performance end, the Nismo 370Z coupe. While the first three models feature 332 bhp and 270 lb.-ft. of torque from the 3.7-liter V-6, the Nismo bumps that to 350 bhp and 276 lb.-ft. and adds a list of go-fast upgrades like high-performance tires, spoilers and a close-ratio 6-speed gearbox. Normal Zs come with a 7-speed automatic or a 6-speed manual that matches revs on downshifts. All the expected options are available from a navigation system to an iPod connection to Bluetooth. What we like about the Z? Its performance properly matches its exciting exterior.
R&T Overview:Cadillac continues to whittle away at the midsize STS luxury sedan lineup. Last year it discontinued the STS-V high-performance model. For 2011 the standard STS continues, albeit without a V-8 engine option. The simplified lineup is now reduced to a 302-bhp 3.6-liter V-6 engine with a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive. This is not necessarily a bad thing since the direct-injection V-6, shared with the CTS, is strong enough that few will miss the V-8. However, it doesn’t bode well for the future of the STS, which has been eclipsed by the more popular CTS, since there is nothing left to cut. Yet for those who still need larger accommodations than the CTS provides, the STS obliges with greater passenger volume and a larger trunk to boot.
The Porsche Panamera e-Hybrid brings sports car performance, advanced fuel saving technology and untraditional styling to the full-size premium luxury sedan class.
The Panamera S e-Hybrid features a 333-hp supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 combined with a 95-hp electric motor and an eight-speed automatic transmission with auto stop-start. The new plug-in lithium-ion battery and more powerful electric motor allow the e-Hybrid to drive electric-only for approximately 19 miles and can be recharged in roughly 2.5hrs on a 240V power source. The body appears to be a four-door sedan but with a coupe-like profile and a power liftgate, rather than a typical trunk, for access to the spacious luggage area. Standard safety features include ten airbags, adaptive bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, rain sensing wipers, full LED rear lighting, four belt pretensioners and electronic traction and stability control. A small sample of optional tech features includes a 6-disc CD changer, Bose surround sound, Burmester surround sound, front and rear ParkAssist, an electronic logbook and voice control.
For 2014, the Panamera S e-Hybrid is now a plug-in hybrid and replaces the previous non-plug-in Hybrid in the Panamera line-up.