From mild to wild, Mercedes offers E-Class models to suit everyone's fancy. The E350 sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon gain a new 3.5-liter 302-bhp direct-injection V-6 and 7-speed automatic. An unchanged BlueTEC diesel remains a sedan option. E550 models receive a new 402-bhp 4.6-liter twin-turbo V-8. A wagon joins the sedan for the hot E63 AMG treatment including a new 518-bhp 5.5-liter V-8 and 7-speed MCT transmission. The former also features a panorama roof and rearview camera. E-Class safety, infotainment and luxury equipment varies by model. Convertibles are fitted with a 2-piece Aircap wind deflector to help reduce turbulence with the top down. Wagons have standard 7-passenger seating, a power tailgate and rear air suspension.
Not much has changed on the six versions of Aston Martin DB9s that are available. The big news, perhaps, is that the 6-speed manual gearbox is no longer available, so the only transmission now is the 6-speed Touchtronic that most buyers have been choosing. The close observer may also note that the traditional 5-spoke forged-alloy wheels are no longer available and the 10-spoke is now standard. The powerplant remains the 5.9-liter V-12 with 48 valves, and it is a sweetheart of smoothness and ample power. The 2+2 interior does offer room for small children but the rear seats are mostly used for parcels. The quality of interior materials and finish is excellent, and last year's addition of the Adaptive Damping System has been well received.
Fiesta: The name says it all about this engaging B-size contender that has its 4-door sedan or 5-door hatch utilitarianism somehow infused with the playful DNA of a go-kart. Its pushbutton-start 1.6-liter Ti-VCT I-4 is a willing partner to either a 5-speed manual or 6-speed dualclutch automatic, the latter delivering as much as 40 mpg (hwy) when bundled in the available Super Fuel Economy package that also brings along specific aero enhancements and low-rolling-resistance tires. A comprehensive safety suite including AdvanceTrac electronic stability control and a virtual cocoon of seven airbags is standard, and the Fiesta fairly bristles with class-exclusive communications and entertainment technology. Buy it for frugality or fun.
The Volkswagen Eos is a unique all-season convertible with an integrated power panoramic sunroof that sets it apart from all other retractable hardtop convertibles on the market.
The 2013 Eos is powered by a 200-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a six-speed DSG automatic transmission. There are four available trims: Komfort, Sport, Lux, and Executive. Standard features include heated front seats, electronic dual-zone climate control, a leather-wrapped multifunctional steering wheel, SIRIUS satellite radio, and Bluetooth Handsfree wireless connectivity. Safety features include active seat-integrated rollover bars, daytime running lights, electronic stability program, hill hold control, a tire pressure monitoring system, and front and side airbags. Steering linked Bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights are standard on all but the Komfort trim.
For 2013, a new Sport trim has been added to the line-up.
Mazda has championed the rotary engine for many years and continues to produce the Renesis twin-rotor Wankel for the RX-8 4-door sports car. Seem confusing? Not really, as Mazda brought out the RX-8 in 2003 and it has proven to be a fun-to-drive sports car that will carry four adults in a pinch. When pared with a 6-speed manual gearbox, the rotary develops 232 bhp, while output drops to 212 bhp when mated to the 6-speed automatic transmission. Ride and handling are smooth and slick, interior comfort is quite high and if you want to have the ultimate RX-8, order the R3 edition with stiffer suspension, Bilstein shock absorbers, a rear spoiler and more.