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.
Lotus’ acclaimed bantam weight Elise gets a revised body design this year that incorporates a new front clamshell, rear bumper and mid-engine cover which Lotus says improves aerodynamics in the interest of fuel economy. It also gets revised headlamps which now incorporate LED turn signals and daytime running lights as well as new standard cast or optional forged wheels. The engines remain unchanged, with the high-revving 1.8-liter in the Elise (189 bhp) and supercharged version of this inline-4 (218 bhp) in the Elise SC. The Elise’s fastback twin, the Exige S 240, continues on with the higher output supercharged inline-4 making an impressive 240 bhp. There will also be special edition Roger Becker (RGB) models, offered for both Elise and Exige.
The Ford Fiesta is a sub-compact, front-wheel drive, five-passenger car. Available in four- and five-door bodystyles, the current benchmarks for the sub-compact segment are being tested by the Fiestas styling, comfort and luxury features, technology, and overall practicality.
The Fiesta is offered in three trims, S, SE, or a new Titanium model. Power comes from a 120-hp 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed manual transmission. An advanced six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission is optional. Standard features on all models include air-conditioning, capless fuel filler system, power body-colored mirrors, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, aux audio input jack and electronic power-assisted steering. Higher trim levels include cruise control, keyless entry, satellite radio, alloy wheels, power windows and door locks, and SYNC hands-free communications and entertainment system. Optional features include heated seats, a passive entry/passive start system, power moonroof, and leather seats; also offered is a Super Fuel Economy (SFE) package for those commuters seeking maximum efficiency. Standard safety features include AdvanceTrac electronic stability control, seven airbags including a driver knee airbag, tire pressure monitoring system, engine immobilizer and four-wheel anti-lock brakes.
For 2013, the Fiesta carries over with minor upgrades and a new top Titanium model that includes standard leather seats.
For 2013, a new lower priced Touring version of the XK grand tourer, coupe or convertible, is available. Starting at $79,000 for the coupe, it offers the same performance as before with a sticker price that’s $4500 less. A new Portfolio Pack for the XK and XKR gives you special features and finishes such as chrome mirror caps and grille, more exterior color options, a leather headliner from the XKR-S and more. New 20-in. alloy wheels are now standard, up from last year’s 19s. A Dynamic Pack on the XKR coupe and convertible is now available, bringing XKR-S suspension tuning to the XKR. All XKs have a variation of Jaguar’s 5.0-liter V-8 (385 bhp in the XK, 550 bhp in the XKR-S) mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Although Chevy's hugely successful redesign of the Malibu debuted roughly four years ago, an all-new Malibu is already going into production in early 2012 as a 2013 model. The new Malibu is being touted as the brand's "first global mid-size vehicle," which Chevy has plans to sell on six continents. The exterior is noticeably sleeker, with a wider stance and a Camaro-inspired rear fascia. Chevy designers would probably like to take all the credit, but the sleeker profile was also influenced by engineers who logged hundreds of hours in the wind tunnel. From underbody panels to active shutters in the grille, the new car has numerous aerodynamic aids that improve its drag coefficient by more than .06 over the previous Malibu, bringing it to within .01 of the Volt. Better aerodynamics often result in better fuel economy, but Chevy didn't stop there. A brand-new, more-fuel-efficient 2.5-liter four-cylinder replaces the Malibu's previous roster of powerplants. Power and torque ratings will likely fall somewhere between the old engines', with early estimates from Chevy of 190 hp and 180 lb-ft of torque. The changes continue in the cabin, which is more spacious and looks more attractive, with better lighting, better materials, and a more cohesive design. Since its rebirth as a 2008 model, we have awarded the Malibu two All-Stars and have consistently praised its chassis, brakes, and steering as among the best in its class. With our only criticism being addressed by the new powertrain, we expect the new Malibu to improve on its predecessor in every way.