R&T Overview:When you build one of today's most potent performance cars, how do you make it better? Easy. Up the horsepower, which is what Nissan has done with the GT-R. By increasing turbocharger boost pressure, modifying valve timing and the fuel-air ratio, then cutting exhaust backpressure, the 3.8-liter V-6 ups horsepower from 485 to 530 and torque from 434 lb.-ft. to 448...laid down via the ATTESA E-TS all-wheel-drive system. To go with the added power comes revised exterior styling, which cuts the coefficient of drag to 0.26 and adds 10 percent more downforce. There are two GT-R models, Premium and, new for 2012, the Black Edition. The latter has a unique seat trim, interior colors and 6-spoke wheels. Two exterior colors are added: Deep Blue Pearl and Jet Black.
The Audi S6 is the sport-refined version of the luxurious A6 sedan, boasting more power, exclusive design details and a level of technological sophistication few cars achieve.
The quattro all-wheel drive S6 is equipped with a 420-hp 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 TFSI engine with direct fuel injection and Audi's new cylinder-on-demand technology that deactivates four cylinders when under partial load. This powerful engine is paired with a seven-speed S-tronic automatic transmission with manual mode and steering wheel paddle shifters. Standard equipment on the S6 includes Audi Drive Select, Xenon plus adaptive headlights, LED daytime running lights and tail lamps, leather upholstery, heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, Advanced Key passive entry/start, HD/satellite radio, Bluetooth wireless connectivity and an Audi Music Interface with iPod integration; as well, a MMI voice-activated navigation plus system features real-time traffic information and internal memory for digital media storage, while Audi Connect provides a mobile internet hotspot and smartphone integration. Additional standard equipment exclusive to the S6 includes a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, alu-optic exterior mirrors, sport seats and a sport steering wheel. Standard safety features include electronic stability and traction control systems, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes with brake assist, rear camera parking assist and front, front side-impact and overhead curtain airbags; rear side-impact airbags are optional. Other available technologies include Audi Active Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go functionality, a Top View camera system, and Night Vision Assistant, including pedestrian detection.
All-new last year, the Audi S6 carries over with minimal changes for 2014. Power-folding exterior mirrors are now standard, while new safety equipment includes an Audi Side Assist blind spot monitor and the Audi pre sense rear collision warning system. Additionally, a new Black Optic Package offers unique 19-inch aluminum wheels, along with a high-gloss black grille and body-colored exterior mirrors.
We're including the standard Murano crossover SUV with the new Murano CrossCabriolet, which is possibly the answer to a question no one asked. The normal Murano is a well-done crossover SUV with all the expected benefits, mixing passenger comfort with, well, station wagon flexibility. The drivetrain includes the solid VQ 3.5-liter V-6, a CVT transmission and front- or all-wheel drive. Biggest change for 2012 is a new Platinum option package. Then Nissan decided to lop off the Murano roof and create a large 2-door, 4-passenger convertible. One can't fault the interior luxury appointments, and the cloth folding top is one slick bit of engineering. The driveline carries over from the standard Murano, but only with all-wheel drive.
The Subaru BRZ coupe occupies an interesting niche in the sports car world. While less powerful than all out muscle cars, like the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, the rear-wheel-drive BRZ maintains a performance edge on hot hatches like the VW Golf GTI and Mini Cooper. A 200-bhp 2.0-liter flat-4 cylinder engine hustles the BRZ from 0 to 60 mph in less than 7 seconds. There is a choice of 6-speed manual or (for an additional $1,100) 6-speed automatic equipped with paddle shifters. Of course, the same powertrain is found in the nearly identical Scion FR-S — the two sport coupes were co-developed between Toyota and Subaru. The base price of the Scion is a few hundred dollars less than the BRZ, but the Subaru has a slightly classier cabin. Space in the rear is tight for adults, though small bumps in the roofline add a smidge more headroom for those sitting up front. During our first test drive, we called the BRZ a "dual-character machine that's fun on the weekends but won't beat you up during the week." The car's mix of driving fun and functionality is hard to beat, unless you're driving the FR-S.
The XJ is Jaguar's top of the line model, known for pampering occupants with luxury amenities, a silky smooth ride and effortless power.
The XJ is built on a light and strong all-aluminum structure that can support rear- or all-wheel drive. A 340-hp 3.0-liter V6 powers the base rear-wheel drive XJ and all-wheel drive models. Three variations of 5.0-liter V8 are available; a 385-hp naturally aspirated (rear-wheel drive Portfolio), a 470-hp (Supercharged models), or a 510-hp (Supersport and Ultimate models). An eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters sends power to the wheels. An adjustable air suspension is responsible for the XJ's impressive road handling abilities and luxurious ride. Safety features include dual front airbags, side curtain airbags, and front side-impact airbags. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, and electronic stability control are standard.
For 2013, all-wheel drive is now available, the base XJ is now equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 engine, all models are now equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and an Ultimate model has been added to the line-up. The Ultimate has luxurious seating for four, dual rear iPad's with docking stations, a powered passenger table, champagne flutes, and a spot to chill your favorite beverage.