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 Cruze is Chevrolet's entrant in the highly contested compact sedan segment. It is based on a global platform that has been refined for America with an emphasis on fuel economy.
The Cruze features three small-displacement four-cylinder engines; a 140-hp 1.4-liter turbo, or a 138-hp naturally-aspirated 1.8-liter, or a 2.0-liter turbo diesel. Depending on trim, a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic transmission sends power to the front wheels. Available safety features include ten airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, traction control and anti-theft alarm with engine immobilizer. The Cruze can be equipped with features such as heated leather power seating, sunroof, remote start, satellite radio, navigation system and automatic climate control.
In terms of price and performance, the Mustang Boss 302 is positioned between the regular GT and the outrageous Shelby GT500. The Boss comes powered by a 444-bhp 5.0-liter V-8 coupled to a 6-speed manual transmission. Because it’s a couple hundred pounds lighter than its heavy hitting sibling, the 650-bhp GT500, the Boss 302 definitely holds its own in the corners. Driver selectable electronic steering offers of choice of three different modes, ranging from comfort to sport settings. Helping to bring things to a controlled stop are beefy Brembo brakes. Opting for the Laguna Seca Package adds a Torsen helical differential, brake cooling ducts, and a front-splitter that’s not legal for use on public roads – oh yes, and the rear seat is removed to save weight. While it might be a little too hardcore for some buyers, it’s targeted perfectly at Mustang fans who want to go racing.
If you love the tidiness and crisp handling of a Mini but don't see much use for those cramped rear quarters, then the Mini Coupe may just be the perfect vehicle for you. Available in all trims from the standard base Cooper, sporty S and fire-breathing JCW, the Coupe streamlines the greenhouse and nixes the rear seats, providing extra dedicated cargo capacity, a torsionally stiffer chassis (reinforced aft the front seats) and a sportier profile. A Mini first is the new retractable rear spoiler that deploys at 50 mph for added downforce. The roof makes a bold character statement in traditional Mini fashion, and is available in red, black or silver. For even more boldness, you can further customize it with racing stripes or even side graphics called Mini Tattoo.
The Lexus RX was the first vehicle to successfully integrate the most desirable attributes of a luxury sedan and an SUV—and in the process, it created its own segment: the luxury crossover. Now in its third generation, the Lexus RX 350 is essentially unchanged for 2012, except for small mechanical tweaks that allow its 275-bhp 3.5-liter V-6 to digest regular 87-octane fuel. There’s also an available appearance package, which adds 19-in. wheels and halogen headlamps with a black housing. For those who want to leave a smaller carbon footprint, there’s the RX 450h hybrid, which is also a carryover. Standard features in both models include SmartAccess keyless entry with pushbutton start, dual-zone automatic climate control, nine-speaker audio system and Bluetooth.