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.
With the introduction of the Range Rover Evoque, which is based on the same platform, it’s easier to see how the LR2 slots in the lineup as the less expensive and more utilitarian sibling. However, the LR2 continues to be powered by a slightly more muscular 230-bhp inline-6 instead of the more modern turbocharged 4-cylinder engine in the Evoque. The downside is the heavier engine adds weight, giving the LR2 poorer fuel economy without any added performance. Like all Land Rovers, the all-wheel-drive LR2 offers a full complement of off-road assists including Hill Descent Control and Terrain Response. With the company’s effort directed at the all-new Range Rover Evoque, it’s not surprising to find there are just a handful of minor upgrades in the 2012 LR2.
The original high-end sport-ute gets a thorough revision for 2011, with additions to make it the most-extensive model lineup in Mercedes’ stable. Returning this year are two regular-production gasoline models (a V-6 and V-8), a V-6 diesel, and a hot-rod AMG version. The real news is the ML400h, which combines a 275-bhp fuel-sipping Atkinson-cycle V-6 with a 288-volt electric motor for a total of 335 horses. Fuel efficiency for the full-hybrid jumps by 15-20 percent, with EPA ratings of 20 city/25 highway. The downside? The ML400 carries a $9000 premium and is available lease-only, which will leave some people wondering about the hybrid’s future.
he GT-R interior is much like the exterior in which it doesn't live up to the standards set by some of the more prestigious and massively more expensive supercars on the market. That said, it is functional, practical and serves its purpose.
The driver's seat is nicely fitted with good grip coming from the side bolsters. The eight-way power adjustments provide good adjustability and finding a happy driver position was never an issue. The front passenger seat has ample legroom and an individual who is six-feet plus should still fit nicely. Headroom is also surprisingly adequate for a car of this nature and the view out of the rear window is decent, made better by the rear view camera to assist.
The rear seats provide zero legroom for a grown adult. But they fit child seats perfectly, with the LATCH system, and I was comfortable taking my wife, including two of our kids, for a spin. In fact, with children about 6 years and under, or any human with abnormally short legs, this car was actually very practical. This was rather shocking for a supercar, proving the versatility of the Nissan GT-R.
The trunk is large enough to store even my mother-in-law. I managed my mulch shopping from Lowe's in the GT-R too and it handled the everyday journeys as good as any large sports-sedan.
The trim in the cabin is certainly not luxurious but provides a level expected for a supercar at this price point. The carbon-fiber plate on the center console is a nice touch and buttons are easily accessible and intuitive to use. The steering wheel, wrapped in leather, looks dated and could use freshening.
There are few ways to get more automotive Americana for your money than by ponying up for a Mustang convertible. The current generation has been around a few years now, but this rear-wheel-drive sports car still looks great. Get creative with appearance packages, not to mention paintjobs like Gotta Have It Green and Grabber Blue, and you'll have a car loaded with retro appeal for only minimal outlay. Base models come equipped with a surprisingly potent 305-bhp 3.7-liter V-6 engine. Exercise some restraint with the gas pedal and you could match the official 31-mpg highway fuel economy. There is a choice of two transmissions, a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic, and a variable steering system. Four adults will find plenty of space in the cabin – too bad some interior plastics have a cheap feel to them – and the 9.6 cu. ft. trunk is reasonably roomy for weekend getaways.