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.
How do you update an already retro design? You flatten its roof, make it look more masculine and hope the design attracts more male buyers. Longer, lower and wider than the New Beetle, the new Beetle is based on an all-new chassis (related to the Golf's), fitted with either a 170-bhp 2.5-liter 5-cylinder and a 6-speed automatic or the 200-bhp direct-injected 2.0-liter turbo mated to VW's dual-clutch 6-speed automatic. Manual transmissions, says VW, will come at a later date. Also coming later (in 2012) is the super-efficient 2.0-liter TDI diesel engine, which is expected to give this 4-seat front-driver highway fuel economy of 40 mpg. The Beetle Turbo, of note, has multilink rear suspension, whereas the standard Beetle has a twist beam.
With a bushel full of crossover vehicles on the market, the buyer has a wide range of choices. The Mazda CX-9 should be at the top of the list as it is reasonably priced, good looking, carries seven people and can be had with either front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. There are three models in the lineup: Sport, Touring and Grand Touring. The only engine is Mazda's 3.7-liter dohc V-6 with variable valve timing. It pumps out a healthy 273 bhp and 270 lb.-ft. of torque, which enables towing loads of 3500 lb. Interior fitments are well done and features include climate control, Bluetooth phone capability and Sirius satellite radio. All in all, the CX-9 offers the utility of a minivan but without the stigma.
It’s no secret that the 444-bhp 2012 Boss 302 has garnered rave reviews, even if its limited production means price negotiation will be virtually nonexistent. And though otherwise mostly a carryover for 2012, we think Ford’s Mustang has never been better. Its base 305-bhp Ti-VCT V-6 is good for up to 31 mpg highway, while the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter Ti-VCT V-8 generates 412 bhp and up to 26 mpg highway. Handling and braking are now fully on par with power output, and interior refinement is worlds ahead of Mustangs of yore—and the pony car competition. New options for 2012 include selectable steering effort, made possible by electric power-assist steering (EPAS). And the supercharged 550-bhp Shelby GT500 is back with optional Recaro bucket seats.
The BMW 7-series is the pinnacle of BMW sedans. A big luxury sedan that is loaded with state-of-the-art technology to keep you safe on today's roads.
The rear-wheel drive ActiveHybrid 740 is powered by a 315-hp direct-injection, 3.0-litre, turbo inline-six cylinder engine, that is combined with a 55-hp electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack to give the long-wheelbase 740 a total system output of 349-hp and 367 lb-ft of torque. The hybrid engine and motor are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission for maximum smoothness and efficiency. Standard luxury features include four-zone automatic climate control, power sunroof, high-gloss wood trim, heated power seats, voice-activated navigation system on a 10.2-inch color monitor, HD radio and BMW Assist emergency and information communications. Standard run-flat tires wrap 18-inch alloy wheels, while standard Park Distance Control with a rear camera, adaptive brake lights and steerable adaptive bi-xenon headlights provide active safety. High-tech options include surround-view cameras, high-beam assistant, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, dual LCD screens for rear seat entertainment and ventilated front seats.
For 2014, the base audio system is now harman/kardon, a new Dynamic Digital Instrument Cluster is now standard, and the iDrive controller adds a multi-touch surface to the top of the control knob.