Right now, the Veloster lacks the performance creed to back up its killer looks. But that will change once this 201-hp version hits the streets. The 45 percent boost in horsepower has most folks taking a second look at the Veloster, and hoping this Turbo is a signal that Hyundai is getting as serious about performance as it has been about quality and design over the last few years.
2013 SRT Viper
With a 640-hp V-10 and a body made of magnesium, aluminum, and carbon fiber; we’re expecting greatness from Chrysler’s super car. They lowered the car’s weight by about 140 pounds and made its chassis 50 percent stiffer. This Viper is designed to challenge cars that can reach nine tenths of their potential without technological guardrails. The SRT needs to get in that ballpark to be a real winner.
2013 Ram 1500
The Ram was due for a facelift, but rather than giving it a superficial makeover, Chrysler went for so many smart updates that Ford and GM will be chasing for their own answers. Start with aerodynamics, where Chrysler has altered the front wheel openings and given the truck’s grille active shutters said to reduce drag by 3 to 5 percent. It added an eight-speed automatic transmission too, tied in electric power steering, and brought in start/stop technology to save gas in traffic. All of these changes are included with any of the available engines.
2013 Chevy Sonic RS
The RS is a sportier Sonic with an affordable sticker. This car gets more than just a mild exterior makeover. The six-speed manual has closer ratios and the suspension has been stiffened. The stock Sonic is already one of the tautest-handling cars in the “B” segment. Adding 17-inch rubber and a slightly lower suspension is going to make the RS a rip to drive. There are also new rocker moldings and a new rear spoiler, but more important for the driver, the car gets sportier, firmer front buckets. The RS will be the only Sonic to get four-wheel discs as well as four-channel ABS with electronic brake-force distribution.
2013 Subaru WRX
Recently the blogosphere has been alive with chatter that the next-gen Subaru WRX will get the FA motor developed for the Subaru BRZ, and this is one instance when there’s logic behind the rumor. The FA engine can sit a lot lower in the car because it’s more compact. A lower engine has many advantages, chief among them the ability to shove the mass farther rearward in the car for better balance. Better still, Subaru engineered the FA for higher compression from the start, so it should tolerate the amount of forced induction required to take it from 200 hp in the BRZ to the expected benchmark of 265 hp. A bonus: Fuel economy should jump a good 15 percent.
2014 Jaguar F-Type Roadster
Jaguar’s C-X16 concept from 2011 makes its production debut as the new F-Type with a supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 that should make 380 hp. Expect at least one turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder derived from the Range Rover Evoque, but that power plant probably won’t be sold in the U.S. Both engines will be mated to eight-speed automatics with start–stop technology. An aluminum body will keep weight down but price up. Expect this Jag to compete with the Porsche Boxster as well as with the Audi TT-RS. The platform may also underpin a forthcoming XF sedan replacement.
2014 Audi A3
The forthcoming A3 will be based on the VW Golf. Hopefully the chassis that underpins the new Audi will be more modular than previous versions. That would allow integration of hybrid tech and front-drive or AWD setups that could shave weight on various Audis and Volkswagens, helping engineers to increase fuel economy while downsizing displacement.
Chevy Corvette C7
It now appears that the C7 will debut at this coming winter’s North American auto show in Detroit with a 5.5-liter V-8 that still uses pushrods. However, thanks to direct injection and higher compression, it’s reasonable to expect the new Corvette to put out 440 hp, so it could match or best the outgoing 6.0-liter. The car will be visually arresting for certain. Inspiration will come at least in part from the present Camaro.
2014 Jeep Liberty
A Liberty is a Jeep in name but carries the same chassis that under girds the new Dodge Dart. Expect a fully independent suspension and 4WD but no low range, even if hill-descent control is an option. There’s also rumor of an all-new V-6 (the outgoing 3.7-liter V-6 was anemic, unrefined, and thirsty), and a ZF-sourced nine-speed automatic. That would mean a whopping five more forward gears than the outdated four-speed auto in the old Liberty (pictured above). The base Liberty could have the same 1.4-liter turbo deployed in the new Dart, and, though it is sacrilege to some Jeep fans, front-wheel drive.
2014 Porsche Macan
At first, we expect Porsche to go for improved handling, the way it built the Cayenne to be a more capable high-speed machine than the VW Touareg. AWD will be a given, as will two Audi-derived engines, the 237-hp 2.0-liter turbo four and the 288-hp V-6. Rumors suggest that a manual gearbox could be possible, but we’re betting on a seven-speed auto, though there’s still hope it could come in a dual-clutch arrangement.
2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA
What the CLA promises, Mercedes says, is something slicker than we’ve seen on American shores, and the first A-Class to grace the New World will arrive as an AMG with a muscular 300-hp turbocharged four-cylinder fed to all-wheel drive. It’s even possible we’ll see a double-clutch, seven-speed automatic. Only the sedan version of the smallest Benz will come to America, probably because the hatch versions of the 1 Series and the Audi A3 haven’t sold well here. After the CLA AMG debuts, though, we will see more fuel-efficient CLAs with smaller engines, possibly a diesel, and front-wheel drive.