With a new year dawning in just a few more days, the choice of a new car could be a pending resolution. Presented with a wide variety of vehicle brands, model and types in 2011, the 2012 calendar guarantees customers will have even more to choose from at dealership lots. Impressive fuel economy, pint-sized performance and efficiently planned cargo space are some motivating factors behind the upcoming production vehicle offerings.
Thanks to the somewhat confusing nature of model year classifications by auto companies, some of the automobiles expected within the upcoming 12 months are actually labelled as 2013 cars. The following list of released or soon-to-be released products is some key vehicle prospects for 2012.
2013 Ford Escape
Despite the fact many automotive journalists would have deemed the current Ford Escape as a dated, truck-like compact utility vehicle, customers clambered for the versatile product ringing in 228,719 in sales up to November of 2011. Unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show last month, the all-new 2013 Ford Escape adapts more car-like design attributes with a curvier, aerodynamic outer structure. Powering what will be front and all-wheel drive versions will be a 2.5 liter inline-four cylinder or one of two optional EcoBoost engines. The 2-liter turbocharged and direct-injected EcoBoost boasts a horsepower total close to the predeceasing Escape. Ford Motor Company has chosen not to engineer a hybrid version of the 2013 Escape insisting the 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine provides high fuel efficiency without the expense of electric motors and batteries. Besides the engines, the 2013 Ford Escape will employ several other innovations including improved MyFord Touch and hands-free power tailgate.
The Mitsubishi i have been sold in Japan as a gasoline-powered or electric model for several years; North American customers will only receive the electric powertrain model of the subcompact car. Mitsubishi’s first electric vehicle to be sold in the United States, the 66-horsepower i subcompact car has been a temptress for the past several years on the auto show circuit in North America to green fans. Measuring only 144.8 inches in length, the small stature if the 2012 Mitsubishi i balances comfort, safety and weight. In a marketplace that is becoming inundated with the electric or electric-assisted powertrains, the Mitsubishi i have one quality that could lure a few adopters to this zero emission driving craze. Mitsubishi is pricing the electric-powered i under $30,000 before a set $7,500 federal tax credit.
Classic elements merge with modern technology and expertise to craft the Ferrari FF. The V-12 powerplant configuration is a familiar Ferrari trait on the FF. Producing 651 horsepower, the 6.3 liter, 12-cylinder engine features the efficiency of direct injection based on Ferrari’s new HELE (High Emotion Low Emissions) philosophy. The Ferrari FF is powered by the Italian automaker’s first production bound all-wheel drive system called 4RM. Styled by Ferrari’s long-time design collaborator Pininfarina, the FF supercar employs elegant exterior touches despite adapting to an unusual ‘shooting brake’ shape. A 2+2 sports car bringing plenty of refreshing nuances to the Ferrari division, the all-new FF most astonishing feature is presented at a spot uncommon for exotic cars. Providing a more than adequate 15.9 cubic feet of cargo room with four passengers, this Ferrari features fold-down rear seats that opens up the interior cargo dimensions to 28.3 cubic feet. Capable of up to 208 miles per hour, the Ferrari FF’s combination of usable ergonomics will become an eye-catching spectacle in the supercar market for 2012.
Sold in Japan and Europe under the Toyota badge, the iQ existed in production since 2008 as an ultra-fuel efficient microcar. Arriving in North America under the youthful Scion badge, the Japanese-branded Smart Fortwo challenger will find favour as a convenient city car. Starting at just above $15,000, buyers will find a high amount of refinement inside of the “3+1” cabin shielding occupants with 11 airbags for safety. The Scion iQ comes standard equipped with a 1.3 liter four-cylinder engine generating 94 horsepower. Linked to a continuously variable transmission, Scion iQ fuel economy in the high 30s range is realistic. A mere 120.1 inches in total length, navigating the iQ would be a breeze even when entering tight parallel parking spots.
Volkswagen Golf R
One of the ultimate factory-prepped sport compacts currently sold in Europe, the Volkswagen Golf R has been a high performance terror. In 2012, the North American market has secured for limited release of the all-wheel drive Golf R. The Volkswagen Golf R combines the Haldex® all-wheel drive system and a six-speed manual transmission along with sportier handling to provide a sensational road manner. Powered by a 256 horsepower, turbocharged 2-liter engine, the 2012 Volkswagen Golf R takes under six seconds to launch to 60 miles per hour from a standstill. Presented in three and five door versions, visual cues identifying the Golf R from its lower powered counterpart is the unique rear diffuser, front grille as well as brake calipers painted in gloss black.
Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The modern pony car wars will enter into a new phase this spring as the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 targets the Ford Shelby GT500 in 2012. Featuring a 580-horsepower, supercharged 6.2 liter V-8 engine, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1’s recently-released track specifications confirm this pony car will be an accomplishment for American-badged performance. 0 to 60-mile per hour acceleration for the 2012 Camaro ZL1 is rated at 3.9 seconds en route to a top speed of 184 miles per hour. Securing the efficient transfer of horsepower to the pavement, the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 comes with standard Performance Traction Management System allowing a driver to tailor handling attributes to street or track. Magnetic Ride Control included with the Performance Traction Control System insures the Goodyear tires mounted on 20-inch forged aluminum wheels will be spinning in the name of quality performance. Coming only in the form of the Camaro coupe for its 2012 introduction, a convertible version of the ZL1 package is promised for 2013 customers. Also for the 2013 model year, the Ford Shelby GT500 is expected to up its game against the Camaro ZL1. With 650 horsepower attached to the upcoming GT500, 2012 will remain the domain for the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
Information source: Ford Motor Company, Ferrari, General Motors, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Toyota Motor Corporation, VW Group
Photo source: Chris Nagy, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, VW Group