Enduring the ride that was the 2011 year for better or worse, we have now arrived in the new year of 2012. For the auto industry, 2011 has taken some auto companies on differing paths. For companies like Ford Motor Company, Hyundai and General Motors, their year ends with a series of successes leading to certain profitability at the end of 2011. Other automakers have gone into 2011 expecting a new beginning only to face what could be an ending. Swedish’s car company Saab could have a short-lived life beyond General Motors unless a solid financial rescuer comes to its aid. As automakers think shortly back to the 2011 year, seeking for top spot in the 2012 automobile market, some vehicles reflect clear winners for attracting the interests of rightfully demanding consumers.
While not necessarily dominating sales charts, the following new vehicles captured the mood of 2011 in automotive design and innovations:
Infusing their line-up with character, Hyundai first sought to attract an upscale clientele. Sculpting a reinvented brand perception with the Veracruz, Genesis and Equus, Hyundai’s focus on product development has worked from the top down. As the Hyundai Accent received a much-overdue redesign for the 2012 model year, observers noted the absence of the three-door hatchback version. Planning something sportier and unique, the Veloster came to life at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show projecting some deep personality from Hyundai.
Powered by a spunky 138-horsepower from a 1.6 liter Gamma powerplant, the Hyundai Veloster delivers pep along with excellent fuel economy of 32 miles per gallon in combined city and highway driving. Drivers could choose from an innovative 6-speed dual-clutch transmission or the more pleasuring 6-speed manual gearbox. Standard equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, a 7-inch LG touch screen stereo system with Pandora and Bluetooth connectivity meant the 2012 Hyundai Veloster had the ingredients to be an instant hot item at a $17,300 starting price. Officially launched in October, the 2012 Hyundai Veloster accumulated 7,096 in sales by the end of November.
For sale during only the final quarter of 2011, the Veloster has already received the attention of a young crowd looking for what hidden talent rests in the radical three-door vehicle. At the 2011 SEMA Show, several examples for modded out PM Lifestyle/UTI Veloster elevated Hyundai to a flashier world stage. A turbocharged production version of the three-door Hyundai Veloster in the near future should only allow the car to continue its quest to become a recognized pocket rocket from 2012 and beyond.
Replacing the Murcielago, Italian sports car builder Lamborghini is pressured to improve upon 48 years of delivering dream rides. A supercar moved by 700-horsepower, the Aventador is the bull’s newest progression in Lamborghini’s heritage.
Built around a full carbon fiber monocoque, aluminum combines with the exterior construction of the Lamborghini Aventador LP-700-4 ’s structure for an ultra-lightweight supercar. A driver and passenger step into the Aventador though the upward opening scissor doors that have become a Lamborghini staple. Rated to weigh just over 3,472 pounds, the all-new Lamborghini Aventador is in excess of 400 pounds lighter than the outgoing Murcielago. Mid-mounted in the Lamborghini Aventador LP-700-4 is a 6.5 liter V-12 engine. Handling the 700 horsepower in a strategic manner is accomplished through an all-wheel drive system supplied by Haldex. Seven gears are arranged through a unique ISR (Independent Shifting Rod) transmission insuring quick, responsive movements through shifts. With 0 to 62-mile per hour acceleration runs occurring in a prompt 2.9 seconds, the Aventador LP-700-4 inspired launches into the roads of 2012.
Accustomed to selling their compact sedans as bargain haulers, Chevrolet had devoted questionable dedication to the Cavalier and even the Cobalt. When the Chevrolet Cruze was launched in North America in late 2010, the sophisticated world sedan demonstrated we could expect greater things from the top General Motors brand in the smaller vehicle class.
Stylish without being overwhelming, the compact Cruze was welcomed by as many as 215,057 customers for the current year as of November 2011 (making it Chevrolet’s best-selling car and second only to the Silverado pickup in overall bowtie products sold in the year). A good reason for the positive reception of the Chevrolet Cruze rests in the fact the car does not represent the usually expected ‘corner-cutting’ in the development process. Ten airbags, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with anti-lock braking and detail to noise reduction standard on all Cruze models recognizes the motorist deserves better from 2011 model year vehicles. Powered by the Ecotec family of engines, a 1.8 liter and turbocharged 1.4 liter provides an amply power range for the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. Propelled by one of two high efficiency power plants, the Cruze features robust power at a low cost of operations. For optimal fuel economy, the Cruze Eco version can go up to 42 miles per gallon when linked to the six-speed manual transmission.
As the Chevrolet Volt attracted all the press and Chevrolet’s Centennial was passionately celebrated with commemorative editions of the Camaro and Corvette, the Chevrolet Cruze sales success played an immediate role insuring their will be many more parties in honour of the brand.
While the Chevrolet Cruze was accomplishing the act of bringing refinement to entry-level vehicles through minor overall price increases, the Volkswagen Jetta entered 2011 attempting to re-establish itself as an affordable small sedan. Extremely popular in North America from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, the German car brand scared off some buyers when the Jetta steered into premium car pricing. Wanting increased sale volumes, Volkswagen redesign of the 6th generation Jetta sedan heavily involved making the a better value to North American car buyers.
Larger than the more expensive predecessor model, the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta took a more back-to-basics approach in engineering. Gone is the high-end materials and suspension system in favour of lower-cost, easier to produce components as the 2011 model year Jetta arrived for a retail price starting under $16,000. Designed to win over young families, the 2011 Jetta incorporated standard comfort and safety features including a 60/40 split rear seat as well as up to six airbags. The new Jetta is recognized as an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2012. Powered by the 2-liter and 2.5 liter gasoline engines, the 140-horsepower turbocharged clean diesel powerplant of the 2011 Jetta TDI delivers up to 42 miles per gallon fuel economy.
A vehicle created to boost Volkswagen‘s United States sales, the all-new Jetta sedan was a mission accomplished in the first 11 months of 2011 netting sales almost 59 percent higher than the 2010 pattern.
Audi A7 Sportback
Audi has tempted more luxury car buyers than ever with a flourishing line-up of technologically advanced upscale vehicles in 2011. The Audi A7 Sportback was introduced to the marketplace this year as the perfect conveyance of the brand’s drive for modern luxury and performance. Though the five-door represents a late arrival to an automotive category of unconventional sport coupes wearing more than two doors (i.e. Mercedes CLS-Class and Porsche Panamera), the Audi A7 Sportback blend of the new A6 sedan architecture into a radiant-looking creation. Composing of a combination of steel and aluminum, the 2012 model year A7 Sportback was launched in April to brisk sales that totalled to over 5,000 vehicles by the end of November. North American customers receive the supercharged 3.0 TFSI V6 powerplant routed to the quattro drivetrain through an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission. Seating for four passengers provides an individualized performance luxury feel. The Audi A7 Sportback’s MMI system with an available 15-speaker supplied by Bang & Olufsen and Audi connect solutions are some highlights in store for all occupants.
With the best yet to come from the unique coupe, the high-performance Audi S7 Sportback is due for the 2013 model year.
Information source: Audi AG, Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., General Motors, Hyundai Motor America, VW Group
Photo source: Audi AG, Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., Chris Nagy