Hot Sports Cars for 2012
Speed and styling dominate sports cars, but efficiency is gaining hold. From the Volkswagen Eos runabout to the hulking Lamborghini Aventador, fuel-economy numbers creep up with each new car. Sports cars span nearly as many price, size and performance categories as the auto industry at large. See what's new for 2012.
|Hot Sports Cars for 2012|
|All cars are listed in alphabetical order and are from the 2012 model year.|
$208,295 - $223,295
Slotting between the DB9 and DBS, the Virage marks Aston Martin's fifth car. A stunning two-door, the Virage comes as a coupe or Volante convertible, each with a minuscule backseat. A 6.0-liter V-12 sits behind the Aston's iconic grille. It pushes the rear-drive Virage to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds, the British carmaker says.
The efficiency movement affects even powerhouse luxury sedans. BMW's mighty M5, a performance variant of the latest 5 Series, has a twin-turbo V-8 with well over 500 horsepower. But it also boasts systems that conserve energy on braking and idling to deliver up to 30 percent better gas mileage than the prior V-10 M5, BMW says. It still hauls, of course: The automaker claims 60 mph comes in less than 4.5 seconds.
$23,200 - $40,600
Muscle-car fans know there's no such thing as too much power. Others will declare the 550-hp Camaro ZL1 a case of overkill, but no such reservations stopped Ford from making a 550-hp Mustang Shelby GT500. And so the Detroit muscle wars go on. GM's latest salvo, the supercharged ZL1 marks the quickest, priciest variant of the Chevrolet's resurrected Camaro. Appropriately, it comes only with a six-speed manual transmission.
Not many people can fathom an all-wheel-drive Ferrari, much less a hatchback. The FF, which replaces the 612 Scaglietti as Ferrari's four-seat GT flagship, is both. Its profile defies convention for Ferrari, who defends the package for practicality and aerodynamics. The Italian carmaker throws equal defense to the all-wheel-drive system, which reportedly behaves like a proper rear-wheel drive on the street and racetrack. The front-mid V-12 powers the front wheels only in low traction. Indeed, Ferrari says the FF laps its hometown Fiorano track as fast as the 599 GTB Fiorano.
The Aventador LP 700-4 replaces Lamborghini's longstanding Murcielago. For nearly $400,000, its 6.5-liter V-12 thwacks you to 60 mph in less than 2.9 seconds. It's the sort of acceleration that will dispatch your toupee to the backseat, if there was one. The flagship Lambo has just two front seats, accessed through scissor doors. Its styling culminates everything the brand stands for: angular, menacing looks that are stuck in permanent futurism.
Lexus touts the LFA as a legitimate supercar, with just 500 copies slated for production. Thanks to a chassis and body panels reinforced with carbon fiber, the V-10 LFA weighs just 3,263 pounds, about 450 pounds less than Ferrari's 599 GTB. With a starting price of some $350,000, the LFA competes with the 599 GTB Fiorano and its ilk — uncharted territory for Toyota's luxury brand, known more for comfort than performance.
Mercedes' original folding-hardtop roadster, the SLK-Class enters its third generation for 2012. New options include deployable wind screens behind the front head restraints and a transparent roof panel that can go opaque on demand. The rear-drive SLK competes with roadsters like the Porsche Boxster, Audi TT and BMW Z4. Engines include a 3.5-liter V-6 and, shortly after introduction, a turbocharged four-cylinder.
Just a year after its introduction, Mercedes' supercar gets a convertible variant for 2012. It has a powered soft-top but swaps in conventional doors for the SLS AMG coupe's gull-wings. In coupe or convertible form, the SLS' 6.3-liter V-8 makes 563 hp, the sort of power you'd expect for a car that starts close to $200,000.
$51,900 - $67,500
A lightweight Cayman R joins the Cayman lineup. Similar to its Boxster Spyder sibling, the Cayman R loses weight and gains power. Porsche replaced heavier materials in the seats and doors with carbon fiber and aluminum; it also yanked the air conditioning and stereo, and replaced the door handles with canvas release straps. The Spartan results save 121 pounds. Combined with a 330-hp six-cylinder — up 10 hp over the Cayman S — the R boasts improved handling and quicker acceleration.
Even top-flight luxury four-doors have hybrid editions. Case in point: the Porsche Panamera S Hybrid, a gas-electric hybrid version of Porsche's popular Panamera. A far cry from yesteryear's go-slow hybrids, the greenest Panamera teams a supercharged V-6 with a 47-hp electric motor. The Panamera S Hybrid gets an EPA-estimated 22/30/25 mpg city/highway/combined, exceeding the V-6 Panamera's 21 mpg combined. It also beats its gas-powered version to 60 mph, with a claimed 5.7-second sprint.For outright acceleration, that puts the Panamera S Hybrid between the V-6 Panamera and V-8 Panamera S.
$33,995 - $39,220
Unchanged since its mid-2006 introduction, the Eos hardtop convertible gets a major nose job for 2012. The grille and headlights ditch the original Eos' bright-eyed expression for something sleeker, if less affable. New climate controls and a redesigned steering wheel mark the interior, while the turbocharged four-cylinder loses the stick-shift option for an automatic only, with improved gas mileage to boot. The Eos' folding hardtop includes a power moonroof that can open independently.