Speedy Start to the New Year
8 cars I need to test in 2010
With the New Year about to break, I’m thinking about resolutions. As in, which cars do I resolve to drive this year, ASAP? Charting the course for 2010, several cars are already vying for slots in my mental parking lot. And they’re not all flashy, frivolous sports cars; some are simply significant additions to the market -- cars that a consumer might want to check out as much as I do. Others bring intriguing technology, including the latest fuel-saving tricks. Here are seven cars that I’ll put through their paces in the coming year, along with one insanely rare Aston Martin that would make it a great eight:
Chevrolet Cruze and Volt
Two big clues to a potential GM comeback: The Cruze (pictured) must stand tall against
the new Kia Forte. The Volt plug-in hybrid, of course, is GM’s ultimate halo car. I’m dying to see how it drives, and whether it can really cover 40 miles on battery power alone.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
I was mildly skeptical over the SLS -- which inherits the mantle of Benz’s classic SL gullwing of the '50s -- until I heard the upside: The SLS is the first car built from the ground up by AMG, Mercedes’ esteemed high-performance division. The SLS also weighs at least 500 pounds less than the current SL-Class roadster, meaning it should drive like a real sports car.
After driving tasty European versions of the Ford Focus, I’m curious how the smaller Fiesta will pan out. The car looks fantastic for a budget hatchback. Now it has to drive well enough to persuade Ford customers to downsize to a true, Euro-style subcompact.
For a Hyundai brand that’s firing on all cylinders, the Sonata's four cylinders are the next big test: The company's 2.4-liter turbocharged direct-injection engine combines a potent 198 horsepower with 35 mpg highway. Hyundai says the engine is so good that it won’t bother offering a V6 in the all-new Sonata midsize sedan.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
On paper and in person, the redesigned Grand Cherokee looks impressive, the best-executed Jeep since the Grand Cherokee’s suburban salad days. (Remember when even upscale households owned one?) Still, it’s tough sledding for traditional, off-road-style SUVs, so the Jeep had better be ready for an uphill climb.
Porsche 911 Turbo
A new, bigger 3.8-liter inline six, 500 horsepower, all-wheel drive and a host of technical improvements: Need I say more about Porsche’s latest Turbo? Other than, "When can I get one?" The Porsche goes on sale in January for about $133,000, or $144,000 for the toupee-killing convertible version.
Aston Martin One 77
A long shot for a test drive, but a man’s got to try: Aston is building just 77 copies of the One-77 for worldwide sale -- so few that even James Bond may have to beg a ride in this roughly $2 million, 220-mph supercar.
(Aston Martin One-77 image courtesy of AutoWeek.)
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