More than a few people think supercars are an endangered species. All the concerns about flaunting wealth inequality and using lots of gas are just some of the forces conspiring to make these most athletic of automobiles less and less desirable for both builders and buyers. So we can look forward to a future with fewer tarmac-melting monsters and more plug-in kumbaya cracker boxes, right?
Not so fast, kemosabe. If the lineup of world debuts at this year’s Geneva Motor Show is any indication, we may be entering a new golden age of 200+ mph hypercars. The difference this time around is many of them are a bit more responsible, with overdrive (and occasionally double overdrive) 7-speed transmissions and hybrid assist. Of course, these aren’t the only automotive stars in the lakeside Swiss municipality. Here are the 20 premieres that really stir our hot chocolate.
The McLaren MP4-12C is a serious supercar, but not in the same mold as the McLaren road car that came before it, the hallowed F1. Now, though, the F1 has a proper successor: The P1. While some might lament the absence of a center driving position and a big-banger V12 engine, it’s awfully hard to not get excited about the combined 903hp generated by the P1’s 3.8L twin-turbo V8 and electric motor. And McLaren claims that same electric motor (and the lithium-ion battery pack that energizes it) can propel the P1 gas-free for more than 6.2 miles. Plus the bodywork (pretty much identical to the styling mockup first shown at the Paris Motor Show last fall) purportedly generates five times as much downforce as the MP4-12C. If you haven’t ordered yours yet, do so now, because only 375 are scheduled to be made.
Alfa Romeo 4C
Two years ago at the Geneva Motor Show, Alfa Romeo wowed the industry with a svelte, Lotus-like mid-engine coupe concept called the 4C. Twenty-four months later, the 4C makes its debut in production form, looking much the same as the concept car. The drivetrain is much the same, too, with a turbocharged 1.75L inline-four producing a yet-to-be-specified amount of power and a dual-clutch transmission with a yet-to-be-specified number of gears. It might not have the broadest appeal for Alfa’s return to high(-ish) volume sales in the U.S. for the first time since 1995 (The 8C Competizione and Spider were imported in really, really limited quantities.), but you can bet it will generate plenty of showroom traffic.
The seventh generation Volkswagen Golf is on sale now in Europe and, predictably, an accompanying GTI is following hot on its heels. The styling is certainly more evolutionary than revolutionary, but the powertrain menu is certainly a break with tradition. A turbocharged 2.0L inline-four producing 220hp will be standard; however, buyers wanting a bit more oomph will be able to order a performance pack that raises output to 230hp. The performance pack also lowers the 0-62 mph time by a tenth of a second (to 6.4 seconds) and raises the top speed by 2 mph (to 155 mph). Expect U.S. sales to start a little over 12 months from now.
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Convertible
No sooner did the seventh generation Chevrolet Corvette (aka C7) disrobe for the world than people started asking how long it would be before the convertible was unveiled. The answer? Not very long, really, as the Corvette Stingray Convertible makes its debut in Geneva, just like the droptop C6 before it. Like the Stingray Coupe, the convertible features an all new aluminum chassis and an all new direct-injection 6.2L V8 producing at least 450hp and wearing the hallowed LT1 label. The big difference, of course, is the substitution of the coupe’s roof and hatchback with a folding fabric top and conventional trunklid. Look for it to show up in Chevrolet showrooms a little after the coupe.
After enough speculation and conjecture to fill an entire set of encyclopedias (you know, those books used for looking stuff up before the internet was available on your desk, much less in the palm of your hand), Ferrari’s new Enzo-succeeding, range-topping hypercar is here. It’s called the LaFerrari (Seriously, between this and the F12berlinetta, the person in charge of model naming in Maranello needs to ease up on the grappa…), and it looks like the love child of a 458 Italia and a 330 P4 sports prototype. The drivetrain, however, is unlike any production Ferrari ever, with an F12-derived 6.3L V12 paired with a 120 kilowatt electric motor to yield a combined 950hp and at least 664 lb.-ft of torque. Throw in a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, active aerodynamics both on the body and along the underside, a 0-62 mph time of under 3 seconds and a top speed north of 217 mph and you have a face-flattening firebrand of a car. But since only 499 are scheduled to be built, don’t expect to find one in every Neiman Marcus parking lot.
KTM X-Bow GT
If you want a car that puts the emphasis on driving fun and tells creature comforts to take a hike, you can’t go too far wrong with a KTM X-Bow. But what if you don’t like having to wear a full-faced helmet (or at least goggles) every time you take it for a spin? KTM offers a solution for this predicament in the form of the new X-Bow GT. It adds a full-height windshield and hinged side windows (They aren’t exactly doors, since you still have to climb over the sides of the tub to get in and out.), but there’s still no roof. As with other X-Bows, power comes courtesy of an Audi-supplied turbocharged 2.0L four-banger that directs 281hp and 310 lb.-ft of torque to a 6-speed manual transmission. KTM says you can expect 0-62 mph to happen in 4.1 seconds, max out at 144 mph, and pull up to 1.5 g in the turns while rolling on street tires. Your neck muscles won’t know what hit ‘em…
Two-thousand thirteen marks the golden anniversary of Lamborghini’s entry into the car-building biz, and the builder of mechanical bulls you won’t find in your average honky-tonk is celebrating this once-in-a-lifetime occasion with the Veneno. Part Aventador, part LMP1 racecar and all bad mamma-jamma, the Veneno (which is named for a Spanish fighting bull that killed a matador 99 years ago) uses the Aventador’s 6.5L V12, which is producing 740hp in this application. It hurls the car – wings, fins, Italian Tricolore stripes and all – to a claimed V-max of 220 mph. Want one? Have the roughly $3.9 million needed to make that happen? Well sucks to be you on both counts, as only three will be made, and all three have been pre-sold.
The late Sergio Pininfarina led the design studio established by his father for most of the second half of the last century, overseeing the creation of timeless motoring beauties for customers like Ferrari, Fiat, Peugeot and Cadillac. To honor this towering figure in automotive design – who died last July at the age of 85 – his company has created this rolling tribute dubbed, fittingly, the Sergio. It’s based on a Ferrari 458 Spider, but this top- and windshield-free roadster has a flavor all its own. The wedge-like profile incorporates elements of famous Pininfarina Ferraris of the past like the 250 LM, Modulo and Mythos, as well as the Dino Berlinetta Speciale. But the projected 199 mph top speed – courtesy of the 4.5L V8’s 570hp – is rooted firmly in the present. And the folks at Pininfarina say production of a really, really small batch of Sergios would be feasible, so the one on display inside the Palexpo might not be the only one in existence for long.
The Bentley Continental GT has been a massive cash cow for its maker. So much so, apparently, that Bentley’s ex-sister brand, Rolls-Royce, wants in on that ultraluxury fastback coupe action. Its weapon of choice is the Wraith, which is based on the popular four-door “Junior Roller,” the Ghost (which is itself derived from parent company BMW’s 7 Series). Power for this megabuck two-door hardtop, which features rear-hinged suicide, er, coach doors and a fiber optic “starry night” headliner, comes from a V12 generating 624hp. And check this out: The 8-speed automatic transmission to which that V12 is attached is tied into the car’s GPS receiver, allowing it to pre-select the optimum ratio for the road ahead. Look for Wraiths to start clogging Rodeo Drive by the end of this year.
Porsche 911 GT3
While air-cooled partisans will likely issue a fatwa against us for saying this, the current 991-series Porsche 911 is the best one yet. It’s fast, comfortable, economical, reliable, and altogether user-friendly. But for folks who are serious about performance, even the Carrera S is but a toy; these people are holding out for the 991-based GT3. Well gang, your wait is over. The new GT3’s naturally-aspirated 3.8L flat-six belts out an elephantine 475hp as it screams its way up to a 9,000 rpm redline. Power reaches the chubby rear tires via Porsche’s acclaimed PDK 7-speed dual-clutch tranny (Alas, no three-pedal manual will be offered.), while the GT3 specific fascias and ironing-board-esque rear spoiler will help press all four tires into the road as it rips to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and attains its 195 mph top speed. The company says the GT3 will arrive on our shores at the end of the year, with a base price of $130,400. Sweet!
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