2011 Volvo S60
Mixing Sensible With Sensual
It's all new. It's (allegedly) the sportiest Volvo ever. And it has cool things like pedestrian-detecting radar with automatic braking. This handsome beast is the 2011 Volvo S60 premium midsize sedan. The range-topping model, the T60 AWD, will have a turbocharged, 3.0-liter straight six, cooking up 300 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque that turns all four wheels.
Volvo recently stated its intention to make accident-free cars and the gadgets on the new S60 go some way to fulfilling such an ambitious promise. Sensors and cameras are on constant vigil, checking for hazards. They can also communicate with the brakes and operate them. A slightly less fancy system already works fine in the XC60 SUV. And considering how well that vehicle drives, the S60 could really be fun. How often does that get said about a Volvo?
Viva la DS
High Rider Concept
Word from over the water is that Citroën, possibly the quirkiest of the big three French car companies, has resurrected those venerable initials: DS. But rather than making it the kind of wafty sedan General de Gaulle might recognize, the DS of the 21st century is a subcompact.
However, Citroën's DS High Rider concept, made for the Geneva show, looks like it's trying to make people swear off neutrality and join the resistance. Although the idea of a coupe on stilts running a diesel hybrid drivetrain doesn't sound too great in theory, it sure beats a poke in the eye with a stale baguette in practice.
Alfa Romeo Giulietta
The notion of Alfa Romeos being sold Stateside again still feels like one of those mad dreams we dare not dream, but how can anyone not get all giggly when faced with the new Giulietta? The name itself conjures up wistful memories of beautiful cars with raspy exhausts. And also some pieces of crap from the '80s, but we can gloss over those. Could this be a return to the glory days, powered by a range-topping 235-hp gasoline engine? Or even a thrusty, lusty turbodiesel? To the Chrysler/Fiat brass: We bailed you guys out to the tune of millions, we deserve something great.
Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid
Trickle, trickle, racing star
It's called the trickle-down effect, where cutting-edge technologies forged in the crucible of Formula One end up in less esoteric cars. Last season's big hardware story was KERS, the kinetic energy recovery system that stores braking energy in a battery then gives a 10-hp jolt on the straightaway. It wasn't a generic third-party setup; each participating team produced its own system. And naturally, those systems were far more involved and advanced than anything found in a Prius.
A Williams F1 KERS can now be found in the 2010 Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid. The car's conventional drivetrain is a naturally aspirated four-liter flat six that makes a mighty 480 hp and drives the rear wheels. The front axle, however, has a couple of 60 kW electric motors to provide some extra oomph.
The irony is that most F1 teams, frustrated by reliability issues, ditched KERS by the end of last season and it won't be making a return for 2010. Our hope is that this won't be some empty gesture to appease the greenies. The car will be racing this May at the 24-hour Nürburgring bash, where Porsche says the focus is not on winning the race but on using the car as a "racing lab." It could make up time by needing fewer pit stops, which it will need to catch Walter Röhrl, who'll reportedly be driving a stock GT3 RS against the field.
Not the steak sauce, surely
Was it because we went into Iraq? That we voted W in for a second term? It sure can't be because we gave the world Justin Timberlake, because Audi has given him a gig in the marketing of its new subcompact A1 hatchback. So why will we not get this car in the USA? After all, MINI is a big success over here and the A1 would be a direct rival: big class in a small package. So Audi has either committed a rare misreading of the American zeitgeist, or we're all being blamed for Clay Aiken.