Lotus test track at Norwich, Norfolk

The Lotus global position
Ever wondered how Lotus managed to create such great-handling cars? Having its own test track helps. And while some test facilities are kept super-secret, we can "visit" the Lotus track any time we like. By going into Google Maps. Enter http://3.ly/LotusCarFactoryGoogleStreetView into the browser, then gain access to street-level images by going into the lowest level, or drag the orange "pegman" icon (to the left of the map) onto the blue highlighted road that is the track.

2011 BMW M3
Competition Package

Dial M for Mmmmm
The 2011 BMW M3 has gone all competitive. A lowered suspension, lighter wheels and carbon-fiber aero appendages form part of a new Competition Package, which can be retrofitted to existing E90 and E92 M3 models. The new car, though, also has stop/start technology and does that regeneration of braking energy thing, because that's the way it has to be these days.

Porsche Panamera 4 & Porsche Panamera V6

Panamera permutations
The sedan (well, hatchback) from the famous Stuttgart sports car maker has had its range expanded. There's now an "entry level" model with a V6 engine called, comfortingly, the Porsche Panamera V6. It has the same engine as the 3.6-liter six-potter in the Cayenne, but horsepower is up by 10 to 300 total and torque is up 22 lb-ft to 295. Word on fuel consumption is an average of 25.3 mpg for the rear-drive version. Which brings us neatly to the new all-wheel-drive Panamera 4, whose name reassuringly suggests extra help in the traction department. Starting price is $74,400 for the base V6. Add $4,500 for that busier front axle.

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