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Monday, June 14, 2010

A smaller version of the Boxster has been rumored for quite some time now, although Porsche had been doing a great job deflecting the talk as just that: “rumors.” But now that Volkswagen has taken over Porsche, executives have let fly with a few choice quotes, and it looks almost certain that Porsche will produce the so-called “Baby Boxster.”

2014 Alfa Romeo Spider

Alfisti unite! The Spider shall return—if Alfa can get back into the U.S. market, that is. It’s still too early to confirm anything, but Alfa Romeo very much wants to return to the States, while also returning to its rear-wheel-drive roots. When Alfa left the U.S. market in 1995, it began down a slippery slope that saw the company build Fiat-based front-wheel-drive models, at least until the Alfa Romeo 8C was released in 2008.

2014 Audi R4 e-Tron

Audi’s second e-Tron concept, seen at the Detroit auto show this past January, is widely rumored to be the precursor to a production 2-seat sports coupe known as the R4. While Audi has yet to officially confirm production plans related to the Detroit concept or the R4, a source at Audi admitted “chances are good,” although we were told a production R4 won’t come before 2013.

2014 Dodge Demon

The prospect of a small Dodge roadster had some legs back when the alliance with Daimler was strong. When that merger dissolved, it left the Demon concept from the 2007 Geneva Motor Show without Mercedes’ SLK platform to ride on. But now with Chrysler’s ties to the Fiat Group, there is a distinct business case to be made for the little hellion to rise from the ashes. Essentially it would be the Dodge variant of the future Alfa Romeo Spider. As with Alfa’s Spider, there isn’t cur­rently a rear-drive platform to use as a base, although the shortened version of the LX architecture seen in the 200C electric show car would be a good start. Because of this, there is a big opportunity for Alfa and Dodge to develop and share an all-new rear-drive platform for small- and midsize cars. What our sources tell us is this: If Alfa builds a rear-drive Spider, Dodge will build the Demon.

2015 BMW Vision Supercar

When BMW unveiled the wild-looking Vision EfficientDynamics concept at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show, one had to wonder: “Is this a pie-in-the-sky show car, or could it be tomorrow’s supercar?” According to an inside source at BMW, it’s the latter. And while a BMW eco supercar isn’t a reality tomorrow , a car very similar to the Frankfurt concept could be on the road by 2015. Why? “Because the entire concept car is based on technology that BMW has already developed, or is currently developing,” said our source.

2013 Porsche 918 Spyder

In the biggest surprise of the recent Geneva Motor Show, Porsche pulled the cover off the 918 Spyder, a 2-seat supercar that’s both green and mean. How green? Well, driven accordingly, the 918Spyder gets 78 mpg, says Porsche, with low CO2 emissions. And how mean is it? The 3285-lb. carbon-chassis 918 hits 62 mph in less than 3.2 seconds, says Porsche, and has a top speed of 198 mph. A V-8 with more than 500 bhp is mounted ahead of the rear wheels, augmented by front and rear electric motors that add an extra 218 hp to the mix, fed by a lithium-ion battery pack.

2013 Lotus Elise

It’s difficult to imagine that the Lotus Elise is nearing its 15th year in production, even if it has morphed into quite a different car than the one originally launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 1995.Although Lotus has just unveiled a light re-skin of the Elise for the 2011 model year, this is just a stopgap, as our sources tell us an all-new model is on the way soon, based on the Lotus Vertical Vehicle Architecture that underpins the Evora. After all, it doesn’t make economic sense to have two distinct chassis when the concept underlining VVA has the flexibility to tailor both wheelbase and tracks to suit whatever vehicle dimensions are chosen.

2013 Jaguar XE

March next year sees the 50th anniversary of the Jaguar E-Type’s unveiling at the Geneva Salon, so 2011 would be an ideal and emotionally charged launch pad for a 21st century successor. What’s more, Ratan Tata, chairman of the eponymously named group that now owns Jaguar, has publicly stated that he wants to see a smaller, less costly 2-seater.

2013 Chevrolet Corvette C7

The future for America’s sports car sees the Corvette becoming lighter, slicker and moderately more compact, powered by an equally powerful but smaller V-8. This has been determined by the need to improve efficiency according to government mandate, yet responding to consumers’ desires for even greater performance. A list of priorities from the average Corvette owner puts perform­ance at the top, with fuel efficiency somewhere just above the desire for rear seats and a better tow rating.Had GM not filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the next Corvette, the C7, was going to be a mid-engine design. That plan, however, has been put on hold, perhaps until the C8. In the meantime, the new C7 will retain a front-engine design, but the car will lose weight while its engine will become more effective at extracting energy from fuel

2012 Porsche 911

Shocking news flash: The next update of Porsche’s iconic 911, scheduled to arrive in 2011 as a 2012 model, won’t look drastically different from the current car! Okay, not really a news flash, but apparently enough changes will take place, specifically under the skin, that the 2012 model will be designated a 998 .Visually, the next 911 will sport reworked headlights, a new front fascia, larger LED taillights, a new rear bumper and an update to the speed-activated rear wing. Porsche is keen to add performance and improve efficiency of the 911 through weight savings and new engine technologies that increase horsepower while reducing fuel consumption. We expect the Carrera will jump to about 360 bhp and the Carrera S to 400 bhp.

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster

Even though the Mercedes SLS AMG will have only just hit dealers when you read this, the engineers at AMG have been hard at work developing a convertible version of the division’s first ground-up automobile.Of course, the convertible top necessitates conventional doors in place of the coupe’s gullwing setup, and the car’s curb weight should rise slightly from the current 3573 lb. But performance will remain exceptional, thanks to the SLS’s 563-bhp 6.2-liter V-8. We’ll see the SLS Roadster in production form early next year, with a price expected to be in excess of $200,000.

2012 Mazda RX-7

There was a time, not so long ago, when the name Mazda was synonymous with the rotary engine. However, these days, what with lackluster sales of the RX-8 and the success of the Mazda3, not to mention the continued popularity of the MX-5 Miata, the Japanese company from Hiroshima is better known for its efficient piston powerplants than its Wankel.Despite reports that the RX-8 will be the last car to have a rotary engine, we at R&T have received information directly from Japanese Mazda execs that the death of the rotary has been greatly exaggerated, and that the company is planning to introduce a new rotary-powered car in the near future. Apparently, there’s a team of engineers currently working on a drastically improved version of the Renesis 2-rotor dubbed the 16X . Mazda U.S. had no comment on the subject.

2012 Ferrari F70

Ferrari has ambitious goals for its successor to the mighty Enzo: Rumored to be called the F70, this mid-engine supercar will have to do nothing less than substantially outperform the Enzo, while being considerably more efficient to comply with ever-tougher emissions standards. As such, it will have to do more with less. Less weight, less cylinders…but one thing will be more: the price. It’s said that when the F70 goes on sale in 2012, it could very well cost over $1 million.
Using knowledge gleaned from its Formula 1 race machines, the FXX Enzo-based track car, the FXX Mille-Chili lightweight concept, the 599XX track car and the 458 Italia road machine, Ferrari has much at its disposal. The Mille-Chili from 2007 gave a clear indication of Ferrari’s new path to achieving ultimate performance: a much lighter vehicle through greater use of exotic materials such as carbon fiber. Incidentally, “mille chili” refers to 1000 kilograms , the target weight for the F70.

2011 Hennessey Venom GT

John Hennessey’s Venom GT supercar is now in the test phase of its development, and the first mule recently rolled out of the production facility at Silverstone in England. The dramatically modified Lotus Exige S chassis was originally going to be powered by a twin-turbo Viper V-10. Now, though, the Venom GT is powered by a tweaked LS9 V-8 from the Corvette ZR1, sporting a pair of turbos in addition to the supercharger! The $600,000 top model will have in excess of 1000 bhp, although Hennessey says he’s also building two other versions—one with a 725-bhp LS9 and another with a twin-turbo 7.0-liter V-8 in 1000-bhp street trim or 1200-bhp race trim. This, in a car weighing less than 2400 lb.

2014 Nissan GT-R

There has been all sorts of speculation surrounding the next-generation Nissan GT-R, including its anticipated arrival date (2013) and a possible hybrid version that would use the powertrain of the Infiniti Essence show car. We asked Kazutoshi Mizuno, the chief engineer and project boss of the GT-R, to comment on these rumors, and he vehemently denied that any such project was in the works.

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