Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Speed, yes; green, not so much

Europe's best flaunt horsepower at L.A. coming-out party

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LOS ANGELES -- Other automakers may have been catering to the greener sensibilities that seem to affect Californians, not to mention a country with a large customer base still recovering from the effects of the recession.

But a number of the European automakers got their speed freak on at the L.A. Auto Show, showcasing unbridled horsepower in sleek, expensive machines and letting everybody know with these world premières it's OK to unleash their inner motorhead.

Jaguar XFR-S

There's nothing green about the new Jaguar XFR-S -- the British luxury carmaker hypes the XFR-S, above, as the fastest and most powerful sedan it has ever produced. With just 100 being offered for the 2014 model year in the U.S. market, the 550-horsepower, supercharged 5.0L V-8-powered XFR-S -- the second model in the ultra-high-performance R-S range -- is obviously exclusive. This 40-hp bump in the power department over the XFR gives the big sedan serious street cred -- zero to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds and an electronically limited top end of 300 km/h. To go with the added urge, the XFR-S gets a beefed-up ZF eight-speed transmission with paddle shifters and automatic throttle blipping on downshifts.

Both front and rear suspension systems have been uprated and tuned. The XFR-S is distinguished from the XFR by subtle design changes such as a new, deeper front bumper incorporating larger lower central and side air intakes, the former framed in carbon fibre.

Audi diesels

Instead of unveiling its refreshed 2014 R8 super sports car, Audi had a slate of new diesel models, right, in the spotlight. For the 2012 model year, Audi only had two diesel offerings available in the U.S.: the A3 hatchback and Q7 SUV. Now joining the TDI ranks will be the Audi A6, A7 and A8 sedans as well as the Q5 SUV.

All four vehicles, in addition to the current Q7 TDI, will be fitted with a new-generation 3.0-litre V-6 turbocharged diesel engine. While the displacement remains the same, the new engine weighs roughly 18 kilograms less than the earlier 3.0L TDI engine. Horsepower has been boosted by 15 horses to 240 hp, while torque remains at 406 pound-feet. All five of the vehicles fitted with the new engine will feature an eight-speed automatic transmission.

BMW i3 Concept Coupe

The première of the i3 Concept Coupe sees BMW unveil a closer-to-production version of its idea for sustainable "premium-class" motoring with zero local emissions. The first-ever all-electric model from the BMW i brand is scheduled for public consumption sometime next year. The i3 Coupe is powered by an electric motor that develops 170 horsepower and peak torque of 184 pound-feet, channelling its power delivery to the rear wheels via a single-speed transmission. The electric motor draws its energy from lithium-ion storage cells under the floor. BMW says the Concept Coupe sprints from zero to 60 kilometres an hour in less than four seconds, and to 100 km/h in less than eight seconds -- with a top speed of 150 km/h. Torque is available across a wide r.p.m. range, resulting in very smooth power delivery.

Mercedes SLS AMG Coupe Black Series

As if the SLS AMG sports car is not powerful and extroverted enough, Mercedes-AMG now offers a "super sports car" version of the gull-wing model, the 2014 SLS AMG Coupe Black Series, above. Inspired by the GT3 racing version, the new Black Series model boasts superb driving dynamics and new lightweight construction, the automaker says. The 6.2L V-8 engine pounds out 631 hp at 7,400 r.p.m., accelerating the Black Series to 100 km/h in 3.6 seconds. It's mated to an enhanced AMG SpeedShift DCT seven-speed transmission.

VW Beetle Convertible

First there was the original Beetle Convertible (Type 15), launched in 1949, then the New Beetle Cabriolet of 2002. Now there's the third generation of the curvaceous Volkswagen soft-top.

In creating this latest model, VW has reinterpreted the past. The combination of a flatter roofline and the more upright windshield gives the car a silhouette that resembles the original Beetle Convertible and now incorporates a fully automated soft-top mechanism that opens in 11.5 seconds.

The only engine offered for Canada is the 2.5L five-cylinder, which delivers 170 hp and excellent fuel economy, and is mated to a six-speed Tiptronic manumatic.

The convertible includes all the modern safety systems, including Volkswagen's Intelligent Crash Response System, which unlocks the doors, turns on the hazard lights and shuts down the fuel system in certain types of collisions. Rollover protection is supplemented by reinforced A-pillars and two concealed rollover bars, which are computer-controlled and activate in milliseconds.

The Beetle Convertible is expected to be in Canadian dealerships in February.

Porsche Cayman

The world première of the 2014 Porsche Cayman was expected but not anticlimactic -- the 2014 Cayman is sleek in profile and proportionately perfect, boasts the same attributes as the new Boxster. It's lower and longer, lighter and faster, more efficient and more powerful than ever.

As before, there are two versions of the Cayman -- the base model and the higher-performance S. Both are powered by flat-six engines with direct fuel injection and are now enhanced by electrical-system recuperation, thermal management and a start/stop function.

The base model sees a 2.7L six under its engine cover, delivering 275 hp -- 10 hp more than its 2.9L predecessor. The Cayman S's 3.4L flat-six sees its output bumped to 325 hp, also 10 hp more than last year.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 7, 2012 A1

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