The 2014 model year ushers in an interesting mix of new cars. There's Alfa Romeo marking its return to North America with the 4C, and the renewed supercar wars between Porsche, McLaren and Ferrari for the vaunted title of King of the 'Ring. And if those supercars don't get you pumped, there's the other end of the spectrum with the return of the Z/28 Camaro and an all-new Corvette. No matter how you look at it, it's a good year to savor some new flavors and perhaps take a test drive.
The All-New Cars
Alfa Romeo 4CTeasing North American drivers since the concept's debut at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show, the Alfa Romeo 4C is finally poised to debut. The little Alfa sports car looks like a performer, with its 1.75-liter 237-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mounted amidships and a ridiculously lightweight chassis. What gets us excited is the passenger tub formed with carbon-fiber reinforced plastic, which is unheard of outside high-dollar supercars. Although U.S. safety standards may increase its weight a bit, the 4C is sure to be one of the best-looking cars on the road in 2014.
Cadillac CTS VsportCadillac plants the new CTS sport sedan in the midsize category, thanks to five inches of lengthwise growth, but the new car actually weighs in lighter than the previous CTS because of extensive use of aluminum. Power comes from a twin-turbocharged V6 engine a first for Cadillac spewing out 420 horsepower through a ZF 8-speed transmission. Couple the performance with decent looks and it becomes hard to choose some of the German options over this complete package from the USA.
SRT Viper RoadsterThis model year should see the return of the open-top SRT Viper in its familiar roadster guise, and popping the top will only enhance the experience of piloting this 640-horsepower land rocket. Unavailable since 2010, the Roadster should round out the Viper lineup next to the base Viper coupe and the high-strung GTS coupe. The Roadster may be the injection SRT needs to jump-start Viper sales, which are lagging behind expectations.
Jaguar F-TYPEWe've been eagerly awaiting a serious sports car from Jaguar, and the venerable British marque delivers with the sleek 2014 F-TYPE. Two supercharged engine options (V6 and V8) belch out an evil cackle while a superb aluminum chassis helps keep spirited driving situations under control. Although currently only available as a convertible, great attention was paid to the soft-top system, resulting in a claimed savings of 25 pounds over a hardtop. The interior has a clean layout and yards of high-quality leather.
Chevrolet SSChevrolet brings back a proper full-size sedan for 2014 with the SS. Although there was a SuperSport nameplate on the Impala in 2009, it was a front-drive sedan that didn't embody the spirit of its predecessors. That is no longer an issue, thanks to the resurrected rear-drive platform motivated by a 6.2-liter 415-horsepower V8 engine fed through a 6-speed automatic transmission. A sport-tuned suspension and massive 14-inch rotors with 4-piston Brembo brakes are on tap.
Mercedes-Benz S63 AMGIf you're going to indulge yourself, look no further than the 2014 Mercedes-Benz S63. The S-Class embodies about every bit of luxury you can imagine. From an automated perfumer to a pair of high-resolution 12.3-inch dashboard displays, it's really hard to find anything the S-Class sedan is missing. And it isn't short in the power department either, with a 577-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 engine stuffed under the hood. If you can have it all, why not?
Chevrolet Corvette StingrayIt's really hard not to be excited about the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. A new 455-horsepower LT1 V8 engine, a 7-speed manual gearbox, and an Environmental Protection Agency rating up to 30 mpg highway are just the start of the fun. General Motors made some of the most important improvements to the interior, in both content and materials, thus giving this Corvette its own identity on the inside something that has been lacking for generations.
Chevrolet Camaro Z/28Much like the Chevrolet SS, the bow-tie manufacturer brings back a badge befitting of its muscle car ancestors. The 2014 Camaro Z/28 turns back the clock to 1967, with a much more track-focused package featuring standard Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, an LS7 V8 engine with dry-sump oiling under the hood, and a focus on weight savings even air conditioning will be an option. It will also be one of the first cars on the road featuring spool-valve dampers for increased adjustability.
Porsche 918 SpyderAs the car that threw down the gauntlet for road-going supercars at the Nurburgring, the Porsche 918 Spyder whets the appetites of enthusiasts the world over. Starting with a race-inspired 4.6-liter V8 engine good for 608 horsepower, Porsche added an electric motor to the front wheels and a hybrid module for a power boost at the rear, all collaborating to make 887 horsepower. Good for sub-7-minute laps around the 'Ring, the Spyder can also motivate itself up to 18 miles on electric power alone.
McLaren P1Rumors of the P1's Nurburgring lap time have been circulating for months, but nothing official ever came from McLaren. After the Porsche 918 Spyder laid down a blazing time of 6 minutes 57 seconds, we can understand why. But never underestimate McLaren. The P1 uses an up-tuned 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine from the MP4-12C combined with a plug-in hybrid for 903 horsepower fed to the rear wheels. No doubt McLaren will once again enter the gates of "the Green Hell" with one purpose in mind: 6:56.
Ferrari LaFerrariWhile McLaren and Porsche went with V8 engines for the P1 and Spyder, Ferrari stuck with its V12 heritage and squeezed a 6.3-liter variant in its LaFerrari along with a Formula One-derived KERS system. Combine the aurally fantastic V12 with an electric motor at the rear wheels and the LaFerrari has up to 950 horsepower at its disposal and a good shot at stealing the title from the 918 Spyder as the fastest car around the Nurburgring.
BMW M4The recipe for the 2014 BMW M4 high-performance sedan sounds quite appealing: less weight, more power, killer looks. And though we liked the high-revving V8 engine of the previous car, the return of the inline-6 to the M line is cool, even if it is based on the run-of-the-mill N55 3.0-liter 6-cylinder seen in the "35" vehicles. While the weight of the M4 should come in below that of the previous car (at around 3,300 pounds), chassis stiffness and torsional rigidity continue to rise.
Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMGHigh-strung is what you'd expect when you hear of a 2-liter motor producing 355 horsepower, but that's not the case with the stout engine found in the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 midsize sport sedan. Thanks to turbocharging and a fat power curve, the rush is linear and continues to pull hard once the needle swings past 3000 rpm. Couple that motor with all-wheel drive and a nimble chassis and you begin to see why we are fans of the little AMG bruiser.
Ford Fiesta STNot every 2014 car we're excited about carries a lofty price tag; indeed, fun experiences can come in small packages. A good piece of evidence is the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST with its strong 1.6-liter 197-horsepower EcoBoost 4-cylinder engine and a driving experience reminiscent of the original Volkswagen GTI. Speaking of the GTI, the Fiesta ST has the potential to steal some sales away from the king of the hot-hatch segment. It produces similar performance without the sticker shock that current GTIs can bring.
Audi RS7The obscene power of the 2014 Audi RS 7 serves no practical purpose, but we absolutely love it. The S7 was apparently not enough of a car so Audi packed one of the best-looking luxury sedans on the road full of (more) steroids and was kind enough to share it with the U.S. market. Some 560 horsepower is fed through a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission to Audi's impeccable quattro all-wheel-drive system, yielding supercarlike zero-to-60 mph times of less than 3.9 seconds.