The 5 sexiest new cars of 2012

We look ahead to some truly drool-worthy cars of 2012, because 2011 certainly had little to get flustered over.

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When it comes down to it, 2011 wasn’t really a banner year for new car releases. It seemed that car companies coming back from the brink were lucky to have a showroom, never mind a show car.

But as the worm (gear) turns, 2012 should be the year when carmakers make up for lost ground and maybe even deliver some good old fashioned sex appeal.

Here are five sexy new rides you should keep an eye on next year.

Maserati Kubang — An upmarket SUV that looks to take the fight to the likes of the Porsche Cayenne and Range Rover, Maserati Kubang will take advantage of a convenient relationship with Jeep via Fiat and Chrysler. Fiat has owned Maserati since 1993, you see, and recently bought Chrysler, which owns Jeep. The Kubang SUV will be Maserati’s first foray into the 4X4 market.

Its whimperless name continues the old Maserati nomenclature tradition of naming cars after exotic weather phenomena, commonly referred to as “wind” — the Ghibli, Bora and Misteal, to name a few, and now Kubang being a blow over Java, Indonesia. But as the Kubang is still technically a concept, rumours are rife that it could be badged as the recently-trademarked Cinqueporte, companionable with the Maserati Quattroporte, a luxury sedan. Though both sound glamorous, the names simply mean 5-door or 4-door.

Regardless, Kubang, based on a Grand Cherokee chassis, will be built in North America with Italian designed suspension, bodywork and the fantastic 4.7 litre V8 of Ferrari lineage.

Hyundai Veloster — It seems Korean manufacturer Hyundai has decided to get sexy with this strikingly rakish, asymmetrical coupe. Said lack of symmetry stems from a third door, passenger side — one that’s conveniently covert, so it mostly looks like a racy 2-door hatchback.

Hyundai has certainly hit its stride in terms of styling, with Veloster boasting all sorts of practical comforts like Bluetooth calling and navigation and a honking 450-watt, 8-speaker audio system — including an 8-inch woofer — and packaging the lot of it in a body meant to be bought with the heart, not with the head.

In fact, the Veloster is almost ready to give the likes of the Honda CR-Z a run for its money … save for a measly 138 bhp, 1.6 litre four-banger under the hood. But with a turbocharged model in the pipeline for 2013, this good-looking ride should only get better.

Toyota GT-86/Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ — Neither Toyota or Subaru had a sports car out for 2011, but both companies have great sporting car histories. Subarus are usually lauded for performance but styling that never quite nailed it. Toyota, on the other hand, had a string of hits with the MR2, Supra and Celica before it decided to just stop making sports cars altogether.

A recent collaborative effort between the two seems to have combined the best in both, producing twin models that have been making the auto show rounds for a while now. Come summer 2012, the Toyota GT-86 (Scion FR-S in North America) and the Subaru BRZ will be at a dealership near you.

Both cars share a Subaru chassis and an understated 2.0 litre boxer engine — nonetheless capable of 197 bhp thanks to a relatively svelte curbweight. 0-60 should take less than seven seconds, but for those who think that’s a little languid, sportier turbocharged versions are rumoured to be in the works as well.

Porsche 911 — If one car epitomizes evolution over revolution, it has to be the Porsche 911. After all, the car is such an icon that Porsche was either trapped into or stubbornly resolute about making each new model look as much like the previous version as possible so as not to alienate its righteously loyal customer base.

Fair enough, but this slow trickle of transformation while everyone else was doing sea-change means the 911 sports proportions from a different age, more upright and conspicuously narrow when compared to the fresh, clean-sheet designs from Ferrari and Lamborghini. Even Audi is churning out lower profile rides.

But that’s icons for you, with the new 911 wearing its anachronism like a badge of defiant honour. Besides, with this latest model probably sporting the flat six of Turbo S or GT2 RS fame, likely turbo charged, and turning out horsepower in mid to high 500s, along with a tweaked chassis made lighter, you’re looking at yet another icon that does 0-60 in well under 3 seconds and the quarter mile in just over 10. Some reports suggest more passenger leg room, too. Sold! Regardless, the new 911 is still the supercar it ever was.

Cadillac ATS — The ATS is GM’s latest attempt to take the fight to BMW, Mercedes and Audi in what has traditionally been the gateway segment to luxury brands. Initial concepts point to a handsome and sharp four-door sports sedan — it’s like a Cadillac CTS, only smaller.

Always popular in North America but never a brand that travelled much in Europe, GM has been consistently outsold by BMW in the compact executive segment. GM will nonetheless make another push for those coveted Old World sales with this polished, windy road-ready Caddy.

Along with a new chassis expected and AWD suspected, Cadillac just asserted a 2-litre turbocharged 4-cylinder engine for its 2013 ATS, said to generate 270 horses and 260 pounds-foot of torque readily available in the 1500-580 rpm range. Cadillac said that these numbers edge out the competing performance specs from BMW, Mercedes and Audi. The ATS will be officially unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show next month.

Collectively, these five cars mark a genuine recovery for the auto industry, or at least a return to form for established brands. Downplaying green ambitions in favour of style and substance, 2012 is shaping up to be a pedigree year for performance sport and executive extravagance.

  • The 5 sexiest new cars of 2012

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