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Despite uncertainties, car makers fill inventories with new models

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 11 September 2015

COMPETITION has forced car makers to release a host of new models for 2016 targeting all sectors of the market, despite uncertainties caused by a slump in sales in China, the world’s biggest car market.

Their inventories feature a heady mix of workhorses, luxury SUVs, sports cars and exotica.

The blue collars can pick out new versions of the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Titan pickups, Chevrolet Malibu and Kia Optima sedans and the Honda Civic small car.

The well-heeled can browse offerings from new Ford, Audi, Ferrari and Honda supercars. Cadillac is launching the racetrack-ready CTS-V. Dodge is unleashing its fastest Viper ever, and Lamborghini has amped up the power in its Aventador.

Drivers with a smaller budget can also have a lot of fun in the new Ford GT350, Audi TT or Mazda MX-5 Miata.

For the oil sheikhs, business moguls, and pseudo royalty, Bentley is releasing its first SUV and Mercedes has a six-figure Maybach version of its S-Class sedan with its own fragrance system, not to mention the new top-of-the-line Range Rover SVAutobiography.

With governments stiffening eco-regulations by the month, car makers are having to focus on fuel economy and vehicles are shedding weight up to hundreds of kilos in some instances through greater use of aluminium, high strength steel and carbon fibre.

Audi’s new Q7 SUV has seen 325kg hacked off the previous model while the new Chevrolet Camaro is up to 140kg lighter.

Here’s a selection of new cars and trucks for 2016 from a list compiled by the Associated Press:

ACURA

ILX: The small sports sedan gets a significant freshening with a new 2.4-l direct-injected four-cylinder engine that puts out 201hp through an eight-speed dual clutch transmission. It also gets new front and rear styling with jeweled LED headlights, as well as better noise insulation and thicker door glass.

RDX: Midsize lux SUV is refreshed with a new, more powerful 3.5-l V6 engine that puts out 279 horsepower. The RDX gets updated, rounder styling and jeweled LED headlights.

NSX: Acura’s build-to-order supercar is all new with a 550-hp, twin-turbo 3.5-l V6 and a three-electric-motor sport hybrid system. The mid-mounted engine is mated to a new nine-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. The NSX also comes with a multi-material frame that keeps it rigid but lightweight with crisp handling, Acura says. The all-wheel-drive supercar also gets a sleeker design with 10 air-cooled heat exchangers for the powertrain.

AUDI

A3 SPORTBACK E-TRON: This is the first plug-in hybrid Audi to hit the market. The five-seat wagon combines a 1.4-l, four-cylinder gasoline engine and an electric motor powered by a battery hidden under the rear seats. In hybrid mode, the car decides whether to use the motor, the gas engine or a combination of the two.

A6/A7: Audi’s A6 midsize sedan, last redesigned in 2011, gets some significant updates. The A6 has a new, more powerful base engine: a 2.0-l four-cylinder with 252 hp, up from 220 horsepower in the previous model. The front-wheel-drive version is paired with a new, seven-speed transmission, while the all-wheel-drive quattro version has an eight-speed transmission. Both the A6 and its sibling, the coupe-like A7, also get a new 3.0-l V6 engine option with 333 horsepower, up 23 horsepower from the previous model. Safety features include night vision with animal detection.

TT: The third generation TT coupe has a sportier, more muscular design and new LED headlights. Audi used more high-strength steel and aluminum to make the new TT lighter and stiffer. The TT coupe and roadster have a 2.0-l, turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 220 hp; the sporty TTS coupe gets a turbocharged four-cylinder with 292 hp, both paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Inside, there’s a fully digital instrument cluster and the most advanced version of Audi’s infotainment system, which reads newspaper headlines and Twitter alerts and can access more than 7,000 Web radio stations.

Q7: This is Audi’s first full redesign of its three-row, seven-seat SUV in nearly a decade. It has a shorter, leaner, more wagon-like look than its predecessor. (See separate story).

R8: The second generation of Audi’s R8 supercar has a racier, more chiseled look and a top speed of 320km/h. It can go from 0 to 100km/h in 3.2 seconds. Thanks to extensive use of aluminum and carbon fiber, the R8 is 50kg lighter than the outgoing model. The V10 mid-engine comes in two variants: one with 540 hp and one with 610 hp. ue. The second is Audi’s fastest and most powerful series-production Audi ever. An electric version, the R8 e-tron has a range of nearly 500km.

BENTLEY

BENTAYGA: Bentley’s first SUV — named for a rugged peak in the Canary Islands — goes on sale early next year. It has an aluminum body and a frame of aluminum and high-strength steel, a Bentley first. It’s powered by a 12-cylinder engine, which Bentley says will make it the fastest production SUV in the world.
it’s likely to be north of its nearest competitor, the $138,000 Range Rover Autobiography.

BMW

3 SERIES: The 340i high-performance variant of BMW’s most popular line gets a new inline 3-Liter six-cylinder twin turbo that puts out 320 horsepower, 20 better than the current model. There’s also the new 330e plug-in hybrid that can go 35km on battery power and puts out 250 hp.

7 SERIES: The all-new flagship large sedan gets up to 86kg lighter and comes with an improved ride and better handling. The 750i gets a revamped 4.4-l V8 engine with 445 hp; 740i gets latest generation 3-l inline turbocharged six with 320 hp. Plug-in hybrid 740e which can go 37km on battery power alone comes next year.

X1: New for 2016, the small SUV gets a roomier interior, more space for cargo and a new 2-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder engine that puts out 228 horsepower. It’s mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW says a new chassis enhances handling and ride comfort over the current model.

X5: BMW’s first plug-in hybrid SUV joins the lineup, the X5 xDrive40e. The midsize SUV can go 20km miles on battery power and zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds. It comes with a 2-l twin-turbo four-cylinder gas engine plus an electric motor. Combined, they put out 308 horsepower.

CHEVROLET

CAMARO: The classic Chevy muscle car slims down to fit on the frame of a Cadillac ATS small sports sedan. And it gets something that’s almost unheard of in a muscle car: a standard four-cylinder engine. The sixth-generation Camaro loses 140kg over the 2015 model and the new turbocharged 2-liter four puts out 275 hp.

CRUZE: Chevy’s now 5-year-old pedestrian-looking compact car is replaced with a more stylish, aerodynamic-looking sedan that’s longer and 125kg lighter. It getsan all-new 153-hp 1.4-l turbo four.

MALIBU: The sleeker and lighter new Malibu could see Chevrolet make inroads in this segment controlled mainly by Honda and Toyota. The new sedan has a wide stance and a coupe-like look that’s lower than the old version for better aerodynamics. Comes standard with a new 1.5-l turbocharged four-cylinder with 160 horsepower.

FERRARI

488 GTB, 488 SPIDER: New V8-powered sports cars that replace the 458 Italia and Spider. Each are powered by a 3.9-l turbocharged motor that puts out 641 horsepower and takes the cars from zero to 100km/h in 3 seconds.

FIAT

500X: Fiat gets a much-needed small crossover SUV to take advantage of the worldwide SUV craze. The bulked-up 500 keeps the brand’s cute European styling but can seat five comfortably. Choice of two engines, a 1.4-liter, 160-hp turbo four mated to a six-speed manual transmission and a 2.4-liter, 180 hp four with a nine-speed automatic transmission.

FORD

GT: After a decade’s absence, Ford’s GT returns at the end of 2016. The supercar looks more like a Ferrari than a Ford. It will get more than 600 hp with its mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, which is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

SHELBY GT350/GT350R: The GT350 is a performance version of the new Mustang, which went on sale last fall. It boasts a howling, 5.2-l V8 engine with 526 hp. The GT350R is a pure racing version that’s shed 60kg over the GT350 – deleting insulation, air conditioning, rear seats and even carpet helped.

HONDA

CIVIC: The 10th generation will be the sportiest Civic ever, the company says. The new Civic gets two new engines: a normally aspirated direct-injected four-cylinder with an undisclosed size, and a 1.5-l, direct-injection turbo four-cylinder. Specifications haven’t been released. They’re mated to a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic.

HYUNDAI

SONATA HYBRID: The gas-electric version of the Korean automaker’s midsize car is new this year. The latest version gets a more powerful electric motor, a bigger battery pack and a revised transmission to boost fuel economy by about 10 percent. Car is powered mainly by a 2-l direct-injected four-cylinder gas engine, with a more powerful 38-kilowatt electric motor. Combined they put out 193 hp.

TUCSON: Hyundai’s entry in the fast-growing small SUV market gets longer, wider, sleeker and more efficient. The automaker added 3 inches to the Tucson’s length and made the SUV just over an inch wider. That increased passenger room and added more than 5 cubic feet to the cargo area. Suspension was bolstered to improve handling without hurting ride quality, Hyundai says. The old version’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is gone. Base model has a 2-liter, 164 hp four, while upper-level models get a 1.6-liter turbocharged four with 175 hp. The turbo engine gets a seven-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission.

JAGUAR

XF: All-new big luxury sedan goes on sale in October with a lightweight aluminum-intensive frame, a coupe-like look and more space inside. The second-generation car comes with a 3-l supercharged V6, and buyers can chose between 340 and 380 p versions in either rear or all-wheel-drive. The all-wheel-drive model is 265 pounds lighter than the previous version.

KIA

OPTIMA: Kia’s Optima midsize car, gets its first full redesign since 2011. It’s longer, wider and stiffer, and has a bigger interior. There are three engine choices, including a new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 178 hp.

SORENTO: The Sorento crossover, last redesigned in 2010, gets a thicker, brawnier look for 2016. The Sorento comes in five- or seven-passenger configurations; the five-passenger gets either a 2.4-l four-cylinder engine with 185 hp or a new 2.0-l turbocharged four-cylinder with 240 hp,
while the seven-passenger gets a 290-p V6. More of everything inside — headroom, legroom and cargo room.

LAMBORGHINI

AVENTADOR 750-4 SUPERVELOCE: The new performance version of the Aventador — dubbed the Superveloce — is a track ready race car with 740-hp V12 engine — up from 700 in the Aventador — and is 50kg lighter thanks to more use of carbon fiber. It’s the fastest series-production Lamborghini ever, with a blisteringly fast 0-100km/h time of 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 349km/h.

LAND ROVER

RANGE ROVER: A new, 3.0-l turbocharged diesel V6 engine is being offered for the first time in North America on the 2016 Range Rover and Range Rover Sport. It has 254 hp which is less than the 340-hp supercharged V6 on the gasoline model.

RANGE ROVER SVAutobiography: The SVAutobiography replaces the Autobiography Black at the top of the Range Rover lineup. It’s the most powerful production Range Rover in the model’s 45-year history, with a 550-hp, 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine. The engine is shared with the Range Rover Sport SVR, but specially tuned for the SVAutobiography.

MAZDA

CX-3: Mazda is entering the fast-growing subcompact SUV segment with the CX-3, joining competitors like the Honda HR-V. The standard engine is a 2.0-l four-cylinder with 146 hp paired to a six-speed transmission.

MX-5 MIATA: Twenty-six years after the debut of the first Miata, Mazda is introducing the fourth generation of the popular soft-top convertible. The new MX-5 hints at Mazda’s “soul of motion” design language, with its long hood, flowing sides and large wheels pushed out to the edges, even as it keeps the playful, classic look of the original. Thanks to more extensive use of high-strength steel, the new Miata weighs 70kg less than the previous model, improving fuel economy and driving dynamics. The 2.0-l four-cylinder engine is rated at 155 hp and paired with either the standard six-speed manual transmission or the optional six-speed automatic.

MERCEDES-BENZ

C350 Plug-In Hybrid: The midsize C-Class family gets a plug-in electric hybrid, one of 10 hybrids the brand plans to launch by 2017. The C350 has a 2.0-l turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an 80-hp motor powered by a lithium-ion battery; combined, the engine and motor are capable of 275 hp. It can travel around 35km on electric power alone.

C450 AMG: Mercedes hopes to broaden the customer base for its exclusive AMG performance brand with the C450 AMG midsize sedan. The C450 has an upgraded, 3.0-l V6 with 362 hp as well as AMG’s 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. Other AMG-specific touches include a specially tuned suspension adapted from the C63 AMG , bigger brakes, a spoiler on the rear and red-stitched sport seats.

GLC300: The second generation of Mercedes’ midsize SUV gets a new name — GLC, to tie it more closely to Mercedes’ C-class family — and an elegant new look. The GLC replaces the boxy GLK; it has the same elongated hood but a much more aerodynamic roofline. Under the hood is a 2.0-l four-cylinder engine rated at 241 hp and a new nine-speed transmission. It is 75kg lighter than the outgoing model thanks to more extensive use of aluminum and high-strength steel.

GLE COUPE: The GLE Coupe is the newest member of the GLE-class (formerly M-Class) of midsize SUVs. It’s a four-door, five-seater; it gets the “coupe” name for its sloped roof and sporty driving. There are two variants. The GLE450, designed to bring more buyers into Mercedes’s AMG performance brand, has a 3.0-liter V6 producing 362 horsepower. It has a new, nine-speed transmission.

MERCEDES-AMG G65: Mercedes dials up the power in the third variant of its boxy G-Class SUV. It has a 621-hp, 6.0-liter V12 engine and a seven-speed transmission.

MINI

CLUBMAN: A complete redesign makes the Clubman longer and wider than any other car in the BMW mini-car brand’s lineup. It also gets more leg, shoulder and elbow room and bigger cargo space. The Clubman is powered by a 1-5-l 134 hp, three-cylinder engine, while the Cooper S Clubman gets a 2-l, 189 hp engine. Manual transmissions and an eight-speed automatic are available.

MITSUBISHI

OUTLANDER: Mitsubishi’s seven-passenger SUV gets refreshed with more than 100 engineering and design improvements. The company says it looks, drives and feels like an all-new vehicle because of the improvements. It gets a rounder, less boxy outside look, a reconfigured interior to improve second-row seating comfort, and new seating surfaces.

NISSAN

MAXIMA: Nissan brings some life to the flagging full-size sedan segment with the new Maxima. It has a bold, chiseled surface, the “V”-shaped grille found on other new Nissans like the Rogue SUV, and a roof that looks like it’s floating above the car thanks to blacked-out pillars. Under the hood is an updated version of the 300-hp, 3.5-liter V6 engine from the outgoing Maxima. It’s mated to a new continuously variable transmission.

TITAN: Nissan, a bit player in the full-size truck market dominated by Ford, Chevrolet and Ram, hopes to shake things up with the new Titan. Among its engine offerings will be a Cummins 5.0-liter V8 turbo diesel, the kind of engine normally found on more expensive heavy-duty trucks. The engine gives the truck maximum towing capacity of more than 12,000 pounds and maximum payload of 2,000 pounds — near the top of the segment — but with what Nissan says will be 20 percent better fuel economy than a gas-powered V8. Gas-powered V6 and V8 engines will also be available.

PORSCHE

911 GT3 RS/Targa 4 GTS: Porsche has reworked 90 percent of the components on the seventh-generation 911 sports car. It has a new rear axle for improved precision and stability and a new power steering system, and it’s longer, lower and wider than its predecessor. In 2016 comes the new racing version, the GT3 RS, with a rear-mounted 4.0-l flat six engine with 500 hp paired to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The GT3 RS accelerates from 0 to 100km/h 3.1 seconds and has a top track speed of 310km/h.

CAYENNE Turbo S/GTS: Two new sport versions sit atop the Cayenne SUV lineup. The GTS has a newly designed 3.6-l V6 with 440 hp, an improvement of 20 hp over the previous V8. The Turbo S has a 4.8-l V8 with 570 hpBoth models are all-wheel-drive with an eight-speed transmission.

CAYMAN GT4: The new top-of-the-line Cayman sports car has the 911’s 3.8-l flat 6 engine for 385 hp paired with a six-speed manual transmission. Top track speed is 294km/h, and it accelerates from 0 to 100km/h in 4.2 seconds.

TESLA

Model X: Tesla’s third vehicle, the Model X, is scheduled to go on sale this fall. The seven-seat SUV will turn heads with its “falcon-wing” rear doors, which open out and upward. The Model X is powered by two electric motors. Like the Model S sedan, buyers will likely have a choice of batteries that determine the vehicle’s electric range; a top-of-the-line Model S can go up to 500km per charge.

TOYOTA

LAND CRUISER: Toyota’s eight-passenger SUV gets a significant refresh. There’s a new hexagonal grille, narrower LED headlights and a bulging hood atop the 381-hp V8 engine. There’s also a new eight-speed transmission to enhance fuel efficiency. New safety features include blind-spot detection and a front collision warning system.

MIRAI: The world’s first mass-produced hydrogen fuel cell vehicle has an electric battery powered by hydrogen, and it emits nothing but water vapor from its tailpipe. It can go 500km between fill-ups.

PRIUS: Toyota’s first major revamp of the Prius hybrid in seven years has been redesigned to attract a wider range of buyers with a fresh, angular look.

RAV4 Hybrid: A hybrid version of Toyota’s RAV4 SUV goes on sale this fall. No details have been released.

VOLVO

S60: Volvo adds 3 inches to its smallish sedan to come up with the Inscription version. The extra length adds a like amount to the rear-seat legroom to make passengers more comfortable. Volvo says it has the most rear-seat legroom when compared with the Audi A4, BMW 328 or Mercedes-Benz C300. \

XC90: Volvo’s big seven-seat SUV is all new for 2016, and it’s loaded with luxury and safety features. Safety features include automatic braking that comes on if the driver turns in front of an oncoming car, plus rear collision warning. Volvo says the safety cage around the passenger compartment is 80kg lighter than the old model, yet stronger because it uses boron steel. Powered by a 316-hp, 2-l turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission.