Hyundai Elantra R-Spec – Here’s what we know: Hyundai will be showing a coupe version of its frugal, and nippy Elantra at LA this year. We suspect that at some point a little farther down the road the new coupe will get turbo’d, and therefore become of great interest to those who’re greenformance-leaning (including us). Further, and maybe more exciting, is the very good possibility of similar treatment for the new Hyundai Veloster. (At any rate, look for a lot of hi-po Veloster concepts to be shown at SEMA this year.)
Subaru BRZ/Toyota FT-86 – Doesn’t it seem like we’ve been waiting on this joint Toyota/Subaru sports car for a long time now? The truth is, spy shots of BRZ/FT-86 mules and prototypes have been surfacing for years now. Still, the heart wants what the heart wants, and the heart really wants more lightweight, rear-drive sports cars. Look for the real deal to appear at the Tokyo Motor Show at the end of November, and in our pages sometime shortly there after. No clue if we’ll get to drive the Subaru or the Toyota first (but we’re open to long-term loans of both).
Fiat 500 Abarth – We’ve already enjoyed the basic Cinquecento, rather a lot. Dissect our middling issues with the car and you’ll find that we’d like a little bit more power (duh), and could do with just a touch less softness in the chassis. Thankfully, Fiat has a solution to those ills, and its name is Abarth. Since fuel economy isn’t absolutely top-notch in the standard 500 (though it is very good), we doubt that bumping up the output to 175 horsepower will help things on that front. Somehow we think we’ll live though.
Audi R8 e-tron – The nearest-to-production version of Audi’s e-tron EV technology yet was shown at the Frankfurt show, wrapped in a ready-for-primetime Audi R8 body. Audi has assured us that a consumer version of e-tron is absolutely going to happen, and it’s likely to show up sometime in 2012. Yum.
Mazda CX-5 – The CX-5 is bound to be good with Mazda’s racy DNA and all of the cool SkyActiv bits we tested in Canada, including a new direct-injection 2.0-liter four. True greenformance dominance (at least for small crossovers) will be within the CX-5’s reach if Mazda let’s us have one with a) the excellent new six-speed manual transmission, and b) the even better 2.2-liter turbo diesel. We know the diesel is going to happen sooner or later; it might as well be wrapped in the CX-5 and attached to a sweet stick shift.
Ford Escape – It’s hard to say if Ford’s upcoming replacement for the Escape will be truly good as a driver’s car—Focus and Fiesta have both been okay-not-great on that front. But we do know that reports of the Euro version, the Kuga, have been largely positive, and that Ford is looking at an all-four-cylinder, mpg-friendly powertrain lineup for the Escape. Borderline greenformance vehicle then, but almost a lock to be more fun to drive than its predecessor.