Pint-sized performance


Ford Fiesta ST
MINI JCW GP & Ford Fiesta ST. Click image to enlarge

At the very opposite end of the performance spectrum from the M6 Gran Coupé, MINI is introducing the John Cooper Works GP, a tiny hatchback taken to Italian Job levels of go-fast and maneuverability, banking on Mini’s extensive racing heritage. This is one exclusive little hatch, only 50 examples earmarked for Canada, so competition will be fierce just to get a test drive in one. The GP is the fastest production Mini ever built, powered by a twin-scroll turbocharged engine with an output of 211 horsepower and 192 ft-lb of torque, held in check by Brembo brakes, adjustable suspension, 17-inch performance tires, Recaro Sport Seats, and special aerodynamic bodywork with rear diffuser cloaked in a striking Thunder Grey paint finish. One of the hottest subcompacts you’ll ever see.

Ford Fiesta ST

But wait, did someone mention hottest subcompacts? Well look who’s crashing the pint-sized performance category in a big way—Ford. After launching the compact Focus ST this past year to much acclaim (AJAC Performance Car under $50K award, anyone?), Ford is following it with the Fiesta ST, this one powered by a 1.6L EcoBoost, magically squeezing almost 200 horses under that diminutive hood. Along with the requisite sporting upgrades to the chassis and suspension (and some aggressive racing-style seats), the Fiesta ST is kitted out with a 6.5-inch touchscreen, unique ST high-mounted rear spoiler, interior trim accents, and leather shift knob.


Affordable luxury

Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept
2014 Infiniti Q50
Lexus LF-CC Concept
Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept, 2014 Infiniti Q50, Lexus LF-CC Concept. Click image to enlarge

Hyundai HCD-14 Genesis Concept

Hyundai will be displaying the wild HCD-14 that hints at a possible direction for the Genesis luxury sedan. Hyundai told its designers to ignore the typical rules and constraints of vehicle manufacturing in order to explore what a luxury sedan from Hyundai could look like, and it results in a wild, futuristic package.

2014 Infiniti Q50

Infiniti is revealing an all-new version of its compact luxury sports sedan with a new name to prepare it for launch in new global markets. This is one of the most competitive segments in the world, and the Q50 (replacing the G37) will renew Infiniti’s challenge of the BMW 3 Series as well as facing new competition from the likes of the Cadillac ATS, so advanced engine technology, sporting dynamics, and high-tech and luxurious interiors are the minimum to stay competitive. Infiniti will use the same 3.7L V6 powertrain as the G37, but will add a hybrid option to the lineup.

Lexus LF-CC

Lexus has redesigned its IS compact luxury sedan with sharper looks, more interior space, and improved driving dynamics in mind. Powertrains are the familiar 204-hp 2.5L V6 in the IS 250 and 306-hp 3.5L V6 in the IS 350, and the interior takes it cue from the bigger and more luxurious ES and GS. However, CIAS showgoers can see the LF-CC concept that inspired its styling – anyone else see this as the perfect recipe for an IS Coupe? There is also the fabulous LF-LC concept that is meant to spark the imagination about a replacement for the LFA supercar, but this concept sports an advanced hybrid powertrain.


Small and Smart

Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe

This sexy little concept previewed the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class revealed in this year’s Super Bowl ads. The CLA will serve as Mercedes’ small sedan, but its coupe-like styling should appeal to those wanting something more stylish than the B-Class hatchback, also, with AMG already working on an engine for European A-Class vehicles, it can’t be far behind for our market.

Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe2014 Nissan Versa Note
Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupe & 2014 Nissan Versa Note. Click image to enlarge

2014 Nissan Versa Note

There’s nothing complicated or sensational about this Canadian debut, but it is very significant. Few things sell in Canada better than snow shovels, Tim Horton’s coffee and cheap, efficient hatchbacks, so this is an important vehicle for Nissan in this market. The 2014 Versa Note features the Versa sedan’s 1.6L four-cylinder, which makes 109 hp and is good for 6.7 L/100 km in city driving and 5.2 on the highway. Expect the Note hatchback to match the sedan generous-for-a-compact passenger space but top the sedan’s cargo space by a healthy volume.

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