Plus more news from the New York International Auto Show, including Dodge's reborn Viper and GM's reveal of the next generation Impala.
Jaguar debuts new F-Type, but forgets to bring the car
The automotive world's worst-kept secret has finally been confirmed; Jaguar will produce some form of the C-X16 concept car and, despite protestations by company officials that it tested all manner of names for the sporty little bomb, the F-Type moniker, rumoured as much as five years ago, stuck.
There wasn't even a car on the stand at the New York auto show; only a video. Though details are sketchy, we are told that a convertible version will be produced first and, according to Jaguar's global brand director, Adrian Hallmark, even the entry-level version will be as aggressively sporty as the highest-performing version of the current XK, the 550hp RS, that is garnering so much press for Jaguar. Whether he specifically means straight-line speed or simply its chassis tuning and "attitude" is lost in the vaguery of anything that emanates from marketing wonks. That said, it's almost assured that the F-Type will be V6-powered and that there will be a hybrid version. Hallmark would not commit to any price but did let slip that the F-Type will sit somewhere between a Porsche Cayman and Jaguar's current XK. Look for a price take in the £60,000 to £70,000 (Dh350,000 to Dh400,000) range. Hallmark also confirmed that, with memories of the still-born X-Type now fading, there are again long-term plans for a 3 Series competitor. Look at it to be better equipped but slightly pricier than its competition as Jaguar tries to move its entire lineup further upscale.
As if it didn't have enough oomph, Dodge's reborn Viper, now officially an SRT model, sees a bump to 640hp. Torque is now a whopping 813Nm, the most, says Chrysler, for any naturally aspirated engine. More power necessitates more traction so the 2012 Viper — now available in two models, the base and GTS — gains wider rubber (massive 335/30ZR19 Pirellis in the back) as well as traction control.
But the real Viper news is the incredible improvement inside the cabin. Here again, Chrysler's Fiat connection has paid off. The entire design has an Italian flair and the seats were sourced from the same supplier as Ferrari. The entire cabin is clothed in superior materials and a dare-we-say-it almost luxurious layout moves the Viper firmly into the 21st century. Still brawny, but no longer unsophisticated.
General Motors sold 171,000 Impalas in the US of A last year, making the revised version, badged a 2014 model, very, very important to the company's continuing revival. The new Impala is sleeker, more powerful and much more luxurious inside. Three new engines are available — a 3.6L V6, a base 2.5L four and a 2.4L backed up with an e-Assist electrical boost. All feature fuel-sipping direct fuel injection technology.
Though the family saloon market continues to shrink (mainly because mid-sized saloons such as the Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Malibu keep getting bigger), competition is heating up with Toyota unveiling an all-new Avalon. Emulating the "fast-back" design of more expensive four-door coupés such as Mercedes' CLS and Audi's A7, the Avalon is a bold statement from Toyota. It is slightly smaller than the model it replaces but Toyota promises that passengers will be coddled with heated front and rear seats and three-zone air conditioning. Avalon is powered by Toyota's 268hp, 3.5L V6 but Toyota is now offering sportier suspension calibrations.