Performance and sports cars part 2

* All the star cars coming in 2011-12 * Coupes to sports cars * 2011-12 launch calendar, too...

Author Avatar
What Car? Staff
31 December 2010

Ferrari 458 Spider
What is it? Drop-top version of Ferraris 458 Italia
Estimated price from 185,000
On sale Late 2012

Considering how good the Ferrari 458 Italia sounds already, imagine the tingles the new Spider version will send down your spine when you drop the roof and put your foot down.

Ferrari has confirmed that the Spider is on the way, but hasnt yet released any details of what it will look like or how much it will cost.

Its safe to assume that the Spider will use the same 570bhp V8 engine as the hard-top. The interior isnt likely to change either, so you can expect the same simple, futuristic layout, with a minimum of controls.

The 458 wont have a folding metal roof like the California, though. The California is front-engined with a rear boot, so theres plenty of room to accommodate folded metal, but the mid-engined layout of the 458 necessitates a more compact (and lighter) cloth hood.
McLaren MP4-12C
What is it? An all-new supercar from a brand with F1 pedigree
Estimated price 167,000
On sale Spring 2011

McLaren is putting decades of Formula One experience into what must be one of the most eagerly awaited sports cars ever.

The stunning McLaren MP4-12C is packed with F1-influenced technology, and the first examples are due to reach lucky buyers within months. What will they get for whats expected to be a final bill of around 167,000? Well, the head-turning looks and distinctive scissor doors are only part of it. Much of the MP4-12Cs appeal lies in its engineering expertise and the driving experience that promises.

At its heart is a one-piece carbonfibre tub (hence the C part of the name) thats exceptionally strong and light. A mid-mounted, twin-turbocharged 3.6-litre V8 supplies 592bhp to the rear wheels through a twin-clutch transmission that allows you to pre-select each gear for super-quick shifts. Lightweight exterior panels help to keep the overall weight down, to the benefit of performance and agility. McLaren says the MP4-12C will accelerate from 0-124mph in less than 10 seconds and then brake to a standstill in under five seconds.

The driver will be able to choose different settings to alter the way the steering, suspension and throttle react, while brake steer an F1 innovation that brakes one or other of the rear wheels as required helps the car to turn in to corners.

Inside, the cabin has a similarly simple, functional look, with everything including the portrait-format sat-nav screen focused on ease-of-use.
Porsche 911 GTS/Speedster
What is it? Final hurrahs for the current 911
Price from 76,758/144,100
On sale January 2011

With an all-new 911 just around the corner (see below), Porsche has squeezed a bit more life out of the current car with a couple of limited-run models. First up, theres the Carrera GTS. Some careful fettling has pushed peak power for Porsches 3.8-litre engine up to 402bhp. The coup costs 76,758, while the Cabriolet version is 83,493.

The Speedster is based on the 911 Cabriolet and has the same engine as the GTS, but a bold bodykit and a shorter, more steeply angled windscreen give it an outlandish look. It costs 144,100.
Mitsubishi Evo XI
What is it? Radical new version of rally-inspired icon
Estimated price from 28,000
On sale 2013

The Mitsubishi Evo may be about to have the biggest change of heart since Wayne Rooney decided he wanted to stay at Manchester United after all.

For the Evo XI, a highly strung turbocharged petrol engine could be replaced by a hybrid diesel powertrain from the PX-MiEV concept car (right).

The revolutionary move is intended to keep the Evo alive in the face of increasingly tight emissions regulations. Hopefully the car will remain as raw and exciting as ever.
Porsche 911
What is it? Latest incarnation of Porsches iconic sports car
Estimated price from 70,000
On sale Winter 2011

Fashions come and go, but the Porsche 911 is timeless, it seems.

The latest incarnation of a car thats been around since 1963 is expected to be unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show in September. Spy shots indicate that the middle section of the new model is similar to the current cars, although the sills are more sculpted. A much sleeker front end is expected. Itll still be classic 911 with round headlights sitting proud of a low, tapered bonnet but LED light details and a new front bumper will give a more modern look.

Indications are that the rear end may grow a little wider, but the 911s dimensions arent likely to change much. Inside, an all-new cabin is expected to keep things simple but classy.

Overall, the next 911 is expected to move slightly upmarket, as Porsche distances it from the Cayman and makes room for a new entry model.
In brief
Vauxhall VXR8
Vauxhall is expected to introduce an updated version in summer 2011. The formula remains the same: a souped-up saloon car with a V8 engine and none-too-subtle bodykit. The revised model is expected to be classier inside and out, though.

What's your most exciting car of 2011? Take part in our Car of the Year poll.