Performance cars: McLaren - Vauxhall

* New cars coming in 2012 * Small family cars to MPVs revealed today * More throughout the week...

Performance cars: McLaren - Vauxhall

McLaren MP4-12C Convertible
What is it? Folding hard-top version of McLarens supercar
Price from 190,000 (est)
On sale Summer

McLaren will launch a drop-top version of its stunning MP4-12C supercar during 2012, as part of its plans to introduce a new model every year for the next few years.

The Convertible will share most parts with the coup, including its 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8 engine. Most of the body panels and its carbonfibre tub will be carried over, but details of the Convertibles roof are scant. Rumours suggest that itll be a folding hard-top, as is the case with its key rival, the Ferrari 458 Spider. The butterfly doors, which open up and outwards, are likely to be retained.

Porsche 911
What is it? All-new version of iconic sports car
Price from 71,449
On sale Now

Underestimate the new Porsche 911 at your peril. It may look familiar, but plenty of work has gone into making it better than ever.

Crucially, it's sensational to drive. Look closer and youll see that the 911 has changed more than you might think, too: the wheelbase is 100mm longer, while there are shorter front and rear overhangs and a lower roofline. The rear has also changed dramatically, with slimmer lights and a wider bootlid.

Under the skin, the new body is stiffer than before and, thanks to the use of more aluminium in its construction, lighter by up to 45kg.

As ever, the 911 has rear-mounted six-cylinder engines. The latest units are more powerful, but also more efficient, with fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for all versions that are up to 16% lower than the current cars. Engine stop-start and an energy-recuperation system now come as standard, and theres also a world-first seven-speed manual gearbox.

The entry-level Carrera model has a 3.4-litre, 345bhp engine, whereas the Carrera S has a 395bhp 3.8. The optional PDK semi-automatic gearbox gives the Carrera CO2 emissions of 194g/km; its the first 911 with CO2 emissions below 200g/km.

The 911s cabin isnt a major departure from that of the current car, but it has a more high-tech look and feel.

Vauxhall Astra VXR
What is it? Hot-hatch version of recently launched Astra GTC
Price from 26,000 (est)
On sale March

Vauxhalls new Astra VXR will be one of the hottest hot hatches around when it arrives in the spring.

The new model based on the recently launched Astra GTC has a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine that produces 276bhp and 295lb ft of torque; enough to blow most rivals out of the water.

Vauxhall hasnt confirmed performance figures, but the VXR should be devastatingly quick: wed expect it to get to 60mph in around six seconds.

To keep the power in check, the VXRs front-wheel-drive chassis has stiffer suspension, Vauxhalls Flexride adaptive dampers and a mechanical limited-slip differential. The system will be controllable, with two buttons that can adjust the chassis, steering and throttle to different performance modes.

The VXRs styling is sportier than the regular GTCs, with deep side skirts, new front and rear bumpers, a roof spoiler and twin exhaust pipes.