Just when you thought Porsche couldn't possibly come up with more iterations of its venerable 911 rear-engine sports car - it's now at 17 versions, not including the brand's other models that mimic it - Porsche has come up with two more that debuted yesterday at the Paris motor show: a 408-hp GTS that slots in between the top Carrera S model and the racier GT3, and a pricey limited-edition 911 Speedster with wild retro styling cues.
The Paris show kicked off its press preview days yesterday, and opens to the public this weekend.
Only a handful of car names become classics
The 911 Carrera GTS is the top model in the Carrera lineup; the lighter, and 435-hp GT3 drops sound- deadening and various creature comforts in pursuit of track performance. A leather and alcantara-lined interior as well as a standard sport exhaust suggests the GTS still puts more priority on street driving.
The GTS comes with rear-wheel-drive and the wide rear bodywork normally seen on all-wheel-drive (Carrera 4) versions, adding centre-locking black wheels and black body accents all around the Body's lower edge. The new coupe starts at $124,600, while the GTS drop-top's MSRP is $136,100.
The 911 Speedster seems to take that GTS cabriolet as a starting point, using the same new 408-hp, 3.8-litre engine - which achieves the same official fuel economy numbers as the less powerful engine in Carrera S models - as well as its wider body and rear- wheel-drive layout. Yet the Speedster amps up the styling inside and out, with retro Fuchs-style black wheels, a shorter and more angled windshield, plus a traditional double-bubble hard cover that jettisons the regular 911's tiny rear seats.
The Speedster pays homage to the original 356 Speedster not only in style but in its limited production. Only 356 Speedsters are planned for production - 15 slated for Canada - at a price of $245,900.
With coupe and convertible versions of the GTS and the ragtop-only Speedster set to arrive early in 2011, that will be 20 iterations of the 911 on sale next year, between rear- and all-wheel drive, wide and narrow bodies, Targa and Turbo models, as well as increasingly quicker S, GT2/GT3 and RS versions. That has to be a record for one model line - most brands don't have that many products across their entire lineup.
INFINITI CONFIRMS EV, IPL G37 CONVERTIBLE
An Infiniti-brand electric vehicle will arrive in Canada in 2013, Nissan confirmed this week; the Nissan-branded Nissan's Leaf EV arrives in some Canadian markets next year, with a national rollout planned for 2012.
Infiniti says its EV will be a five-seat, high-performance luxury vehicle with zero-emissions technology, but didn't announce its name or any further details, outside of releasing an imprecise concept sketch that suggests it will be a slinky "coupe"-type four-door, with wide rear fenders and a curved roof that precludes a Leaf-style hatchback. Chances are it will be mechanically similar to the Leaf, though.
Nissan's luxury brand will make its first foray into electrically driven vehicles in the spring, when it launches its first hybrid, the Infiniti M35h. This lithium battery-equipped full hybrid will use technology that Infiniti says will allow the M Hybrid to cruise at up to 80 km/h on electricity alone; previous Nissan hybrids, such as the Altima Hybrid, licenced Toyota technology.
Because the M Hybrid was already shown at the Geneva auto show earlier this year, Infiniti's highlight unveiling in Paris will be the second offering from its IPL performance line, the IPL G37 convertible. Essentially a drop-top version of the IPL G37 Coupe introduced in August, the IPL convertible is dubbed a concept right now, likely because Infiniti wants to wait until it sees reaction to the IPL G Coupe, which goes on sale in March in Canada.
FERRARI SHOWS SA APERTA
Italian exotic car maker Ferrari will unveil the SA Aperta in Paris this weekend, a limited series of 80 convertible versions of the hot 599 GTO two-seater, in honour of its 80-year association with design house Pininfarina.
All 80 SA Apertas have already been sold - the SA in the name refers to Sergio and Andrea Pininfarina, while aperta is Italian for open.
And open it certainly is. Ferrari says it is a true roadster, with "just a light soft top designed to be resorted to only if the weather gets particularly bad." Otherwise, the view out of the more steeply raked windshield and the sound from the already pumped-up 599 GTO's 670-hp engine is designed to be enjoyed al fresco. The regular 599 GTB coupe makes 620 hp from its majestic 6.0-litre V12.
MINI, SMART UNVEIL ELECTRIC SCOOTERS
There may still be lingering questions over whether all-electric vehicles have a mainstream future, but small-car rivals Mini and Smart are showing that EVs don't necessarily have to be cars.
Both of them will unveil electric scooter concepts at the Paris show, highlighting the urban advantages of an electric scooter's light weight, quiet operation and zero local emissions.
Both electric scooters are wildly styled concepts for now, although Smart is said to be particularly serious about bringing some alternate mobility solutions to market in the next few years. The Smart e-scooter has a range of about 100 km, and includes advanced safety features such as blind spot assist, ABS and an airbag.
Mini hasn't announced a potential range for its e-scooter concept, but it offers Mini-like design cues, a Bluetooth-enabled helmet that allows a smartphone to be used for music, navi directions or to speak to folks.
Only a handful of car names become classics