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Corvette Stingray expected to drop its top at Geneva show

The 2014 Corvette Stingray coupe with older editions of Corvette drop-tops.

General Motors

The drop-top version of the C7 Corvette Stingray will reportedly debut next month at the Geneva Motor Show, as the C6 version did in 2004, while Toyota confirmed that an FT-86 Open Concept will also make its world debut, a "concept" that closely foreshadows what will likely become a convertible version of the Scion FR-S.

Toyota says its FT-86 Open concept is meant to gauge reaction to a convertible version of what's called the Toyota GT 86 in Europe, and the Scion FR-S coupe in North America. No indication yet whether the Scion's near identical twin, the Subaru BRZ, will also show or plans to produce a drop-top, but Car and Driver magazine reported last year that a Scion FR-S convertible will be on sale by late 2013 or early 2014, with a price a few thousand dollars above that of its much lauded but reasonably priced hardtop counterparts.

Toyota will also show off a true concept car, called the i-Road – a super thin, zero-emissions electric commuter vehicle that seats its driver in the middle of its shrink-wrapped cabin, with a passenger seat located behind the driver. The concept seems closely related to the production Renault Twizy, which went on sale last month in the U.K. as a low-price, low-speed (up to 80 km/h) urban rival to the Smart fortwo.

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Though General Motors hadn't confirmed the C7 Stingray drop-top's Geneva debut as of this writing, Autoweek magazine reported recently that it confirmed the unveiling with sources at the company. The report also said the convertible is slated to arrive three months after the coupe's debut scheduled for August, so it could also be on sale by the end of 2013 in the United States, and likely soon after in Canada.

Spy shots of camouflaged C7 convertibles captured for the magazine suggest the Vitamin D-infused Corvette will continue to offer a soft top, instead of the folding hardtops that some luxury-oriented rivals use.

Other intriguing introductions confirmed for the Geneva show are a new Rolls-Royce Wraith, a sportier version of its Phantom sedan with a steeply raked coupe-like roofline (spy shots suggest it will retain some form of its trademark rear-hinged doors); a new Bentley Flying Spur sedan, and a 507 hp version of the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, which will be shown in coupe, sedan and wagon versions.

Hagerty reveals this year's future classics

Classic car and motorcycle insurer Hagerty has unveiled its list of 2013 vehicles it deems are the best bets as future classics, with a price cap of $100,000 (U.S.) to keep the list away from low volume exotics that few can afford.

The least expensive was the Ford Focus ST ($29,999 base price in Canada), which was lauded for its healthy power and bang-for-the-buck hatchback performance, while the priciest was the SRT Viper, which starts at $99,995 in Canada, which surprisingly is a touch higher than its U.S. starting price of $97,395.

The next most inexpensive was perhaps the most surprising, the Volkswagen GTi, as it wasn't a particularly limited model or special edition version of something else, since emotional appeal as well as rarity are two major factors that affect a car's future collect-ability.

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The Golf R, on the other hand, would seem to fit the bill better. Then again, the Subaru BRZ that comes next on the list is also not a limited edition model, though Hagerty does note that Subaru has traditionally been a more "quirky" auto maker with its lineup of AWD vehicles, a tradition that the rear-drive BRZ breaks.

Next up is the Mini John Cooper Works GP, the 211 hp "fastest Mini ever," of which only a limited number will come to North America, the company noted.

The all-electric Tesla Model S that followed was the only four-door on the list, the classic car insurer highlighting its near silence and quick acceleration that it said "defies the stereotype that electric cars are just for people trying to kick the petroleum habit."

Also listed was the 580 hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 convertible, the new Porsche Cayman S, the Audi RS5, and the Corvette Convertible 427, a 60th anniversary special designed to mark the last year of C6 production with what amounts to an amazingly quick and agile Z06 convertible.

World Car of the Year shortlists announced

The 2013 World Car of the Year awards (WCOTY) will be awarded at the Geneva Motor Show in March, but its jury of 66 auto journalists – of which I am one – has released its shortlists for overall WCOTY and World Performance COTY.

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The WCOTY award finalists are:

  • Audi A3
  • Land Rover Range Rover
  • Mazda6
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mercedes-Benz A-Class
  • Peugeot 208
  • Porsche Boxster/Cayman
  • Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT 86/Toyota 86
  • Volkswagen Golf
  • Volvo V40

And the World Performance Car shortlist is as follows:

  • Aston Martin Vanquish
  • Audi RS 5
  • BMW M6 Coupe/Convertible
  • BMW M 135i
  • Ferrari F12 Berlinetta
  • Mercedes-Benz SL 63 AMG
  • Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster
  • Porsche Boxster/Cayman
  • Renault Clio Sport
  • Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT 86/Toyota 86

The shortlist for the 2013 World Green Car of the Year was also announced, though the process is different here. Instead of wide-scale voting by all jury members, a panel of five "green" technology experts were appointed to closely study available documentation and specs to create the following shortlist, which will then be voted on by all jury members:

  • Renault Zoe
  • Smart Electric Drive
  • Tesla Model S
  • Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid
  • Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid Diesel.
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