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The McLaren P1


Formula One powerhouse-turned-exotic sports car maker McLaren revealed photos and the name of its new supercar, the P1, the spiritual successor to its legendary three-seat McLaren F1, which became the fastest production car when it was launched 20 years ago.

That claim likely won't be repeated when the P1 debuts in Paris at the end of the month. Of the few details the McLaren has released about the hyper exotic car, it confirmed that the P1's design directive was "not necessarily to be the fastest in absolute top speed, but to be the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit," said Antony Sheriff, McLaren Automotive managing director.

Those are still lofty goals, but it suggests that the McLaren P1 won't eclipse the Bugatti Veyron Super Speed's 431 km/h world record top speed, nor its monstrous 1,184 hp. McLaren did confirm that the P1 would surpass the MP4-12C and 12C Spider in both price ($287,200 to start for the Spider), and performance (616 hp for 2013 models). And considering that the original McLaren F1 cost about a million U.S. dollars when it debuted in 1992, a seven-figure price tag seems very possible for the production version of the P1, which McLaren is aiming to put on sale within a year.

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New Golf VII. Volkswagen Volkswagen  

VW to debut new, lighter Golf

Volkswagen will debut a lighter seventh generation of its venerable Golf at the Paris auto show next week, and very likely a concept version of the performance-oriented GTI as well. The Golf will go on sale this fall in Europe, but not until early 2014 in Canada, for both the regular Golf and the GTI.

The MkVII Golf will be up to 100 kilograms lighter than the existing car, without using expensive aluminum or exotic construction materials, even though the new Golf will be longer and wider than its current version. A recent report in Autocar suggested that there will be a super-light "Carbon" GTI version coming that will weigh up to 200 kg less than the current GTI, using a lightweight carbon-fibre and aluminum body that will also increase fuel economy and range for upcoming hybrid and plug-in electric versions of the Golf.

While the Golf has long ruled as the best-selling car in Europe, its best-seller status in North America and even compact-loving Canada has been overtaken by the less-expensive, Mexico-built Jetta sedan. So now VW is in the odd position of offering the German-made Golf as an upscale but smaller hatchback alternative to the Jetta and Jetta wagon, which use the same three engines as the current Golf.

The upcoming 2014 Golf will likely heap on the technology and features to help justify its price premium over the Jetta, while being careful not to tread high enough to lure away potential buyers of the Audi A3 hatchback.

Though North American features and options haven't been confirmed yet, in Europe, the new Golf will offer an automated parallel parking system, a radar-based lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control with braking function and City Emergency Braking, which works up to 30 km/h to prevent collisions at low speeds.

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The next-gen Golf and Audi A3 will be based on the same MQB modular platform, which can be stretched or pinched in length to accommodate various vehicles and alternative powertrains in many more models. No North American engines or outputs have been confirmed, though VW says all the Golf's new engines will feature automatic stop/start technology and brake/battery regeneration systems.

The most likely seem to be an advanced 1.4-litre four that will offer just less than 140 hp and be able to switch off two cylinders to achieve a European average of 4.8 litres/100 km, while a 2.0-litre turbodiesel will make slightly more than the 140 hp of the current version while averaging a hybrid-like 4.1 litres/100 km. As for the GTI, various credible online reports put its horsepower at 222 from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, up from the current 200.

Just don't expect a radically different body, as the Golf's seventh generation favours the traditional refined but slowly evolving pace of exterior design change.

BMW Active Tourer Concept. BMW BMW

BMW concept may presage 1-Series GT

BMW has officially revealed full details of its upcoming Active Tourer Concept, which hints strongly at what online whispers suggest could very well be the 1-Series GT when it goes into production.

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Its lines and detailed official information suggest that this is a barely breathed-upon production car, one that seems destined to arrive in dealers sooner rather than later, perhaps with smaller wheels and less-aggressive rubber and details. But officially it's still a plug-in hybrid concept, though its body and powertrain have definite BMW i3 undertones.

Under the Active Tourer Concept's hood is a 1.5-litre three-cylinder gasoline engine that powers the front – yes, the front – wheels, while the plug-in eDrive electric motor powers the rear wheels. The combined systems produce 190 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque, or enough to manage a fleet sub-eight second 0-100 km/h time, while offering more than 30 km of pure electric driving range, with an overall fuel economy rating of 2.5 litres/100 km, on optimistic European test cycles, says BMW.

Lexus reveals LF-CC concept

After largely rave reviews of Lexus' LF-LC concept car in Detroit, it has confirmed the LF-CC concept will debut in Paris, previewing a production mid-size coupe expected to be a sporty two-door version of the next-generation IS sedan.

The rear-wheel-drive LF-CC two-door features a radical version of the spindle grille that has now spread to the entire Lexus lineup for 2013, as well as an all-new hybrid powertrain the company confirms will be used in various production models. Neither output nor fuel economy was revealed for the 2.5-litre, four-cylinder Atkinson cycle hybrid unit.

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