A REAL WORKHORSE. Calling it “the workhorse of the Mazda lineup,” Mazda pulled the wraps off two new versions of the subcompact Protégé. The new Sport Wagon is designed for those who need plenty of room while keeping an eye on their budget. Sportier than traditional wagons, it could find a niche among buyers who don’t want just another SUV. Think of the Protégé MP3 (first shown on TheCarConnection last November) as a factory-built rice rocket. It’s designed to compete on the streets of Southern California, where modified Honda Civics are the cars to beat. The heart of the MP3 is a 140-horsepower version of the conventional Protégé in-line four—10 hp more than the standard edition subcompact. Other modifications include race-tuned suspension, polished, stainless steel exhaust, a short-throw shifter—and a factory-first Kenwood MP3/CD player.
Porsche Carrera GT
Porsche Carrera GTEnlarge Photo
SWEET GT. The LA show gives U.S. buyers their first look at Porsche’s pulse-pounding Carrera GT. Officially labeled a “concept car,” there seems little doubt the German automaker will bring this race-derived roadster to market, probably around 2003. “Our objective is not to simply turn a sports car into a racing car,” said Fred Schwab, head of Porsche Cars North America, “but to build a racing car for everyday use.” Under the hood, the GT features a naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V-10 pumping out 558 horsepower and 442 lb-ft of torque. Even using “conservative” numbers, Porsche expects a 0-60 mph time of less than four seconds, and a top speed of 205 mph. Expect a price tag of around $350,000 if the Carrera GT does go into production.
SALT ‘N PEPPER. There’s no question about the future of the Porsche Cayenne, the SUV it’s developing in partnership with Volkswagen. “It’s going to put ‘sport’ into sport-utility vehicles, declared Schwab. A little wider and lower than the Grand Cherokee, the all-wheel-drive Cayenne is being designed to reflect the reality of the sport-ute market, in which only a small percentage of buyers ever drive down anything rougher than a gravel road. Schwab expects Cayenne’s roominess and functionality to dramatically expand the brand’s appeal by attracting “people who could never (before) make a rational decision to buy a Porsche.”
2002 BMW M Roadster and Coupe
2002 BMW M Roadster and CoupeEnlarge Photo
2002 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe
2002 Mercedes-Benz C-Class CoupeEnlarge Photo
COUPE COUP. Mercedes-Benz will expand its U.S. C-Class lineup with an all-new model. Originally introduced in Paris last September, the new three-door shares not a single exterior panel with the C-Class sedan that launched here last year. Due for launch later this year, the C Coupe will be powered by a supercharged version of Mercedes’ 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine. Company officials are estimating 0-60 mph times of 7.5 seconds, “or quicker.” The 190-horsepower engine will be mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. Among other amenities, the C-Class Coupe will feature eight airbags, Mercedes’ Brake Assist system, TeleAid, and a sport suspension package. Likely to be priced under $30,000, the automaker is betting the new coupe will attract a much younger buyer than normally shops a Mercedes showroom.