Over the past several decades, we've seen more design missteps than successes in the form of America's iconic muscle car, but just in time for their 50th anniversary, the guys in Detroit seem to have gotten everything right with the 2015 Ford Mustang ($TBA). While the look has been completely updated for a new generation, there are plenty of elements in this pony car that are distinctly Mustang, namely the fastback rear window, the long hood, and short rear deck. And though there are suggestions of retro, this is every bit a modern car, with improved handling thanks to a new suspension system, improved electronics and entertainment, and a surprising array of engines offered. Drivers can now choose from the Mustang standard, a 5.0-liter V8, a 3.7-liter V6, and for the first time ever a four-cylinder turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost. Though the third will no-doubt ruffle some purist feathers, it's obviously an attempt to appeal to a global market concerned with fuel economy. All things said, the new Mustang is a strong step in the right direction, and clear proof that American muscle isn't dead — it's just growing up.
There's something about the Jaguar F-Type Coupe ($65,000 and up) that appeals to us somewhere deep down — maybe it's the gorgeous lines leading back to the rearward cabin, or maybe it's the sound of that throaty 5.0-liter supercharged V8 revving to 5,000-plus RPMs. Either way, this fine piece of British metal is one beautiful beast, whether it's standing still, or tearing down the track. The R variant — which, if we're being honest, is all we really care about — features the aforementioned V8 producing all of 550 horsepower, in addition to a lot of race-inspired kit (things like adaptive suspension, electronic active differential, 15-inch brakes, and much more). It will hit 60mph in just four seconds, and reaches a top speed of 186. Of course, you could go with either of its V6-powered cheaper siblings, but who'd want to do that?
The third generation 2014 MINI Cooper ($TBA), continuing the trend set by previous generations, is a little less mini, with a longer wheel base, longer, wider, and taller body, and increased interior capacity. Available in two models, the Cooper and Cooper S, you get the choice between a three-cylinder 134-horsepower engine or a four-cylinder 189 horsepower engine, both featuring turbo chargers. The faster of the two can make it to 60 mph in just over six seconds, thanks in large part to a healthy 162 pound-feet of torque. Also available — in addition to a kitted out interior with plenty of technology like a heads up display and improved entertainment system — are new six-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
Unfortunately, all good things must at some point come to an end — and this gull-winged thing of German beauty is no exception. But at least the Mercedes SLS AMG GT Final Edition ($TBA) gets to go out in style. Limited to a run of just 350 units, those lucky enough to get behind the wheel of the last SLS AMG will get to experience every bit of its naturally-aspirated 6.3-liter 591-horsepower V8 engine. Set to be revealed at this year's Los Angeles Auto Show and Tokyo Motor Show, the Merc gets a special two-tone red and black paint scheme worthy of such an iconic sportscar. While sad to see it go, we can think of no better way to watch it leave.
The sometimes-maligned BMW 1 Series is dead — long live the 2014 BMW 2 Series Coupe ($32,000-$43,000). In an attempt to reconfigure the compact segment of their brand, BMW will now be replacing their more economically-priced line with the 220i Coupe and the M235i Coupe. These cars, sporting a 184 horsepower four-cylinder engine and a 326 horsepower six-cylinder inline engine respectively, have been restyled and retooled from the ground up. The cars are each a bit wider and longer than their 1-Series predecessors, and boast better aerodynamics, handling, and more. Overall what you'll find is a line of compacts made to be more enjoyable to drive, and a lot more exciting looking.
The Fairlady Z (perhaps better know in America as the Datsun 240Z) formed the basis for the legendary Nissan Safari Rally Z ($TBA). This fastback coupe sported a 215 horsepower inline-six engine that helped it win two East African Rally championships in the early 1970s. Now it's undergoing a complete overhaul, thanks to Nissan's Restoration Club — a group known for bringing historically-significant Nissans like the 1964 Skyline back to life. Expect to see this Z car restored to its former glory by December of this year.
While it probably won't score you any style points, the BMW i3 ($41,350) will definitely get you to work without so much as glancing at a fuel pump. This rear-wheel-drive four-seater gets its power from an electric engine producing 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque — not too shabby. It has a nearly 100-mile range on a single charge, and accelerates up to 60 mph in a fairly-impressive seven seconds. Much of its efficiency comes from lightweight construction (the combination carbon fiber and plastic passenger compartment is stronger than steel), resulting in an only 2,700 pound weight. For those worried about getting stranded in the commuter lane with a dead battery, they offer a gas generator. But that kind of defeats the purpose, doesn't it?
"Can you swim?" 007 famously asked before driving his Lotus Esprit ($TBA) off the end of a pier, escaping from a pesky helicopter, and startling Bond girl Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me. But, as it turns out, her swimming skills were unnecessary, when the car turned into a fully-functioning submarine, complete with ship-to-air missiles, props, control surfaces, and more. While it probably won't come equipped with any high-powered explosives, you can own this original 1977 piece of film history — that is, if you're lucky enough to be the highest bidder. And yes, it does actually work.
Say "goodbye" to the BMW 3 Series Coupe, and welcome the new 2014 BMW 4 Series ($TBA). Like a cross between a sportier 3 Series and a smaller 6 Series, the 4 Series comes (in its most aggressive variation, the 435i) with a 306 hp twin-turbo six-cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox. Also available in four-cylinder diesel and gas variations with an optional eight-speed automatic. A lower stance, larger width and wheelbase, and improved aerodynamics further differentiate this quick two-door from its cousin, the 3 Series.
Long-known for gracefully combining luxury with performance, BMWs rarely disappoint, and the BMW Pinifarina Gran Lusso Coupe ($TBA) certainly doesn't. The Germans have joined forces with luxury Italian designers Pininfarina to make a one-off creation boasting exclusivity and roadworthiness. The exterior is distinctly BMW, with a set-back cockpit and stretched hood covering a massive V-12 (and of course the signature kidney-shaped grill). But the interior screams Italian opulence — fine Italian leather upholstery, plaid Italian wool headliner, and accents made of kauri wood aged 48,000 years. Carmakers could learn a thing or two from this impressive partnership.
Coming up its 40th anniversary, VW is getting ready to take the wraps off the seventh generation of its speedy hatchback. The 2014 Volkswagen GTI (€28,000; roughly $36,000) is the first GTI to arrive with two power options: a 220 hp 2.0L TSI engine standard, which is cranked up to 230hp with the optional performance pack. Even with the power improvements, the new hatch offers improved fuel economy of up to 39 mpg with the six-speed manual and 36.8 with the six-speed, dual-clutch DSG transmission. Other features include sports seats with the "Clark" tartan pattern, red ambient lighting, a GTI shifter knob and instrument cluster, stainless-steel pedals, Climatronic climate control, a touchscreen infotainment system, and heated front seats. Arriving in Germany in May; look for it stateside sometime after that.
Plenty of cars receive a mid-cycle facelift — but the 2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe ($TBA) has more up its sleeve than just a new look. Accompanying the new, sportier front end — which holds new single-lens LED headlamps and large air intakes — redesigned rear fenders, and all new interior is a host of new safety features, dubbed "intelligent drive". Included in this new package is Collision Prevention Assist, a radar-based collision warning system with adaptive brake assist systems, Attention Assist, which can detect when you're getting drowsy, Distronic Plus with Steering Assist which helps to keep the car in its lane and can track multiple lanes of traffic, and a bunch of other futuristic systems that come just short of letting the car drive itself. Available in hardtop or Cabriolet versions, with engines ranging from 300 to 400 hp.