While it may be true that August and September bode the inevitable end of summer, it is also the time when the newest offerings from worldwide auto manufacturers arrive in U.S. showrooms. Mainstream models like the all new Honda Ridgeline (finally a real truck) and the cleverly outfitted Chrysler Pacifica (the newest itineration of the ground-breaking Town & Country minivan) will surely attract scores of happy buyers.
At the other end of the automotive spectrum—where performance, cutting-edge technology, and driving excitement are top priority—there is plenty for enthusiasts to be excited about as well.
Here are a few notable favorites:
Acura NSX – After an absence of 12 years, the Honda-designed and built NSX Super Coupe is back! Arguably the most reliable and driver-friendly supercar ever built, the first generation NSX with its mid-engine, rear-wheel drive configuration delivered race car handling with real-world drivability. For 2017, the new NSX arrives sporting All Wheel Drive, mated to a twin turbo 3.5L V-6 augmented by three electric motors for a Hybrid output of 573 HP. A 9-speed transmission helps the Hybrid NSX reach 60 MPH in a mere 3 seconds! Technology abounds with carbon-fiber throughout, GPS navigation, 9 speaker ELS stereo with satellite radio, and 4 drive modes: Quiet, Sport, Sport+, and Track. Priced at $156,000, the new NSX promises hyper-performance at a (relatively) affordable price of entry.
Alfa Romeo Giulia – The high performance version of this Alfa Sports Sedan comes to America with the unpronounceable name Quadrifoglio—leave it to the Italians! Aimed directly at the BMW M3 and Audi S4, this voluptuously styled RWD hot rod is powered by a 505HP turbocharged V-6 built by Ferrari, potent enough for 3.8 second launches to 60 MPH. Like most Alphas, the Giulia is a no-apologies driver’s car, strutting its prowess with a 6-speed manual transmission, adaptive suspension, perfect 50/50 weight distribution, and huge Brembo brakes. Four selectable drive modes: Economy, Comfort, Dynamic, and Race (!), which blend ever more aggressive settings for engine mapping, transmission shift points, exhaust restriction, and suspension response, ensure that this $70,000 Alfa lives up to its nearly 100-year racing heritage.
Jaguar XE – Yet another contender in the mid-sized Sports Sedan class, the Jag XE is an elegant alternative to the stark functionality of the German standard bearers in this popular category, the BMW 3 Series, Audi A-4, and the Mercedes C Class. Finally coming to U.S. shores for 2017, the XE offers a myriad of configurations, including three power units ranging from a 240 HP turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder, to a fuel efficient turbo diesel, to the mighty 340 HP supercharged V-6 in “R” models. With a choice of either traditional RWD or pavement gripping AWD, the XE delivers taut handling with thrilling performance. The most up-to-date technology is infused into the Jag’s DNA, with upscale niceties such as a 10.2-inch video display, built-in mobile Wi-Fi, and the InControl Remote App that gives smartphone access to vehicle status and the ability to lock and unlock doors. Wrapped in drop-dead gorgeous styling and prices around $35,000, the XE will garner its market share.
Fiat 124 Spider – Back in the 1960s and ’70s, the Fiat 124 Spyder was the sports car to have—faster, more comfortable, and better looking that its main competitors, the MGB and Porsche 914. The 124 Spyder has the distinction of being the best selling Fiat in the U.S. The new Spider, built on Mazda Miata underpinnings, may just eclipse that record. Priced at $24,995 for the 160 HP 1.4L turbo, the Fiat is a pure sports car with room for two, an easily lowered convertible top, and superb handling. Upgrade to the Abarth model for $28,195 and get 164 HP, paddle shifters, and more Italian go-fast styling cues. Offered in three model trims, Classico, Lusso (Italian for Luxury), and the aforementioned Abarth, you can select leather, heated seats, navigation, and other tech features. Truly a modern evolution of the traditional sports car, the Fiat 124 Spider promises comfort, safety, and convenience without compromising powerful performance and brisk handling.