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After three days of exciting new car debuts during Press Preview, our team of writers, photographers and editors have seen nearly everything at the auto show in Detroit. After much deliberation, here are our picks for the best production cars destined for showrooms.

Audi TTS

Launched on the 10th anniversary of the original TT, the TTS adds a level of performance to Audi’s compact sports car. With a 2.0-liter turbocharged FSI engine delivering 272 horsepower to all four wheels, the TTS hits 60 mph in just 5.2 seconds. Most major components of the engine were strengthened to make it suitable for turbocharging. Styling befits the added performance with standard 18-inch wheels, deeper door sills, two sets of twin tailpipes and a spoiler that extends at speeds of greater than 75 mph. Available in coupe or roadster form, TTS goes on sale this summer.

Cadillac CTS-V

Although we have not driven it yet, this car should feel like a solid fist in a velvet glove. Whether or not Cadillac Vice President of Global Product Development Bob Lutz’s claim that it will be the fastest sedan on the road is just headline-grabbing hyperbole is irrelevant. With 550 horsepower under the driver's right foot and the promise of hitting 60 mph in around 4 seconds, this four-door, five-seat sedan will be blisteringly quick — that much Cadillac can guarantee. To avoid frying the rear tires every time the light turns green, there’s a lot of technology in this car to help keep it on the road, including Magnetic Ride Control and Performance Traction Management. Inside, occupants are wrapped in luxury with every available gadget to keep them comfortable, entertained and informed. Despite all this power, technology and luxury, this car will still come in about $20,000 to $30,000 below its obvious competitors.

Ford F-150

It can’t be easy redesigning the best-selling vehicle in America, but Ford got it just about right. The engineers have managed to add some great features to the F-150, making it more usable and more comfortable, without messing with the basic ingredients of the country’s top-selling pickup for the past 30 years. The truck remains defiant despite pressure from environmentalists by staying big, bold, powerful and tough, yet it gets away with it since the F-150 is essentially a workhorse with an important role. And thanks to some ingenious new features it is now even better at its job. The new version has more room inside and better access to the bed, thanks to steps on the side and the tailgate. Add a sophisticated entertainment and communications systems, and you have quite a package. The 35 different configurations mean there’s something for everyone.

Chevrolet Corvette ZR1

The Corvette ZR1 is the most powerful production Corvette ever, designed to compete with the best exotic sports cars in the world. Powered by a new supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine, the ZR1 will put out at least 620 horsepower and 595 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed, close-ratio transmission and a high-capacity dual-disc clutch deliver power to the rear axle. Performance features include large carbon-ceramic brake rotors and Magnetic Selective Ride Control with track-level suspension. The ZR1 sports carbon fiber front fenders, hood (with a polycarbonate window) and roof panel; a full-width rear spoiler and a unique gauge cluster with boost gauge. The 20-spoke 19-inch wheels in the front and 20-inch wheels at the rear are shod with Michelin Pilot Sport 2 tires developed specifically for the ZR1. Top speed is estimated to surpass the 200 mph mark, making it the fastest production car ever to come from General Motors.

Ferrari F430 Scuderia

Ferrari is nothing if not the master of presentation. The F430 Scuderia, finished in a gorgeous powder blue paintwork, looked stunning in its elevated, black-walled display box, highlighted by a cool, sharp light and flanked by the obligatory beautiful models. It may not be new but it’s still a big draw. Described as “an extremely high performance berlinetta brimming with Formula 1 technology,” the F430 Scuderia rockets to 62 mph in just 3.6 seconds by its 510-horsepower V8. In the cold light of day it may be essentially another reworking of Ferrari’s entry-level V8 coupe. But with its upgraded engine, carbon ceramic brakes, F1-derived “superfast” sequential gearbox, revised styling and aerodynamics, it is as fast as the Enzo around the Italian automaker's test track.

Hyundai Genesis

Whether Hyundai can accomplish its stated mission of taking on the luxury brands with the new Genesis flagship remains to be seen. At first glance, this car has moved the Korean automaker forward in a number of ways. It is the most cohesive design to date and genuinely looks good from every angle. It is pretty, sophisticated and balanced. The interior is just as refined, with an understated wood and leather finish, well-placed controls and plenty of room. It possesses technical sophistication, and a choice of V6 or V8 engines with 6-speed transmissions. The five-link front and rear suspension is designed to provide responsive handling and high ride quality. Features such as XM Satellite Radio with NavTraffic, Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFLS), Smart Cruise Control, a 17-speaker Lexicon Audio System, electronic active head restraints, and heated/cooled seats are all available in a car that is likely to go on sale at a starting price around $30,000. If Genesis drives as well as it looks, it has to be a fantastic value for money.

Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

It has taken a few years, but it appears that Mitsubishi is ready to do battle with the popular Subaru Impreza WRX with the new Lancer Ralliart. Designed to slot between the GTS and top-of-the-line Lancer Evolution, the Ralliart gets a new 235-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged engine mated to Mitsubishi’s fast-shifting Twin Clutch-SST gearbox. The transmission also operates in fully automatic modes for Normal and Sport driving conditions. Styling is similar to the EVO but somewhat understated, and, unlike the past Ralliart edition, this one gets all-wheel drive. Look for sales to begin later this year.

Nissan GT-R

When Nissan brought out its heart-stopping GT-R in Tokyo, the crowd went wild. It has now arrived in Detroit, holding court in the center of the Nissan stand, and we’re still in awe. Under the GT-R’s long hood is a 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine that puts out 480 horses. Sixty-two mph comes up in just 3.6 seconds on the way to a top speed approaching 200 mph. Power gets to the pavement via what Nissan calls the "most advanced four-wheel-drive system on a road car ever used." That's quite a claim, but the ATTESA E-TS system constantly varies the torque from rear to front, based on a variety of inputs including speed, lateral and transverse acceleration, steering angles, tire slip and yaw rate. Straight out of the video games and onto the street this summer.

Subaru Forester

Subaru’s Forester gets a major update for the 2009 model year with styling that not only ties in better with the rest of the Subaru lineup, it now looks more like an SUV. Larger than the previous generation, Forester gets chassis and suspension upgrades designed to deliver a sport-sedan driving experience. The new Subaru DC3 chassis, also used for the high-performance Impreza versions, gives Forester improved rigidity and a new double-wishbone rear suspension. Inside, the 2009 Forester is more comfortable and the dash styling reflects the twin-cockpit design that flows into the center console, first seen in the Tribeca and adapted to the new Impreza. Forester continues to be powered by two different horizontally opposed engines, including the 224-horsepower turbocharged option. Of course, all-wheel drive is standard.

Volkswagen Passat CC

Not content to just be the people’s car company, Volkswagen introduced this shapely, upscale Passat CC here in Detroit. Longer and lower than the Passat sedan, the CC has frameless doors, a steeply raked rear screen, a small integrated trunk spoiler and distinctive rear light clusters. The interior is all luxury with two sculpted rear seats providing a limousine-like feel. Sophisticated technology includes a lane assist system that applies pressure to the steering wheel if it detects lane drift, and Dynamic Drive Control that varies suspension and other settings in Normal, Sport and Comfort modes.
source: msn auto

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