The Los Angeles auto show may be known for its environmentally friendly vibe, but that doesn't mean there aren't fun cars on the show floor, too. The 2012 L.A. Auto Show is no exception, as more than a few automakers are rolling out high-powered sports cars that push the envelope of modern production cars. We selected the cream of the crop to show you just how good enthusiasts have it these days when it comes to serious performance cars for the street.
2014 Jaguar XFR-S
This was possibly the most overlooked high-performance car at the L.A. auto show. Like the SLS Black Series, the Jaguar XFR-S is a more extreme version of a car that's already a step above the standard model. The standard XFR builds upon the base XF by adding 40 more horses to the supercharged, 5.0-liter V8 engine along with a more aggressive suspension setup and 20-inch wheels and tires.
The XFR-S goes one step more extreme with an even more powerful 550-hp version of Jaguar's 5.0-liter V8 and a suspension that's been retuned to handle it. Jaguar says it's good enough for a 0-60-mph time of 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 186 mph. Carbon-fiber parts on the outside and contrasting stitching on the inside further distinguish the 2014 Jaguar XFR-S. Only 100 will come to the U.S. starting next summer, and prices will start at a cool $99,000.
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series
This is the ultimate version of the ultimate Mercedes-Benz. In case you're not up on your six-figure sports cars, the SLS AMG is the modern interpretation of the company's classic gullwing coupe from the mid-'50s. The standard version is already a performance monster thanks to a 6.2-liter V8 that produces 583 horsepower, but the Black Series takes it a few steps further.
The engine was tweaked to produce another 39 hp for a total of 622 horses, while the overall weight was reduced by just over 150 pounds. It's hard to notice, but the body is slightly wider than a standard SLS, too, while the suspension is significantly stiffer as well. Oh, and the "Comfort" mode of the adjustable suspension has been eliminated since you probably have an S-Class for that if you can afford the roughly $250,000 price tag of the Mercedes SLS Black Series.
2014 Nissan GT-R
If you think you've heard this one before you're not alone. The Nissan GT-R has been getting almost yearly upgrades since it was introduced in 2009. This time around it's much of the same formula: small tweaks designed to deliver incremental performance gains to a car that's already one of the most extreme sports cars in the business.
Revisions to the spring and damper settings were made that slightly reduce the car's center of gravity, while the front end gets a few new bushings and a beefed-up antiroll bar. There are no engine upgrades, but that's not surprising since the GT-R was boosted to 545 hp just last year. The brakes and transmission carry over as well. If you want something noticeable you'll have to look to the interior, as the 2014 Nissan GT-R gets a new Premium Interior package that adds red accents throughout the cabin.
2013 Porsche Cayman
This new sports car isn't nearly as extreme as the Mercedes and GT-R, but the new Porsche Cayman is easily one of the best combinations of extreme performance and everyday drivability. Available in both standard and high-powered "S" models, the 2013 Porsche Cayman uses its midengine layout and compact dimensions to produce exceptional handing and a glorious shape.
Even the standard model is fast. It produces 275 hp and can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. Of course, that's not enough for Porsche, so the Cayman S will offer 325 hp and drop the 0-60 time by half a second. Both models will offer both manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions, along with options lists that could nearly double their prices. That's no small task given that the new Porsche Cayman starts at $53,000 for the base model.