In the future Rick Deckard hunts replicants through Los Angeles, RoboCop fights crime in Detroit, Soylent Green is people and there is a seventh-generation Corvette. In the far-off tomorrow of about 14 months from now, the only things that are certain are that there will be at least a dozen exciting new, 2014 model cars hitting the street and that Red Lobster will be featuring several tasty dishes based on a new six-eyed species of codfish.
What follows here is something more than pure speculation — it's the truth of what's about to come. The general outlines of all these cars are known and many of the details are, too. Not everything is locked down and certain, but by this time the OEMs have committed to all the production tooling and are deep into planning their launch marketing assaults. These are cars for which the wait will be worth it.
And 14 months isn't that long to wait. After all, the zombie apocalypse is probably at least 16 months away. Probably.
14. 2014 Ferrari Enzo
It's unlikely this supercar will be called Enzo, but this is the Ferrari built to succeed that now decade-old legend. As with the Enzo, its structure will be carbon fiber, with the mid-mounted V12 engine a stressed member. But that V12 should displace about 7.3 liters, rev to nearly 10,000 rpm and make something like 800 horsepower.
But beyond that 800 hp, the new Enzo will feature a Formula 1-style Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) that adds a battery pack and electric motor to the drivetrain. So when that 800 hp just isn't enough, the KERS components will kick in to provide an additional burst of 120 hp. You know, for when you really need 920 hp.
If you want one when it goes on sale early in 2013, don't expect much change from your $1 million bill. So bring two with you.
13. 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C
If Alfa is going to come back into the American market, it needs to do it with a car that's spectacular. That's two Cs in "spectacular" and this Alfa has four of them.
Think of the midengine, rear-drive 4C as the four-cylinder Ferrari that Ferrari doesn't build and you've got a solid bead on what Alfa is trying to accomplish. Shown in concept form at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show, the 4C is built around a carbon-fiber center tub with front and rear aluminum crash structures bolted to it. And it's small — think Fiat 500 minus 8 inches of height — so it should weigh in at under 2,000 pounds when it enters production.
Power for the 4C comes from a 1.8-liter turbocharged-4 making around 230 hp. It will be backed by a dual-clutch automated manual transmission. The light curb weight means performance should be more scintillating than the engine's modest output suggests. Our guess is a 0-60 time under 5 seconds.
Production of this gorgeous twerp will be limited. And with prices starting about $50K, the 4C won't be cheap.
12. 2014 Jaguar F-Type
Jaguar makes a play to save its own soul with the introduction of the all-new 2014 F-Type roadster. It's a pure two-seat sports roadster powered by a new supercharged V6 (if history matters we're guessing a 3.8-liter displacement) that should make around 380 hp. With its compact size, eight-speed ZF transmission and open cockpit, it's philosophically closer to a Porsche 911 than to a high-end exotic. So expect it to be priced like the 911, with prices starting in the $80K range.
11. 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish
Forget Aston Martin's half-measure DBS. The Vanquish is roaring back packing a new version of Aston's 6.0-liter V12 rated at 563 hp. Vastly more voluptuous than previous Astons, the new Vanquish will need to impress with its all-carbon-fiber beauty — because 563 horses may not be enough.
Aston has already announced pricing. Just bring $279,995 plus tax and license to your local dealer if you want to drive one home.
10. 2014 Cadillac CTS
The current, second-generation Cadillac CTS sedan is the backbone of the GM luxury division's sales. So don't expect Caddy to screw too much with the CTS's personality as it transfers the car over to the new Alpha architecture. It should, however, be significantly more refined in appearance, feature the CUE touchscreen driver interface, and have an interior that stresses elegance over gimmicks.
The most intriguing element of the next CTS will be a twin-turbocharged edition of GM's direct-injection V6 to replace the current car's 3.6-liter, naturally aspirated engine. By knocking displacement down to 3.0 liters and adding in GM's new seven-speed automatic and/or manual transmissions, fuel economy should rise up toward 31 or 32 mpg on the freeway without a significant loss of performance.
As to the CTS-V, that will have to wait until 2015 to appear alongside whatever higher-output Corvettes show up.
9. 2014 SRT Viper Roadster
The original 1992 Dodge Viper RT/10 was a roadster. And the 2014 SRT Viper will also be available as a roadster. Just think of the Viper coupe shown at this year's New York auto show — with its 640-hp, 8.3-liter V10 and hard-core chassis intact — but with a roof that goes down. That is all.
8. 2014 Chevrolet SS
The Pontiac G8 lives!
And like the G8, the upcoming 2014 Chevrolet SS sedan is a product of GM's Australian Holden division and essentially a reworked version of what's sold there as the Commodore. It's also the same car upon which the current Caprice police vehicle is based. That's no bad thing. After all, the Commodore's basic chassis design (which also underpins the Camaro) closely resembles that of a BMW 5 Series, from the MacPherson struts up front to the multilink system holding up the tail.
The SS will use a slightly shorter wheelbase than the Caprice police car, but under the hood expect the same engines that the cops get. That means base power will likely be the direct-injection 3.6-liter V6 making, say, 323 hp, with the Camaro's 6.2-liter 426-hp V8 optional.
And yes, the SS will be the car upon which all of GM's NASCAR teams will base their racers starting with the 2013 season.
7. 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class
The most Mercedes of all Mercedes, the S-Class, is going all-aluminum. The new range will, as usual, be vast, starting with diesel V6-powered lopers used as livery service vehicles in Berlin and rising to AMG-tuned, twin-turbo V12 wonderwagens. But all versions — even the inevitable hybrid — will benefit from a new aluminum structure that knocks weight off the still-big sedan without compromising structure or safety.
The most interesting S-Class variant may well be a rumored "Pullman" model that will take over for the failed Maybach models that are being euthanized. Riding on a wheelbase stretched out beyond even the long-wheelbase S-Class, the Pullman may be the car to buy if you're looking for a good Christmas gift for the Pope.
6. 2014 Scion FR-S Cabrio
Every motor journalist's favorite car of 2013 — whether it's a Subaru or a Scion — will be beheaded for 2014. Except for the new soft roof, don't expect a lot of other changes in the structure and substance of the FR-S. The 2.0-liter flat-4 engine will still be in front, the wheels in the back will still be driven and the handling will still be mind-bogglingly entertaining.
But that's only the start of the good news that's coming for these twins. See, there's this thing called forced induction...
5. 2014 Subaru BRZ STI
If there's one criticism of the Subaru BRZ that stings, it's that it doesn't have enough power aboard. Back in 2011 Subaru showed a lightweight BRZ STI concept with a tweaked valvetrain that the company said was good for 250 hp. That's up 50 horses over the regular BRZ, but hardly what the Subie hard-core have been hoping for.
Nope. What the enthusiasts really want is a blown Subaru STI with 300 or more hp. And the rumors keep coming in that that's what's actually coming. But don't necessarily expect it to be a turbocharger doing the heaving; there are some whispers out there that say a belt-driven supercharger will take up residence atop the flat-4. You know a blower, like on a Top Fuel dragster.
4. 2014 BMW M3 and/or M4
The BMW M3 is the fulcrum upon which the speed-crazed world rocks. And big changes are coming for 2014.
First, two-door versions of the 3 Series may become the 4 Series. And if it's going to be called 4 Series, don't be surprised if the M-version is called M4.
The sedan can still be the M3. If there is a sedan M3.
Second, the high-revving 4.0-liter V8 of the current M3 is dead, dead, dead. In its place this will be the first M3/M4 featuring a turbocharged power plant — two blowers heaving into a straight-6. The best guess at displacement is 3.0 liters and, thanks to the miracles of direct injection and variable valve timing, an output of about 450 hp.
3. 2014 Cadillac ATS-V
If GM is serious about meeting the German competition head-on with its ATS compact sedan, it needs an ATS-V that humiliates the next M3 (or M4) and RS4. Here's where the rumors and speculation stand.
The ATS is built atop GM's new Alpha platform, upon which the next CTS and Chevrolet Camaro will also be erected. That means the Alpha is flexible enough to accommodate engines ranging from Ecotec wheezer fours to the burliest V8s in the GM inventory — plus hybrids and diesels and anything in between. Of course the suspension and braking systems will be suitably fortified and the body aggressively redecorated.
The most reliable rumor-mongers have the ATS-V getting the same direct-injection, 5.5-liter, fifth-generation small-block V8 that's going into the C7 Corvette. If that naturally aspirated engine comes in around 460 hp, it would put the ATS-V a comfortable 100 ponies behind the supercharged 6.2-liter small-block V8 in the CTS-V. Throw in a choice of new manual or automatic seven-speed transmissions and it all sounds delectable.
2. 2014 Porsche 918 Spyder
Porsche has produced brilliant cars in the last 25 years, but it hasn't built a mind-blower since the 959 debuted in 1986. But the 918 Spyder promises to fry synapses and short-circuit temporal lobes with astonishing efficiency.
The 918 is the most aggressive application of gas-electric hybrid technology yet. There are two synchronous AC electric motors fore and aft to power whichever set of wheels is appropriate. And then when those dynamos are tuckered out, a 570-hp flat-crank, dry-sump 4.6-liter V8 derived from Porsche's endurance racers kicks in. But that only scratches the carbon-fiber surface of this car's technological wonderment, as computers balance everything from regenerative braking to steering effort and the actions of its seven-speed transmission to produce maximum performance.
For about $850,000, buyers of the 918 Spyder will get a car that should run from zero to 60 in under 3 seconds, hit a full bill (100 mph) in about 6 seconds, blitz across the quarter-mile in a touch over 10 seconds and cover the Nürburgring's Nordschleife circuit in 7 minutes, 22 seconds. Meanwhile, since it will operate electrically at low speeds, you'll be able to drive it to a Sierra Club veggie burger blowout totally guilt- and gasoline-free.
1. 2014 Chevrolet Corvette (C7)
About 59 years and three weeks ago, the first production Corvette popped off an assembly line in St. Louis, Missouri. What better way could there be for GM to celebrate the Vette's big Six-O than by producing the first seventh-generation Corvette on June 30, 2013?
Since Inside Line's C7 Intelligence Report last November, our conclusions have only grown firmer. The C7 will continue to be front engine, feature a rear-mounted transaxle and a backbone frame. The body will be all-new, but it will still be cast in genuine fiberglass. However, it seems increasingly clear that every C7's frame will be built from lightweight extruded aluminum and put a few more inches between the front and rear pairs of wheels. And the base engine is likely to be an all-aluminum, 5.5-liter, direct-injection, variable-valve timed, overhead-valve V8 — the first member of the classic small-block V8's fifth generation. Is 460 hp too much to hope for? And that new engine should be supported by new seven-speed manual and automatic transmissions.
As to the Z06 and ZR1, don't expect them for 2014. But sometime around 2015 one or both should reappear with a twin-turbocharged V8 making around 700 hp or more to humble the SRT Viper and Shelby GT500.