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Fun Cars to Enter the 2016 Marketplace

By Sue Mead, December 5th, 2015

Although it's well known that trucks and SUVs are the best sellers in America, a resurgence of fun cars -- convertibles, coupes and performance models -- are coming to the 2016 marketplace.

Let's take a look at some of new entries that invoke a more carefree lifestyle; all are improved and some are more luxurious and sexy than ever.

strong>Talk about a resurrection: Fiat is bringing back its 124 Spider nearly 50 years after its original introduction. Modeled on the same underpinnings as the popular Mazda Miata, the 2017 FIAT 124 Spider promises the ultimate Italian roadster experience with driving excitement, technology, and safety combined with Fiat's iconic Italian design.

Under its hood is a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo four-cylinder engine, the engine's first application in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle; it promises 160 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, and will be available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission when it arrives in dealerships in the summer of 2016.

Ford has launched a high-performance hot-hatch version of its midsize Focus, with RS tuning. Already a popular consumer hatchback in a competitive class, the sporty Focus RS gets enhanced aerodynamics and performance tuning, improved brakes, and better cooling for the 350-horsepower, 2.3-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged EcoBoost engine. Starting in the mid-$30,000's, the spirited 2016 Focus RS promises to be a top-of-the-line performance car.

Honda has just unveiled its 10th-generation 2016 Civic Coupe boasting two powerful and fuel-efficient powerplants, including the first-ever Honda turbo engine for the Civic lineup. The sporty new coupe boasts state-of-the-art connectivity with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and new Honda embedded navigation system by Garmin. The coupe promises a quieter ride and a more spacious cabin that grows by 8.4 cubic feet, with rear-seat legroom increased by more than 5 inches.

Mercedes-Benz brings consumers a number of new models, including the 2017 Mercedes C-Class and 2017 Mercedes AMG C63 coupes, 2017 Mercedes S-Class Cabriolet, and the 2017 Mercedes SL. The C-Class offers looks that thrill with performance to match thanks to 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine delivering 241 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque.

Since its launch in 2011, the C-Class has been Mercedes AMG's best-selling model, and the new AMG C63 takes its performance even further, with additional technical modifications and visual distinctiveness. Under the hood, the AMG C63 Coupe is powered by a high-performance 4.0-liter V-8 bi-turbo engine boasting 469 hp in standard trim or 503 hp in the C63 S model.

The new S-Class Cabriolet is the fourth variant of the current S-Class family in the U.S. market and the first open-top flagship four-seater from Mercedes-Benz since 1971. Who can argue with topless comfort for four, along with a 5.5-liter V-8 bi-turbo engine offering an output of 577 hp and peak torque of 664 lb.-ft., along with acceleration from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds?

Mercedes will also bring a refreshed version of its elegant SL roadster with a revised front end, sporty silhouette, enhanced technical and visual features, and a choice of 362-horsepower V-6 engine, or 449-hp V-8 engine, both paired with new 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmissions.

Two new Mini models from BMW are offered. All new is a 2016 Mini Cooper Convertible that comes with the choice of a three- or four-cylinder engine matched to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Standard are a 6.5-inch screen, Mini Connected, and a host of apps, among other goodies. It comes in 11 exterior colors, numerous interior seat options with different colored leather and diamond-stitching pattern, plus the option of a customized top that looks like the Union Jack flag.

The 2016 MINI Clubman grows into a bigger, four-door station wagon version of the hatchback Clubman and will have an extended cargo area, with two equal-sized doors at the rear. The Clubman comes with the choice of a BMW-developed three- or four-cylinder turbocharged engine, and with a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. The three-cylinder gets 134 hp and 162 lb.-ft. of torque; the four-cylinder S model sprints with 189 hp and 207 lb.-ft.

Mitsubishi is offering a re-designed 2017 Mirage with sportier looks outside; it features an available 300-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay inside, making it the first Mitsubishi vehicle to get this popular infotainment system in the U.S.

Porsche has added a new sports car for amateur and club racing to its motorsport fleet with the debut of its 2016 Cayman GT4 Clubsport. The 385-horsepower, 3.8-liter flat-six mid-engine entry-level racer is based on the successful street-legal Cayman GT4 sports car, but this is a virtually turnkey racecar that's not legal for road use. On sale to American motorsport enthusiasts, the new Cayman GT4 Clubsport racecar starts at $165,000.

Porsche also adds a new 2016 911 Targa 4 model. Initially designed for the U.S. market in 1965 as a "safety convertible," the Targa has developed into a showcase model of the 911 model series; with its fully automatic Targa top and traditional wide rollover protection bar, the 911 Targa combines classic design with state-of-the-art technology. The newest 911 Targa 4 promises a cultivated but high-performance experience with three powerful and efficient 3.0-liter six-cylinder bi-turbo engines and an advanced all-wheel-drive system.

Range Rover just launched its 2017 Evoque Convertible calling it "a convertible for all seasons." Styled with striking lines, the muscular cabriolet adds another dimension to the Range Rover Evoque name thanks to a power-operated z-folding top that opens at the touch of a button at speeds of up to 29 mph. Underneath its edgy sheet metal, the convertible features Range Rover's rugged underpinnings and a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine mated to a nine-speed powertrain, capable of accelerating from 0-to-60 mph in 7 seconds, with a top speed of 135 mph.

Volkswagen offers special editions of its popular Beetle: the 2016 Beetle Denim convertible pays homage to the 1970s Jeans Bug, and will be limited to 2,000 units in two exterior color options -- Pure White or Stonewashed Blue -- with a convertible top in a brand-new textured fabric that resembles dark blue denim.

Drawing inspiration from classic Baja Bugs, the 2016 Beetle Dune has a more aggressive appearance than the rest of the Beetle range, and is powered by a 1.8-liter direct-injection and turbocharged TSI four-cylinder engine, offering 170 horsepower and 184 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

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