Ring in the New Year with the Most Exciting Cars of 2016

2016 Ferrari 488

Another year has passed, and as time goes on things in the auto industry are starting to get a little shaken up. Yes, we did have a pretty great 2015, with some amazing cars leaving a lasting impression. But as we look forward to the upcoming year, we can expect auto manufacturers to yet again step up and produce some cars that can get us really excited. These cars have been on our radar for quite some time as they’ve been teased and previewed, but now it’s time to buy.

This year could prove to be even more pivotal to the auto industry as a whole, as it struggles to sort out some of the bigger question marks it has faced in its lifetime. Some of the cars that will be introduced this upcoming year are the realization of solutions to problems that have been debated for quite some time. Of course, an industry this size takes some time to change. The models on this list attempt to address some of those question marks in exciting new ways, and one thing is for sure: Some of the new models introduced next year will be pretty awesome.

2016 Mazda CX-3

New to the subcompact SUV market for 2016, the Mazda CX-3 remains loyal to the brand, offering aesthetic appeal, luxury options, and undertones of dynamic performance in a segment usually reserved for economy and utility. With only 146 hp, the CX-3’s acceleration is nothing more than acceptable for daily driving, but throw the car into a turn and the response will be a healthy amount of grip. Combining sharp angles and strong lines, the CX-3’s appearance sets it apart from competitors such as the Honda HR-V and the Jeep Renegade, but at a cost. Its 12.4 cubic feet of cargo space is limiting, and poor rear visibility will make parking just a little more challenging. That being said, with a length that is 12 inches shorter than the Mazda3, the CX-3’s small stature will make it easier than most to navigate tight spaces.

2016 Cadillac CT6

Cadillac has developed a reputation over the last century or so for producing some of the biggest and baddest luxury vehicles on the market. From the Eldorado and DeVille to the DTS and Escalade, Cadillac’s vehicles have also had a large presence about them. And the newly introduced Cadillac CT6 looks to bring a large, rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan back to the Cadillac lineup. The CT6 brings back some familiar design cues from the Cadillac portfolio, including sharp angles, narrow headlights, and a waterfall grille. Of course, as one of the more expensive offerings from a luxury manufacturer, the CT6 has a good mix of performance and opulence. It’s an exciting callback to the Cadillac of the past: size, power, luxury, and attitude.

2016 Jaguar F-PACE

The Ford Escape is a good, if not remarkable, automobile. However, through November 2015, Ford has sold over 275,000 Escapes, while Chrysler — a marque without a crossover — has sold barely 300,000 cars, total. Moral of the story: If you want to boost sales, build a crossover. Jaguar has renewed its efforts in the past few years to become a genuine competitor in the luxury market with cars like the XF and the F-Type, and now it’s bringing along the 2016 F-Pace to bolster the sales and provide the necessary cash flow to compete with Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi head on. Like most Jaguars, the F-Pace is beautifully styled and undeniably quick. Thanks to their unmistakeable popularity, the market for luxury crossovers is becoming decidedly crowded, but that’s alright with us. When it comes to vehicles like these, we say the more the merrier.

Lexus GS F

Seen at a glance, the Lexus GS F appears to be a dinosaur. It’s a front-engined, rear-wheel-drive sedan. It doesn’t offer an active suspension. And although the days of the naturally aspirated V8 may be numbered, the GS F still packs a 5.0-liter version pulled from the RC F. What we’re trying to say here is that dinosaurs are awesome. Beyond the old-school formula, Lexus has incorporated some impressive technology, such as its torque-vectoring differential. The GS F, like the RC F, is available in some pretty outrageous colors. This may be to help buyers view the brand as a little more exciting and dynamic — the biggest hurdle for a sport sedan like this will be convincing folks that the “L” on the steering wheel belongs there.

2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris

Now there are probably a good number of you who don’t think the new Mercedes-Benz Metris is very exciting… but you’re wrong. Mercedes-Benz is essentially making a minivan, and Mercedes is giving the S-Class treatment to an auto segment that has been waning for the last decade or so. Introducing the Mercedes-Benz Metris and Metris Cargo as a more consumer-centric Sprinter and Sprinter Cargo, Mercedes-Benz seems to be skirting the line of the traditional suburban minivan. The Metris brings this amalgamation of Mercedes-Benz’s luxurious build quality and a utility van’s no-nonsense practicality to the U.S. market in 2016. It’s perfect if you want a larger 7- or 8-person passenger van, but would feel a little silly buying the oversize Sprinter. It’s a very specific role that the Metris fills, but in doing so it has found the right balance between practicality and desirability.

2016 Toyota Mirai

The Toyota Mirai may turn out to be the biggest introduction in Toyota’s model portfolio since the Prius’ debut in 2001. We’re not sure the Mirai’s hydrogen fuel cell will catch on with the same fervor as the hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain did in the mid-2000s, but Toyota seems to be putting plenty of its green chips on hydrogen going forward. It’s a pretty decent choice as far as alternative fuels go, as it’s the closest you can get to ensure that no fossil fuels had any part in producing the power for your vehicle. And the Mirai is the most consumer-friendly FCV (fuel-cell vehicle) produced. Toyota has introduced a hydrogen vehicle with roughly the same range as a top-end EV for almost $30,000 cheaper. And Toyota is going to great lengths to ensure that early adopters of the Mirai will enjoy their experimental investment by offering three years’ worth of complementary hydrogen fuel. Which is good, because hydrogen fuel is relatively costly at the moment — Toyota estimates around $50 per fill-up.

2016 Cadillac ATS-V

A Corvette engine, Brembo brakes, magnetorheological dampers… Car and Driver described it as “A very scary sedan, but only if you happen to be employed by Mercedes-AMG, BMW’s M division, or Audi’s Quattro GmbH.” While it’s difficult to pick a decisive winner in an M5, E63 AMG, CTS-V comparison, the negligible performance difference between the three speaks volumes about how far Cadillac has come since first releasing the CTS in 2003. However, if the goal is truly to unseat BMW, Mercedes, and Audi, Cadillac needed something to slot lower in the pecking order. Enter the Cadillac ATS-V. We played with a pre-production ATS-V for the first time at NEMPA’s Ragtop Ramble this past July, and got our hands on one for a more extended experience at this year’s IMPA Test Days. The CTS-V’s 6.2-liter V8 has been swapped for a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6, but this car delivers an experience that manages to be simultaneously raw and refined. Consider the M3 officially on notice – 2016 will belong to Cadillac.

2016 Tesla Model X

Tesla’s luxury crossover has been on the horizon for quite some time. Elon Musk has been teasing the third model in Tesla’s portfolio and has finally delivered the first rounds of Model Xs to the buyers who pre-ordered it. As Tesla approaches producing mass-market vehicles, the Model X expands upon the underlying tech that has elevated the Model S into the forefront of the EV market. The Model X doesn’t quite fall into the affordable range, as its cost roughly aligns with price points of the Model S, but in developing the first truly electric midsize crossover, Tesla has introduced one of the best crossovers on the market in terms of tech and performance. The performance trim’s two electric engines can produce a combined 762 hp (259 hp up front and 503 hp in back) to get you from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds with Tesla’s infamous Ludicrous Speed upgrade. You can order a Model X today, but expect to wait until the latter half of 2016 and to pay around $100,000.

2016 Ferrari 488

How valuable can a soundtrack really be? Does the howl of a naturally aspirated, flat-plane V8 at 9,000 rpms really outweigh the performance benefits of two turbochargers strapped to a brand new, 3.9-liter V8? Prancing horse purists may argue that, yes, the legendary soundtrack is of paramount value to the brand, but we’re inclined to believe that the 2016 Ferrari 488 will be viewed as a step forward for Ferrari, rather than a dilution of the company’s legacy. Its redline dropped by a grand, but the new Ferrari is delivering 99 more horses and 163 additional pound-feet of torque than the outgoing 458. Sure, the chances of any of us taking one home in 2016 may be slim to none (read: none), but just knowing it’s available will make 2016 a special year.

2016 Ford Focus RS

Last produced in 2010, the 2016 Ford Focus RS is redesigned from the ground up, and for the first time in its existence, it will be available for purchase in the U.S. The Ford Performance team spent 2 and a half years developing the latest RS, and the result is a 350-hp all-wheel-drive performance hatchback, competitive with the Subaru WRX STI and Volkswagen Golf R. Ford went so far as to purposefully incorporate pops and burbles into the RS’s exhaust note. These effects are actually the result of incomplete fuel use, but who cares? That exhaust note sounds amazing. Between the nitrous blue color, burbling exhaust, and a special “drift mode,” there’s nothing subtle about the 2016 Focus RS, and that’s just fine with us.

What debuting 2016 model are you most looking forward to seeing and test-driving?

–Jake Hughes, John Harrington, and Matt smith

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