Magnificent seven: The 2016 model-year cars we can’t wait to drive

In the bizarre world of the auto industry, the beginning of the 2015 calendar year is when car companies typically start promoting their 2016 models. It’s like living in the future … sort of.

Some carmakers have already released details on their big 2016 debuts, but haven’t handed the keys to any journalists, or let the public examine them in the metal. Others are complete mysteries set to be unraveled at upcoming auto shows.

To give you something to look forward to, here are seven of what we expect to be the biggest new-car debuts of the 2016 model year.

2016 Acura NSX

Acura NSX

With a concept version first unveiled in 2012, the new Acura NSX has had a very long lead time. It brings back Honda’s enthusiast-favorite supercar from the 1990s and early 2000s with a new twist: a hybrid powertrain.

So while the 2016 NSX will feature a mid-mounted V6 like its predecessor, there will also be assists from two turbos and two electric motors – including one that will power the front wheels for a supercar-worthy version of Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system.

Unlike the Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and Porsche 918 Spyder, the NSX should bring hybrid-supercar tech to the well-heeled masses. It will compete against “entry level” supercars like the Ferrari 458 Italia, Lamborghini Huracan, and Audi R8.

If the hybrid system turns out to be as clever as it sounds and the production car retains the concept’s knife-edged styling, the 2016 NSX could become another cult classic.

2016 Audi R8

2016 Audi R8 rendering

When the NSX arrives in showrooms, it will face off against another redesigned supercar brandishing green technology, the 2016 Audi R8.

The next-generation R8 is expected to feature updated versions of both the current car’s styling and its V8 and V10 engines. However, there are also rumors that Audi will finally pull the trigger on an all-electric e-tron version, based on years of development work the brand has already undertaken. Plug-in hybrid and diesel versions are also rumored.

With Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive, the R8 will also continue to be one of the only supercars a sane person would want to drive in the rain.

2016 Cadillac CTS-V

2016 Cadillac CTS-V

We already know all of the important facts about the 2016 Cadillac CTS-V, but it still seems almost too good to be true.

The CTS-V is like a four-door Corvette Z06, boasting the the same supercharged 6.2-liter LT4 V8 used in the 2015 Chevy Corvette Z06, tuned to 640 horsepower and 630 pound-feet of torque.

Channeled to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission, that will get the CTS-V from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds, and on to a top speed of 200 mph.

That makes the CTS-V one of the fastest sedans currently in production. Since it’s still a Cadillac, though, this particular fast sedan makes haste with all of the style, luxury, and American swagger one would expect of General Motors’ luxury brand.

The 2016 Cadillac CTS-V makes its official debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show in a few weeks, and starts terrorizing German sports sedan owners later next year.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

2016 Chevrolet Camaro rendering

With the rival Ford Mustang getting a much-publicized makeover for 2015, it’s time for the Chevrolet Camaro to get some updates as well.

The new Camaro isn’t expected to look drastically different from the current one (pictured above), but underneath the skin it will have an all-new, smaller platform shared with Cadillac ATS and CTS, which will help cut weight and perhaps make the Camaro less tank-like.

Expect a similar array of V6 and V8 engines – including replacements for the awesome Z/28 and ZL1 performance models down the line – with the possible addition of a four-cylinder option for better fuel efficiency, and to maintain parity with the Mustang.

After almost 50 years, could this be the Camaro that finally steps out of the Mustang’s shadow? We’ll find out in a few weeks when the 2016 model debuts in Detroit.

2016 Chevrolet Volt

2016 Chevrolet Volt teaser

It may not be as exciting as a supercar or hot rod luxury sedan, but the 2016 Chevy Volt is one of the most significant new cars set to debut next year.

The first-generation Volt proved not only that America’s biggest carmaker could build and sell an electric car, but that the complex extended-range powertrain conceived by its engineers would actually work. Now, it’s up to Chevy to take its creation from the realm of early adopters into the mainstream.

The next Volt will stay close to the original, with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine acting as a generator for the on-board lithium-ion battery pack, and an electric motor actually turning the wheels.

That engine and most of the powertrain components will be new or updated, and the styling will get some tweaks too. We’ll see just how much the Volt will change in Detroit.

McLaren Sports Series

2015 McLaren 650S Sprint

With the MP4-12C, 650S, and P1, McLaren has been on a roll lately. It hopes to continue that streak with a new, smaller model with the encouraging-sounding name Sports Series.

Previously known as the P13, the Sports Series will be based on the same carbon-fiber chassis that underpins all of McLaren’s other recent models. It will also get the familiar 3.8-liter twin-turbocharged, likely tuned to around 500 horsepower.

Best of all, the Sports Series will be significantly less expensive than the cheapest 650S, with prices expected to start around $200,000. Look for it at a major auto show next year.

Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X rear

Tesla’s winged electric crossover is scheduled to finally enter production in 2015. The Model X will feature the same dual-motor all-wheel drive system that wowed automotive journalists in the Model S “D” and, yes, the roof-honed “Falcon doors” from the original concept will be part of the deal.

The Model X has already been delayed multiple times, most recently because Tesla felt it needed more development time. Yet the company still plans to start deliveries in late 2015, unless it finds another reason to postpone.

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