Fashionable, fast and sexy describes all of these compacts
CASEY WILLIAMS | Auto Reviewer
If you want to play hard with today’s compact autos, you better come packing full pockets. Fashion mall interiors and runway-stunning exteriors complement a pretty package under the hood. If you are looking for a little fancy date, unzip one of these hot rods.
Mercedes-Benz CLA45. Mercedes subjected its all-new compact CLA to a round of AMG bench-pressing. The bad boy spanks it with a 335 horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that clips off 0-60 mph in 4.5s, revs to 155 mph and is hand-built in the “one man, one engine” AMG tradition. A 7-speed transmission with rev-matching, all-wheel drive and curve assist keep wheels on-pavement. Performance exhaust elicits a roar worth marrying. Check LED taillamps, AMG wheels, carbon fiber ground affects and sporty interior. Prices start at $47,450, but the reserved CLA250 begins under $30k.
VW Beetle GSR. Only 3,500 of these trouble bugs will be built. Sporting a yellow-and-black color scheme, GSR takes cues from its ’70s namesake. A large rear spoiler, 19-inch alloy wheels and black-painted brake calipers are contemporary. Interiors add sport seats and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Fender audio, navigation, sunroof, Bluetooth and heated seats put luxury in your space. The turbo four-cylinder engine delivers 210 horsepower and 0-60 mph in 6.6s. Expect to deliver $29,995 for a six-speed manual transmission or $31,095 for the DSG dual-clutch automatic.
Nissan Juke NISMO. “NISMO” stands for “NISsan MOtorsports,”which almost explains 18-inch charcoal alloys, cherry pop red mirror caps and aerodynamics enhanced with beefy body trim, spoiler, and rear diffuser. It drives like an AWD Star Wars TIE Fighter, despite its 197 horsepower 1.6-liter turbo engine. Fuel economy rates 25/30-MPG. Inside, the painted center console was inspired by a motorcycle’s gas tank, but real ecstasy comes from the Recaro-style seats, suede steering wheel, and thumping Rockford Fosgate audio. Press a button to toggle between three performance modes (if only your boyfriend were that flexible). Those under 30 nearly twerked to get a look. A loan under $28,000 is adequate.
Acura ILX Hybrid. Aimed at nearly-rich-under-40s, ILX is the most affordable Acura. One could choose 2.0-liter or 2.4-liter gasoline engines, but enviro-hotties shall go Hybrid. Count a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, electric motor, batteries and continuously-variable transmission. Save big with 39/38-MPG city/hwy. Heated leather seats that grip like a gym bunny’s forearm are swell. Technophiles steam over Pandora Internet radio, SMS text messaging, and available 360-watt audio. Traffic rerouting gets you anywhere without drama. Prices start at $28,900.
BMW X1. With prices starting under $31,000, the X1 is the full-pocketed crossover for those on half-empty budgets. Outerwear resembles the bigger X5; optional M Sport Line flaunts 18-inch alloys and body mods. Heated leather seats, iDrive infotainment control and Panoramic moonroof are delightful. The base 240 horsepower turbo engine shows spirit, but enthusiasts opt for the 300 horsepower six-cylinder. Eight-speed transmissions come standard. Activate engine start-stop technology for 24/34-MPG city/hwy. Start adding options and you’ll quickly have a $45,000 car. Choose carefully and keep loads of money in your tight little jeans.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 15, 2013.