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Motoring: Great cars you can buy now

Credit: Hyundai

Nauman Farooq considers the 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT to be an excellent value with pricing starting under $20,000.

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | February 18th, 2013

February 15 to 24 is the Toronto International Auto Show, which will showcase many new models that you'll be able to buy later this year and next year.

However, if you are buying a car right now, perhaps the following list will be of use to you.

After all, some of you may need to be making a car-buying decision right now. The following are my picks, all for different kinds of buyers, and I hope at least one of these appeal to you.

Economy Family Car
If you're looking to buy a new car and don't have a fortune to spend, not to worry — there are some really good cars on sale for under $20,000.

In my view, though, the best new car in this category is the Hyundai Elantra GT.

While there are three versions of the Elantra — sedan, coupe and hatchback (GT) — my favourite is the GT. Not only is the styling very attractive, but when you open the door, the interior is beautifully designed and quite functional.

There are cleaver features on offer too, like a driver selectable steering control (which allows you to choose how stiff or light the steering should be), a reversing camera that hides under the rear badge, panoramic sunroof and a world-class infotainment system with built-in navigation. Some of these items are optional extras, but it is good to know you can order them in such a car.

Powering this little hatchback is a 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 148hp, with power going to the front wheels via either a sixspeed manual or six-speed automatic gearbox.

While it is no rocketship for the road, I found the Elantra GT to offer decent performance with very impressive fuel economy (my week's average was just 8.2 litres/100km). On top of it all, it handles well and the ride quality is superb. This is truly an excellent compact car. Pricing for the Elantra GT starts at just $17,299.

Luxury Family Car
My pick in this category is quite unconventional and is a gamechanger in the automotive world. I'm talking about the Tesla Model S. This is not only an attractive four-door sedan with an amazing interior and gadgets not seen in any other car; what makes it truly special is that it is not a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid, the Model S is a pure electric car. It will take you roughly five hours to charge the car fully using a 220-volt outlet, and the top model with the 85 kWh battery can propel you roughly 480 km. That is truly impressive.

On top of its technology, the Model S is even fun to drive, thanks to blistering acceleration and the ride quality will shame many of the established brands' luxury cars. The Model S is on sale right now with prices starting from $64,500.

If you're looking for an SUV or CUV, perhaps the new Lexus RX350 F Sport will be to your liking. The RX series has been a very successful model for the brand since its launch back in 1999. Now in its third generation, the popular RX has received some improvements for the 2013 model year.

Exterior styling has been improved and the interior has been refreshed, but the main improvement is with its powertrain. While under the hood lies a familiar 270hp, 3.5-litre V6 engine, this model is now mated to a brand new eight-speed automatic gearbox. This not only improves the fuel efficiency of this model (city and highway combined average of 11.4 litres/100km during my test week), but also the performance. Having eight gears to spread the power allows this to be a quick vehicle, and when driven in sport mode, using the steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters, it is surprisingly fun.

As you would expect, it has all the usual refinements associated with Lexus cars and it has all the luxury gadgets you'd ever wish for. Pricing for the RX350 F Sport starts at $57,900.

Sports Car
Now for something truly fun. If you are in the market for a sports car, then look no further than the Audi RS5. Available in limited supply this year as a coupe or a convertible, this is the hottest and most impressive sports car for 2013.

There is just too much to love about this vehicle. It looks beautiful from every angle and has a luxurious interior that features the usual gadgets, and also a Bang and Olufsen sound system that sounds better than most concert halls.

The main appeal, however, is this car's engine and gearbox. Under the hood is a tweaked 4.2- litre V8 motor that generates 450hp. Power is fed to all wheels through the famous "quattro" system through a seven-speed dualclutch gearbox that swaps cogs faster than you can say "RS5."

This car can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in just 4.7 seconds, and goes up to an electronically limited top speed of 280km/h.

Being fast is one thing, but how this car behaves at speed is what sets it apart from the rest. No matter the speed, there is no drama, nothing to scare you — it is that well sorted. By removing fear, it allows you to enjoy its wonderful chassis, its precise steering and the wonderful noise coming out of its exhaust.

Of all the cars listed here, this is the one I wish I could keep forever and ever. If only I could afford its $77,000 base price.

I hope this list will be of help to those who are looking to buy a car right now. Tune in next week to read about cars you'll be able to buy in the near future.
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