Five cars we're excited about

Ferrari 458 Italia Spider

It's only a couple of weeks until the Frankfurt Motor Show begins, which means we're knee deep in press releases concerning the stuff that's coming up. And boy is there lots of good stuff. We've only got space for five highlights here, which means we've been forced to leave out the BMW M5, Land Rover Defender Concept, Aston Martin V12 Zagato, Bentley Continental GTC and, our particular favourite, the Maserati GranCabrio Fendi Edition.

Not to worry, here's the good stuff.

Renault Frendzy Concept

If this is what small, eco-friendly cars are going to look like in 20-whatever, then sign us up for Greenpeace. We're not quite convinced by Renault's justification of the shape, which it says is the 'fourth step in a design strategy based on the different stages of the human lifecycle', but we do like the results. Apparently this fourth stage necessitates a 37-inch TV screen in the bodywork and a BlackBerry PlayBook for the occupants. (The PlayBook is the Virgin Cola of the tablet PC world, if you're wondering.)

Kia Sports Concept

What's up with Kia? It's a question we've been asking for years, except now it's asked for a different reason, as in 'how come Kia's doing such exciting stuff?' Previously, the word “exciting” could have been replaced with an expletive of your choice. The latest bit of Korean excitement is this concept four-seat 'coupé' styled in the mould of the Mercedes-Benz CLS. What's more, Kia is cryptically suggesting it may actually be made. To buy and everything.

Jaguar C-X16

New E-Type alert! It's not the new E-Type, but that's what everyone (including us) will tell you it is, because it's a small Jag coupé. The C-X16 due to be released at Frankfurt will be very close to a production car, probably eventually named XE. See, an 'E', as in 'E-Type'. It's likely to hit the market at the back end of next year, priced to compete directly with the Porsche Cayman. There'll be a convertible too.

Ferrari 458 Italia Spider

And boom! There it is. We've always known that Ferrari would make a convertible version of the stunning 458 Italia - its predecessors have had open top versions - but we weren't sure it'd be this lovely-jubbly. The folding hard top will give it coupé-like refinement and rigidity (good for handling), but unlike some hard top convertibles, it doesn't look all awkward and bum-heavy. You know, like the California.

Porsche 911

Even though there's all that stuff about how lazy Porsche's design team is, blah blah blah, it's difficult not to get worked up about a brand new 911. Officially called the 991 generation (the logical next step from the current 997, obviously), it does all the right things: it looks the same but is model-for-model quicker and cleaner. It also debuts the world's first production seven-speed gearbox; we bet that ten years ago you didn't think that would be happening.

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