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Faster, and more furious: Performance cars from the New York auto show

With all the emphasis on eco-friendly cars at recent auto shows, we didn't expect to see so many performance cars in New York. But many automakers have souped-up versions of existing models on display, giving driving enthusiasts something to enjoy.

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Honda Fit Mugen

Anyone who knows Honda tuning knows the name Mugen. The company, started by the son of Honda founder Soichiro Honda, builds racing cars and aftermarket performance parts for Honda cars. At the New York auto show, Honda had a Fit kitted out with Mugen parts.

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Honda Fit Mugen

Mugen parts on the Honda Fit include the front spoiler and the grille. Inside can be found a Mugen shifter, with a shorter lever and quicker shift action.

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Honda Fit Mugen

The Fit also features a Mugen exhaust system, designed to increase engine performance, and 16-inch alloy wheels. The wheel design includes a mesh, letting brake heat dissipate fast.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI

Although the 2010 GTI gets some exterior styling changes, VW keeps the powertrain the same as in previous versions. The turbocharged direct injection 2-liter four-cylinder engine puts out 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI

As in the previous version, a six-speed manual is standard, with VW's Dual Shift Gearbox optional. The latter gets the car from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. Also, 17-inch wheels are standard, with 18-inch wheels available, and the GTI has an electronic locking differential to improve cornering.

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2010 Volkswagen GTI

The biggest change to the GTI is in the optional cabin electronics. VW is making its hard drive-based navigation system available, which we first saw in the VW CC, a big improvement over the current electronics.

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2009 Nissan NISMO 370Z

Nissan's in-house tuner department NISMO (short for Nissan Motorsports), got its hands on the new 370Z and gave it a performance treatment. Engine tuning upped the horsepower from 332 to 350. New alloy wheels were adopted to save weight.

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2009 Nissan NISMO 370Z

NISMO replaced the suspension springs and stabilizer bars for parts with increased rigidity, further sport-tuning the already impressive 370Z. New body work includes a longer nose, a rear bumper designed to increase air flow, and a rear spoiler for downforce.

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2009 Nissan NISMO 370Z

Other than NISMO branding, the cabin is little changed from the standard 370Z. But the NISMO trim makes the automatic transmission unavailable. We are OK with that, as the six-speed manual works beautifully.

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2010 Mazdaspeed3

We already saw it at the Geneva auto show, but had to take a second look at the new Mazdaspeed3. It uses the same direct injection turbocharged 2.3-liter engine as the previous model, but Mazda has restyled the front and included new electronics in the cabin.

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2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

Mercedes-Benz follows up on the launch of the new E-class in Geneva with an AMG version in New York. The AMG treatment gives the E-class a new engine and a uniquely designed electronically controlled suspension. While the front uses springs, the rear uses an air suspension that keeps the car at the same height no matter how many passengers it is carrying. The driver can adjust the suspension for sport or comfort.

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2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

AMG cars are marked by a hand-crafted 6.2-liter V-8 engine. The one built for the E63 puts out 518 horsepower, 11 more than in the outgoing version, and 465 pound-feet of torque. The engine bears a plaque engraved with the name of its engineer.

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2010 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG

AMG also gives the E63 a new transmission, a seven-speed automatic designed to make extremely fast shifts. Mercedes-Benz has swapped the torque converter in previous versions of this transmission for a multidisc wet clutch.

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Mitsubishi Outlander GT

Now that Mitsubishi has updated its Lancer model, it turns its sights on the Outlander small SUV. The GT model shown at New York is considered a prototype, but features the big grille, a similar style to that used on the Lancer. The prototype was introduced with 19-inch OZ racing wheels, but a Mitsubishi representative said those wheels won't appear on the production version.

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Mitsubishi Outlander GT

The Outlander GT is equipped with a similar all-wheel-drive system used in the Lancer Evo, and engine tuning increases the output of the 3-liter V-6 to 230 horsepower.

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Mitsubishi Outlander GT

Mitsubishi already made great strides in its cabin electronics in recent years, offering a hard drive-based navigation system. Capabilities are improved in the Outlander GT with a new media gateway, offering voice control and phonebook downloading for Bluetooth-connected cell phones. iPod integration is also available.

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2010 BMW X6 M

BMW showed up with an M version of its X6, the vehicle that defies classification. In this incarnation, the X6 has been given a twin turbo V-8 engine producing 555 horsepower, enough to get it to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds.

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2010 BMW X6 M

Keeping the oddly designed bulk of the X6 M on the road is a sport-tuned version of BMW's all-wheel-drive system. Four tailpipes increase exhaust flow, while a rear diffuser helps with aerodynamics.

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