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Geneva Motor Show preview: Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren to launch new models

The 2015 Geneva Motor Show is nearing, and Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche are lining up to debut new models

Sports car fans, now might be a good time to book a flight to Switzerland.

The 2015 Geneva Motor Show is a month away and already high-end brands such as Ferrari, McLaren, and Porsche are lining up to debut new models. It is de rigueur for the world’s elite automakers to save their most exotic model debuts for the annual Geneva show, and 2015 is shaping up to be no different.

Ferrari has announced that it will debut its new 488 GTB at the show. The mid-engine supercar is a heavily refreshed version of the 458 Italia, and now introduces turbocharging to the mix.

The 488 has a new 3.9-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 engine -- similar to the one in the lesser California T -- that makes 660 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque. That’s up from the earlier 458’s 562 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.

A seven-speed dual-clutch transmission has been updated, as has the Ferrari’s frighteningly capable stability control software. The 488 is about 22 pounds lighter than its predecessor, and its 0-62 mph time (which is 0-100 kph) drops to three seconds flat.

Ferrari also massaged the body of the 458 into the new 488. The hood, doors, and quarter panels are deeply scalloped to make room for new air intakes. The headlights and tail lights have been revised, and the interior controls have been subtly tweaked.

Pricing on the 488 GTB hasn’t been announced, but don’t expect it to be any cheaper than the $233,000 sticker price for the 458 it replaces.

More affordable is Porsche’s new Cayman GT4, also debuting at the Geneva show.

Starting at $85,595, this new track-oriented (but street-legal) coupe is the most extreme version of the popular Cayman that Porsche has ever built. It steals the 3.8-liter flat six-cylinder engine from the 911 Carrera S and wedges it behind the two passengers.

The result is 385 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds. Rear-wheel drive and a six-speed manual transmission are standard (sorry dual-clutch fans, Porsche’s esteemed PDK is not an option).

The car rides about 1.2 inches lower than a base Cayman, and it uses suspension and brake components from Porsche’s larger 911 GT3.

The Cayman GT4’s body has been modified for greater downforce, including the addition of a large fixed wing, and upgrades to the front and rear bumpers.

Porsche fans will note that this is the first time a mid-engine Cayman has been available with more horsepower than any version of the larger, rear-engined 911.

Though the base 911 currently has 350 horsepower, this unbalance in the force is widely expected to be corrected later this year when Porsche debuts a refreshed version of the 911 that uses turbocharging across the lineup for extra power.

The Cayman GT4 is set to go on sale in the U.S. in July.

Finally, supercar maker and F1 powerhouse McLaren will have a busy spring. It will use the Geneva show to debut the 675 LT, a lighter, faster version of its 650 S coupe. LT stands for Long Tail, which is a nod to McLaren’s racing heritage when it ran a long-tail version of its F1 supercar during the 1997 racing season.

The new 675 LT will have the same 3.8-liter, twin-turbocharged V-8 as the 650S, but it will make 666 horsepower rather than the lesser car’s 641. Torque clocks in at 516 pound-feet.

In addition to cutting the car’s weight, McLaren also updated the body to provide more downforce, though we’ll have to wait until closer to the show to actually see what the vehicle looks like.

McLaren will also debut the wicked track-only P1 GTR in Geneva, before turning its attention to the New York Auto Show in April. There, the automaker is widely expected to debut a new lineup of cars called the Sport Series. Aimed at the $150,000-$200,000 range, these cars will challenge the Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S, the Mercedes AMG-GT and the forthcoming Acura NSX.

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