onTheRoad – What’s Hot

In a few years, when we’re all driving tricycles powered by hydrogen-assist motors, we will look back on vehicles such as the Bugatti seen above and regard it as some sort of extreme performance art. Certainly, it is priced like rare art. You’ll need to step up to the counter with a quarter-million-dollar deposit just to get on the list for this latest opium-dream outrage from France.

Why would you need a 16-cylinder, four-turbo, 1,001-horsepower, thirsty-as-hell confection good for an honest–injun 250 mph? There are other ways to spend $1.3 million, but few offer such spellbinding pizzazz.

All across the automobile industry, a terrific horsepower race has been building. Many of the latest hybrids, including the unspeakably polite Honda Accord and the upcoming Chevy Tahoe, are actually using the technology’s silent assist for extra power; the fuel savings is just a bonus. Our highly wired nation has been eager to jump aboard, too. Even minivans have gotten more powerful — and more thirsty.

If fuel prices don’t drop soon, tastes will likely change rapidly, and the funky little runabouts seen in our story on concept cars will pour into automobile showrooms. Already, people are looking past SUVs for the latest in sports wagons, which is suddenly the hot, sexy corner of the lot.

Another market segment showing new life is the convertible. More than forty open-air models are being offered now, leading one to think that there are a lot of boomers cutting loose.

Do not look anytime soon for a ragtop version of the Bugatti. There is, however, a strong industry rumor of a slightly more modest $62,000 version in the works. We’ll take two.

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