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Top 5 Biggest Game Changers of 2013

These are the cars that have the potential for greatness.

New cars are launched every year, but only a few truly shake up their respective segments. These are the cars that force competing automakers back to the drawing boards at a frantic pace. 2013 was definitely a year full of some great reveals and, as usual, there were a few major standouts. So we created a list, debated hours upon hours, and arm wrestled over which five newly launched cars were the biggest game changers this past year. In no specific order, these cars have the potential for greatness.

After way too many false starts, Alfa Romeo finally unveiled its 4C coupe this past year. The wait was well worth it. Composed of enough carbon fiber to make even Horacio Pagani blush, the 4C is a two-seat, mid-engined sports car in the purest sense. Some say it’s a Porsche Cayman fighter, while others argue it’s in a class all its own. Whatever the case turns out to be, the 4C is a reminder to any competing automaker that Alfa Romeo has never forgotten how to build and engineer greatness.

And you thought we’d leave these two out of any top five list. The all-new BMW M3 and M4 are set to have their official live debut at Detroit next month, but their dirty secrets have already been fully revealed. Instead of E90/E92 predecessor’s naturally aspirated V8, the pair are powered by a turbocharged inline-six. Call it a big experiment as to whether turbocharging can serve as a permanent and worthy replacement for displacement. If all goes well, and it likely will, expect to see turbocharging as the primary source of extra power in both regular and high-performance cars.

After more than a decade-long absence, the Cherokee name returns to the Jeep lineup. Only this time it’s not a pure SUV, but rather a crossover. Brand purists aren’t at all thrilled, but Jeep needs for the new Cherokee to have mass appeal in a highly competitive segment. Unlike many of its direct competitors, the Cherokee also has a nine-speed gearbox and several different configurations to fit any lifestyle. Early reviews of the Trail Rated Trailhawk trim have been excellent, proving that Jeep may have just cracked the secret on how to build a CUV with SUV off-road abilities.

Who would have ever thought that a front-wheel-drive Mercedes sedan would fly off dealer showrooms at a high rate? That’s exactly what’s happening with the new CLA, a four-door coupe that’s not only affordable, but also packs plenty of luxury and performance abilities. It has a starting price of around $29k, and for those looking to upgrade from a VW GTI into something a little more adult-like, the CLA has been their answer. BMW has officially been put on notice.

The previous-gen Cadillac CTS was an incredible car, proving that America could build a luxury sport sedan capable of taking on Europe’s finest. And with the launch of the new CTS, critics and consumers alike have spoken: this car is better than its predecessor and just as good as its foreign rivals, if not better. Thanks to an optional twin-turbo V6 in the Vsport trim, the new CTS has officially verified that Cadillac is now playing with the big boys from Germany.

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