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High performers up to speed
A 6.0-litre W12 enables the Bentley GT Speed Convertible to hit 325km/h.

A number of jaw-dropping high-performance vehicles and concepts announced their arrival in Detroit.

Of note was the unveiling of the Bentley GT Speed Convertible, the world's fastest open-top four-seater.

Though Bentley claims to have improved fuel economy by 15 per cent on the Continental, the twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre W12 will still hit a top speed of 325km/h, offering a bit more intense wind-in- the-hair convertible experience than is the norm.

Also capable of setting a cracking pace is Audi's RS7 Sportback. Coming soon after the mechanically identical RS6 Avant was released last month, the RS7 will hit Australia early next year. Like the RS6, the RS7 has a 4.0-litre V8 producing 412kW of power and 700Nm of torque, which will see it reportedly hit 100km/h in 3.9 seconds.

That's faster than fellow Detroit debutants the BMW M6 Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG.

Chevrolet looked to its past by giving the new Corvette the same Stingray moniker as its 1960s model.

The all-new model shares only two parts with the previous-generation Corvette, boasting an all-new chassis and structure. It's the most powerful standard-model Corvette yet made, throwing up 335kW of power and maximum torque of 610Nm.

Unfortunately, there are no plans to bring the sports car to Australia.

Maserati used the occasion to officially reveal its all-new Quattroporte, which the Italian marque has aimed to be even more luxurious and better performing than the previous model.

Due to arrive in Australia in the third quarter of this year, the entry-level super sedan will have a twin-turbo, 3.0-litre V6. A 3.8-litre V8-powered version will also be available.

Despite being larger than its predecessor, the new Quattroporte is also lighter, meaning the V6 will reach 100km/h in 4.9 seconds and 4.7 seconds with the V8.

Possibly the most visually striking of the bunch is the BMW i8 concept roadster, which maintains its concept predecessor's striking looks and arguably surpasses them with its open-top design.

BMW claims the i8 is "the most progressive and innovative sports car of its time". A plug-in hybrid concept, it combines an electric drive system with a high-performance three- cylinder turbo-combustion engine producing 260kW of power.

This will get you to 100km/h in under 5.0 seconds all with the fuel economy of a small car.

Sam Jeremic