Maxima plays up sportiness, a sexy Hyundai and more

What:Small two-door, four-door sedans. Pedigree:Introduced in 2000, the Focus got a significant update for 2008. Personality:A passel of young folks are falling for the Focus, with sales up 30% compared with last year. Ford says it's getting a growing number of buyers ages 16 to 35. When:On sale last November. Why:Because Ford needed a small car that could grab younger buyers, who tend to be loyal if they like a brand. Marquee feature:Ford's Sync technology, which lets drivers speak commands to their stereo instead of pushing buttons. How much:Entry-level two-door starts at $14,664, four-door at $14,995

Ford Verve

What:Subcompact sedan. Pedigree:The Verve concept will become the next-generation Ford Fiesta, starting in Europe later this year as a 2009. Personality:The sleek little car is aimed to attract even more young buyers than the new Focus. Ford even is considering bringing the USA a hatchback version, which traditionally has sold poorly here, because younger tastes are changing When: Goes on sale here as a 2010 model. Why:Ford is trying to win back street cred with younger buyers, who they hope will stay loyal to the brand Marquee feature:A panoramic glass roof and no side pillars between the doors, giving it an open, airy feel and a sporty look. How much:Not yet set.

BMW M3 convertible

What:BMW's signature open-air experience, will offer a V-8 engine and its first retractable hardtop. Pedigree:The fourth generation of the M3 convertible, which BMW aims to be a showpiece of high-powered engineering and droptop luxury. Personality:Young and racy, just like the Hollywood crowd expected to buy it. Just the car for a 30-something talent agent who aspires to be a movie studio chief. When: Will be in showrooms by summer. Why:Probably BMW's best weapon to keep its image fresh and vital, all the more necessary because of the challenge it is getting from Audi the same big-money party crowd. Marquee features:Instead of only offering a six-cylinder engine, the M3 convertible has a 4.0 liter V-8 engine that develops 414 horsepower. It goes from zero to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and hits a top speed of 155 mph. The convertible top stows in a compartment in the rear. How much:Expected to be mid-$60,000 range. The M3 sedan will sell for $54,575 and the coupe will go for $57,275.

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