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Boomtime for sports cars

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Toby Hagon and Richard Blackburn

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The next breed of fuel efficient sports cars is set to capitalise on record sales of cars designed more for fun than practicality - and the Sydney motor show gives a glimpse into our fast paced future.

Headlining the sporty charge is an all-new Ford Mustang that's likely to be sold in Australia for the first time in a decade, the latest high performance muscle car that teams go-fast ability with fuel sipping technology.

The new Mustang - which will borrow some design cues from the radical Ford Evos concept revealed at the Sydney motor show - is expected to be sold with the option of a four-cylinder engine.

Ford Australia designers have had an input into the look of the new Mustang.

"The car is done specifically to build on the heritage of Mustang and I'm sure that the Australian customers are going to absolutely love it if and when it comes here," said Christopher Svensson, Ford design director for Asia Pacific and Africa.

"I see a lot of Mustangs here in Australia ... they're just passionate about Mustang here."

Buying one could be the next challenge if sales of the latest newcomers are anything to go by.

Earlier in the year buyers were forced to queue for the quirky Hyundai Veloster sports coupe.

Its star status has since been overtaken by the Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins, which have revived the classic affordable, rear-drive coupe and has other manufacturers scrambling to copy the formula.

Subaru Australia managing director Nick Senior said there are currently 551 confirmed orders for the BRZ, taking the waiting list out till November 2013.

He said the company is desperate to free up demand, which is well ahead of supply globally.

"We're always trying to get more, always,"he said. "But not at the moment."

Waiting lists, though, are part of the appeal with sports cars, something car makers capitalise on.

"Our philosophy with BRZ is not to have one too fewer than demand it's to have two too fewer than demand."

Jaguar Australia says it has 900 expressions of interest in the new F-Type convertible, which is more than Land Rover Australia got for the Range Rover Evoque, a sporty-looking SUV that has been a runaway success.

Jaguar hasn't officially confirmed that it will follow up the convertible with a hardtop coupe, but it would be a major shock if it didn't.

The company is also working on a hybrid supercar, with a handful of prototypes undergoing testing.

If it gets the go-ahead it will compete against Porsche's upcoming 918 hybrid sports cars and other offerings from Ferrari and McLaren, which will also rely on petrol-electric power to reduce fuel use and boost performance.

Lexus revealed the LF-LC concept car at the Sydney show, a car with Porsche-beating power in an aluminium and carbon-fibre body.

"This vehicle is more than just a showpiece - it represents the next phase in the development of Lexus," said Lexus Australia chief executive Tony Cramb.

Jaguar design director Ian Callum says it will be difficult to make a business case for a supercar, but the company is capable of competing with the world's elite sports car makers.

"It's a phenomenal piece of engineering achievement and it's in progress," he says.

"Can we compete with McLaren and Porsche, the answer is yes we can."

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