In a world full of gas-electric hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fully electric luxury cars, even the most extensively refined internal combustion engines cannot match the smooth and silent push from an electric motor.

A new era is beginning for Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance division, kicked off in spiritual form by the all-new AMG GT two-seat sports car that hit the North American market in the spring, and in more practical form with the Mercedes-AMG C 63 sedan that arrived weeks later.

Any $300,000-plus car has to generate passion: an emotional yearning that leads seemingly rational, business-minded owners to spend a generous helping on one automobile. In the McLaren 650S Spider, the British company has created just such a beast.

Porsche’s revolutionary 918 Spyder plug-in convertible will ultimately be known for two mind-blowing achievements: first, for setting the fastest time around the famed Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit for a production car on street tires, at 6 minutes and 57 seconds; and second, for using less fuel than Toyota’s Prius hybrid.

Perched on the northwestern edge of the Grand Canyon, with our new 2013 Land Rover Range Rover dwarfed by 250-million-year-old salmon-to-rust-coloured rock formations, we may as well be on another planet.

The all new F12 Berlinetta is the most powerful Ferrari to slap on a licence plate—ever. Think about that for a second: more than the Enzo, that mythical low-volume V12 sports car that still draws oohs and aahs whenever it appears.

Mercedes-Benz’s droptop version of its fastest and flashiest SLS AMG coupe two-seater arrives for 2012 as a machine that’s about as quick as the coupe, but provides a more relaxed, enjoy-the-freedom driving experience at lower speeds.

Like all Land Rover Expeditions, the Catalonian Escape provides mostly city-dwellers (Land Rover owners or not) the opportunity to encounter a challenging outdoor environment with a luxurious approach.

The history of Mercedes-Benz is the history of the car itself. Since company founder Carl Benz became the father of the modern automobile with his three-wheeled Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 1886, followed months later by Gottlieb Daimler’s first motorized four-wheeled carriage, Mercedes-Benz has long placed a special emphasis on celebrating its past.

In the world of Ferrari, the cars and technology change, but the passion for performance always remains. And it comes through in ways subtle, and not so subtle.