NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Super-premium-car makers are packing this year's models with space-age materials that make vehicles lighter, faster -- and ultra-expensive.
"The most noticeable trend (for 2012) when it comes to exotics is the push toward lighter-weight materials, especially carbon fiber," says Ed Hellwig of industry tracker Edmunds'
. "Most of these cars have used carbon fiber to some degree in the past, but now we're seeing entire cars built out of carbon fiber, which allows them to deliver higher performance with less horsepower."
Of course, sexy styling and the ability to reach speeds exceeding 200 mph don't come cheap.
LFA sports car starts at $375,000, while you'll have to pull $379,700 out of your wallet faster than Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes curves if you want to own the new
"None of these cars are truly worth their ridiculous prices in terms of their actual performance," Hellwig says. "It's all about the buyer's priorities."
Here's a look at four superluxury 2012s that Hellwig and Dan Roth of AutoBlog.com like, listed in order of price:
Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4
This supercar gets a nod from both Hellwig and Roth, who laud its carbon-fiber chassis, seven-speed transmission and 700-horsepower V-12 engine.
Named after a bull lauded for its bravery in a 1993 Spanish bullfight, the Aventador can go from 0 to 60 mph in about 2.9 seconds and travel as fast as 217 mph.
The two-seat sports coupe features "gull-wing" doors that open upward instead outward, giving the car the look of a bird with outstretched wings when the doors are open.
The Aventador also has racing-quality carbon-ceramic brakes, as well as two mufflers that screen out most engine noise while letting a distinct rumble known as the "Lamborghini sound" come through.
"This is easily the most technologically advanced car Lamborghini has ever built," Hellwig says.
You'll be the coolest soccer mom or dad ever if you pick Junior up in this $300,000 combination sports car/station wagon.
"FF" stands for "Ferrari Four," honoring the fact that the vehicle has four-wheel-drive and room for four people.
The model has a 651-horsepower V-12 engine, a 208 mph top speed and can go from 0 to 60 mph in roughly 3.7 seconds.
Luxury accoutrements include Frau aniline leather seats and a 16-speaker, 1,280-watt QuantumLogic surround sound stereo.
However, the FF also has plenty of family-friendly touches, from a 16-cubic-foot trunk to a rear-seat DVD system to entertain the kids.
"This is a car that represents a lot of firsts and superlatives for Ferrari," Roth says. "It's the first four-wheel-drive Ferrari (and) packs the largest engine of any Ferrari road car ever. There's probably not a (four-seat) car that can keep up."
This $231,000 coupe is the first new production model in some two decades from legendary British race-car manufacturer McLaren.
The MP4-12C features a steering system and carbon-fiber body based on Formula 1 racing models that McLaren has built.
The two-seater's 592-horsepower twin-turbo V-8 engine can go from 0 to 60 mph in about 3.1 seconds, with a 205 mph top-rated speed.
"The MP4-12C is a classic exotic," Hellwig says. "It's built in one of the most pristine factories in the world and uses some of the most advanced materials and construction techniques to deliver its incredible performance."
A "budget" exotic sports car, the Nissan GT-R costs just $96,820 -- but can go around 200 mph and accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 2.7 seconds.
"Perhaps the GT-R doesn't occupy the same realm as the hot-blooded Italians we all think about when it comes to exotic vehicles, but read the spec sheet and you'll agree that this vehicle (has) got it where it counts," Roth says.
Extensively updated for 2012 and slightly redesigned for 2013, the four-seat GT-R features improved seats and a better engine, suspension and brakes.
The 2013 version is hitting showrooms now, outfitted with a 545-horsepower twin-turbo V-6 engine, high-performance Brembo brakes and an 11-speaker Bose sound system.
"The price is still below 100,000 bucks, yet (the) GT-R will calculate and vector for you, making you a hero and giving those Europeans a hard time," Roth says.