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Best of the motor show

The world debut of a Lexus sports coupe is separated by one stand from a returning name in affordable fun, the Pulsar SSS.

Supercars stretch alluringly alongside family sedans. Auto exotica co-exist with humble hatchbacks. A good motor show is like that. Having been privy to every exhibit on view at the Australian International Motor Show, Carsguide was struck afresh that AIMS serves two purposes.

The first is to provide car porn, to enable you to stare wantonly without risking arrest or society's censure. The second reason -- and this, ultimately, is why car makers gather their wares in vast pavilions - is to show you the cars you're going to buy. Given this glaring polarity, there's no single list -- definitive, subjective or otherwise -- of the “best in show”. There must be two lists.

This year's AIMS marks the world debut of a unique, purpose-built and probably priceless German supercar and a little French five-door that's one of the best things you can get under $20,000. Batman's very own Lamborghini V12 is just across the room from Ford's 1.0-litre mini-SUV.

The world debut of a Lexus sports coupe is separated by one stand from a returning name in affordable fun, the Pulsar SSS. Take it all in. If you can't be there to see it in person, see our iPad app. If you are at Darling Harbour in Sydney over the next week, family in tow, Carsguide asks only that you remember the cars are not creches.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster 

Price: $600,000 (est)
Engine: 6.2-litre V8, 420kW/650Nm
Thirst: 13.3L/100km

Ably supported by two other special-edition AMGs, this topless, lustrous two-seater was created especially for AIMS. As with the Jaffa C63 and SLS Coupe of 2010, it comes with unique paint itself worth $20,000. See it while you can.

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Lexus LF-FC II 

Price: concept
Engine: petrol-electric hybrid
Thirst: N/A

A mid-size coupe that retains even half the styling cues of this best-in-show contender is what's needed to shed Lexus's worthy but unexciting image. The Lexus Future-Luxury Coupe II packs a hybrid drivetrain, good for more than 370kW combined that is put to the ground via all four wheels.

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Lamborghini Aventador  

Price: $754,000
Engine: 6.5-litre V12, 515kW/690Nm
Thirst: 17.2L/100km

This very bull-mobile appeared as Bruce Wayne's daily driver in that ultimate comic character realisation, 'The Dark Knight Rises', fitting in seamlessly with the usual array of stylised fantasy devices. It's in an all-star cast with two special Gallardos - a 550-2 Tricolore and a 570-4 Spyder Performante.

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Jaguar F-Type 

Price: $250,000 (est)
Engine: includes supercharged V6
Thirst: N/A

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be, a lesson brought home by Ian Callum's roadster. Sure, it's a spiritual descendant of the endlessly feted E-Type but, as the alphabetical designation conveys, it's moved on in the manner of all recent Jaguars. The F-Type reminds us that Indian ownership is the best thing ever to happen to this quintessentially British brand.

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Range Rover Vogue  

Price: about $200,000
Engine: 4.4-litre V8 turbo diesel
Thirst: 8.7L/100km

From Paris in autumn to Sydney in spring, the new Rangie makes its first appearance outside Europe. A stride forward in most respects but the newcomer's most significant advance could be in what it lacks over the previous model - some 400kg. The leaner, meaner but greener turbo diesel V8 is the variant on show, complete with power tailgate and sunroof.

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