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Under the Hood

"Conservative company car" is just a secret identity.

Ever feel tempted to transform your business car into a souped-up sedan? You're not alone. Some of those sedate luxury models in office parking lots are really tigers under the hood. According to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (www.sema.org), the performance parts business has never been hotter. Previously confined mostly to exotic sports cars and coupes, the market for specialized engines, suspensions, brakes and wheels now includes power business cars. Whether direct from a dealership or tweaked by outside companies, your next sedan can feature greater acceleration, handling and performance.

If you're passionate enough to tweak your Lexus GS, check out the L-Tuned version (www.ltuned.com), with performance shock absorbers and road springs, recalibrated electronic steering, special wheels and tires, and discreet badging that signals you're a true enthusiast, among its components.

Cadillac's (www.cadillac.com) brand-new V-Series recalls the company's heritage as a pioneer in high-performance V-engine technology. The first in this new line will be the CTS, on sale in late 2003 as a 2004 model. Its performance package includes increased horsepower over Cadillac's standard engine, performance-tuned suspension, larger front air intake and dual exhausts.

The 2003 Mercedes-Benz (www.mbusa.com) S-Class includes the V-8-powered S55 AMG and the V-12-powered S600. The S55 has an optional new supercharged V-8 that pumps out 493 horsepower, and both the 363-hp S600 and the S55 are equipped with racing-inspired systems for sharper handling, plus active suspension that eliminates body roll in cornering and dive during braking.

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This article was originally published in the January 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Under the Hood.

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