With the new year comes a new batch of cars onto the market, and it’s already set to deliver a few gems. So which cars are members of our Car team most looking forward to getting behind the wheel of this year?
Our list consists of cars we know will be production-ready in 2011, and there are a few that haven’t been confirmed but we are hoping to see next year, too.
I’ll start the party and get the ball rolling with one of the most recognised cars on UK roads…
Rob Hull: Ford Focus
When a new Focus is launched, people pay attention. The new model is a nice progression in style compared to the previous shapes, but it’s the promises of an improved drive that excites me most. The Focus is already a class leader in this department, so any improvement should push the new version even further ahead of the competition. And the more executive-like interior looks like a massive improvement on the dated looks of the current car.
And of course, there will be a new fast Ford, the Focus ST. A claimed 247bhp at your right foot is enough to bring a cheeky grin to anyone’s face, but I’m interested to see how the new 2.0-litre petrol compares to the outgoing 2.5-litre Volvo-derived powerplant.
Richard Headland: Range Rover Evoque
Despite, rather than because of, the Victoria Beckham link, I’m actually looking forward to driving the new Range Rover Evoque. The compact SUV is a completely new direction for Land Rover’s luxury brand and is also the greenest Range Rover ever made.
I’m not convinced it’s practical enough for family buyers, but there’s no doubting its stunning, Bladerunner-esque looks. Land Rover should have no trouble filling its order book, despite the Evoque’s likely high prices. If you still need convincing, watch our preview here.
George Marshall-Thornhill: T.25
Presuming it reaches production in 2011, I’m looking forward to trying Gordon Murray’s T.25, a city car that’s as revolutionary in terms of manufacturing and design. Murray is looking for a licencing partner to produce the T.25 so we don’t know whose badge it will eventually wear.
The car itself is ‘modular’ in construction so it can seat anything from one to six people depending on specification. It’s tiny too – able to park end-on to a kerb (like a Smart) and the six-metre turning circle beats that of a London taxi. Despite astounding new developments to reduce both cost and weight it’s hoped the T.25 can achieve a four-star Euro NCAP crash safety result.
Claire Evans: 2011 Lotus Elise
As an urbanite with slight eco tendencies (which admittedly could easily be swayed if someone waved a set of Lotus keys under my nose), there are two cars I can’t wait to try. First the diminutive, ‘green’ Fiat 500 TwinAir and then the good-looking, compact Audi A1 – both offer a viable and interesting alternative to the Mini.
Given the chance to hit some open roads, I’d ditch the supermini keys for those of a seductive looking sports car with small car efficiency. The 2011 Lotus Elise still has all the power and styling of previous versions – 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and top speed of 127mph. But the new Toyota-sourced 1.6-litre engine cuts fuel economy down to 45mpg and C02 to 149k/km. This little pocket rocket is top of my New Year driving wish list.
Will McManus: Mercedes-Benz CLS
The car I’m most looking forward to in 2011 is the Mercedes-Benz CLS. Having never gone in for the wild praise given to the previous model, I wasn’t expecting it to be one of my highlights of the Paris Motor Show, but it really was.
It looks fantastic, being both classy and a bit futuristic at the same time, and it has an amazingly luxurious interior. This year I’ve also grown to appreciate comfortable cars, having previously been a devotee of the ‘the harder the better’ school. I’m expecting great things from the CLS.
Tim Pitt: Audi Quattro Concept
The car I’m most looking forward to driving in 2011 probably won’t hit showrooms until late 2012, but it should be worth the wait. Audi’s Quattro Concept was first seen at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, and is the German brand’s 100th birthday present to itself.
It uses the 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine from the TT RS to deliver 402bhp and 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds. The rest of the running gear comes from the RS5, but with 150mm chopped out of that car’s wheelbase for lighter weight and sharper handling.
It’s an edgy, 21st-century rework of the original Quattro coupé that makes the rest of Audi’s same-again range look crushingly conservative. Audi won’t be building the new Quattro for a while yet, but we hope to get behind the wheel in 2011. I can’t wait…
David Evans: Hyundai i40
The car I’m looking forward to driving in 2011 won’t necessarily turn too many heads. But it will take on the big hitters like Ford and Vauxhall and steps into what they’ve traditionally thought of as ‘their territory’ – the large family saloon.
Both these makers have been hit hard in recent years by BMW, with its 3-Series consistently out-selling both the Mondeo and Insignia. Now, all three will face stiff competition from newly established world-player, Hyundai, in the form of the new i40.
Hyundai has already shaken the market with its i10, i20 and i30 models and I believe they’ll complete the set with this car, offering state-of-the-art performance and a longer warranty, to rock the fleet market to its core. I can’t wait to see how the established players react…
Are you excited about any of these new car launches next year or is there a different model you’re looking forward to?