From city runabouts to supercars, 2015 looks like being an epic year for new models. Here’s a run down of the ones you need to be getting excited about…
Lexus RC-F: With the BMW 4-Series and Audi A5 firmly in its sights, the Lexus RC coupe will bring hybrid power to the range, alongside V6 and V8 options. Right at the top is the loud, brash and fast RC-F – a car that might just give Lexus a little bit of excitement.
Mercedes-AMG GT: While the gull-wing doors of the SLS are now a thing of the past, Mercedes’ smaller and lighter sports car still looks fast, even when it’s standing still. Squarely aimed at the Porsche 911, the stunning GT gets 500bhp and with noise and performance to match, yet still squeezes in a sensible sized boot and a sumptuous interior.
Kia Sorento: Looking large and sharp, the seven-seater Sorento retains its four-wheel drive system and tough 2.2-litre diesel engine. That combination promises to be a tough challenge to the current large SUV favourite, the Hyundai Santa Fe, but time spent on refinement and sound proofing could give Kia the edge.
Nissan Pulsar Nismo: The regular Pulsar is a perfectly capable but ever so dull car that is in desperate need of some kerbside appeal. Enter Nissan’s tuning arm, Nismo, who have taken the family hatchback and injected it with 247bhp, uprated suspension, sports steering and some sharp styling. It’ll take on the best of the hot-hatches on sale, but you might want to wait for the Nismo R – that adds another 28bhp!
Honda Civic Type-R: Having one of the longest gestation periods known to man, the Type-R simply must be spectacular to live up to the hyperbole that’s built up. Quad exhausts and a MASSIVE spoiler hint at the performance that should be available, but 300bhp and a manual gearbox will get Type-R fans salivating. The infamous Nurburgring race circuit should be despatched in well under eight minutes – that’s quicker than a Ferrari F430!
Tesla Model X: A fully electric SUV with ‘falcon wing’ doors sounds like something from the future, but Elon Musk is making the Model X a reality. With a range in excess of 250 miles, and spacious seating for four along with a big boot, it’s a sensible proposition. It loses some of the ultra-high-tech goodies from the Model S, but the benefit is a price that should start around a more affordable £40,000.
Volvo XC90: An SUV so hotly anticipated that a special ‘First Edition’ model costing close to £70,000 sold out. Safety kit abounds, from automatic braking to energy-absorbing seats could make it the safest car yet seen, while Volvo also promises efficiency in the form of their excellent new D4 engine. A starting price of around £40,000 will make it more affordable, too.
Ford Mustang: For the first time in 50 years, the Mustang is coming to the UK. However, Ford is taking social responsibility to heart so you’ll be able to specify a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine instead of a howling 5.0-litre V8, if that’s your bag. Is a Mustang without an antisocial engine really a Mustang though? We’ll find out late in the year.
Jaguar XE: There’s been no baby-Jag for six years or so, which means the XE has to muscle its way back in to a market dominated by the German trio of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. With a new range of in-house Ingenium engines promising strong performance and excellent economy, Jaguar are confident they can take on the best in the market and win, but a face lifted BMW is due soon…
Land Rover Discovery Sport: The first of the new Discovery range, the Sport brings seven seats and oodles of practicality in to a package that looks like a shrunken Range Rover and covers rough ground as well anything else. That’s no bad thing, but moving what is the Freelander replacement upmarket and asking for more cash might worry a few.
Mazda MX-5: A legend within its own lifetime, the two-seater sports car from Mazda continues to dominate thoughts of those after something sporty yet still reasonably sensible. The new version takes a more revolutionary style than its predecessors, but the basics of low price, medium power levels and maximum fun should remain.
Fiat 500X: A hugely important car for Fiat, the 500X takes them in to the profitable small-SUV sector against the likes of the Nissan Juke and Skoda Yeti. We’ve taken an early look at it and it does more than enough to attract buyers.
BYD Qin: Arriving sometime in 2015, the BYD Qin is another Chinese effort to crack the lucrative European market. A plug-in hybrid, the Qin combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor to create a sporting saloon that’ll hit 60 in 5.9 seconds but return 177mpg. Expect its price to undercut the Toyota Prius by some margin.
Ford Focus: It may not be all-new, but there’s been so many changes to the Focus that Ford will tell you differently. We drove it last year, but you’ll now be able to get your hands on what is a fine family hatchback that ticks every box. Comfortable, good to drive, practical and doesn’t cost a fortune – the Focus outperforms the Vauxhall Astra in every way. Which brings us to…
Vauxhall Astra: Can the Astra finally rival Ford’s Focus? Vauxhall are counting on it, bringing in a new engine that’s a match for anything from Dagenham, while styling changes should bring the car bang up to date. Built in Britain, it could end up being a local hero.
Audi R8: Due to be revealed in March, the new R8 will borrow a chassis from the Lamborghini Huracan with a currently unknown engine mounted in the middle. There’s been an electric R8 produced in the past, so don’t bet against a hybrid version appearing. Whatever ends up propelling it, Audi is keen to keep hold of the everyday-supercar tag, so refinement and luxury will be key attractions.
Infiniti Q30: Hiding the Mercedes A-Class platform and engines underneath a sharply sculptured skin should be enough for Infiniti to finally gain some awareness in the UK, but will it be enough to attract buyers out of the BMW 1 Series and Volkswagen Golf? A high level of luxury should help sway a few.
Skoda Superb: You might not think of the Superb when you consider Skoda’s range, and that’s a shame. The huge saloon and estate models are more cavernous than a Volvo, more luxurious than and Vauxhall and cheaper than a Volkswagen. The new model will share a platform with the Volkswagen Passat, but stretched to free up more room, along with frugal and refined diesel engine options.