As we near the end of year, we thought it only right that we run through the new cars that you might be spending your money on in 2011.
There are some significant launches in 2011, one that’s destined to be one of the best selling cars of the year and the other that’s going to be the first step in changing the face of motoring forever and a third is just plain attractive! In terms of practicality, there are three new MPV’s one of which will be the smallest around, whilst the other two are brother and sister, and for good measure we have included a little detail about a 200mph super-car.
So below is our ‘dirty dozen’ in detail and a run down category by category of others cars that you can expect to see in a showroom near you in the next 12 months or so.
1) Ford Focus
Undoubtedly, the most important new car next year is going to be the new Ford Focus and we say that because even the current car still sells in bucket loads and whilst it might not be as avant-garde as the original Focus which was launched way back in the 90’s, the one thing current Focus does has in common with the original Focus is that it drives absolutely superbly. So the new car is going to have a lot to live up to.
Having said that, everything we’ve heard and seen to date is suggesting that (if its possible) the new Focus is even better to drive than the current car, its got a new range of engines and a much improved interior with a much more quality feel about it. However, it’s the styling that’s the massive change as it’s absolutely on message and bang up to date.
Price wise, it’s rumored that there is going to be pretty much a carry-over from existing Focus and if that’s the case, this is going to put the frighteners on its competition and assure Focus takes its rightful spot as the best selling car in its class.
The 5 door Hatch and 5 door Estate are both on the price-list for January 2011 and rumors say that they will be followed by a 3 door Coupe and of course a hot ST or RS version and we just can’t wait for that.
Focus will be in the showrooms around March 2011, but it’s my understanding Ford dealers will be taking order from January 2011 and this really is going to be the car to have, so please form an orderly queue!
2) Nissan Leaf – All Electric
I can hardly bring myself to talk about this because whilst for many, Nissan’s new all-electric zero emission Leaf is “genesis”, for others its ‘Armageddon’ as should this kind of technology take off, it will be banging another nail in to the coffin of the much loved internal combustion engine and be responsible for a complete and utter change in the way we way we use our cars and more frighteningly, a complete change in the way the government taxes us for the privilege and will see us ALL eventually paying road charges for every mile we drive.
Anyway as far as we can see the new Nissan Leaf is the cream of the first crop of these cars and that’s supported by it being awarded the honor of winning “The European Car of the Year” award. The Leaf goes on sale in early 2011 and yes, it’s a fairly decent thing to drive and it’s going to provide you with low running costs, that’s once you’ve got past the ticket price of around £30,000 which reduces to around £24,000 to £25,000 after you claim the Governments electric car subsidy, but any way you cut it, that’s one heck of a lot of money for a small family hatch, when a normally powered equivalent will cost you less than half of that.
I guess what we all want to know is how easy is something like this to live with on a day to day basis? They are range restricted (usually around 80 miles on a full charge on a good day) and if that suits your use, well that’s great. However I had a conversation recently with someone who works for a car manufacturer (it wasn’t Nissan) who had been involved in trialing the all-electric car they are introducing and he told me of the fear he felt when (despite planning his journey meticulously) he was still 10 miles from home when the car told him it had got 5 minutes power left!
Because everything electric runs off the cars batteries, should it rain and you need your wipers, or should it get cold and you need your heater, or get dark and you need your lights, well your car isn’t going to go as far as you anticipate. My contact at the car manufacturer told me that despite it being dark, the only way he got the car home was to turn off his radio, heater and headlights and run on sidelights. So an unexpected change in the weather it seems could leave you struggling to find the nearest quick-charge point or checking into a hotel! Cool that isn’t it.
Fact is, this is new technology and nothing ever ends up being as simple and reliable as it seems (and we haven’t even talked about the batteries yet) but if anyone can make one of these things work, well its going to be Nissan, so we feel that if you want to stick a foot in the unpolluted water of electric cars, the Leaf could be the one to go for.
There will be 24 Nissan dealers selling the Nissan Leaf called “EV dealers” and they will have specially trained staff and also have a fast charge facility which will allow EV customers to charge their Nissan Leaf up to 80% capacity in 30 minutes. This network of fast chargers will mean that over 90% of the UK population are no more than 50 miles from a fast charger.
I can’t however leave this topic without reminding you that these all-electric cars are not emission free. OK, nothing comes out of the back, but follow the “power trail” back to the power stations that produce the electricity these cars use and it’s a very different picture, its reckoned in France, where most power stations are modern, the Co2 an electric car equates to around 45g/km to 55g/km whilst in England, where our power stations are older and are a mix of different types, the footprint of an all electric car is actually 55g/km to 65g/km but in Germany, where the power stations are fairly old, the electric car footprint is around 65g/km to 75g/km.
Lots of manufacturers are going to be offering all-electric cars in 2011 and that includes, Peugeot, Citroen & Mitsubishi and whilst, they don’t expect to sell many, this type of car will be around for the foreseeable future. There is competition though, as already a number of conventionally powered petrol cars producing Co2 emission in the 80+g/km and that these are not range restricted, meaning you could use them visit your granny who lives 400 miles away. You have to ask yourself if cars like this with all their restrictions and their stupidly unrealistic price tags, and which still pollute because of their power source, and are wholly impractical for many motorists because of the range limitations, are the way forward.
So, if your daily use is way under the 80 mile or so range they seem to be able to cover, or perhaps, this is just going to be a second car or if you want to make some kind of statement of your “green-ness” maybe this is for you, but just like the Hollywood stars who like to say they drive a “Prius”, these cars do have a carbon footprint and whilst its lower than a conventional car, follow the energy pathway and these cars are certainly not zero emissions and I wouldn’t want to spend bucket loads of cash to become a pioneer for technology that isn’t solving the problem, for me, the trade off is just too big.
3) Range Rover Evoque
Whilst the Ford Focus, is the most important car launch of the year, if you’ve got any spark or interest in cars at all the launch of the new baby Range Rover ‘Envogue’ is the most exciting and, you’re going to just love the look of it. OK, it’s the smallest Range Rover yet but its available in 3dr Coupe or 5dr saloon and what a pretty thing it is and just how much would I love to have one? Well that’s not beyond the realms of possibility for unlike Range Rover proper which can run up to over £87,000 and Range Rover Sport than can top £65,000; it’s estimated this new ‘Envogue’ could have a start price of around £30,000 and if that’s true, its undoubtedly going to blow away all of the competition in its class.
There is going to be a three model line up the lead in ‘Pure’ the higher specified ‘Prestige’ and the moody looking ‘Dynamic’ and for sure you are going to be able to load them all with expensive bits if you choose to, but this car is going to be worth buying because of the way it looks and the image it portrays.
There will be three engine choices a turbo-charged 2.0 petrol producing 240bhp, and two diesels a 150bhp TD4 and a 190bhp SD4 and its claimed that the lightweight ‘Evoque’ will be the most economic Range Rover ever and amazingly the most efficient version will produce Co2 emissions of under 130g/km.
This is one of the first new models launched since Tata took over Land Rover and is going to be available from summer 2011. You won’t have to try too hard to spot one on the road, as I think they are going to be everywhere.
4) Audi A1
Ok, this car was launched in November 2010, but we have included it as new for 2011 as volume deliveries of Audi’s new supermini wont start until early 2011. The smallest Audi ever has been designed to draw people into the Audi brand at a much younger age so in the same way that a buyer might by a Vauxhall Corsa when they are 20 years old, a Vauxhall Astra when they are 30yrs old and have a family and a Vauxhall Insignia when they are 40 yrs old, with a bigger income. Audi felt they were missing out, because their entry car, the A3 was probably both too big and too expensive. Cradle to grave loyalty is what car makers look for and statistically, that’s often the case, as many buyers stick with the same make throughout their driving lives.
The A1 is Audi’s answer to cars like the Mini and perhaps Citroens superb DS3 but we have to say styling wise, it’s not going to appeal to everyone, but it is kind of quirky and of course, has the build quality and prestige of being an Audi. The most exciting A1 will be fitted with the 1.4TFSi that’s fitted in the Polo Gti and Skoda’s Fabia VRS but in the Audi, its going to chuck out 182bhp which is a lot in a car the size of a shoebox and as such, this fire breathing little hatch is going to do the 0-62mph dash in an extremely quick 6.9 seconds.
Good news for both Audi and A1 buyers is that Euro NCAP has just awarded the A1 a top score of five stars in its passive crash safety tests, making it one of the safest vehicles in its class for adult protection in a frontal, rear or side collision as well as for child safety and pedestrian protection.
Prices are going to start at a little over £13,000 for the 1.2SE and up to around £18,400 for the 1.4 TFSi S-Line with a 7 speed Tiptronic gearbox.
5) Vauxhall Astra 3 Door Coupe
New Astra is really the only viable competition to the ford Focus and Vauxhall are about to launch the 3 door or coupe version (what ever you prefer to call it) and if we know one thing, that’s that Vauxhall make very pretty 3 door coupe’s.
Combining the common sense values of the 5 door Astra with attractive sporty styling, the Astra 3 door is going to offer the best of both worlds for many drivers, however in exchange for that you lose 2 doors and most of the Astra’s versatility, but for many, that’s going to be a price worth paying, however don’t forget that when you come to sell it, there are going to be less people around looking for the 3 door than there would be the bigger, more useable 5 door version, so chance are, you’re going to get less for it.
We haven’t seen or tested the car yet, but we tested its 5 door brother and that impressed us a lot and it was a major leap forward from the old Astra it replaced. The Astra is a car you could easily live with on a day to day basis and it isn’t silly money. However, worryingly for Vauxhall is that whilst we thought the new Astra was pretty much on a par and as nice to drive as the old Ford Focus, there is an all-new Focus in March 2011, which we are promised drives even better than the old Focus and if that’s the case, its going to put Astra on the back foot a little.
So I guess if you are a Vauxhall person, you’re going to stick with what you know and what you feel comfortable with and indeed why shouldn’t you, for as we say, the Astra is a very good car and indeed. The new 3 door coupe version is going to be around £13,500 so offers you a lot of bang for your buck. Our only advice is, if you have your heart set on one, go out and buy it, but for goodness sake, don’t test drive the new Ford Focus before you do.
6) Lexus LFA
Got around £336,000 to spend on your next run about, well Japanese car maker Lexus might just have the car for you. Seems there are endless wealthy people around wanting to buy something a little unique and prepared to pay big money for it, so welcome to the Lexus LFA.
The LFA is a sports car, or should I say “super-car” and a pretty one at that, although to me, it does not look 300K’s worth (but then, what does). The rear wheel drive, front-mid engined LFA is built using carbon fibre technology and fitted with a high-revving naturally aspirated 552bhp V10, mated to a rear mounted 6 speed sequential automatic gearbox, stopping is courtesy of the cars ceramic brakes.
We had loads of information about the why’s and wherefores of this car and all this “form follows function” stuff, where we are told things like the door mirrors are shaped to channel air over the cars shoulders into the rear air-intakes, but frankly, we just couldn’t be bothered as the type of customer who’s going to buy this car, wont be reading our web page anyway, so we thought, because it was new, we would give it a mention, so at least you knew about it, just in case the 6 numbers come up.
Lexus say the car will run from 0-62mph in just 3.7 seconds and exceed 200mph and that’s mind blowing stuff. There is only going to be 500 built in total, so you need to be getting your order in as soon as possible. But, ask yourself this question, if you had £336,000 to spend on a super-car “would you spend it on a Lexus?”
7) Volkswagen Passat
So an all new VW Passat and indeed it’s a handsome thing with its understated, or should I say subtle styling and whilst it won’t appeal to everyone, we liked it. We thought it looked kind of classy, although it did share a lot of its design keys with the Golf. The best of the bunch will be the BlueMotion 1.6 diesel with its ‘stop-start’ and ‘energy recuperation systems’ which its claimed will make it capable of traveling up to 1000 miles between fuel stops (that’s on paper of course) but never the less that’s pretty impressive, considering the fuel tank inst on a bowser being towed behind the car.
We always like the old Passat, even if we really didn’t know why and being honest, we shouldn’t do because as a leasing company, we have experienced some horrendous repair costs on some of the cars we have leased out and often wished we had never seen them.
Drive wise, the old car was nice enough, but we always felt it was a touch old fashioned and there were a number of cars in its class that were a good deal nicer to drive than the Passat. In many cases, VW products are often sold on reputation alone and old Passat, (kind of supporting our experience), only made 50th position in the 2010 J.D. Power reliability survey making it less reliable than the Ford Mondeo (in fact, you had to go to position 21 in the research to find the first VW), and that’s probably not what your usual VW driver would have expected or imagined mainly due to the ‘super reliability’ myth which has been perpetuated for years now.
New Passat is bound to sell well and as the new car is an improvement over the old one, if you drive a Passat now, its likely you’re going to love the new car, but if you want to work your way up the J.D. Power list, you could consider the Ford Mondeo, or pop up 15 places and look at a Toyota Avensis, or jump up a massive 45 slots to position 5 and look at a Honda Accord.
8) Honda Jazz Hybrid
With a foot in either camp, Honda’s new Jazz Hybrid is going to appeal to a lot of drivers that want to send a message that they are green, but not yet ready to chuck in the internal combustion engine.
Fitted with the same 1.5 petrol engines and CVT automatic gearbox used in the Civic Hybrid and with an electric motor between them, keeping them apart, the Jazz with it light body is bound to deliver huge economy and great drivability.
OK, this might not look like the most exciting car around, but the Honda Jazz even in its standard petrol form is a stonking little car and its got legions of fans. The Jazz Hybrid however offers even more such as low road tax and big MPG and of course, its likely to be mega-reliable as existing Jazz was voted as the 7th most reliable car in the J.D. Power reliability survey for 2010 and that’s impressive.
Expect the Jazz Hybrid to start at around £16,000 and we couldn’t tell you not to buy one.
9) Ford C-Max & Grand C-Max
The old Ford C-Max was a great car to drive and live with, but it never really hit the spot for many of us in terms of styling. OK, it wasn’t unpleasant and its styling made best use of the space inside the car, but it didn’t appear as modern as some of its competitors. The other disadvantage it had was that it was only available in a 5 seat version, when most of its competition had a 7 seat option and whilst not everyone wanted or needed 7 seats, a good part of the market did and this put C-Max out of contention for many people.
Ford has however hit back with vengeance, launching one of the best looking, most innovative and up to date MPV’s in the class. OK, I know this was released in December 2010, but again, it’s only going to be in 2011 that you will see the new C-Max in big numbers, so it’s a worthy entry in this list.
We have already driven this car and what a nice thing it is. Wearing the Ford family uniform, the car is every inch a modern Ford, and you would certainly know the Fiesta, Kuga and soon to be launched Ford Focus came from the same stable.
Available as a 5 seat car, just called C-Max, or a 7 seat, called Grand C-Max, this pretty MPV will have a choice of 5 engines, three of them 1.6 petrol’s producing 105ps, 125ps or 150ps and the diesels are the 1.6TDCi 115ps or 2.0TDCi 140ps. Prices start from around £16,900 for the 1.6 Zetec 5 seat up to around £23,500 for the top of the range Titanium 7 seat with the 2.0TDCi 140 and Powershift Automatic Transmission.
Even if you are not a Ford fan, if you are thinking of this type of car, before you sign on the dotted line, you just have to look at new C-Max, as we feel it’s probably the best in its class and if that’s the case, it’s the one that’s going to hold its value the best, which means its going to be cheaper for you to own.
10) Mercedes Benz CLS
You either loved or hated the look of the original CLS that was launched back in 2004, personally, we loved it and indeed VW even tried to imitate in with the Passat CC and they say there is no better form of flattery!
The new car comes out in March 2011 and we think it’s a very attractive thing although you can see the current more aggressive Mercedes styling in the car and so we don’t think it’s quite as sleek as the old car. There is no doubt however those buyers who prefer a more stylish car are going to choose this over the more “saloon-ish” alternatives. However, this time round, the new big Merc is going to have competition from another German, as Audi’s A7 Sportback has entered the luxury four-door coupe market and we’ve seen that in the flesh and its one good looking car, bristling with technology.
The new Mercedes CLS should be available with a couple of diesel choices, the 2.1-litre and 3.0-litre and cherry on the cake for those of you with deep pockets, will be the 400BHP+ V8 that’s presently fitted in the CLS500, although reports suggest its going to be a bit better on gas than it presently is.
11) Toyota Verso
Remember the Toyota Yaris Verso? Well since that stopped production, Toyota havent had a mini-mpv to offer, but that’s all going to change from February 2011 when the new Toyota Verso S becomes available.
At just under four metres long this compact MPV offers enormous versatility for such a small vehicle, in fact it’s the smallest B-segment in Europe, so it’s no unwieldy barge. Despite that, there is enough room to fill it with its compliment of passengers and all of their luggage and that’s a trick worthy of Paul Daniels.
Engine wise there are a couple of options, a 1.4 diesel or a 1.33 petrol and both can be chosen with automatic or manual transmission. Figures on the 1.33 petrol with the optimal drive manual trans suggest from its 98bhp, you will get a combined average fuel consumption of around 51mpg and Co2 of 127g/km, but opt for the Multi-Drive S variable automatic transmission and economy goes up to around 54mpg and Co2 down to 120g/km.
What ever you choose, you can be sure of Toyotas legendary build quality and reliability.
12) Lexus CT200h
Not leaving the Toyota stable for the moment.
Lexus have announced the launch of their first ever “hatchback”. Built to take on Audi’s A3 and BMW’s 1 Series the new Lexus CT200h has a special quality they don’t have and the “h” in the name might be a clue? It’s a petrol-electric hybrid.
It’s pretty obvious where the technology for this new car comes from, as it’s a Prius wearing a Lexus frock, ok, a prettier frock, but never the less, expect a similar performance etc to that which you might get from the Toyota Prius, albeit, in a more prestigious brand and more nicely specified and of course, better looking (unless of course, you have a Prius in which case, the Prius is lovely).
Official Co2 figures suggest 89g/km which means no road tax and prices start at around £23,000 which is about £2,000 more than the top of the range Prius.
These are not the only cars you can expect to see in the showrooms for the first time in 2011, so let’s take a look, category by category at what we know is due and what’s coming after 2011.
BMW Isetta Early 2011
Fiat Giardiniera Mid 2011
Fiat Topolino Early 2011
Mazda 1 Early 2011
Peugeot 208 Early 2012
Renault Twizy Late 2011
Renault Zoe 2012
Seat Arosa 2011
Skoda Joyster 2012
Vauxhall Trixx 2012
Volkswagen L1 2015
Volkswagen Up! 2011
Small family cars
Audi A3 2011
Chevrolet Volt Mid 2012
Lexus LF-Ch 2011
Nissan Leaf Mid 2011
Saab 9-1/9-2 2012
Vauxhall Ampera Mid 2012
Family cars and compact executives
BMW 3 Series GT 2011
Renault Fluence 2011
Saab 9-3 2012
Audi A6 2011
Audi A7 2011
BMW 5 Series Touring Spring 2011