Last week’s Paris Motor Show gave us plenty of new cars to salivate over and speculate about. Jet-powered super cars, futuristic ‘urban mobility solutions’ and road-ready racers are all very well, but they won’t all make it to real-world showrooms.
So for those of us who want to know about the motors that will actually go on sale next year, here are 10 cars we think will prove some of the biggest hits of 2011.
1 Ford Focus
Obvious? Perhaps. A guaranteed top-seller? Absolutely.
The new Focus updates the look of the current car without taking too many risks in terms of styling, which will probably suit most people. All new Focus models will gain more premium-quality interior, in an effort to take on the VW Golf.
And Ford claims it will improve on the already-impressive driving performance of the current model while using the new EcoBoost range of engines to cut emissions and retain performance.
The hot-hatch ST (above) is certain to set pules racing.
2 Nissan Leaf
Getting the first mainstream fully electric car to market will surely give Nissan bosses quite a lot to smile about when the Leaf goes on sale in early 2011.
We’ve already got behind the wheel of a Leaf, and found it remarkably easy to drive. And the fact that it will cost around £24,000 if buyers take advantage of the Government’s promised grants for electric cars, and low running costs, should bring it within the realms of possibility for lots of families.
How easy the Leaf will be to live with day-to-day remains to be seen, and Nissan still hasn’t confirmed how much replacement batteries will cost. But despite those concerns, it currently looks like the car most likely to get motorists to switch petrol pumps for charging sockets.
3 Lexus CT200h
Lexus’s big, reliable saloons and great customer service have long proved popular – so it’s a bit of a surprise the firm is only just releasing it’s first hatchback. The CT200h will take on the BMW 1 Series and the Audi A3, and the ace up its sleeve is the fact it’s a petrol-electric hybrid.
It uses much of the technology from sister firm Toyota’s Prius to get an official CO2 emissions figure of 89g/km, which will mean free car tax. An entry price of £22,995 will also add to its appeal.
4 Range Rover Evoque
5 Mercedes-Benz CLS
Mercedes was undoubtedly ahead of the game when it launched the CLS in 2004 – the fact that Audi is only just launching it’s own luxury four-door coupe (the A7 Sportback) proves the point.
The all-new second-generation CLS, due on sale in March, is (we think) just as good looking as the previous model and should prove a hit among style-conscious buyers.
It’s set to get 2.1-litre and 3.0-litre diesel engines, plus the barnstorming V8 petrol from the CLS500, which will pump out 402bhp. Early reports suggest it will be sharper to drive than the current model, but more economical – Merc says CO2 emissions have been cut by up to 25%.
6 Toyota Verso-S
Toyota has been without a mini MPV since it canned the Yaris Verso a few years ago. The new Verso-S looks set to follow in a similar vein, with a more conventional look combined with top notch reliability and practicality.
It will be offered with a 1.33-litre petrol engine or a 1.4 diesel; either unit can be specced with a manual or automatic gearbox.
7 Honda Jazz hybrid
It might not look the most exciting, but we’re looking forward to trying out the hybrid version of Honda’s Jazz.
We like the no-nonsense approach and rock-solid reliability of the conventional Jazz, so reduced running costs and a decent price tag of around £16,000 could see it become even more of a hit.
The car is based on the Honda Insight hybrid, and uses a 1.5-litre petrol engine, CVT gearbox and an electric motor sandwiched in between.
8 Audi A1 1.4 TFSI
Audi’s A1 premium supermini may be out in November of this year, but buyers who want to get their hands on the top-spec version, the 1.4 TFSI, will have to wait until early 2011.
The car is Audi’s answer to the Mini Cooper S. It gets the twin-charged (turbocharged and supercharged) 1.4-litre engine we’ve seen in the VW Polo GTI and the Skoda Fabia vRS, this time tuned to 182bhp for a 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds.
It promises to have a sportier suspension set-up and an even-plusher interior than the standard A1, plus a top-end audio system, different alloy wheels and restyled bumpers.
9 Vauxhall Astra three-door
While the standard Vauxhall Astra is finding plenty of buyers by being a good all-rounder, the three-door version will be more style-focused.
The Astra GTC Paris concept show at the Paris Motor Show gave a huge hint at what the finished car will look like – and we were impressed with its sharp styling.
We haven’t yet tried the car – or even had a look inside – but the show car’s distinctive exterior styling looks sure to tempt buyers. The Astra three-door should cost around £13,500 when it goes on sale.
10 Volkswagen Passat
The subtle styling of the VW Passat won’t appeal to everyone – it seems that VW has decided to make all of its cars look as much like a Golf as possible.
However, the new Passat should prove wallet-friendly. VW claims the 1.6-litre diesel BlueMotion version’s stop-start and energy recuperation systems VW will enable it to travel up to 1,000 miles between fuel stops. That would mean the average driver could go almost a month between visits to the local petrol station. Even if the real figures don’t quite match that, it should still be impressive.
We also like the neat automatic boot-opening feature that just requires a wave of your foot below the rear bumper – it should certainly come in handy when your arms were full of shopping.
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