Buying a new car is meant to be an exciting experience, ending with you driving away in a shiny new model, free from faults and loaded with toys. But with the current market quite rightly fixated on running costs and emissions, car buying can start to feel like shopping for a household appliance.
But a car is not a washing machine (trust us, we test both). And despite the challenges facing the industry (the future of diesel and Brexit, to name but two), the onslaught of impressive and innovative new models arriving to market continues unabated.
Predictably, new electric models are the focus for many manufacturers, as the move away from combustion engines gains greater momentum.
Battery power is being embraced for its cleanliness and performance potential alike. It’s appearing everywhere, from first-car favourites, such as the Vauxhall Corsa, to Honda’s first electric car and the likes of the high-performance Porsche Taycan.
There’s plenty of life in the combustion engine yet, though, and the popularity of crossover and SUV models shows no sign of diminishing. Ford has even resurrected its Puma nameplate – first seen on a small two-door coupé – on an all-new compact SUV model.
For those who prefer their SUVs with a more utilitarian flavour, the long-awaited replacement to the Land Rover Defender also inches closer towards showrooms. Read on for more details.
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BMW 3 Series Touring
A conservative German estate car may not scream ‘new and exciting’, particularly when it’s so closely styled to the model it replaces. However, BMW’s new 3 Series Touring (estate) could well be one of the most well-rounded cars available.
Set to join the range in mid-2020, it will share its petrol engine and 39-mile claimed driving range with the current 330e saloon model.
Due in UK showrooms in September, prices for the 3 Series Touring are yet to be announced. But expect a premium of around £1,500 over equivalent saloon versions.
For this you’ll get a larger boot than the saloon – at a claimed 500 litres – and an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard across the range.
The original 1997 Ford Puma was a compact, sporty coupé that gained something of a cult following thanks to its deft handling and good value.
Unfortunately for keen drivers, the reboot is far removed from the driver-focused ethos. Predictably, the new model is yet another compact SUV.
What the new Puma does have in common with the old model is that it shares its oily bits with the Ford Fiesta small hatchback.
It’ll also share the car’s engines with the 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo Ecoboost motor – paired to a six-speed manual gearbox – currently the only confirmed powertrain option. This engine will be available in a variety of power outputs.
It’ll also be available as a mild hybrid, which recuperates energy lost during braking, boosting efficiency.
Ford is also claiming class-leading boot space, at 456 litres – something we’ll put to the test when we eventually get the Puma into our lab.
The Puma will be positioned to sit between the compact Ford Ecosport and mid-sized Kuga in the brand’s crossover range. Though it will have to be good to compete against all-new versions of the Nissan Juke and Peugeot 2008, which are also in the works.
The new Ford Puma is expected to go on sale at the end of 2019. Can’t wait that long? Discover the best compact SUV models we’ve tested – see our best small SUVs and crossovers.
Land Rover Defender
It’s been three years since the original Land Rover Defender went off-sale, and the Solihull marque has been taking its time developing a replacement to what is arguably one of the world’s most iconic vehicles.
Official information from Land Rover on the all-new model remains thin on the ground, despite a number of unofficial leaks. Hence the official photographs of the car show it still wearing its development camouflage paint.
What we do know is that there will be three body-styles launched: mid, short and long-wheelbase. The first is due to be launched in October, with shortened and extended versions joining the range in 2020.
It’s expected that the new Defender will offer a variety of seating options, depending on which size model you go for – with a maximum of eight seats in the full length Defender 110.
It will be geared for serious off-roading in inhospitable environments. But being a modern SUV, the Defender will be available with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain, as well as conventional petrol and diesel engines.
Prices for the new Defender are yet to be confirmed, but they are expected to be significantly higher than for the old model, starting at around £40,000.
Sitting at the opposite end of the large SUV spectrum is the all-new BMW X6.
When the first BMW X6 was launched in 2008, it caused some disquiet with its questionable aesthetics and compromised practicality, thanks to its sloping coupé-style roofline.
However, it’s proved such a hit that this third-generation model faces a raft of competition from similarly-styled luxury models, such as the Porsche Cayenne Coupé and Audi Q8.
Sharing styling themes inside and out with the recently launched BMW X5 and BMW X7 SUV models – not least an enormous, imposing front grille – the new X6 is longer than before. We’re keen to see how its aggressively raked rear roofline affects passenger space.
Luggage space shouldn’t be an issue, however. BMW is claiming the X6 boasts a boot capacity of 580 litres, rising to a maximum of 1,525 litres with the rear seats folded flat. Of course, we’ll verify these claims once we’ve fully tested the car.
Unlike the Defender, the X6 is very much designed for on-road prowess, rather than ability in rough conditions.
Instead of hardcore off-road kit, such as a low-range gearbox and locking differentials, it has sports-car style suspension, and a range of high-performance petrol and diesel engines.
Rear-wheel-steering can be fitted as an option, to aid manoeuvrability around town.
The new BMW X6 is available to order now, priced from £59,340. The first customer deliveries are expected in November.
Find out the current generation model fared in our comprehensive road and lab tests – see our expert BMW X6 review.
Honda is finally launching an electric car, in the form of the cutesy, retro-styled ‘E’.
Despite not officially reaching the UK until spring 2020, eager early adopters can reserve their car now, with a refundable deposit of £800.
The E uses a single electric motor, powered by a 35.5kWh battery pack, and drive is sent to the rear wheels. Honda claims the positioning of the battery pack and motor (the latter over the rear axle) gives a 50:50 weight distribution, which should benefit agility and handling.
The E has some neat futuristic touches – such as cameras in place of traditional door mirrors and a space-age dashboard display, made up of a brace of 12.3-inch screens.
However, causing concern for us is its 125-mile official driving range. While this would have been reasonable even just a few years ago, we’ve since tested models which manage more than 200 miles in our own, more stringent assessments – and they’re not all Teslas.
Find out which zero-emissions models we recommend – see our expert round-up of the best electric cars.
Porsche has a completely different take on the electric car. The forthcoming Taycan is the first pure electric vehicle from the German sports car manufacturer, and it’s currently only been teased in prototype guise and as sketches.
The full production version is due to be unveiled to the public at the Frankfurt motor show in September, ahead of a UK market launch early in 2020.
The Taycan borrows the four-door coupé styling of the larger Panamera, though will likely sit below that model in the brand’s hierarchy. Like the Panamera, a curvaceous estate ‘Sport Turismo’ model will follow, though not for a number of years.
Boasting an electric motor in each axle, the Taycan is four-wheel-drive, and like the Tesla, will be offered with a variety of power choices.
Full details for production models are yet to be confirmed, but it’s expected that the range-topping model will develop over 600hp, with sufficient performance to rival the brand’s current range-topping 911 sports cars.
Indulge yourself – see all of our Porsche reviews.
Back down to earth for a moment, for the all-new Vauxhall Corsa has been unveiled. A model that’s always been in the shadow of more fun and high-end alternatives, such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, the Corsa nevertheless remains a huge hit. It was the second bestselling car in the UK in June (after the Fiesta).
As the first Corsa model to be developed under Vauxhall’s new owners PSA Group (Peugeot and Citroen), there’s plenty to get excited about. Not least that there will be a battery electric model available from launch alongside conventional petrol and diesel versions.
The official driving range for the Corsa-e, as it’s being called, is 205 miles. Vauxhall claims this can be extended by as much as 40% by using the car’s Eco drive mode. That’s quite a claim – one we’ll put to the test when the Corsa-e makes its showroom debut.
While it may develop just 136hp, the Corsa-e benefits from the excellent low-down performance of electric engines. Vauxhall claims it gets from 0-31 miles in 2.8 seconds – which would make it a very nippy urban runabout.
Those not ready to make the switch to electric cars will have the choice of a three-cylinder 1.2-lite petrol, with either 75hp or 99hp, or a 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel with 100hp.
Vauxhall is yet to confirm exactly when the new Corsa will be reaching showrooms, but it’s expected before the winter.
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