Are you considering making the switch to emissions-free motoring in 2020? From fledgling beginnings, electric cars are now a mainstay of most manufacturers’ line ups. The New Year promises an exciting new array of zero emission models, from premium hatchbacks to sports crossover SUVs.
Not all carmakers see battery electric cars as the future, though. Toyota has put its might behind hydrogen fuel-cell technology, and the second generation of its hydrogen-powered Mirai saloon will be in showrooms in a matter of months.
However, the reality remains that conventional petrol and diesel cars are currently the most convenient choice for the majority, and it seems there’s life in internal combustion engine yet.
From the humble Toyota Yaris, the practical Skoda Octavia or the svelte and luxurious Lexus LC500 Cabriolet, we’ve got plenty of new metal to look forward to.
Read on below for our highlights.
We reveal the very best cars you can buy right now.
Hyundai’s city car may sit at the very low end of the new car price spectrum, but the Korean brand’s all new model offers a lot for buyers on a budget when it arrives in showrooms early in 2020.
Being a tiny hatchback, don’t expect diesel engines or heavy hybrid systems. Peppy petrol engines are the order of the day and from launch there’ll be a choice of two: a 67hp 1.0-litre three-cylinder and a four-cylinder 1.2 producing 84hp.
Buyers will have a choice of either five-speed manual or automated manual transmission, which Hyundai claims saves weight over a traditional automatic. Though in our experience, these are usually not as smooth as the best torque-converter or CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) gearboxes.
Hyundai claims the new model’s extended wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) improves passenger space to the point where you’ll be able to fit two adults in the back row. Claimed boot space remains the same as before at 252 litres, which is large for city cars.
The biggest change for the new i10, though, is the sheer amount of technology that will be available. It comes with the same eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system as the bigger i30 hatchback, meaning Apple Carplay and Android Auto compatibility, satellite navigation and access to Hyundai’s subscription-based live services.
The safety kit tally has also been increased with the addition of autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection as well as lane-keep assist and an automatic high-beam.
Thanks to the popularity of compact crossovers, there are a dwindling number of super-small hatchbacks left on the market. The Ford Ka+ remains for now but the Renault Twingo has departed UK showrooms. Thankfully, the new i10 looks like it’ll be a strong new addition to the market.
In the summer the i10 range will expand to include a range-topping ‘N-line’ edition. This will get a unique turbocharged 1.0-litre engine, as well as sporty styling inside and out.
This tiny city car might not seem the most obvious candidate for a hot-hatch makeover, but given the excellent job Hyundai has done with its larger i30 model, we’re certainly looking forward to it.
We’re driving the new i10 early next year. Head to our car reviews in late January for our first drive review.
While most manufacturers are placing their eggs in the battery EV basket, Toyota believes the future of sustainable mobility will be powered by hydrogen. The Japanese brand is getting ready to launch the second generation of its Mirai Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) saloon.
You could be forgiven for missing the last model – there are very few on UK roads thanks to high list prices and, critically, a current lack of hydrogen filling stations.
However, for those who don’t have a place to plug in a battery electric car overnight, cars such as the Mirai are likely to prove more convenient. They can be filled in just minutes, giving a usable driving range of around 300 miles.
Unveiled at the Tokyo motor show in October, the new Mirai exhibits much more swoopy, coupe styling than its rather more conservative saloon forbear. Improvements to the hydrogen fuel cells and larger gas tanks mean Toyota is claiming a 30% improvement in range over the older car.
The interior has been reworked, too, with the rear bench now accommodating three passengers rather than just two. Further changes include a 12.3-inch central infotainment display and a ‘wrap-around’ driver instrument panel
Not convinced whether a hydrogen car would be right for you? Find out how the first generation Mirai fared in our road and lab tests – see our Toyota Mirai review.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
The Ford Mustang may be the last bastion of affordable V8 petrol power, but Ford is taking the unusual step of expanding the model line-up with its latest electric car, the Mustang Mach-E.
Even more curiously, the new model isn’t a wide, sleek two-door, but a rather more in vogue coupe crossover. It’s just the start of Ford’s electric car plans, with the brand stating the Mach E will be just one of 14 new electric models coming to European showrooms by the end of next year.
Naming this new zero-emissions model ‘Mustang’ is a move likely to prove divisive amongst the Mustang faithful (of which, in Europe, there are admittedly not many).
But with a 465hp version on the way (lesser versions get 337hp) , it’ll have the performance to match its petrol-powered stablemate. Ford claims the Mach-E should be able to crack the 0-62mph sprint in less than five seconds.
The interior takes design inspiration from Tesla cars, with a pared-back design and a huge, portrait-oriented central touchscreen. Expect a large range of connectivity options, including smartphone mirroring through Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
Claimed range is 370 miles in rear-wheel-drive configuration (four-wheel-drive is also available) and with the larger, extended-range battery option. We’ll assess just how accurate this claim is as soon as we can get the Mach-E into our lab.
Prefer your American muscle cars with genuine V8 power? Discover how we rated the petrol Mustang coupe in our Ford Mustang review.
BMW 4 series
It’ll be available in both fixed roof and convertible guises, with the latter expected to feature a lightweight cloth roof in place of the folding metal structure fitted to the current generation.
Details are relatively thin on the ground, but what we do know is that the final design is expected to be revealed at the start of the year, with the car reaching showrooms in the first half of 2020.
The interior design is expected to mirror that of the 3 Series almost identically. The exterior design, however, is expected to be much more of a departure from what we’ve seen before.
BMW teased design elements of the new car in its Concept 4 design study (pictured here), which was unveiled earlier this year at the Frankfurt motor show.
The Concept model retains much of the traditional BMW design cues, including a rear-slung cabin and tight rear haunches.
New 4 Series shaping up to be a bit toothy for your liking? See what we thought of the current model in our full BMW 4 Series review.
Under VW’s re-invention of the Skoda brand, no model has exhibited its ‘simply clever’ ethos of effortless usability and practicality like the Octavia hatchback. From families and mini-cabbers to hot-hatchback fans, this versatile model has won plenty of fans, and there’s an all-new version waiting in the wings.
Sitting on the same underpinnings as the all-new Mk8 VW Golf, the latest Octavia will be available with a similar array of driver assistance technologies and all-important smartphone and media connectivity.
More importantly, however, the new Octavia will be available as a plug-in hybrid for the first time. Likely to be similar to the system seen in the Volkswagen Passat GTE, it will feature a 1.4-litre petrol engine and electric motor for a combined power output of around 200hp and an expected EV range of around 30 miles.
Unlike the Passat, however, the plug-in Octavia won’t sit as a range-topping model. Instead it will be available in a wide variety of trim levels.
Conventional combustion engines will make up the backbone of the range.
The full UK line-up is yet to be finalised but petrol engines will go as small as turbocharged 1.0-litre units with 110hp, although the 150hp 1.5-litre four-cylinder engine is likely to prove a better bet if you spend any time at all driving out of town. A 190hp 2.0-litre tops the petrol range for now.
Diesels (remember them?) are all four-cylinder and two litres in size with 115hp, 150hp and 200hp power choices.
A six-speed manual transmission is offered as standard, with a seven-speed auto available as an option.
Petrol buyers who opt for the automatic will find their car is fitted with a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which stores energy recuperated under braking in a small lithium-ion battery. This is claimed to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy, but we’ll determine that for ourselves once the car is launched.
Both hatchback and estate versions of the new Octavia are expected to appear in UK showrooms before June 2020. Prices are yet to be confirmed, but expect a starting price of around £20,000.
Find out whether you can save by opting for the current generation Octavia – or whether you’re just short changing yourself – in our full Skoda Octavia review.
Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet
Like them or loathe them, crossover SUVs are here to stay. Their popularity is only increasing, as car buyers flock to buy family cars that are unquestionably more fashionable than the humble estate car or people carrier.
Seemingly to prove that it really is the right car for every occasion, Volkswagen is offering a convertible version of its mid-size T-Roc crossover. That’s right, a high-riding, family SUV with a folding cloth roof – and one that can be opened or closed in just nine seconds at speeds up to 18mph.
At launch the engine range consists solely of a brace of turbocharged petrol engines: a 115hp 1.0-litre and a 1.5-litre with 150hp.
Both will come with a six-speed manual transmission as standard, while a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic will be available as an option. T-Roc Cabriolet models will be front-wheel-drive only.
The model isn’t entirely without precedent – Land Rover has done the same thing with the previous generation Evoque SUV – but it’s the first time a convertible crossover has been offered at this price point.
Full details for the Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet are yet to be confirmed, but the model is due to be launched in the Spring, with its showroom debut expected soon after.
Think this model is a niche too far. Head to our review of the standard VW T-Roc to find out what we thought.
At the more sensible (and premium) end of the crossover spectrum is the all-new Mercedes GLA. We were impressed with the first generation’s blend of practicality and upmarket feel, but in recent years it has lost ground to more youthful opposition from the likes of BMW and Audi.
This second generation version is here to redress the balance. Due to go on sale in the spring, it apes the styling of the larger Mercedes GLE and GLS SUVs and looks more like a conventional off-roader than its hatchback-on-stilts predecessor.
The compact dimensions remain, though, resulting in a chunkier aesthetic with more road presence. This in part is to visually distance it from the Mercedes A-Class hatchback, with which it shares many aspects.
Not least of which the interior, which is directly lifted from the hatchback model. Not that this is a bad thing, particularly in higher-spec models which come with two huge 10.25-inch display screens for a very high-tech feel. Lesser models gets seven-inch screens that look far less impressive.
Mercedes claims improvements to the GLA’s rear leg and shoulder room, while claimed boot space is also up from 407 to 421 litres.
From launch, engines include a turbocharged 163hp 1.3-litre petrol badged GLA 200 and the high-performance GLA 35 AMG, which not only comes a mighty 306hp 2.0-litre motor, but also four-wheel-drive for increased traction.
As the model arrives in showrooms, both front and four-wheel-drive versions of standard GLAs will be offered, the latter of which will let drivers adjust the proportion of power sent to each axle via the car’s customisable driving modes.
If you like the idea of a premium crossover, but don’t fancy a Mercedes, check out our full review of one of its chief rivals, the BMW X2. Otherwise, head to our roundup of the best small SUVs and crossovers.