Alfa Romeo has revised the Giulietta range with updated engines to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy, plus there’s a new 2.0-litre turbodiesel. The MiTo comes in for a mid-life facelift too with revised bumpers and standard rear privacy glass on all models. There is also a new version of the TwinAir engine with 105bhp and 99g/km CO2 emissions. The sleek 4C coupe is now on sale with a 240bhp 1750 turbo petrol engine, 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and 155mph top speed.
RANGE: Mito, Giulietta, 4C
ONE TO WATCH: Latest TwinAir engine offers punch and parsimony
Aston Martin has been very busy in recent months, culminating in a new engine partnership with Mercedes’ AMG division. Before we see the results of this, Aston has also added the V12 Vantage S to the line-up that is the company’s fastest accelerating production model with the exception of the limited edition One-77 that is now sold out. The V12 Vantage S sees off 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and has a 205mph top speed.
The rest of the Vantage range was updated earlier in 2013, while the DB9 received a more powerful V12 motor. Aston also refreshed the Rapide and added the S to its name to reflect its new nose and uprated V12 power unit.
Another new model derivation is the Vanquish Volante that adds fresh air appeal to the brutal power of its coupe sister. This Volante will be the first Aston drop-top to feature full carbon fibre bodywork, helping it from rest to 62mph in just 4.1 seconds.
For more space but with similar pace, the Rapide S is a 190mph luxury sports car that just happens to have four doors.
RANGE: Vantage, DB9, Rapide S, Vanquish, Vanquish Volante, Cygnet
ONE TO WATCH: V12 Vantage S is now Aston fastest ever production model
Audi never seems to pause for breath between launching new models and we now have saloon and cabriolet versions of the A3, plus an S3 model of saloon.
The A8 luxury saloon has also been given a mid-life update, with even better noise insulation coupled with lower emissions and improved performance. Another low emissions model is the A6 2.0 TDI Ultra that now offers 119g/km CO2 output and 64.2mpg.
High performance versions continue to thrill, with the S3 slotting in at the top end of the hot hatch market, while the RS4, RS5, RS6 and RS7 all use rapid fire V8 engines to offer storming performance.
The A3, A4, A5 and A6 ranges carry on with the good work of providing the backbone to Audi’s range, while the A1 is gaining more sales every day thanks to its compact size and low running costs.
Audi’s first diesel-powered S model arrived in the shape of the 309bhp SQ5 that uses a 3.0 V6 twin turbo diesel. It serves up 0-62mph in 5.1 seconds and 155mph yet can also provide 41.5mpg and 179g/km CO2 emissions. Another quick SUV addition is the RS Q3, which uses a 306bhp version of the TT RS’s 2.5-litre turbo five-cylinder engine for 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds.
RANGE: A1, A3, S3, RS3, A4, A4 Avant, S4, RS4, A5, A5 Cabriolet, A5 Sportback, S 5, RS5, A6, A6 Avant, A6 Allroad, S6, RS6, A7 Sportback, S7, RS7, A8, S8, Q3, Q5, SQ5, Q7, R8, R8 Spyder, TT, TT Roadster
ONE TO WATCH: A3 Cabriolet is classy, comfortable and cost-effective
For a company steeped in tradition, Bentley has been not held back when launching new models recently. The W12-engined Flying Spur provides the ultimate Bentley saloon. Its styling is more conservative than the Mulsanne’s, but a 616bhp engine and 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds is far from shy and retiring.
The rest of the range remains settled, with the Continental and Mulsanne models continuing to give Bentley customers plenty of plush fittings coupled to strong performance from V8 and W12 engines. If you want more go, the Speed models dish it up in abundance and there’s the new Convertible model of GT Speed for fresh air fans. A new V8 S model also promises 521bhp and 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds, along with a 192mph top speed.
RANGE: Continental GT, Continental GTC, Mulsanne, Flying Spur
ONE TO WATCH: V8 S should be the pick for power, performance and a smattering of economy
It’s non-stop at BMW at the moment thanks to the successful launch of the i3 and the i8 supercar is waiting in the wings for a summer debut.
Hot on the heels of the 4 Series Coupe comes its Convertible sister model and the 4 Series Gran Coupe that offers sleeker looks but much the same practicality as the 3 Series saloon. There are also high performance 425bhp M3 and M4 models on the way with the same turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine.
Fans of smaller coupes will delight in the arrival of the 2 Series, which replaces the previous 1 Series Coupe. It will spawn a small convertible model too
On the larger side, a brand new X5 is now on sale. It has similar looks to the outgoing model, but it is all new and will be the first X5 to be offered with a four-cylinder turbodiesel engine to slash emissions and increase economy. The X5 will give rise to a new X6 later in the year, while a revised X3 also joins the fun with lower emissions and better fuel economy
BMW has also refreshed the Z4 range with a mild facelift and the addition of a sDrive18i model that has a 156bhp version of the existing 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine. It’s very good to drive, but not quite as swift as you might hope given the car’s looks.
An updated 5 Series is in BMW showrooms, with improved fuel economy and lower emissions the key points for business customers who make up the bulk of 5 Series sales. Business drivers will also be keen to see the 3 Series facelift that comes in the summer.
A new X4 model also pitches up in the early summer in the shape of the X4, which is a coupe-like model based on the X3. Around the same time, BMW will launch its Concept Activity Tourer that will offer MPV levels of space and practicality. It will also be offered with four-wheel drive as an option.
RANGE: 1 Series, 1 Series Convertible, 2 Series Coupe, 3 Series, 3 Series Coupe, 3 Series Touring, 3 Series GT, 4 Series, 4 Series Convertible, 4 Series Gran Coupe, 5 Series, 5 Series Touring, 5 Series Gran Turismo, 6 Series Convertible, 6 Series GranCoupe, 7 Series, M3 Coupe, M5, M5 Touring, M6, M6 Convertible, X1, X3, X5, X6, X6 M, Z4, i3, i8
ONE TO WATCH: M4 Coupe promises to be a sensation high performance coupe
The Trax adds some compact SUV cred to Chevrolet’s range is very similar to its Vauxhall Mokka cousin. It offers a decently nimble drive, high-set driving position and plenty of kit for the cash.
The Cruze, Spark and Aveo carry on as the mainstays of the Chevy range, while the Captiva can deliver the goods both on-road and off. The Orlando adds some welcome extra value and style to the traditional people carrier market. Ticking the environmental box is the clever electric range-extender Volt, while it wouldn’t be Chevrolet without mentioning some genuine American muscle in the shape of the Camaro. You can also now order the latest Corvette from your Chevrolet dealer, though it will arrive with left-hand drive only.
RANGE: Spark, Aveo, Cruze, Trax, Captiva, Orlando, Volt, Camero
ONE TO WATCH: The Trax is ideally placed to capitalise on the growing popularity of compact SUVs
Chrysler’s range offers the Ypsilon compact hatch and Delta family hatch pairing. Designed to help boost sales in more mainstream markets, the cars distinctive looks and use Fiat Group frugal engines do much to help the cars’ cause in their high competitive respective markets. Last but not least, for many the company will always be famous for its Grand Voyager people carrier. This remains a staple of the range, now complete with a refreshed interior.
The 300C provides an alternative to the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class, while the Grand Voyager remains as one of the very few full-size seven-seat MPVs now on sale.
RANGE: 300C, Grand Voyager, Ypsilon, Delta
ONE TO WATCH: More sophisticated 300C is an intriguing alternative the mainstream executive saloons
Citroen’s new C4 Picasso and C4 Grand Picasso have sleek exterior styling and cabins that offer cunning seat folding options and versatility. They also come with very efficient new diesel engine options.
Just as stylish but more compact and style-driven is the new DS3 Cabrio, which has a full-length folding canvas roof rather than a completely convertible roof. This design retains much of the DS3’s decent driving manners while offering fresh air thrills and five seats.
Due in the summer, the new C4 Cactus is Citroen at its quirky best. It is some 200kg lighter than the C4 hatch to offer 91.1mpg and 82g/km CO2 emissions, yet it promises to be a fun drive. There is also Airbump technology to deal with minor parking knocks without damaging the bodywork.
RANGE: C-Zero, C1, C3, C3 Picasso, DS3, DS3 Cabrio, DS4, C4, C4 Picasso, C4 Grand Picasso, C5, C5 Tourer, DS5, Dispatch Combi, Berlingo Multispace, Nemo Multispace, C4 Cactus
ONE TO WATCH: C4 Picasso is a svelte, comfortable and practical MPV
Dacia has established itself as a serious player in the UK market thanks to its keen pricing, no nonsense approach to selling cars and, most importantly, some good cars. The Duster is the headline act, but the Sandero and pseudo-SUV Stepway model are also worthy of consideration.
There is also the new Logan MCV small estate, which is effectively an estate version of the Sandero that has a large boot and space for five passengers. As well as its generous room in a compact body, the Logan’s big draw is its low price. It has a choice of 0.9-litre turbo petrol or 1.5-litre turbodiesel engines.
RANGE: Sandero, Sandero Stepway, Duster, Logan MCV
ONE TO WATCH: Logan MCV is as practical as it is affordable.
The Fiat Panda 4×4 has become an iconic pint-sized SUV and to capitalise on this reputation Fiat has added the 500L Trekking. Based on the 500L, the Trekking is front-wheel drive only but with Mud and Snow tyres and Traction Plus it can tackle slippery lanes with ease. There is also the 500L MPW for seven-seat people carrier practicality in a funkier shape.
The fun 500 receives a mild facelift for the summer, while the Abarth models also enjoy some extra equipment and a limited edition 696 Anniversario model with tuned engine.
RANGE: 500, 500C, 500L, 500L Trekking, 500L MPW, Bravo, Doblo, Punto, Panda, Panda 4×4, Qubo
ONE TO WATCH: Updated 500 will keep the sales tills ringing
Ford has a facelift of its huge selling Focus on the way in the summer. As well as gaining the new family front grille, there will be a new 1.5-litre turbodiesel to replace the 1.6 unit.
Also set to arrive soon is the EcoSport compact SUV, which is based on the brilliant Fiesta. It uses the 1.0-litre Ecoboost turbo petrol engine in 99- and 123bhp forms, plus the new 1.5-litre petrol and diesel engines.
Another new addition is the Tourneo Connect and Grand Tourneo Connect models. While some may see them as vans with windows, this pair offer no-frills MPV usability coupled to low running costs and masses of cargo carrying capacity.
We’ll still have to wait until 2015 for the next Mondeo, but the current car continues until then alongside the C-Max, Galaxy, S-Max, Kuga, Ka and Ranger models.
RANGE: B-Max, C-Max, Fiesta, Focus, Focus Estate, Galaxy, Ka, Kuga, Mondeo, Mondeo Estate, S-Max, Ranger
ONE TO WATCH: Fiesta ST is huge fun and goes straight to the top of its class
The Honda Civic is the focus of the Japanese firm’s attentions with the addition of the Civic Tourer estate. It’s a keen rival for the new Volkswagen Golf Estate and Toyota Auris Estate, especially with Honda’s excellent new 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine. It will also be the first Honda to use the company’s Adaptive Damping System that offers comfort, normal and sport settings.
A brand new Civic Type-R is on the way with a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine offering 276bhp to take on the latest crop of hot hatches.
The recently launched CR-V is proving very popular with buyers and the 1.6 turbodiesel is a sound choice with this car, while the Jazz and Civic are both hard to fault in their respective sectors. As ever, the Accord, Insight and CR-Z are solid performers for Honda.
RANGE: Accord, Accord Tourer, Civic, Civic Tourer, CR-V, CR-Z, Jazz, Insight
ONE TO WATCH: Civic Type-R should be one of the best hot hatches
Hyundai has been enjoying a time of consolidation after a frantic period of revisions to the i20 and i30, as well as the new Santa Fe large SUV. That hasn’t stopped it adding the new I10 to the range that is a great city car.
The i40 in saloon and estate forms carries on impressing as a serious rival to the big players in the family car sector, while the i10 remains an appealing choice for small car buyers. Also keeping its place in the order is the ix35 that has been revised for 2014, while the i800 offers masses of space and the Veloster is a quirky take on the sports coupe.
RANGE: i10, i20, ix20, i30, i30 Tourer, ix35, i40 Saloon, i40 Tourer, Santa Fe, i800, Veloster
ONE TO WATCH: i10 is a superb city car thanks to low cost and high fun factor
The Infiniti Q50 brings the Japanese firm into the mainstream of executive saloon sales. It uses a 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine with 170bhp and 114g/km CO2 emissions to take on the BMW 320d and Audi A4 TDIe. There’s also a high performance hybrid model with 359bhp.
Infiniti’s G series range continues to offer saloon, coupe and convertible options, while the M saloon recently received a number of updates for 2013, adding to its already impressive kit list and value for money. A fast and economical hybrid version is available at the top of the range.
Another car recently refreshed is the FX large SUV model, which included subtle visual and mechanical updates. Smaller models, such as EX sports utility vehicle, ensure that there’s a car for every budget.
RANGE: Q50, EX, FX, G Convertible, G Coupe, G Saloon, M Saloon
One to watch: Q50 is appealing but now quite a match for the BMW 3 Series
While all of the high praise ink is still drying about the F-type roadster, Jaguar has launched the F-type Coupe. More than just a hard-top version of the roadster, the Coupe is an altogether sportier, even more focused machine that uses the same engine line-up as the open-top.
Also on a performance note, the XFR-S gains a 542bhp version of the XFR’s 5.0-litre V8 engine. The limited edition XKR-S GT uses the same engine to propel it from 0-62mph in just 3.9 seconds and on to 186mph. Only 10 GTs will sold in the UK.
Jaguar’s core XF and XJ models continue to sell well, with the recently launched XF Sportbrake estate providing another choice for those considering a BMW 5 Series Touring or Audi A6 Avant.
RANGE: XF Saloon, XF Sportbrake, XJ, XK, XK Convertible, F-Type roadster and Coupe
ONE TO WATCH: F-type Coupe has supercar pace and supermodel looks
Jeep re-enters the smaller end of the SUV sector when its Cherokee arrives in early summer with new turbodiesel engines that promise strong fuel economy and low emissions. It will also use the same nine-speed automatic gearbox as in the Range Rover Evoque.
The revised Grand Cherokee is easily spotted by its bi-xenon headlights and stylised LED daytime running lights. Improvements to cabin materials and driver’s seat comfort are welcome, but more notable is a new eight-speed automatic gearbox that works well with the 3.0 V6 turbodiesel engine.
The 468bhp Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT offers a pacey alternative to the likes of the BMW X6 M and Mercedes ML63 AMG, but the cabin lacks its German rivals’ appeal. We’ll also see new Compass and Cherokee models in showrooms soon with sharper looks and better driving manners. For ultimate off-road work, the Wrangler remains the stalwart’s choice.
RANGE: Compass, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, Wrangler
ONE TO WATCH: Luxurious Grand Cherokee offers the best of both worlds
A new Soul replaces the original in the spring of 2014 and promises to incorporate many of the styling touches from the Trackster concept. Also expect a range of more efficient petrol and diesel engines for this rival to the MINI Countryman.
Kia has finally dipped its toe in the hot hatch sector with the arrival of the Pro_cee’d GT. It’s not meant as an out and out rival to the Ford Focus ST or Renault Megane RS, but more of a warm hatch. With 0-62mph in 7.4 seconds thanks to a 201bhp turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine, the GT feels swift enough and it handles with composed agility.
Elsewhere, the rest of the Cee’d range is as good as ever and the smaller Rio is mature beyond its years. Build quality is excellent, it looks great and it gives a big-car feel over and above its price. Slightly larger is the Venga mini-MPV, with a spacious interior especially given the modest price tag. The Sportage SUV is now available with a new range-topping high-power diesel in conjunction with plenty of luxury touches. Kia’s flagship SUV, the Sorento, boasts improved exterior styling and sharper on-road performance.
RANGE: Optima, Carens, Cee’d, Cee’d SW, Pro_Cee’d, Pro_cee’d GT, Picanto, Rio, Sedona, Sorento, Soul, Sportage, Venga
ONE TO WATCH: Pro_cee’d GT is a temptingly able and affordable hot hatch
It would take something significant to knock the new Range Rover off the top spot of news from Land Rover, but that’s exactly what the new Sport does. Like its larger sibling, the Range Rover Sport has been on a drastic weight loss programme to shed more than 400kg over its predecessor. It shows in the far greater agility and better drive of the new Sport and its much improved economy and emissions figures.
The full-scale Range Rover is bigger, lighter, stronger plus more capable and luxurious than ever, so it’s destined to be the brand’s figurehead for some time to come. Contrasting the Range Rover’s clean sheet design, the popular Freelander has been given a subtle freshen up to maintain its competitiveness with a more efficient diesel engine.
Both the Sport and full-scale Range Rover are now offered with Hybrid power options to deliver better fuel economy and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Don’t forget the rest of the range, though. The Discovery continues to be a superlative all-rounder and also enjoys improved economy and emissions for 2014. Part people carrier and family wagon yet still capable of scaling mountains without breaking a sweat, it’s the affordable an accessible side of the brand. Lots of glamour comes in the shape of the Range Rover Evoque, while the Defender has its own sort of chic style thanks to its down to earth all-weather ability. The Freelander is also just as able as ever.
RANGE: Defender, Discovery 4, Evoque, Freelander 2, Range Rover, Range Rover Sport
ONE TO WATCH: Range Rover does it again with the brilliant new Sport
The CT200h hatch is the big news for Lexus at present. It has revised styling, an improved drive, more equipment as standard and lower prices. There are also changes to the cabin to make it easier to use and live with.
An all-new IS takes on Audi, BMW and Mercedes. It shuns the market standard of a diesel engine, Lexus preferring the IS300h Hybrid with 223bhp, 65.7mpg and emissions of 99g/km. The other IS on offer is the IS250 with 2.5-litre V6 petrol engine, but it’s ruled out of company car contention by its emissions and economy that are simply too high.
Keen to make a bigger impact in Europe, Lexus has taken a bold new direction with the latest GS, making it much sharper-looking and better dynamically. Familiar hybrid power remains, as does conventional petrol propulsion along with a new overtly sporty trim option.
Useful updates for the flagship LS saloon have resulted in an even more polished performer. More comfort and more luxury are givens, but the more aggressively-styled LS also boasts better driving dynamics. Keeping SUV fans happy is the familiar petrol-electric hybrid RX450h.
RANGE: CT, IS, GS, LS, RX
ONE TO WATCH: IS hybrid offers a different route to usual small diesel execs
Lotus’ latest way to offer supercar performance at almost attainable prices is the Exige S Roadster. It forgoes the coupe model’s large rear wing and prominent front spoiler in favour of a more subtle look, yet it still offers 0-62mph in 4.0 seconds and a 170mph top speed thanks to its 345bhp supercharged 3.5-litre V6 engine.
The ever-young Elise can be had with a supercharged version of its 1.8-litre engine which, predictably, delivers Porsche-baiting levels of performance and mile-wide smiles. For a more sophisticated experience, the Evora mixes much of the Exige’s performance in more rounded, everyday usable package that even offers four seats.
RANGE: Evora, Elise, Exige, Exige S
ONE TO WATCH: Exige S offers supercar pace for sports car money
A new Mazda 3 hatch follows the path laid out by the CX-5 and 6 models. It uses Skyactiv technology to reduce weight and maximise economy and efficiency through myriad small improvements rather than one big gesture. The result is a hugely impressive hatch that is great fun to drive.
Mazda’s sleek new 6 saloon and estate models show the Japanese firm knows how to mix practicality with style. They also combine strong performance with excellent economy and emissions thanks to the firms SkyActiv technology.
The CX-5 compact SUV also showcases SkyActiv technology. With a focus on high-efficiency petrol and diesel engines it’s also genuinely good to drive, with a slick gearbox and neat handling.
The Mazda 5 has brought extra style and practicality to the MPV sector, as it has a distinctive exterior design with the bonus of twin sliding rear doors. The latest 1.6-litre diesel engine also offers highly impressive economy and emissions for a car in this area of the market.
The iconic MX-5 is the roadster of choice for just about anyone who’s driven one, and is available with folding hard- and soft-tops as well as a choice of engines and a manual or automatic transmission. A limited edition run of 500 Sport Graphite MX-5s maintains interest in this evergreen model.
RANGE: 2, 3, 5, 6, MX-5, CX-5
ONE TO WATCH: New 3 hatch is brilliant to drive and very efficient
Mercedes doesn’t dare mess with the tried and tested formula of its C-Class, but that doesn’t mean the new model is dull. Far from it thanks to sleek looks and a relentless pursuit of ever more frugal engines that remain good to drive. Expect the estate model to follow soon after the saloon’s launch.
Mercedes is nothing if not prolific at launching new models. Hot on the heels of the refreshed E-Class saloon and estate comes the CLA compact saloon based on the A-Class. It’s a good looker and comes over as a scaled down CLS, and it’s also available in the high performance CLA45 AMG version.
This AMG model is closely related to the new A45 AMG, which is one of the hottest hatches around thanks to a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine with 360bhp. It sees the A45 from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and on to 155mph.
Following the lead of the E-Class saloon and estate, Mercedes has also revised the Coupe and Cabriolet models with new lights, grille and improved economy and emissions.
The SLS supercar has also been subject to improvements with the new GT model replacing the original. It has 20bhp more to make it a tad quicker off the mark and at the top end, but more importantly the 6.2-litre V8 engine sounds just as incredible as ever.
If you prefer refinement, Mercedes is launching the all-new S-Class, which could justifiably lay claim to being the most sophisticated, technology laden car in the world. It also happens to be great to drive and will be far more affordable than rivals from Bentley and Rolls-Royce.
Elsewhere, SUVs remain important to Mercedes with its R, ML, GL and long-running G Class models all offering large SUV buyers something different. A new SUV model is the GLA, which is based on the A-Class to offer a more compact and affordable off-road option. Coupes are another Merc forte thanks to the C Coupe, CL and four-door CLS, while open tops are taken care of with the SLK and SL that offer folding metal roofs for added versatility.
At a more affordable level, the B provides classy, comfortable transport with Mercedes’ usual build quality as standard. If you need to carry more people, there is also a new Viano due that can seat up to eight people in safety and comfort.
RANGE: A, B, C, CLA, CL, CLS, E, G, GL, GLA, M, R, S, SL, SLK, SLS, Viano
ONE TO WATCH: New C-Class promise all that is best about Mercedes
MG has added the 3 supermini to its line-up and it gives its rivals a serious run for their money thanks to keen pricing, It’s also well kitted out and has the allure of the MG badge.
The MG6 is offered in sporty GT trim and as the more opulent Magnette, with both names reviving famous monikers from MG’s past. Like the 3, it’s well priced and equipped, and it’s also good to drive.
Big news from the small car brand is a completely new MINI hatch. Expect superb detailing and even better quality. You can also expect the rest of the MINI range to follow suit in due course, including high performance Cooper S models. It will also be offered with five doors for the first time.
In the meantime, MINI has added the option of All4 four-wheel drive to the Cooper versions of the Paceman and Countryman models. Both models have a 122bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine and six-speed manual gearbox or an optional auto ’box.
The rest of the Countryman and Paceman ranges continue, though the Countryman enjoys a mild facelift later in 2014. The Coupe, Roadster and Clubman models carry on unaltered. Expect the MINI Convertible to give way to a new model following on from the hatch’s replacement, but this generation of Convertible will be around for a while yet.
There are high performance John Cooper Works versions of every MINI model, plus there’s the hatch-based John Cooper Works GP limited edition. Only 2000 GPs will be made and each has a 218bhp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine for 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds and a 150mph top speed.
RANGE: Mini hatchback, Mini Clubman, Mini Convertible, Mini Countryman, Mini Coupe, Mini Roadster, Mini Paceman
ONE TO WATCH: Paceman adds a new flavour of Mini to the mix
The Outlander crossover brings elegant design and a quality cabin with it to show Mitsubishi can get it right and there is now a Plug-In Hybrid model for added economy. Choose the smaller ASX for saloon-like handling, an SUV-inspired driving position and practicality, and a choice of 1.6-litre petrol and 1.8-litre diesel engine options as well as two- or four-wheel drive that have been updated for 2014.
This i-MiEV is an interesting prospect for its plug-in rechargeable battery pack, zero exhaust tailpipe emissions and funky looks. However, the high price to buy, even with a government grant of £5000, and dull drive limit its appeal. Small car buyers may be better off with the Mirage.
The largest vehicle in the range is the full-size SUV Shogun, improved with a new automatic transmission and a more economical version of the 3.2-litre diesel engine. Hugely capable off-road, it’s a great workhorse as well as a luxurious family vehicle. It’s particularly good for towing caravans and trailers with its torquey engine.
Another good car for working types is the L200, with its enviable reputation for image, toughness and reliability among pick-ups.
The Lancer is no more, however, and even the high-performance Evo X version is in limited supply to buy in 2013. Difficult trading conditions have forced Mitsubishi out of the sector, so the company is set to focus on its more successful business models. The same deal afflicts the Colt, which Mitsubishi can no longer offer in the UK.
RANGE: Mirage, ASX, i-Miev, Outlander, Shogun, L200
ONE TO WATCH: New Outlander is a competent crossover contender
A new Nissan Qashqai is an important launch for the Japanese firm and British workers as it’s made in Sunderland. It offers bold new exterior styling and a more mature design, as well as improved ride and handling. New technology like the Around View Monitor bird’s eye view parking camera system gives more appeal than ever.
There’s also the new Note and heavily revised Micra both on sale. The Note now sits between the Micra and Juke and is less of a small MPV but more of a crossover, though it’s still a very handy small family car.
The Micra now enjoys much crisper exterior styling and a more handsome, stylish dash. It’s also better to drive and regains some of the appeal of its predecessor. The Pixo still fills the spot below the Micra in Nissan’s range.
Certainly not lacking in appeal are Nissan’s new Nismo models for the Juke and 370Z that feature improved performance, handling and styling. The GT-R supercar has also been tweaked to deliver even greater speed thanks to power swelling to 552bhp.
At the other end of the scale, the Leaf electric car has been revised. It now has revised styling, but more important are changes to make the car more efficient and extend its real world battery range to 113 miles in normal conditions.
The X-Trail may have been around for some time but shows no signs of fading and has recently seen exterior revisions to keep it looking up-to-date. Meanwhile the Pathfinder continues to forge a path as a chunky and versatile off-road family vehicle.
RANGE: GT-R, Juke, Leaf, Micra, Murano, Navara, Note, NV200 Combi, Pathfinder, Pixo, Qashqai, Qashqai+2, X-Trail, 370Z, 370Z Roadster
ONE TO WATCH: Qashqai represents superb value for money
Perodua is famed for its low cost cars and the upcoming Viva will be no different. It will use 660- and 850cc petrol engines, as well as a range-topping 1.0-litre with manual or automatic gearboxes. Based on the Daihatsu Sirion, the Viva uses tried and trusted mechanics so should prove reliable and durable.
The Myvi soldiers on as a simple but worthy machine that will suit those on a limited budget. It’s a handsome small car and is ideally suited to urban traffic, and is impressively equipped for a car with such a low price tag.
RANGE: Myvi, Viva
ONE TO WATCH: Viva is set to be very affordable and should be easy on running costs too
A new 308 hatch is a hugely important new model for Peugeot and uses the company’s latest EMP2 platform to cut weight and improve the drive. There are fuel-efficient new engines and Peugeot’s latest technology to cut emissions, while a much better drive compared to the previous 308 makes it a serious rival to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
Peugeot joins the compact SUV set with its new 2008 crossover. It comes with front-wheel drive only but a clever traction control system to maintain grip in slippery conditions. The engine range include an e-HDI diesel with stop-start and electronically controlled semi-auto gearbox.
The 208 GTI finally gives Peugeot a credible hot hatch, which its not had in the line-up since the demise of the fabled 306 GTi. The turbo 1.6-litre petrol engine is punchy and also frugal, which makes the 208 GTI a thoroughly modern, able and likeable hot hatch. The remainder of the 208 range offers everything from economy models to the luxury of the XY version.
The 107 carries on as a very low cost way to enjoy a city car, while the 207 also remains in SW and CC guises for the time being. Further up the chain is the 3008 crossover with its hybrid offering that also provides four-wheel drive, while the 508 remains in saloon and estate formats, as well as the SUV-lite RXH hybrid model.
The iOn, Tepee and Bipper are unchanged, but the RCZ coupe now comes with mildly reshaped front and rear and lights, while the 275bhp RCZ R gives Peugeot performance fans something to shout about thanks to its pace and handling.
RANGE: 107, 207, 208, 2008, 308, 3008, 407, 407 RXH, 5008, RCZ, Bipper, Tepee, iOn
ONE TO WATCH: 308 is a sound choice for family buyers
Porsche may have a reputation as a hard-charging maker of sports cars, but its Panamera E-Hybrid prefers a different sort of charging. It can be plugged into the mains to charge up its battery to run solely on electric power or it can work in combination with the 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. Together, the contribute to 91.1mpg and just 71g/km CO2 emissions.
A new Turbo model is always a treat and the latest 911 Turbo is no exception thanks to 520bhp that gives 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds and a 195mph top speed. If that’s just not enough, the Turbo S ups this to 560bhp, 0-62mph in 3.1 seconds and 197mph. Porsche has also revealed its new Targa 911 model, adding to the ever growing list of models in this range.
Porsche has left the Boxster and Cayman models alone for the time being so soon after their launches. However, the Panamera is now offered with hybrid power, though that doesn’t mean sacrificing performance as it has 416bhp and dishes out 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds on its way to a top speed of 167mph. It also just happens to be capable of 91.1mpg and 71g/km CO2 emissions.
Cayenne buyers are treated to the arrival of the Turbo S in all its 550bhp glory. That’s enough to see this super SUV from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds and on to 175mph.
For full-on hyper performance, though, Porsche has its new 918 Spyder, which uses a 4.0-litre V8 engine and two electric motors to produce more than 700bhp. That’s enough to give 0-62mph in 3.2 seconds and 199mph top speed. Even so, the 918 offers 70g/km emissions and 94.0mpg.
RANGE: Boxster, Cayman, 911, Cayenne, Panamera, 918 Spyder
ONE TO WATCH: Hybrid Panamera offers the best of all worlds
Proton is set to launch the Preve, which is a good looking four-door saloon, while the Exora is a five-door estate. Both will be keenly priced and use the same 1.3- and 1.6-litre petrol engines as in the Gen-2.
The Savvy city car is unchanged, available in one trim and engine combination with either manual or automatic gearboxes. It’s cheap to insure and to run, with a very reasonable list price and an impressive collection of equipment.
The Satria Neo is the most sporting of Proton’s models with a zesty 1.6-litre petrol engine. As well as handling fettled by Lotus, it’s excellent value with a kit list that includes rear parking sensors, climate control, alloy wheels, front fog lamps and sports seats.
A more sedate model is the largest in the range. The Gen-2, built in hatchback and saloon guises, is a family car that prioritises essential equipment, style and value. It’s also available in ecoLogic form with petrol and LPG power.
RANGE: Savvy, Satria Neo, Gen-2, EcoLogic, Preve, Exora
ONE TO WATCH: Exora will be a cheap way to carry people and plenty of luggage
A new look for the Megane range is the important news from Renault at the moment. It’s applied across the entire spectrum of Megane models, from the standard hatch to the CC and rapid Renaultsport models. There are gains for equipment and lower prices too.
The ZOE is an affordable and, arguably the most attractive, electric vehicle to date. It has a range of around 100 miles and its neat supermini styling and handling make it a car to want on looks alone, never mind the low running costs. However, you have to pay to lease the battery.
Another new small car for Renault is the Captur, which is based on the Clio but has raised suspension to give that SUV/crossover stance. It’s roomy inside and has a large boot, and it’s good to drive. There’s a choice of 0.9- and 1.2-litre petrol motors and a 1.5-litre turbodiesel, which is the pick of the bunch.
Also exuding an off-road feel is the MXOD, which is based on the revised Scenic range. The XMOD has added traction control features to make it a bit more capable in the rough, as well as a higher ride height. Inside, it’s every bit as versatile and able as the updated Scenic range.
Another Clio-based model to arrive is the latest Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo. It has a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine giving 197bhp and zesty performance, though Renault has ditched its snicky six-speed manual in favour of a twin-clutch gearbox with paddle shifters. The Clio RS is also only available as a five-door for the first time in its history.
The Twizy, Twingo, Clio and Clio in Coupe, hatch and Sport Tourer forms continue as before, while the Megane Renaultsport and Fluence Z.E carry on appealing to their respective niches.
RANGE: Twingo, Clio, Megane, Fluence Z.E, Scenic, Grand Scenic, XMOD, Captur, ZOE
ONE TO WATCH: Updated Megane is a handsome car worth paying attention to
Traditional British luxury can now be had in a new Rolls-Royce coupe in the shape of the Wraith. It’s a two-door model that shares its V12 engine and underpinnings with the Ghost. Inside, it’s a more sung car but has all the usual options to personalise it to the customers tastes.
The Phantom and Ghost models are unchanged in recent times and continue to offer well heeled buyers a level of luxury and bespoke customisation not on offer anywhere else.
Range: Ghost, Wraith, Phantom
ONE TO WATCH: The Phantom continues to offer the pinnacle of luxury motoring
SEAT is back in the hot hatch ring with its Leon Cupra and Cupra 280 models. The standard Cupra comes with a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine offering 265bhp, while the 280 has 280bhp to be the most powerful roadgoing SEAT ever made. The ST estate also joins the Leon range, while the hatch and three-door SC continue to offer a stylish alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
The Mii city car can now be had in five-door form and with an automatic gearbox. Its small proportions and frugal engines make it an ideal urban runaround.
The Ibiza is Seat’s most successful car and has been updated visually and with new engines. It’s now more efficient than ever and features Ecomotive models that escape road tax payments and the London congestion charge. There is also an updated Ibiza Cupra with improved suspension for better handling.
The Altea and Altea XL all continue, while the Exeo executive saloon aims for another positive year of sales. At the large end of the range the award-winning Alhambra MPV should be big enough for anyone.
RANGE: Ibiza, Leon, Leon SC, Altea, Altea XL, Exeo, Alhambra
ONE TO WATCH: Leon Cupra shows SEAT has lost none of its hot hatch flair
Skoda has added to its Rapid range with the Spaceback model. Even though boot space is a little less than the Rapid hatch’s, the Spaceback has a large and well shaped boot.
The Yeti is now divided into two distinct versions, with the standard Yeti aimed more at city life and those who value style more than rugged ability. For those who want to use their Yeti in the wild, the Outdoor model has tougher bumpers that offer better departure angles for off-road use.
A new vRS hot version adds to the Octavia’s appeal and gives performance fans with a family something affordable and spacious.
The still-fresh Citigo can be had with five doors and an automatic gearbox. Designed to excel in urban surroundings, it will be easy to park and to manoeuvre in traffic while returning excellent efficiency figures.
The Fabia also continues largely unchanged, complete with its efficient Greenline variant. Likewise, Skoda has not seen any need to update the Roomster.
However, the Superb range has had a mid-life tone up with improved looks and finessed economy and emissions.
RANGE: Citigo, Fabia, Roomster, Yeti, Octavia, Superb, Rapid, Rapid Spaceback
ONE TO WATCH: Spaceback make an intriguing alternative to a small hatch
Smart’s city-focussed Fortwo sticks with the Fortwo Electric Drive. Eligible for the government’s plug-in car grant worth £5,000, the Fortwo Electric Drive is an able machine even outside of town and can still reach 78mph.
A range of conventional engines are still available, including a 0.8-litre diesel and a 1.0-litre petrol in several power outputs. The two sportier Brabus models will continue and the existing trim levels are also set to stay.
Fuel economy is as high as 67.3mpg for the petrol Smarts, while the diesel claims 85.6mpg on average. Despite its age the Fortwo still ranks among the cheapest cars to run.
Smart is set to launch all-new Smart ForTwo and ForFour models in 2014.
RANGE: Fortwo, Fortwo Cabriolet
ONE TO WATCH: Electric Fortwo is the choice for short drives and commutes
SsangYong continues to offer a large MPV at small MPV money with the launch of its Turismo model. It has two front and two middles seats, with a wide walkway through to the third row of three seats. The engine is a turbodiesel and performance is adequate, while equipment levels are generous.
The Korando Sports is a pick-up version that retains the five-seat cabin to be a canny alternative to a Mitsubishi L200. The rest of the Korando range is unchanged and remains strong value, especially if you tow or need something with reasonable off-road ability. However, there is now an entry-level SE model that is very affordable for this size of SUV.
The Rexton has no updates, but a new Rexton W is on the way. It uses a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, Mercedes automatic gearbox and has selectable four-wheel drive. It will also seat seven people and tow up to 2.8-tonnes to be a sound choice for caravanners and those looking for a large SUV on a budget.
RANGE: Korando, Rexton, Rexton W, Turismo, Korando Sport
ONE TO WATCH: Korando SE is superb value for a mid-size SUV
Performance car fans will be thrilled to see the Impreza WRX STI back in showrooms this year. It’s on sale early in the summer and comes with a price tag that is £4000 cheaper than the previous WRX. It also has 305bhp on hand for rapid acceleration, with help from standard all-wheel drive.
A new Subaru Forester is longer, wider and taller than its predecessor to deliver more cabin space and a larger boot. It retains all-wheel drive and a range of ‘boxer’ engines, notably the fine diesel and a new 237bhp turbo petrol performance derivative. There’s also a new CVT (continuously variable transmission).
Subaru’s XV premium crossover combines the driving dynamics and feel of a saloon or hatchback with the raised driving position of an SUV, but without the old height or weight penalties.
The BRZ offers a stripped-back purist driving experience. The Legacy and Outback all offer Subaru’s trademark four-wheel drive and ‘boxer’ engine configuration for impressive all-weather traction and practicality.
RANGE: Impreza, Impreza WRX STI, XV, BRZ, Legacy, Forester, Outback
ONE TO WATCH: Forester is now a serious rival for the Land Rover Freelander
Suzuki’s SX4 S-Cross has more crossover-style appeal, yet it still offers reasonable off-road ability, as you’d expect from Suzuki.
Another new four-wheel drive model from Suzuki comes in the shape of the Swift 4×4, which has a raised ride height for those who need to deal with muddy tracks or poorly surfaced roads on a regular basis. Elsewhere in the range the Swift Sport is keenly priced and a hoot to drive, building on the success of the first version that accrued a loyal following. There’s also a five-door version of the Swift Sport now too.
The Grand Vitara has a subtly enhanced exterior while the inside benefits from improved materials and a revised specification. Meanwhile the Jimny adds a little extra style to its squared-off looks as well as smarter seat fabric and Isofix child seat mountings in the rear.
The Kizashi is a medium-sized executive saloon, aimed squarely at the company car market but with plenty of appeal to families as well. Its drivetrain is focused on ease of use and fuss-free performance, with selectable four-wheel-drive to cope with low-traction scenarios.
Suzuki’s existing range of small cars is unchanged, with the smart Splash and Alto impressing in the city.
RANGE: Alto, Splash, Swift, SX4, Kizashi, Jimny, Grand Vitara
ONE TO WATCH: SX4 S-Cross has more off-road ability than most crossovers
The Auris Touring Sports is a small estate that thinks big on the inside to take on the new Honda Civic Tourer and SEAT Leon ST, as well as other more established players in this market. The range includes a clean and green Hybrid model that appeals to private and business customers.
Another hybrid is the Prius Plug-In that can be recharged by hooking it up to the mains to give it a longer battery-only range. The Prius+ offers seven-seat practicality, while the standard Prius carries on unchanged.
The Yaris is also offered with hybrid power in addition to its more usual petrol and diesel engines, while the Aygo and iQ round off Toyota’s small car offerings.
Toyota has dropped the Verso-S, but the revised Verso is a much improved car with a fine new diesel engine and plenty of space for people and cargo.
Polar opposites in appeal, the Avensis and GT-86 coupe remain as before and are sound bets for their respective markets. The Hilux is also unchanged, but there is a brand new RAV4 with punchy engines, two- or four-wheel drive and more interior space coupled to Toyota’s usual high quality build and materials. The Land Cruiser range enjoys some minor upgrades to keep it as the choice of those who tow heavy trailers or go deep into the wilds.
RANGE: Aygo, iQ, Yaris, Prius, Prius+, Prius Plug-In, Verso, Auris, Avensis, GT 86, RAV4, Hilux, Land Cruiser, Land Cruiser V8
ONE TO WATCH: Auris Touring Sports estate is a handsome and capable load carrier
The Insignia has been restyled now and comes with a range of new engines that offer better economy and emissions. There is also a new Country Tourer soft-roader with all-wheel drive, raised ride height and added body protection to take on the Volkswagen Passat Alltrack.
The Adam carries on from where it was launched and so does the Mokka compact crossover, which benefits from some UK-specific suspension improvements to give a more comfortable ride on bumpy roads.
Vauxhall will offer the new engines seen in the Insignia in the Astra, Zafira and Zafira Tourer models, all three of which will also receive the new six-speed manual gearbox that Vauxhall promises gives a much improved shift quality.
The Astra GTC will reap these rewards too, while the Cascada drop-top already has the new 1.6-litre petrol engine in 170bhp form.
The Ampera is now established with equally attractive looks and clever range-extender technology that allows substantial distances to be covered on electric power alone.
Around town, the Agila upright supermini and Meriva mini-MPV offer small, good value transport and the ever-popular Corsa continues unchanged after another successful year. The Meriva has been lightly facelifted and is now offered with Vauxhall’s superb 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine.
The Antara continues to offer a mid-size SUV with a Vauxhall badge, while the VXR division has expanded its range with the arrival of the 6.2-litre V8-powered VXR8 GTS that thunders along thanks to a supercharged 576bhp.
RANGE: Agila, Adam, Corsa, Meriva, Astra, Zafira, Insignia, Ampera, Mokka, Antara, VXR8 GTS
ONE TO WATCH: Updated Insignia is a sound choice for business drivers
Volkswagen has gone electric with the arrival of the E-Up that comes as a well equipped five-door model only. It’s good to drive and could be ideal for anyone who doesn’t cover large mileages regularly. The rest of the Up range carries on as before.
For hot hatch fans, there’s the double whammy of the new 208bhp GTI, which can also be ordered with a power upgrade to 217bhp if you want an even sharper drive. For those seeking performance with more economy, the GTD is the car for you as it has the GTI’s suspension but also a frugal 182bhp 2.0-litre turbodiesel. On an even more practical note, the Golf Estate provides plenty of cargo space and room for five inside its well made cabin.
The new Beetle is a quantum leap forwards from the old car, with much more advanced mechanicals and updated styling, while the new Cabriolet version adds fresh air fun to the mix. Many of Volkswagen’s stalwarts like the Eos are unchanged, while the previous generation Golf Cabriolet continues for the time being with the addition of the high performance R model to boost its appeal. The Polo is set for a mild facelift and some new engines in the first half of 2014.
The Passat has been revised, though, with new looks and more efficient engines. For the first time a rugged ‘Alltrack’ version will be added to the range, giving a modicum of off-road ability to a model designed to rival the Volvo XC70 and even the Audi A4 Allroad.
However, the coupé version of the Passat has dropped that name and is now known only as the CC. It’s a sleeker, more upmarket proposition that will appeal to plenty of company car drivers.
Less glamorous but still popular models like the Touran and Sharan have all had styling updates to fit in with the Volkswagen family look, but are otherwise largely unchanged. It’s the same story for the SUVs in the shape of the Tiguan and Touareg. The low-volume Phaeton executive super-saloon is also still available, while the previous generation Golf Plus and Jetta remain on sale.
The Sharan offers seven-seat people carrying capability and the Scirocco is a sleek coupe contender.
RANGE: Up, E-Up, Polo, Golf, Golf Cabriolet, Golf Plus, Beetle, Jetta, Eos, Scirocco, Passat, CC, Touran, Sharan, Tiguan, Touareg, Phaeton
ONE TO WATCH: New Golf GTI hits the hot hatch spot perfectly
Volvo’s big news is the D4 turbodiesel engine that offers loads of punch with plenty of economy and not much by way of emissions. It’s a superbly refined and strong performing engine that works well in the S40, V50, S60 and XC60 models.
The V40 and its V40 Cross Country cousin continue as before, while the V60 Plug-In hybrid is now on sale and offers fuel economy of up to 155.2mpg combined and 48g/km CO2 emissions with 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds for excellent performance. It also has four-wheel drive and a decent load bay.
The XC60 continues to enjoy success in the premium SUV sector, while the XC90 has been updated recently with new styling and a pared-down range that includes just one engine, which happens to be the one almost everyone bought anyway. A new XC90 is due in 2015.
Volvo is hoping for a good year in the fleet market with is DRIVe models, specifically the V50, S60 and V60 models, each of which features an efficient diesel engine for lower benefit in kind costs.
RANGE: C30, S40, V50, V60, S60, S80, C70, V70, XC60, XC70, XC90
ONE TO WATCH: New D4 engine works very well in a spread of Volvo models