Reasons to be cheerful
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As 2017 dawned, there seemed to be a big ol’ dollop of despondency around the world; political, economic and social maladies all grappling with each other for their fair share of the alarmist headlines.
But don’t despair. The year ahead is shaping up to be a good one if you love that new-car smell. In no particular order, here’s a sampling of eight forthcoming models that are exciting us; all within most budgets and a couple we’d happily stretch for. All are cars to which we can’t wait to be handed the keys.
1 Suzuki Ignis
Yes, first up is a Suzuki. The Ignis is notable for not being the new Swift (which is also imminent).
This diminutive terrier promises to marry characterful styling
with a cheap-as-chips demeanour — the good kind of cheap-as-chips that is; think the Suzuki Jimny rather than the Suzuki Baleno.
It looks cool, will be light on its toes and well-powered and it’ll be here in a matter of weeks.
And yes, the new Swift will follow later in the year. But for our money the Ignis looks to be the most economical way of standing apart from the crowd.
2 Skoda Kodiaq
If the Kodiaq — Skoda’s first SUV — is anything like its current crop of sedans, wagons and crossovers, it promises big things. Skoda has been a manufacturer in the ascendency for some time now; it’s surprising it has taken it this long to engineer a full Touareg-sized SUV.
There’s no word on New Zealand specification and pricing yet, but expect a strong feature set straight-out-of-the-box, seven seats, Skoda Connect infotainment and — another area this carmaker excels in — a large load-carrying capacity.
3 Toyota C-HR
Wow, someone in the Toyota design department has been sipping from the water bottles marked “Lexus use only”. This has to be the most outrageously detailed exterior on a Toyota product since, well, probably the FJ Cruiser 4x4 of a decade ago.
Toyota has made some interesting cars, but it has never been what you’d label “adventurous”. Aside from the latest Prius (which despite everything still looks like a Prius), aggressive cuts and slashes are things that happen to other manufacturer’s cars.
The C-HR crossover promises something a bit different for the buoyant crossover market. As far as we can tell, it’s a Nissan Juke rival. Of course, the question remains; do we need a Nissan Juke rival?
4 Peugeot 5008
Wait a minute; MPVs? Aren’t they so out of favour they may as well have three wheels and a plexiglass bubble dome? Sure, there aren’t many manufacturers dipping their toes in the “people mover” market any longer. But perhaps that’s because there haven’t been any new and interesting ideas of late. Design something spesh and the people — and their many, many kids — will come.
That’s what Peugeot will be hoping with the new 5008 MPV. For a start, it looks the business; that square-backed stance even reminds us — if we squint — of a classic Peugeot 404. The 5008 is a bigger, more lavishly appointed
version of the great 3008 crossover. We’ll see it later in the year and, short of anything with a GTI badge on the boot lid, we haven’t been so looking forward to a new Peugeot in years.
5 Alfa Romeo Giulia
The Giulia is a proof-is-in-the-sheet-metal reminder that Alfa Romeo can’t help but make stunning-looking cars.
When its predecessor, the 159, was released back in the 1950s or whenever it was (it was a long time ago), it was the most beautiful three-box sedan.
That the Giulia repeats the feat is unquestionable. Just look at it. However, unlike the 159 — available in journeyman diesel guises as well as sporty Q4 and Ti grades — rumour has it we’ll see only top-trim Giulias offered here. And they’re going for BMW M3 sedan money overseas.
We’ll be doffing our cap to every single Giulia we see on New Zealand streets; just how many of those there’ll be, however, is the big question.
6 Mercedes-AMG E 63
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz’s in-house loony bin performance arm, AMG. Hooray! That surely means plenty of V8-powered weaponry must be on the release schedule.
There’s this for a start; the next-gen AMG E 63 that, truth be told, we probably won’t see until early in 2018, but we’ve started salivating early.
This promises to be a true four-door supercar, with mind-boggling performance figures such as a zero to 100km/h sprint time of just 3.4 seconds, and a power and torque equation of 450kW and 850Nm for the E 63 S version (which should be the one we receive here).
7 Land Rover Discovery 5
Land Rover has dispensed with the boxy aesthetic for the next (fifth generation) Discovery, giving us instead a big, elegant-looking beast that almost looks concept car-ish in the way its taut skin and bevelled-off edges speak of airbrushed designer sketchwork.
It’s real, however and Land Rover is insistent the Disco hasn’t lost its all-things-to-all-people 4x4 utilitarian edge over its jolly-hockey-sticks Range Rover cousin. It looks like a sumptuous ride; almost too sumptuous.
Well, with Land Rover’s off-roading nous underneath, we’re sure its build team will be looking to let it walk the talk whenever possible. Bring it on.
8 Holden Commodore (2018, but still …)
Okay, so technically the next-gen Holden Commodore is due to go on sale about this time next year. But no list of cars that intrigue us sufficiently would be complete without this car: a nameplate so familiar sitting on a car we have next to no idea about.
The first imported Commodore will be a talking point when it arrives in Australasia (and the reason we’re sneaking it in here is we’re confident we’ll get a taster before the year is out).
One thing’s for sure; despite the wholesale market move towards SUVs and double-cab utes, the Commodore will need to win over those remaining big sedan fans convincingly right from the get-go.