5 cars we’re looking forward to in 2018
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A new year. The promise of new metal to drive. Niches to be filled. Surprise unveilings at motor shows. And the inevitable oddball choices for hero colours.
As always, the year is barely under way and already the calendar is crammed with highly anticipated arrivals. In a year when we’ll get to drive a Lamborghini SUV, a Jaaaag that plugs in, and TVR might actually make something, there’s plenty to see and drive.
Here are five top models we’re looking forward to sliding behind the wheel of during 2018.
1. Alfa Romeo Stelvio
An SUV that makes us go weak at the knees
The rebirth of Alfa Romeo kicked in last year with the stunning Giulia sedan; a car we had to wait a long time for (its predecessor, the 159, was officially retired half a decade before the replacement arrived). But boy, was it worth the wait. The Quadrifoglio (QV) edition has all the tact of a seriously ticked-off Dobermann, but even the so-called entry-level Veloce is a wonderful steer.
No sooner had we got to grips with the Giulia, however, when news came of Alfa’s foray into the ever-expanding SUV segment. We’ve only seen the Stelvio (yes, named after that famous alpine pass, of course) on motor-show plinths, but it looks every bit the winner.
It’ll be the “safe” Alfa that appeals to the masses, too; more than an enthusiast’s car, this one will have proper sensible spec on board, like Alfa’s Q4 AWD system, matched with the manufacturer’s DNA driving mode tech. And if it is anything nearly as accomplished as the Giulia, it’ll prove its worth as the stand-out-on-the-school-run alternative to the Audi Q5 and Porsche Macan.
2. BMW X7
A 7-Series wearing expensive hiking boots
What do you do when your flagship car is a big, long sedan in a world that doesn’t tend to buy many big, long sedans?
You take the essence of that big, long sedan and reinvent it in a format that everyone does want. And in 2018, that happens to be an SUV.
And thus, the idea of a range-topping BMW X7 was born. Not that the X5 is exactly the epitome of frugal motoring, but in a world where luxury car brands such as Maserati and Bentley are falling over themselves to get their well-heeled customers into SUVs, BMW knows it needs to up its game.
The X7 will be a Range Rover rival primarily, matching the Brit icon in terms of ginormous dimensions and sumptuous feature set. Judging by the concept renders floating about the internet, the Munich-headquartered company will affix a kidney grille the size of a bay window to the front, matched with chrome-tastic trim detailing, enormous wheels and — as to be expected — a spacious cabin, filled with luxurious leather and enormous iPad Pro-like screens front and rear, with a compulsory full-length panoramic sunroof.
BMW isn’t alone in pushing lofty luxury motoring to the fore, however; Audi will perform
the same trick next year with the Q8.
3. Hyundai I30 N
A Korean hot hatch that isn’t an oxymoron
This should be interesting indeed. That Hyundai has launched its own performance sub-label is hardly a shock. The Korean manufacturer has been involved in motorsport for a long time and, like every other carmaker, eventually it was always going to meld some of that circuit learning stuff into its road cars.
But the big thing here is that almost as soon as motoring writers started sampling Hyundai’s run-of-the-mill hatchback in “N” guise, eyebrows started being raised.
We haven’t driven the production version yet, but apparently, it’s quick. Like, Golf GTI quick. And when you’re taking about hot hatches, that’s a good place to start.
Hyundai unveiled a Veloster N at this month’s Detroit Motor Show, which doesn’t excite us as much as this first foray into the pint-sized performance-car world. It may only receive cult audience appreciation (as all hot hatches inevitably do), but if the local distributor gets the i30 N’s pricing right, this thing could give the more established Euro players a bit of a bruising.
4. Lamborghini Urus
The fastest SUV you’ve known. Because that’s a thing now
It seemed nonsensical when first rumoured. But by all accounts, those boffins within Lamborghini have managed to genetically modify a Lambo sports car into an SUV.
Of course, it isn’t the first time this has been done (Lamborghini LM002, anyone?), but we’ve never seen such a hybridisation of mad scientist sports car with actual-ground-clearance-and-everything SUV engineering. The cause of involuntary eye-rolls before its unveiling, the Lamborghini Urus does look like the real deal … if the real deal is from a parallel universe where Mad Max Rockatansky is a Moscow-based oil tycoon.
The Urus features ground clearance to rival a Jeep Wrangler, rear-steer abilities like a Ferrari GT4Lusso, a 478kW turbo V8 and 850Nm of torque … y’know, for when you’re trudging through sand and mud. In your Lamborghini.
The SUV also comes with the maddest-looking centre console we’ve seen. At its heart is what the manufacturer refers to as the “Tamburo”, which looks like Robocop’s lunchbox Thermos. Andthe red flip-up “jet fighter” starter button cover has been retained, too. Try naming another SUV with one of those.
5. Toyota Supra
The return of a performance legend ... with bits of BMW on board
Ever since Toyota showed off its revered FT-1 concept car a few years ago, the idea of a halo sports car wearing the revered Supra nameplate has never quite gone away.
Toyota is still playing everything modestly — it’s only rabid industry observers who blurt out “Supra!” whenever given the chance; Toyota has remained silent on a name for the coupe – but it feels like the worst-kept secret in the car industry.
Because the car (whatever it will be called) does exist. And it will go on sale later this year.
Look, let’s just call it a Supra, too, okay?
The Supra has been a joint venture engineering project with BMW and, in all likelihood, the new sports coupe will feature a Beemer-sourced straight-six turbo under its long bonnet. BMW will re-skin the car as a much-needed next-gen Z4 roadster, using the same platform.
Remember, Toyota developed the giant-slaying 86 with Subaru, so the idea of ToyMoCo partnering with another carmaker to create something spesh isn’t out of the ordinary.
We just hope the Toyota-BMW relationship doesn’t end as acrimoniously as the one with Subaru allegedly did.
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