This year in cars: the machines we're most excited to see in 2019
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This list is not exhaustive. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of new cars to come, ranging from small tweaks of existing models to whole new product lines and technical platforms. It would be impossible to include everything, so we won't attempt to.
But there are some obvious highlights from the 2019 calendar. These are (almost) all of the cars we're excited to see in the next twelve months, and a couple that we think are important. If you think we've missed anything, please let us know in the comment section below.
Aston Martin DBX
Aston Martin’s first SUV, pictured above, is expected to go on sale later this year, four years after it was teased at Geneva in 2015. It’s easy to criticise the super-SUV segment for being excessive and gauche, but - alongside the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Lamborghini Urus and Bentley Bentayga - the Varekai is set to become a bestseller overnight. Expect this luxury off-roader to be available with either a Mercedes-AMG V8 or an Aston Martin V12, both delivering silly speeds and loud noises.
Aston Martin RapidE
Delivering a rather quieter driving experience is the Rapide E, one of the most interesting and badly-named models set for release in the next 12 months. Aston Martin will build just 155 of these all-electric sports cars at its St Athan factory, which it describes as its ‘home of electrification’, but the handful of lucky buyers are in for a treat: a 0-100km/h time of under four seconds, a top speed of 250km/h makes the Rapide E a compelling short-range weapon. Deliveries are anticipated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2019, with pricing available on application.
The current A3 is nearing seven years old now, which is ancient in German hatchback terms. It’s a well-regarded model in all its forms - hatchback, estate, convertible, ‘sportback’ and RS - so its replacement has big gaps to fill in several segments, albeit not all at the same time. In fact this new model might not even be available in the UK before the end of the year, as Volkswagen will want to release its closely related Golf first. Buyers should expect a raft of petrol, mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid options (with diesel predictably taking a back seat) and the usual body styles.
Given how SUV-oriented Audi’s model line-up has been in recent years, we’re surprised it’s taken them this long to electrify one of them. The E-Tron is a battery-electric crossover that sits between the Q5 and the Q7, with a punchy six-second 0-100km/h time and a top speed of 200km/h. The four-wheel-drive electric powertrain produces 402bhp, with a claimed range of 400km - pretty low compared to (for example) the significantly cheaper Hyundai Kona EV. Still, we’re excited to see a new entrant into the battery-electric SUV segment.
It’s hard to stay excited about the endless barrage of European SUVs, but on the off chance that you’re less fed up with them than we are, here’s the upcoming Audi Q4. Teased at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show as a chunky off-road derivative of the TT Coupe, the 2019 Audi Q4 will instead be another workaday crossover based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB platform with a range of engines delivering between 100 and 400 horsepower.
We’re big fans of the all-electric (and range extender) BMW i3, and feel its looks play a big part in its charming appeal. By contrast, the iX3 resembles almost any other BMW crossover, and as such it feels a lot like every other electric SUV being released over the next year or so. Visually it’s essentially a BMW X3 but underneath it’s anything but - a range of 400km and a 0-100km/h time of around six seconds puts it broadly in line with everything else of its ilk. As with offerings from Mercedes and Audi though, the iX3 already seems to have been surpassed by the excellent Hyundai Kona EV and the well-regarded BMW i-Pace.
BMW’s smallest model is due an upgrade this year. We expect the new 1 Series to go on sale towards the end of 2019, but we’ve already seen a handful of spy shots and frankly it’s starting to look a bit… A-Classy. This, and the Audi A3, represent two of the biggest rivals in the premium hatchback sector, but considering how excellent the non-premium contenders are in this segment, we’re always interested to see how upmarket brands try to differentiate themselves. Most sales will be petrol-powered, but a mild hybrid will probably arrive at some point after the initial launch.
The 3 Series needs no introduction. It’s been the benchmark exec for four decades, earning a top spot in corporate car parks across Europe and around the world. Now in its seventh generation the 3-Series received some criticism for its relatively boring design, though that’s always been part of its appeal. Badge-conscious company car buyers will always be this car’s key demographic but the eventual arrival of a new M3 - a souped-up supercar slayer in three-box saloon form - is what we and the rest of the petrolhead community are secretly waiting for.
BMW 8-Series Convertible
BMW’s slightly muddled luxo-coupe arrived at the end of 2018, but in 2019 it gets even more bewilderingly unfocused. The addition of a drop-top to the range makes commercial sense but quite what sort of car this will be remains to be seen - an open-top grand tourer? A slick boulevardier? A bloated, overindulgent roadster? As with every BMW, there’s probably going to be a better car to buy from a rival brand, but we have no doubt that this big Beemer will be a magnificent piece of engineering in its own right. It’ll go on sale in April with both petrol and diesel engine options.
We’ve already driven the BMW Z4, and frankly didn’t care for it. Andrew English thought it to be a little bloated and unfocused. Then again, most buyers won’t care about that, and if the sales figures for our other least favourite German cars are anything to go by, the new Z4 is about to become an enormous sales success. We suspect that the Toyota Supra, which was partly developed alongside the Beemer, will be a more exciting proposition for UK buyers.
Citroen C5 Aircross
As even French SUVs start to blend into a gloopy mass of design homogeneity, Citroen is at least keeping things interesting with its range of jacked-up crossovers. The C5 Aircross will be in Citroen showrooms from February 4, with prices starting from £23,225. It isn’t the most interesting car mechanically, but in terms of appearance we think it’s pretty novel.
What you have to remember is that this is definitely not a Seat. Obviously it looks a lot like one, and for a long time ‘Cupra’ was a badge that appeared on souped-up Seat models. But now, Cupra is a standalone premium sub-brand, and this Ibiza (not to be confused with a Seat Ibiza) is a Cupra. It’s going to be brilliant, anyway, competing in the supermini segment but bringing a little bit of warmth to style of car that’s been lacking a performance element for years now.
It’s been a few years since Citroen did the same thing with their DS brand. Its first few cars were a bit underwhelming (read: rubbish) but we hope that the class of 2019 will be a bit more to British tastes. The DS3 Crossback certainly looks the part, with loads of chrome and intriguing design elements, but with prices probably starting at around £22,000, will DS be able to win over the young, fashionable buyers it keeps talking about?
Honda Urban EV
Want to irritate a Honda representative? Tell them their new Urban EV looks like a Mk1 Golf. Designed to resemble an early Civic, this little electric car has been one of the most eagerly anticipated cars of the past few years. On paper it’s considerably less impressive than many existing battery-electric models, and with prices expected to start at around £30,000 it’s one of the pricier too, but it’s hard to ignore the boxy retro-futuristic charm of this little hatch.
Land Rover Defender
“Iconic” is a banned word at the Daily Telegraph but we’re happy to break the rule this once. The Land Rover Defender is one of the most instantly recognisable cars of all time and many of our readers have fond memories of one. The new one promises to be a departure from the old-fashioned body-on-frame 4x4 of yesteryear, and is even being built in Slovakia, but there’s no denying the hype around the new model, which is set to arrive at some point in 2019.
On paper, this Japanese hatchback isn’t anything particularly special. It’s a slightly cheaper rival to the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf, with a range of reliable, workaday engines that will please buyers without thrilling them. It’s the epitome of family motoring - efficient, boring, dependable, and comfy. Then you look at it. Mazda has somehow injected this dull market segment with the type of design we rarely see outside show concepts and the occasional supercar. It’s just brilliant to look at, and reminds us how cars used to be exciting things to behold, rather than generic grey lumps of jacked-up, ultra-masculine nonsense. Expect to pay around £20,000 for a Mazda 3, with prices rising commensurate with equipment levels.
Merc’s relatively late entry to the battery-electric game has not gone unnoticed. To be fair, BEV tech is only just coming of age, and really began delivering real-world effective range in the past year or so, but the fact that Germany has arrived to the battery-powered party so long after the Koreans did has puzzled some observers. The EQC is an electric SUV that will rival the Jaguar I-Pace and the Tesla Model X, as well as a handful of other European models.
Peugeot 508 SW
We really like the Peugeot 508 saloon. We think it’s nice to look at and pleasant to drive, and it certainly challenges the more conventionally desirable saloons from brands like BMW and Audi. Whether the British buying public think the same remains to be seen but the estate version, called the SW, might be more to the UK’s collective tastes.
Never heard of Polestar? That’s fair enough. This Swedish spin-off has its roots in Volvo, which is renowned for its practical, safe but not exactly thrilling range of estates, saloons and SUVs. We don’t know much about the new Polestar 1 but we suspect that it will be a little bit lairy in comparison to Gothenburg’s ordinary output. Production begins this year, but very slowly; apparently we can expect an output of just a couple per week.
The eighth-generation 911, the 992, retains the fundamentals of the outgoing car: an engine at the back, with rear- and four-wheel drive available. It’s already on sale (prices start at around £90,000 for the Carrera S and £100,000 for the Carrera 4S) and deliveries will begin in about two months. A new 911 is quite a big moment for our industry and we’re excited to discover the new chapter in this long-running European saga.
Range Rover Evoque
The Range Rover Evoque is an immensely important model for Land Rover. It’s one of their few properly high-volume models, and given what we know about JLR’s many worries at the moment, the launch of the new one feels a bit make-or-break. We can expect a hybrid version of the Evoque, which is a step in the right direction for a brand that has been slow to adopt EV tech, and we have no doubt that this model will continue to lead Land Rover sales in the UK in other key markets.
Renault’s smart little hatchback is proof that cars can be sensible and desirable at the same time without resorting to gimmicks. We like this little car as it is, but at almost seven years old it’s pretty ancient in comparison to its rivals. We hope that the new Clio retains some of the model’s charm and Gallic sophistication, especially considering how good the Seat Ibiza and Ford Focus are.
The Tarraco was an inevitable step for Seat. It’s mechanically similar to other large SUVs in the Volkswagen Group - pleasant appearance, seven seats, a selection of engines and a colossal boot. We think the 1.5-litre petrol will be a bit weak, and frankly this won’t be the most interesting Seat model of all time, but it makes a change and should represent excellent value in comparison to the
Skoda Vision X
Skoda is releasing a new crossover this year. The Vision X (terrible name) shares the same MQB-based chassis as the Seat Arona and the Volkswagen T-Roc and will be an entry-level SUV in the Czech brand’s range. Most ‘car people’ lament the passing of the Yeti, and to some extent even the Roomster, but these amorphous SUVs are flavour du jour and Skoda are characteristically competent at churning them out.
We’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Suzuki Jimny. It’s an absolutely awful car in most ways – it’s slow, not very safe, unstable on the motorway and cramped on the inside. But off the tarmac it’s amazing, and frankly who cares about dynamics or Euro NCAP when you’re driving something as outright cute as that.
For ‘car people’, this is one of the most hotly anticipated performance cars of 2019. Built as part of a rare joint venture between Toyota and BMW, the Supra is closely related to the Z4, though both manufacturers have been keen to point out the differences.
We’ve already driven the Z4 and, frankly, found it wanting. We expect Toyota’s interpretation of the formula to be more to our tastes, and indeed those of other enthusiasts. Whether it will live up to expectations remains to be seen, however, as the old Supra is one of the most highly regarded Japanese sports cars in history.
Volkswagen will release its eighth-generation Golf this year. The benchmark family hatchback has led sales charts all over Europe since its arrival in the Seventies, and we expect the latest iteration to be just as popular. Its main rivals will include the Ford Focus and the Vauxhall Astra, both of which are very, very good.
- Telegraph UK