Cars to look forward to in 2012
Think that 2012 is going to be all about the Olympics? Well, don't worry, as our prediction is that next year will be a bumper year for new metal.
Check out my predictions of the cars I believe will be making the headlines in 2012; these should be enough to get you through the rest of January and February in anticipation of the Geneva Motor Show in March.
As ever, let us know what you think by commenting below.
1. Audi A1 Sportspack
Fancy an Audi A1, but think that the three-door isn't practical enough? Then perhaps, the new five-door Sportback could be the car for you. The five-door version of the A1 is 6mm taller and wider than the three-door, which is cramped in the back. Look out for it at Audi dealers in early 2012, with the same engine and trim line-up as the three-door.
2. BMW 3-Series
The new BMW 3-Series could be the most important new car of 2012, due to its popularity with the fleet and family sector. Munich has perhaps played it safe with the sixth-generation junior executive's styling; but the fact that the new car is longer, wider yet 50kg lighter is impressive. Powering the new 3-Series is a massive choice of turbocharged petrol and diesel engines.
3. Citroen DS5
The latest member of Citroen's premium DS family, the DS5 will be launched in 2012. The five-door hatchback is also the first Citroen model to be fitted with the HYbrid4, full-hybrid technology that Citroen shares with its sister marque Peugeot. Co2 emissions can be as low as 99g/km depending on which performance setting is used and can drive in full-electric mode at speeds up to 37mph. Inside, Citroen claim that the DS5's interior is inspired by planes and features premium materials such as club leather and brushed aluminium.
4.Ford Focus ST
I've just driven the warm Zetec-S, but we've got a little while longer to wait for the full-on 253bhp ST. Still, it should be worth waiting until spring for the striking, stylish exterior and well-made, user-friendly interior. The new ST boasts a state-of-the-art, 2.0-litre turbo engine. Ford claim a 0-60 time of under seven seconds and a top speed of 155mph, yet, this hot Focus will still do over 35mpg.
5. Jaguar CX-16
The concept car attracted the most attention at the Frankfurt show this year, so the production version is likely to attract the same attention. Beautiful, quick and likely to give the Porsche Cayman a run for its money; the C-X16 is fitted with a Formula 1 style boost button on the steering wheel, giving an extra 94bhp for up to ten seconds.
6. Mazda CX-5
Mazda's new CX-5 is a significant car, even if it doesn't look it. This is because it's the first production car designed and built with Mazda's latest SkyActiv technology. Beneath the CX-5's 'Kodo' design language lies a lightweight modular platform which will underpin a range of forthcoming Mazdas of different shapes and sizes. As well as new construction techniques, the brand's fresh approach will encompass a range of new engines and gearboxes.
7. Mercedes SL
SL is supposed to stand for Sport Lightweight, but along with new technology came more weight. However, with the new car, Mercedes has managed to slash the curb weight by a rumoured 8% over the outgoing model. The weight saving techniques include a new all-aluminium body shell. I can't wait to see what the undisguised car looks like.
8. MINI Paceman
The Paceman is based on the Countryman, the upmarket coupe is destined to be MINI's most expensive car yet, with prices expected to start at £22,000. The tall coupe is set to go head-to-head with rivals such as the Nissan Juke at the bottom end of its price range and the Range Rover Evoque at the top.
9. Porsche 911
The latest version of Porsche's iconic 911 should hit out shores early in 2012. You'll have to look closely to spot any obvious changes on the outside, but move inside the new car and there's a more Panamera-like interior with raised console. More headline-grabbing than both the exterior and interior though are the mechanicals, as the latest 911 debuts a seven-speed manual gearbox.
10. SEAT Mii/Skoda Citigo/Volkswagen up!
Points won't be scored for spotting the similarities between the SEAT Mii, Skoda Citgo and Volkswagen up! as they are all sister cars that will be making their debuts throughout 2012. Highlights include the spacious interior, attractive styling and the fact that all are great to drive. Despite the silly names, the Volkswagen Group seem to have sewn up the city car class with these three cars, as in my view they are the best.