Motoring into 2017 with hi-tech, whizzy new wheels
- Credit: manufacturer supplied
Looking to change your car this year? There are some spectacular new model launches for big-selling, favourites lined up for 2017. Motoring editor Andy Russell picks out a dozen models that will be driving desirability.
? Ford Fiesta
Not a big car size or price-wise but one of the year's biggest launches in spring. It will see the next generation of the UK's best-selling car ever, the Ford Fiesta. moving upmarket.
The expanded range will include flagship Vignale, sporty ST-Line and stylish Titanium superminis as well as rugged Active – the first Fiesta crossover.
The three and five-door models are said to feature the most sophisticated range of driver aid technologies and connectivity features ever in a volume small car in Europe. It introduces pedestrian detection that can help prevent collisions at night and hands-free parking which can brake to prevent low-speed bumps.
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New powertrains include 140PS 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol and 120PS 1.5-litre TDCi – Fiesta's first high-power diesel – and a new six-speed transmission.
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? Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport
To make the point it's all new, bigger and bolder, Vauxhall is adding Grand Sport to the Insignia name.
The new model, which will star at the Geneva Motor Show in March, is more spacious inside, looks more athletic and promises to be better to drive.
It loses up to 175kg, so should be better on fuel and emissions, but gains a new all-wheel-drive system with torque vectoring for sharper cornering, an eight-speed automatic transmission and a raft of technologies and driver aids that make it safer, more relaxing and more comfortable.
It is also the first Vauxhall with an active aluminium bonnet so improving pedestrian protection in the event of an accident.
? Nissan Micra
Dependable rather than desirable, it's been hard to get excited about Nissan's Micra… until now.
Totally rethought and styled to turn heads, this fifth-generation Micra aims to shake up the supermini sector. Now on sale, priced from £11,995, it is launched with 90hp 0.9-litre turbo petrol and 1.5-litre turbo diesels. A naturally-aspirated 73hp 1.0-litre petrol engine will follow.
There'll also be lots of customisation options with exterior and interior personalisation packs and stylish body decals. Lower, wider, longer, and roomier inside, new tech includes active ride control to enhance comfort and active trace control to reduce understeer and sharpen handling.
? Volkswagen Golf
Don't let the Golf's subtle exterior facelift fool you into thinking not much is new with Volkswagen's best-seller.
Smarter, safer and more connected, improved technology includes smartphone connected car systems, a new infotainment system with 9.2in 'automotive tablet' and gesture control – a first for a compact car – and a 12in digital cockpit instrument display capable of showing the navigation.
Traffic jam assist allows semi-autonomous driving by steering, braking and accelerating automatically at up to 37mph but stopping the car safely if the driver takes their hands off the wheel.
A 150PS 1.5 Evo TSI petrol engine, which switches off two cylinders on a light throttle, debuts. A 130PS BlueMotion version has a coasting function, cutting the engine while moving – a first for a non-hybrid.
? Honda Civic
Building on its 40-year heritage, the 10th-generation Civic is new from the ground up, the largest single model development programme in Honda's history.
This sharply-dressed hatchback is the biggest Civic ever, so even more spacious with class-leading practicality and boot space.
A lighter, but stiffer, bodyshell and new suspension and platform, with a lower centre of gravity, also aim to make it the most agile Civic ever.
The more refined interior features new technologies including Honda's second-generation infotainment and connectivity system.
The Civic debuts new 129PS 1.0 and 182PS 1.5-litre VTEC turbo petrol engines and all models get a top-class suite of comprehensive safety technologies to avoid an accident and keep occupant safe should the worst happen.
? Peugeot 5008
Peugeot takes a new route with the 5008 – gone is the people-carrier and in comes a seven-seat sport utility vehicle with the spring relaunch.
The roomier new model is 11cm longer, with three separate, folding second-row seats, while the seats in the third row are foldable and easy to remove to create a vast 1,060-litre boot. You can even integrate an electrically-assisted folding scooter or portable bike in the boot with a mobile charging docking station.
The classy interior features the latest digital version of the innovative i-Cockpit with a compact steering wheel, 8in touchscreen dashboard and 12.3in high-resolution head-up display.
A host of cutting-edge driver aids and safety features will help protect your nearest and dearest.
? BMW 5 Series
This seventh-generation 5 Series, arriving from next month, looks similar but is slightly longer, up to 100kg lighter, even more hi-tech and more slippery cutting through the air.
BMW says there's 10% less drag, thanks to measures including an active front grille which opens the louvres and air intakes when cooling airflow is needed and then closes them to improve aerodynamics.
The saloon's boot is slightly bigger at 530 litres, rear legroom has grown and there's extra soundproofing.
A feast of new technology on offer means controlling the infotainment screen with hand gestures, parking by remote control and you can even check whether it's locked, windows are shut and pre-set functions like climate control via a key fob with screen.
A 530e plug-in hybrid mates a 184hp 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with a 95hp electric motor for 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds, 146mph flat out and an official 141.2mpg and 46g/km CO2 emissions.
? MINI Countryman
The MINI brand continues to grow, particularly size-wise, with the even bigger Countryman looking to take on family crossovers and compact SUVs when it goes on sale next month.
The new claim to fame is that it will also be the first MINI with plug-in hybrid drive. The Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 has a 136hp 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine driving the front wheels and an 88hp electric motor under the boot floor powering the rear axle. The result is up to 134.5mpg, 49g/km CO2 emissions, 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds and up to 25 miles on electric power alone.
Bigger outside – it's 20cm longer – means bigger inside with three rear seats that slide back and forth and a 450-litre boot with an optional electric tailgate.
? Audi Q5
It may not look that different but Audi's best-selling Q5, which arrives in spring, has little in common with the SUV that's still hugely popular eight years after launch.
Bigger outside, roomier inside and up to 90kg lighter, Audi says the latest Q5 sets new standards in connectivity, ride comfort, handling dynamics, efficiency and driver assistance. Given Audi's Vorsprung durch Technik ethos, don't bet against it.
Optional adaptive air suspension can vary the ride height and 2.0-litre models feature new quattro with ultra technology so four-wheel drive is engaged only when needed to improve efficiency.
? Mazda MX-5 RF
The world's best-selling two-seater sports car is about to get even more attractive with the Mazda MX-5 RF – Retractable Fastback – joining the soft-top roadster in March.
Designed to offer a new dimension of open-top driving fun, the retractable hard top's front and middle roof sections are stowed away, leaving the rear section and screen in place for a sense of open-air freedom while still feeling ensconced within the car.
Power comes from revvy 131PS 1.5-litre and 160PS 2.0-litre petrol engines.
? Land Rover Discovery
A legend, as happy mud-plugging as mixing it with the smart set, is reborn with the new, fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery.
This full-sized, three-row, seven-seat SUV has lost the boxy look but not the brand's drive to go 'Above and Beyond', combining British desirability with an unstoppable spirit of adventure.
On sale now, priced £43,495, with first deliveries in spring, the latest Disco gets a new 240PS 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel – the most efficient Discovery ever – achieving 43.5mpg with CO2 from 171g/km. There are also two 3.0-litre V6s – 258PS turbo diesel and 340PS supercharged petrol.
Weighing up to 480kg less, thanks to lightweight aluminium construction, will also help cut fuel bills and emissions.
? Skoda Kodiaq
We've had the Skoda Yeti, now it's launching the Kodiaq – its first seven-seater – which is a large SUV named after a bear that lives on a remote island off Alaska.
Under orders, from £21,495, the launch range features five engine options, two and four-wheel drive, and a choice of manual or DSG gearboxes.
More than 30 Simply Clever features – seven of them new – include family-friendly features such as electrically-activated child locks and special sleep headrests for rear passengers.
It also sees the launch of Skoda Connect mobile online services for infotainment, navigation, assistance and remote access.