This article is brought to you by Jennings Ford Direct.
Sizzling sports cars, saloons, superminis and SUVs – whatever your preferred shape of car, 2015 promises to be a belter. Whether you decide on a Ford, Honda, Hyundai or an Audi, the waves of new arrivals represent something for car lovers of all types.
Here are the cars you need to be considering for the next 12 months.
If you don’t want an SUV or crossover vehicle, Auto Express says that the new Clubman model will be the first MINI with enough space for five passengers, and also has enough boot space (360 litres, 100 more than its predecessor) to consume all their items.
The new model is 26cm longer, and as before the looks retain the traditional MINI old-school frontage and the familiar two single barn-door rear end, although the previous model’s single suicide rear door has been replaced by new forward-hinged rear doors on both sides. All up, it means this six-door estate model could be a true family MINI.
Alternative: Honda HR-V
With the ‘magic seat’ system that allows the rear seats of the new Honda HR-V to be dropped totally flat, this 1.6 litre crossover SUV is likely to prove a lifesaver to many larger tribes when it goes on sale later this year.
Ford Focus RS 2015
Jim Farley, president of Ford of Europe, Middle East and Africa, said this 315bhp flyer would “raise the game to a new level.” Fitted with a sophisticated four-wheel drive system that’s gripping in all senses of the word, it will need to be good to see off competitors like the Audi RS 3, Honda Civic Type R and Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG. The 2.3-litre, turbo-charged EcoBoost engine in this fun and funky little firebrand of a car gives it a great chance.
Expect to pay £30,000 for a car that shares its engine with the Ford Mustang. It will only be available in four colours – Nitrous Blue, Stealth Grey, Absolute Black or Frozen White – but what it might lack in palette could be made up for in sheer grunt.
The early tests on the new Mazda2, refreshed and renewed after seven years on sale, have been extremely positive. Failing this, go for the all-new Mazda MX-5, which is gaining fabulous reviews already from sites such as Top Gear.
Starting at £7,500, Vauxhall’s new five-door entry-level city slicker is ideal for the inexperienced urban driver and those looking for a cheaper new vehicle. The 1.0-litre, three-cylinder ECOTEC engine won’t break the bank for fuel economy, and sits within a car packed with safety measures for the young motorist such as lane departure warning, park assist and electronic stability control. Plus, there’s an IntelliLink multimedia system that integrates with Apple and Android – perfect for the young music fan who wants music to complement their new drive.
Alternative: Hyundai i10
How can such a tiny little package of a car fit four people inside? With a ‘smart’ (see what we did there?) little bit of redesigning and only a gnat’s wing shorter length than the Volkswagen up!, the new smart forfour is the ideal compact urban runaround for 2015, and returns after the original forfour model was axed in 2006.
Yes, with only 89/71bhp (and a 59bhp version to follow) you’re not going to be tearing along motorways too often, but it’s a safe, sturdy and slinky city runabout with up to 975 litres of boot space (back seats folded).
The three trim levels are Passion, Prime and Proxy, which says it all. The other P – price – is £11,620 (start).
Alternative: Honda Jazz
A brand new bodyshell for the little Honda Jazz, with a new 1.3-litre i-VTEC engine in the petrol version and a hybrid version with 133bhp, as well as new front suspension – expect new fans to enjoy some fine Jazz later in the year.
Something more extravagant
Waving goodbye to the old first generation Audi R8 will be heart-wrenching for many enthusiasts, who loved the handling of the mid-engined supercar. Fans can probably be rest assured that the newcomer will promise the same gorgeous control and head-turning looks.
The new version is due to be unveiled at Geneva in March and the preliminary shots have suggested a modernisation of the nine-year old car rather than a complete redesign, to include changes to the grille, vents, blades and rear. The interior, however, will enjoy a complete overhaul.
Expect to pay around £100,000 for this beast, which will probably boast a V8 or V10 engine.
Alternative: BMW 7 Series
Probably heading for a September launch in Frankfurt, expect to pay around £60,000 for the entry-level version of this luxury vehicle. Built from lightweight aluminium and the same carbon fibre used in F1 cars, this combines sport and luxury in one attractive package.
It’s a hydrogen fuel cell coupe, which should be enough to pique your interest straight away. And Auto Express reports that early interest in Japan has seen nearly four times its expected number of orders in its first month.
Toyota modestly describes the car as a ‘turning point in automotive history’, but is keen to emphasise the level of long-term research that this pioneering vehicle exists upon. Essentially, hydrogen gas travels to carbon fibre fuel tanks which is then combined with air to create electricity, powering the vehicle.
It looks amazing and only leaves vapour rather than fumes, so ecologically-minded drivers will love it. It’s due to arrive in Europe late in the year and will probably live or die on the hydrogen-supply infrastructure – and the number of motorists who will stump up £63,000. The Telegraph described it as ‘damn good.’
Alternative: Plug-in hybrid Volkswagen Passat GTE
Due for release mid-way through 2015, the Volkswagen Passat GTE is due to boast a fuel economy of 141mpg in a 215bhp engine/battery combination, with a range of more than 600mph across both.
With 32 seating configurations, the Ford S-Max should have more than enough versatility for anything from friends going for a road-trip to parents and their energetic brood (plus dog) desperate for their summer hols.
Described as either an MPV, people carrier or SAV – Sport Activity Vehicle – this seven-seater is fun to drive and packed with technology including a rear-view camera and Blind Spot Information System.
Alternative: Fiat 500X
During the Superbowl our American cousins will have seen an advertisement promising that the new Fiat 500X crossover is bigger, more powerful and ready for action. Available in off-road and city looks, the car weighs in at around £17,595.