It’s been a tricky time for the automotive industry as the recession has plunged its claws in deeper with every passing month, will 2009 see it recover?
Not an industry to rest on its laurels, there’s some great cars launching to keep an eye out for in the coming year with something for all tastes and budgets. Here’s five of those I’m excited about.
New Seat Exeo. To be honest, I’ve never given this particular marque much attention or consideration. Yet, as belts are tightened, this may prove to be a flourishing year for the Spanish car maker especially with the new Seat Exeo. Given its first airing at the Paris Motor Show in 2008, this “Audi in drag” has met with high praise from the motoring press and it’s certainly an interesting idea: the reliability of an Audi with the Spanish flair and the Seat price tag.
Far from looking like something cheap and flimsy, this is a solid, handsome looking motor. The proof will be in the pudding but, if they get this right, it could be the big hit of 2009.
New Ford Focus RS. With its bright green paintwork taking over from its predecessor’s garish orange hue, the new Ford Focus RS isn’t going to sit quietly and unnoticed in traffic. But that’s not what it’s about, is it.
From the sculpted bucket seats to the 300hp engine, aggressive styling it’s about performance and plenty of it, at a low price. This is a screaming monster of a hot-hatch that’s sure to put a grin on plenty of drivers’ faces even if Gordon Brown is still destroying our future income and is likely to deliver a slap in face to a few Evos and STIs on the way.
One thing’s for sure, you’re certainly not gonna have to look hard to see this one.
New Renault Laguna Coupe. What? A Laguna? Exciting?! Well, yeah. I know that there’s a bit of a dodgy history with attempts to make a coupe out of a hatchback – Calibra anyone? – and the new Renault Laguna isn’t exactly a French beauty in the Laura Thomas league but there’s been success too, look at the Peugeot 407 coupe.
Here the French have pulled out all the stops and poured some sleek, smooth style all over the new Laguna Coupe. They’ve even dropped in the 3.5 litre V6 from the Nissan 350Z which means that this puppy will have the established quality of the Laguna, a stonker of an engine and, let’s face it, some gorgeous looks. If only they’d kept their hands on the style-control switch when deciding the size of and where to dump the Renault badge.
This is a company in dire need of a comeback so let’s hope that the new look Megane and the new Laguna Coupe do the job. I want one. I actually do.
As hatchbacks and saloons become coupes, should coupes become saloons? The Aston Martin Rapide could have been a styling disaster along the the Porshe Panamara lines. Instead, in good old English fashion, Aston have succeeded. They’ve really really teased us with this one too but late this year the car is due to finally launch. They’ve taken the famous and unquestionable Aston Martin styling and drizzled it lovingly over an extra pair of doors and delivered what is beyond doubt the best-looking saloon likely to hit the roads.
Given that it’s an Aston Martin it’s guaranteed that the engine is going to be an absolute belter too – a 6.0 litre V12 in fact – and the price tag to be a little on the hefty side – expect around the 150,000GBP mark – but it’s a gorgeous evolution for the marque.
As the need to push to greener cars increases, Honda are set to launch the second generation of the initially flawed and failing Insight hybrid. Another one that made a debut at the 2008 Paris Motor Show, the new Honda Insight is a dramatic improvement in looks over the first generation and the oh-so-smug Toyota Prius. The Insight is expected to kick off at around the 15,000 GBP mark and its economy and efficiency means that it’s going to be an extremely popular car for the environmentally-minded family.
With more and more companies and auto manufacturers waving the green flag there’s sure to be more where this one came from and, with any luck, it won’t be long before the FCX Clarity and hydrogen is able to become the main power source for vehicles.
The strange thing, to me, is that for all the styling innovations, gorgeous curves and lines, that it’s only the barmy Ford Focus RS that seems to come in anything other than silver, black or white. I really hope the new Aston is available in British Racing… though that much green may be a bit too much.