If you’re thinking about buying a new car, do it soon, because the next six months could be your best opportunity for a while. And there are several reasons for this.
Car makers set production plans, years in advance, about how many cars they will build, and where they will be sold. It’s costly to alter these plans – one chief executive has likened it to a “supply firehose”, which is difficult to control once it’s been switched on.
Britain’s label has long been the car industry’s “Treasure Island”. Brits tend to buy higher-specced vehicles, meaning bigger profits for manufacturers. But those good times are ending.
Brexit has been a factor in UK new car sales falling for three years running, and uncertainty over the way Britain leaves the EU – which could mean import tariffs – worries manufacturers. Sterling’s weakness since the referendum has hit profits on eurozone-built cars. The margin on a car made in Spain for €20,000 that sells here for £21,000 was better when a quid was worth €1.50, rather than the €1.20 it is now. The UK is no longer such an attractive place to point that firehose
The economics are even less likely to stack up on electric cars. Many manufacturers build EVs at a loss, as they don’t yet sell enough of them to offset the billions they cost to develop. As more of them come on to the market, manufacturers are less likely to send them to Britain, where this loss is magnified, especially as demand grows elsewhere for zero-emission vehicles.
Global factors are at play, too. The US-China trade war trade has hit sales; manufacturers who prepared for expansion now find they have more capacity to build cars than they have customers to sell them to.
And now coronavirus has brought China and all its associated supply chains to a halt.
Combined, it looks like the Treasure Island times are over for the automotive industry. If you’re in the market for a new car, now could be the time to strike before the malaise permeates down to consumers.
Hyundai’s little i10 has been one of our favourite cars since the Mk2 model was launched in 2014. With the Korean company’s five-year warranty and a good reputation for build quality, this well-liked hatchback represents great value even in this fiercely price-conscious segment. Its 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is a far more conventional powertrain than that of the Honda Jazz, but its 66bhp (or a dizzying 99bhp in the N Line variant) should be ample for most supermini duties. Cute, cleverly proportioned and well-equipped, the i10 is a rare challenger to the Ford Fiesta, which has dominated this market for four decades.
The Jazz isn’t the most exciting car on our roads, but we think Honda might be on to a winner with the fourth generation of its popular supermini. It’s adorable, apart from anything, with a distinctively van-like shape giving it both an upright presence and a versatile interior space. But its powertrain, a dual-motor hybrid system, promises impressive efficiency and performance for such a small car. You’ll reach 60mph in under 10 seconds thanks to 108bhp of oomph under the bonnet, and regenerative braking means you’ll recoup some of that energy when you slow down again. It’s a Honda, too, so it’s likely to be very reliable.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe current Mirage is not one of our favourite cars, but it has its acolytes and by all accounts the new one is set to be better to drive than the models before it. With only a few thousand Mirages on British roads, this left-field Picanto rival is one of the least popular superminis on the market, but with a spruced-up interior, purposeful styling, an upgraded infotainment system and (we think) keen pricing, this outsider could become a bit more mainstream. The key downside? A sluggish 1.2-litre petrol engine with a manual gearbox on entry-level models, and a bothersome CVT higher up the range.
Just buy one. If you’re thinking about buying one, just do it. Nothing we say to you – about how the Seat Leon is better value, or about alternatives from Japanese and Korean brands – will be enough to sway you if you’ve already basically decided to buy a Golf. Again. There’s a lot to be said for this hatchback, and we think the eighth generation is among the best cars produced by Volkswagen in recent years, so you wouldn’t be wrong to buy one. You’d be joining about 35 million other perfectly sensible buyers, after all. Just remember to consider the alternatives – especially the Vauxhall Astra and Ford Focus – before joining the crowd.
Remember the Puma, a charismatic little Fiesta-based coupé with revvy engines launched at the end of the Nineties? Yeah, this isn’t like that. The new Puma might share the B3 platform with the latest Fiesta but beyond that, similarities are scarce. As it happens we think the new Puma is a pretty special car, with cleverly packaged (and ample) interior space making it the easiest small crossover to recommend to families. It has too many tricks to list here, but our favourite is the drainage plug in the boot floor; dog owners can hose down the compartment in the event of any muddy incidents.
Is this the worst name of any car, ever? We think it might be. The fermented Dementor will go on sale this summer and while Seat has made an effort to make Cupra feel like a wholly separate brand, we all know it’s just another Volkswagen Group SUV with leather trousers and tribal tattoos. A powerful plug-in hybrid powertrain makes this a fairly high-performance model – if not exactly sporty in the conventional sense – with the added benefit of 30 (claimed) miles of zero-emission battery-electric propulsion making it a semi-sensible choice for suburban families. Expect to hear more from this brand in 2020.
BMW 3 Series Touring PHEV
The 3 Series saloon is brilliant. A class leader. The benchmark against which all other cars are judged. But somehow, the 3 Series estate – dubbed Touring – has never quite reached this elevated status. The new car could be about to change that, with new emphasis on handling and, more importantly, a 330e plug-in hybrid version. With 39 theoretical miles of zero-emission battery range (admittedly a figure we’d take with a generous pinch of salz) this new Bavarian PHEV will save its more sensible drivers a not inconsiderable amount of petrol money.
Peugeot 508 plug-in hybrid
This Gallic hunk is one of the best-looking cars on the market and in plug-in hybrid form, it’s surprisingly sensible too. With 30-odd miles of pure battery propulsion and a punchy overall petrol-electric output of 222bhp, this big French estate offers more than enough shove for drivers used to large-displacement diesel engines. The car uses an 11.9kWh battery pack, which can be speedily recharged in less than two hours when using a 7kW charger. The pricing structure appeals more to the company car market than private households, but there’s a lot to like about this left-field wagon. If the Skoda Superb is the answer to the SUV, then the 508 estate is the answer to the Skoda Superb.
Skoda Octavia estate
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThis estate is the closest thing we have to the perfect car. It does pretty much everything a car needs to do, its only noticeable shortcomings manifesting way beyond the speed limit. The new car, which has taken an enormous leap upmarket, is the thinking man’s alternative to one of the many Volkswagen Group SUVs on the market, and in estate form is (probably) the most practical car at this price point. Choose from three diesel, three petrol and one mild hybrid powertrains; the 187bhp 48v petrol-electric system will reach 60mph in under seven seconds, albeit without three kids and a dog in the back.
Ford isn’t very good at making SUVs. It entered the segment literally decades after its rivals, and promptly set about disappointing people with lacklustre models. But the third-generation Kuga promises to rectify some of the problems, with a smart exterior, decent connectivity and a range of attractive powertrains, including a plug-in hybrid version. Being able to drive a few miles (Ford claims up to 34) on electric power will be attractive.
The little 208 might be hogging the limelight, but the attractive new 3008 is an underrated gem. Bringing uncommon cuteness to a segment more commonly associated with stylised aggression, this small SUV is likely to become one of the French car industry’s most popular models in 2020, not least because of its keen pricing across every powertrain type; just like its smaller sibling, it’s available with internal combustion engines or a fully electric system. Also like the e-208, the e-3008 is a relatively short-range model aimed at ordinary families, rather than people attempting more intrepid journeys.
This jacked-up A-Class is the answer to a question nobody really asked, joining the BMW X2 and Audi Q2 in being a premium German hatchback with off-road pretensions. There’s nothing remotely utilitarian about the GLA beyond those chunky looks, but this is a popular recipe with buyers who want a bit more height and presence than a normal B- or C-segment car delivers. A range of petrol and diesel engines, including a high-performance AMG version and a plug-in hybrid, will be available later, though initially this model will only come with a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appFans of the Swedish Touring Car Championship might recognise the name “Polestar” from the racetrack. The Polestar is a limited-run coupé of limited interest to British buyers, but the unimaginatively named 2 is a mass-market EV for family buyers. It’s a debut car, and it needs to be good, but everything Volvo has touched for the past five years seems to have turned to gold, and the £50,000, 402bhp 1 is likely to continue this winning streak.
Volkswagen ID. 3
The letters “ID” are enough to make any automotive reporter wince, such is the doggedness with which this sub-brand has been promoted at motor shows. The ID. 3 hatchback – which VW will follow up with an SUV, a saloon, some sort of minibus thing and a handful of others – is one of the most compelling cars to be launching in 2020, with up to 340 miles of range and a starting price of around £30,000. VW has always tried to make electric cars feel as unremarkable as possible, and we expect the ID. 3 to follow this tradition.
Ford Mustang Mach E
If you were mildly annoyed by Ford’s reusere-use of the Puma badge, then the Mustang Mach E is going to make you positively vexed. The Mustang Mach E has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual Mustang, a much-loved muscle car in production since 1964 –- instead, it’s an all-electric five-door crossover SUV designed to cement Ford’s position as a global producer of family cars. We haven’t driven it yet, but we did get a lift in it in London the other day; a short trip that from Cavendish Square to Marble Arch was promising, if not particularly revealing.
We rather liked the four-cylinder 718, but – judging by the furore – we were in a minority. To its credit, Porsche has “rectified” the problem and introduced a 4.0-litre six-cylinder to the Boxster family. The Cayman GT4’s flat six has made the 718 faster and nicer to listen to, albeit for a price. You’ll reach 62mph in 4.5 seconds and keep accelerating to a screaming 182mph, which will be a far more joyous process with the larger, sweeter engine. You’ll also be able to participate in a specific type of conversation in pub car parks.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe brawny, blokey 8 Series has been given a quick once-over by M Division, which seems to have made it brawnier and blokier still. To some extent this is a continuation of the M6 and M6 Convertible, though its price puts it well among the premium pigeons; buyers might also wander over to the Bentley showroom if they want more conventional luxury, or Aston Martin for better dynamics. You’d be forgiven for thinking the M8 is a bit unfocused, especially as a “halo” car at the top of BMW’s performance range, but nobody else is offering this particular cocktail.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appYou don’t see many on British roads, but that could be about to change. For the first time, this all-American hero will be available in right-hand drive, which will be welcome news to fans in Japan, Australia and indeed the UK. A lot will depend on the pricing, but we think that the ’Vette could seriously challenge (relatively) popular high-performance mainstays such as the Audi R8 and Jaguar F-Type. The 483bhp V8 will launch you to 60mph in around 3.3 seconds, and while that’s pretty leisurely compared to something like the Honda’s NSX, the noise it’ll make will more than make up for the extra half a second’s wait.
Volkswagen T-Roc Cabriolet
The T-Roc Cabriolet is what we might tactfully describe as “‘divisive”’. We rather like it, partly because it’s a break from Volkswagen’s slightly fuddy-duddy norm, and partly because it is one of a very tiny number of convertible SUVs on the market; the Evoque drop-top is pretty much the only alternative in this niche. Obviously the convertible version of the T-Roc is a huge ergonomic compromise,, with only two doors and significantly reduced luggage spacewith only two doors and significantly reduced luggage space, but nobody buys an open-topped car for practicality –- this is a silly, cheerful car for people who still sometimes have fun.
From £60,000 (est)
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appHydrogen has been “the fuel of the future” for as long as we can remember, but the past few years have brought us even closer to this particular flavour of zero-emission future. Fuel cell cars, which run on hydrogen and emit pure water as their only exhaust, have the potential to revolutionise the way we travel thanks to the ease and rapidity with which they can be charged. The 2020 Mirai will travel several hundred miles on a single tank of hydrogen, which can be filled from empty in about five minutes. The new car is understood to be approximately 30 percent more efficient than the old car, and about twice as attractive.
Admittedly, the “world’s first electric MPV” is more likely to be of interest to the operator of an airport hotel than to your average Telegraph reader. But with 240 miles of range thanks to a 100kwh battery beneath the floor, and up to eight seats depending on configuration, the new all-electric EQV will make an excellent vehicle for larger families. If you have a driveway on which to charge this thing overnight (which is possible using a 7.2kw wall box) then consider a test drive; few other vehicles offer this kind of versatility without burning fossil fuels.