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Sunday, 1 February, 2015 - 05:35 (UK)  

..:: The Subaru Impreza Story

1. The Subaru Impreza Story, as told by me
2. The History of the Subaru Impreza
3. Special Editions
4. Image Galleries
5. My 2001 Subaru Impreza WRX - Red Mica


..:: The History of the Subaru Impreza

Subaru is a subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries. Which was originally Nakajima Aircraft back in 1917. It's wasn't until 1954 before Fuji Heavy Industries took on the challenge of building a road car. The name of this car was the P-1 (Nothing like the modern Subaru Impreza P1) which stood for Prototype-1. This name was later changed to the Subaru 1500. And here the Subaru was born. The name Subaru Closely translates to reference the star cluster Pleiades, which is the same famous star cluster that we see make up the subaru logo today. over the decades Subaru continued to build motor cars and in 1972 made it's first 4WD car with the Subaru Leone 4WD Station Wagon. From that point onwards Subaru made something for a name for it's self in the 4WD motor car department, almost like a trade mark. Think Subaru, think All Wheel Drive. However it wasn't until 1992 that the Subaru Impreza was born. So let's pick up the story from there.

1992

The Launch of the Subaru Impreza (Japan) The Subaru Impreza was developed after rule changes in the World Rally Championship (WRC) demanded a replacement to the Subaru Legacy which was previously used by Subaru in the WRC. The changes meant that a new smaller, lighter and faster car was required in order to compete in the WRC. So even from day one, the Subaru Impreza was developed for rallying.

1993

The Subaru Impreza reached the UK. Initially the Subaru Impreza was available in both Front Wheel Drive (FWD) and All Wheel Drive (AWD) versions. However the FWD was soon dropped in preference of the trademark Subaru AWD system.

1994

The Turbo Charged Impreza 2000 AWD reached the UK (Known as the Subaru Impreza WRX in Japan). Also in 2004, Subaru Technica International (STI) was born and we started seeing STI versions of the Subaru Impreza Turbo. The Subaru Impreza WRX STI meant much more than an extra badge on the body. The STI stood for a full upgrading of the Subaru Impreza Taking was was learned on the World Rally stages and incorporating developments into the road car. Many areas were upgraded for the Subaru Impreza STI versions. Engine, Suspension and overall performance and handling greatly improved over the standard car. Top speed was limited to 155mph and 0-62 came in at just 4.7seconds for the Impreza STI. These figures made the Subaru Impreza very sought after by the local boy racers. Albeit a bit more expensive than the your every day Peugeot 205 and Vauxhall Nova.

1995

Subaru won the World Rally Championship in a 555 WRC Subaru Impreza driven by fellow Scotsman Colin McRae. A brilliant achievement for both driver and manufacturer. Driver Colin McRae for being the first ever British driver to win the WRC, and Subaru proved that the Impreza was a World Leading rally car. To mark the success of Subaru winning the WRC championship that year, a special edition Subaru Impreza was released in the form of the McRae Series Subaru Impreza.

1996

Subaru took the manufacturer title for a second year in a row, and promptly released another special edition Impreza knows as the Subaru Impreza Catalunya.

1997

Subaru won a hat-trick of manufacturer championships and celebrated once again by releasing a new special edition Impreza. The Subaru Impreza Terzo (Italian for 3rd). Only 333 Subaru Impreza Terzos were made, as a mark of the three championships won with the Subaru Impreza. 1997 also saw a few changes to the Impreza road car. Interior styling was updated including an exclusive MOMO racing steering wheel. Meanwhile STI versions were given an newly designed rear spoiler. In Japan a special 2-door coupe Subaru Impreza was released which was used as the 1998 WRC car.

1998

The Subaru Impreza 22B. A label that often conjures up thoughts of what the ultimate Subaru Impreza might be. The 22B (Note: for the computer geeks out there, 22B in hex converts to 555 in decimal.) provided a 2.2l boxer engine, more hardcore styling all round including 2-doors instead of 4 and an adjustable rear wing made up just some of the key features of the 22B. Only 400 22B's were made in order to celebrate 40 years of Subaru and only 16 of those were destined for the UK. I've seen three in total!! UK versions also had tweaked gearing which was specifically optimised to UK roads. How cool is that!

1999

To celebrate the new driver lineup of Richard Burns in the Subaru World Rally Team, Subaru decided it was once again time for a special edition. This time the RB5 named after Richard Burns. Sadly in November 2003 Richard Burns was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and later died on the 25th November 2005 from his illness. This makes the RB5 all the more special now. Only 444 RB5's were made, with the option of the WR Sport pack.

1999 Also saw the release of another special edition. The Subaru Impreza P1, which like the Subaru Impreza 22B was a 2-door coupe model, and like the 22B it was only available in WR Blue. However unlike the 22B the Subaru Impreza P1 delivered a 276bhp out of the box, and supporting a whole load of new accessories such as 10-spoke OZ Titanium racing wheels, improved quick-shift gearbox, rear-wiper, new front wing/splitter, new fog lamps and a new exclusive rear wing. Unlike the Impreza 22B there were 1,000 P1's made. Despite this the Subaru Impreza P1 remains one of the most expensive Subaru Impreza's to buy today.

     
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2000

For eight years, the Subaru Impreza remained more or less unchanged (externally) until 2000 where Subaru decided to update the Impreza for the 21st century. This change was met with mixed views. The appropriately labeled Bug-eye version by critics, was just that. Bug-eyed! One can only guess it was Subaru's attempt to make the Impreza all cute and cuddly. But this didn't go down well with the fans. Many NewAge impreza's promptly had their headlights replaces with WRC look-alike HI-Definition (HiD) lamps or the more aggressive looking Morette cluster. What was in favour of the fans was the globalisation of the WRX name. Previously only used in Japan, the WRX badge was now stuck to any Impreza with a Turbo!

2001

To celebrate Richard Burns's win in the WRC and the launch of the of the new model, Subaru decided to launch yet another special edition Impreza. This time the Subaru Impreza UK300. Once again just like the 22B and P1 the only colour available was WR Blue. The UK300 supported new prodrive styled spoilers of which the rear wing looked like was picked from bit of an airfix kit and not put together properly. Thankfully the front end was improved slightly, with the addition of improved HiD headlamps which made the car look slightly less like a bug. Yet no matter what they did, it was still going to be remembered as the Bug-Eyed version. 2001 also saw the arrival of the NewAge (Must stop calling it bug-eyed) Subaru Impreza WRX STI to the UK. Just like previous STI's, this was based on the WRX but tweaked a little by the Subaru Technica International (STI) team. If that wasn't enough there was also the option of a Prodrive Performance Pack (PPP). The Subaru Imrpeza WRX STI saw a few key changes over the standard Subaru Impreza WRX. This time, the addition of a 6-speed gearbox as opposed to the WRX 5-speed. Also a nice welcome was similar headlamps which were found on the UK300.

2002

It didn't take long before Subaru had to give in to pressure from fans and go back to the drawing board (literally) to come up with a new style Subaru Impreza. So in 2002, Subaru announced yet another NewAge Impreza. The MY03. Main difference here was the front end. More or less everything else stayed the same, but those bug-eyed headlamps were out and replaced with slightly less ugly ones. Also a bigger bonnet scoop was included. Not to be outdone, the Subaru Impreza WRX power was increased by 10bhp. Not surprisingly many Bug-eyed Subaru Impreza's were made available on the 2nd hand market as many owners wanted to change their driveway accessory for the new style Subaru Impreza.

Although Turbo versions of the Subaru Impreza were available in Japan and Europe from more or less day one. The US favoured their muscle cars and not these Japanese breed of performance cars. Which meant the Subaru Impreza Turbo's never "officially" reached US soil until the 2002 model. Any previous Subaru Impreza's were Imports. Unfortunately for the US market the famous 2.0l boxer engine had to go. The fuel regulations in the US meant that the high performance expected from the Subaru Impreza could not be achieved from the 2.0l engine with US fuel. Instead, the Subaru Impreza was given a nice new 2.5l boxer engine for the US market, in order to keep the power and performance up.

2004

Another Subaru WRC title win with Petter Solberg at the wheel. Once again sticking with tradition a new special edition was released, known as the Subaru Impreza WR1. I must admit the WR1 is one of my personal favourites, if only because of the unique Ice Blue colour. Only 500 WR1's were made, but Subaru decided to throw everything at it, including PPP and Driver Controlled Centre Diff (DCCD). The Subaru Impreza WRX STI also saw further improvements in 2004 with upgraded mechanics from the Japanese models. This new revised STI saw a new front diff, along with the DCCD system which was found on the WR1 and UK300 models. Nice!

2005

Towards the end of 2005. Again just 2 years after the previous model was replaced, Subaru decided to release another new bodied Subaru Impreza, the MY06. This time with new crystal rear light cluster and yet another new front end. The jury is still out about whether or not it is a hit or a miss. I personally think it looks Awesome. Almost as though Subaru have forgotten the last 5 years and gone back to the aggressive styling of the original Subaru Impreza from the 90's! I admit, it did take a few days to get used to, but after you see past the SEAT grill and BMW headlamps you soon realise that this is the sort of car you want other people to see you in, in their rear view mirror. (Admittedly briefly as you scream past them shortly after words :) Sadly the MY06 marked the end for the traditional 2.0l boxer engine. Instead we saw the introduction of the 2.5l boxer engine into the Subaru Impreza. A sad end which seems to have gone relatively unnoticed. But then think of what they can do with that extra 500cubic centimetres of space. Mwaahaahaahaa!...

2006

Towards the end of 2006. Subaru / Prodrive announced the realease of a new Special Edition Impreza. Sadly without recent success in the WRC. This time the special edition was to celebrate the life of previous Subaru WRC Champion Richard Burns who sadly died 12 months previously due to a brain tumour. The New Special Edition Subaru Impreza was to be named the RB320. That's 320bhp and a limited number of 320 to be produced. Essentially the RB320 is a 2006 model Subaru Impeza WRX STi PPP with just abotu ever add on you can think of, along with bespoke prodrive/blitsen dampers, exclusive obsidian black paint work, black alloys and full dront grill set. All in all making the RB320 very exclusive and ver agressive looking with only small markings on the passenger, drivers doors and boot lid of a small orange RB320 logo. The rest of the car is very much black in respect for the late Richard Burns. A true trubite to a great champion!

       

2007

I have yet to come up with a word that describes Subaru in 2007. At the time of writing Subaru had recently announced the drascically redesigned 2008 model of the Subaru Impreza (You can see some photos here) Make your own mind up about what you think of it. My initial thoughts are yuk.. And I have to say my thoughts are still more or less the same. The car does NOT look agressive as it shoudl and just looks like any other family hatchback on the road. a fair pecentage of the Impreza's appeal has always been it's agressive shape and styling. Even teh bugeye version admitedly wasn't welcomed by many had the trademark styling that for every other angle you knew it was an Impreza and more importantly a car to be reckoned with!. This new one doesn't do much for me I'm afraid. Doesn't excite me when I see pictures of it like previous styles. The same recipie is still there usign the same 2.5l boxer engine from teh MY06 models, a new intercooler has been shoved in. Power remains teh same at 225ps for the WRX model, awd as standard of course :). However the tyres are narrower than previous versions. Also it's worth noting that at time of writing there are no plans for a WRX version or saloon version for the UK. Instead we'll have the basic models then a jump up to the STi's I see this as a mistake as the WRX hits a just about affordable market for most peopel who cant afford te £25k price of the STi. However somethign new for the MY08 Impreza will be the introduction of a 170bhp Diesel Impreza. Thats right diesel. Should be interesting...Watch this space...

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Used car buying guide - hot hatches with a French flavour
Citroen AX Sport Some of the finest hot hatches ever made hark from across the Channel. Here are some of our favourites, starting from less than a grand.

For many young drivers, their first taste of performance motoring comes behind the wheel of a hot hatch.

Some of the finest of the breed have harked from across the channel, ranging from warmed-up lightweights to full on homologation specials. Here are some of our favourites, starting from less than £1000.

1 - Citroen AX Sport (1985-1988) - From £800

There are two ways to get a hot hatch. One is to throw loads of power at a regular hatch, while the other is to not have much power, but to not have much weight either. That is very much the route taken with the Citroen AX Sport. Weighing in at less than 700kg, the AX was made very a spritely indeed when it was given 95bhp 1300cc twin-carburettor engine. It was an exercise in minimalism, with a simple interior and white steel wheels which marked it apart from the rest of the range. Such lightweight build means relatively few survive, but it?s a pure and simple a hot hatch experience as you could wish to have.

For Cheap and fun

Against Rare

2 - Renault 5 Turbo and Turbo II (1980-1984) - From £30000

Created as a homologation special, the Turbo was a fundamental re-engineering of the lightweight hatch. The 1300cc turbo engine was relocated from the front to the rear, sitting between the rear wheels, flanked by a bespoke suspension set-up for the car. In order to accommodate the wider track, huge flared wheel arches were required, which give the Turbo comic book looks and immediately distinguished it from the various other hot Renault 5s.

The original homologation cars made extensive use of aluminium components with some versions packing a scarcely believable 240bhp punch. The standard Turbo II came with 160bhp. Plenty for a short wheelbase hatch weighing less than 1000kg.  

For Looks like a superhero?s car 

Against Rare, expensive and all are left-hookers

3 - Renault Clio Williams (1993-1995) - From £3000

With Nigel Mansell laying waste to his Formula 1 opposition around the world, Renault decided to build something that cashed in on that success. The Clio Williams was more than decals and gold wheels however. Modified front suspension, wider tyres, firmer dampers and an uprated gearbox combined with big-valve 2.0-litre engine all conspired to make a finely poised small hatch which quickly sold out the near 5000 production run.

One common misconception, however, is that Williams had some engineering input to the car. They didn?t. All the development was completed in-house by Renaultsport. Follow-up models arrived, but enthusiasts revere the original above all others. 

For A good one is an investment

Against Watch out for dodgy repairs

4 - Peugeot 205 1.9 GTi (1986-1993) - From £2500 

For many, this is the pinnacle of French hot hatchery, and this isn?t lost on Peugeot either, who use it in the campaign for the current 208 GTi to reflect a bit of that glory. Fans are split on whether the revvy 1.6-litre car, or the lazier but ultimately faster and better equipped 1.9-litre is the preferred choice. Ultimately, either car has tremendous balance, agility and usable performance that Peugeot has struggled to achieve with any of the small GTis it has produced since.

For Still great to drive and easy to love 

Against Loads of bad ones about

5 - Peugeot 306 GTi-6 (1996-2001) - From £1200

If anything from the Peugeot stable can be said to get close to the poise and performance of the 205 GTi, it is the 306 GTi-6. Many rate it among the all-time greats, helped no end by humdrum looks which make the drive all the more surprising. The 167bhp 2.0-litre engine was mated to a supremely good six-speed gearbox, which made wringing that power from the four-cylinder lump something of a pleasure.

A lean 1200kg weight and supremely sorted chassis marked the GTi-6 out as the driver?s choice of hot hatch when it emerged in 1996. Beware, however. Push one too far and it will bite. A lot ended up backwards through hedge, which means they are rarer than you might imagine.

For Great fun and very affordable 

Against Razor-edge handling can catch out the unwary

6 - Renault Clio 182 Trophy (2005-2007) - From £6000

While the Clio Williams might be the most sought-after hot Renault hatches, in truth, the 182 Trophy is the best. Renaultsport produced loads of hot Clios, but this was made exceptional by the addition of a suspension setup lifted from a Tarmac rally car.

At the time, Autocar declared it so far ahead of the competition as to make comparison ridiculous. Some rivals were faster, some were better made, but nothing could steer and ride as well as the 182 Trophy - and with a list price of less than £16k, it wasn?t even expensive. With only 500 made, tracking one down today is likely to be a tough task, but that should not put you off trying.

For One of the best ever hot hatches to drive 

Against Needs to be bought with care

7 - Citroen Saxo VTS (1995-2002) - From £900 (for an original one) 

The Citroen Saxo was a perfectly pleasant, if unremarkable little hatchback. Where it became remarkable was with the VTS version which, courtesy of suspension and braking tweaks and a 16v engine, was a very potent little car. The biggest challenge now is finding one which has not been crudely modified by misguided owners. No car was more beloved by modifiers in the early 2000s than the Saxo, and as such many that remain are festooned with all manner of aftermarket jewellery.

Find an unmolested car, however, and you?ll have a well-sorted, surprisingly rapid little hatch for a three-figure price tag. Keep it nice and rarity should have it appreciating in value. 

For Hot hatches don?t get much cheaper 

Against Most have been mucked about with

Deciding the world's greatest hot hatchback - picture special

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Home on the range - testing the Tesla Supercharger network
What?s the reality of long-distance electric motoring? We drive a Tesla Model S from London to Amsterdam and back to find out

Sixty miles remaining. That?s what the Tesla Model S is telling me. It?s pouring with rain. The heater is off to preserve charge. The windows are steaming up and it?s freezing in the car.

I wouldn?t mind if we weren?t also restraining ourselves to a truck-flustering 50mph on a 75mph stretch of road. Fifty-nine miles.

Mind you, the last thing I want to do is end up at the side of the road, battery discharged and immobile. We?ve got just 15 miles to go to get to the Eurotunnel on the French side. The problem is that the next Supercharger point is 35 miles from the Folkstone exit. Either way, it?s going to be close. Fifty-eight.

A brief recollection of Apollo 13 flashes through my mind. I shut off the wipers and dipped beams ? the weather is clearing a little ? in an effort to save every amp. I temper my frustrations, while tearing my eyes off the now amber-lit range indicator, knowing I?ve really only got myself ?to blame. Fifty-seven.

The brief for the trip was simple. Tesla?s growing network of Supercharger points (which allow you to replenish a battery pack to about 80 per cent in 40 minutes) and the introduction of a new one just off the M20 near Maidstone, Kent, suggested that driving through Europe in a Model S might now be perfectly viable; we wanted to find out if it would be. 

So we planned a trip from London?s Westfield Shopping Centre to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and back, the route being based on Supercharger locations. We?d be driving a P85+ variant of the Model S, with a claimed range of 265 miles.

On my arrival, I find the car fully charged, showing an indicated range ? based on previous driving data ? of 246 miles. Plenty, I think. After all, the round trip is just 650 miles or so.

The Tesla surges out of London and we reach the Supercharger in Maidstone with ease, via a slight detour, covering 70 miles but making an 81-mile dent in the range. Using a Supercharger is pleasingly simple and cost-free; all you have to do is plug your Tesla in. We?ve got a train to catch, though, so we grab a coffee and stop for only 20 minutes, during which the battery charges by 40 per cent, granting an indicated range extension from 165 miles to 231. 

A short hop to the train ensues, followed by a 90-mile motorway stint to Ghent. The Model S performs impeccably; it?s fast, acceptably comfortable, well equipped and engaging. We cruise at motorway speeds and hit lots of traffic, however, and it?s cold. Our range takes a tumble. We?ve travelled 127 miles, which in theory should leave us with 104 remaining, but the conditions mean we have a mere 52 miles.

The logistics start to take their toll. There?s no Supercharger at our destination, so we?ve got to take on enough charge on the way to ensure we can get to Amsterdam and then back to a Supercharger. We spend 40 minutes fast-charging and drinking coffee, drive 80 miles to the next point in Breda and go through another charging cycle.

We buy more coffee, watching Tesla owners come and go at the charging points. They all seem happy, and you can understand why: they get to drive a car that offers supercar-like acceleration, but they don?t have to pay to keep it rolling. Presumably few of them push the range envelope on a daily basis.

Eventually we arrive in Amsterdam, with plenty of range remaining. It has taken a long time, admittedly, partly due to heavy traffic and partly because of the piecemeal nature of our journey. We?d departed at 9am and walked through the hotel doors at 10pm.

The return journey poses fewer questions, given that we?ve already proved that the route works. But then a downfall of electric motoring strikes. We have to deviate from our route due to photography and scheduling constraints, bypassing a charging point and leaving us exposed to the crippling anxiety that a decreasing battery level can generate. 

The Tesla soldiers on, though, its range indicator remaining seemingly truthful. We hit the Eurotunnel with 45 miles on the gauge, drive the 35 to Maidstone and have an indicated 10 miles left. The sense of relief, as the charging begins and another £3.30 is spent on coffee, is palpable.

Sure, you can do long-distance trips between planned points in electric cars, but it?ll be a while before the batteries have sufficient capacity to endure angst-free travel and guaranteed levels of performance for the duration. More charging points aren?t necessarily the answer, especially given how busy some of them are, the charging times and the logistics of getting to them. Battery swapping stations might help, but they don?t exist yet.

In five or 10 years, however, I suspect that the technology will have advanced so that most motorists won?t have to think twice about picking up the keys to an electric car. Based on how gratifying and easy they can be to drive, and how viable they are if your journey is a known quantity, I look forward to that day. 

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Comparison - new Ford Mondeo versus business car rivals
The latest Ford Mondeo and VW Passat have injected quality and interest back into the repmobile market. We find out how they stack up against their main rivals

The reasons not to buy a traditional family saloon now seem so numerous and widely acknowledged that to put such a car on your driveway would almost risk social stigma. 

Our heads haven?t been turned away from these conventional, mid-market cars so much as spun like upturned castors. Those who haven?t either downsized or been lured upmarket are probably now driving a crossover, compact SUV, MPV or estate. Somewhere along the line, ordinary saloons became that bit too ordinary.

Time for a fightback ? perhaps. But how much fight has the humble, mid-sized, volume-branded four-door got left? What happens when you reimagine and readdress one of the oldest vehicle concepts of them all for the modern motoring setting? Just how appealing are the results?

You could not ask for more dependable exponents of the type than the latest Ford Mondeo and Volkswagen Passat. Both are all-new models from blue-chip European car makers with impeccable pedigrees. And here?s some good news up front: both breathe new life and transformative allure into a grand old market niche once too big to be described as such. 

At the risk of spoiling the next couple of thousand words, each of these cars would make a fine, appealing alternative to any family car, premium-branded or otherwise. Don?t feel sheepish if you end up quietly wanting one. Dismissing them out of hand would be a much bigger offence.

Only one can win through this opening part of our saloon car comparison, of course ? and for that car, a greater challenge is in store. But initially, the yardsticks against which this pair will be measured are threefold.

Their nearest and bitterest rival, the Vauxhall Insignia, is present because no Mondeo group test could happen without the successor to the huge-selling Vectra and Cavalier. Steadily moving upmarket, next in wait lies Volvo?s S60, fitted with the recent and creditable D4 diesel engine. After that comes a true premium German test of mettle in the shape of the Audi A3 saloon.

The cars are assembled in relatively high-output 2.0-litre turbodiesel guises. Power outputs range upwards from the Ford?s 178bhp to the Vauxhall?s 192bhp, and peak torque is an identical 295lb ft in all but the Audi. Each hits 62mph in nine seconds or less, all bar one qualify for benefit-in-kind taxat a comparable rate, and each can be leased on typical company terms for less than £400 per month. And still, a careful eye will identify one true bargain from the pack here ? while a decent drive unearths plenty more.

The A3, Insignia and S60

First, to the supporting cast. It?s tempting to make assumptions about four-door saloons, because they?re such familiar things. No one looks at a Citroën C4 Cactus and has much of an idea what owning it will be like, but a Volvo S60 doesn?t challenge your preconceptions so readily. Received wisdom encourages us to believe that the Volvo will be comfortable but straight-laced, the Vauxhall drab but cheap and practical and the Audi classy, pricey and a little bit soulless. 

Don?t believe it. These days, Volvo does alternative design appeal with practised skill and the S60?s good looks get it off to a strong start. Compactness is key to its visual appeal, though, and you may be surprised to find out that, while blessed with comfortable seats, good visibility and sensibly sized and sited switchgear, the S60 isn?t so spacious. It isn?t spacious at all.

The car?s relatively high-set front seats grant little packaging advantage and adults travelling in the back will struggle a little for both headroom and legroom. The S60?s 380-litre boot is the smallest here ? little bigger, in fact, than you get in plenty of smaller hatchbacks. Despite having equally cramped rear passenger quarters, the A3 offers 425 litres of boot space, whereas the Insignia puts both to shame with 530 litres ? by substituting the class?s default saloon boot arrangement for a more practical hatchback.

The Insignia Sports Tourer that we tested stood in for a standard five-door hatchback because Vauxhall couldn?t supply a five-door test car in the right specification. Luckily, we know the latter well enough to be able to declare it one of the class?s more spacious offerings anyway.

Settled into the driver?s seat, even a bigger adult is well provided for in all three. The Audi?s interior ambience sets the car apart by being not just rich and solid to the touch but also modern and attractive. It?s a car laden with discreetly integrated technology and finished with intricate style and care.

Equal care has gone into the S60?s interior fittings, although perhaps not equal budget, the emphasis here being on robustness and ease of use. While the Audi?s cabin is spectacular and the Volvo?s pragmatic, the Vauxhall?s is monochrome and materially undistinguished, but it?s also comfy and highly equipped.

Contending this exercise in Elite Nav specification, the Insignia can offer colour sat-nav, heated leather seats, automatic gearbox, DAB radio, cruise control, 18in alloy wheels and FlexRide adaptive dampers all as standard in a package that still undercuts most, if not quite all, of the competition. Dress the Audi up to the same specification and it?s a near-£40k buy.

But on performance, the Insignia has the ignominy of being both the most powerful and the slowest-accelerating car here. Its torque converter transmission seems to misplace a good 10 per cent of the engine?s power and won?t be hurried when delivering ratio changes. The transmission works better at a laid-back pace, but at all times the engine is relatively noisy, coarse and willing to return only about 40mpg in mixed use. Both the A3 and the S60 will approach 50mpg.

The S60?s eight-speed automatic gearbox seems to transmit drive more efficiently than the Insignia?s six-speeder. Its engine is much quieter and, in actuality, feels more potent.

It?s at its best managing shifts smoothly at busy-road cruising speeds ? exactly how Volvo would want it, no doubt. But as with the Vauxhall, the Volvo?s powertrain feels a little clumsy when you hurry it, particularly away from a standstill.

Although it?s not an entirely fair comparison, the Audi?s punchy 181bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine and slick six-speed manual gearbox combinevery effectively. The most surprising thing about the A3 is how well it plays the zesty little sports saloon. Feeling not only fast but also responsive and even a little engaging, the Audi?s grippy, balanced chassis does it great credit.

Our test car had its S-line sports suspension deleted. Although firmly sprung and a little hollow-riding, it?s not without compliance. Its steering has a familiar lack of feedback, but there?s also consistency of weight and enough directness and response to involve.

The Insignia and S60, by contrast, both seek to reassure, cosset and couch. The bite of the Audi?s handling is substituted for high-speed stability, absorbency and isolation ? to more convincing effect in the Vauxhall than the Volvo. Whereas the Insignia retains decent steering feel and a fairly fluent ride, the S60 steers with unnerving lightness and some traction-related directional interference. Worse, its ride feels wooden and heinously underdamped over bad surfaces traversed with anything but patience and caution.

The Mondeo and Passat 

Into which melee enter the new Mondeo and Passat. Completeness and integrity gush forth from both debutants like crude from a freshly drilled oil well. Both are handsome objects, the Ford as newly curvaceous and coupé-like as the Volkswagen is smart, sharply cut and expensive-looking. You?d be proud to own either ? possibly the Passat more so, on account of its visual class and the desirability conferred by its badge.

The Passat decimates the Mondeo on cabin ambience and quality. If it wasn?t so steadily conventional, it would give the A3 a run for its money, too. Its fascia is all brushed aluminium and gloss black punctuated by satin chrome, the effect convincing enough to outshine most premium options this side of a Mercedes-Benz C-class.

The Mondeo?s cabin leaves a bit to be desired. Its materials are plainer, the fit, finish and attention to detail on show are nowhere near as meticulous, its ergonomic layout isn?t as good and its multimedia system looks and feels much less sophisticated.

Occupant space is generous in both the Ford and the VW, with the Passat shading the contest here, too. The Ford hits back on usability, though, its liftback set-up making its 541 litres of boot space so much more accessible than the VW?s 586.

But value for money argues as hard for the Mondeo as apparent substance does for the Passat. There?s just over £3000 between the cars on list price ? more when you correct for standard equipment. But the difference is greater still for the contract hire-paying company car driver. Our sources suggest that the Passat will set you back more than £380 a month on a typical three-year, 36,000-mile lease, whereas the equivalent Mondeo is opening for business at less than £320.

To drive, it?s the VW that has initial bragging rights, being faster to accelerate, leaner and more powerful. The Passat has the more relaxing motive character, with lighter controls and a more pliant low-speed ride. But for the money, the VW ought to be effortlessly superior: better handling, more engaging, more refined and generally more deeply talented than the cheaper Mondeo. Actually, it?s none of these things.

The Mondeo?s suspension keeps a habitually tauter check of the car?s body movements, so at low speeds and over gentler intrusions it?s a slightly firmer-riding machine. But when the bigger tests present, its dynamic quality shows. Bumps that thump through and disturb the VW are sucked up by the Ford?s shocks, so your confidence in its abilities is greater. Its power steering is heavier and a little elastic but more consistently paced and more dependable for contact patch feel. 

The Ford feels marginally the larger car on a back road, but still the more poised through a corner. The Mondeo also does a better job of motorway refinement ? a shortcoming that Passat owners may be less inclined to forgive than the others.

The verdict

I was expecting this decision to be much harder to make, but when the most affordable and practical car in your group test is also the most refined and so clearly the most dynamically gifted, the verdict writes itself. Despite a slightly sticky start to life in our road test a few weeks ago, the new Ford Mondeo has arrived and has now unquestionably earned its stripes. 

So, does the Mondeo beat the BMW 3-series too?

This is an addendum rather than a denouement. Most BMW 3-series drivers will need more than our word for it to abandon their rear-driven status symbols for the kind of car that their corporate inferiors tolerate. Likewise, if £316 a month is what you can afford for a Ford Mondeo, £441 a month for a 320d may very well be a bridge too far for your wallet. Despite their apparent similarities, these are cars from different worlds.

And yet, given how consummately the Mondeo outhandled its more immediate competition, we wanted to see how it compares with the kind of 3-series that you might very well end up in if you stumped up that extra wedge a month: a fleet-special 320d Efficient Dynamics with standard 16in alloy wheels and low-resistance tyres, less power and torque than the Ford and just a few carefully chosen options.

We rated the regular 320d saloon highly enough in 2011 to award it a five-star road test score and still consider it to be the compact executive class?s outstanding power, but we?re less familiar with the Efficient Dynamics version. 

Its differences aren?t only 20 fewer horses, half a second to 62mph and three per cent less of the list price on your P11D. The ED version uses a longer final drive than the normal 320d, has suspension lowered by 15mm for aerodynamic improvement and must run on those 16in rims and Michelin Energy Saver tyres to qualify for its tax status.

The upshot is a car of notably compromised ability on several fronts, but most regrettably on ride and handling. We know the 320d as a car with an uncorrupted, feelsome front end, of natural, classically rear-driven cornering poise and a carefully tuned meeting of ride compliance and sporting control. The ED version is different.

Those wheels and tyres dramatically reduce the car?s lateral grip levels but do even worse for its steering, cutting the confidence and communication flowing through the rim by ?half. The tyres create more road roar than a premium-branded car really ought to suffer, and that combines with mechanical noise from under the bonnet to make the BMW a decidedly average prospect on refinement.

Worse still is to come as a result of the car?s shortened suspension springs. These cause the chassis to run short on travel before the dampers can take the sting out of fairly innocuous-looking lumps and bumps in the road. Too often they set up pitching and porpoising reactions from the body in the absence of simple primary ride control.

Next to that, the Ford?s superiority is absolutely plain; it rides better, handles better, grips harder, communicates better, is more refined and is quicker above urban speeds.The truth is that if this particular BMW had been thrown into the group test that you?ve just read, it would have rated in the bottom half. A normal 320d would probably have triumphed.

But it?s equally obvious how much credit is due to Ford of Europe for taking an American-market Fusion saloon and turning it into something pretty special in the Mondeo. The car may have its failings, but it?s still capable of taking a memorable scalp.

Read Autocar's previous comparison - three-cylinder engines on test

Ford Mondeo 2.0 TDCi 180 Powershift Titanium

Price £26,235; Typical contract hire quote £316; Engine 4 cylinders, 1997cc, turbodiesel; Power 178bhp 3500rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1589kg; Top speed 139mph; 0-62mph 8.6sec; Economy 57.6mpg; CO2/tax band 128g/km, 21 per cent

Volkswagen Passat 2.0 TDI 190 DSG GT

Price £29,380; Typical contract hire quote £384; Engine 4 cylinders, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 187bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd dual-clutch auto; Kerb weight 1614kg; Top speed 146mph; 0-62mph 7.7sec; Economy 61.4mpg; CO2/tax band 119g/km, 19 per cent

Audi A3 2.0 TDI 184 S-line saloon

Price £28,110; Typical contract hire quote £374; Engine 4 cylinders, 1968cc, turbodiesel; Power 181bhp at 3500-4000rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 1750-3000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1395kg; Top speed 150mph; 0-62mph 7.4sec; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2/tax band 109g/km, 17 per cent

Volvo S60 D4 Geartronic SE Nav

Price £31,195; Typical contract hire quote £363; Engine 4 cylinders, 1969cc, turbodiesel; Power 179bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1580kg; Top speed 143mph; 0-62mph 7.4sec; Economy 67.3mpg; CO2/tax band 109g/km,17 per cent

Vauxhall Insignia 2.0 CDTI BiTurbo Elite Nav

Price £28,359; Typical contract hire quote £346; Engine 4 cylinders, 1956cc, turbodiesel; Power 192bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd automatic; Kerb weight na; Top speed 142mph; 0-62mph 8.8sec; Economy 50.4mpg; CO2/tax band 149g/km, 25 per cent

BMW 320d Efficient Dynamics automatic

Price £31,265; Typical contract hire quote £441; Engine 4 cylinders, 1995cc, turbodiesel; Power 161bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 280lb ft at 1750rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1495kg; Top speed 143mph; 0-62mph 8.0sec; Economy 68.9mpg; CO2/tax band 109g/km, 17 per cent

2015 BMW 2 Series Convertible review
The BMW 2 Series Convertible goes on sale this April - we've driven the powerful 228i petrol version The BMW 2 Series Convertible is the third addition to the 2 Series range, and it is tasked with offering a slightly more sensible take on the small soft-top than its 1 Series predecessor.There is nothing radically different about this car at first glance, not in the way that the recently introduced 2 Series Active Tourer is radical anyway, but this new Convertible is larger and more practical than its predecessor in almost all directions. It's longer, wider, has a bigger boot and more in the way of practical touches.It also comes with an M235i performance version for the first time, although what we're driving is the second one down in the petrol engine line-up: the 228i.Although there will be a choice of Sport, Luxury and M Sport trim levels on the 2 Series Convertible, this engine comes in only M Sport trim, and it is available with a choice of manual and automatic transmissions.

What's coming when - the new cars arriving in 2015 and 2016
What?s coming when - your guide to the new cars arriving in 2015 and 2016 Autocar's new cars calendar gives you all the information on 2015 and 2016's new arrivals, as we round up all the new models going on sale in the UK

With models including the new Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Bentley Grand Convertible and the all-new Vauxhall Astra launching in the next two years, plus myriad launches from the likes of BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, there's truly something for everyone to be excited about.

Our new cars calendar is your one-stop shop for keeping track of 2015 and 2016's new cars, so keep checking back to this page as we'll be updating it regularly with new car unveilings. 

Here's Autocar's round-up of the new cars coming in 2015 and 2016.

Alfa Romeo

4C Spider ? spring 2015

With styling heavily influenced by 2014's concept car, the 4C Spider will go on sale to mark the brand's return to the US market.

Giulia ? late 2015

Alfa?s BMW 3-series fighter ushers in a new era for famous Italian firm with new platform, engines, styling and tech. 

Alpina

D4 cabriolet ? quarter one 2015

Mirroring the BMW 4-series line-up, the diesel-powered Alpina D4 coupé will be offered in convertible form.

Ariel

Nomad - summer 2015

The Atom's 'mucky brother' will cost around £30,000 and can reach 60mph in 3.4 seconds.

Aston Martin

Vantage GT3 ? summer 2015

A Geneva show reveal is likely for the most potent version yet of Aston?s Vantage coupé.

Lagonda Taraf ? tbc

The Lagonda badge returns on a VH-based luxury saloon. Middle East deliveries first, but UK sales not ruled out.

Audi

A1 facelift ? April 2015

Audi?s entry-level offering is given a fresh look, new tech and revised engines.

Q3 facelift ? quarter one 2015

Audi?s latest front grille design is seen on the revised Q3 compact SUV.

TT roadster - March 2015

The third-generation TT loses its roof and spawns a folding soft-top convertible version.

RS3 ? quarter two 2015

The RS3 returns with a potent turbo 2.5 five-pot as Audi?s answer to the Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.

Q7 ? summer 2015

The Q7 sheds more than 300kg in weight for its second generation. Detroit show reveal in January.

A4 ? summer 2015

All-new A4 arrives with a lighter weight, economical new engines and lots of new tech as it raises its game against the BMW 3-series. Geneva show reveal in March.

A6 - 2017

A more stylish look is promised for Audi's next BMW 5-series competitor, designed under Marc Lichte.

R8 ? early 2016

Frankfurt motor show reveal is mooted for the R8 in September ahead of 2016 sales. Expect V8, V10 and electric e-tron drivetrains. 

Bentley

Grand Convertible ? late 2015

Azure returns in all but name as a convertible version of the Mulsanne, seen in concept form at the LA motor show 2014.

Bentayga ? early 2016

Expect to see Crewe?s first SUV before the year is out, ahead of 2016 sales. Styling said to be totally overhauled compared with previous concept version.

BMW

1-series facelift ? early 2015

Minor facelift due for 1-series for a 2-series Active Tourer-inspired look.

2-series convertible ? February 2015

New 2-series range gets drop-top version with improved refinement and greater cabin space.

X5 M, X6 M ? spring 2015

Controversial, potent SUVs get a second generation, complete with an even more potent V8 and brash styling.

3-series facelift ? summer 2015

Three-cylinder engines will be offered as the headline news in the revised 3-series range.

6-series facelift ? summer 2015

Facelifted versions of the 6-series and the M6 will be seen at the Detroit motor show in January before the start of UK sales soon after. Though styling revisions are minor - focusing mainly around reprofiled front bumpers - engine tweaks should make for better fuel economy and emissions.

2-series Active Tourer seven-seat ? September 2015

Compact MPV gets a bigger body to accommodate an extra row of seats.

X1 ? autumn 2015

Compact SUV will swap rear-wheel drive for front-wheel drive in its second generation.

7-series ? late 2015

BMW?s flagship gets a lighter chassis, hi-tech engine derivatives and a plush, tech-rich cabin.

Bristol

Project Pinnacle ? mid-2015

Bristol returns with an all-new model, and new London showroom in 2015. A hit-tech hybrid is also in the works. 

Caterham

Three new Sevens - spring 2015

Three new Sevens planned in 2015 to sit between the entry-level 160 and the range-topping 620R, as the firm simplifies its range and naming policy.

Chrysler

300 facelift ? summer 2015

Minor styling tweaks for US executive saloon.

Citroën

C4 facelift ? early 2015

Citroën?s Volkswagen Golf rival will get some minor styling and spec updates.

DS5 facelift ? spring 2015

Minor facelift is planned for the DS5.

DS4 facelift ? spring 2015

Blink-and-you?ll-miss-it revisions also planned for Citroen?s plush high-riding hatch.

Detroit Electric

SP:01 ? spring 2015

Start-up firm claims its 155mph two-seater will be the world?s fastest electric sports car.

Elemental

RP1 ? summer 2015

Britain?s newest sports car maker has created a a lightweight, mid-engined roadster with 500bhp per tonne.

Ferrari

California T ? quarter one 2015

California adopts turbo power as part of its mid-life changes. A sharper drive is also a goal.

458 Italia replacement ? summer 2015

Geneva show reveal likely for Ferrari?s overhauled 458. Expect turbo power, a new look, and a new name.

LaFerrari FXX K ? Early 2015

Ferrari gives its flagship hypercar the XX treatment, giving it 1021bhp and race-inspired styling.

Fiat

500X ? quarter two 2015

Third member of the 500 family, the 500X is a sister car to the Jeep Renegade and will be offered with four-wheel drive.

Compact saloon ? early 2016

Fiat is planning to launch a range of keenly priced compact models, including saloon, SUV and hatchback. Saloon is up first.

Roadster ? early 2016

Compact Mazda MX-5-based roadster was an Alfa, is now a Fiat. Could use the Abarth badge.

Ford

Mondeo ? April 2015

Mondeo finally launches in the spring after three years of delays. One-litre engine, all-wheel drive, a more potent diesel, and plush Vignale models available by summer.

S-Max ? summer 2015

Second-generation S-Max gets Mondeo-inspired looks and a plush new cabin.

C-Max/Grand C-Max facelift ? summer 2015

Ford?s compact five-seat and seven-seat MPVs get styling and spec changes in line with Focus.

Mustang ? autumn 2015

Ford?s muscle car is to be sold officially in the UK in right-hand-drive form for the first time.

Focus ST facelift ? March 2015

A diesel version of the Focus ST is to be offered for the first time as part of the car?s facelift.

Ka ? late 2015

A rethink for the Ka city car should see it repositioned as a budget global offering.

Edge ? late 2015

The Edge SUV arrives in the UK and Europe for the first time as part of the One Ford policy.

EcoSport refresh ? 2016

Ford has hinted that a hasty refresh of the EcoSport is in the works to make it more Euro-friendly, something spy pics have confirmed.

Galaxy ? 2016

Sister car to the S-Max, the larger seven-seat MPV arrives in 2016 to fight the likes of the VW Sharan and Seat Alhambra.

GT - 2016

The all-new Ford GT supercar arrives in 2016, powered by a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine developing over 600bhp.

Fiesta RS - 2016/2017

Let's hope that the rumours of a hotter Fiesta are true.

Honda

Civic facelift ? spring 2015

A new Type R lookalike, the Sport, is the chief addition to a refreshed Civic line-up.

Civic Type R ? spring 2015

The Type R is aiming to be the fastest ever front-wheel-drive hot hatch to lap the Nürburgring. It can be ordered now for a deposit of £3000.

Jazz ? summer 2015

Spacious city car gets more spacious still in all-new form. Greater refinement also promised.

CR-V facelift ? spring 2015

New look for the British-built SUV, with styling changes to bring it into line with the Civic.

HR-V ? summer 2015

Honda wants a piece of the booming compact SUV segment with its all-new HR-V.

NSX ? late 2015

NSX sports car offers around 550bhp from its hybrid powertrain, which incorporates a V6 engine and three electric motors.

Hyundai

i20 ? 5dr March 2015, 3dr April 2015

Fiesta rival arrives as a five-door first in March, before a sportier-looking three-door in April.

i20 coupé - early 2015

With a focus on 'character' and sport, the i20 coupé joins the i20 range this spring, marking the first time Hyundai has produces a three-door variant of its Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo rival.

ix20 - late 2015

We expect the facelifted compact MPV to be at the Frankfurt motor show

i30 facelift and i30 Turbo ? March

The mid-life changes for Hyundai's i30 focus around styling tweaks, but the big news is that a new 183bhp version, the i30 Turbo, has been added to the range.

i40 facelift ? March

Better handling, new styling and upgraded engines are all in line for Hyundai's Ford Mondeo rival.

Veloster facelift ? March

Coupé-cum-hatchback is tipped for subtle new look and some ride and handling improvements.

ix35 ? July

A Geneva show reveal is rumoured for the second-gen version of Hyundai?s Nissan Qashqai rival.

Santa Fe refresh ? late 2015

Subtle refresh for big SUV will actually make the i10 city car Hyundai?s oldest car by end of 2015.

Genesis - April 2015

Hyundai is bringing its £48,000 to the UK

Infiniti

Q70 facelift ? January 2015

The BMW 5-series rival, formerly known as the M, gets a new exterior look and a China-only long-wheelbase version.

Q30 ? autumn 2015

Infiniti hopes to step up from a niche player with its Mercedes A-class-based and British-built Q30 hatchback.

Jaguar

F-type AWD and manual ? spring 2015

F-type range continues to expand with four-wheel drive and manual gearbox options.

XJ facelift ? spring 2015

Updates to Jaguar?s now six-year-old flagship luxury saloon are expected to focus on the interior.

XE ? May 2015

Jaguar?s crucial BMW 3-series rival arrives with hi-tech new chassis, engines and infotainment options.

XF ? summer 2015

Jaguar's second-generation XF will make its debut at the New York motor show in April before going on sale in the UK in the autumn. Expect a lightweight aluminium architecture and styling close to that of the XE.

F-Pace - 2016

Jaguar's first ever SUV will take styling cues from the C-X17 concept, and will be powered by the Ingenium engine range.

Jeep

Renegade ? spring 2015

Jeep?s entry into the booming compact SUV segment claims to the most capable off-roader in the class, and costs from £16,995.

Grand Cherokee facelift ? late 2015

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles? future product plan has revealed a revised version of the Grand Cherokee is due.

Kahn

Flying Huntsman - spring 2015

Land Rover Defender-based sports SUV comes with 6.2-litre V8 engine and up to 450bhp.

Kia

Picanto facelift ? February 2015

Kia?s latest ?tiger nose? grille finds its way on to the mid-life facelift of the Picanto.

Venga facelift ? February 2015

Carryover engines feature in the revised mini-MPV, which gets a subtle new look.

Rio facelift ? autumn 2015

Kia?s best-seller gets new-look front and rear ends and a new infotainment system inside.

Sorento ? April 2015

All-new Sorento grows in size, and will be offered in five-seat and seven-seat versions.

Sportage ? early 2016

Kia will be hoping for another design hit with its second-gen Sportage SUV.

Optima ? late summer 2015

Kia will maintain its presence in the shrinking Mondeo-Passat segment with an all-new Optima, which will be offered as a hybrid. 

Koenigsegg

Agera One:1 ? early 2015

World?s most potent hypercar gets 1322bhp (1340hp) ? one metric horespower for every kilo of its 1340kg kerb weight.

Lamborghini

Huracan Spyder ? summer 2015

Still not confirmed, but Lambo?s new sports car is due to lose its roof in an expanded range. 

Land Rover

Range Rover Sport SVR ? spring 2015

The 542bhp SVR is the fastest and most powerful model in Land Rover?s history, and costs £93,450.

Evoque facelift ? summer 2015

Design boss Gerry McGovern has previously promised an ?unconventional? mid-life facelift for the Evoque.

Evoque cabriolet ? summer 2015

Rumours of a production version of the Evoque convertible refuse to go away. 

Lexus

NX200t ? March 2015

Lexus?s new compact SUV range will soon expand with a new four-cylinder petrol version.

GS F

Lexus' BMW M5 fighter offers up 467bhp from its 5.0-litre V8 engine.

Lotus

Evora - 2015

New Evora will be unveiled at at Geneva.

Maserati

Levante ? early 2016

We?ll see the final version of Maserati?s new luxury SUV before the year is out.

Mazda

2 ? March 2015

All-new supermini is latest Mazda to get the firm?s lightweight, fuel efficient SkyActiv suite of tech. Prices start from £11,995.

CX-5 facelift ? spring 2015

Qashqai rival gets minor exterior changes and a leap in perceived quality inside.

6 facelift ? spring 2015

Changes for the CX-5 SUV are mirrored on the saloon, hatchback and estate, with prices starting from £19,795.

CX-3 ? early summer 2015

The SkyActiv-based CX-3 is Mazda?s Nissan Juke rival and will be offered with four-wheel drive.

MX-5 ? late summer 2015

Fourth-generation sports car brings the MX-5 back to its compact, lightweight roots.

McLaren

P1 GTR ? summer 2015

Even harder and faster version of the P1 will be restricted to track use only.

Sports Series ? autumn 2015

Initial new range of entry-level McLarens ? coupé, convertible and GT ? to go up against the Porsche 911.

675 LT - 2015

Hardcore new McLaren is intended to bridge the gap between the 650S and the P1 hypercar.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-AMG GT ? spring 2015

Mercedes? long-awaited Porsche 911 rival is offered with a 4.0 V8 with either 456bhp or 503bhp.

B-class Electric Drive ? spring 2015

Facelifted B-class brings with it an all-electric version, a Mercedes-Benz first.

E-class - 2016

The next-generation E-class will take styling cues from the C-class, GLA and S-class coupé, with latest test mules showcasing a new large infotainment screen inside the cabin.

CLA Shooting Brake ? March 2015

CLA compact saloon-cum-coupé morphs into an estate-cum-coupé

Mercedes-AMG C63

The flagship performance C-class gets as much as 503bhp from its 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. As with the GT, it'll be available in both C63 and C63 S forms.

V-class ? March 2015

The plush V-class replaces the Viano.

Mercedes-Maybach S600 ? summer 2015

The Maybach badge returns in a bigger, more luxurious version of the S-class.

Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman - 2015

Six-seat version of the S600 should offer even more luxury, and is aimed at the booming Chinese market.

S-class Cabriolet - 2015

Drop-top S-class gets a folding fabric roof, and will battle close to the territory of the Bentley Continental GTC.

GLE ? summer 2015

Facelift for big ML SUV brings with it a new name: GLE.

GLE coupé ? summer 2015

The GLE coupé is Mercedes? answer to the BMW X6, and will go on sale in the UK in June. It'll cost around £10,000 more than equivalent GLE models.

GLC - autumn 2015

The C-class-based SUV formerly known as the GLK arrives in the UK for the first time.

A-class facelift ? autumn 2015

Expect a new look for the A-class in line with the recent changes to its B-class sister car.

G63 AMG 4x4 - 2015

A successor to the monstrous G63 AMG 6x6, the G63 AMG 4x4 could come with as much as 537bhp.

SLC - 2016

The facelifted Mercedes-Benz SLK will morph into the new SLC as part of Merc's rebranded range.

C350 Plug-In Hybrid - June 2015

Mercedes second dedicated plug-in hybrid model, the C350 promises to return up to 134.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 48g/km.

C450 AMG - June 2015

The second of Mercedes' new AMG Sport range, the C450 AMG will go on sale in both saloon and estate forms.

GLE63 Coupé - June 2015

Hot version of the new GLE gets 577bhp from its twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8 engine.

Mini

Cooper S John Cooper Works ? April 2015

Hot new Mini gets 228bhp from its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, and should be priced close to the £22,460 of its predecessor.

Clubman ? summer 2015

The Clubman will be reborn as a bigger, more spacious estate car with four proper passenger doors.

Countryman - 2016

All-new Countryman will come to market with updated styling and larger dimensions.

Mitsubishi

L200 - September 2015

New version of the L200 pick-up truck is on the way

MG

GS - 2016

MG's first production SUV gets a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine and CS concept-inspired looks.

Nissan

Juke Nismo RS ? early 2015

Harder, faster version of the Juke Nismo gets 215bhp, and is already on sale for £21,995.

370Z facelift ? early 2015

Revised 370Z range includes a more focused Nismo version.

Murano ? late 2015

Big SUV returns to the UK with a plusher cabin and more premium positioning.

Pulsar Nismo ? late 2015

Paris motor show 2014 concept car is tipped to make production with 1.6 turbo petrol power.

Peugeot

308 GT ? spring 2015

Forerunner to the 308 GTI, the GT gets a 202bhp 1.6 turbo and tuned suspension.

2008 ? summer 2015

New engine and gearbox options expected for Peugeot?s compact SUV.

Porsche

911 facelift ? late 2015

Frankfurt show reveal mooted for revised 991-generation 911, which will switch to turbo power.

911 Targa GTS - March 2015

Go-faster version of the 911 Targa has been made as part of Porsche's 50th anniversary celebrations for the range, and is priced from £104,385.

911 GT3 RS ? summer 2015

Expect the long-awaited RS version of the 911 GT3 to be a swansong for normally aspirated 911s.

Cayman facelift ? late 2015

A new GT4 version will be the star attraction in the revised Cayman line-up.

Boxster facelift ? late 2015

Four-cylinder boxer engines will be offered in the revised Boxster, the new estimated 400bhp units also destined for the Cayman.

Cayenne GTS ? spring 2015

The revised Cayenne GTS swaps a V8 for a twin-turbo 3.6 V6.

Cayenne Turbo S - March 2015

The facelifted version of the Turbo S gets an even more potent 4.8-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, and costs from £118,455.

Panamera - Late 2016

Porsche is planning big changes for the second-generation of the saloon.

Radical

SR3 RSX ? early 2015

Suzuki four-cylinder power for updated lightweight track special.

SR8 SX ? quarter one 2015

New flagship £130k sports car is powered by a 440bhp 3.0-litre V8.

Renault

Kadjar ? summer 2015

Renault?s next major launch is its own version of the Nissan Qashqai, expected to make its debut in Geneva.

Rolls-Royce

Wraith convertible ? autumn 2015

The Ghost-based Wraith coupé will spawn a convertible version.

Sin

R1 ? early 2015

New lightweight sports car uses a Chevy-sourced 6.2-litre V8 with 444bhp.

Seat

Leon ST Cupra ? spring 2015

The Cupra performance treatment is applied to Seat?s stylish Leon estate.

Ibiza facelift ? summer 2015

One last round of changes for the popular supermini before an all-new version is launches in 2016-2017.

Leon SUV ? 2016

A Leon-based SUV should significantly improve Seat?s sales volumes.

Subaru

Outback ? April 2015

Subaru?s rugged four-wheel drive ?allroad? estate arrives in the UK for a new generation.

Levorg ? November 2015

The new Legacy won?t be coming to the UK, but the Levorg estate version is set to arrive in the autumn.

Skoda

Superb ? autumn 2015

The new Superb will be one of the biggest cars on the MQB platform, complete with a longer wheelbase than the VW Passat.

Smart

Fortwo ? spring 2015

Third-gen Fortwo promises a much-improved ride and transmissions, with a manual standard and dual-clutch automatic optional.

Forfour ? spring 2015

Forfour returns as a ?proper? rear-engined, rear-drive Smart, rather than being based on the Mitsubishi Colt.

Spyker

B6 ? 2015

Spyker?s Porsche 911 rival was seen in production form in early 2013, but an exact on sale date is still unknown.

SsangYong

Tivoli ? June

After several concept cars, SsangYong will finally enter the booming compact SUV segment with the Nissan Juke-sized Tivoli. 

Suzuki

Celerio ? February

Suzuki's new city car will go on sale in February - replacing current Alto and Splash models - with prices starting from £7999

Vitara ? April

The Vitara is Suzuki?s answer to the Nissan Juke. Underpinned by shortened version of S-Cross platform.

Tesla

Model X ? autumn 2015

The Model X is a seven-seat SUV based on the four-wheel-drive Model S electric saloon. 

Trion

Nemesis ? January 2016

The world?s first 2000bhp supercar is lightly pencilled in for production in 2016. 

Toyota

Mirai ? summer 2015

Toyota?s commercial roll-out of hydrogen fuel cell cars begins with this futuristic-looking saloon. It'll cost around £60,000 when UK sales start.

Avensis facelift ? summer 2015

BMW diesels will be added to the Avensis saloon and estate range.

Prius ? December 2015

Fourth-gen Prius will usher in a new modular platform for Toyota. 

Vauxhall

Adam S ? March 2015  

Adam city car morphs into potent micro-hatch courtesy of turned turbo 1.4 engine and chassis and styling changes.

Viva ? June 2015

New budget city car will be entry point to Vauxhall?s range.

Astra ? October 2015

Expect Vauxhall?s new Ford Focus fighter to launch soon after a Frankfurt show debut in September.

Vencer

Sarthe ? early 2015

The Sarthe is a £250,000 supercar created by an ex-plumber from the Netherlands.

Volvo

XC90 ? May 2015

Volvo?s staple seven-seat SUV will finally be replaced with a new car that ushers in a new scalable architecture and style for Volvo. T8 and R Design versions to follow in November.

V60 Cross Country ? June 2015

Rugged Cross Country version of the V60 estate will be Volvo?s answer to the Audi A4 Allroad.

S60 Cross Country - Summer 2015

Having given a similar treatment to the V60, Volvo has created a jacked-up, all-wheel drive version of the S60 which will come to market with two engine options.

S90 - 2016

Range-topping Volvo will take styling inspiration from the 2011 Volvo Concept Universe concept, and will look to take on Jaguar's XF.

Volkswagen

Golf GTE ? spring 2015

Most intriguing new addition to the Golf Mk7 line-up is the plug-in hybrid GTE, mixing impressive headline performance figures with fine economy.

Golf GTD Estate - June 2015

High-performance diesel Golf Estate is arriving here in June.

Polo GTI ? spring 2015

More power and a subtle new look for VW?s entry-level hot hatch.

Polo BlueMotion ? spring 2015

Most economical Polo switches to petrol power as part of a series of mid-life changes.

Passat GTE ? mid-2015

Potent Passat hybrid gets 215bhp and 141mpg combined fuel economy

Zenos Cars

E10 S - January 2015

Last year Zenos took centre stage at the Autosport International show with its E10 - and now has a more powerful S version with 250bhp to bring to market in 2015.

What cars are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments section below

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