We’re already racing through 2017 so, as the halfway point of the year approaches, we’ve taken a look at the best new cars launched so far. These are the cars we’d be spending our own money on.
More new car advice on Motoring Research:
- Revealed: the best-selling cars in May 2017
- Best new cars for £150 a month or less
- The best new cars we’ve driven in 2016
We’ve come a long way from the days of jokes about Soviet-era Skoda products, but that this seven-seater SUV is one of the hottest new cars of the year is still a big deal. Mixing traditional Skoda practicality with a range of Volkswagen Group engines – while undercutting key rivals on pricing – has seen the Kodiaq generate a three-month waiting list. It may not be revolutionary, but the Kodiaq is close to being a real-world hero.
The Czech brand clearly isn’t resting on the success of the Kodiaq, with the dependable fleet favourite Octavia getting a mid-life facelift. The biggest changes come in the form of a new look for the front end, with a redesigned grille and twin headlights borrowed from the larger Superb. Infotainment systems have been upgraded across the range, while new options include a heated steering wheel and neat Simply Clever features like a one-handed bottle opener.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
While the entire Golf range was given an update, the revised GTI version has garnered a lot of the attention. Somewhat overshadowed previously by the omnipotent Golf R, the mildest of facelifts and the injection of extra power have helped push the GTI back into contention. Basic cars now have 230hp as standard, with an optional Performance Pack boosting this to 245hp and adding a mechanical limited-slip differential. It hasn’t turned the GTI into a Golf R-beater overnight, but it makes the overall package just that little bit more appealing.
Despite having only been announced to the world at the Geneva Motor Show in March, the 720S is already out in the wild. Replacing the 650S, the 720S is all-new, with a redesigned carbon fibre ‘Monocage’ chassis and the twin-turbocharged V8 engine now increased to 4.0-litres. As the new name suggests, peak power is 720hp, with 0-62mph taking just 2.9 seconds and 0-124mph in 7.8 seconds. A top speed of 212mph makes the £208,000 starting price almost look like a bargain. The jury is still out on those headlights, however.
2017 seems set to be the year of the turbocharged, mid-engined, carbon fibre-constructed supercar. After what has felt like years of teasing, Ford has finally unleashed the second-generation GT onto the roads. The 647hp from the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 might not match the new McLaren, but 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and a 216mph top speed suggests power might not be everything. A price tag of over £450,000, and the need for buyers to be approved by Ford, mean it should remain a rarity.
Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster
As a demonstration of the classic V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive roadster format, the AMG GT does a rather good job. Up front is the same 4.0-litre twin-turbo engine as used in the AMG GT Coupe versions, available in 476hp and 549hp flavours. The latter comes as part of the GT C Roadster model, including an electronically-controlled limited-slip differential and widened bodywork at the rear. Whatever version you pick, the ability to experience the sound from the AMG V8 with the roof down is worth the admission price alone.
Bentley Continental GT Supersports
It may be reaching the end of its lifespan, but the current Continental GT shows no sign of slowing down. With 700hp, and 750lb ft of torque, the latest Supersports version is fast on a truly epic scale. Despite a kerb weight of more than 2,200kg, the Supersports is capable of 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds. There’s even torque vectoring for the 4WD system, should you (bravely) want to try and fling this GT around like it’s a hot hatch.
Aston Martin Vanquish S
With all the recent attention paid to the new DB11, Aston Martin had something of a quandary in how to persuade buyers to consider the older Vanquish. The answer? The Vanquish S, of course. The naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 is the big selling point here, now with 600hp – a jump of 27hp over the regular Vanquish. Unsurprisingly it seems dated in comparison with the DB11, but this Vanquish S holds appeal for those who want a real old school Aston.
How could we not include the Chiron? Yes, at £2.4million it’s a motoring irrelevance for 99.9% of car buyers out there, but with almost 1,500hp and a top speed of more than 260mph it’s rather hard to ignore. While the Chiron will be forever remembered for the numbers, the sheer level of engineering prowess that has gone into creating it should be celebrated equally. Making something this quick, but with the usability of a Volkswagen Golf, is no mean feat.
Ferrari GTC4Lusso T
The GTC4Lusso is already a car with a somewhat niche appeal, offering up a shooting-brake bodystyle with the practicality of room for four. The ‘T’ version ditches the V12 engine and 4WD system from the regular car, replacing these with a 610hp twin-turbo V8 and power going solely to the rear axle. Although it’s hard to describe anything priced at £199,000 as entry-level, the GTC4Lusso T offers a marginally more attainable Ferrari hatchback.
Porsche 911 GT3
After the backlash over the decision to offer the previous 991.1 GT3 with just a PDK dual-clutch gearbox, Porsche has seemingly listened to the Internet forums and blessed the latest GT3 with a proper manual ’box. Ignore that the 493hp 4.0-litre flat-six is perfectly suited to the snappy shifts of the PDK unit, and revel in swapping your own cogs. It also stops and steers as well as anything to leave Zuffenhausen with the GT3 badge should do.
Lotus Elise Sprint 220
Despite hardly being a heavyweight in the first place, Lotus has managed to shave even more from the Elise with the new Sprint model. Removing 40kg from a car that weighs less than 900kg is no mean feat, and Lotus has done this with carbonfibre panels, forged alloy wheels, and even a lithium-ion battery. There’s also a rather beautiful exposed gearshift mechanism, saving 1kg alone. Despite the advancing years, the Sprint 220 shows there’s still life left in the Elise.
Mazda MX-5 RF
While one roadster loses 40kg, another one gains it. Billed as the grown up version of the MX-5, RF stands for Retractable Fastback and means the addition of a folding metal hardtop. Engines remain the same with 1.5 and 2.0-litre naturally aspirated petrol units, with the choice of manual or automatic transmission. The price of having an MX-5 with wonderful flying buttresses at the rear is £2,000 compared to the equivalent soft-top version.
Audi RS3 Sportback
How much horsepower does a hot hatch really need? With manufacturers still locked into an arms race, 400hp is the new benchmark courtesy of the revised Audi RS3. The 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine is now made from aluminium, saving some 28kg in the process. Performance moves towards serious sports car territory, with 0-62mph in 4.1 seconds and the option of a 174mph top speed. There’s now even the option of a saloon variant, should you prefer your hot hatch to be less hatchback-y.
BMW M760Li xDrive
Does anybody really want to hustle a giant saloon, weighing almost 2,200kg, like a sports car? BMW seems to think so, fitting the long wheelbase version of the 7-Series with a 602hp turbocharged 6.6-litre V12. The xDrive 4WD system helps to manage the 590lb ft of torque, and also to let the M760Li achieve 0-62mph in a rapid 3.7 seconds. At a cost of over £130,000 the M760Li is undoubtedly a niche vehicle, but nevertheless a deeply impressive one.
Mercedes-AMG E63 S 4Matic+
Good news. If you find yourself in 2017 needing a 600hp saloon, but the M760Li is just too large and expensive, don’t panic. Mercedes-AMG has you covered with the latest version of the E63. With 604hp and 627lb ft of torque it’s actually punchier than the bigger BMW, and also quicker with 0-62mph in 3.4 seconds. It also comes with a ‘drift mode’ setting, which diverts torque solely to the rear wheels should you be brave enough to want to slide an £80,000 saloon.
BMW 5 Series
Back in the real world, the revised BMW 5-Series saloon and Touring versions are here to offer overworked executives everything they need. While it may not look radically different, beneath the 7 Series-inspired body is a wealth of new technology. With lightweight steel and aluminium construction helping save 100kg, the new 5 Series is more economical despite being bigger and roomier than its predecessor. The infotainment system features gesture control, there’s the option of mild autonomous driving tech, and even the ability to park the car remotely with the key fob.
BMW 530e iPerformance
BMW had clearly sensed the tide turning against diesel, which is why the launch of this plug-in hybrid version of the new 5-Series could not have been timed better. A 2.0-litre petrol turbo engine is connected to an electric motor, with the potential to do up to 31 miles on battery power alone. It also means official fuel consumption figures of 140mpg, and eligibility for the government’s plug-in car grant scheme.
MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4
Hybridisation is spreading across the whole BMW group, with this being the first MINI to feature a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Priced from £31,585, and eligible for the £2,500 plug-in car grant, the Cooper S E features a three-cylinder petrol turbo driving the front wheels while an electric motor powers the rear axle. With a combined 224hp, performance is in hot hatch territory with 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds, but the added bonus of an official 134.5mpg fuel consumption.
This one is new for 2017, honest. With the Captur being one of best-selling Renault models around, things have been played understandably safe with this facelift. Mechanically nothing has changed, with the same range of engines as before. Externally, you’ll need to be a real Renault fan to notice the Kadjar-inspired front grille, new LED running lights, and a revised skid plate. The biggest difference is inside, with a more upmarket interior, which Renault hopes will cement the Captur as the most popular small crossover in Europe.
Much like Renault, Audi has played it safe when creating a new second-generation version of the Q5. With 1.6million examples of the first-gen car sold, Ingolstadt was clearly not willing to mess with a profitable SUV. Beneath the familiar skin, the interior is thoroughly updated for a premium experience, with the latest version of Audi’s highly effective MMI infotainment system. With a range of petrol and diesel engines, and even a hot SQ5 version, there’s no reason to think the new Q5 will be anything but popular.
Land Rover Discovery
At last, a new SUV which manages to look radically different to its predecessor. Land Rover has pushed the Discovery firmly upmarket, with a premium interior that does at least retain the classic seven-seater option. However, the split tailgate has gone, and the asymmetrical rear door design is proving controversial. Sharing aluminium architecture with the Range Rover means it drives with a premium feel, but the off-road ability of old is still very much present. Just don’t try to hose down the interior if it gets muddy.
Love the Volvo XC90, but not the hefty starting price? Say hello to the new XC60. Taking the desirability of the bigger XC90 stable mate, but distilling it into a smaller package, means the XC60 has many of the same features. LED headlights, heated leather seats, 4WD and automatic transmission are all standard across the range. All engines are turbocharged four-cylinder affairs, with the choice of petrol or diesel. There’s also the T8 hybrid with a respectable 320hp. For those who can’t quite stretch to the full-fat XC90, this really isn’t a bad compromise.
Managing to look almost identical to the bigger Leon is no bad thing, and it means the latest Ibiza supermini is a handsome machine. With no three-door or estate versions this time, it’s all about the five-door hatchback. Sharing a platform with the forthcoming new Audi A1, the Ibiza is suitably mature underneath. Engines include 1.0 and 1.5-litre petrol options, with a 1.6-litre diesel in a variety of power outputs. The 115hp 1.0-litre petrol is the sweet spot in the range, and all cars benefit from the upmarket interior with more room.
The old Nissan Micra is best forgotten about, taking a once successful British-built car and replacing it with a cheap Indian import. The all-new Micra looks to undo the damage, with a funky design that has been created with European buyers in mind. There are two petrol engines and a diesel on offer, and with prices starting at less than £12,000, the Micra is now a contender again in the competitive supermini marketplace.
Suzuki is on a roll at the minute, with the new Ignis winning substantial praise and the Baleno atoning for the sins of the car that wore the same name in the 1990s. Managing to be substantially lighter than the previous car, the new Swift is still bigger inside and out. Engine choices include the excellent 1.0-litre Boosterjet three-cylinder option, and there’s even a mild hybrid SVHS system – a supermini class first.
Despite being a thoroughly competent family hatchback, the outgoing Hyundai i30 had a faint whiff of ‘white goods’ about it. A car to buy because you needed it, not wanted it. Thankfully the new third-generation i30 helps to change that, with more distinctive styling, an upmarket interior, and an extensive standard specification list. Although clearly not aimed at being a car for keen drivers, the new i30 manages to be a little bit more exciting than before.
Taking the prize for the subtlest of facelifts – even compared to some of the others on this list – is the revised 2017 Leon. With the mildest of tweaks to the bumpers, a slightly different front grille, and revised lighting being the only way to tell you’re looking at the latest car. SEAT has also introduced a range-topping Xcellence trim, but all models get a new touchscreen infotainment system and an electronic handbrake. UK buyers now also get access to the 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine, while the hot Cupra model sees power upped to 300hp.
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe
Handsome, refined, and with space for four inside, the new E-Class Coupe is a big challenger to BMW’s 6-Series. Engine options include four-cylinder petrol and diesel units, with V6 turbo motors also available. The E400 range-topper gets 4WD as standard, with all benefiting from the wonderfully upmarket interior borrowed from the E-Class saloon. The only negative is the strange quarter light design in the rear window. It makes the glasshouse seem a little incoherent, and becomes impossible to ignore once someone points it out.
Kia is certainly confident about the new Picanto – it seems to have taken over our social media feeds of late. So far it seems to have been positively received, even in the highly competitive city car scene. It certainly looks distinctive, and rather racy in GT-Line trim with flashes of red trim. Pick between a 66hp 1.0-litre and 83hp 1.25-litre petrol engines, with a 1.0-litre turbo set to join the #Picanto party later in the year.