FLEETS of new cars from just about every manufacturer will be hitting our shore over the next 12 months.
To get you in the mood, I’ve compiled some details on models that are sure to go down wheely well with motorists and motor fans.
As far as dream cars go, this could finally be the year when a car manufacturer produces a machine that looks every bit as exciting as the concept drawings.
Enter Alfa Romeo’s 4C concept – if Alfa deliver something even half as exciting as their plans, their fans will be rewarded with something exceptional.
It’s a compact, mid-engined supercar, and is every bit as dramatic as you might expect from the men behind the green snake badge – not only in terms of its styling and presence, but also in terms of performance and technical innovation.
Alfa Romeo engineers predict a kerb weight as low as 850kg, which would make it some 50kg lighter than a Fiat 500.
Almost by default, low weight practically guarantees high performance and agile dynamics, but Alfa Romeo is nonetheless taking no chances – the rear wheels are driven by the same direct-injection, 1,750cc, turbo petrol engine that powers the Alfa Giulietta Cloverleaf.
This is achieved via Alfa Romeo’s new “Alfa TCT” (twin, dry-clutch transmission) to ensure seamless power delivery and control even in the most extreme driving situations. Prices have yet to be determined.
Another exciting prospect for 2013 is the Audi A3 Sportsback. The 1.4 TFSI is already available to order from €28,400, OTR.
The entry diesel offering is the highly-efficient 1.6TDI 105, priced from €29,400 OTR.
Just this week – at the time of writing – I have been test-driving the current A3, and it is more of a car than you can possibly imagine for its size and competitive price.
Renowned for its build quality, efficient engines and good looks, the A3 remains highly sought after, and the improvements made to the new generation ensures this model will be no different.
CO2 emissions of as little as 99g/km in the new A3 Sportback have been made possible with the help of “Audi ultra” lightweight technology, making it 90kg lighter than its predecessor.
The aluminium front wings and bonnet help in this regard, and contribute to a class-beating kerb weight of just 1,205kg for the 1.4 TFSI model.
In addition to the 1.2 TFSI 105, the new Audi A3 Sportsback will launch with three other four-cylinder engines, all of which are essentially new developments.
The completely redesigned interior of the A3 Sportsback breaks new ground in the class, in terms of quality and design, with standards of materials, workmanship and ergonomics that you simply do not usually find at this level.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen Ireland has also announced that it is retaining the pre-Budget pricing that was announced earlier in the year.
Not only is the new Golf lighter, safer, more advanced, spacious and efficient, and better equipped than its previous generations, its starting price is just €19,995 for the three-door 1.2-litre 85bhp Trendline model.
The Golf is available in three trim levels: Trendline, Comfortline and Highline (while the GTD, GTI and BlueMotion models will join the line-up in 2013).
Three petrol engines and two diesel engines will be available to order. All new Golf models will come with a Stop/Start system as standard, along with battery regeneration.
Gearboxes are a mixture of five- and six-speed manuals, and six- and seven-speed DSG units, depending on the engines’ power and torque outputs.
Standard specification levels build on those of the outgoing Golf, bringing new items of luxury and technology to the class.
All Golf models come with seven airbags, including a driver’s knee airbag, five three-point seatbelts, ABS with ESP, XDS electronic differential lock and Isofix preparation for two rear child seats.
The highlight of the 2013 calendar for Ford is the new Kuga, which should be with us around February or March.
As revealed at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, Ford will offer an innovative, hands-free tailgate for the all-new Kuga, offering customers a first-in-class, kick-activated means of accessing the boot.
The hands-free system enables Kuga customers to gently kick a foot beneath the rear bumper to open and close the tailgate without setting down packages or gear. Two sensors in the rear bumper detect a person’s shin and kicking motion.
The system safeguards against accidental opening by being programmed to open with leg motions – not when an animal runs under the car, or when the vehicle hits a bump on the road.
Just new to the market and already available is the all-new Ford Fiesta, offering an advanced package of technologies, including voice-activated in-car connectivity system Ford SYNC, Active City Stop and the European debut of MyKey.
It will also be equipped with the acclaimed 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, to deliver expected best-in-class fuel economy.
Fiesta follows Ford’s approach of democratising technology – bringing advanced features to a greater number of drivers for the first time – and will be unique among its European competitors in featuring Active City Stop, a system designed to help drivers avoid low speed collisions.
In addition, Fiesta will be the first model in Europe to feature Ford-exclusive MyKey technology, which enables the car owner to program a key – usually for younger drivers – that restricts the top speed of the Fiesta, reduces the maximum volume of the audio system, and even disables the audio system altogether, if driver and passengers are not using safety belts.
The new Fiesta is offered in three versions: Fiesta; Fiesta Zetec; and Fiesta Titanium. The car is priced from €15,550.
Toyota drivers can look forward to new models, including the Auris, Yaris Hybrid and Prius + in the first six months of 2013.
More details to come over the course of the coming months.
Finally, Mercedes-Benz is facing into one of the busiest periods in its history, with a number of exciting new model introductions planned.
Pride of place goes to their new A-Class range. Two models feature heavily in their plans – an A180 petrol version at €26,435 (ex works), and a A180 CDI diesel version at €28,550 – the latter model being the one predicted to take the spotlight, thanks in part to its greener CO2 emissions of just 98g/km.
Billed as the car that will introduce the luxury maker to a completely new, younger generation of customers, both models will come in a choice of three specifications and equipment lines – Style Pack, Urban Pack and Sports Pack.
Entry models sold here will all be equipped with the Style Pack option – a package that includes items which, were they purchased separately, would have a value equivalent to €1,600.
The new A-Class sits some 18cm closer to the ground – a lower-slung posture that gives it a distinctly sporty, youthful appearance.
Built on the B-Class platform, its on-board high-tech functionality is such that iPhone Siri voice-activated units and iPad music and apps can be played through the car’s infotainment system.
Looking further ahead, the other big news from Mercedes-Benz for 2013 will be the arrival of a new S-Class and an all-new, eye-watering Compact Style Coupe, whose design cues will be distinctly A-Class.
Also in sight for 2013 will be a tweaking of the E-Class range, first versions of which will be shown to international motoring media in February.