Motors news: 13-plate preview
Andy Enright runs the rule over what's new and interesting on a 13 plate.
WE'VE finally got some good news for the car industry after a few horrible years. More than two million new cars were registered in the UK during 2012, up 5.3% on the previous 12 months and the best result since recession struck in 2008. We're still some way shy of the 2.4 million registrations of 2007 but private buyers are starting to spend money on new cars once again.
Here are the vehicles that will be landing in dealerships near you this spring or just after.
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Dacia is trying to shake up this sector in much the same way its Duster did in the crossover market. The car in question here is the Sandero – super-sized supermini space at city car prices and the cheapest new car on sale in the UK. Over at Vauxhall, there's the trendy ADAM to consider, an urban scoot that's nigh-on perfect.
The improved Ford Fiesta is a small car with a big reputation – a true blue collar car made good. Renault isn't going to take this laying down. The fourth-generation Clio is bigger, better looking, better equipped and more efficient.
Two words here: Volkswagen Golf. The seventh version of the perennial favourite includes a number of interesting details, cabin quality is well up to par and residual values look promising. If you can't stretch to one, then Toyota's second-generation Auris is a very good alternative. It's more sharply styled, cheap to run and very good value. As is the new Rapid, Skoda's family hatchback now that the new Octavia challenges in the larger Mondeo class. The Rapid is large for the family hatch class but solid and practical.
Audi brings the A3 Sportback to the market in this segment, a car with a massively improved interior, chassis and engine selection. BMW's new 3 Series continues to bulldoze all before it, with the addition of an interesting four-wheel-drive 320i xDrive model, which looks set to take a little of the lustre off Audi's quattro advantage. Perhaps the biggest and bravest step comes from Mercedes-Benz with the introduction of its CLA four-door coupé this summer.
Mercedes has face- lifted its E-Class and Jaguar has brought XJ buyers a 3.0-litre supercharged V6 to replace the old thirsty V8s. All new is the desirable Lexus LS. Other highlights are the all-new Maserati Quattroporte and Bentley's super 616bhp Continental GT Speed.
This looks like being a bit of a vintage year with a new Renaultsport Clio, a Fiesta ST and Peugeot looking like they're returning to form with the 208 GTI. These three are bound to be hot tickets but perhaps a more interesting left-fielder might just be Kia's 204bhp pro_cee'd GT which will certainly be the best-looking of the bunch. Plus the all-wheel drive Mercedes A45 AMG and CLA45 AMG twins have me intrigued. Want a proper sports coupé and have a bit more money to spend? Well spend it on Porsche's 2013 Cayman which goes up against BMW's revised Z4.
We remain in love with open-topped cars and few are more appealing than Volkswagen's latest Beetle Cabriolet. Retro not your thing? Go with the Citroën DS3 Cabrio, an elegant solution.
There's a whole lot going on in this sector, and we'll start with the Vauxhall Mokka and Chevrolet Trax twins. They're not identical twins but underneath their divergent bodywork treatments are much the same. Fancy going larger? The Hyundai Santa Fe started out as a bit of an oddity but improved really quickly. Otherwise it's hard to ignore the daddy of them all, the Range Rover, which looks set to demolish any putative pretenders at the top of the SUV market.
Kia's new Carens looks as if it could be the sleeper MPV hit of 2013, featuring sharp styling, excellent build quality, a clever interior and a range of clean, modern engines. There's also a lot to like about the hybrid Toyota Prius+. As a seven-seat MPV, it's not the most convincing. As a five-seat car with plenty of luggage space, it's a much more compelling proposition.