Next year looks like an exciting one for the automotive world. Gautam Sharma takes a closer look
The best eight new cars to look forward to in 2018
Alpine A110 (above)
Renault’s hallowed Alpine brand has been mothballed for 23 years, but it is being reborn, with a Porsche Cayman/Audi TT fighter that seems a fitting successor to its rally-bred ancestors. The A110’s lovely aluminium bodywork houses a mid-mounted 1.8-litre turbo motor that ekes out 253hp and 320Nm, propelling the lightweight (1,080-kilogram) coupe from 0-to-100kph in 4.5 seconds. It promises a highly tactile driving experience, with “Track” mode enabling you to disable stability control – just in case lurid drifts are how you get your jollies. And unlike its predecessors, the A110 is coming to our market.
Although Audi has thus far focused solely on mainstream SUVs, the four-ringed brand is targeting the BMW X6 and Mercedes GLE Coupe with its rakish new Q8. It is yet to be revealed in production form, but expect little change from the concept that debuted earlier this year. With a thrusting toothy grille, coupe-like profile and full-width taillights, it is an eye-catching crossover, and sure to find favour in our SUV-hungry market. The Q8 measures more than five metres from bumper to bumper and has a three-metre wheelbase, so even rear-seat passengers shouldn’t have their headroom impinged by the sloping roofline.
BMW 8 Series
The last BeeEm to wear an 8 Series badge was a bloated coupe, built between 1989 and 1999, that was more grand tourer than sportster. That is likely to change with the all-new 8 Series, which appears to have enough bad-boy about it to take on the likes of Aston Martin and perhaps even the Porsche 911 in the case of a steroidal M version, which will serve up a wallop of 600hp. Whereas the previous 8 Series polarised opinion with its long overhangs and sedate demeanour, the upcoming model looks taut and aggressive – hopefully its dynamics will be equally sharp.
Chevrolet Corvette C8
The Corvette has until now stuck faithfully to the traditional American muscle-car recipe, with its long snout housing (in most cases) a horsepower-laden motor. That is about to change with the upcoming C8 generation, in which the engine – rumoured to be a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 – migrates aft of the cabin to yield the mid-engined format favoured by Italian hypercar purveyors. As a result, the proportions of the ’Vette change significantly, with the newbie sporting a shorter beak and hefty haunches. However, sublime handling, courtesy of the new layout, should be the biggest pay-off.
Jaguar is set to barge into the EV fray with the fetching I-Pace, which is the leaping cat’s first pure-electric production car. Its arrival will doubtless make life difficult for the bulbous Tesla Model X, currently the only electric SUV on offer here. The efficient layout made possible by its battery-powered propulsion, with one motor for each axle, means the I-Pace packs a spacious cabin within its compact dimensions. It also offers four-wheel-drive capability, and Jaguar claims the range-topper has performance to match an F-Type R. Who said EVs were boring?
A Lamborghini SUV? It might sound highly ridiculous, but there has already been a precedent via the rugged LM002, of which the Raging Bull sold just 328 examples from 1986 to 1993. The Urus will be nothing like the bare-bones, military-targeted LM002, however, because company execs claim that the newcomer has the same DNA as its manic supercars. The Urus has a much taller stance than its siblings, but there is a 650hp twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet, and the chassis has been tuned more for the racetrack than tackling Big Red. It offers a 3.6-second 0-to-100kph dash and top speed of 305kph, making it the fastest all-terrainer on the planet. It is due to hit the UAE in October or November.
The name of the production version is yet to be announced, but the "Cullinan", as it’s known for now, will be the big-daddy of luxo SUVs – yes, even Rolls-Royce could no longer ignore this lucrative segment. Pricing is likely to start above Dh1.5 million – and that is before you select any bespoke options. For this outlay, you can expect the most opulent, cushy-riding SUV on the planet, with a whisper-quiet twin-turbo V12 effortlessly wafting it down the highway. RR execs claim the Cullinan will dwarf every other SUV on the market – visually, if not dimensions-wise.
Toyota sells millions of cars, but it hasn’t given us much to get excited about in recent years. Enter a spiritual successor to the Supra coupe, which was a powerhouse in its final twin-turbo guise, which was laid to rest in 2002. Interestingly, the all-new Toyota’s rear-wheel-drive platform is being co-developed with BMW, which will use the same architecture for its next-generation Z4. As yet, no other tech details are to hand, but it is believed that the Supra successor will get either a V6 hybrid power train or potentially even a BMW straight-six. Expect styling inspired by the FT-1 concept revealed in 2014.