2020 hasn't been a great year. It's disrupted everybody's lives and like the rest of the world, the car industry hasn't gone unaffected.
Factories were forced to close and sales were down dramatically but still car makers launched new products. And whatever 2021 has in store for us, we can be sure it involves even more new cars, with an emphasis on hybrid and EVs.
It’s a constantly changing landscape with nailed-on certainties joined by more ambitious intentions but here we’ve tried to gather some of the most interesting or important models slated to arrive in 2021.
Alfa Romeo Tonale
A smaller sibling to Alfa’s existing Stelvio, the Tonale will aim to take on compact premium SUVs like the Volvo XC40 and Range Rover Evoque when it goes on sale. With great Alfa looks and a plug-in hybrid option it could be the shot in the arm the brand needs
Alfa Romeo Giulia GTA
At the other end of Alfa’s range from a small hybrid SUV is the Giulia GTA. A Guilia Quadrifoglio on steroids, the GTA is a more powerful, lighter weight take on the super saloon. Its 2.9-litre V6 puts out 533bhp and there’s a wider track and bespoke suspension setup to sharpen its handling. A GTAm version strips out the rear seats in favour of a roll bar.
Aston Martin Valhalla
Billed by Aston as the “son of Valkyrie”, the Valhalla will be the brand’s third mid-engined hypercar, following the mind-bending Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR. Adopting F1 technology, the Valhalla will use an in-house designed 3.0-litre V6, which Gaydon says will be the most powerful in its range - so expect more than 700bhp from its twin-turbo hybrid setup.
Audi e-tron GT
If Audi's e-tron was a safe first step into the world of EVs - everyone loves an SUV, after all, the e-tron GT is slightly more ambitious. Positioned to take on the Porsche Taycan, the all-electric four-door fastback shares the Porsche's platform and is expected to offer up to 641bhp and around 250 miles of range. It will sit at the top of the Audi EV family, expected to include 12 vehicles by 2025.
Audi Q4 e-tron
Another EV concept due to become a reality in 2021. The Q4 e-tron is mid-sized all-electric SUV built on the VW Group's MEB platform, positioned to challenge the Tesla Model Y. Technical details for the final version are scare but the concept's 225kW (301bhp) and 280-mile range hint at what buyers can expect.
BMW has so far only released concept car images of the i4 but a production version is expected to go on sale next year, possibly with some of the more controversial design elements toned down. The i4 will be a pure-electric mid-sized saloon that will take on the Tesla Model 3 and BMW claims it will offer 523bhp and 373 miles of range from its single motor and 80kWh battery.
Previously named the iNEXT, the iX will be one of the first cars built on BMW’s common platform, which can support combustion engine, hybrid and all-electric powertrains. The iX will use the latter of those and act as the flagship model for BMW’s i range of EVs. It’s a large SUV - close to X7 size - and while full details of the drivetrain are still vague, BMW says it will offer up to 500bhp and have an official range of more than 370 miles.
The new Citroen C4 has begun appearing in showrooms around the country but it'll be the start of 2021 before the all-electric version starts reaching customers. The swoopy hatchback-cum-crossover features a 50kWh battery offering up to 217 miles of range and a 134bhp electric motor and will challenge the likes of the Ford Focus and Nissan Leaf. Prices start at £32,180.
The el-Born is Cupra's first all-electric model and is based on the regular Seat el-Born EV. As with other Cupra products, the el-Born takes the regular family hatchback and adds a performance spin on it. It's not just about a more powerful motor (expected to be around 210bhp) but also about tuning the cars ride, handling and braking to offer a more dynamic experience. Curpa says the el-Born will reach 30mph in 2.9 seconds and offer up to 310 miles of range.
Dacia Spring EV
Dacia is famous as a budget brand and EVs are famous for being relatively expensive. Which makes the Spring EV an important car. Based on a Chinese-market Renault, the roadgoing version of the compact all-electric crossover is expected to be the cheapest EV in Europe when it goes on sale in early 2021. It's not guaranteed to come to the UK but Dacia says it is exploring the idea. Under the skin, the Spring uses a 43bhp motor and 26.8kWh battery for a range of 140 miles.
The all-electric Fiat 500 might look fairly familiar but it's all-new. Ditching the internal combustion engine completely, it’s a modernised take on the 500's famous design but is built on a new EV platform with 94bhp motor and a 42kWh battery good for a claimed 199 miles of range. As well as subtly different looks, expect a more modern interior when it goes on sale early in 2021.
Ford Puma ST
The Ford Puma has already been winning accolades for its positive driving experience but Ford is continuing to push the envelope with a full-on ST version of its compact SUV. Based on the Fiesta's underpinnings, the Puma ST will use the Fiesta ST's 197bhp 1.5-litre engine and six-speed manual gearbox, and will feature significantly revised suspension and steering, along with a limited slip diff.
Hyundai Kona N
Hyundai’s i30 N was its first real attempt at a hot hatch and, fresh from the success of that comes a hot version of its Kona SUV. Not an obvious choice perhaps but VW has done it with the T-Roc R and Ford has a Puma ST on the way so there’s a market for it. The Kona N is expected to share the i30 N’s turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, which produces up to 271bhp in the Performance edition, and has been spotted testing at the Nurburgring to ensure its handling matches its pace.
Hyundai i20 N
Not content with turning the Kona into its second hot model, Hyundai is also creating a go-faster version of its i20 supermini. Details of the powerplant haven’t been confirmed but the i20 N will challenge the Ford Fiesta ST and VW Polo GTi in the small hot hatch stakes, so expect at least 200bhp and a 0-60 time of around seven seconds.
The fourth generation of the Tucson continues the model's role as a practical family SUV but throws in a bold new look. The well-equipped Nissan Qashqai rival goes on sale in January priced from £28,495. Initially it will come in petrol, mild hybrid or self-charing hybrid before a plug-in hybrid variant joins the line-up later in the year.
Ioniq is a new sub-brand spun off from Hyundai as its all-electric arm. The Ioniq will be the production version of the Hyundai 45 concept (pictured) and the compact crossover will be joined by an Ioniq 6 saloon soon after. Due to go on sale later in 2021, the Ioniq 5 is likely to be a significant model in the ever-growing electric crossover market.
The last generation of Jaguar XJ bowed out last year and wasn’t immediately replaced. Instead, the brand has decided to start with a completely clean slate and use the knowledge and experience gained developing the I-Pace to reimagine its flagship as an EV. The new XJ will be electric-only and positioned as a luxury saloon to take on the Tesla Model S and Porsche Taycan.
Lexus UX 300e
Lexus is famous for its dedication to hybrid drivetrains - the brand’s whole range now comes with a petrol/electric option, even the outrageous-looking LC Coupe. But next year it will join the world of pure EVs with an all-electric version of its smallest SUV. A 201bhp motor will be powered by a 54.3kWh battery, promising a over 180 miles of range.
The MX-30 is Mazda’s own unique take on the current trend for electrification and SUVs. Rather than cramming a huge battery in to get maximum range, Mazda has fitted the MX-30 with a 35.5kWh battery that will offer just 130 miles of range. It argues that such a range is sufficient for most users and a smaller battery keeps weight down, making it more fun to drive.
Mercedes has a host of electric cars in the pipeline but the EQA, seen here in concept form, is important because it will be the first all-electric compact premium crossover. Rivals models from Audi and BMW will follow but the EQA is expected to be first to market with a choice of two- or four-wheel-drive, as much as 268bhp and a range of 250 miles.
MG used to be a sports car brand but since the name was rescued by China’s SAIC it’s been all about cheap SUVs. In 2021 that will change with the planned launch of the E-Motion. How much of the concept car’s elements will be carried over isn’t clear but it will definitely be a two-door, all-electric coupe designed to act as a halo model for the brand.
According to Nissan, this all-new version of the UK’s best-selling SUV will offer elegant design, enhanced packaging and efficient powertrain, combined with the quality and a driving experience from a higher segment. The existing 1.3-litre petrol engine will be offered in two power outputs and is set to be joined by a range-extender model which will be powered by electric motors and use a small petrol engine to charge the battery rather than drive the wheels.
Potentially even more important to Nissan than a new Qashqai, the Ariya will sit alongside it as an electric-only SUV when it goes on sale in 2021. Details are limited at the moment but Nissan says it will have twin motors for four-wheel drive and it will be closer to the X-Trail than Qashqai in size.
Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered
Peugeot has taken its attractive but sensible saloon and estate and turned it into a performance-focused machine with the 508 Sport Engineered. A 1.6-litre petrol-electric drivetrain with two electric motors produces 360S and 520NM, getting the 508 to 62mph in 5.2 seconds and on to a limited 155mph while sensible driving should return around 26 miles in EV mode.
Porsche 911 GT3
Expected early in 2021, the GT3 RS will be the fastest, most focused version of the current 992 generation car. Powered by a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six, the GT3 will offer just over 500bhp and a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch auto. The GT3 features double wishbone suspension for the first time, bigger brakes, 20 and 21-inch staggered wheels and a host of significant aero features to make it the sharpest 911 yet, until the inveitable GT3 RS arrives.
Using the same purpose-made electric MEB platform as VW’s ID.3 and Seat’s El-Born, the Enyaq marks Skoda’s entry into the family EV market. An SUV designed to fit between the Karoq and Kodiaq, it will offer a choice of battery and motor combinations offering from 62kWh and 177bhp to 82kWh and 201bhp in standard forms and up to 300bhp for the proposed vRS version.
Skoda Octavia vRS
Every generation of Skoda Octavia brings its own hot vRS version but the fourth-generation brings more choice than before with the option of petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid versions. Petrol versions use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 242bhp and will reach 62mph in 6.8 seconds while the 197bhp diesel takes 7.5 seconds to hit 62 but offers 57mpg to the petrol's 41. The 1.4-litre PHEV matches the petrol's 242bhp but comes with a claimed 250mpg and 38 miles of EV range.
SsangYong Korando E100
SsangYong has grand plans for a line-up of all-new all-electric models by the middle of the decade but before that, it will turn one of its existing models into an EV. From next year the budget-priced Korando will be available with a 188bhp electric drivetrain powered by a 61.5kWh battery good for more than 200 miles of range.
Tesla Model Y
Sharing much of its underpinnings with the Model 3 saloon, the Model Y is a mid-sized SUV that will seat seven and offer up to 314 miles of range via a all-wheel-drive dual-motor setup, according to Tesla. Zero to 60mph will take as little as 3.5 seconds and Tesla says the Y should be able to add 168 miles of range in just 15 minutes at its Supercharger network.
Toyota Yaris Cross
A new compact SUV due to go on sale in mid-2021, the Yaris Cross will sit below the C-HR and take on the Nissan Juke and Renault Captur. Sharing its platform with the Yaris, the Cross will be bigger in every direction and sit higher. It will also be a hybrid - using the Yaris’s 1.5-litre petrol/electric arrangement - and, unusually for the segment, offer four-wheel drive.
Toyota Rav4 PHEV
The new RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid is the new flagship of Toyota’s hybrid electric range and also the most powerful RAV4 yet, with a combined 302bhp from its 2.5-litre engine and electric motor. Toyota is promising a 46-mile driving range on a full battery and CO2 emissions of 22g/km CO2 emissions, with prices starting at £47,395 and deliveries beginning in the second quarter of 2021.
Sitting above the Rav4, the Highlander is a seven-seat family SUV. This is the fourth generation of the Highlander but the first to come to the UK. Due to go on sale later in March priced from £50595, the Highlander will use a 2.5-litre petrol engine and full hybrid system to offer 241bhp through a four-wheel-drive system. Economy is quoted as 42.8mpg and CO2 emissions are 146g/km.
Last year saw the Astra get a gentle facelift and a couple of new engines but 2021 will see a brand-new car. The new model will retain a low, coupe-inspired shape and share a platform and engines with other PSA Group cars such as the Peugeot 308, including petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options.
Vauxhall's ugly duckling compact SUV has been transformed for the next generation model. Its frumpy bland looks have been replaced with a sharp design which debuts the new Vauxhall "Vizor" front end. The high-tech new Mokka will feature the latest in connectivity and driver aids and be available as a full-electric Mokka-e alongside a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol version.
The ID.4 crossover shares its platform and a lot of running gear with VW's first EV - the ID.3 - but sits above it as Tiguan-sized rival to the likes of the Skoda Enyaq. At launch a 201bhp motor and 77kWh battery will offer 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds and a range of 323 miles. Later in the year a 177bhp version will be offered with the same batery while 146bhp and 168bhp versions will get a reduced 224-mile range from a 52kWh battery.
ID.5 is expected to be the production name for the ID Vizzion, previewed last year and expected to be launched in 2021. Another member of the ID electric car family, it will be a large saloon/estate - think Passat to the ID.3’s Golf. VW says it will support two and four-wheel drive, with between 275bhp and 335bhp, and an 82kWh battery that can charge to 80 per cent in just 30 minutes.