Stuart Milne - www.carbuyer.co.uk
Part 1 - Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW ...
Next year promises some outstanding new cars, with an emphasis on electric, hybrid and SUV models
If you think the rate of new car launches is impressive this year, you’ll be amazed at what 2018 has in store for the new car buyer.
From hatchbacks to hypercars, there’ll be something for everyone, but you won’t be able to get away from the dozens of new SUVs that’ll hit the streets. Pretty much every manufacturer is getting in on the act – including the likes of Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini.
While cars seem to be getting taller, running costs should shrink, because electric and hybrid are the two words on every car maker’s lips.
So read on to find out the new cars that are really worth waiting for in 2018.
Alfa Romeo executive saloon
Spurred on by the launch of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, the Italian firm will launch a large saloon designed to rival the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class. It’ll share its underpinnings with the Giulia and will feature a range of engines that’ll include a plug-in hybrid and Alfa’s first-ever six-cylinder diesel. The 503bhp V6 engine from the Giulia Quadrifoglio could feature, making a real rival for the BMW M5.
Alfa Romeo large SUV
Alfa Romeo’s take on the Maserati Levante is expected to go on sale in 2018, taking Alfa’s SUV range from zero to two in as many years. Last year, Alfa’s boss said he recognised “where consumer preference is going” and the profitability that SUVs deliver. Should such a car be based on the Levante, expect that model’s 3.0-litre V6 engine to feature.
Aston Martin DBX
The most significant launch from Aston Martin will be its first-ever SUV. The Aston Martin DBX marks a new direction for the brand, not least because there’ll be the choice of an electric version. The DBX will be hand-built at a new factory in south Wales and compete with some new and ultra-exclusive models, such as the Lamborghini Urus, Bentley Bentayga and Maserati Levante.
Aston Martin Valkyrie
The Valkyrie, formerly known as the Aston Martin AM RB 001, will be the brand’s most extreme road car to date. In partnership with the Red Bull Racing F1 team, 150 will be made for the road, plus a further 25 for the track. A Cosworth-built 6.5-litre V12 engine will power the car, expected to produce some 900bhp. An F1-style KERS hybrid system will boost performance further. Unsurprisingly, all Valkyries have been sold, despite an estimated £2m asking price.
Aston Martin Vanquish
The next-generation Aston Martin Vanquish could pack more than 700bhp – but not because it needs it, rather that as the flagship coupe, it has to be the pinnacle of Aston’s range. It’ll have a version of the Aston Martin DB11’s V12 engine, which could, in time, gain electric assistance in an attempt to increase performance while driving down emissions.
Aston Martin Vantage
Development of the next generation of the Porsche 911- rivalling Aston Martin Vantage is well underway in what’s a busy period for the firm. Being based on a new chassis, it’ll be lighter than ever, and will pack a 4.0-litre V8 engine and styling inspired by the Aston Martin DB11. The engine is significant, as it’ll be the first fruit of an engine supply deal with Mercedes.
The second-generation Audi A1 is in line for a 2018 launch, with subtly tweaked styling, an improved interior and a wider range of technology expected. It’ll be new under the metal and will have a longer wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels), so there’ll be more space in the rear seats and boot. The engine range will include a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol and 1.5-litre petrols and diesels.
It might not look like it, but the new Audi A6 will be all-new under the metal. It’ll be based on a new chassis and is likely to offer plug-in hybrid power for those who don’t want straightforward petrol or diesel. It’ll have the latest self-driving technology, too, plus the best of Audi’s in-car tech, including its Virtual Cockpit infotainment screen and MMI controller. There’ll be an A6 Avant estate to follow as well.
Audi A6 e-tron
The Audi A6 e-tron will be the first of three all-electric SUVs that Audi will launch by 2020. The production model will look all-but-identical to the concept pictured, but Audi’s boss suggested the Q6 name will be dropped, because it fixes the price somewhere between the smaller Audi Q5 and larger Audi Q7. The cost of the battery technology necessary for a 300-mile-plus range could mean it’ll be more expensive than the Q7.
Audi will also take on the Range Rover directly with the Audi Q8, which is tipped to give would-be Audi A8 buyers an alternative luxury choice. The Q8 will be more coupe-like than the Q7, while a more performance-focused Audi SQ8 could feature down the line. As this is a Range Rover rival, it’s likely prices will start at around £70,000, with top-spec models and the SQ8 getting closer to £100,000.
Bentley Continental GT
It’s all change for the Bentley Continental GT. Bentley’s biggest-selling model will be some 150kg lighter than before, thanks to sharing a chassis with the new Porsche Panamera. It’ll have the same 6.0-litre W12 engine as the Bentley Bentayga, along with a reworked version of the current 4.0-litre V8. Later, a plug-in hybrid version could arrive – as could a diesel. The styling will be influenced by the Bentley EXP 10 Speed 6, pictured.
The rise of the SUV shows no signs of stopping and the BMW X2 will, unsurprisingly, slot in between the company’s X1 and X3. It’ll offer a halfway house to buyers who want some of the sleekness of a coupe, with some of the ride height of an SUV. Expect xDrive four-wheel drive to dominate the range, a performance-orientated M version to follow mainstream models, and rivals to follow suit.
BMW 8 Series
The BMW 8 Series will return in 2018 as a large GT designed to rival the Mercedes S-Class Coupe. The launch of the flagship coupe will mean the BMW 6 Series will be repositioned as a sportier rival for the Porsche 911. The 8 Series, on the other hand, will be a larger and more luxurious model. Little official information is available, but BMW has trademarked a range of 8 Series-related names, including 825, 830, 835, 845, 850, 860 and M850, suggesting a wide range of engines will be offered. A hot M8 model will join the range, too.
The next BMW X3 is likely to be lighter, more efficient and more spacious inside than the current car. We expect the range to focus on diesel engines, although a plug-in hybrid version could also be offered. And while four-wheel drive will be available, buyers will also have the choice of rear-wheel drive for improved efficiency. A ‘gesture control’ system to operate the infotainment system is tipped to be among the available features.
Like the Audi Q8, the BMW X7 will push the brand into uncharted and upmarket waters, at least as far as its SUV models are concerned. A high-spec version will be offered that could be fitted with parts from the forthcoming Rolls-Royce Cullinan SUV. Unsurprisingly for such a large and luxurious SUV, big engines will be the order of the day including, we understand, a V12 in top-spec models.