Cars are getting better and better: safer, sleeker, more stylish, more economical, and more connected.
Many modern cars can apply the brakes if you’re about to collide with a pedestrian or other obstacle, park themselves and allow up to eight people access to the internet.
True, most of the fancier gadgets, like semi-autonomous driving, still comes as optional extras.
But increasingly both online tech and driver assists like Hill Start and Collision Avoidance are becoming more mainstream.
But as well as all this, car design is evolving, and companies formerly viewed as value manufacturers are improving their ranges. The Kia Stinger and Hyundai i30 come to mind here. And new manufacturers like are appearing on the scene.
To keep you up to date, we’ve compiled our list of ten of the coolest cars you will be driving this year.
We’ve not just chosen the slickest designs, rather we’ve mixed and matched so you have a selection of buyable models in a range of segments. (For citycar fans, very little new so far – try the Skoda Citigo.)
This red-hot GT (Gran Turismo) is a corker and designed to be game-changer for Kia.
Crowning the new Stinger range is the powerful GT S model - the first performance saloon the company has ever made.
It is powered by a 3.3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 that develops 365bhp and 510Nm of torque, allowing for a 0-60mph time of 4.7 seconds and a 168mph top speed.
The standard model is almost as quick, mind. Priced from £30,545. The GT S starts at £38,645.
Jag had a hit on its hands with the F-Pace SUV, so it was a raging cert it would build a smaller version, too.
The E-Pace is a cracker too, arguably more stylish than its big brother and unusually for a Jag it’s front wheel drive.
Inside you get a beautiful finish, excellent off-road ability and bags of tech. All this and a starting price of £28,500 as well.
In showrooms early this year.
Petrol-heads have long been sceptical of electric cars, but this will be the year many of them will be forced to eat their own carburettors (figuratively speaking ,of course).
The Leaf has long ploughed a lonely electric furrow, but it has a new lease of life now; the latest model comes with a range of up to 230 miles, and semi-autonomous driving features, including a ProPILOT automatic parking mechanism. From £ 21,990 (including government grant).
Jeep has just unveiled the all-new, fourth-generation Wrangler.
The new car avoids the trap of trying to look ultra-modern: indeed, it retains the rugged that has made the Wrangler famous for 30 years; but adds a stack of advanced new tech on board.
Equally sensibly, serious off-road ability has been preserved, with the fitting of the Rock-Trac 4WD system with heavy duty axles. Pricing tbc, available in the summer.
Hyundai’s first proper hot hatch, the i30 N deploys a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo to deliver 247bhp.
This rises to 271bhp if you opt for the Performance Pack (an extra £3k but worth it as you also get an electrically controlled differential, 19in alloys with bespoke Pirelli tyres, leather seats and a sports exhaust.
VW finally climbs aboard the mid-sized SUV bandwagon – and what a great job they’ve done of it, too.
The T-ROC isn’t just a jacked-up Golf; it has more room for people and luggage, semi-autonomous driving and lots of the latest technology.
With five trim levels and a huge range of engines, we’d expect the T-ROC to be a big hit with families in particular.
Speaking of hot versions of cars, Vauxhall’s very tasty Insignia GSi sports saloon is available in the spring
Priced from £33,375, the GSi features all-wheel drive with torque vectoring, mechatronic FlexRide chassis, Brembo four-cylinder brakes and Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tyres on 20-inch rims.
For your money, you get the Grand Sport saloon variant of the Insignia GSi, which comes with two petrol and diesel engines, and there’s a tourer estate version as well.
If money is aplenty, Range has gone to town on its new flagship model, the SVAutobiography.
It’s available exclusively in long-wheelbase form and features executive class luxury with goodies like electrically deployable tables and 10-inch touchscreen entertainment screens that provide 4G wifi.
The central console, which extends the length of the cabin, also has a fridge accommodating accommodate two wine bottles or four 600ml other bottles. T
Three powertrains are available: a 4.4-litre diesel V8, a 5.0-litre supercharged petrol V8 and a 2.0-litre petrol plug-in hybrid option. Priced from £167,850.
The good news is the bubble doors have been toned down.
And the other good news is that the new Citroen C4 Cactus has been given an all-round refresh that has left it very desirable indeed.
Those ‘air bumps’ on the doors have been moved down to the bottom, giving the car a more refined look.
The entry-level model has a great price: £17,295, however it comes without one of Citroen’s best new features: the Progressive Hydraulic Suspension system, which delivers a graceful ride.
Who’d a thought it? Mercedes has moved into the big pick-up truck market.
With typical aplomb, however, Mercedes want to bring German luxury to what is often a rugged and durable class of vehicle that is actually legally classed as a light truck.
So you get car-like levels of comfort and technology as well as versatility, load-lugging ability and mud-plugging prowess.
The upmarket cabin will expand the car’s appeal. So will the price: from £27,500.