10 cars we’re looking forward to in 2021
From hot hatches to swift SUVs, the year promises some alluring motorised debuts
We may be in the throes of a pandemic and a recession but that hasn’t put the brakes on new-car introductions. Despite local new-vehicle sales slowing nearly 30% in 2020, the motor industry continues to launch its latest fare at an undiminished rate, and here are 10 of the most anticipated new cars headed our way in 2021:
The eighth generation of VW’s venerable hatchback arrives here this year to do battle against the Toyota Corolla hatch, Audi A3, Honda Civic and Opel Astra.
Longer and sleeker, Golf Mk8 promises improved refinement and handling, and brings a high level of digitisation with three huge high-resolution screens on the dash.
At the top of the food chain (for now) is the GTI, gunned along by a turbocharged 2.0l direct injection petrol engine with outputs of 180kW and 370Nm, powering the front wheels via either a seven-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox or a six-speed manual.
Audi RS Q8
Speaking of vehicles at the top of the food chain, the Audi RS Q8 to arrive in SA in the first quarter of 2021 holds the title of fastest SUV around the Nürburgring.
Built on the same underpinnings as the Lamborghini Urus, the RS Q8 is the new fire-spitting flagship `of Audi’s SUV-coupe range which went on sale here in 2019 to compete against BMW’s X6 and the Mercedes GLE Coupe.
Quattro all-wheel drive thrusts the 4.0l V8 turbo engine’s 441kW and 800Nm to the road, promising a 3.8 second 0-100km/h sprint and a 305km/h top speed.
Staying with SUVs but turning down the high-octane performance somewhat, Nissan’s Terra heads for SA this year to take on the Toyota Fortuner, Ford Everest and Isuzu MU-X.
Like its rivals, the Nissan is a bakkie-based SUV built on a ladder-frame chassis that boasts fully-fledged off road abilities by means of a 4x4 system with a four-wheel lock, brake limited slip differential, electronic locking rear differential and hill descent control.
The Terra seats seven people in what’s said to be the largest cabin in the segment, and comes with hi-tech features like a digital rear view mirror, lane departure warning, blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert.
On the opposite end of the adventure-vehicle scale is the budget-focused Kiger, Renault’s smallest SUV.
Designed to appeal to younger first-time buyers, the front-wheel drive Kiger takes on rivals such as the Hyundai Venue, Honda WR-V and the soon-to-be-launched Suzuki Vitara Brezza in SA’s hotly-contested subcompact SUV segment.
Overseas the vehicle will be available with a normally-aspirated 1.0l three-cylinder petrol with 52kW, and an all-new 1.0l turbocharged version packing 75kW — we have yet to see whether both versions will be offered locally.
The Kiger’s final design will be revealed to the world later this month and we hope that it doesn’t stray too far from the dashing concept car.
Suzuki Vitara Brezza
SA’s fastest-growing segment is compact SUVs, and small-car specialist Suzuki will bolster it with the Vitara Brezza which slots in between the Ignis and Vitara in its model range.
The India-built vehicle is powered by a 1.5l petrol engine with outputs of 77kW and 138Nm, in a choice of manual and automatic transmissions, and available in front-wheel drive.
The dapper-looking car is styled with LED headlamps, a bold front grille and a dual-tone colour scheme.
The Vitara Brezza is sold by Toyota as the Urban Cruiser as part of a partnership between the two companies that has also spawned the Starlet as a Toyota-badged Suzuki Baleno, and Toyota SA is also likely to launch the Urban Cruiser here this year.
Like every S-Class before it, the W223 will be at the cutting edge of luxury and technology.
Facial recognition will recognise people as they climb aboard and arrange everything to their liking, while a head-up display with augmented reality shows animated turn arrows seemingly projected onto the road lane. A digital light system projects warning symbols onto the road surface to warn the driver of roadworks or traffic signs.
The second generation of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) makes its debut in the digitised cabin, offering up to five screens in the front and rear.
The new S-class also offers the world’s first frontal airbags for rear passengers as part of a comprehensive safety suite that includes level 3 autonomous driving ability.
Luxury features include up to 10 different massage programmes which can be summoned by voice control.
Rear axle steering gives the big car improved agility and reduces the turning circle for easier parking.
While the world deliberates on the styling success (or not) of those oversized nostrils, the engine behind the giant grille promises much excitement to adrenaline-seekers.
Both the M3 sedan and M4 coupe will be available here in Competition guise, with the high-revving 3.0l straight-six twin-turbo engine packing a 375kW and 650Nm wallop via all-wheel drive.
That’s good for 0-100 in 3.9 seconds and a governed top speed of 250km/h, or 290km/h with the optional M Driver’s package.
The M-specific chassis has higher torsional rigidity than regular 3-Series and 4-Series models, and adaptive M suspension with electronically controlled shock absorbers come standard.
Toyota GR Yaris
Toyota makes a long-awaited return to the hot hatch league with a Yaris breathed upon by the company’s Gazoo Racing (GR) motorsport division.
The 1.6l turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine packs 200kW and 370Nm, promising a 0-100km/h dash in a mere 5.2 seconds and a 230km/h maximum speed.
Power’s sent to all four wheels via Toyota's GR-FOUR system with three driver-selectable modes that vary the front-to-rear power split.
Under the carbon fibre roof, the sported-up cabin presents the driver with a small-diameter leather-wrapped steering wheel, short-throw gear shifter, and aluminium pedals.
Staying with pocket-sized cars, the new second-generation Peugeot 208 is a contender for the most handsome hatchback on the road with its “three claw” LED headlamps and all-round sassy styling.
Voted Europe’s 2020 Car of the Year, the French hatch takes on cars like the VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio in SA’s highly competitive B-segment.
It’s available with a three-cylinder 1.2l engine in normally-aspirated (75kW) and turbocharged (96kW) guises. A 100kW electric version’s available in Europe too, although it hasn’t been confirmed for SA.
The new 208 offers a 3D head-up display and myriad driving aids normally reserved for higher market segments, including adaptive cruise control and automatic headlight dipping.
In what is much more than a run-of-the-mill facelift, the Navara’s midlife update brings a bold new design and a host of under-the-skin improvements that Nissan hopes will help it better challenge the market-dominating Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger.
The restyle presents a more aggressive facade with a new “interlock” grille and striking new C-shaped quad LED projector headlamps. A new Pro-4X design grade features a distinctive athletic look with black accents, all-terrain tyres, and lively orange detailing.
Under the revamped body is a strengthened rear axle providing an increased payload capacity up to a class-leading 1.2 tons.
Improved steering feel and a redesigned instrument panel are introduced alongside new safety technologies such as intelligent emergency braking, blind-spot warning and lane-keeping.
Available until now as a full import since its launch in 2017, the updated Navara will be locally built for sale in SA and Sub-Saharan Africa from the first quarter of 2021.