New wheels of 2018

Christopher Tan's picks of the hottest wheels for 2018

Electric models, a Lamborghini off-roader and sexy choices from BMW and Audi are set to arrive

This year may well be another fork in the road for car buyers in Singapore.

Should they consider giving electric cars, which will soon arrive in numbers, a go? (Yes.) Should they worry about the new Vehicular Emissions Scheme? (No.) Will zero growth in the vehicle quota system push certificate of entitlement premiums up? (Eventually, but not something anyone should lose sleep over in the near term.)

One thing, however, will remain constant - the number of new car models which will be launched here. Each year, some 50 or more will compete for buyers' attention.

Here are some which are worth a trip down to the showroom.


ALFA ROMEO


Alfa Romeo Giulia. PHOTO: ALFA ROMEO

The long-awaited Giulia has landed. Long-awaited because it is touted as the first red-blooded Alfa in a long while (not counting the esoteric 4C).

The top-end rear-wheel-drive Quadrifoglio V6 variant is said to be close to $400,000, followed by the 280hp Veloce at nearly a quarter million bucks. These will be followed later by a base model with an estimated price tag of below $200,000.

Those who still insist on a sport utility vehicle might want to check out Alfa's first crossover, the Stelvio.


ALPINE


Alpine A110. PHOTO: ALPINE

If this name is not familiar, it will soon be. The revival of Renault-owned Alpine is something every old-school motorhead has been wishing for since adjustable exhaust note.

The third-quarter debut of the A110 promises to bring back memories. With 250 horses hauling a body weighing just a little over a tonne, the car hits 100kmh in 4.5 seconds.


BMW


BMW i8 Roadster. PHOTO: BMW

The Bavarian marque will have a fairly busy year, with at least four launches planned.

First off will be the revised i3 electric hatch, arriving in the first quarter. This version has a range of close to 300km - up significantly from the original's 170km.

Next in line will be the i8 Roadster, an open-top version of the radically styled i8 hybrid sportscar. This equally stunning variant could arrive as early as August.

For power-hungry fans, the arrival of the new 600hp M5 in the second half will be worth waiting for. Not only does this offer zoom, but it also has as much room as a regular 5-series sedan.

If luck prevails, we will see the stunning new 8-series by the year's end. This mouthwatering grand tourer oozes sex appeal and more. But an early-2019 arrival is more likely.


FORD


Ford Fiesta. PHOTO: FORD

The new Fiesta may be one of the smallest cars in town, but it will have a huge street presence. If its irrepressible one-litre predecessor is anything to go by, this new hatch will be just as fiesty, if not more. It might arrive by the year's end. Oh, there is also a 1.6-litre 200hp ST version.

The new Kuga SUV has landed, and should go on sale soon. The crossover will have Sync 3 connectivity, hands-free parking, enhanced Active City Stop and a few other clever features.


AUDI


Audi Q8 coupe-SUV. PHOTO: AUDI

The Ingolstadt marque has a smokin' bonanza lined up, including the RS5 Coupe and RS4 Avant, both powered by 2.9-litre 450hp power plants; and an elegant A7 Sportback to tempt those who want a spacious grand tourer.

But there are two models which deserve closer scrutiny: the A8L limousine and the Q8 coupe-SUV.

The A8 is poised to have the most autonomous functions of any car here. If all the functions are approved by the authorities, the big Audi would be a chauffeur-driven car which does not need a chauffeur.

Little is known about the Q8 at the moment, except that it is about the size of the Q7. But going by the sleek shape of the concept, we can't wait.

All will be available in the first half of the year, except the Q8, which will arrive in the second half.


HYUNDAI


Hyundai turbocharged i30 hatch. PHOTO: HYUNDAI

First off is the Ioniq Electric, based on its Ioniq hybrid, but minus the petrol engine. The car will be unveiled at the Singapore Motorshow on Thursday. It has a stated range of 280km a full charge and is expected to be priced just below $150,000.

Also to be launched at the motorshow is the Kona compact sport utility vehicle and turbocharged i30 hatch. Both share the same platform and a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The Kona has a 1.6-litre turbo, while the i30 will have a 1.4-litre turbo.


INFINITI


Infiniti QX80. PHOTO: INFINITI

Nissan's Lexus beater will have half a dozen launches this year, starting with the facelifted Q50 performance sedan at the Singapore Motorshow next week.

But the limelight should probably be reserved for the QX80. The big sport utility vehicle is a heavily revised version of the current model, with modern tweaks to its otherwise chunky styling.

Being still a very big vehicle, it comes with lots of driver assistance, including lane departure warning and prevention, adaptive cruise control, predictive forward collision warning, emergency braking, blind spot warning and intervention, as well as reverse collision prevention. And of course, reverse camera.

The third quarter will also see the arrival of the latest QX30 compact crossover, followed by the mid-sized QX50 in the fourth quarter, both of which are new models. The QX50 will feature Nissan's revolutionary variable-compression ration engine. This power plant promises the punchiness of a petrol engine and efficiency of a diesel one.


JAGUAR


Jaguar E-Pace crossover. PHOTO: JAGUAR

The compact E-Pace crossover - Jaguar's first - is slated to arrive in the first quarter. The car is said to boast a strong chassis with a maximum towing weight of 1,800kg. Engines include a 180bhp turbodiesel and a 249bhp turbo petrol, paired with a nine-speed ZF automatic transmission.


KIA


Kia Stinger. PHOTO: KIA

The Stinger is Kia like you have never seen it. The four-door coupe - with a 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 pushing out 365hp and 510Nm of torque - will be shown at the Singapore Motorshow. It goes from zero to 100kmh in 4.9 seconds.

If you cannot handle the heat, there is a tamer 2-litre 244hp/ 353Nm version, with a century sprint of six seconds. Both come with an eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shift.


MERCEDES-BENZ


Mercedes-Benz CLS four-door coupe. PHOTO: AFP

A revised version of the A-class will arrive in the first half of the year. It is pretty much the same car as the current version, but will boast a vastly improved interior.

In the second half, we will see a facelifted C-class, as well as an all-new G-class and CLS four-door coupe. The G will boast a radical interior makeover. Drivers are able to control the infotainment system without taking their hands off the wheel. It is crucial, if you are tackling a ravine.

The new CLS looks cleaner and more elegant. All variants are equipped with new petrol and diesel engines - inline-six and inline-four units.


LAMBORGHINI


Lamborghini Urus. PHOTO: LAMBORGHINI

A Lambo with off-road capability? That's the Urus, which will arrive by the second quarter of the year. Expected to be priced at around $800,000 before the certificate of entitlement, the extreme sport utility vehicle (SUV) is powered by a 4-litre twin-turbo V8. It accelerates from zero to 100kmh in 3.6 seconds, zero to 200kmh in 12.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 305kmh, making it the fastest SUV available.


OPEL


Opel Insignia. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

The Insignia executive sedan is here. It will probably be pitched against cars such as the Mazda 6 and Volkswagen Passat.

The Insignia could well be ideal for those who cannot decide between the two. The top-end variant is a 2-litre turbo all-wheel-drive.


PEUGEOT


Peugeot 5008 seven-seater. PHOTO: PEUGEOT

The new 5008 seven-seater has landed. If the build quality, driveability and equipment level of the 3008 crossover are an indication, buyers can expect a superb multi-purpose vehicle from this French brand.


PORSCHE


Porsche Cayenne. PHOTO: PORSCHE

The new Panamera Sport Turismo - a wagon version of the Panamera saloon - will debut at the Singapore Motorshow. So will the powerful 911 GT3, a track attack car you can drive to the office.

In March, Porsche will launch its latest Cayenne, its hottest, sleekest and most nimble full-size sport utility vehicle yet.


RENAULT


Renault Zoe Long Range electric subcompact. PHOTO: RENAULT

The Zoe Long Range electric subcompact is probably the go-to car if you are considering switching to batteries. It has a stated range of 400km a charge, making it a practical car for long drives to Malaysia. It is also expected to be fairly accessible, costing less than $140,000.


SUZUKI


Suzuki Swift Sport. PHOTO: SUZUKI

The new Swift and Swift Sport are Suzies to look forward to. The Swift is available with a 1-litre turbo and is expected in the third quarter. The Swift Sport has a 1.4-litre turbo, and could arrive by year-end, although early 2019 is a more likely date.


TOYOTA


Toyota Lexus LS. PHOTO: TOYOTA

The funky C-HR crossover will debut at the Singapore Motorshow. It will be a 1.2 turbocharged variant, with two-tone paintwork.

It will be followed by the Prius Plus, a seven-seat version of Toyota's best-selling hybrid.

A sportily restyled new Camry is expected in the fourth quarter.

Over at its luxury arm, the new Lexus LS flagship will arrive this month.


VOLKSWAGEN


Volkswagen Arteon. PHOTO: VOLKSWAGEN

The Arteon was launched on Wednesday. Sharing similarities with the Audi A5 Sportback, the four-door coupe, which succeeds the Volkswagen CC, is the only confirmed model for this year. There are, however, expectations for a new Polo and T-Roc.


VOLVO


Volvo XC40. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The new XC40 is an attractive compact crossover slated to arrive in the first quarter of the year.

The car will initially be available with a D4 turbodiesel or a T5 petrol four-cylinder engine. A hybrid version and a pure electric version will follow. It will also be the first Volvo to be available with a new three-cylinder engine. It is built in Ghent, Belgium.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2018, with the headline 'Best new cars for the year'. Print Edition | Subscribe