The BMW i3 must be the most eagerly-awaited electric car since the Nissan Leaf was introduced in 2011. Like the Nissan, the i3 is a purpose-built battery electric car.
Looking like nothing else in the range, the i3’s avant-garde styling will certainly grab the attention of other road users as it travels along in silence.
A compact four-seater with a plug-in range of up to 100 miles, the i3 has been engineered with trademark BMW characteristics – it’s rear-wheel drive and has 50:50 front to rear weight distribution.
Ford’s Fiesta was given a thorough revamp for 2013.
Platform and basic body structure were carried over but with the new corporate look at the front, new engines and a raft of equipment up-grades.
Ford clearly hopes this will see off challenges from Peugeot’s 208 and new Renault Clio. The battle now moves on to the performance versions of these three cars – Ford’s latest Fiesta ST takes on Peugeot’s 208 GTi and the Clio RenaultSport.
The rise of Hyundai as a car company has been remarkable. Starting as a subsidiary of a Korean heavy industry ‘chaebol’ or conglomerate assembling Ford vehicles (Cortinas mainly) under licence in the 1960s it began manufacturing within a decade.
It survived the Asian financial crisis of the 1990s, acquired Kia Motors and is now a top five world-wide brand with Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford.
Hyundai was quick to see the potential for compact SUVs in North America and Santa Fe is a nod to the kind of frontier spirit still around in states such as New Mexico.
There aren’t that many fleets that include Porsche on their choice lists. In fact, for those that do, the high-performance German sportscars, saloons and SUVs would be available only to company directors.
But from September the brand could be well placed to make a greater impression, particularly among eco-focused businesses.
Suzuki has had a steadily growing presence in the fleet sector over the past few years, largely due to targeting the right type of business with the Swift – a competent and good value small car.
But the brand’s ambitions in the corporate sector in the UK run much deeper than taking a small slice of the public sector fleet pie plus a little Motability business. Its next new model will be aimed squarely at user-choosers and has used the hugely-successful Nissan Qashqai as a benchmark.
Mitsubishi has a solid 4x4 reputation, if not as ‘historic’ as that of Toyota or Nissan in Japan.
Current Shogun (Pajero in most other markets apart from USA where it’s called Montero) can trace its origins back to 1981.
Pajero Sport (sold here for a while as Shogun Sport) is still based on the (separate) chassis of the L200 pick-up. The Outlander is a different proposition.
Like BMW, Mercedes-Benz built a factory in the USA to catch the SUV bandwagon there.
Right car, right place it might have been but the 1990s were not good for the reputation of a company to whom criticism of the quality of its vehicles came as an unpleasant shock.
Things improved and the ML II of 2005 was a much better job of work. The third generation model arrived in 2012.
Long gone are the days when a manufacturer of upmarket cars could survive with two or three model ranges.
A combination of exploring various niches together with the increasing popularity of premium badge cars has led to a proliferation of models from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz that have made it harder for mainstream brands to compete.
There’s a school of thought among many motoring writers and journalists that states that the entry-level model of any car range is more often than not the best of the bunch
For the last half century readers of car reviews the world over have been told by both the great and the good, and those of us still learning the ropes, that Porsche’s 911 is at its best when it's two-wheel drive, devoid of spoilers and comes with a manual gearbox. Forget the GT3 a bog-standard Carrera is really the purest way to experience what Porsche call “driving in its purest form”.
According to those in the know it’s that same story for the BMW 3-series, the Range-Rover and the Ford Fiesta too. So what exactly any of this got to do with Bentley Continental you see before you?
The latest Audi A3 made its UK debut in September 2012, but the best-selling body-style in the range is the five-door Sportback.
It has always fared well against compact upmarket rivals from BMW and Lexus, but now Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have credible alternatives in the sector with the new A-Class and the V40.
Customers who need the extra practicality have had to wait until spring 2013, but early signs suggest it is well worth the wait.