Here's a guide to some of the new cars we're looking forward to seeing in 2007.
Alfa's new spider is a stunning looking car and the company's profile has recently been raised by the even more beautiful 8C which so few will get their hands on. Despite huge competition from convertible coupes from all the big manufacturers, we think the new Spider does enough to set itself apart from the crowd.
Although it looks to be full of potential, the Spyder is however, getting some criticism for not handling and performing as well as it looks. We imagine that it's still going to be a popular choice amongst drivers who want their convertible to look the part.
In December, Alfa have the beautiful new 149 coming to the market as a replacement for the current 147 range. The new car draws so heavily on the styling of the 8C. Anyone looking for a very different small hatchback will find the 149 to be well worth a look.
Early 2007 sees the release of the new S3 which, going by the success of the latest S4, will be an eagerly anticipated new model. Audi sporting models are certainly performing very well compared to the competition at the moment, so there's every reason to look forward to this new 265bhp 2.0 litre hot hatch.
Having been to the important shows at the back end of 2006 the R8 will be more prominent in the showrooms in 2007. Expect to see this great new supercar being promoted across the Audi network to improve the company's premium image.
Audi's other important release of 2007 will be the new A4 based compact coupe, which takes the name A5. Whereas key rival BMW uses odd numbers for its series, with the even numbers reserved for coupes and sports derivatives, the equivalent Audis usually are one number higher than the Beamers. However, where A4 is the equivalent of the 3 Series, The A5 becomes the equivalent of BMW's new 6 series. Confused.
Leaving the name games aside, the new Audi is going to have its work cut out to compete with the six series which is a very fine automobile. However Audi have been offering at least as good, if not better, driving experience in their latest S cars, so they'll be hoping that the A5 will be successful in taking a big slice of the lucrative large Coupe market.
They're also going to be up against stiff competition from other makers though, including Aston Martin.
Like so many manufacturers, BMW have seen the huge demand for convertible coupe versions of their existing models, and with this in mind the CC version of the 3 series arrives in March 2007. The company also release a new X5 off roader in February 2007.
A new M3 is also on its way, with a release date of April or May expected. Arguably, the M3 has been the performance coupe of the last couple of decades so spirited drivers always look forward to a new version. Recently Audi's top of the range 4 series cars had encroached on BMW territory by being more than a match for the old M3; no doubt BMW will address this with the new car.
BMW's 1 series also sees an expansion of the range in 2007, including a new cabrio and a top end 135ti model which incredibly features the 3 litre twin turbo which will provide incredible performance in such a light chassis.
Towards the end of the year a new CTS will appear, but the company's biggest release of 2007 will be the SRX SUV which will appear in the spring of 2007. The car is aimed at the growing number of people who want the style of an SUV without superb off road capabilities. Chevrolet hope the SRX's huge 4.6 litre V8 engine which will produce 320bhp will outgun the competition. Pricing should be competitive with a list price of £30,000, but whether that's enough to win over European buyers is yet to be seen.
The company's new Captiva 4x4 will appear in the UK in March 2007, and the Focus sized Ultra will make an appearance in preparation for a full release for 2008.
Chrysler's new Sebring has arrived to complement the range of cars the company already offers in the UK. On the one hand, the car looks like a great deal for £18,000, but on the other, there are already plenty of good cars in this sector of the market. The diesel version will use the Volkswagen group 2 litre engine, and for our money we'd just as soon have that same engine in a Passat or one of the other VW cars that it's available in, but if you fancy something a little bit different then maybe the Sebring is for you. At launch, the car will also have a 2.4 litre petrol engine as an alternative and while this offers a little more power and flexibility, we doubt many buyers are going to be won over by it. That said, the Sebring is expected to have particularly generous equipment levels, so once the price is compared to a specced up European alternative then it could look particularly attractive.
Citroen's first release of the year will be the new C4 Picasso which they revealed at the Paris Motorshow, and then displayed to motorists at the MPH shows at the NEC Birmingham and Earls Court in London.
This new people carrier of course was shown in Paris, but this was probably the first sight of it for most UK drivers. In line with Citroen's other recent releases, the new Picasso looks great from the outside and incredibly practical within. From the driver's seat, the show car bristled with useful looking technology, and although not a great lover of MPVs, its made me rather look forward to trying one out on the road.
Later in 2007 the company's new compact SUV, the C-Crosser will be released. The new car which of course shares its foundations with the new Peugeot 4007 enters an increasingly crowded marketplace, but there's no doubt that the demand for this type of vehicle continues to increase.
At launch, the new car will be limited by having only a single engine option in the form of the Ford sourced 2.2 litre HDi that is already fitted to the C5 and the Peugeot 407; but Peugeot group have no doubt chosen this engine carefully and it's sure to be the engine that most buyers would want in a car of this type. The version that's going into the C-Crosser will have 156bhp on tap and 380Nm of torque and it should ensure that the new SUV is capable of returning reasonable economy. Expect to see both the C-Crosser and the 4007 on show at Geneva in March 2007.
2007 will see the release of further new cars to extend the Daihatsu range. The Toyota owned subsidiary is slowly putting in place a range that should make it a significant part of the Toyota empire in the future. It seems as if the approach is a stealth one designed to avoid Daihatsu competing too strongly against the parent company; this is very much in contrast to the approach that VAG took when they built up the SEAT and Skoda ranges. At that time few potential buyers were ignorant of VW's influence on the design of the new SEATs and Skodas.
The summer of 2007 will see the release of Dodge's huge Nitro 4x4 in the UK. Prices are said to be keen, but whether the UK public will take to the American style of the giant SUV remains to be seen.
Before that, Dodge also have a family car in the shape of the Avenger to be released in the spring. Hopefully for Dodge, it won't go the way of the Hillman Avenger. The new Dodge based on the same platform as the Chrysler Sebring, but will present a more powerful and tougher image to potential buyers.
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