With a host of new luxury cars arriving into showrooms in 2018, Business Traveller looks ahead to see what’s on its way.
BMW i8 Roadster
- Price: from £124,000
- On sale: July
Four years on from the introduction of BMW’s i8 petrol-electric hybrid supercar and there’s still nothing else like it on the road, in looks or ethos. This new drop-top Roadster version looks set to cement that position, with a number of updates to make this, and an updated Coupé, as desirable as ever.
Under the bonnet, the 1.5-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine has
been boosted while the batteries have also been uprated to 34Ah giving it a combined 374bhp. Thanks to that and its low 1.6-tonne weight, it boasts a 0-60mph time of 4.6 seconds and a 155mph top speed with emissions of just 46g/km. We loved the i8 when it first arrived in 2014, and the lack of any similarly powered hybrid competition even now underlines how daring it was then and indeed still is today. If this new i8 Roadster isn’t one of our best cars of 2018, we’ll eat our fedoras.
- Price: from £33,980
- On sale: March
X marks the spot for BMW in 2018. This new X2 will arrive in spring, sitting imaginatively between the existing X1 and latest X3, all alongside the Bavarian firm’s current X4, X5 and X6. The end of 2018 will also see a further addition with, you’ve guessed it, a new larger seven-seater X7. BMW is nothing if not thorough in appealing to all levels of the booming crossover and 4×4 markets.
The X2 is promising a sportier driving experience than most family-oriented cars of the sector, although initially it will only be available with a single turbo-diesel engine. Other diesels, petrols and an electric version will join that in time, while there will also be two- and four-wheel drive models. We’re just not convinced about the extra BMW roundel on the C-pillar behind the rear door echoing the CSi of the 1970s.
Renault Alpine A110
- Price: estimated £45-50,000
- On sale: May
If you don’t think that the Alpine A110 of the 1960s is one of the most beautiful automotive designs of all time, then we’ll happily direct you to the nearest optician. This modern interpretation of that classic from Renault is meant to tempt buyers out of their Porsche Caymans and Audi TTs, which is nobody’s idea of an easy task.
Not that this new A110 isn’t equipped for it. There’s a 1.8-litre turbo engine with 249bhp, which might not sound much given its rivals, but its lightweight aluminium body means some very impressive performance indeed. Experts are predicting a 0-60mph time in an incontinence-inducing 4.5 seconds. With speed and style, if any car can get buyers to look beyond the talented German competition, it should be this new Alpine.
- Price: from £27,905
- On sale: March
Volvo has arguably two of the hottest 4x4s in showrooms right now with the latest XC60 and larger XC90, so this new and smaller XC40 was always only going to be a matter of time. Borrowing styling cues from its big brothers with a sharp kick-up on the side window line and gorgeous rear lights, we think it’s stunning.
Initially, there will just be traditional petrol and turbo-diesel engines to choose from, but given Volvo’s announcement last summer about all of its new models having electric power from 2019, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see plug-in and hybrid versions eventually. It will also be the first model to be sold under the Care By Volvo scheme, wrapping up all of your car’s costs including insurance and maintenance into one monthly payment.
- Price: from £28,050
- On sale: March
Since it started as a luxury sub-brand of Citroën in 2009, becoming a standalone brand in 2014, DS has been successful even if it hasn’t fully broken through into the mainstream. This new DS7 Crossback might be just the car to do that by starting a new generation of DS models beyond the current offering. The car chosen by French President Emmanuel Macron for his inauguration in May last year, the DS7 is perfectly positioned to take advantage of the crossover sales boom.
We think it’s one of the most desirable cars ever to come out of the Peugeot-Citroën stable with some stunning styling, smart details and an interior that boasts more personalisation than rivals. A petrol-electric plug-in hybrid will join the range in mid 2019. But will it be enough to get buyers out of more established premium-badge rivals?
- Price: estimated from £33,000
- On sale: December
Could this be the car that sees Nissan’s Infiniti break though into the mass consciousness of the British car buyer? With the current boom in crossovers, and alongside the new Jaguar E-Pace and Volvo XC40, you’d have to say so.
This new QX50 is set to be the baby of Infiniti’s crossover range and it certainly has the look to stand out in what’s becoming a competitive area of the market. Under the bonnet is just the choice of one engine, however: a new 2.0-litre turbo-petrol with 268bhp, which Infiniti claims can give petrol performance with the grunt and economy of a diesel. If it can deliver on that promise, the QX50 should be a very impressive prospect indeed.
- Price: from £28,500
- On sale: now
For traditional Jaguar fans, 2018 could see them biting through their pipe stems in rage. The British firm might be known for its elegant saloons and sleek sports cars, but following the hugely successful larger F-Pace, it’s this new E-Pace that’s likely to become Jaguar’s bestseller. Jaguar’s electric I-Pace will also go on sale too.
Up against the Audi Q3 and BMW X1, the E-Pace enters that fierce small premium crossover market, and has immediate good looks, a strong engine line-up and sporty, involved on-road handling. It’s this latter fact that sets it apart from its prestige rivals and our first experiences behind the wheel have only been positive. It’s also larger inside than it looks on the outside, which is a bonus.
Bentley Continental GT
- Price: from £154,000
- On sale: May
Don’t dismiss the familiar looks of the new Bentley Continental GT as a mere facelift; this is an all-new car with a lot going on under the skin. The sleeker and sharper styling continues the Continental’s grand touring role, while giving it a sportier and more aggressive feel.
Under the bonnet there’s a revised version of the 6.0-litre W12 engine now with an eye-watering 626bhp, but this Bentley is all about mixing performance with luxury. A new hand-crafted interior brings the GT right up to date with a clever swiveling centre dash section that shows a large touchscreen sat nav, traditional dials or a continuation of the dash itself. Don’t be surprised to see extensions to the Continental family with convertible, hybrid and V8 models in due course.
- Price: from £69,100
- On sale: now
It might be hard to believe, but this is already the fourth-generation of the Audi A8. Not so hard to believe is that the four-ringed badge’s flagship saloon continues to get better and better. Along with even more luxury, standard and long-wheelbase versions and four-wheel drive on all models, this latest A8 has also been developed with a higher level of automated driving abilities than ever before.
Legislation means you shouldn’t expect to catch up on that the latest
Netflix shows on your morning commute to work just yet, but this Audi is a definite window into all of our motoring futures. Expect this new A8 to offer mild-hybrid plus plug-in hybrid models, as well as more traditional versions.
- Price: estimated from £70,000
- On sale: spring
Lexus has always ploughed its own furrow when it comes to the luxury market, but it seems that now it’s really getting into its stride. Along with the latest sporty LC coupé, this LS shows a confident independence in Lexus’s styling that has been somewhat lacking in its capable-but-sometimes-bland past. And while that over-sized hourglass grille might not be to everyone’s tastes, we love it and you certainly won’t mistake it for an S-Class.
As you’d expect, hybrid technology is on offer under the bonnet and the build quality and on-road refinement are close to faultless. That confident exterior styling extends to the LS’s inside, but this Lexus saloon has never been a car for those who want to follow the usual Teutonic crowd – and that’s just the way we like it.