Citroen C4 Aircross
The first compact 4x4 to be launched by Citroën, the C4 Aircross is a Gallic version of the Mitsubishi ASX light-duty SUV. At 4.3m long and 1.63m high, it will battle the Nissan Qashqai with a range of two diesel engines, a single 1.6-litre petrol and a choice of 2WD or 4WD transmissions. The diesels — Citroën’s 110bhp and 150bhp HDi units — will be mated to six-speed manual gearboxes, while the entry-level 1.6 petrol makes do with a five-speeder. Prices will span £21k to £25k and it will break cover in September.
This year the right-hand-drive version of the Dacia Duster finally hits our market as part of a new two-car Dacia range, accompanied by the Sandero five-door hatchback. The Duster is slightly longer than a Skoda Yeti, at 1.82m long, and almost exactly the same width. It will be available with a choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and can be powered by either a 1.6-litre petrol or a 1.5-diesel engine, with a six-speed gearbox. In four-wheel-drive guise, it is billed as a geniune off-roader.
The Duster is built in Chennai, India, and the right-hand-drive version comes with a better-designed dashboard than we’ve so far seen, although the striking looks and excellent road behaviour should be as sampled earlier this year. The company is already predicting entry-level prices of below £10,000, and it estimates that a mid-spec diesel 4x4 should cost £12,000.
Ford’s five-seat, car-based SUV is growing in size as the design moves to a fully global model as part of the ‘One Ford’ strategy. About 100mm longer than today’s car, the new Ford Kuga will address criticism of the current car’s poor rear legroom and small luggage space. The engines will be Focus-derived diesels and Ecoboost petrols. The car’s unveiling is scheduled to happen at the Geneva show in the spring, with sales starting in November.
An all-new Honda CR-V will start rolling out of Honda’s UK plant in Swindon in a few months’ time, with cars in dealers this summer. The bigger, roomier, fourth-generation CR-V is better finished, despite a dashboard of hard-touch plastics. A new 118bhp, 120lb ft 1.6-litre diesel will be the big seller. Intelligent all-wheel drive and easy-fold rear seats feature.
A more compact seven-seat 4x4 will replace the Santa Fe in a few months’ time. The name is going, too, probably to be replaced by the iX45 moniker. More fuel-efficient downsized diesels will feature, including the 134bhp 1.7-litre unit recently launched in the i40. A show debut is planned for next week at Detroit.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
This hot Jeep Grand Cherokee undercuts rivals by tens of thousands of pounds. Its 6.4-litre Hemi boasts 470bhp and 465lb ft, enough for 0-62mph in 4.8sec and 158mph. Prices start at £60k; on sale in May.
It looks as though Italy’s answer to the Porsche Cayenne is farther off than we thought; late 2013 is the latest indication. The Maserati Kubang is based on Jeep Grand Cherokee underpinnings, with power from a Ferrari-built Maserati V8. Styling is by Fiat Group design chief Lorenzo Ramaciotti and features the Maserati hallmark window graphic and trident-badged chrome grille.
This will be the first car from Mazda to incorporate the full suite of SkyActiv green technologies, such as a lightweight steel body and a frugal turbodiesel engine. The Mazda CX-5's body is almost a spaceframe construction and the 148bhp 2.2-litre diesel does away with a NOx trap yet can meet EU6 emissions regulations. Prices will range from £22k to £29k and expect to see it in May.