This week Autocar.co.uk is highlighting the new-for-2012 offerings from each manufacturer and assessing each car’s prospects in a market that is becoming increasingly hotly contested.
Part three, below, rounds up all the hot hatches, coupes and executive cars we’re looking forward to seeing in 2012.
If you missed part one, which covered city cars and superminis, click here to read it.
Part two examined all the family cars and MPVs, and you can read that by clicking here.
For the full 18-page run-down of new cars for 2012, don’t miss this week’s Autocar magazine,, which is on sale now.
Hot hatches and coupes
Audi A1 quattro
Powered by a scorching 252bhp 2.0-litre turbo, the Audi A1 quattro promises to match hot hatches in the class above for both pace and handling. Just 333 will be built, in left-hand-drive form only. It’s due in Europe in the second half of this year – Audi will decide later this month whether it’s going to import any of them to the UK.
Citroën DS3 cabriolet
It looks as if the soft-top version of the Citroën DS3 hatch won’t arrive until 2013 at the earliest, although a concept might be shown at the Paris show in September. Sources suggest that the roof might be similar to the roll-back design used so successfully on the Fiat 500C.
Fiat Abarth 595 Turismo and Competizione
Two special editions of the 500 that combine elements of the super-exclusive £30k Tributo Ferrari with a lower price. Both the Fiat Abarth 595 Turismo and Competizione are powered by a 157bhp turbocharged 1.4-litre engine and are due next month. The Turismo features a two-tone paint job, robotised manual gearbox and 17in wheels; the Competizione has upgraded Brembo brakes, a conventional five-speed manual ’box and 17in wheels. Prices have yet to be confirmed.
Ford Fiesta ST
Shown as a concept at last year’s Frankfurt show, the 178bhp 1.6-litre Ecoboost-powered Ford Fiesta ST will take on the Renault Clio 200 with very similar performance: 0-62mph in less than 7.0sec and 141mph. Styling inspiration is taken from the World Rally Championship car. It’s due in June.
Ford Focus ST
The old Focus ST was one of our favourite hot hatchbacks, blending scorching pace and driver involvement with everyday usability, so we have high hopes for the new one.
A new 247bhp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Ecoboost engine claims to be 20 per cent more efficient than the distinctly inefficient five-cylinder motor in the previous ST. That sounds promising but, regardless of power, the real question is whether the Focus ST can deliver the level of driver reward that will be expected of it.
A new global platform has dulled the chassis sparkle of the standard Focus range, but Ford has created extraordinary things out of much more ordinary cars in its time. It could be the most relevant driver’s car of 2012. It is due to go on sale in July, priced from £24,000.
The coupé-with-an-extra-door Hyundai Veloster (on sale next month) works as a well built, practical and economical value-for-money hatch. But it isn’t as enjoyable to drive or as exciting to look at as rival coupés and hot hatches. A 138bhp 1.6 petrol engine is the sole engine at launch, but a 201bhp version could arrive later in the year. Prices start from £18k.
The two-seat Mini Roadster will be positioned against the Mazda MX-5, the world’s biggest-selling sports car. Based on the Mini Convertible, the Roadster is 25mm lower and features a sportier-looking fabric roof. Like the Mini Coupé, the Roadster dispenses with rear seats, employing the space to boost boot space. Engines are 1.6 petrols and diesels, plus a new 141bhp 2.0-litre ‘performance’ diesel capable of 0-62mph in 8.1sec and 131mph. Expect it to land in April.