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.
Peugeot 208 GTi
Peugeot will reverse years of ignoring its hot hatch heritage with a GTI version of the new Peugeot 208, due in October. Powered by a 154bhp 1.6-litre turbo, it will cover the 0-60mph dash in under 7.0sec and exceed 140mph. A more powerful 204bhp version, the GTI Racing, arrives later in the year. Prices are from £18k, with the Racing being £23k.
Peugeot RCZ cabrio
It’s still a ‘maybe’, but an open-roofed Peugeot RCZ could appear as a concept at the Paris show ahead of a 2013 launch. Also rumoured is a 240bhp RCZ ‘Evo’, the most powerful version yet, for late in the year.
The rear-wheel-drive, 2+2 Subaru BRZ coupé finally arrives in the UK in the summer after what seems like the longest automotive gestation ever. Said to weigh about 1220kg — roughly 150kg lighter than the current Porsche Cayman — it has a 197bhp 2.0-litre flat four mounted in the engine bay to give a 53 per cent front/47 per cent rear weight distribution. The development budget is said to have been biased towards the highest-quality dampers, springs and suspension components — parts not normally fitted to cars in the £25k to £28k price range that has been suggested for the BRZ.
Toyota GT 86
Toyota may well sneak its long-awaited rear-drive coupé to market in June, a month ahead of its Subaru BRZ twin. The concept is for a lightweight and pure driver’s car and the underskin technology is predominantly Subaru’s, which means a 197bhp, 151lb ft 2.0-litre boxer drives the rear wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox or conventional automatic. Toyota’s main engineering input is said to have been the direct injection system. There are mild cosmetic differences, and the £25k to £28k price range being suggested is identical to Subaru’s.