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 two, below, rounds up all the family cars and MPVs we’re looking forward to seeing in 2012. If you missed part one, which covered city cars and superminis, click here to read it.
For the full 18-page run-down of new cars for 2012, don’t miss this week’s Autocar magazine, which is on sale today (4 January).
Family cars and MPVs
Expect evolution, not revolution, from the new Audi A3, which will be based on the Volkswagen Group’s flexible new MBQ architecture. Judging from the sketches and spy pictures of test mules and concepts that we’ve seen so far, the exterior will be slightly more angular than the current A3 and it will get a nip ’n’ tuck to bring it more into line with Audi’s current styling trends.
We can also expect a pared-back cabin in terms of design, but with more hi-tech features; the MMI control system and ultra-thin pop-up infotainment screen from more expensive Audi models are likely to be offered in the new A3.
There should be some head-turning additions to a broader model range. Not only are hybrid, plug-in, natural gas and full-electric versions possible, but a booted saloon is also planned in response to demand from the US and China. The basic three-door Audi A3 is expected to appear at the Geneva motor show in March, and it will be followed by the five-door, saloon and soft-top versions.
BMW 1-series 3dr
The new BMW 1-series loses a pair of doors this August to launch new, more affordable models with keen entry prices. Expect a £500 advantage over the equivalent five-door model.
Chevrolet Cruze estate
The load-carrying version of the Chevrolet Cruze is part of Chevy’s plan to expand its range to 15 models and double sales by 2015-2016. Here in September.
Chevy will wait for a diesel version of the Malibu to be available, which means launching it late in the year, probably December. The value-for-money Mondeo competitor is based on the Insignia platform and features a 169bhp 2.4-litre diesel. Read our first drive review of the Chevrolet Malibu Eco here.
The industry-leading Volt finally arrives in the UK in March, two years after it was launched in the US. Priced at £28,545 (after subsidy), the Volt promises a 50-mile EV-only range, but no range anxiety thanks to an on-board 1.4-litre petrol engine that keeps the battery charged on the move. The battery pack means it’s a four-seater only. Read our first drive review of the Chevrolet Volt here.
The third model in Citroën’s upmarket DS line-up is a swoopily styled, five-seat family hatch priced and aimed at buyers looking for an alterative to the obvious Mondeo/Passat genre. And despite its relatively compact 4.5m-long footprint, the DS5 is claimed to seat five people in comfort. The ace up its sleeve is a 2.0-litre diesel-electric Hybrid4 powertrain with 163bhp from the oil-burner and 37bhp from the electric motor. The headline figure is 99g/km of CO2. Prices will range from £23k to £33k when it goes on sale in March.
The Paris show in September will be the venue for the public debut of Ford’s fascinating Fiesta-based utility hatch, the Ford B-Max. It might just have hit on a clever solution to the problem of unhindered access to the interior of a small car by combining a pair of sliding rear doors with a pillarless design. About 110mm longer than a Fiesta, the B-Max will offer a more practical interior and be in competition with the Vauxhall Meriva. Engines will be drawn from the Fiesta and Focus ranges and include the new 123bhp, three-cylinder 1.0-litre Ecoboost.