With the dread year of 2020 almost behind us, it’s time to look forward once again to 2021 and assess ten of the best affordable cars coming our way in the next 12 months.
- Alfa Romeo Tonale
Based on the same underpinnings as the Jeep Renegade, this will be Alfa’s ‘baby’ crossover-SUV, to sit beneath the Stelvio. As a result, the Tonale will be taking on the likes of the Audi Q2 and Q3, the BMW X1 and X2, the Mercedes GLA and GLB, the Lexus UX, the Volvo XC40 and the Jaguar E-Pace. Engines will likely come from the Renegade line, which is likely to mean a plug-in hybrid version, but Alfa may also decide to do sportier models as befits its upmarket status.
- BMW 2 Series Coupe
After the disappointing styling of the four-door 2 Series Gran Coupe, and the decision to move that car to a front-wheel-drive architecture, the next 2 Series Coupe and its Convertible relation will remain rear-driven. That’s because they will sit on BMW’s larger CLAR platform, which forms the basis of the current 3 Series, so expect the German marque’s trademark excellent dynamics from this one – and, hopefully, evolved looks from the outgoing 2 Series Coupe, rather than styling like the Gran Coupe. Engines used will likely be three- and four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel units, likely with assisting mild-hybrid technology to save fuel and cut emissions.
- Citroen e-C4
For a marque known for its innovation across the years, Citroen has been remarkably slow at climbing onto the electric vehicles (EV) bandwagon, allowing sister brand Peugeot to take the lead. But now here comes the e-C4, a stylish electric crossover. It is based on the same running gear used in the Peugeot e-2008, so expect a 136hp electric motor with 300Nm of torque, as well as a one-charge range of around 310km.
- Dacia Spring Electric
Could we be looking at the cheapest new EV in Europe here? We will be if the Dacia Spring Electric is confirmed for Ireland. It was revealed earlier in 2020 and it takes its shape from Dacia’s parent company Renault’s City KZ-E EV, which is already on sale in China. Over there, it uses a mere 33kW (50hp) motor with a modest 26.8kWh battery, so it is likely it would need more oomph for the European market, but if it does make it to our shores then it could be a game-changer.
- Hyundai Tucson
The outgoing Hyundai Tucson was the biggest-selling car in Ireland for a time, so this daring, all-new Mk4 looks like it should be a winner here too. It uses the dramatic one-piece grille-and-headlights arrangement already seen on the larger Santa Fe seven-seat SUV, which gives it a concept-car-like vibe, and there will be diesel or hybrid options to choose from.
- Mercedes C-Class
Expect lots of glitzy interior technology from the impending all-new C-Class, toys from the S-Class luxury saloon filtering down into its big-selling three-box compact executive machine. Again, with all manufacturers shifting to electric or part-electric drivetrains, most of the new C-Class range should feature either EQ Boost or EQ Power drivetrains, while the rumour is the powerful AMG variants will use a four-cylinder engine augmented by some form of hybrid drivetrain – instead of the noisy old V8s of the outgoing model.
- Nissan Qashqai
Cars don’t come much more important than the sector-defining Nissan Qashqai C-segment crossover, and the all-new third-generation model takes its styling inspiration from the smaller Nissan Juke. A much-improved interior promises sharper graphics and responses from the infotainment, while power should come from the usual range of petrol and diesel engines, most likely hybridised by Nissan’s tie-up with the Daimler group. Expect a plug-in version to feature in the near future, too.
- Opel Mokka
Opel’s next Astra looks stylish and so does the Mokka. This crossover has always sold well, but has not perhaps garnered all the best critical accolades. The new one looks to redress all of that, with angular exterior bodywork and a classy cabin. Peugeot-Citroen running gear will be at the Mokka’s disposal and we already know there will be an Opel Mokka-e, an electric version of this B-segment contender with the same drivetrain as the Opel Corsa-e, the Peugeot e-208, the Peugeot e-2008 and the aforementioned Citroen e-C4.
- Skoda Enyaq
Skoda has pulled it out of the bag with the styling on this one. It looks terrific on the outside and the Czech firm will offer the Enyaq electric SUV with a variety of drivetrains: some rear-wheel drive and offering more single-charge range with batteries from 55-82kWh in size, while two four-wheel-drive models will go beyond 265hp and even up to 310hp (for the RS) to provide some electrifying performance. All models can charge on a 50kW DC fast connection, too.
- Tesla Model Y
A list of exciting new cars wouldn’t be complete without something from the electric-car company that shook up the industry, and in 2021 Tesla’s Model Y should land. It’s the smaller, companion SUV to the Model X and it should use the same equipment as the Model 3 hatchback. Indeed, it looks a lot like a taller version of the Model 3 and that’s because it shares 75 per cent of its components with that vehicle. Therefore, you can expect up to 530km on a single charge from any likely Performance variant, while the interior will feature Tesla’s trademark large, portrait-oriented touchscreen infotainment and a lack of physical buttons.