It’s been a hell of a year for cars, hasn’t it? Yes, a lot of the reveals happened online with no IRL bombast thanks to you know what, but that hasn’t stopped a succession of hugely exciting debuts.
We’ve had the Toyota GR Yaris, a whole host of new-generation VW Group hot hatches and the bewinged Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series to name but a few. 2021, we reckon, should be just as packed with incredible motors, perhaps even more so.
Here’s what we have to look forward to:
For the second year running, we’re starting the list with a crossover (sorry) and the very same crossover we kicked it off with last year (sorry again). Said high-rider is the production version of the Alfa Romeo Tonale, which failed to appear in 2020. The Stelvio proves that Alfa is capable of giving SUVs an allure most competitors struggle to match, so hopes are high. You’d rather see one of these on the road rather than another BMW X4, right?
The first-ever all-electric Audi RS car feels like a landmark moment. Yes, much of the stuff under the skin will be shared with the Porsche Taycan, but Audi has gone to the bother of developing its own three-chamber air suspension and a bespoke steering setup to make sure the RS E-Tron GT feels distinct.
The car has shown plenty of promise from early prototype drives, and even though it’s a fair way off the power output of the Taycan Turbo S (591bhp vs the Porsche’s 751bhp), the pokiest E-Tron GT is still enormously fast.
The 2er Gran Coupe may have disappointed us all by being predominantly front-wheel drive and looking like it’s been beaten half to death with the ugly stick, but the regular next-gen 2-series will be much more like it. Sitting on the same platform as the 3-series, it’ll be rear-wheel drive, and leaked photos seen earlier in 2020 showed us that BMW has gone for a more subtle grille treatment than the bigger 4-series. And yes, there will eventually be an M2. Huzzah.
We probably won’t see the new M2 in 2021, but there is one M car we know to be on the cards: the M3 Touring. Despite a BMW exec insisting not so long ago that the brand’s M SUVs nullify the need for M estates, we’re getting one. It’ll be the first-ever production M3 wagon, which will make up for its somewhat challenging front end. In any case, we reckon those big kidneys will fit much better on the larger estate body.
Rumour has it the new VW Golf R almost ended up with an inline-five, only for Audi - the only Group brand to use that engine thus far - to veto the idea. And yet, the subsidiary is apparently fine with Seat using the warble-tastic engine, as evidenced by a prototype Formentor spotted at the Nurburgring in 2020. This doesn’t necessarily confirm a production version, but we’re awfully intrigued. The days for engines like this are numbered, so it’d be nice to see the 395bhp unit in as many cars as possible.
Lotus will be launching its first all-new sports car for 12 years in 2021. Its internal designation is Type 131, although it’ll no doubt be christened with a fancy name beginning with the letter ‘E’. The car is expected to be powered purely by internal combustion, with Hethel eschewing hybrid power in the name of weight saving. It won’t replace any current models, instead being positioned between the Exige and Evora (pictured).
In 2021 we’ll say goodbye to McLaren‘s Sports Series cars, and hello to the range’s indirect replacement: the Artura. We haven’t seen this much wholesale change in one vehicle since Mclaren Automotive was formed 10 years ago: there’s a new carbon fibre platform, a fresh V6 engine with electrical assistance, and a name that isn’t a bunch of numbers and a letter or two.
This is the car that’ll secure the company’s future while staying true to its ethos of driver engagement and low weight. Despite all the hybrid stuff, we’re apparently looking at only a double-digit weight gain relative to the 570S.
Although we’re thoroughly bitter about not getting the production version of the Z-Proto concept in Europe, we’re still looking forward to seeing it in full. There’s nothing too outlandish on the show car (pictured above), so the showroom-ready version shouldn’t deviate much from what we’ve seen thus far.
Nissan was vague on the concept’s mechanical details, merely telling us it’s powered by an “enhanced” twin-turbo V6 joined to a six-speed manual. However, we’d put money on it being a derivative of the VR30DDTT seen in the Infiniti Q50 (badged as a Nissan Skyline for the JDM) and the Q60. The Z-Proto name will likely be switched for ‘400Z’.
The car we thought Porsche would never dare make will soon be here - a Cayman which will truly tread on the toes of the 911. Sure, the 981 and 718 GT4s models go some way to doing that, but the incoming Cayman GT4 RS will be less of a tread, more of a size-12 stamp.
The internal hierarchy at Porsche is in for a huge upset, with the already very focused GT4 gaining beefed-up suspension, a new aero package including a motorsport-style top-mount rear wing, and more power.
Some have speculated the latter piece of the puzzle will involve a 911 GT3 engine, but we’ve previously been told by Porsche GT boss Andreas Preuninger that it’d be prohibitively expensive to adapt the unit for the Cayman’s mid-engine layout. Instead, we’re expecting the GT4’s 9A2 Evo unit to receive various upgraded parts, giving a higher redline and more go.
The 992-generation 911 GT3 will make its official debut in 2021, although there’s not much left to reveal. Porsche has shown off prototypes wearing very little camouflage, and we already know the car will have a double-wishbone front suspension layout for the first time. Power will come from the 4.0-litre, naturally-aspirated flat-six Porsche most recently used in the 911 Speedster, and yes, there’ll still be a 9000rpm redline. Praise be.
What car are you most looking forward to seeing in 2021?