Downsizing. Increasing congestion. Rising fuel prices. The death of all the naturally-aspirated engines we know and love. It’s easy to get downbeat about being a petrolhead these days, but there are still reasons to be positive. One big reason, is that performance cars seem to have found favour with big manufacturers once more.
Sales are up, interest from emerging markets is increasing, and as a consequence, many long-dead performance cars have either got the successor they’ve deserved for years, or have one on the way. And while many of these will be out of reach for a lot of us, just think: in a few years when depreciation has kicked in, we’ll have a used car market flooded with an awesome generation of quick motors.
The last time Honda sold anything resembling a performance car was five years ago. Five years! Now though, the Japanese company is back with a bang thanks to this: the new Honda Civic Type R. With 306bhp, a 167mph top speed and all manner of aggressive aerodynamic addendum, it’s one hell of a statement of intent.
Speaking of Honda and statements of intent, we have the prospect of the new NSX to consider. The name disappeared when the first-generation version retired in 2005, and after two years of parading concepts and teasers in front of our faces, a production version has at last been revealed.
Time will tell if it’s good enough to live up to the ludicrous amount of hype around it - and the lofty reputation of its predecessor - but with around 550bhp expected from a V6/multiple electric motor combo, it certainly seems promising.
Once upon a time, Peugeot made the 306 GTI-6. And it was good. And then the French manufacturer stopped making the 306 GTI-6, and indeed any good cars. The 306’s two successors - the 307 and 308 - came and went without spawning a performance version, but the second-gen 308 will indeed get the GTI treatment.
We’ve had to wait over 15 years for it, but the 306 GTI-6 at last has a successor, and with 268bhp on offer plus a low weight figure of 1205kg, it’ll do a good job of bothering the likes of the Seat Leon Cupra.
Performance saloons were an Alfa Romeo staple for decades. Who can forget the turbocharged Giulia, the V6-powered 75, or even the slightly-ropey-yet-still-tempting 156 GTA? Sadly, that effectively ended with the 159, where the range-topping model was powered by a GM-derived six-pot, stunted by a four-wheel drive system and a porky weight figure. Then in 2011, Alfa killed off the 159 entirely and didn’t bother replacing it.
However, with a new four-door Giulia on the way, saloons are now back on the menu at Turin. And yes, there’s going to be a hot one: a BMW M3-rivalling, 503bhp monster with a Ferrari-derived V6 heart. Oh, and it’ll be rear-wheel drive.
We are perhaps cheating a little with this one, as a return of the legendary Delta Integrale name has not been confirmed. All we know is that several Fiat Chrysler Automobile execs are rumoured to have been pushing for a new Integrale. Firstly, a return of the Integrale would be incredible - as this render from a year or so ago proves - and secondly, it’d be a great way to kick some life into the failing Lancia brand, which has been circling the drain for years.
It’s another example of the industry becoming interested in performance cars once again, so even if nothing happens, it’s a notable development. And who knows, if we cross our fingers hard enough, maybe, just maybe…
Rumours regarding the expected output of BMW and Toyota’s joint sports car venture seem to be shifting constantly, but the current expectation is that it’ll result in BMW’s new Z4, and a new Supra for Toyota, each based around the same underpinnings. Oh yes, after a 13-year absence (plus a few more years by the time of its launch) it looks as though the Supra name is coming back. Want more good news? It’s expected to have styling influenced by the stunning FT-1 concept (above)
There’s something rather alluring about the old Fiat Barchetta, even though it was based on an old Punto, had front-wheel drive, and was sold as left-hand drive even in right-hand drive markets. The company didn’t bother replacing the car when it died off in 2005, but with Alfa pulling out of its joint roadster venture with Mazda, Fiat has jumped into the fray to produce the sister version of the new MX-5.
Speculative renders show it’ll be arguably better looking than the old Barchetta, and it’ll be in the preferred sports car format of rear-wheel drive. Want more good news? It’ll resurrect the old 124 nameplate, and is expected to spawn a hot Abarth version.