new registration '66 plate feature
new models - new perspectives
Jonathan Crouch runs the rule over the latest new models putting in a claim for your money, with the new '66 registration plate not far away..
As we approach the latest '66 registration plate that arrives in September, the motor industry seems to be in strong health, though we've yet to see the real impact of the Brexit vote.
Partly that's because of world economics, but the automotive makers would also like to think it has something to do with the sheer volume of new products reaching the showrooms just at present.
If you're going to be shopping for something new with that new plate, here's a quick run-through on what's new.
News from the volume brands
Let's start with tiny citycars. If there's such a thing as a 'premium' example of a car of this kind, then Volkswagen's little Up! model is probably it. The Wolfsburg brand has revised this car for the current market, adding in a clever three cylinder 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine at the top of the range to give it a little more zip. And, if you like a sportier feel in a car of this type, you'll be interested in a fresh Fiat 500 derivative, the 500S. The more dynamic-looking 'S' package can be added in with any of the engines available with this car.
On to superminis. The key new entrant to this market is the all-new third generation version of Citroen's C3, a model with now has far more of the flair of Citroens of old. It looks sassier and there's even a built-in camera that can record road accident situations or send video clips of your travels to your friends. A lower-profile all-new arrival in this sector comes in the form of Suzuki's Baleno, this model offering a more sensibly-orientated approach to this segment than is already provided by the brand's sportier Swift model. You might also want to check out the heavily revised facelifted version of Renault's Clio, which gets upgraded infotainment, a classier cabin and a smarter exterior look.
Renault also provides the key new entrant in the family hatchback market, their all-new Megane - a key car for the brand with sharp styling and the promise of some clever engine technology to come. It simply must succeed if the company is to ease back into long term profitability and is also being offered in sportier-looking Grand Coupe two-door guise. The Megane also provides the underpinnings for Renault's two new MPV models, the five-seat Scenic and the seven-seat Grand Scenic. Both will be in the showrooms soon. If you need a larger People Carrier than that, three new super-large van-based MPVs have just hit the market. These are all essentially re-badged versions of the same design - Peugeot's Traveller, Citroen's Space Tourer and Toyota's Proace Verso.
The real market growth area though at present, is found in Crossover and small SUVs. The Volkswagen Group has at last got itself competitive in this area. Volkswagen launched the second generation Tiguan in the Spring, SEAT has just launched its Ateca and Skoda is about to introduce its entrant to this sector, the Kodiaq. All of these models of course, face strong competition. If you want something compact but family-sized and affordable in this class, the new MG GS could well suit - or perhaps you'd like the extra boot space of SsangYong's latest Tivoli XLV. Ford has a pokier version of its little EcoSport with a 1.0-litre 140PS engine, while Kia has introduced the small Crossover segment's first hybrid in the form of its Niro model. Vauxhall, meanwhile, is about to launch a facelifted version of its contender, the Mokka, now badged the 'Mokka X'. If you need something a little bigger in this class, check out the all-new second generation Peugeot 3008.
Another much smaller market segment showing signs of growth is that for pick-ups. Fiat has just entered this class with their Mitsubishi L200-derived Fullback model - and Renault are just about to follow suit with their Alaskan. That Renault is derived from another fresh market entrant, the Nissan NP300 Navara. Toyota has a new generation version of its Hilux model, while the Fiord Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok have also been fundamentally revised.
Finally, a word about sporty models. Hot hatch fans wanting something small but perky are being offered a GT version of Renault's little Twingo. For more serious supermini performance, there's Ford's Fiesta ST220. If you want a proper sports roadster, you're going to want to check out the new Fiat 124 Spider.
News from the prestigious brands
Audi's range continues to expand. New in the showrooms is a revised version of the A3 premium hatch, with updates that also extend into that model's saloon and Cabriolet derivatives. Soon, the brand will also be introducing its first really small Crossover model, the Q2. Wealthier buyers will want to try the exotic new generation R8 Spyder open-top supercar. Or, if they've families, then the new SQ7 TDI plug-in SUV performance model might appeal. There's also an all-new A5 coupe too.
Rivals Mercedes have also been busy of late, following a flurry of new model activity earlier in the year with the announcement of three more new cars. First up is the executive class E-Class estate; then there's a sporty compact SUV, the GLC Coupe; and finally, there's the desirable C-Class Cabriolet.
Jaguar meanwhile, is now really establishing itself as a credible alternative to the German brands. It's just launched its new F-PACE luxury Crossover model, while for sportscar buyers, a rip-snorting SVR version of its F-TYPE will shortly be in the showrooms too.
Volvo would like to be battling Jaguar and its German rivals - and hopes to be doing just that with its all-new S90 saloon and V90 estate models. Another premium brand looking to gain ground is Lexus, who've just introduced a new generation version of their RX luxury SUV, plus there's the new GS F sports saloon and more affordable versions of their RC luxury coupe.
Another brand aiming to try and offer something different to the usual German premium options is Alfa Romeo. This marque is about to introduce its most important car for years, the BMW 3 Series-sized Giulia model, which looks a strong and elegant contender. If you can't quite stretch to it, then the company would also like you to consider a recently facelifted version of its BMW 1 Series-sized Giulietta model.
Overall, it's hard to remember when there was a wider choice of new models for a registration plate change. Research your chosen car carefully, make time for more than the odd test drive and enjoy the buying process.