The motoring world may look back at 2018 as a particularly special year for new cars. The past 12 months have included the launch of the most expensive SUV on sale, a successor to the McLaren F1 hypercar and mass-production machines that are destined to break sales records.
Here are the ten most important cars that arrived on the scene in 2018:
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Based on the same production platform as the Porsche Cayenne and Bentley Bentayga, the Q8 tops Audi’s range as its most luxurious SUV to date. Its aggressive styling is inspired by the firm’s dominant Quattro rally car from the 1980s. It has since been adopted by the new A1 hatchback and R8 supercar, as the company aims to cement itself as the sportiest German brand against its rivals, BMW and Mercedes.
BMW 3 Series
The new BMW 3 Series (pictured top) isn’t just one of the most significant cars of the year, it’s arguably one of the most important cars of the decade. That’s because the 3 Series introduces a production platform that will spawn a range of new vehicles, says Auto Express, ranging from an all-electric saloon to track-honed performance models. There are even rumours that an M3 Touring estate may finally reach production.
BMW 8 Series
This year marked the return of the 8 Series after nearly 20 years. Replacing the 6 Series coupe and convertible at the top of BMW’s range, the 8 Series is a front-engined grand tourer designed for luxury cruises to the South of France. It’s nippy, too, feeling “every bit as fast as the 3.7-second 0-62mph time suggests”, says Auto Express.
Ferrari 488 Pista
The launch of a track-focused Ferrari is always a special occasion, and the arrival of the hardcore 488 Pista in March was no exception. Simply put by James May in The Sunday Times: “There are few activities to match the excitement of piloting a special-edition Ferrari with a rabid engine snarling away right behind your head.”
It’s unlikely to get the adrenaline pumping, but the arrival of Ford’s new Focus in 2018 should not be underestimated. The Focus is one of Ford’s bestselling cars in the UK, second only to the smaller Fiesta hatchback. But the Focus is now far more than just a five-door hatch. Ford will use the platform to launch sporty versions, crossovers and estates - all at prices that won’t break the bank.
Just when it seemed Tesla was the only car company that seemed to have cracked the electric car, Jaguar came along with its new I-Pace. The SUV launched to critical acclaim earlier in the year, with reviewers praising its impressive 298-mile range and practicality. In fact, Autocar argues that the I-Pace is the best car in its class.
McLaren finally took the wraps off its long-anticipated Speedtail hyper GT in September. Formerly known as BP23, the three-seater Speedtail is billed as the first true successor to the F1, which held the production car speed record of 240mph between 1998 and 2004. McLaren has even set its sights on beating the F1’s record run, as the Speedtail has a claimed top-speed of 250mph.
Porsche 911 GT3 RS (991.2)
Porsche’s 911 GT3 RS is widely considered among fans of all things fast as the definitive car for taking on a race track. This year marked the launch of a new version of its 991-generation 911, bringing with it a power upgrade and more aggressive carbon fibre bodywork that should help drivers shave seconds off their lap times. The “thinly disguised racing car” was hailed by The Daily Telegraph as “the most visceral driving experience of any production car costing less than £200,000”.
Rolls-Royce’s first foray into the SUV market arrived in the spring to dethrone the Bentley Bentayga as the most expensive crossover on sale. Owning a Cullinan will set buyers back at least £250,000, but Rolls-Royce says the range of customisation options, which include pinstripe coach lines down the side of the vehicle, has resulted in customers paying in excess of £1m.
The Corolla name returns to Toyota’s line-up for the first time in over a decade, as the Japanese carmaker rebrands its Auris mid-size hatchback. “Toyota is trying to shake off the fuddy-duddy image of the previous Auris models,” says BuyaCar, and judging by the new Corolla it has done “a pretty good job”
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