This year will doubtless throw up even more global-scale curveballs than the tumultuous previous 12 months. But whatever happens, at least there’s solace to seek from some tantalising fresh metal due to roll out between now and the end of December. Here are seven debutants we’re keenly anticipating.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
The Italian serpent brand is the latest to join the SUV horde, but its new entrant isn’t a cynical “me-too” offering. On the contrary, the Stelvio is a sharp looker that adheres to Alfa’s best styling traditions. The familiar inverted triangle grille, sculpted flanks and tapered proportions are tasty eye candy, and this will hopefully translate through to the driving experience. The signs are positive, with a Giulia-based chassis and a 505hp Quadrifoglio Verde range-topper to take the fight to the Porsche Macan Turbo.
Due here: March/April.
Aston Martin DB11
The British sports-car maker has been dining out for more than a decade on the same core architecture across all its models, so they now look and feel their age. Cue the DB11, underpinned by an all-new platform and propelled by a fresh 5.2L twin-turbo V12 that packs a 600hp punch. The dated cabin of its DB9 predecessor has also been binned, and the exterior styling has taken a subtle step forward while still being instantly recognisable as an Aston. Ostensibly the best car to date to wear the winged badge.
Due here: On sale now
Audi RS 1
There’s something appealing about a car that combines a minuscule exterior with power and torque outputs congruent with something twice the size. Say hello to the RS 1, conceived as the last hurrah for the A1 line-up. Stuffed under its stubby snout is a steroid-injected 280hp 2.0L turbo motor that promises giant-killing feats. The bulging wheel arches are stuffed with oversized rubber, so traction shouldn’t be a problem, especially not with all four wheels doing the driving. Also at the smaller end of the scale, Audi’s new Q2 is scheduled to hit the UAE in March, pitched as a coupé-based addition to the crossover market.
Due here: The RS 1 isn't, but there's always the import route.
This prancing horse is as rare as they come, with just 10 examples to be built by Ferrari’s Special Projects division. Derived from the 488 Spider, the J50 celebrates the marque’s 50th anniversary in the Land of the Rising Sun. The bespoke bodywork is festooned with an array of scoops and spats, and the result is a space-age-looking projectile that stands clearly apart from the donor car. It should be a veritable rocket ship, with some minor tweaks boosting power to 690hp.
Due here: Alas, this one's Japan-only.
The Blue Oval’s delectable new supercar is a nod to the iconic GT40 that toppled the might of Ferrari at Le Mans in the 1960s. But where its 60s ancestor (as well as the 2005 remake) relied on good ol’ V8 power, the newbie is propelled by a cleaner-running 3.5L twin-turbo V6 that pushes out 600hp-plus to the rear wheels, allegedly making for a three-second 0-to-100kph split and 320kph max. The mid-engined, Dh1.5m (or thereabouts) Ford will be a highly exclusive proposition, with only 250 cars to be built annually.
Due here: To be confirmed.
Lexus LC 500
OK, it’s not quite a successor to the fast and focused LFA, but the dramatically styled LC 500 does push Lexus into a segment it hasn’t so far contested here. The premium halo coupé makes even the RC coupé look tame, and a 470hp 5.0L V8 paired to an industry-first 10-speed auto should deliver brisk performance. The motor is pushed well back in the chassis, ensuring near 50:50 weight distribution, so the LC promises more handling panache than its stablemates. Expect a Dh400,000-plus price tag.
Due here: Mid-2017.
Mercedes-AMG GT C Roadster
The three-pointed star has served up a barrage of new models during the past year, but this one looks the tastiest of the lot. The GT C Roadster is obviously derived from the existing GT coupé, but its drop-top format endows it with even more visual drama, along with the added appeal of alfresco motoring. The range-topping GT C should be plenty quick, with the 4.0L twin-turbo V8 kicking out 560hp for a 3.7-second 0-to-100kph dash and 315kph max to give your bouffant a mighty bashing.
Due here: Late 2017.