Covid-19 has made 2020 a year to forget, but we can at least look forward to a smorgasbord of tantalising new vehicles in the coming year. Here are our top 12 debutants for 2021.
Audi RS e-tron GT
Whenever an Audi wears an “RS” prefix, you can bet fireworks are in store. There’s no thunderous exhaust note here, but the e-tron GT’s battery pack and twin electric motors serve up scorching acceleration. After all, the GT shares its hardware with the Porsche Taycan, which has already been lauded for its scintillating performance and dynamics. The RS e-tron GT packs a 646hp/830Nm punch, so expect an instant facelift when you stand on the throttle. It may land on our shores in the fourth quarter, priced from Dh650k-plus, but Audi ME can’t as yet confirm this.
New-generation M3s and M4s are always eagerly anticipated, even though the latest M cars have raised eyebrows with their oversize twin-nostril grilles. Chances are you’ll get used to the looks with time, especially when you learn that motive power comes from a brand-new “S58” twin-turbo 3.0-litre motor that thrashes out 480hp, or 510 horses in Competition form.
All-wheel-drive – xDrive in BMW-speak – also makes its debut as an option in the M3/M4. Pumped guards, and wider front and rear tracks than before hint at titanic performance. Both cars land in the UAE in March, priced from Dh475k.
OJ Simpson put the Bronco in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons in 1994, but the new model that reprises the nameplate has been grabbing headlines for all the right ones. There’s much to like about the newbie’s rugged boxy lines, and what’s underneath holds promise too, as the latest Bronco shares its body-on-frame chassis with the tough Ranger workhorse. Unlike today’s horde of pretend all-terrainers, the Ford debutant will be a legitimate dune/rock/mud tamer with low-range gearing and optional 35-inch tyres. It’s due here around June, priced from about Dh145,000. Watch out, Wrangler!
Following closely in its wheeltracks of the new GV80 is the smaller, and undoubtedly handsomer, GV70. As per the GV80, the mid-size crossover will be offered with a 300hp 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder motor and a 375hp 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6. The newcomer will come loaded with mod-cons and safety kit – including Advanced Rear Occupant Alert, a radar-based system that can detect a rear occupant's breathing so a driver can be notified when a child or infant has been left in the back of the vehicle. The GV70 is due here in April or May, with prices likely to start around Dh160,000.
The Tucson has been a solid seller for Hyundai, but the latest generation takes the compact SUV into a bold new dimension with avant-garde styling that gives it a futuristic stance. Wherever you look, there are sharp edges and creases, ensuring the newcomer stands apart from its rivals. The revamp carries through to the interior, where you’ll find a virtual instrument cluster – replacing conventional analogue dials – and a large central touchscreen. The cabin features better trim materials and offers more space, all of which bodes well. It’s due here in March, priced from about Dh85,000.
Infiniti will barge into the coupe crossover genre with the eye-catching new QX55, which shares mechanicals with the QX50, but is clothed in an eye-catching fastback bodyshell. Think of it as a Japanese alternative to the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. The tapered roofline suggests luggage space will be slightly compromised, but its styling alone should lure many buyers. Power will come from a 268hp/380Nm 2.0-litre turbo four-pot, hooked up to a CVT automatic transmission. The cabin is largely as per the QX50, but with funkier trim colours. The QX55 is due here in late 2021, priced from about Dh170,000.
Land Rover Defender 90
Land Rover has already introduced the five-door Defender 110 to our market, but hardcore off-road junkies will be holding out for the three-door Defender 90, which promises greater all-terrain capability with its shorter wheelbase, and superior approach and departure angles. There’s a host of customisation options on offer, so specifying a vehicle that fits your tastes shouldn’t be a problem. Powertrain options will include a 300hp 2.0-litre turbo four-pot and 400hp 3.0-litre turbo six, both mated to an 8-speed auto. The 90 is due here in April, priced from just under Dh200,000.
Italy’s hallowed trident brand enters fresh territory with the mid-engined MC20, which takes the fight to Aston Martin, McLaren, Porsche and its Italian supercar compatriots. Fabricated from carbon fibre and aluminium, the MC20 has all the right credentials for electrifying dynamics. Propulsion comes from a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that thumps out 630hp and 730Nm, spearing it from 0-100kph in under 3 seconds and on to a top speed of 325kph+. It looks the part, too, with its tarmac-hugging stance and scissor doors. It’s not cheap, though, with a starting price of Dh950,000 when it lands here in October or November.
The S-Class has traditionally been the car that sets the benchmark for luxury limousines, and the new W223 generation is likely to continue that trend. The newbie’s styling is evolutionary – no surprises there – but there’s no mistaking it for the outgoing model as the grille is larger, the headlights slimmer and the overall profile more tapered. Tech highlights include rear-wheel steering and air suspension, so expect a supple-riding saloon that handles with tautness and agility. Inside, you’ll find a cutting-edge cockpit with a 3D instrument cluster and a massive OLED touchscreen. It’s on sale in January, priced from about Dh450,000.
Porsche 911 GT3
The standard 911 models are already stunningly fast and capable, but the GT-prefixed models are plain stupefying. The 992-generation GT3 carries over a naturally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six, but it’s uprated to crank out over 517hp. You’ll be able to order a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed dual-clutch PDK, and there’s a new race-inspired front multilink suspension setup – a 911 first. As usual, the GT3 gets thinner glass windows and makes do without rear seats, and new for the 992 is a composite bonnet. It’s expected here in the second or third quarter, priced from about Dh580,000.
Ram 1500 TRX
Any truck wearing a Ram badge is a titan, but the 1500 TRX is absolutely bonkers. How else could you describe a hulking pickup with a 702hp punch? Although based on the standard 1500, the TRX ups the ante considerably with its 6.2-litre supercharged V8 that has enough grunt to tow a house … or fry the tyres! Keeping this power in check is a strengthened chassis and upgraded suspension with more than 330mm of travel. The TRX is a monster, be it on-road or off it, eclipsing even Ford’s mighty F-150 Raptor. It’s due here in February or March, priced from Dh300,000+.
Volkswagen Mk8 Golf GTI
The Golf GTI has been the quintessential hot hatch since the first generation debuted in 1976. It’s been a process of steady evolution, culminating in the new – and keenly awaited – Mk8 model. Immediately evident is the newcomer’s racier styling, especially the front fascia, with its angry-looking headlights and massive lower air intake. The 2.0-litre turbo motor is tweaked to produce 245hp, and a new Vehicle Dynamics Manager is said to make the car more responsive in every way. There’s also a new digital dashboard that makes for a much smarter and more modern cabin. It’s due here in April or May, priced from about Dh145,000.