While the spectre of new Covid-19 variants is ever-present, the coming year is still shaping up as one dampened by fewer restrictions and greater optimism.
The auto industry also brings its fair share of good cheer, thanks to the prospect of some tantalising new models.
Here are our top 11 new cars to look forward to in 2022.
BMW M240i xDrive
Reprising the spirit of BMW’s 02 Series built and sold from 1966 to 1977, the latest-gen 2 Series coupe is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, which means it has a beefier stance and offers more cabin space.
The range-topping (until the M2 arrives) M240i xDrive pairs a potent 374 horsepower/500Nm six-cylinder turbo motor with an eight-speed auto and is underpinned by a well-sorted all-wheel-drive chassis.
A 0 to 100 kilometres per hour dash is rapid at 4.3 seconds, and the electronically limited top speed of 250kph is achieved with ease.
The M240i xDrive goes on sale in January, priced from Dh285,000 ($77,603).
Chevrolet Corvette Z06
We reviewed the latest-gen (C8) Corvette Stingray last January and were blown away by how dynamically capable the new mid-engined sportster is. The good news is that an even hotter Ferrari/Lambo-rivalling Z06 version is now only six months away.
Powered by a naturally aspirated 5.5-litre V8, the Z06 revs to a dizzying 9,000 revolutions per minute and kicks out gargantuan outputs of 670hp and 623Nm.
Keeping this muscle in check, the Z06 scores upgraded suspension, a beefier wheel-tyre combo and a serious aero kit to boost downforce at high speeds.
The Z06 lands in June or July, with pricing around Dh500,000.
GMC Hummer EV
GM is going big on electrification, and leading the charge is the futuristic GMC Hummer EV. The flagship version is propelled by three electric motors that belt out a monstrous 1,000hp, enabling the big all-terrainer to bolt from standstill to 100kph in just over three seconds. Yet, GM boasts a touring range of 600km on a full charge.
The Hummer EV is loaded with cool features, including removeable roof panels, an optional adjustable air suspension and a four-wheel steering that enables it to crawl diagonally in off-road settings.
The Hummer EV is due towards the end of 2022 (initially only in range-topping Edition 1 form) and should be priced close to Dh500,000.
Although looking like a clone of the previous-generation Land Rover Defender, the go-anywhere Grenadier has no connection to the Landy and was conceived from scratch.
That said, the Grenadier’s core philosophy is largely as per the old Defender playbook as it features rugged steel ladder-frame construction and solid axles front and rear, which make for generous levels of wheel articulation (vital in tough off-road conditions).
Propulsion for the workhorse comes from a BMW-sourced 3.0-litre turbo engine, and drive is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed auto.
Due here in September, the Grenadier is to be priced from just under Dh300,000.
Jeep Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer
Reviving a venerable Jeep nameplate that ran from 1963 to 1991, the new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are flagship models positioned above the latest Grand Cherokee.
Whereas the Grand Cherokee uses a car-based monocoque platform, the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are built on the tough Ram DT body-on-frame chassis, endowing the vehicles with a 4.5-tonne towing capacity and greater off-road ruggedness.
Even so, the Wagoneer/Grand Wagoneer are supremely opulent, as they’re stuffed with more “wood, leather and metal” than imaginable, claims Jeep.
Both vehicles are due in the first half of 2022; pricing should start at about Dh300,000.
The Lexus LX has long been a UAE favourite, and the new LX600 looks set to continue that trend. Underpinned by a new ladder-frame platform and clothed in edgy bodywork, the latest LX is powered by a 3.4-litre twin-turbo V6 in lieu of the old 5.7-litre V8.
There are two fewer cylinders, yet both power and torque are up to 409hp and 650Nm respectively.
Interestingly, there’s a new “Ultra Luxury” version with a four-seat set-up with two opulent chairs in the rear that recline up to 48 degrees and offer a footrest.
The new LX is expected in the early part of 2022, and will be priced from about Dh450,000.
An all-new Mercedes SL roadster only arrives once in a decade, and what makes the latest (R232) generation even more intriguing is that, for the first time, it will be offered solely as a high-performance AMG model. In addition, it ditches a folding metal roof in lieu of a traditional fabric top to lower the centre of gravity and make for more elegant packaging.
The all-new chassis architecture is fabricated from materials that include aluminium, magnesium, carbon-fibre composites and steel to optimise rigidity.
Propulsion for the range-topping SL 63 4MATIC+ comes from a 585hp twin-turbo V8.
It’s due in the fourth quarter of the year and will be priced around Dh750,000.
Nissan’s fifth-gen Pathfinder ushers in revamped styling. Although based on a carry-over platform, the newbie is longer, wider, and taller than before.
Visually, the latest model has nothing in common with the oldie as it looks distinctly chunkier and more truck-like. As before, motive power for the Pathfinder comes from a 284hp 3.5-litre V6, but the good news is that the oldie’s lacklustre CVT (continuously variable transmission) has been ditched in lieu of a nine-speed automatic.
The cabin layout is also all-new, with much better materials used throughout.
The new Pathfinder lands in January, priced from about Dh130,000.
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS
Even “regular” versions of the Porsche’s 718 Cayman are a delight to drive, so the coming GT4 RS flagship promises to be truly otherworldly.
Festooned with a large rear wing, aggressive front spoiler-splitter and other aero-enhancing addenda, the GT4 RS sports the same 4.0-litre flat-six engine as the hallowed 911 GT3. This unit revs to a dizzying 9,000rpm and ekes out 500hp and 450Nm, propelling the RS from 0 to 100kph in 3.4 seconds.
Weight-saving measures include a carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) bonnet, plus lightweight carpets, lightweight glass rear windows and lightweight door panels.
The GT4 RS lands in the second quarter, priced from Dh530,300.
A new-generation Range Rover is big news as these only come along once in a decade. The latest fifth-gen model is built on a light yet stiff new aluminium platform, while the old 5.0-litre supercharged V8 makes way for a BMW-sourced twin-turbo unit with 530hp and 750Nm.
Four-wheel steering is standard in the newcomer, and also on offer is active roll-stabilisation to quell body roll under hard cornering.
Its maker says the newbie can wade through 900 millimetres of water and drive at angles of up to 45 degrees. For the first time, the Range Rover will be available in a seven-seat configuration.
It’s due in the second half of 2022, priced from Dh579,000.
Volkswagen Golf R
The Golf GTI and Golf R are the default hot hatches in our region, and that’s because they nail the dual demands of everyday usability and go-faster performance. The latest Mk8 GTI arrived a few months ago, but still to come is the more upscale Golf R.
The latest model should be an electrifying performer, thanks to robust outputs of 320hp and 420Nm. As with the GTI, a seven-speed dual-clutch auto is standard, but the “R” sends power to all four wheels, making it more sure-footed in slippery conditions.
Befitting its range-topping status, the Golf R also gets a more premium cabin. It’s due in the first half of the year, priced from approximately Dh190,000.