What is it? Beefy-looking crossover from Saab
Estimated price from £25,000
On sale Late 2011
Saab is still recovering from its financial woes of 2010, so the firm will be praying that this new 9-4X crossover enjoys the same sort of success as the similarly sized Volvo XC60.
The first production version, which was unveiled at the LA motor show in November, has a turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 petrol engine with 296bhp and four-wheel drive. It’s safe to say that this version won’t trouble the market leaders in Europe. However, Saab has a good crop of strong and efficient diesel engines to call upon, and we expect that two-wheel-drive versions will be available, so the 9-4X could yet prove very tempting for SUV buyers in the UK.
Saab has promised sporty driving characteristics to go with the striking looks, and to that end, some versions will have Saab’s adaptive chassis control known as Drivesense. Saab is also promising a roomy cabin with flexible seating.
What is it? A new Korean crossover
Estimated price from £19,000
On sale Jan 2011
Those familiar with the old Ssangyong Korando will know it as a rough-and-ready off-roader that felt distinctly agricultural. The next version, however, will be completely different.
The new Korando is a crossover that is similar in size to cars such as the Kia Sportage and Hyundai ix35. Like those cars, it’ll also be available in both front- and four-wheel-drive formats.
A 2.0-litre diesel is the only engine available at launch. Its 173bhp sounds appealing, but economy of 47.1mpg and CO2 of 157g/km is pretty average.
What is it? Dirt-cheap crossover from Renault’s budget sister brand
Estimated price from £11,000
On sale Late 2012
Dacia is owned by Renault, and specialises in no-frills transport at a budget price. The Duster is already on sale in other European markets, but won’t arrive in the UK until late 2012.
It’s a pity, really, because as a proposition it’s very much ‘of the moment’. It’s a Nissan Qashqai-sized crossover that will start at a staggering £11,000, which would suit many families in these times of austerity.
We’ve driven it and it’s pretty good – the ride is smooth and although the interior is basic and bland, you really wouldn’t grumble for that sort of money.
Range Rover Evoque
What is it? Jaw-dropping new entry point into the Range Rover brand
Estimated price from £35,000
On sale August 2011
All the talk coming from the Range Rover camp about the new Evoque revolves around the fact that it’s the lightest, most fuel-efficient Range Rover ever. Seems like a strange way to introduce such a stunning-looking new car. There’s a good reason for it, though.
The Evoque is seen by the company as a catalyst for change – the first of a new generation of more sustainable, more socially relevant Range Rovers. Many would argue it’s a change that needs to be made.
Lightweight construction is only part of the story though. The Evoque takes the bold step of being the first ever Range Rover to be offered with two-wheel drive as well as four-wheel drive, and all cars with manual gearboxes will have stop-start technology.
Of course, the engines are also integral to the car’s green credentials. The Evoque will use two variations of the 2.2-litre turbodiesel found in the Land Rover Freelander, giving either 149bhp or 188bhp. The cleaner of these, when combined with two-wheel drive, should sneak under 130g/km for CO2 emissions, and return an average of around 50mpg.
For those Range Rover customers who still value performance over the planet, there’ll also be a 237bhp variation of Ford’s turbocharged 2.0-litre Ecoboost petrol engine with an automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive.
The Evoque will be built on a heavily modified version of the Freelander platform, but it’ll occupy less road space thanks to shorter overhangs.
It’ll be available with either three or five doors from August.
What is it? A smaller sibling for Porsche’s Cayenne 4x4
Estimated price from £35,000
On sale 2015 (est)
It's been the lengthiest will-they-or-won’t-they saga since Kat and Alfie in Eastenders, but it’s still not known whether Porsche’s small SUV project will ever make it into production.
The company confirmed plans to produce a small SUV some time ago, but the project has since been put on hold while Porsche conducts a review into its plans for future models. We’re expecting a yes or a no by the end of 2010.
So, what do we know about the project? Well, not that much. It’s rumoured that the car will be called the Cajun, and that it’ll be based on the same mechanicals as the Audi Q5. We don’t know whether that’ll include the use of the Audi’s engines.
However, we’d find it surprising if a car like this weren’t offered in both petrol and diesel formats, and since Porsche already use VW Group diesel engines in other models, it would seem like a logical step.
Toyota has made a fully electric version of the RAV4, partly thanks to the firm’s financial ties with electric car specialist Tesla. It hasn’t yet been decided whether the production version will come to Europe, but it’s due to go on sale in the US in 2012.
What's your most exciting car of 2011? Take part in our Car of the Year poll.