What is it? Latest version of VW’s family saloon
Price from £18,471 (saloon); £19,744 (estate)
On sale January 2011
The seventh-generation Passat isn’t an entirely new car, but it is a fairly major overhaul of the outgoing one.
Every exterior panel apart from the roof is new, for instance, and although the exterior dimensions are near enough the same, the new car looks much more modern. Changes inside are less dramatic, but significant nonetheless. More soft-touch plastics have been used to trim the cabin, and new metallic surrounds for the air vents give a more upmarket feel. VW has also added extra soundproofing between the cabin and engine compartment, with thicker glass all-round. So it’s quieter, too.
As for safety, there’s a new ‘City emergency braking function’. The £676 system automatically applies the brakes at speeds of less than 18mph if it senses a collision is imminent. There are also new front head restraints.
Most engines have been carried over from the old car, but there have been some efficiency improvements. The 3.6-litre V6 from the old R32 has been dropped, and in its place comes the 207bhp turbocharged 2.0 TSI engine from the latest Golf GTI.
Passat prices have risen by a few hundred pounds, but entry-level S trim gains an iPod interface and a multi-function steering wheel.
What is it? Peugeot’s replacement for the slow-selling 407
Estimated price from £18,500
On sale April 2011
Peugeot unveiled the 508 at the Paris motor show earlier this year. The new Mondeo rival is the first production Peugeot to feature the brand’s new family face, and we reckon the ‘floating grille’ is a more elegant look than the gaping mouth of the 407.
Peugeot says the 508 has been influenced as much by the needs of a booming Chinese market as by European demands. Annual sales of traditional family saloons in China have more than doubled to 1.4 million since 2005, while during the same period in Europe they’ve slumped from 2.4 million a year to 1.7 million.
The 508 is roughly 10cm longer than the 407, which gives extra rear legroom and a bit more boot space. Despite the step-up in size, the 508 is between 35kg and 45kg lighter, which helps cut its CO2 output by an average of 40g/km.
Saloon and estate (SW) models will launch simultaneously.
What is it? New engine technology for the next 6
Estimated price from £17,000
On sale Late 2012
Mazda is developing a new range of advanced engines for the next 6. The new petrols offer the low-down pull and economy of a diesel, while the diesels are smooth and refined. We’ve tested them in a current 6 (shown above) and they’re impressive.
These so-called Sky engines will initially be available as a 165bhp 2.0-litre direct-injection petrol and a 175bhp 2.2-litre diesel, with CO2 outputs of 140g/km and 105g/km respectively. More powerful and smaller-capacity versions will follow, and all will meet Euro VI emissions standards.
Mazda is developing an all-new platform with a larger engine bay to accommodate the new engines, and it is 20kg lighter yet 30% stiffer than the current 6’s. The platform will also host a series of other Mazdas over the next few years. Future models, including the next 6, will feature a new suspension system and improved power steering.
What is it? Another great-value car from Korea
Estimated price from £16,000
On sale Spring 2011
Sales of traditional family cars have been on the wane for several years, but that hasn’t put Hyundai off launching this new Mondeo rival.
The new i40 arrives next spring – first in the form of a ‘lifestyle’ estate, followed by this striking saloon a few months later. It’ll undercut rivals by several thousand pounds and be better equipped than most, too.
The South African-spec i40 we drove earlier this year had a smart interior. It wasn’t that good to drive, but European cars should be better.
What is it? A replacement for the Magentis
Estimated price from £18,000
On sale Summer 2011
Kia's new family saloon is a huge step up on the Magentis it replaces. The Optima is the latest striking effort created under Kia’s German design chief Peter Schreyer – the man behind the original Audi TT.
It certainly has looks on its side, while interior quality and space are significantly better than in the Magentis. The new car also promises to be better equipped than rivals and will come with Kia’s famous seven-year warranty.
Prices are likely to start at around £18,000 for a 136bhp 1.7-litre diesel, which emits just 113g/km of CO2.
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