100 hot new cars - part 1 - Small family cars - part 1

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Ford Focus
What is it? Third-generation Focus is a truly global car
Estimated pricefrom £16,500
On sale March 2011

This could be the most important new car of 2011. The outgoing Focus was Britain’s best-selling model for most of its life, so this all-new version bears a massive responsibility.

With this in mind, it’s not surprising that Ford has played safe with the styling, although the new car does look sleeker and more modern than its predecessor. Ford is also promising that it will offer a much more rounded driving experience.

The Focus has always been great fun, and this should still be the case, but comfort and refinement are said to be much improved. Lower fuel consumption and emissions should also add to its appeal, as will a classier interior and luxury and safety options that, until recently, were the preserve of much pricier cars.

This third-generation Focus is based on a new platform that it shares with the latest C-Max and Grand C-Max MPVs and, unlike previous versions, it’s a global car – meaning only minor changes will be made to models sold in different world markets. It’s this that leads to the economies of scale that make high-tech features affordable.

Ford also seems to have learned from its mistake of hiking prices every few months in recent years – it recently cut prices, and the new Focus should cost about the same as its predecessor.

A five-door hatchback and an estate will be offered, but the saloon version won’t be coming to the UK, and Ford says it has no plans to introduce a mainstream three-door model.

Hyundai i30 Bluedrive
What is it? The cleanest and most fuel-efficient i30 yet
Estimated pricefrom £15,000
On sale February 2011

Blue is fast becoming the car manufacturers’ colour of choice when promoting their green credentials. Hyundai is the latest to adopt it, applying Bluedrive badges to the cleanest versions of its cars, including the i30 small family car.
The i30 Bluedrive uses the company’s 89bhp diesel engine and has a host of features that cut fuel consumption and emissions.

This means the hatchback version produces 98g/km of CO2, while the estate is almost as clean, emitting 99g/km. With emissions this low, both models are exempt from road tax.

Citroën DS4
What is it? A style-oriented version of the C4
Estimated pricefrom £18,000
On sale Winter 2011

Citroen will use the new C4 as the basis for a second model in its premium DS range.

However, this one will be a luxury five-door, not a sporty three-door like the DS3.
The DS4 uses styling elements from the High Rider concept car Citroën showed at the Geneva motor show earlier in 2010. This means it has slightly more ground clearance than the C4, and looks a little more extreme, with a steeply angled rear screen and roof that could limit rear headroom.

More positively, the interior features higher-quality materials than the C4, including chrome instrument surrounds, and leather on the dashboard and doors. Meanwhile, top-spec cars will also have full leather upholstery.

Power comes from the stronger engines in the new C4, including diesels with the latest version of Citroën’s e-HDi engine stop-start system.

Chevrolet Cruze
What is it? Hatchback version of the small saloon
Estimated pricefrom £13,000
On sale Mid 2011

Small saloons such as the Chevrolet Cruze aren’t very popular with UK buyers, so Chevrolet is adding a five-door hatchback to the line-up.

The range of engines will mirror that of the saloon, although the hatchback will be launched with the latest Euro V-compliant versions. The two models look similar, but the hatchback has a sleeker roofline and a slightly smaller boot (400 litres instead of 450 litres). Like all Chevrolets, the Cruze hatchback will come with a five-year warranty and free servicing for five years.

Citroën C4
What is it? The replacement for Citroën’s Ford Focus rival
Estimated pricefrom £15,000
On sale February 2011

Citroen has been refreshing its mainstream model line-up over the last couple of years, and this new version of its Golf-rivalling C4 is the last piece in the jigsaw.

It will be available as only a five-door hatchback; there will be no three-door ‘coupé’, as there was with the outgoing model. The new C4 actually uses the same platform as its predecessor – however it’s been tweaked to deliver the sort of feather-bed ride that Citroëns used to be famous for. There’s also an engine to suit just about every taste, but it’s a pity the steering feels so artificial.

Tall passengers will find the rear legroom rather tight. However, the driver’s environment is hard to fault because there’s plenty of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel, and all of the controls are easy to understand.

In brief…
Volvo C30 DRIVe electric Volvo is working on an electric version of its C30 coupé with zero tailpipe emissions and a range of more than 90 miles. The battery will take around eight hours to recharge and you can use a standard domestic power socket.


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100 hot new cars - part 1 - Small family cars - part 2

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