Family cars and compact execs - 2

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Family cars and compact execs - 2

BMW 3 Series GT (artist's impression)
Price from 22,500 (est)
On sale 2011
What is it? A bigger, bolder version of the all-conquering 3 Series

The word 'niche' is popular at BMW right now. Following the launch of the 5 Series Gran Turismo, its smaller but equally striking sibling the 3 Series Gran Turismo is waiting in the wings.

The 3 GT will have the same split tailgate design as the 5 GT, too. This quasi-hatchback has been given the green light so that it can have a go at cars such as Audi's A5, or position itself as a more sporty-looking alternative to an estate.

If the 3 GT is a chip off the 5's block, it'll be larger than the car it's based on and available in both four- and five-seat configurations. There'll be the usual array of petrol and diesel models, but there have been hints that a hybrid version may go into production.

Peugeot 408
Price from 18,000 (est)
On sale 2010
What is it? Peugeot's attempt at a mould-breaking and ultra-efficient family car

Peugeot's 407 will soon make way for the 408, which will take the fight to the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia.

It's touted as a radical departure from the existing car, being both shorter yet more spacious, with 'harder-edged' looks.

It's thought the 408 might share some design cues with the RC Concept car of 2002, although it's unlikely to be so dramatic.

The 408 will have the same chassis as the Citroen C5, so it should have the same fine ride. There will be the usual line-up of petrol and diesel engines, but Peugeot is also keen to introduce a diesel hybrid producing less than 100g/km of CO2.

Volvo S60
Price from 21,000 (est)
On sale September
What is it? A new generation of Volvo that's great to look at and safe to drive

It's been a while since Volvo had a compact executive model good enough to take on the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, but its next S60 will blend style and safety to tackle the best that the Germans can muster.

We first caught sight of the concept car back at the Detroit motor show in January 2009. However, these official photographs show that it's lost some of its wackier design elements, such as electrically opening butterfly doors and a pony-tail holder built into the headrests (no, really), but it's still a good-looking car and continues Volvo's new, more exciting design direction. It's a striking car, then, but it's also a serious four-door packed with equipment to protect passengers and pedestrians.

Its Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection system is a bit of a mouthful, but it'll detect pedestrians who step into the path of the car and then automatically activate the brakes if the driver fails to respond in time. It's an enhanced version of the system on the XC60. This, along with features such as adaptive cruise control and a system to warn you if you're about to pull over into the path of a vehicle in your blind spot, will all go to make the S60 a super-safe saloon.

Economy is a growing concern in this particular market sector, with company drivers choosing cars with fewer emissions which determines company car tax rates so the S60 will emit as little CO2 as possible.

The 1.6-litre petrol engine is likely to be of most interest in this respect, using engine stop-start technology, direct fuel injection and an efficient semi-automatic gearbox to produce less than 120g/km.

Also on the way...
What and cars coming your way in 2010
Alfa Romeo Giulia (Alfa ditches 157, 159 naming series)
Citroen C5 face-lift
Honda Accord face-lift
Honda Fuel cell (pictured) Jamie Lee Curtis has one, and by 2015 so might you