For years now the Ford KA has been a favourite among those choosing their first car. It’s the kind of car that people have a love/hate relationship with. I am much more of the latter, but regardless of what you may think of it, it’s still a ford, and the thing about fords is; they’re just… ‘Good’.
It’s easy to see why they’re Britain’s most popular car manufacturer, with the fiesta and the focus (previously the escort) being Britain’s top selling cars for over 20 years. They’re just good all-rounder’s.
This latest version of the KA is a huge improvement on previous iterations. It no longer looks like something you might find on clip art, instead it looks like a respectable small car, that you wouldn’t feel embarrassed to drive around town.
Traditionally the KA has only been sold in a 3 door version, but the latest is to be only built with a more practical 5 doors. Not much is yet known about which engines will be available, however we’d put money on it being their 1.0 3-cylinder ecoboost engine, that’s currently available in the Fiesta and Focus, which is more than adequate.
It’s expected to start from around £8000, which competitively prices it against its rivals, and is expected to go on sale in the UK some time in 2016.
The original Nissan Micra was a tank of a car that would just keep on going. It was what you expected from Japanese cars in the 80’s, excellent reliability but bodywork that would rust away shortly after driving it off the forecourt. The second generation was incredibly popular and there are still plenty on the road today looking battered and bruised but still faithfully ploughing on.
It was the 3rd generation where it all seemed to go wrong for Nissan, the new bug eyed cartoon car didn’t seem to have the same impact on people, and therefore was only really driven by the old and looney. Something that they tried to correct with the most recent 4th generation, but by then I fear it was too late. The design was still too cartoon and as a result only appealed to a niche market.
Having said this, I still feel that the Micra is one of the most under-rated cars available today. Nissan are doing an excellent job at repositioning themselves within the market and this is where we come to the Nissan Sway (concept.)
While it’s only a concept at the moment, this is essentially the new Micra. The design has taken a much more grown up and more aggressive look with much sharper angles. Predictably the final production car will be a slightly toned down version of this, but it’s clear to see the direction they plan to take.
The new Micra will be in showrooms some time in 2016 although prices are still to be confirmed.
Suzuki is one of those underdog manufacturers that I just can’t bring myself to dislike. That having been said, they still every now and again produce disappointing cars like the Baleno. They managed to hit it spot on with the Suzuki Swift, and yet with the SX4 and now the Baleno they seem to have designed something without consideration for the European market.
This latest addition will sit just above the Swift and presumably be another entry into the ‘B’ segment (small car) as it’s not quite large enough to step into the big leagues with the likes of the Golf and the Focus, but maybe that’s for the best.
Alfa Romeo Mito
Due a facelift in 2016 the Mito is a fantastically fun car to drive and is still incredibly beautiful, something that can be said of all Alfa Romeos.
Alfa may traditionally have a poor reputation for reliability, but everything has come on over the past few years. Not to mention that the Mito is based on the same platform as the Vauxhall Corsa, making it a much more attractive alternative. The chassis is really well balanced with the centre of gravity of the car sitting right on the B pillar, meaning that you feel much more connected with the car when putting it into a corner.
The new Mito is priced from £14,335
Finally the new Renault Megane is on its way to replace the somewhat tired and bland current model. It will be the latest car in their range to be updated to their new corporate design which we first saw launched in the Clio 3 years ago.
The ‘C’ segment is the most competitive on the market meaning the Megane will be going up against the VW Golf and Ford Focus, so it really needs to be top quality. Traditionally Renault has been thought of as building cars using cheap and nasty materials (namely plastics) which will soon rattle and squeak with age. However Renault promises that the latest Megane will be of the highest quality.
The new model is longer, lower and wider and much more attractive. The range of engines have not yet been confirmed, but it’s expected to be on offer with both four diesel and four petrol options.
Additionally at launch Renault will be producing a GT version which has been developed with Renault Sport and is expected to be available with a 202bhp petrol engine and will also include rear wheel steering.
The new Meganne is expected to start around a pricey £17,000 and will be available in Summer 2016.
Behold, the all new Vauxhall Astra. At least that’s what we’re being told…
Yes, this is an entirely new Astra, and not just a simple mid-model facelift. It’s actually available in showrooms already, although the full range will not be available until 2016, so thought it worth a brief mention here.
The Astra is another one of those cars which suffers from being completely unremarkable. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, it’s just another car in the C-segment, which when compared to things like the Golf it begins to get a little lost in the crowd. However there are a couple of features available in the new model which might make it seem a little more appealing.
First of all, it has the option of having heated seats in the rear which is only something that you would expect to find on a top executive car. Secondly it’s; Shorter, thinner, and lighter yet has more cabin room than the previous model. It’s cheaper than the previous model, and is higher quality. Vauxhall also plan to produce fewer models to help shore up residual values meaning that they hold their money in the used market.
Finally, in addition to having both apple and android play capabilities, it also has the option of the OnStar service. OnStar you may have previously seen in films, but it’s essentially a call centre that you can call and speak to from a push of a button. You can ask them to direct you to somewhere, and they will program the satnav so you don’t have to. They also have the ability to lock or unlock your doors remotely, and start or turn off the cars’ engine. The benefit of it being a real person at the end of the line, is that you can ask them real questions that a voice recognition system wouldn’t always understand, or be able to interoperate what you really want.
The new Astra is currently available and is Priced from £15,295 on-the-road.