What a week it’s been in the world of motoring, with Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear contract not being renewed by the BBC, heralding the somewhat sad end of an era. Oh, and there was Zayn’s departure from One Direction to get over, too. Still, those actions in any other workplace would result in the same conclusion, and while everyone’s busy debating who should take over at Top Gear, we thought we’d look at what hot small cars are coming out during the rest of this year.
Volkswagen Polo GTI
From the front, it looks every bit a shrunken Golf, which is a good thing. This three-chilli-rating version of the little Polo actually went on sale this month at a few quid under £19,000 and has a sweet 1.8-litre engine under the bonnet, paired with either a manual or automatic gearbox. Of course, we all drive at 70mph, but the new Polo GTI has a top speed of 146mph so is plenty fast enough, but it’s also economical, 50mpg achievable depending on how you drive it.
New MINI John Cooper Works hatch
BMW owns MINI these days and has really gone to town with their new JCW, stuffing it with the most fiery engine yet, a 2-litre TwinPower Turbo effort producing 231bhp, which is some punch for a car this size. As you’d expect, it’s got unique JCW styling which we think looks rather attractive and certainly sporty, and it can also be bought as either a manual or an auto. Customers can customise their JCW in loads of ways, even with a heads-up display. Priced from just under £23,000, it promises bags of power and driving fun.
The new Audi A1
The message with this one is that it’s been improved in every area, from how it looks on the outside, how it feels on the inside and how it performs. The flatter, wider new grille makes its face look even more imposing and buyers can choose new colours and fresh alloy wheel designs. The new Audi A1’s main talking point will be the introduction of the firm’s first 3-cylinder petrol engine, emitting a teensy 99g/km of CO2 and giving you upto 60mpg economy, so it’ll be great for younger drivers, if you can afford the starting price of £14,000.
Vauxhall Corsa VXR
As readers of The Root will already know, we loved the new Corsa when we tested its 1-litre and 1.4-litre petrol engines at the UK launch, so the VXR is set to be something pretty special. With a 1.6-litre engine it will produce slightly over 200bhp and has been tweaked by the boffins so that its handling will match the sport exterior. We won’t bore you with the geeky details but it’ll have loads of fancy electronics and components stuffed under its skin and will hopefully give the Fiesta ST, which some reckon is one of the best cars in the world, a run for its money.
Renault Clio Renaultsport 220 Trophy EDC
The French are at it too, when summer 2015 will see this special edition go on sale. You’ve guessed it, they’ve upped the power, increased the torque and, just like the new Vauxhall Corsa XVR, given it a kind of overboost facility for extra overtaking power. The clever EDC gearbox has been improved so it’s sharper and even more pleasant to use, the whole car is stiffer and lower, and it’ll be covered in little badges inside and out, to remind you you’re driving something special. It sounds good to us and prices will be announced around the same time as the VXR’s.
Breaking the mould and moving away from performance superminis for a moment, Fiat’s 500X will start appearing very soon, offering Tardis-like space inside and a jacked-up exterior for that tough, urban look. Combining Italian design flair with tons of paint options and engine choices, it’ll be easy to find the right Fiat 500X for you. The Italians’ new crossover will be available in four-wheel drive, too, providing extra reassurance when the weather goes a bit pear-shaped. It even has different mood settings to match how you’re feeling, adjusting the car accordingly. It’ll cost between £15,000 and £25,000 depending on whether you choose petrol or diesel, manual or automatic, two or four-wheel drive, and will feature some pretty impressive technology kit too, for our iPhone generation.