Best new car launches in 2011

Small superminis, family hatchbacks and larger MPVs are all set to be released this year in one of the most exciting years in the car industry for a long time.

Many are available now to pre-order and with this in mind, we’ve put together a list of some of the best new cars for 2011 with information about cost and the expected launch date wherever possible.

Kia Picanto

The small Kia Picanto city car is following a tried and tested formula for Kia; ask designer Peter Schreyer to create an attractive exterior complete with ‘tiger face’ front end.

This is then complemented by an upgrade to the interior as the brand moves away from its ‘budget’ image. Extra equipment, a low starting price and a range of frugal engines – 1.0-litre and 1.25-litre in the case of the five-door Picanto – complete the all round package.

Stylish, affordable (£7,995 for entry-level five-door models) and cheap to run (CO2 emissions are as low as 99g/km), the Kia Picanto will be available in June from all Kia dealerships.

A three-door version, a first for the range, will arrive later in the year to complete the new range.

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Chevrolet Cruze

If Kia is working hard to update its range, Chevrolet has gone into overdrive in 2011. The Orlando MPV and updated Captiva SUV have already arrived and the third of four product launches this year will be a Cruze hatchback.

Currently, saloon versions are modest sellers in the UK, but Chevrolet expects the spacious and practical hatchback to be a strong seller in the lucrative UK market.

A redesigned front end includes the new Chevrolet grille and prominent badge, while more upmarket materials are used inside.

It represents a budget alternative to the likes of the Ford Focus but has been designed to look sportier than the saloon with shorter overhangs and a more coupe-like roofline.

Prices have yet to be announced, but the Cruze is expected to undercut many other hatchbacks on the market.

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Citroen DS4

When Citroen revealed its upmarket, premium Citroen DS3, it found itself with a huge hit.

However, even the success of the supermini couldn’t disguise the anticipation for the larger DS4 hatchback, because finally Citroen would have a car worthy of competing with the industry heavyweights.

The DS4 doesn’t disappoint, with a string of design awards already to its name including two ‘most beautiful titles’. Based on the High Rider concept, the DS4 has a high ride height and certainly stands out from the crowd.

While its cosmetic appeal isn’t in doubt, the hatchback is also generously equipped and comes with inherent practicality – the 370 litre boot is bigger than that of the Volkswagen Golf.

Five engine choices, long equipment list and a recent five-star safety rating from industry experts at EuroNCAP only serve to emphasise the desirability of the Citroen DS4.

Prices haven’t been announced for the second car in the DS Line (expect prices above £20,000), but it will go on sale in summer 2011 in the UK.

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Kia Optima

Saloons may not be the largest segment in the UK, but Kia, king of the crossover and small car, feels it needs to have a strong saloon offering if it wants to be a serious volume manufacturer player.

With this in mind, the Optima will go on sale in the UK in summer 2011. Based on the Hyundai i40 and designed to replace the Magentis, the Optima will offer MP3CD player, USB and Bluetooth, voice activation and other gadgets not seen before on a Kia saloon.

The Optima is interesting because Kia will use the car as its first ever hybrid in 2011 in the US. This will be available for European customers in subsequent years.

The Kia Optima will also be offered as an estate as early as 2012, but the saloon is expected to appeal to fleet and business buyers when it arrives in the coming months.

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Chevrolet Aveo

The new Chevrolet Aveo supermini enters the largest sector in the UK and is significant for many reasons.

The first is that this represents the final model in a complete overhaul of Chevrolet’s range and the end of the last rebadged Daewoo model in the UK.

In keeping with this, the new Aveo is more attractive to look at, but it is underneath the exterior where the interest is drawn.

The Aveo is using a GM platform that will be used to underpin the next generation of the Vauxhall Corsa when it arrives, meaning the Aveo has been designed for Europe and should hugely improve on current versions.

Available with 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre engines, the Aveo is a huge step forward for Chevrolet and should offer a cheaper alternative to the likes of the Ford Fiesta when it arrives in October. It should also be available for under £10,000.

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Range Rover Evoque

The smallest, lightest and most efficient Range Rover ever built will really take the headlines because of its coupe-like roofline, two-wheel drive option and sub-£30,000 price tag for entry level models.

Designed in three- and five-door versions, the Evoque is a stylish SUV designed for urban use but it still boasts Land Rover’s superb Terrain Response 4×4 system for those choosing the four-wheel drive option.

It looks great and the high ride height and supremely luxury interior ensure the true Land Rover feel is present and correct.

However, with three interior design ‘themes’ and a huge range of accessories, the Evoque is a fashionable option and can be customised in a wide array of variations.

This will push prices up a bit, but initial reaction to the Evoque has been universally promising and pre-orders, which are open now, are ticking along nicely according to the manufacturer.

Built in the UK, the Range Rover Evoque will go on sale in October.

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Peugeot 3008 HYbrid 4

The Peugeot 3008 HYbrid 4 is arguably the biggest breakthrough in hybrid technology in years. The spacious MPV crossover will be the first diesel hybrid to enter mass production ever when it goes on sale in the UK in October.

Previously the technology was too expensive to justify using with a diesel powerplant, but Peugeot will use a 2.0-litre diesel engine matched to a small electric motor to offer just 99g/km of CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of 74.4mpg – an incredible feat for such a large, practical car.

The car has won over Best Eco Car of 2011 at the Diesel Car magazine awards despite it not being on sale in the UK until October such is the excitement over the technology.

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And two more set to arrive early in 2012:

Vauxhall Zafira Sports Tourer: The Vauxhall Zafira Sports Tourer is the larger, more luxurious version of the ageing Zafira. Flexible seating, a ‘lounge on wheels’ style interior and more attractive styling based on the forthcoming Vauxhall Ampera mean a more modern and desirable MPV from Vauxhall.

Mazda CX-5: The Mazda CX-5 is a compact SUV based on the Minagi concept. The big news is the inclusion of groundbreaking SkyActiv technology including lightweight build materials, more efficient engines and improved gearbox technology.