Max Berry: My most anticipated new car releases of 2020

Max Berry

As we all well know, contemporarily, we find ourselves in strange times – never before has the world been so concerned and well-informed about it’s environmental health and prosperity. As far as I can see, up until the end of the last century, everyone was going round doing just about whatever they liked, wherever they liked, using whatever they liked, and with little care for what zesty gases were produced as a result of it.

I’m over-exaggerating this I’m sure, but the fact remains that if the scientists are to be believed; the human race has dug itself a great big carbon dioxide-filled hole. And now, we’ve got the task of getting ourselves out of it. This month therefore, I’m looking ahead to my most anticipated releases of 2020 – when the restraints of environmental friendliness are tighter than any time in history. Welcome to Max’s Monthly Column.

THE LAND ROVER DEFENDER

I’m kicking off, rather relevantly, with a car that’s swapping eight cylinders for six: the Land Rover Defender – which you’ll start spotting on UK roads towards the end of the summer. And I’m fairly confident you will spot one on the roads, because it’s a good looking thing. This 2020 update comes four years after the end of, what was a continuous 67 year production run, with more than two million new vehicles leaving the factory. The Defender is an absolute off-road icon, and so the pressure really is on LR  who are tasked with reimagining the model for modern day, planet Earth.

LR haven’t messed about, and knowing the wide breadth of applications customers found for their Defenders previously, they’ve tried to offer something for everyone.

There’s four basic packs available with the choice of four and six cylinder engines – the Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban packs – all mounted upon the same; but entirely new, D7x platform (with the ‘x’ standing for ‘extreme’). LR themselves advertise that this new Defender is “the toughest and strongest vehicle” they’ve ever created, which is some statement considering their previous efforts. 

The beefiest is the Explorer pack, which despite realistically costing upwards of 60 grand with extras etc, has the most off-road tech and wizardry, with exploration-related options like the roof tent and ladder. From watching LR’s video outlining the model packs, it seems the Adventure pack is the most SUV-ish. The option of a boot-fitted air compressor for pumping up your mountain bike tyre, or the portable shower system that allows you to wash your bike afterwards, is rather telling of this.

I think Land Rover have done a fantastic job of modernising such a classic piece of automotive design – and strategically offering a pack to suit specific buyers’ needs, is a very streamlined and well thought out system. The Defender’s off-road ability is yet to be properly tested – but from what I’ve seen of its appearance in the new James Bond film, it handles whatever the driver might throw at it, with true Defender ease.

THE MONO

Next up on my list of most exciting car releases in 2020, is a car you might not actually have heard of. I mean you might – it’s called the Mono, and is made by a relatively small UK-based firm called Briggs Automotive Company, or BAC. Sadly, they announced last year the end of the production of the Mono, after a run of almost a decade. This year, to mark the end of the Mono, BAC have decided to do just three final versions. Three in a literal sense; a trio to mark the end of the line.

This 2020 version is named the “One”. It’s basically a Mono from before, but with some upgraded cosmetic components, as well as a tweaked chassis and unique livery. The trio of limited-edition Monos will be in the company’s trio of corporate colours: one in red, one black and one white. Nevertheless, each is powered by the same naturally aspirated 2.5L four-cylinder engine as the normal Mono, developing the same 305bhp. The same six-speed sequential gearbox is to be utilised also, allowing this single-seater piece of automotive poetry, to launch from 0-60mph in 2.7 seconds.

From now on, any car collection is incomplete without a Mono.

 – Nick Trorr, Editor of Evo Magazine

The thing is, the Mono was already a fantastic car. I would love one day, to have a go – you only need to see the face of any motoring journalist who’s just clambered out of one, to see the effect of the being behind the wheel. It seems well-built, and sturdy. And not having a roof or windscreen, BAC lined the cabin with a water-resisting suede-like material – the same stuff used on chairs for the elderly.

But what does this bundle of weekend fun cost? Well the new Mono One is £159,000, which is a lot. But from watching other people get behind the wheel, the Mono’s value lies deeper within. As with the equally bonkers, but very slightly heavier, Aerial Atom; the open, blustery air combined with a lightweight, well-engineered chassis is what make the Mono experience magical.

The driving thrill and ability of such a vehicle is the very reason it exists. The Mono One is a tribute to BAC’s success with the Mono. Nick Trott – Editor of Evo magazine said “From now on, any car collection is incomplete without a Mono”… and what a eulogy that is

VAUXHALL CORSA

Next is a car that you might not have expected to make this list – the 2020 Vauxhall Corsa. Now from the off, I should make it clear that my “excitement” and “anticipation” for this car is rather half-hearted, and I use the phrases loosely. The fact that Vauxhall; the people who’ve built some of the crumbiest cars around, has finished another version of a rather uninteresting and often poorly screwed together hatchback, is of little interest to me. I’m interested in it, because it’s available in petrol, diesel and electric. So for the first time, we can directly compare the different versions – but critically here; on a low cost and hugely popular model, like the Corsa. Several manufacturers have brought about this opportunity for drivetrain cross-examination before. Take the new Fiat 500, which besides being available as a hybrid, has seats woven with plastic retrieved from the sea. But this is a Corsa – it’s one of those cars that you do just see everywhere.

 

Being electric – the “e” will nail out 0-60 in 7.6 seconds. That’s less than a second slower than even the 2007 Corsa VXR – and that was considered a tremendously nippy thing, at the time.

 – Max Berry

The new models hit UK roads in January this year, and prices for the old fashioned combustion-engined versions start at £15,750. The electric ‘Corsa-e’ however, semi-predictably starts at more than £30,000 (I knew it’d be expensive, but perhaps not quite that expensive). And it takes the best part of eight hours to charge fully, in contrast to the 30 seconds it takes in the petrol or diesels. But, let’s not forget that the government give you £3,500 for buying one anyway, and being electric – the “e” will nail out 0-60 in 7.6 seconds. That’s less than a second slower than even the 2007 Corsa VXR – and that was considered a tremendously nippy thing, at the time.

I had been unclear as to Vauxhall’s definite history before this month’s column, knowing they held British roots, but underestimating the firm’s intention to keep the ‘Vauxhall’ brand as British as possible.

That’s why, in case you’d been wondering, everywhere else in the world people drive the same Vauxhall models as here, but badged instead with ‘Opel’.

Vauxhall this year have thrown a whole host of sensor-reliant safety features at the Corsa, but more importantly – as standard, across the range. This incredibly popular first car may have just got a bit more pricey, but it’s also now far safer. My real question for this year’s Corsa is; has electric power finally done the dirty?

Could the shift from mechanical to chemical energy be upon us, implemented in a hatchback we all grew up with?

JAGUAR F-TYPE

And finally for this month, a Jag.

More to the point, it’s the new F-Type, which has been revamped for 2020. I was quite excited when I heard the news, as I was quite a fan of the last one. Alright, it was the SVR I was really a fan of, but it was the basic F-Type shape that sold it to me. The previous version wasn’t bad at all; and yet it seems, Jag felt there was still room for improvement…

Despite dropping the option of a V6, in contrast to its styling, the new F-Type’s engine remains largely unchanged from the previous gen. I won’t be losing any sleep over this, because it’s greatly overshadowed by the fact that a slightly detuned rear-wheel drive V8 has filled the gap – with more than 440bhp.

I really do hope that the new F-Type can do its predecessor justice – in being equally respectable and brilliant.

 – Max Berry

The ‘R’ model makes use of a 567bhp 5.0 litre V8, which is supercharged and has 0-60mph dealt with in 3.5 seconds, maxing out at just under 190mph. Jaguar have been more busy with the chassis – tweaking the dampers, anti-roll bars and suspension, in the hunt for improved handling. Similarly to the engine, Jag hasn’t had an overly forceful rummage-around with the interior.

There’s nothing wrong with it, but besides a new 12.3 inch display, the cabin seems an ever so slightly uninteresting place to be. Having said that, if the bear-like growl from the last F-Type’s V8 is anything to go by – you won’t be needing a stereo.

But it’s the styling of the 2020 model, that’s really got people talking. I loved the look of the last F-Type – absolutely loved it. And so, still find myself struggling to decide whether or not the update is better. The side profile has changed pretty minimally, as has the rear which, without doubt – is still one of the best shaped, ever. But it’s the front end that I can’t decide on. It’s not wrong or bad, I just get a rather strong whiff of ‘Audi R8’ or ‘Rimac’ about it. It’s like it’s lost a bit of its Jag personality – but let’s hope that isn’t the case from behind the wheel. Prices start at £54,000, which might sound like a fair amount considering you get the same number of cylinders as a Golf – but it does at least display little fluctuation from previous prices.

I really do hope that the new F-Type can do its predecessor justice – in being equally respectable and brilliant.