Conversations about cars in 2020 and beyond are inevitably going to focus more and more on battery-electric power.
This was quickly confirmed when the Mercedes-Benz EQC, a fully-electric family SUV, hit the headlines as the winner of the coveted Car of the Year award from Wheels magazine. Meanwhile, the highly lauded Porsche Taycan electric sports car is on final approach to local showrooms, with the potential to unseat Tesla as the choice of green-power enthusiasts.
There is talk about the countries that are planning an outright ban on petrol and diesel cars, headed by the UK and France. Every major brand is promising some sort of electrification on new models by 2025, from mild hybrids to plug-in hybrids and full battery power.
Yet the tiny number of electric deliveries in Australia – fewer than 8000 in 2019, against an overall sales total of more than one million – does not point to any sort of battery car revolution here in the near future.
Fortunately, there is still lots to like among the cars arriving here in 2020, most of them still combustion-driven. Executive Traveller’s top 10 is an unusual mix, from small cars and the inevitable SUVs, to some of the most desirable sports cars in recent memory.
BMW M2 CS
Less weight and more power always works for fast-car fans and that’s the recipe for the CS version of the M2. The pocket rocket is like an old-school M3, including rear-wheel drive, and lifts the bar higher for the M2 with even more power than the previous Competition model. It’s sure to be a sell-out.
Aston Martin DBX
This SUV is make-or-break for the British brand, just as Porsche was saved by the Cayenne that created a whole new family following for the maker of the 911. The DBX is design-driven, as well as a James Bond star car, but also promises to be quick and comfortable. Like the DB11, lots of the fast-car parts come from the AMG division at Mercedes-Benz.
Ferrari SF 90 Stradale
The waiting list is already stretching far beyond two years into the future, but that’s no surprise. The SF 90 is the fastest production car yet from the famed Italian maker, backing its speed with great looks and the company’s first plug-in hybrid package. 2020 also promises the Roma coupe on the Ferrari menu.
The king of fast and compact is the reigning champion for exhaust pipe pyrotechnics. Benz’s AMG division is working more magic to unleash even more punch and power, but the key to continued success is more space, comfort and technology. The turbo-lit exhaust action continues.
Land Rover Defender
Sure to trump anything on the school pick-up run, but much more than a mere suburban-dwelling SUV. The first full overhaul of the classic Defender since the 1940s brings a modern take on the boxy body with the promise of far, far, far more comfort and convenience. But it will also conquer the worst of the outback and is sure to come in classic army camo colours.
A fully electric Porsche that can trump a Tesla? That was the brief from the start for the German sports car company, which is out to prove that battery cars can tick all the boxes, from speed and comfort to range and quality. It’s also a spearhead for the whole Volkswagen Group, which will get the trickle-down breakthroughs from the Taycan in cars as mundane as the Golf-style VW id.3.
The first right-hand drive ‘vette will land in Australia at the very end of 2020. It’s a landmark car in the USA thanks to its Ferrari-style mid-engined layout, and will be a sure-fire sell-out down under.
The first dual-cab ute from the American off-road icon is for people who think the old-school Wrangler is not big enough or tough enough for their needs. Stretching the Wrangler’s wheelbase and adding a work box on the back, with a V6 petrol engine, means a lot of Toyota Hilux buyers will be considering an American-style upgrade.
Audi TT S
One of Australia’s favourite coupes only gets a mild makeover this time, but it should be enough with the extra performance in the S, which can dash to 100km/h in 4.7 seconds. Improvements for 2020 include 12-speaker sound and, on a car which has always been a style leader and sold strongly with battleship-grey bodywork, three new colours include Pulse Orange.
Alfa Romeo Tonale
A second SUV for the charismatic Italian brand is coming in 2020, although not yet officially confirmed for Australia. It promises style with substance, just like the driving enjoyment that comes in the Stelvio family wagon that is also based on the landmark Giulia sports sedan, with an optional plug-in hybrid package.