In Depth

The ten most important new cars of 2016: Jaguar, BMW and more

From SUVs to hypercars, here are the ten best new cars of the year

It's been quite a year for the car industry. The world may be transitioning over to more renewable sources of energy, but this doesn't seem to have had much of an impact on the supercar market.

This year has seen the introduction of Jaguar's first and very popular F-Pace SUV, along with the return of one of the most iconic marques in motoring – the NSX. 

There have been hundreds of new releases this year ranging from hatchbacks to pickup trucks. Here are the top ten cars that have been stealing the headlines:

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1 Alfa Romeo Giulia

The Alfa Romeo Giulia is the first of many new cars launched in a bid to recapture the magic of the Italian brand after years of lacklustre hatchbacks and saloons.

Alfa has promised great driving dynamics and an exciting power plant – the Giulia features a rear-wheel drive layout and a Ferrari-developed 3.0-litre V6 on the range-topping Quadrifoglio. It's also aggressively designed, with bulging wheel arches and a low front end. 

At nearly £60,000 in Quadrifoglio trim, the Giulia is priced to rival the likes of the BMW M3 and Mercedes-AMG C63 saloon, both of which have been at the top of the sports saloon market for years.

The good news for Alfa Romeo fans is that critics are impressed with the first of the company's new lineup. CarBuyer says the Giulia's interior is cocooned around the driver, making it feel luxurious and practical. Its rear-wheel drive makes it a "great-to-drive alternative to the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-Class", the site adds.

You can read all about the Giulia here.

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2 Aston Martin DB11

After developing the DB9 platform following its launch back in 2004, Aston Martin has finally released a new version of its flagship grand tourer – the DB11.

The car's front end is significantly more sculpted and muscular than the 13-year-old look of the DB9. The grille is wider, with horn-shaped headlamps, and two bold lines running down the bonnet, which is now a front-hinged clamshell.

Under the bonnet is a 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 engine that produces 600bhp and 516lb ft of torque. There's some interesting efficiency tech going on here, too – the V12 has cylinder deactivation capabilities to reduce CO2 emissions.

"It's most definitely a GT car", says Evo, with a good amount of suspension travel to iron-out bumps and enough luxury to make it a "nice place to do a long journey". The sensation of weight being transferred to the outside wheels around a bend makes you want to "get on the throttle early to get through a corner", the magazine adds. 

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3 BMW M2

You're unlikely to see many M2s on public roads, as BMW has only released 500 examples for British dealers. However, this makes it one of the most exclusive cars of the year, which is often highly appealing for car collectors.

Under the bonnet is a 360bhp turbocharged straight six engine, which is mated to either BMW's seven-speed DCT gearbox or a six-speed manual. This launches the M2 from zero to 62mph in 4.5 seconds and is electronically limited to 155mph.

BMW's new 2-Series M car is "simply outstanding" according to Top Gear. "The chassis is a real star" and has more steering feel than its M3 and M4 relatives, the magazine says.

 
4 Bugatti Chiron

At this year's Geneva motor show, Bugatti unveiled the Chiron, the successor to the record-breaking Veyron.

While the Veyron took the record for the fastest road legal car in 2005 at 263mph, other manufacturers, including Koenigsegg and Hennessey, began experimenting with high performance cars that eventually overtook the hypercar for outright speed.

The Chiron looks set to regain its place at the top of the supercar standings. It's powered by the same 8.0-litre quad-turbocharged W16 engine, but with larger turbochargers thrown in along with several other performance tweaks. As such, it has 1,479bhp – some 300bhp more than the outgoing Veyron Super Sport.

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5 Ford Focus RS

The rally-bred Focus RS has finally moved away from a front-wheel drive to an all-wheel drive layout that is one of the most sophisticated systems on a hot hatch.

It produces 345bhp from a 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that sends power to all four wheels. What makes the chassis so special is that the all-wheel drive system varies the amount of power sent to each wheel through torque vectoring, which produces more grip around corners. 

"Not once does it get light or floaty over crests or in direction changes", says Evo, it has been set up with a "naturally neutral to oversteer balance on corner entry". The rearward bias makes the RS handling like "no other 4WD car", the magazine adds, making it "extremely effective and fast".

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6 Honda NSX

After an 11-year absence filled with concept cars and canned projects, the beloved NSX moniker made its return this year.

The original NSX is widely considered to be one of the greatest handling supercars ever made, partly due to F1 legend Ayrton Senna providing his input into the development of the chassis, which means the new model has a lot to live up to.

Auto Express says it provides something new by offering a "tech-heavy hybrid-powertrain" that combines three electric motors with the petrol engine and feels "natural". But the NSX's engine sound on the road is a "disappointment" that's "rather dull and dreary below 4,000rpm".

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7 Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar entered the SUV market for the first time this year with the release of the F-Pace, several years after its rivals Porsche and Audi.

Starting at around £35,020 for the entry-level Prestige trim, drivers can get a 2.0-litre diesel engine with a manual gearbox and rear-wheel drive. There's also an all-wheel drive version, which is slightly more expensive at £36,960, but nearly £10,000 cheaper than a Porsche Macan. 

Luckily, the F-Pace has been quite a hit since it launched earlier this year. Auto Express says it's one of this year's must-have cars, mixing "huge desirability with great value" – the magazine has named it car of the year for 2016. Auto Express praises the car's styling, saying its eye-catching looks will be one of its biggest selling points. It also says that underneath the bodywork is an SUV that's great to drive.

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8 Mercedes-AMG C63 Coupe 

The AMG-fettled Mercedes C-Class coupe arrived in the UK earlier this year after the carmaker launched the saloon variant in 2015. 

Mercedes has moved away from the naturally aspirated V8 of the outgoing model in favour of a 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine that produces 503bhp. While enthusiasts have been disappointed by the muffled sound of newer turbocharged engines, Mercedes-AMG has fitted a valve to allow more of the engine car's natural burbles to come through.

"It offers a stonking soundtrack", says Top Gear, where drivers are treated to a "bass-laden barrage" overlaid "by a healthy array of snaps and crackles". It doesn't feel turbocharged, says the magazine. There is no noticeable lag and a "broad, vast, even sweep of power" when you put the power down. 

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9 Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster

Porsche decided that a revolution was needed for its popular Cayman and Boxster series, which received controversial new eco-friendly engines this year.

Gone is the iconic flat-six engine. In its place is a smaller, four-cylinder turbocharged unit. Purists may bemoan the switch, but there's no doubt that both cars now have more grunt. The entry-level engine is a 2.0-litre, developing 296bhp and 280lb-ft torque. S cars get a 2.5-litre chucking out 345bhp.

Critics were initially sceptical, yet all conclude that the 718 is another brilliant mid-engined Porsche. Auto Express gives the Boxster 718 a five-star rating, calling it "enormously rewarding to drive", while its more efficient engine "won't have you stopping at the pumps quite so often". 

While praising its handling and chassis balance, Evo says that the engine is "fairly characterless" and that the optional sports exhaust "doesn't improve once on the move”. 

You can find all the details about the Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster here.

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10 Porsche 911 R

Porsche announced the 911 R at the Geneva motor show as a toned down, limited edition variant of the stripped-out GT3 RS. 

The 911 R takes its name from the road-going special edition that was homologated for the Tour de France in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It features the same 4.0-litre flat six engine found in the GT3 RS and produces 493bhp, which rockets the 911 R to a top speed of 200mph. 

Car says that the 911 R is built exclusively for purists, featuring a manual gearbox and "one of the best production engines ever built". This doesn't mean the 911 R is particularly compromised, as "it’s a very usable machine" with suspension that doesn't "crash about" like other driver-centric sportscars.

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