The best new cars coming in 2021

  • New model launches we’re most looking forward to in 2021
  • SUVs and electric cars continue to dominate
  • What does the year hold for the new car market?

The shape of the industry in 2021 may shift as the year progresses due to the rapidly-growing demand for electric cars and SUVs. We do know at least a few manufacturers' plans up front, and have rounded up 10 of the most interesting, important and eye-catching cars we’re looking forward to in 2021.

Keep an eye on this list, as we're continuously updating it.

> Audi Q4 E-Tron
> BMW i4 Gran Coupe
> BMW iX
> Cupra Born
> Citroen C5 X
> DS 9

> DS 4
> Hyundai i20 N
> Hyundai Tucson
> Hyundai Ioniq 5
> Kia EV6
> Mercedes-Benz C-Class
> Mercedes-Benz EQB

> Nissan Qashqai
> Peugeot 308
> Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered
> Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo
> Skoda Enyaq iV

> Tesla Cybertruck

> Volvo C40 Recharge

Audi Q4 E-Tron

Audi Q4 E-Tron

Here's Audi's version of the Volkswagen ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq iV, and very promising it looks, too. it introduces some new technology and offers some choice in terms of price and range. Firstly, there will be three variants from launch, the 35, 40 and 50 quattro. Audi claims that Q4 E-Tron can get up to 328 miles on a charge and it will accept up to 150kWh charging.

There's plenty of choice, and this one looks sleek, classy and very modern. Pick from either the SUV or Sportback versions depending on your own taste when it goes on sale in June 2021. Expect a price tag for the entry-level Q4 e-Tron 35 to start at around £37,000, although in true Audi style, optioning it up will no doubt see the price escalate massively.

BMW i4 Gran Coupe

BMW i4 Gran Coupe (2021)

The new i4 Gran Coupe is a sleek four-door electric saloon that BMW says will offer up to 367-miles of range in a 3 Series-sized package, making it a natural rival to the Parkers Car of The Year-winning Tesla Model 3 and the Polestar 2.

There's not too much been revealed about the car yet, as it's been shown three months ahead of schedule. It's very similar to last year’s Concept i4, which introduced a number of new BMW i styling elements. But overall, it's a safe-looking design that shouldn't scare off existing BMW customers who are looking to switch to electric cars.


BMW iX (2021) front view

This is BMW’s new electric car flagship, the all-electric SUV iX. As you can see from the accompanying images, it's certainly a divisive-looking vehicle – which is great if you fall on the side of those who like its styling. It's set to go on sale in the UK at the end of 2021.

BMW will initially offer the iX in two model variants, and the numbers BMW has released so far are very impressive indeed – it claims it’ll extract 373 miles of range from its 100kWh battery, with a 0-62mph time of less than five seconds thanks to a combined 500hp.

Citroen C5 X

Citroen C5 X (2021) front view

Big Citroens always intrigue, so this one, which replaces the old C5 and the larger C6, has already sparked a lot of interest. It's an interesting car that combines the best attributes of an estate, saloon and an SUV and melds them into a spacious, practical, good-looking and high-riding motor.

It's based on the same platform as the Peugeot 508 and is powered by a range of PureTech petrol engines, with plug-in hybrid models avaliable from launch – there will be no diesels. The C5 X is due for launch in the UK towards the end of 2021 and will be just about the most expensive car in Citroen’s range – the anticipated starting price will be around £27,000. As such, the Citroen C5 X is an left-field take on the big French car.

Cupra Born

Cupra Born (2021) front view

The Cupra Born is an electric hot hatch based on the same technology as the Volkswagen ID.3, and is powered by a 77kWh battery pack that is claimed to offer a range of up to 310 miles. It should deliver 160-miles worth of change in 30 minutes on the latest high-capacity rapid chargers.

Cupra says that it has a nippy 0-31mph time of 2.9 seconds, which should mean the el-Born will feel pretty quick off the lights in town. It's a performance-badged EV as you'd expect from Cupra – and sports a sharp new look inside and out.

DS 9

DS 9 (2021) front view

The DS 9 is a full-sized saloon that's based on the excellent Peugeot 508, and its maker is confident that it will shade its German rivals in comfort. It’s not the most innovative car on the outside, but jump in and you’ll find a stylish interior with electrified power under your foot.

It straddles two classes, so its rivals include plusher versions of the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4 as well as the lower-powered 5 Series, E-Class and A6 models. It's a tough market, so the DS needs to carve itself a niche all of its own…

DS 4

DS 4 (2021) main image

DS Automobiles is rolling out a new family car that's positioned between its 3 and 7 Crossbacks. It's aimed to appeal to buyers looking for something a little taller than a more traditional premium hatchback, such as the Audi A3 but don't want to go the whole hog with an SUV.

The DS 4 will be available in regular form and as the DS 4 Cross - an SUV-themed version with a few design tricks to make it look like it’s beefier and taller, even though it isn’t. They’re both available with a wide choice of interior and exterior finishes, but there’s also a trim package called Performance Line that DS regards as a separate third version. Step this way if you're just looking for something different than the norm.

Hyundai i20 N

2021 Hyundai i20 N

The Ford Fiesta ST is one of our favourite cars here at – so the prospect of a very real rival to it from Hyundai is one that makes us tingle. Aiming to bring some of the magic of the brilliant i30 N to a smaller package, the Hyundai i20 N looks the business, with a racy makeover helping it stand out.

Its 1.6-litre engine will produce 204hp paired to a six-speed manual gearbox, and there’s plenty of clever tech – rev-matching, a limited-slip differential and launch control – to help drivers make the most of all that shunt. If it’s anything like as good as its bigger brother, we look forward to the i20 N taking the fight to Ford in the early portion of 2021.

Hyundai Tucson

2021 Hyundai Tucson

The Tucson is a great example of Hyundai gaining its second wind. For years now it’s made sturdy, reliable cars that are great to own, but not exactly easy to covet. The old Tucson’s a shining example of this, being objectively great but about as desirable as denim underwear.

Put it next to the new car and you’d swear they weren’t even related. Where once was dull and bland sits shiny, eye-catching and bang up-to-date, with hybrid powertrains, a high-tech interior, and LEDs on every unadorned surface. It’s proof that a boring, mid-sized SUV doesn’t necessarily have to look like retirement home transport. First drives are promising, and it goes on sale in the spring of 2021.

Hyundai Ioniq 5 

Ioniq 5 (2021)

Hyundai's amazing-looking all-electric Volkswagen ID.4 rival, the Ioniq 5, has been revealed - bringing with it concept car looks, clever tech, and weird boasts about how practical it is. Going on sale in the summer of 2021, top spec cars will cost £45,000. Expect cheaper models to come along soon after.

Hyundai is giving you the power of choice with two power outputs that are linked to two different battery sizes (58kWh and 72.6kWh), and two drive options (rear- or all-wheel drive). The one with the most range is the 72.6kWh rear-driven option that claims up to 300 miles on a charge, while the fastest one can sprint to 62mph in 5.2 seconds. All power variants are capable of a 115mph top speed.

Kia EV6

Kia EV6 (2021)

The Kia EV6 is an all-new electric car built on the company's all-new electric platform. You'll be able to buy one before the end of 2021. It's a five-door, mid-sized electric car, and looks roughly the size of a Nissan Qashqai or perhaps an Audi Q5 Sportback. Kia says the range is more than 300 miles, and the 0-62mph time is 3.5 seconds with all-wheel drive and twin motors.

Technical details are yet to be confirmed, but as it's closely related to the Hyundai Ioniq 5 (above), we can assume it will have the same 58kWh and 72.6kWh batteries. In that car, a charging time of 18 minutes (to 80%) on 350kW is quoted, plus the ability for the car to provide power back to the house - to act as a power bank - is already confirmed for the EV6.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Mercedes-Benz C-Class (2021) saloon

We’ll forgive you for thinking you’ve seen this before, but you’re looking at the first official pictures of the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon and Estate. With styling that apes the much larger, more luxurious S-Class, this is the fifth-generation of Mercedes to wear the C-Class nameplate.

The 2021 C-Class promises to be a technologically advanced range of upmarket-but-compact cars. We’re yet to see precisely what equipment is standard or optional, but it will come with a range of petrol, diesel and hybrid motors – you'll be able to order one from 30 March 2021, with deliveries to take place in the summer.

Mercedes-Benz EQB

Mercedes-Benz EQB (2021) front view

The Mercedes-Benz electric car roll-out gather pace. This is the EQB, which is effectively a battery-powered version of the excellent GLB. It comes as standard with seven seats and it has a similar design to the GLB, including plastic body cladding, but there’s a distinctive gloss black grille found on other EQ models and a full-width taillight bar at the back.

The EQB has been revealed for the Chinese market first, but it’ll be arriving in the UK later in 2021, so it’s not too far off. The fact that it’s a seven-seater means it has a unique selling point in a market that’s already becoming crowded.

Nissan Qashqai

Nissan Qashqai (2021) front view

The 2021 Qashqai gets an all-new look – and under its sleek new bodywork is a whole host of tech to bring it bang up to-date. The big-selling family SUV now boasts an all-new e-Power hybrid system, new gearbox options and not a diesel engine in sight.

The big news is that Nissan will continue to be built in its Washington plant in the north east of England. The interior gets a fully customisable TFT screen, plus, a head-up display. There's a new 9.0-inch infotainment system too, with wireless Apple CarPlay, Google street view, and the option of Amazon Alexa.

Peugeot 308

Peugeot 308 (2021) front view

The next-generation 308 hatchback gets a bold new look and brand identity, as its maker tries to cement its reputation as a challenger for the all-conquering Volkswagen Golf. The new 308 is larger and more fuel-efficient than before, with plug-in hybrid options as well as a radical new-generation of tablet-inspired infotainment inside.

The 308’s styling is handsome but predictable: the LED fangs, shiny grille accents and rear claw lamp details are familiar from other Peugeots. The profile is also remarkably faithful to the outgoing car’s. It goes on sale towards the end of 2021, with a likely price starting from £22,000, with an SW estate to follow, and power from petrol, diesel and hybrid engines.

Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered

2021 Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered

Anyone who holds fond memories of Peugeot’s GTI-badged cars can’t help but be excited for the return of a sporty sub-brand to the French manufacturer’s books. The 508 Sport Engineered certainly looks the business, with mean styling and bright green highlights setting the template for future models – but it also promises to be a rather exciting proposition.

That’s helped by a plug-in hybrid drivetrain offering more power than any road-going Peugeot in history – capable of 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds yet up to 139mpg if you take it on short journeys and keep the battery topped up. As a flagship, we already rate the 508 very highly, and we can’t wait to see what Peugeot can do with it given free rein to make it sporty.

Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo (2021)

Porsche has expanded the appeal of its brilliant Taycan electric car range with the arrival of a slightly ruggedised five-door estate-bodied version called the Cross Turismo. Mirroring the Taycan range, the Cross Turismo offers a 4, 4S, Turbo and Turbo S versions with differing levels of performance.

The standard 4 is not exactly slow, with a 0-62mph time of 5.1 seconds thanks to the 380hp twin-motor setup; the large battery allows a range over 300 miles including city driving, and over 250 miles with a typical mix. The Cross Turismo adds practicality, trendy rugged style and consistent performance.

Skoda Enyaq iV

2021 Skoda Enyaq

Naturally with the Volkswagen group being so hot on platform-sharing, it was only a matter of time before Skoda got its hands on the very latest electric tech. This is what it’s produced – the Enyaq, a hatchback-cum-SUV that’s the Czech brand’s answer to the ID.3 and ID.4, as well as other electric rivals such as the Kia e-Niro.

Early impressions are of something far more bold than we’re used to from Skoda – there’s a lit-up grille on top models, for example, and a huge 13.0-inch infotainment touchscreen. Top models will be capable of more than 300 miles between charges and later on we’re even expecting a hot vRS model. Your move, Volkswagen…

Tesla Cybertruck

2021 Tesla Cybertruck

No vehicle unveil of recent years has been more exciting than that of the Tesla Cybertruck – and perhaps that’s a good thing. After all, one too many post-apocalyptically-styled electric pickup trucks with performance to rival a supercar and a starting price to rival a family hatchback might start to go to our heads.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s typically outlandish promises are yet to be realised – and at the time of writing we’ve not even seen a production Cybertruck. But if it comes to fruition, the claimed 500 miles of range, sub-six second 0-60 performance and a towing capacity capable of shifting a small building. Deliveries are said to happen sometime in 2021, but it may be optimistic to expect that to be the case, especially in the UK.

Volvo C40 Recharge 

Volvo C40 SUV (2021) front view

It might effectively be a coupe-roofed version of the XC40 SUV, but the new C40 is highly significant for Volvo because it's the company's first car that will only be available online, and it's only available as an electric car.

There’s a 78kWh battery, two electric motors (one on each axle) for 408hp and all-wheel drive power, with Volvo claiming a range of 260 miles. Volvo says the C40 can be charged up to 80% in 40 minutes with a public rapid charger.

What else will the year hold?

With 2020 cementing ever further the need for car manufacturers to look to the future (the threat of a ban on combustion-engined cars in the UK having now moved even further forward), plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles have become staples of model line-ups, and it’s now far more of an event for a new model to be announced without one or the other than with.

>> Confirmed: Sale of new petrol and diesel cars banned by 2030

Another army that continues to march steadfastly on is the amassed forces of the SUV. Try as car enthusiasts might to dissuade the general public from these, they’re still some of the best-selling models around. Even the Volkswagen Golf, a worldwide best-seller for decades, now plays second-fiddle to the Tiguan in sales figures – a feat that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.

What else does 2021 have to offer? Well, it’s hard to say – the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic pushed many car manufacturer’s plans into disarray, as they postponed model launches or rethought their techniques amid tumbling sales and reduced workforces. The lasting effects of the pandemic may shape strategy for years to come, with homeworking made possible (and desirable) for vast swathes of the global workforce, and remote buying proving popular. Or, we may vaccinate, contain, and go back to normal as soon as possible.

>> Coronavirus (COVID-19): Advice and help for drivers

Further reading:

>> What Brexit means for the car industry
>> The best products for your car in 2021
>> Buy this, not that - alternative car purchases you could consider