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Cars to look forward to in 2021

The best of the new metal coming in the new year

The new Skoda all-electric SUV, the Enyaq iV

The whole concept of “looking forward to things” has taken a bit of a turn this year. Locked up in our houses and our homes, we’ve had little else to do in 2020. Thankfully, though, as the year draws to an agonising end, the future is looking a little brighter. With hopeful signs of vaccines on the horizon, maybe we can really, truly start to look forward to 2021. Whatever happens there’s going to be a bumper crop of new cars to which to look forward to.

Not surprisingly – indeed rather needfully – many of those will be electric, and the one that has us the most excited of all is Ford’s Mustang Mach-E. Originally we should have been seeing the first versions of this new all-electric SUV arrive in-country around now, but delays have occurred, and if you need to ask why you clearly haven’t been paying attention.

The Mach-E (the name is a play on the 1970s Mustang Mach-1 coupe) is not just Ford’s first fully-fledged electric car effort, it also marks a major change for the Blue Oval. The “Tesla-rrati” often mock the likes of Ford for being a “legacy” car-maker, too big and too old to think and react in the agile, modern world of electric car-making. Ford, in response, established “Team Edison” – a “skunk-works” squad dedicated to creating a truly exciting, desirable, electric Ford.

The Mustang Mach-E – a sleek-looking SUV that takes obvious and largely successful styling cues from the Mustang coupe – is the result, and it’s coming gunning for Tesla in a big way.


It will be offered with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive, single or twin electric motors, a one-charge range of up to 540km (with even longer-range versions in the offing), a starting price of less than €50,000, and a 5.1sec 0-100km/h time to truly justify that Mustang name. Considering that you won’t find a single Ford badge anywhere on it (only the Mustang running pony) it could be a major game-changer for one of motoring’s oldest brands.


Speaking of Tesla, the Californian upstart startup won’t be taking things easy either. The new Model Y – a crossover based on the hugely successful Model 3 – is arriving any day now, and we should also see some progress on the new Roadster (with its claimed 1,000km range and 2.1sec 0-100km/h time) and the controversial Cybertruck during the year.

The chance of either of those making it to Irish shores in 2021 is slim-to-doubtful at best, but we should see an updated Model S saloon with a more powerful three-motor setup and a longer range figure.

On the half-electric front, Alfa Romeo will be launching its new Tonale compact SUV in  2021, with a plugin-hybrid powertrain. Will part-electric power be enough to bring Irish buyers back to a brand they have long since shunned? Only one way to find out…

Audi also has multiple electric launches pencilled in for 2021, including the exciting e-Tron GT saloon (effectively a Porsche Taycan with an Audi body on top) and the new Q4 e-Tron SUV. That Q4 is just one of three new VW Group electric SUVs all launching next year, and all boasting at least 400km of one-charge range.

The first and arguably the most important is Volkswagen’s own ID.4, clearly related to the impressive ID.3 hatchback which is already on Irish roads. Given that the Tiguan SUV already outsells the Golf hatch, expect to see this one at or near the top of the sales charts.

Mind you it will have its hands full of the new Skoda Enyaq iV SUV, which uses the same all-electric chassis and powetrain, and will cost from €38,700 (depending on SEAI grants) when it goes on sale here next June.


Speaking of electric SUVs, BMW will put its controversial new iX all-battery SUV on sale in late 2021, alongside the electric iX3 SUV, assuming that it can overcome a less-than-rapturous reception for its styling. Perhaps putting a better face on things is the equally-electric i4 four-door coupe, which goes on sale at around the same time. However, we can't help but be more excited by the prospect of a new, compact rear-wheel drive 2 Series Coupe.

Hyundai, which has repeatedly enjoyed best-seller status in Ireland in the past half decade, is going to have a busy time of it in 2021. There is a new i20 small hatch, a major facelift for the i30, an all-new Santa Fe, and a significant update for the Kona crossover in hybrid, petrol and electric forms.

Most excitingly – yes, we said exciting – is the prospect of a new Tucson SUV, which will not only now come with petrol, diesel, hybrid and plugin-hybrid powertrains but is also rocking a stunning new design which looks like a concept car just rolled right off a motor show stage and into showrooms.

Mercedes will be leaning heavily on the electric switch too, with plugin-hybrid versions pretty much across the entire range (including a new S-Class S580e with 100km electric-only range), plus fully-electric EQA hatchback and EQB SUV models, not to mention the big EQV people carrier and the potential king of them all – the 750km-ranged EQS luxury saloon.

Irish shores 

The historic MG brand is returning to Irish shores too with electric and plugin-hybrid SUVs and estates, and with the potential for a properly sporting coupe (a spiritual successor to the classic MGB maybe) in the offing.

Nissan will  have an all-new Qashqai (including a clever "E-Power" range-extender hybrid model) and the sleek-looking Ariya all-electric SUV. Enough to turn around Nissan's fortunes  in Europe?

Renault, long a partner of Nissan, is launching a bevy of hybrid and plugin-hybrid versions of the Clio, Megane and Captur, and will shortly launch its new Arkana coupe-SUV.

French rival Peugeot has its new high-performance 508 "By Peugeot Sport" plugin-hybrid model waiting in the wings, while its sister brand, Citroen, at last goes fully electric with the sleek-looking new C4 (which can also be bought with conventional petrol or diesel powertrains too).

Opel, recently also added to the PSA Group stable, will have its handsome new Mokka crossover (also available in petrol, diesel or electric forms), while we might also get our first taste of an all-new Opel Astra, boasting what the German car-maker promises to be "radical new styling" in 2021.

We already mentioned the Enyaq electric SUV, but Skoda will also be launching an all-new Fabia hatchback in 2021, as well as spreading out the range of the hugely impressive new Octavia with plugin-hybrid and sporting RS versions.

Sales gold 

Toyota will launch a plugin-hybrid version of the popular RAV4 SUV, boasting an impressive 300hp, and will likely strike sales gold with the cute-as-a-button new Yaris Cross small hybrid crossover.

Mind you our eyes (and ears and adrenal glands) will be focused on the scorchingly-hot new 261hp Yaris GR four-wheel drive hot hatch, effectively a rally car with number plates and a tax disc.

Hyundai's sister brand Kia will launch a still-secret new standalone electric crossover, as well as a plugin-hybrid version of the Ceed estate, and it has just put its handsome new Sorento seven-seat SUV on sale in both diesel and plugin-hybrid forms.

So much to look forward to. Now let’s just hope we can get out and enjoy it all.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring