With a new year upon us, the Roadshow staff took some time to look ahead and ponder the new vehicles that we're most excited about driving in 2019. We came up with a diverse list with not only the expected things like sports cars and a wicked truck, but also a funky crossover, an EV and even a motorcycle.
Being present at the birth of a new car brand is something special. I made it over to China to see the reveal of the Polestar 1 -- the brand's first production model -- last year, and I've been eagerly awaiting the chance to drive this slipstream plug-in hybrid coupe ever since.
The Polestar 1 builds on parent company Volvo's recent design chops and adds in a 600-horsepower, 738-pound-feet of torque plug-in hybrid powertrain. With a claimed 93 miles of all-electric range on Europe's NEDC test cycle, even when accounting for the US' stricter testing methodology, it'll have the best e-range of any PHEV on the market.
Combine that with elegant two-door looks, Öhlins dual-flow dampers and big Akebono brakes, and the Polestar 1 should stop and handle as well as it looks -- and that's very well, indeed.
Every time I drive a 911, I'm reminded why it's the benchmark by which all other sports cars are measured. It's been like that for generations. And I have every reason to believe the new car will be just as impressive.
Jake Holmes put together this incredibly detailed deep dive into the 2020 Porsche 911 Carrera S, where he says the car has "more of everything: more speed, more grip and more technology to help you go faster." Sounds good to me.
I'm really warming up to the 911's design, too. The full-width taillights are super slim, and I like how the car hasn't grown too much in this new generation. It might be a little heavier than before, but it's poised to be a great-driving coupe. I'm stoked.
Maybe it's because I've been hearing about the return of the Supra for so long. Maybe it's because of its striking proportions. Maybe it's because Tim Stevens came back with such positive things to say about the prototype. Either way, I'm looking forward to driving the 2020 Supra.
With a twin-turbo inline-six engine and rear-wheel drive, the Supra certainly has the pedigree to make a good sports car. A cynic might say it's just a rebadged BMW Z4, but we know that the Supra and Z4 were actually engineered separately. The Supra nameplate has lots of heritage, and in recent years Toyota has shown that it, once again, knows how to make not-boring cars. So color me optimistic that the new Supra will be a blast.
Full details will be revealed in just a few weeks' time at the Detroit Auto Show. And after that, I'll be angling to get behind the wheel of Toyota's latest and potentially greatest sports coupe as soon as I can.
We haven't seen a Jeep Wrangler-based pick-up since the Scrambler, built from 1981-86, but that doesn't mean Jeepers ever stopped yearning for a Wrangler that could actually, you know, tow and haul stuff. Enter the Gladiator.
Approach angle remains the same, but breakover and departure angles decrease to 20.3 and 27 respectively for a Gladiator in Rubicon trim. You can thank an extra 30-plus inches of overall length for that. Still, those aren't terrible numbers and I expect the Gladiator will get to 90 percent of the places a Wrangler can get to without much of a problem.
Details are limited at the moment, but Ford has confirmed that the new car will pack north of 700 hp from an engine with a whopper of a supercharger bolted on top of it. That will put the new snake in Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat power territory.
All will be revealed when it's officially uncovered at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, but I'm imagining more buttoned-up handling now that the Mustang is rocking an independent rear suspension. That should let it deal with bumps at high speeds better than the previous cars, which is a good thing because 700-plus hp will probably have it rocketing down the road more often than not.
It might not be the most dazzling choice on this list, but the Kia Soul is a wunderkind of packaging and I've always loved it.
The last Soul was pretty good to drive, and easy enough on the eyes, and the new model should provide dramatic improvements to both dynamics and aesthetics.
Best of all, the Soul EV is back, too, taking the standard Soul and swapping out the powertrain with an all-electric one. EVs that look like real cars still have a soft spot with me.
It's been a painfully long time coming, but barring any additional delays, the midengine Corvette will make 2019 one of the most historically significant years not just for the Corvette nameplate, but also for the entire automotive kingdom.
The current ruler among Corvettes is the 755-hp ZR1. For around $120,000 starting, the King of the Hill gives you McLaren-rivaling performance for less than half the price of a 720S. It'll be interesting to see how much sharper a midengine, rear-drive platform can boost the already stellar front-engine, rear-drive Corvette.
Over the past decade, GM has been pumping out some world-class performance machines, so I have high expectations for the midengine Corvette, which may end up costing $150,000. If it can beat the performance of European supercars costing more than $300,000, it will be the greatest performance bargain since the 2009 Nissan GT-R.
I love midsized adventure bikes and the new unit from Italian firm Moto Guzzi promises to be a good one. Its 850cc transverse V-twin engine should put out around 80 hp, which keeps it competitive with offerings from BMW and Triumph. Guzzi's excellent build quality and a class-exclusive shaft final drive make it look like something special.
The V85 will continue Guzzi's theme of offering modern bikes with classic styling, but unlike the V7 III or the Griso, the V85 will have fully digital instrumentation and a suite of modern rider aids.
The midsized adventure bike is generally the perfect weapon for commuting through a city and the V85 looks like it will hew to that quite well. It's tall, relatively narrow and has beefy brakes and suspension, perfect for soaking up LA potholes and pavement heaves. The Guzzi folks plan to sell it for a hair over $13,000, which makes it a really exciting proposition.