Innovative tech isn’t the only thing that’s rapidly improving in the automotive world – we’re also being treated to some incredibly well-designed and aesthetic silhouettes as futuristic designs become more widely accepted. 2018 seems to be a good year for the average car buyer, too, since it’s not just the Italian sports car brands or luxury German sedans that will be making heads turn!
Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio
Alfa Romeo is most famed for its historically attractive coupes, so a 4×4 model (considering their sporty pedigree) is quite a surprise, but there’s a ton of sport hiding beneath its appealing curves. Underneath the bonnet is a 2.9 litre twin-turbo V6 that sends 375kW through an 8-speed transmission and all-wheel drive system. These specs took the Stelvio Quadrifoglio to an SUV-record time around the Nurburgring Nordschleife in September of last year, so this is clearly a car that can control and apply the power it produces. Unfortunately, it’s likely to be produced in extremely small volume, apparently 50 units, and be priced at around R1.8m – so don’t expect to see one in every mall’s parking garage.
The first generations of the Micra looked ‘eccentric’, to say the least. The slightly bug-eyed design and rounded lines looked a little like Nissan did their best impression of a VW Beetle. The updated 2018 model of the Micra sees the ugly duckling get a complete overhaul, with its appearance seeming to take a lot of cues from the sporty and low-slung designs that have been common from the likes of Ford, Volkswagen, and Kia for some time now. This move to a more youthful design will likely make the Micra a legitimate option in a segment dominated by the Polo and Fiesta… now all we need is a sporty hot-hatch version and the transformation will be complete.
This model is a favourite among old-school muscle car enthusiasts but the classic has been receiving a lot of upgrades to modernise it from top to bottom. It exchanges the blockier lines associated with its predecessors for a sleeker and more compact body. The shift from vintage classic to contemporary beast continues inside, where it features an all-digital 12-inch display that couldn’t look more different from the chrome dials and big gauges of yesteryear. The American manufacturers have also been doing a lot of tinkering to improve the performance of their V8 beasts, and the GT will match its brawn with a lot of brain in its Performance Pack.
Mercedes-Benz X Class
South Africa’s obsession with bakkies and 4x4s is no secret, so Merc’s decision to expand their range to include a bakkie platform seems like a no-brainer from a sales perspective. Considering how renowned the brand is for its refinement, both in terms of external design, but also interior trim, it should be no surprise that the X Class is going to up the ante when it comes to looks. Beyond it’s striking design, its cabin is probably going to resemble an executive’s sedan rather than your average handyman bakkie.
Lexus has a reputation for being a highly reliable but conservative brand, but it’s an image that they’ve slowly been edging away from over the last few years by introducing more aggressive and sleek design language to their cars. The latest iteration of the LS continues their departure from stodgy and bulky sedans with its hunched stance and sloping lines. The focal point is its extremely aggressive grill that seems borrowed from their supercar screamer, the LFA. The Germans and Italians should watch out, it looks like Lexus is about to add eye-catching looks to their dependability.