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2016 has come and gone, and with the new year comes car brands revving their engines and keeping competitors at bay by giving their vehicles a facelift. Competition is welcome, indeed, for each has upped its game, be it implementing better weight distribution, introducing new alloys, or providing better infotainment systems for a smoother drive.
Here are the top six cars to look out for this year.
1. Alfa Romeo Giulia
The Alfa Romeo Giulia has been a bit of a long time in coming (it was first launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015), but that wait will soon end. Scheduled for a South-east Asian debut before the second quarter of 2017 is out, the saloon will arrive in a few variants, including the hot Quadrifoglio model.
The Giulia is shapely, as you would expect an Alfa Romeo to be, but it’s also packed with a host of new tech, which goes to show how invested the carmaker is.
There’s a new chassis which features plenty of high-strength steel and aluminium, plus a carbon fibre bonnet and boot lid.
2. Porsche Panamera
The styling of Porsche’s first four-door saloon proved to be deeply divisive when it made its debut in 2009, but the second-generation model seems to strike a far more conciliatory note. The new Panamera certainly looks far more elegant than the model it replaces, the four-door 911.
The first car to be built on the VW Group’s new MSB modular platform, the second-generation Panamera looks to be a class act – restrained, but still instantly recognisable as a Porsche. Serious though it may be, Porsche still did manage to inject a bit of cheekiness with the way its new split rear wing deploys.
That said, it’s the interior that steals the show. Leather, metal and beautifully moulded plastics come together to make for a cockpit that’s equally sporty and luxurious.
3. Mercedes-Amg E63
Perhaps the biggest appeal of AMG-fettled Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloons is the dichotomy between the inherent seriousness of a mid-sized saloon and the monstrous V8 engine within. The latest E63 does little to change that formula, with a four-litre twin-turbo V8 that develops 612bhp in E63 S guise.
Body styling is subtly muscular, with a sculpted bonnet, large rear diffuser and hunkered-down stance. Power is sent to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic gearbox, though this time around, both front and rear axles are driven, and a rear wheel drive-only option is not available. Also new is the inclusion of air-filled dampers as standard.
All that might point to how the new E63 is more grown-up than before, but given Mercedes-AMG’s recent track record, be prepared to withhold judgement until it arrives in the latter half of the year.
4. Lexus LC
The LC is nominally the successor to the stately SC, but it’s closer to the LFA supercar in spirit. Lexus says the LC was built with driver engagement in mind, with a lower seating position, a stiffer, lighter modular chassis and, in the interest of better weight distribution, the battery is now in the boot. Even more interesting is the inclusion of a 10-speed automatic gearbox, which Lexus says offers comparable shift times to dual-clutch transmission, but with the smoothness a conventional automatic provides.
5. BMW 5 Series
The outgoing F10-generation BMW 5 Series is the most commercially successful of all time – selling over two million units in its six years of production, which represents a whopping 42 per cent increase over the E60 model.
On paper, at least, the new 5 Series is set to deliver the goods. Taking many cues from the stellar 7 Series, it has a lightweight chassis that features exotic metals such as magnesium and titanium, a slew of more powerful, more efficient engines and an updated iDrive infotainment system.
It also gets a host of autonomous driving functions, allowing for lane-keeping, lane-changing and a hands-off traffic following function.
6. Audi A5
Now in its second generation, the A5 is a completely different car from the ground up, though it’s not apparent from merely looking at it. Sharpened lines, added creases and chrome embellishments just above the front wings aside, the casual observer might be fooled into thinking the new A5 is merely a facelifted model.
So far, the regular A5 and hotter S5, the latter equipped with a new turbocharged three-litre V6 (the preceding model used a supercharged three-litre V6) have been revealed. The RS5 is unannounced as yet, but it’s a fairly safe bet it will be equipped with the twin-turbo V6 that also sees service in the Porsche Panamera S. Expect this to land in South-east Asia in the first half of 2017.