STOP PRESS! The car news highlights of 2016

We round-up the car news that defined 2016 looking back at all the key new models and big consumer stories…

 

October 2016 car news

BMW’s sharper, lighter 5 Series ready for E-Class fight

The BMW 5 Series had been struggling to keep up with the likes of the new Mercedes E-Class and Jaguar XF. But back in October, the wraps were pulled off a lighter, faster and more economical all-new model. The crisp lines were given yet another evolutionary upgrade, although the real changes have occurred under the skin.

The new generation of the car switches to the CLAR platform that underpins the 7 Series, so it’s stiffer and lighter than the one it replaces. In addition, the latest model is larger, as the manufacturer looks to improve rear cabin space. Under the bonnet, the engine line-up focuses on diesels, with a new 520d that emits just 102g/km of CO2 in EfficientDynamics trim. But BMW has also introduced a plug-in hybrid; the 530e will mix a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and electric motor for CO2 emissions of just 46g/km.

Inside, a new 10.25-inch touchscreen and gesture control system are added; the latter allows you to alter volume and ‘swipe away’ unwanted phone calls with hand movements.

Countryman is the biggest MINI yet

The MINI Countryman proved such a surprise hit that the development of a successor was never in doubt. The second-generation vehicle revealed earlier this year is also the largest MINI ever produced – a model that can genuinely claim to be a family car.

Inside, it has the brand’s familiar circular-themed dashboard design and the usual switchgear. Four-wheel drive is offered across the range, while a plug-in hybrid edition with CO2 emissions of just 49g/km has been introduced. 

Grand plans for LYNK & CO brand

Chinese conglomerate Geely has huge plans for Europe – not just with its Volvo vehicles, but via a new brand called LYNK & CO.

The brand launched in October with a new SUV called 01, due on sale in the UK from 2018. It’s based on lots of the parts that’ll also underpin Volvo’s forthcoming XC40 baby crossover, but connectivity is a major theme as well.

A different customer experience is part of LYNK & CO’s philosophy, with online sales part of its offering.

We preview spacious new CR-V

Honda’S commitment to global products means we’ve already had a look at the new CR-V, even though this Nissan Qashqai rival isn’t on sale here until late 2017.

Launched first in the US, the next-generation model is longer and uses a version of the platform that’ll feature on the Mk10 Civic. Honda is also making big claims on interior space, saying the CR-V has the best rear legroom in its class.

Volvo the big winner at tech awards

The inaugural tech awards hosted by our sister website CarBuyer and the experts at Alphr.com showed how much difference the right sort of connectivity and infotainment can make to a modern car. 

Volvo was the big winner – it netted overall Tech Brand of the Year – while the Vauxhall Astra and VW Passat claimed the respective awards for Best Tech Cars below and above £25k.

October 2016 in numbers

  • 1977 - MoT cut-off date
  • Vehicles built in 1977 and before could become exempt from MoT testing after the Department for Transport announced a 40-year rule plan.
  • 3mm - Tread depth
  • New minimum tread depth wanted by campaigners who believe legal limit of 1.6mm isn’t safe enough.
  • 37% - Bodily injury cover
  • Percentage of insurance premium that goes towards bodily injury – the biggest slice. Annual policy costs have increased by 10 per cent over the past year.

 

November 2016 car news

Bigger, better Ford Fiesta continues its march upmarket

The Ford Fiesta has held steady as Britain’s best-selling car for seven years, so the launch of the all-new model in November was one of 2016’s biggest stories.  

With the seventh generation, the manufacturer has focused on modernising the supermini rather than revolutionising it. Design changes at the front aren’t radical,but it’s a longer, wider and more spacious car with a completely new rear end. 

Some of the biggest revisions are in the cabin. Ford has ditched the outdated and button-heavy vertical-stack centre console in favour of a cleaner, horizontal dashboard with new infotainment systems, including the option of a large central touchscreen.

It’s all part of a plan to push the Fiesta further upmarket, and as a result some of the more basic trim levels have been dropped. Sporty ST-Line and plush Vignale models will appear, as will a crossover-inspired version called the Fiesta Active. We expect the new entry-level Zetec model to cost from £14,000 when it goes on sale next summer.

Jaguar’s all-electric I-Pace wows the LA show

The Jaguar I-Pace concept was not just the star of the show at the LA Motor Show – it was one of 2016’s biggest reveals, and it fired the starting pistol on a bold new all-electric future for the firm. 

The I-Pace concept previewed a low, sleek, all-electric Jaguar SUV. We’ll see it in production form for the first time at the end of 2017, before it arrives in showrooms the following year. 

The concept uses a 90kWh lithium ion battery pack sat low between the two axles, both of which are fitted with electric motors to make the I-Pace four-wheel drive. The car, which was penned by design boss Ian Callum and his team, takes inspiration from the F-Pace SUV with subtle nods to Jaguar’s C-X75 concept in places – for example, the large front haunches. 

The production version should look almost identical, while the performance figures – 395bhp, 700Nm of torque and a 300-mile minimum range – will also be true of the I-Pace you’ll actually be able to buy. 

Alfa’s sexy Stelvio SUV breaks cover

2016 has been a big year for Alfa Romeo, with the new Giulia saloon being joined by the marque’s first-ever SUV, the Stelvio. So far, we’ve only seen the car in range-topping Quadrifoglio form. It will use the same 503bhp 2.9-litre turbo V6 found in the hottest Giulia, meaning it will go from 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds and reach a top speed of 177mph. 

At the other end of the range, the Porsche Macan rival will get the same petrols and diesels found in the Giulia. 

CX-5’s bold new look

The second-generation CX-5 is a big deal for Mazda – the car it replaces has been one of the firm’s top sellers since its introduction in 2012.  

The new model appeared at the LA Motor Show with a tweaked, more upmarket, more practical design plus a new interior and infotainment system. 

At the front it gets smaller headlamps but a much larger grille. It also has a flatter face, which helps to give it a much more imposing appearance. 

Golf gets new engines and tech kit

We got our first glimpse of the facelifted Mk7 VW Golf last month, and its mild visual updates meant the rejigged engine line-up and new tech were the big talking points. 

A 148bhp 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol will use cylinder deactivation for improved economy and lower emissions, while a 129bhp BlueMotion version is on the way, too. Traffic Jam Assist, Trailer Assist and new infotainment screens also appear. 

November 2016 in numbers

  • • 30,000 - Consumer complaints
  • Number of queries The Motor Ombudsman expects to field per year. It’s the new free consumer resolution service that’s a first for the automotive industry.
  • • £1.1million - Motorway fines
  • Total amount raised from fines by cameras on smart motorways across England’s road network.
  • • 12 per cent - New premium tax
  • Increased rate of Insurance Premium Tax announced by new Chancellor Philip Hammond in his Autumn Statement, as he also froze fuel duty

 

December 2016 car news

New Mercedes E-Class Coupe set for 2017 launch

Mercedes announced full details of its all-new Mercedes E-Class Coupe in December, ahead of it arriving in showrooms in April 2017. The BMW 6 Series rival will come with both petrol and diesel engines.

The design is heavily inspired by its smaller C-Class and larger S-Class siblings. The rear-end, in particular, has familiar stretched tail-lamps and the same rakish roofline, while everything from the A-Pillar back is bespoke to the two-door. Naturally, pillarless doors and LED lights all-round complete the upmarket appearance.

Toyota Yaris hot hatch on the way following WRC return

A hot Toyota Yaris is coming and is likely to be based on the facelifted Yaris that's coming in 2017.  Possibly making its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show, the car could use a more potent version of the Yaris hybrid’s petrol-electric set-up. Though, another option is the 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol that features in the C-HR crossover. That could produce up to 180bhp, giving the Yaris a motor to match the likes of the Polo GTi and Fiesta ST.

New 2017 Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport arrives

Vauxhall is aiming to fight back against the likes of the Skoda Superb and premium brands BMWMercedes and Audi with this bigger, hi-tech Insignia, which will arrive in UK showrooms in summer 2017.

The Insignia Grand Sport has seen its sales figures squeezed by the ever-increasing popularity of SUVs and the aggressive finance offers on cars like the 3 SeriesC-Class and A4. To counter this, Vauxhall is trying to make the Insignia (which still accounts for more than 12 per cent of its sales) a more spacious and sophisticated offering.

Click the links below to jump to a specific month in our review of 2016's big car stories...

January - February - March April - May - JuneJuly - August - SeptemberOctober - November - December

We hope you had a great 2016 and all the remains is to wish you another great year of great cars in 2017. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to get all the biggest, best car news and content first…

Auto Express Review of the Year 2016

Review of the Year 2016

• Car news highlights of 2016 • Best cars we drove in 2016 • Head-to-head: Best car group tests of 2016 • Best car videos of 2016 • Best motoring features of 2016 • Best bits of 2016 - by the Auto Express team • Ultimate car quiz 2016

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