Star cars for 2017

Mazda MX-5 RF, 2017, side
Jaguar I-Pace concept front action
Ford Fiesta ST-Line, 2017, front, action
Volkswagen Golf, 2017, front
Alfa Romeo Stelvio, 2016, Los Angeles auto show
Jaguar XF Sportbrake, 2017, camouflaged
Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport, 2017, side, action
Nissan Micra 2017
Land Rover Discovery, 2016, Los Angeles auto show
Paris Motor Show 2016, Honda Civic

NEW car sales in Britain are booming and buyers have never had it so good in more ways than one.

While 2017 looks to be a bumper year for new models including an all-new version of the nation's top seller, the Ford Fiesta, there are some stars in the making from unlikely sources.

Korean car maker Kia will be blazing a trail later in the year with a performance model to rival the likes of the BMW 4 Series and Alfa Romeo will be joining the SUV set with its new Stelvio.

Stalwarts due for replacement in the coming months include the BMW 5 Series, a bigger MINI Countryman estate and at the luxury end of the market Audi will be rolling out its latest A8 saloon.

Land Rover too will be revitalising another iconic British model with the fifth generation of the Discovery - now moving upmarket almost into the Range Rover zone - arriving in the spring.

With personal contract plans enabling more and more motorists to get into the car of their dreams for only a few hundred pounds a month the new car market is changing considerably.

Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reveal that new car sales in the UK are at a record high with more than 2.5 million models being registered this year up to the end of November.

The Ford Fiesta remains the most popular model already notching up more than 112,000 sales putting it well ahead of its nearest rival, the Vauxhall Corsa on 73,000.

Ford revealed the new Fiesta last month at its European headquarters in Germany and it will be on sale in the spring.

What is different about the new model is a shift towards high end technology and big car levels of refinement in superminis, a trend sure to be followed by the likes of Nissan with its new Micra, also due to arrive early in the new year.

Kia will have a new player in small hatch market too with the updated Rio arriving late in January prior to the release of its new performance-oriented GT model towards the end of the year.

The GT, which is likely to include a feisty V6 engine in the line up, will have its world premiere in the next couple of weeks at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

British-built models are now in high demand and as well as the MINI and the new Discovery, Honda will be launching a new version of the Swindon-made Civic which is also due for release in the springtime ahead of a new hot hatch in the shape of the latest Civic Type R.

Jaguar will also be turning on the style with the next generation XF Sportbrake estate which is due in the summer while before the year is out it will be blazing a trail into the fast growing electric car market with the stunning I-PACE - a battery-powered SUV with a range of more than 300 miles on a single charge.

Another head-turner which is due to arrive before Easter is the Mazda MX-5 RF, the hardtop version of the world's favourite roadster. It has a foldaway metal roof and a fastback design which is going to set it apart in the sports car market.

Other models to watch for in 2017 include a heavily reworked Volkswagen Golf, Vauxhall's new - and larger - Insignia and a coupe version of the Range Rover Sport.

That one will be after a chunk of the performance SUV market which Alfa Romeo is targeting with the Stelvio, the Italian brand's first premium crossover and with high performance credentials to rival the likes of the Porsche Macan.

Economic uncertainties may still exist across the Euro-zone but for the foreseeable future the auto industry will remain a pillar of UK plc allowing drivers to enjoy the best models yet.

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