Motoring highlights of 2014

Land Rover Discovery Sport

Land Rover Discovery Sport - Credit: Archant

Kent Life’s Steve Loader looks back to a confident 2014 for the car world and takes a look ahead to some newcomers for 2015

A post-recession resurgence in the motor market during 2013 was led by those two great British marques, Jaguar and Land Rover.

Looking ahead to 2015, there’s a feeling of déjà vu: in 2013, the Jaguar Land Rover pairing – owned by tea-to-technology Indian conglomerate TATA – had created all-new versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, while Jaguar delivered the eagerly awaited F-Type sports car.

This year we will get the all-new Jaguar XE saloon and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

The XE will attack compact executive models from the ‘Big Three’ German premium brands: the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

It will be the first time Jaguar has crossed swords here since the ill-fated X-Type was axed in 2010, but created when Jaguar was still locked in a Groundhog Day styling loop, endlessly trying to recapture the 1960’s XJ6. It struggled to please the eye and its reception wasn’t helped by badge snobs and Jag traditionalists sneering at its front-wheel drive Mondeo underpinnings.

The XE represents an altogether different proposition with its largely aluminium body, rear-wheel drive and a stance adhering to the ‘grace, pace and space’ ethos of brand founder Sir William Lyons.

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Priced from £29,995, order books are open and launch customers will have their cars by May. Early buyers of the Discovery Sport (from £32,395) should be climbing into their new motor about the same time.

This is based on the hugely successful Range Rover Evoque, which has trebled sales expectations and turbocharged Land Rover’s resurgence. But while the Evoque is a kind of off-roader coupe, the junior ‘Disco’ – replacing the Freelander – is a more stylish 4x4 family holdall, able to carry up to seven, albeit fairly cramped seating for the third-row passengers.

The third star of the coming year is not British but ought to be: the Mazda MX-5 enters it fourth generation, having arrived here in 1990 as a homage to the 50s’ and 60s’ heyday of the British sports car, except that it was reliable and cheap to run.

Due shortly, the new car is the most stylish yet, with a hint of styling grit other incarnations have lacked. It retains the balanced front engine/rear drive layout and even better, the new MX-5 also bucks the current industry trend by being shorter and lower than its predecessor. n

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