The 24 best new cars to buy right now

We probably don’t need to explain why this year’s crop of cars is a little smaller than usual. Sure, we’ve had a number of exciting new launches – some of which we’ll cover over the next few pages – but the annual auto harvest is a little more compact than it was a few years ago, with manufacturers carefully prioritizing product releases and manufacturing capacity. The pandemic, natural disasters, political upheaval and widespread supply chain disruptions have disproportionately hit the auto industry, which was already facing significant headwinds.

But somehow it doesn’t feel like there’s a real shortage of new cars to look forward to. Those for sale in this uncertain post-lockdown world are still phenomenally impressive as the world’s automotive engineers are still designing and building machines that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago.

The Hyundai Ioniq 5 looks straight out of a sci-fi comic and features an advanced electric powertrain that makes the once-futuristic 2009 Nissan Leaf look like a primitive toy. The new Audi RS3 is a hatchback with 395 hp – significantly more powerful than a Lamborghini Countach or a Ferrari Testarossa. And the Dacia Sandero, while extremely ordinary on a mechanical level, in reality is still more affordable than any car that was for sale in the 20th century.

And that ignores the relatively prosaic advances in safety and economy that continue to make our roads less dangerous and less polluted. Add to that the even smaller advances in comfort and technology that make the cars we find ourselves in just that little bit nicer. And for those of us who need a car to drive off-road, machines like the new Land Rover Defender feel like spaceships compared to the famous models before it.

Pretty much every car in this supplement is an improvement over the models we’ve featured over the last year. Because although the industry has been rocked by the storms we’ve all faced over the past 18 months, it continues to do what it does best – innovate.

Of course, this does not only apply to the automotive industry. Every day, engineers and designers in all fields are propelling humanity further into the future, often with more significant, more impactful results than the relatively small technological advances mentioned above. Medicine, computers, aerospace – we’ve all been following the news for the past few months and have been amazed by vaccines and rockets and all the other feats of engineering that make our world so remarkable.

The difference with cars is that you can go to a car dealership and buy the fruits of that process. Thousands of tremendously intelligent and highly skilled men and women have worked for years to build, for example, a car that can safely park itself, and now you can buy one. There are cars with hydrogen fuel cells. If you want a car that can cruise at 200 mph or accelerate from standstill to 62 mph in under four seconds, you can have one. Some cars can even read road signs, goodness gracious.

I could talk at length about the various developments that have been made available to us humble car buyers in recent years, but there would be little point; Most of us still buy a new car based in no small part on whim. But remember that behind every model for sale are thousands of people spending millions of days and billions of dollars, yen, euros and pounds making cars safer, cleaner, faster and better, year after year.

Best cars for performance

Chevrolet Corvette C8

Price from: £80,000 The 24 best new cars to buy right now

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