The end of the year is always a time for reflection. In motoring circles it’s often a time to look back on the best and worst cars of the year or lament the passing of favourite models.
But we’ve decided that the new cars of 2017 have had plenty of coverage already so we’re taking a trip further down memory lane.
In the first of three features looking back at cars of yesteryear we’re picking out some of the most notable new models release 10 years ago.
Keep an eye out for pieces looking at the new cars of 1997 and 1987 to follow soon.
It’s funny to think that at its launch some people questioned who exactly would buy Nissan’s crossover. The answer, it turns out, was pretty much everybody. The strange not-an-SUV-not-a-hatchback wasn’t the first model to blend a raised ride with a more car-like look and feel but it was the one that set the standard. In the decade since its launch it’s been revised and refined and pretty much every mainstream manufacturer has launched a road-focused pseudo-SUV to compete.
BMW started the retro car trend in 2000 with its not-mini MINI but it took other brands a while to catch on. In 2007 Fiat joined the party, taking the platform from its resurrected Panda and dressing it in a pretty frock. It could have been a badge-engineered disaster but the 500’s creators nailed the nods to the original 1950s model with cute looks and a stylish retro interior and paired it with award-winning engines to critical acclaim. Like the MINI and VW’s Beetle it’s been a smash with style-conscious buyers and in 2017 the two millionth car rolled off the production line.
Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione
Unveiled as a concept in 2003 and then shelved by Alfa’s Fiat overlords the 8C Competizione finally made it to production four years later. It was styled and named to evoke Alfa’s historic racing pedigree and had the chops to back it up. The carbon fibre-bodied 8C was powered by a 450bhp 4.7-litre Maserati-derived V8 and was praised for its sharp handling and high-speed performance. Not that many got to experience it. Only 500 coupes and 500 Spiders were built and it cost £112,000 new. Now, they’re hard to find but a Spider will set you back up to £220,000.
A strange counterpoint to the huge success of the Nissan Qashqai, the Koleos was Renault’s attempt at a road-focused crossover vehicle. It was based on the same platform as the Nissan X-Trail so still had some proper 4×4 ability and was generally regarded as a comfortable and capable family motor. But it failed to catch UK buyers’ imagination, selling only 2,600 examples before being pulled from sale in 2010. That might, or might not, have had something to do with looking like it had been designed by a drunk five-year-old. The name’s been resurrected this year on another X-Trail platform sharer which Renault will be hoping performs better.