Extrovert newcomers from the LA show…
… and a Mazda that’s probably too subtle for its own good. By James Taylor
A spin-off of the latest Jeep Wrangler, inspired by the 1963-1972 Gladiator J-series pick-up, the new Gladiator is a soft-top, twin-cab pick-up with load-hauling ability as serious as
its off-road credentials. It’s longer than the regular Wrangler, and has a fold-down windscreen, removable doors, electric front and rear diff locks and disconnectable anti-roll bars. Inside there’s a good amount of sophisticated tech, including
a pinch-and-zoom touchscreen, and there are already more than 200 official Mopar custom parts available. Expect it in the UK in 2020.
NEED TO KNOW
> What is it? Wrangler goes pick-up > Aimed at Those who like to transport their jetski/prunings with the doors off > Under the hood? Petrol or diesel V6 > Tech highlights Rubicon version gets forward-facing off-road camera > Worth getting excited about? If you like Jeeps, pick-ups and country music
Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro
Facelift time for the AMG GT, four years on. Both Coupe and Roadster get exterior and interior tweaks, with the slightly less cluttered centre console that debuted in the new AMG GT 4-Door, digital instruments and swipeable touchpads on the wheel. Headline act is the limited-edition track-focused GT R Pro. AMG claims lessons learned in its GT3 and GT4 racing exploits have been applied to its raciest grand tourer yet, with a built-in rollcage, racing-style coil-over springs and adjustable dampers, and an evil-looking aero kit. A road-legal GT racer, it remains light on practicality but highly alluring if you have a one-track mind.
NEED TO KNOW
> What is it? Motorsport-inspired range-topper for facelifted AMG GT line-up > Aimed at Those who want a sports car that isn’t a 911 > Under the hood?Turbo’d V8 with 577bhp > Tech highlights Stability control upgrade that’s near-psychic > Worth getting excited about? If the new 911 leaves you cold
Kia’s wilfully different high-rise hatchback is back. All-new and on sale in Europe in the first half of 2019, it has a frownier face, like a bored robot, but there’s no mistaking the silhouette. As before, a pure EV variant will be available with around 200bhp, a blanked-off grille and a built-in DC fast charger. As per the new Ceed, the Soul now features fully independent rear suspension and a 10.25-inch touchscreen media system. Still genre-confused as to whether it’s a hatch, MPV or crossover, the Soul’s singular appeal is undimmed.
NEED TO KNOW
> What is it? Mk3 of Kia’s boxy character car > Aimed at Iconoclasts, old folk > Under the hood? Various turbocharged engines and an EV > Tech highlights EV’s smart regen adjusts its braking level when it detects vehicles ahead > Worth getting excited about? Kia chassis get better with every new car
The Mazda 3 has always been overlooked in the family hatch market, a quietly excellent alternative to the usual suspects. Now it’s
back with a new platform and higher-aimed sights set on building Mazda’s global sales. As before it’ll be also be available as a three-
box saloon. Unlike before, there’s some intriguing new tech under
its singularly long bonnet. This is the first Mazda to feature the new Skyactiv-X compression-ignition engine, a petrol that can perform like a diesel under certain conditions, with potential big gains in economy. Maybe this time it’ll fly a little higher above the radar.
NEED TO KNOW
> What is it? Family hatch that’s all new except the name > Aimed at Buyers averse to the usual badges > Under the hood? Petrol (1.5- or 2.0-litre, hybrid option), Skyactiv-X, 1.8 diesel > Tech highlights All-wheel-drive option, torque vectoring > Worth getting excited about? Not so much excited as thoughtful