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Launch pad a hot spot

Hyundai is doing huge business and this week it has the successor to the Sonata - now with a trendoid i45 badge on the boot.

Three newcomers a week is way beyond the normal rate, even in a car world where 100-plus newcomers - everything from a facelift tweak to a full body change - hit showrooms each year.  Things were a bit quiet through March and April, but when the calendar flicked across to May the ships started landing with fresh new metal to tantalise anyone with a taste for something new in the driveway.

Everyone in the car business knows fresh metal is the best way to lure buyers into showrooms and, with demand running at near-record levels, the conversion rate right now is massive.

Hyundai is doing huge business and this week it has the successor to the Sonata - now with a trendoid i45 badge on the boot to try and break the dowdy Sonata pattern - with the tiny Euro-focus i20 in June.  We are also getting a first serious look at the Toyota Rukus, the first move in a plan to win Gen-Y buyers to the world's biggest brand, and Skoda has the station wagon stretch on its latest Superb.  Did I mention we're also having a first fang in the Porsche 911 GT3 RS at Phillip Island this week?

The real problem with so much new stuff is finding the space inside a weekly Carsguide. In today's edition we still have to clear the impressive new Suzuki Kizashi and the classy BMW 5 Series before we can move on to the next round.  The other good news is that the cars we are seeing are all potential contenders for the Carsguide Car of the Year award.

The Volkswagen Polo has already set the bar but the Kizashi will make the finals and so should the 5 Series. Later in the year we know Holden will have a VE Series II with star potential, Benz is about to uncork its Gullwing SLS, and the Jaguar XJ will arrive to take the British brand in a new direction.

And that 911 RS? Not a COTY contender, but only because it is far too narrow focussed with a scorecard that reads 100 per cent for thrills and pace but closer to zero for value and people carrying potential.

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