Revving Up

The 9 Hottest Cars To Launch In 2021

If you’re a high-octane-fuelled enthusiast of fun cars that deliver beastly performance, you’ll like the slate of 2021 releases that range from dishy sports cars to our favourite anti-heroes.

Audi E-tron GT

This may be the token electric vehicle on our list but what a firecracker it is. For starters, there’ll be a RS version of the GT — touted as Audi’s new flagship — which promises to be even more powerful and should clue you in on the intended target of Audi’s four-door fastback sports sedan. 

Like the Porsche Taycan with which the Audi shares its electric car platform, the low-slung and dramatic e-tron GT sits on cutting-edge 800-volt architecture and is expected to deliver a scintillating drive.

Bentley Bentayga W12 Speed 

What do you think of a two-and-a-half-tonne SUV demolishing the 100km/h sprint in under 4 seconds? Or its 305km/h top speed? Those are mighty impressive figures for the even mightier 12-cylinder-engined Bentayga Speed, as the standard Bentayga W12’s twin-turbocharged 6.0-litre is tuned to deliver a savage 635hp and 900Nm for the ultimate in cross-country grand tourer performance regardless of weather or road condition. 

The new front and rear light clusters bring the Bentayga’s looks in line with its current Continental GT and Flying Spur stablemates, while the cabin gets an updated infotainment system on top of the already impressive array of trim, material and equipment options.

BMW M3/M4 

BMW’s controversial grille-gate has polarised opinion over the front styling of the standard new 4 Series (the regular 3 Series doesn’t feature this), but in the case of the fire-breathing M variants, both M3 and M4 will feature the prominent grille. 

And more power to them we say. The brand’s iconic kidney grille has evolved with the times and perfectly complements the muscular styling of BMW’s M3 and M4 coupe. One thing’s for sure, they aren’t going to get lost in the sea of increasingly homogeneous cars on the roads these days. 

Apart from the sedan and coupe, an M3 Touring can be expected in due course, marking the debut of the first-ever M3 station wagon. Like its other M brethren, there’ll be even higher-performance Competition versions of the M3/M4 bound for Singapore, which sees the inline-six 3.0-litre tuned to a massive 510hp and 650Nm of torque. The M3/M4 will be available in a choice of all-wheel or rear-wheel drivetrains.

Ferrari Portofino M 

The “M” stands for Modificata, which is a lot more evocative than saying “facelift”. The Portofino M gets slightly sportier looks, but more important is the added punch from the turbocharged 3.9-litre V8 to the tune of 620hp and 760Nm, as well as the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission to replace the Portofino’s seven-speeder. 

In a bid to overcome the Portofino’s “softer” image and in a first for a GT Spider model, Ferrari has included race mode to the Portofino M’s steering wheel Manettino switch (just like on its big brothers), which lets you toggle between four other drive programmes. 

It’ll be one of two Ferrari Spiders expected in 2021; the other is the 1,000hp petrol-electric hybrid SF90 Spider.

Lamborghini Huracán STO

Some brands have both proper limited editions as well as those that simply flaunt trick trims and fancy colours. In the case of the Lamborghini Huracán STO (or Super Trofeo Omologata), you don’t even have to take a magnifying glass to the spec sheet to appreciate that it means business — and we mean serious GT3-racecar-for-the-road business. There’s a lot more to the STO than the big wing and roar the naturally-aspirated V10 will make when roused to anger. 

For starters, the lightweight track-ready STO is served with a lot of trick features, like rear-wheel steer, torque vectoring and Magneride, but most crucially, is applied to the enthusiast-preferred rear-drive platform as opposed to the all-wheel-driven Performante. 

Apart from its extensive use of carbon fibre and other lightweight components, the STO ditches the frunk completely and features a “cofango”, where front bonnet, wings and bumper blend into one panel for weight savings, better air-flow and ruthless aerodynamics.

Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman GTS 4.0 

Everyone’s waiting for the new (Type 992) 911 GT3, but the arrival of (and return to) a naturally-aspirated flat-six for the 718 GTS range has also sent enthusiasts into a tizzy, because it marks a welcome break from the flat-four engines that Porsche started using in the 718 range.

Like the top-shelf hard-edged 718 Cayman GT4 and Boxster Spyder models, the Cayman and Boxster GTS that sit a rung lower also see service of the revvy 4.0-litre flat-six engine, and will be available in both six-speed manual and PDK dual-clutch transmissions. 

Long-time fans of Porsche’s compact and supremely agile Boxster/Cayman sportscars since the launch of the range more than two decades ago will be pleased to hear the familiar flat-six soundtrack accompanying their corner-carving.

Lexus LC 500 Convertible 

The Lexus LC 500 is an understated, underhyped sportscar that is animated by one of the last great high-revving naturally-aspirated V8s. 

When the elegant soft-top convertible arrives in 2021, you’ll get to enjoy the unadulterated orchestral manoeuvres of the V8 soundtrack as you explore both your favourite series of corners, as well as the upper reaches of the charismatic engine’s rev-band. 

The LC 500 convertible is more than just another pretty face; it has striking good looks with plenty of “go” to accompany the “show”.

Land Rover Defender 90 

The Defender is Land Rover sticking it to the establishment, but if you think this means it sticks out like a sore thumb in the city, you would be wrong. It’s perfectly at home in the rough as it is trawling around the concrete jungle. 

Its rugged chic and genuine off-road ability transcend time and class, and there’s a reverse snob appeal to rocking up in one of these to the hotel valet. Bonus points if it’s muddied up, because these look even better when used and abused. 

The three-door Defender 90 that’s expected in 2021 is a short wheelbase version of the 110 that was launched in 2020. The third jump seat in the middle up front is a neat party trick that’ll have your kids fighting over who gets to sit in front.

Toyota GR Yaris 

This is the perky, phat-flared hot-hatch everyone is watching out for, including supercar owners and the like. 

Why? It is a true motorsports homologation model (and fettled by rally legend Tommi Makinen no less), which means it is the same car that was supposed to have been campaigning in the World Rally Championship. 

Think the GR Yaris is just another Toyota? Well, this is the sort of thoroughbred pedigree that appeals to purists and petrolheads, but probably less so to fair-weathered enthusiasts. 

At its heart is the world’s most powerful production three-cylinder engine, a turbocharged 1.6-litre that produces 257hp and 360Nm to shift a pint-sized package that tips the scales at under 1.3-tonnes. Best of all, the GR Yaris is only available with a slick-shifting six-speed manual transmission.

This story first appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of A Magazine.

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