As an unashamed M3 fan, the prospect of a new one in 2020 is really exciting. Having started at PH in 2013, it wasn’t long before hype around the old ‘F80’ car was reaching fever pitch; I was absorbing every tech detail, watching every video, analysing every pic. Over the past five years I’ve been lucky enough to drive a few; sometimes maddening, sometimes magnificent, these twin-turbo M3s have always been memorable at the least. If this next 3 Series flagship can retain the ferocity and excitement, while melding them with the qualities found in more recent M cars, then I think we’re in for a really special super saloon. The M2 CS has gone some way to absolving BMW of some recent misdemeanours; if the M3 is good I can forget the X4 M even exists. And the X7. And that grille…
The remarkable nature of Lewis Hamilton’s F1 dominance has to be one of the most overlooked sporting accomplishments of the past decade. Far too frequently taken for granted, or attributed to simply being in the best car, it is in reality the inevitable result of an incredible natural ability and a supremely unnatural level of focus finding their home in the same person.
With a cooler head in his rookie season, or a little less bad luck in 2016, he could already have equalled or even surpassed Michael Schumacher’s seven driver’s titles. His ability is seemingly far from diminishing, though, and he remains just one championship and seven race wins away from equalling the German’s all-time benchmarks. We wouldn’t bet against Hamilton and Mercedes continuing their form into the final season of the current regs, leaving the Brit in pole position to at the very least match Schumacher’s tally before F1 is turned on its head in 2021. And from there, who knows what he could yet achieve…
The Mk3 Ford Focus RS gave us far more than just a Blue Oval contender for the super-hatch segment. When it arrived in 2016, the 350hp five-door gave us something called Drift Mode, a setting that has since been pinched by other brands in cars ranging from the AMG A45 right up to the McLaren 720S. Torque vectoring and increasingly permissive stability control was already a thing, of course, but no-one in the mainstream dared go after the concept quite as brazenly as Ford - or as successfully.
The introduction of an electrified powerplant might not give the Mk4 RS quite the same level of emotional appeal right out of the gate, but it ought to allow for a sizeable boost in performance with an anticipated 400hp peak output. Couple that A45-beating punch with an injection of Ford lairiness – this is the company that still builds the thunderous V8 Mustang and brilliant Fiesta ST – and it ought to be quite the animal. That’s why in 2020, the year when Porsche’s 992 GT3 arrives, I’m most excited for what’s to come from Ford’s next hot hatch.
Yes, it’s already being built, and yes, it’s possible that you might already be bored of it - the build-up to its reveal was certainly a tortuously long process. But we must give Land Rover some rope here: it’s not often that you go about the business of replacing a car that can definitively trace its roots back to 1948, or one which is universally accepted to be an icon of the British motoring industry.
Jeep and Toyota Land Cruiser aside, the outgoing Defender suffered no genuine rival to its hallowed, time-worn position. The new one though, will have many. Modern SUVs are two-a-penny, astonishingly capable and expertly positioned to fit into family life. To truly succeed, the latest Defender will have to do all that and still seem true to its badge in a way that entirely eludes most manufacturers. It is the tallest of tall orders. But the faces of Land Rover’s engineers says they’ve done it. I can’t wait to find out if it’s true.
It can be hard to get excited about electrification, especially when it comes to the mainstream bits of the market it is likely to fill with humming A-to-B appliances. But the technology does have the potential to unlock a whole new level of performance car. Lotus looks set to win the race for a market-ready EV hypercar with the 2,000hp Evija being delivered to customers by the summer. It’s easy to be cynical about what will be Lotus’s most expensive and heaviest ever car – certainly this side of the SUVs – but it’s also not hard to see the superstar appeal of something that will be able to out-accelerate a McLaren Senna. I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
If the 2020 World Rally Championship title fight looked any more delicious I would have snaffled it whole by now. Had 2019 champion Ott Tanak stayed put at Toyota I would have bet the house on him winning the title for a second year running, but his surprising switch to Hyundai throws the whole lot up into the air.
Estonian Tanak will now be teammates with Thierry Neuville, the Belgian ace who ran Tanak closer than anybody else in 2019. Neuville will feel under enormous pressure to top the drivers’ standings come the end of the season: runner-up four years on the bounce has got to hurt.
Meanwhile, at Toyota we have the prospect of six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier, in his last season in the WRC, duking it out with our very own Elfyn Evans. I won’t go so far as to say who’ll come out on top, but I most certainly will predict fireworks.