This strange year is slowly coming to an end, and I think we can all agree that it hasn’t been the best start to a new decade one could imagine. But whereas back in March we thought the world was coming to an end, it luckily didn’t turn out to be the catastrophic year for the economy many predicted. Still, here in Switzerland for example, new car sales are so far down around 27% compared to 2019, so I think that from many aspects, things can only improve in 2021, starting with getting a certain virus under control. Based on recent news there seems to be good hope for that and in that spirit, let’s have a look at some of the most exciting sports cars coming out next year for your real or dream drives!
That electrification is here to stay is something you become acutely aware of when looking at next year’s sports car launches. From a supercar perspective 2021 is definitely an electric year with the below selection including two full EV’s, one hybrid and only one good old combustion engine. We’ll see in a year’s time when doing the same exercise if there are any interesting petrol cars left at all!
Starting in the middle of the drivetrain options and on the cheaper end, the Polestar 1 may be a model year 2020 but it won’t hit the roads until next year so we’ll include it here, also given how awaited and acclaimed it is. Polestar is obviously Volvo’s sports car brand, built not in Sweden but in China, and whereas the Polestar 2 is more of a Tesla Model 3 competitor, the Polestar 1 at an indicative entry price of around EUR 160.000 is intended to compete with the big boys in the coupé/GT segment.
The 2+2 coupé is built on a shortened version of the S90 platform, stiffened with lots of carbon, and its looks seem to have convinced every single motor journalist out there. I saw a prototype in Geneva two years ago and wasn’t fully convinced, but the design has grown on me from all angles except the back which I still think looks clumsy and very reminiscent of the S90. This obviously begs the question whether the car is only a Volvo in disguise, and the answer isn’t crystal clear.
From a drivetrain perspective, it’s pretty impressive. Polestar combines Volvo’s petrol 4-cylinder driving the front wheels, assisted by a 68 hp electrical starter motor, with two additional electrical motors driving the back wheels and adding a further 232 hp. Total power output is around 600 hp and obviously goes beyond anything Volvo has ever produced. From an interior perspective it looks like a Volvo, with only small modifications to a top-of-the-line V90 or XC90. That’s one of the best interiors out there in the SUV or family hatchback segment, but I think it may struggle in comparison with some luxury GT’s that Polestar likes to mention as competitors.
In tests the Polestar has been said to drive well in a rather stiff, GT kind of way, and the combination of petrol and electrical engines is said to work seamlessly. It seems to roar quite nicely (artificially or course). but the attraction obviously doesn’t come from the four-cylinder but rather the power combination. It can also be driven in strict electrical mode and then has a range of up to 150 kms, far more than most other hybrids. Polestar says it will only build 1500 of the 1 which are all spoken for. That type of exclusivity has never hurt any car!
It’s doubtful how many of today’s buyers of Tesla’s Model 3, S or X know that the company’s first electrical car back in 2008 was a 2-seat roadster, based on the Lotus Elise chassis and built until 2012. That’s less than 10 years ago (pretty impressive for a company today valued at USD 400bn), and the Roadster was actually the first serial produced car with a lithium-Ion battery system. Fast forward to today, and Tesla is now working on the Roadster 2 and says it will be introduced in 2021. Knowing Tesla, that could of course just as well be in 2022, or 2023.
The new Roadster was unveiled already in 2017 and much of what we know still dates from then, notably talk of a 1.9-seconds time to 100 km/h, a quarter-mile time below 9 seconds and a top speed beyond 300 km/h. That obviously puts the four wheel drive roadster (electrical engines both up front and in the back ) in real supercar territory and from that angle, the current price assumption of USD 200′ (in the US), sounds rather reasonable. Again, those who live will see.
Tesla have also said that the Roadster will have a 200 KwH battery pack giving the car a range of up to 620 miles, and they’ve mumbled something about a new revolutionary battery technology. We’ll see about that but clearly the range and the performance numbers given above are mutually exclusive.
That’s about all we know. We can assume the interior to be a minimalistic story built around giant screens and can probably also assume that the back seats given the roof line won’t be very spacious. For the rest, hopefully next year will give us if not the car, then at least more details!
To my mind there’s only one interesting petrol sports car set to launch next year, but it’s one that can be expected to have a lot of fans. The MC20 (Maserati Corse 20) is supposed to start a new era for the Italian constructor (and obviously the car should had been launched in 2020 with that name, but hey, that’s a detail) and looking at what we’ve seen and know so far, they look to be off to a good start!
Around 4.7 metres long and 1.2m high (with the additional height over a Lambo or Ferrari said to be intended to provide enough space for larger drivers with a helmet!), the body is sleek to the point of looking almost too discrete, were it not for the scissor doors. It is however a high-tech structure developed together with Dallara that is supposed to generate 100 kg downforce at 240 km/h. The engine is a newly developed six-cylinder putting out a total of 630 hp and 730 Nm and given the MC20 weighs in at under 1.500 kgs, the power to weight ratio is pretty good. The talk is of 3 seconds to 100 km/h, under 9 to 200 km/h and a top speed of 325 km/h.
The MC20 is a high-tech structure through and through, with an active suspension system that is supposed to be able to read the road, an interior combining carbon, alcantara and leather, and Maserati’s new infotainment system, that by the sounds of it brings the brand to the same level as other manufacturers in the same segment, which hasn’t really been the case so far.
A base price of EUR 210.000 has been mentioned when the MC20 starts off next year in coupé form. Until 2022 a convertible will be added, and there is also talk of – you guessed it – a fully electrical version in the same year.
Saving the best and most spectacular for last, 2021 is also the year when the Lotus Evija should see the light, and this is really something out of the ordinary. Lotus’s new supercar is a fully electric monster putting out almost 2000 hp (1972 to be exact), whilst still as a true Lotus managing to keep the weight down to around 1.650 kgs (yep, I know, but we’re talking an EV here). Handling and the typical Lotus agility is said to be preserved notably by the battery pack being situated in the middle of the car, right behind the driver.
The Evija has also been delayed several times, including because of Covid, but deliveries to the lucky owners who have transferred the GBP 2m needed are said to start from next summer. Exactly what the interior will look like and even how the car will behave with the full power output is still not known, tests so far have been on restricted prototypes, so there is still a lot of mystery around the whole thing.
What we do know however is how the Evija puts the 1972 hp to work through its four engines. Obviously you can’t just let this level of power loose on the poor wheels, so the Evija’s concept is rather to unleash as much power at any time as the drivetrain can take. So from standing in first gear that may be 300 hp, increasing to 600 hp in 3rd gear, then 900 hp in fifth and so on. The car has five drive-modes, from Range (max 1000 hp, 800 Nm) over City, Tour and Sport to Track with the full output of close to 2000 hp and 1700 Nm). With all the bells and whistles turned on, the performance numbers are nothing short of spectacular.
The Evija is said to do 0-100 km/h in 3 seconds, which isn’t that spectacular and more than a second slower than a Tesla Roadster! But then all hell (a very silent hell) breaks loose as power builds and it does the following 100 km/h in another 3 seconds, i.e. 0–200 km/h in 6 seconds. That’s on par with a Chiron Sport. And then it does the same trick again to 300 km/h, for which a Chiron needs more than twice as long. In other words we’re talking a 0-300 km/h time of less than 10 seconds, which is bloody terrifying on paper, but apparently not in reality. There’s no howling double-turbo V12 here, just the discreet, swirling noise of electric power.
Whether we like it or not, that sounds like something we’ll have to get used to, even in the supercar segment!
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