Roundup of 2007 car news items.

"Review of trends and developments over 2007."

Well another year has passed and what a year it has been from an automotive point of view. There were some interesting new cars released and announced.

Green issues have continued to dominate the media with fuel prices at a new high. TorqueCars have found some alarming parallels between the current car market and the conditions prevalent just prior to the 1990-91 recession.

Small is beautiful. More makers are releasing smaller and lighter cars. We still have a thirst for power and hot hatches are more popular than even. Open top cars are continuing to gain popularity and with the arrival of the tin top convertibles are now on many peoples wish list.

The Fiat Panda 100bhp deservedly wears the Abarth scorpion badge and is one of those cars you look at and instantly dismiss. Get in one and drive it and you will see it in a whole new light. The car is nimble predictable, amazingly quick and still returns 37 mpg - a refined go cart!

2007 the year of more. More power, more new models, more MPG, more gadgets and even higher petrol prices.

The notable new arrivals this year.

The Audi R8, a tame beast. This car shows just what the engineers at Audi are capable of. They have produced a monster of a supercar which is very easy to drive. Some have criticised the accessibility of this car stating that even a bad driver can drive it fast. The truth is that in the right hands the R8 is an awesome track day weapon in the hands of an experienced driver. The predictability of control and sense of being at one with the car, allows you to explore limits that are out of bounds in many other cars.

Audi have also released the S5 a new model size between the S4 and S6 and it really is a fantastic package. Another one of those cars you need to drive to fully appreciate. Whereas the RS4 is a look at me no compromise road burner the S5 offers heady performance in a grown up and refined package. The S5 boasts 60mph in 5.1 seconds and gives around 22.8 mpg.

Nissan have released the GT-R (not a Skyline in name) but certainly fulfilling the Skyline heritage. A 476 bhp techno wonder with more gadgets that your average teenagers bedroom. Not only have Nissan released a car which has power and performance by the bucket load, they have created one of the most economical supercars around.

With a class leading 22 Mpg the new GT-R is the greenest 476 bhp monster around (don't expect a hybrid version anytime soon!).  The 350z engineers sat down with the task of improving on an awesome package and focused mainly on the power figures. Any critics who decried the lack of top end power in the last model will be hard pressed to fault the new up rated 2498cc V6 engine. It now delivers peak power across most of the rev range especially at the top end. The bigger lump has created a hump in the bonnet which further enhances the lines of this great all round car.

The arrival of the latest Porsche 997 GT3 RS certainly ups the ante with the competition.
Technology. At last the automatic is now a performance option. With the development of paddle gear changes, dual clutches and preselection of the next gear shift times are much shorter than we ever imagined an auto box can manage. Seat Leons DSG gearbox manages a gear shift in just 8 milliseconds a figure that a few years ago was a motorsport dream.

The rumour mill is rife, the items that ticked our most wanted to see list is the Audi A1 with its hybrid power train and the BMW 1 series Tii. So we expect to see a flurry of hot small cars in the next year.

Are we heading for a recession? When we look back at the 80's-'90s new car sales we saw a peak then little growth and a big drop during the 1990-1991 recession. In 1989 UK new car sales figures were 2.3 million by 1990 this had declined slightly to 2 million and then in we saw the 1991 recession when only 1.6 million new cars were registered. Is history going to repeat itself?

Are car sales an indicator of consumer confidence? UK new car registrations in 2003 peaked again at 2.5 million and by 2006 we had seen this hover and decline to 2.3 million and indicators at present are that this year will see little or no further growth on this figure. So perhaps the bubble is going to burst. TorqueCars prediction though, is that people will start downsizing their cars. Consumers will start looking at economical and budget models so we expect the gross amount spent on cars to drop but still expect to maintain the current levels of unit sales. If current trends are an indicator we will see that people will hang on to their cars longer on the average and sell at 5 years old rather than 3.

Trend wise - diesels are gaining popularity and nearing a 50% market share, this is not surprising since the performance enhancements to modern diesels and the refinement. TorqueCars are already getting members looking to tune up diesel models and the range of diesel tuning parts is growing rapidly. (Will Honda announce a CIVIC Type R diesel VTEC engine? Let's wait and see!)

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