► The hottest new cars of 2016
► We list the likely smash hits
► New launches, major arrivals
The car industry doesn't know how to do slow, as the pace of change accelerates at manufacturers across the globe. Market fragmentation, new factory techniques and disruptive start-ups are conspiring to make it easier than ever before to spin off new derivatives and niche products with seeming ease.
Expect this pace of change to continue in 2016. There are more than 100 new models due to be launched, but we've distilled the most important new arrivals in our guide to the eight most improtant new cars of the year.
These are the cars we're most revved up about. Tell us if you agree in the comments below.
Aston Martin DB11
Make no mistake, the new 2016 DB11 is a line in the sand for Aston. After relying on the Vanquish/DB9/Vantage aesthetic for the best part of a decade and a half, it's high time we saw something all-new from Gaydon. And that's what new boss Andy Palmer is planning. They've warmed us up with the exciting 007-aimed DB10 and now the follow-up is but a few short weeks away from being shown to the world. Expect twin-turbo, downsized V12s (Merc-sourced V8s will follow), lightweight construction, Daimler-borrowed cockpit gizmos and - the best bit - a proper step forwards in the wardrobe stakes. Read more about the DB11 here.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Is there a more exciting, more seminal relaunch in 2016? Hordes of enthusiasts have been waiting for Alfa Romeo to get back on the front foot, and we're all hoping that the Giulia is that car. Aimed squarely at the sportier end of the BMW 3-series/Jaguar XE end of the four-door market, the Giulia has a few aces up its sleeve. Like part-composite construction. Like coming out of a nimble Italian skunkworks, breathed on by experts from the likes of Ferrari and Maserati. And like having a red-hot Cloverleaf version available from launch, with a 191mph top speed and 3.9sec - three point nine seconds! - 0-62mph time. Hopes are high...
If the 3-series is the epicentre of BMW-kind, big brother the Five isn't far behind. And 2016 is a landmark year since the new G30 generation 5-series arrives in showrooms later on. Like a mini 7-series, the new four-door heralds Munich's latest Cluster Architecture (CLAR) which introduces carbonfibre tech to the sector for the first time. Those BMW i3/i8 learnings really are creeping across the range... Also noteworthy is the arrival of 48v electrics to provide e-boost for niceties such as battery-assisted turbos and semi-active suspension systems. The saloon arrives first, followed by Touring and LWB versions for China. Read more on the 2016 5-series here.
Not to be outdone, the Merc E-class arrives in 2016 too - although slightly earlier, with a Detroit motor show launchpad. Doing without Munich's fancy composites, Daimler is instead increasing the aluminium content in the next E and is confident the weight savings will be sufficient to endow its new four-door (other bodystyles will, inevitably, follow) with nimble handling, superior performance and cleaner emissions. They've already shown the interior - and it's like a baby S-class in there, with a sweeping widescreen display, high-tech seats and plenty of gadgets to keep tech-heads entertained. See inside the new 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-class here.
Ford Focus RS
Ford knows a thing or two about producing democratic sports cars - its RS models have been worming their way into enthusiasts' hearts for more than 40 years. So we have reason to sit up and take notice of the new Focus RS, due in showrooms in spring 2016. Your £28,940 buys a hot hatch with a whole load of sporting DNA: there's four-wheel drive to keep the high-output 2.0-litre turbo EcoBoost's 345bhp in check and the Blue Oval's enlisted the help of drift king Ken Block to tune its handling. There's even a wildly named Drift Mode, said to execute slip-slidey oversteer on demand. It's manual only, beefed-up with a very Essex bodykit and 0-62mph is dispatched in 4.7sec. Sounds like our kinda pocket rocket. More on the Ford Focus RS here.
The times, they are a'changing. For Jaguar, the stalwart of sporting saloons, coupes and roadsters, is about to veer off road in 2016. Or mounting the kerb at your nearest Waitrose premium supermarket, at any rate - once it releases its first crossover, the F-Pace in spring 2016. The logic is simple: the market is demanding more space, higher driving positions and SUV bodystyles. So Jag's had to react, spinning its first-ever soft-roader from the same modular aluminium toolkit as the XF and XE four-door execs. This'll save weight and provide a familiar batch of four- and six-cylinder engines, while the chassis should benefit from perfect 50:50 weight distribution front:rear and the low-slung stance that distinguishes the F-Pace from rival SUVs. It's not all Pace and Grace, though; Jaguar promises 650 litres of bootspace - comparable to a BMW X5's. See more on the Jag in our F-Pace homepage here.
Big boots to fill? The Veyron's shoes stretch from Wolfsburg to Molsheim - but Bugatti's not flinched in its mission to top the world's fastest car. Expect the Chiron to reset class benchmarks for OTT engineering: it'll stick with the 8.0-litre W16 quad-turbo engine, tweaked for maximum impact; four-wheel drive returns to keep up to 1500bhp on the tarmac and not vapourising in a fug of expensively developed Michelin. End result? The new Bug will likely sprint from 0-62mph in 2.3sec and engineers have told CAR they're targeting 275mph v-max. Hold on tight! Read our full scoop dossier on the Bugatti Chiron here.
Tesla Model X
Here's a company hellbent on disrupting the established order of doing things. We've already been deeply impressed by the Model S four-door with its sole focus on electric power. Now they're adding an in-vogue SUV, dubbed the Model X, to mop up families who want more space afforded by the crossover bodystyle. Seems Tesla's letting their hair down, for they've only gone and given their 4x4 innovative handclap doors with a novel action to open up in tight car parks and the slipperiest SUV shape on sale, with a drag coefficient of 0.24. Neat... And that's before we start detailing the P90D's 752bhp motors and 3.2sec 0-60mph time in 'Ludicrous mode.' Read more on the Tesla Model X here.
Land Rover Discovery
Has there been a more influential modern-day off-roader? The 2004 Disco defined modern-day Land Rover, arguably, and after some gentle iterations 2016 will usher in a properly new full-sized family SUV. The 2014 Vision Discovery concept car provides some pointers - the style will evolve (and soften) but the focus on providing ample accommodation for seven remains, with a highly configurable cabin and seats that transform into tables. Sadly, the split tailgate goes, making way for a conventional hatchback but there'll be a pop-out ledge for hosting impromptu picnics in the shires. What won't change will be the Discovery's off-road ability, aided by the switch to the Range Rover's aluminium architecture, saving hundreds of kilogrammes and enabling a string of four-cylinder as well as six-cylinder engines. See our full Land Rover Discovery scoop here.
New cars 2016: the other big launches
For full details on the rest of the key arrivals in 2016, check out these stories: