The end of a year can inspire us to do many things: make resolutions we know we’ll break by 3 January, drink until we can’t lie down without holding on, and perhaps most of all, reflect on the events of the previous 12 months. When you reflect however, you don’t just look to the past - you also stare deeply into your hopes and fears, trying to conceive what you may be reflecting back upon once another year has taken its irrevocable toll. Apply an automotive definition to that sentiment, and that’s precisely what we’ll be doing in this blog. So then, here are some of the best performance cars we’ll be seeing in 2020.
Aston Martin Vantage Roadster
My opinion on Aston’s latest Vantage has remained consistent since its unveiling: while it may be dynamically competent, and an intriguingly complete sports car, it’s also uglier than what an asthmatic coughs up each morning. If there’s one thing however that can aid the aesthetics - other than a blindfold - it’s chopping the roof off. Expect power from the 4.0-litre twin-turbo AMG V8 to remain an identical 510hp, with performance taking a slight knock for the weight penalty intrinsic to convertibles. Ironically, while it was testing at the Nurburgring, we can see the Vantage Roadster was wearing the quote “beautiful won’t be tamed”. Want to know what happens when beautiful won’t be tamed? A celebrity with an insecurity they constructed themselves, and a subsequent addiction to having plastic injected into their increasingly deformed face. I rest my case.
We’ve already seen the new M3 thanks to hastily taken photos from somewhere deep within the BMW skunkworks. What we await however is confirmation of the various rumours currently flying around the automotive internet. As things stand, it’s said that the new M3 will be powered by a development of the current F80’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo straight six, developing over 500 horsepower. It’s also said that the new M3 will be available - for the first time - with four-wheel drive, using a system much like what’s currently found in the F90 M5. While being able to send power primarily to the rear axle will undoubtedly keep happy the people on the internet who claim to love drifting but would die if they tried it in real life, others will bemoan the extra weight that the M3 will carry as a result of having at least the option of four-wheel drive. We'll have to wait and see if these rumours prove to be true.
The current Maserati GranTurismo first rolled off the production line in the same year that the ribbon was cut for the opening of the Colosseum - or so it feels. It really is an arc in our current high-tech GT-car landscape, and that’s something that can’t be overcome by its aching beauty. Well, after an eternity in production, Maserati is finally replacing it. We can expect the 4.7-litre naturally aspirated V8 to be replaced by a much smaller turbocharged V6, most likely, a variant of Maserati’s current 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 used throughout their range. Expect power to be around the 500 horsepower mark, and the now ubiquitous eight-speed ZF Auto to replace the old single-clutch snap-matic transmission.
Current GT86 pictured.
The Toyota GT86 occupies a very important place in the automotive hierarchy, for it offers all of the driving qualities required to please even the most ardent of enthusiasts, while being offered at a price point that makes it an attainable thrill. Clearly then, the scale of the shoes the car’s replacement has to fill are rather larger than the niche that the GT86 inhabits. While the current car’s dedication to natural aspiration has been refreshing, an extra dose of torque to aid the car’s drifting talent would be more than welcome, and the only way this is realistically achievable is through the implementation of a turbocharger. While the likelihood of an NA going turbo makes me resist the urge to shudder in dread, there’s every hope that a turbocharged GT86 could be something to deeply look forward to.
Mercedes AMG GT73
GT63 S pictured.
The obsession with pasting a coupe body-style onto every type of vehicle is continued with the AMG GT four-door. And while that may not be seen as a particularly wise decision by anybody wishing to sit in the back, there’s no denying it helps the car achieve a voluptuous aesthetic. When the four-door AMG GT first saw the flash of the media’s camera, it was an 820-horsepower hybrid. With Mercedes revealing that the production car would initially be powered primarily by internal combustion, the more powerful hybrid version was rumoured to arrive later on. And in 2020, it will indeed be reaching production. Whether it will come in full fat 820 horsepower guise however is yet to be confirmed. I think I speak on behalf of lunatics everywhere when I say that I hope it does!
Volkswagen Golf GTi & Golf R (Mk 8)
Regular Golf Mk8 pictured.
With performance variants of the now defunct Mk7 Golf being the epitome of hot hatchery, the new versions have one hell of a mountain to climb before their wheels have even travelled an inch. With the Mk8 appearing to have been styled to resemble a lazy sloth, I can’t help but feel that it will be difficult for it to look quite as sporty as the Mk7 variants, which themselves were relatively conservative. Looks aside, the new Golf’s focus on technology draws concern over whether the performance versions will be available with a manual transmission option, especially with the R. Either way, expect reworked versions of the established 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in each model, most likely augmented by a mild-hybrid system that replaces the starter motor. Fingers crossed that won’t add too much weight.
Lamborghini Urus Performante
Urus ST-X pictured.
Don’t you think it’s rather curious that Lamborghini can be so confident in the dynamic capabilities of their Urus super-SUV, yet not use it to attack the Nurburgring SUV record? Perhaps that’s because they know that a faster version is just on the horizon, and that’s the version that will be able to properly cement itself as the SUV king with a lightning fast and desperately pointless ‘Ring time. In 2020, Lamborghini is said to be giving the Urus the Performante treatment. Whether this enhanced Urus will receive the Huracan’s signature ALA (Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva) aerodynamic witchcraft remains to be seen - or, if it does, precisely how effective it will be on a 2.2-tonne school-run barge. Regardless, expect the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 to be spruced up to the point where its stable will be bursting with the furious sinews of nearly 700 horses.
Porsche 992 Turbo & GT3
With the 991-generation 911 leaving the production line for the last time in stunning Speedster guise, the batten has officially been handed over to the 992 to keep the 911’s torch burning brightest in the sports-car sky. At the moment, you can only buy the 992 as a 385hp Carrera, or as a 450hp Carrera S. In 2020 however, all of that is set to change with the introduction of the latest Turbo and GT3 models. In late 2019, it was reported that the top spec Turbo S model would produce 641bhp from a reworked version of the 991’s 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six - with the standard Turbo model estimated to produce around 20 horsepower less. The GT3 on the other hand is set to retain its signature normally aspirated 4.0-litre flat-six and six-speed manual gearbox. Precisely how much power the GT3 is set to develop however is currently unknown. Knowing Porsche, it’s likely to only be an incremental increase over the preceding model. But quite frankly, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
Mercedes AMG GT Black Series
GT R Pro pictured
The Mercedes-AMG GT has been with us for a while now, and it’s established itself to be a serious figure in the performance car world. Right from its birth however, Mercedes was quite proud to flaunt the fact that it would one day wear the fabled Black Series moniker. And in 2020, we’re set to see that car come into being. The current fastest version of the AMG GT - the GT R Pro - produces 585hp from its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. In the AMG GT63 S however, that same engine is tuned all the way up to 639hp. For the Black Series, I see this figure to be a safe prediction. With that said however, given that the AMG GT directly parallels the Porsche 911, if Mercedes wanted to use the Black Series to rival the 991 GT2 RS, it would require a power output of somewhere around the 700 horsepower mark. Only time will tell what Mercedes intends to do with the car.
720S track Pack pictured
The McLaren 720S hasn’t had the easiest of lives. It all started out sunshine and roses, with journalists being completely dazzled by its staggering straight line speed and its technological and dynamic competency. However, after some time, reliability issues raised concerns throughout the entire McLaren fleet. Clearly, what McLaren needs to do to restore customers’ faith is make their dizzyingly fast supercar even faster, and they’ll do that by giving it the LT treatment. With LT denoting the legendary “Long-Tail” soubriquet that now bequeaths McLaren’s lightweight models, the diet process will be accompanied by a proportional boost in power. Thought to be called the 750LT, if correct, that means it’ll produce 750hp. With the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 used by the current 720S proving its worth in the 815hp Elva, power won’t be a problem for McLaren to achieve. What may be problematic however is preventing the new car from getting... erm... warm.
Tesla currently has three cars in production, and five others that have been announced, but not released. The Roadster is one of them. Towards the end of 2020 - probably at the LA International Auto Show in November - we can expect to see the final production version of Elon Musk’s supposedly perfect hypercar. While no statistics for the car currently exist in the public domain, Musk has stated that it will be better than every other performance car in every measurable way. It’ll have a higher top speed, it’ll accelerate faster, and it’ll handle better. Coming out with statements that outrageous, anybody would think he’d been smoking something. Oh, hold on...
Gordon Murray T.50
The recipe for Gordon Murray’s T.50 supercar is so tantalisingly delicious, that it’s difficult to know whether the car will be built on Earth, or whether it’ll fall from heaven. Powering the car will be a 3.9-litre naturally-aspirated Cosworth V12 engine that thanks to a red-line of over 12,000rpm, will produce around 650hp. This power will then be sent to the rear wheels alone via a 6 speed manual gearbox. It will also incorporate a three-seater layout, and use a downforce-creating fan that Murray originally designed for Formula 1, but was banned because it made the car too fast for the rest of the competition. If that wasn’t enough, the T.50 will weigh in at just under a tonne, making it one of the lightest performance cars around upon release. Little wonder Murray is referring to the T.50 as the true successor to the McLaren F1. Is there anything more desirable right now than a new version of what is arguably the greatest car of all time, and more than that, a new version that sticks closely to the original car’s roots? I don’t think there is. In fact, it’s the perfect antidote to the Tesla Roadster above and its purity-killing bent on the now established form our perception of progress has taken.
So then, that’s all of the exciting cars that I know to be coming out in 2020. Be sure to let me know in the comments which one is your favourite.