3 New premium hatches for 2012

New Volvo V40 D2

Three of a kind: new premium hatches for 2012

Mercedes, Volvo and Audi will all launch new hatchbacks this year, giving premium buyers some strong new options

Buyers looking for an upmarket family hatchback will be spoiled for choice this year, with three new arrivals from premium manufacturers.

New 2012 Mercedes A Class

The biggest splash will be made by the arrival of Mercedes’ third-generation A-Class car. Generations one and two may have resembled an egg on wheels but the new arrival is distinctly Golf-shaped. It should reach UK showrooms in September with prices expected to start at around £20,000.

No longer a left-field oddball, the new A-Class should roll right into the centre of the premium hatchback market. People who might otherwise have been drawn to a BMW 1-Series may find the new Mercedes car particularly tempting. It might not have the BMW’s rear-wheel drive, but the A-Class is more spacious and its badge is just as attractive.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Volvo has been busy since it was sold by Ford to Chinese firm Geely in 2010. The company’s outgoing Golf-size line-up of C30, S40 and V50 are, respectively, a 3-door hatch-cum-coupe, a saloon and an estate. The glaring lack of a proper five-door family hatchback was a blunder that the firm is keen to correct with the new V40, a car made very much in the mould of Audi’s successful A3 Sportback. The new small Volvo will arrive in the UK in July, with prices starting at £19,745 including an array of standard safety equipment including the world’s first pedestrian airbag.

And talking of Audi, the ubiquitous A3 is completely revised for its third generation this year. As with other Audis, you may have to look twice or even three times to be sure that you are looking at a new car, and indeed the revamped A3 should deliver more of the same including a class-leading interior and state-of-the-art technology. It will arrive in the UK priced from around £19,000, with the first deliveries due in September.

All three of these new arrivals are likely to prove very popular as company cars, where drivers pay benefit-in-kind tax according to CO2 emissions. As a result, it’s no surprise to see all three manufacturers offering models with very low CO2 scores.

Volvo will offer a V40 D2 edition rated at 94g/km of CO2, with corresponding fuel consumption of 78.5mpg. Meanwhile the Mercedes A180 CDI will emit 98g/km with official economy of around 74mpg. And finally Audi will squeeze under the 100g/km bar with a 1.6 TDI model of the new A3 that will achieve 74.3mpg and 99g/km on the official combined cycle test. All three manufacturers will thus offer a model that is exempt from road tax and the London Congestion Charge.

New Volvo V40 D2

At the other extreme, there will be hot-hatch variants of all three new cars for enthusiast drivers. Mercedes will offer a 170bhp A220 CDI variant at launch and is reportedly working on a full AMG Mercedes edition, likely to offer around 300bhp. Audi is expected to launch a three-door S3 version of the A3 in the middle of 2013, reportedly boasting 280bhp. And Volvo has confirmed that it will produce a T5 version of the V40, offering 254bhp and acceleration from 0 to 62mph in just 6.7 seconds.

Whether you want to burn rubber or save CO2, these three upcoming cars will offer new opportunities to do so in prestigious style and comfort.