Best new performance cars 2022 – it’s a new year’s revolution

There's still a whole lot more exciting performance metal to come as we approach summer. With the new year will come a huge range of exciting new performance cars – exactly what we like to hear in the evo office

The big boys will hit hard in 2022, with Mercedes-AMG, Porsche, Lamborghini and Ferrari all on track to have a big year of reveals and launches. Porsche will have two RS models in the new 718 Cayman GT4 that was revealed at last year’s LA motor show and the 992 GT3 RS, which is still to come later in the year. Lamborghini’s 2022 plans involve new mid-engined supercar derivatives and an update to the Urus SUV, while Ferrari will reveal a Spider version of the 296 GTB, as well as its Purosangue – a V12-powered SUV.

It is also the 50th anniversary of BMW M, making this year a very big one for the Munich outfit, whose plans include not just a new generation of M2, but the first M3 Touring and a new hardcore M4 that will follow up the M2 and M5 CSs eCoty winners. Could 2022 see BMW score a hat-trick with these new models in what will be a very special year for the manufacturer?

Looking elsewhere, Honda’s new Civic Type R is promising great things, not just in the sense of its more palatable design and high-spec interior, but also that it’ll drive even better than its simply magnificent predecessor. Ford will be fighting back with two updated STs in both Fiesta and Focus flavours, while the first indications of Alpine’s new role as a performance sub-brand for Renault could yield a glimpse at the next generation of French hot hatchback.

High-performance EVs will also come out on stream, but unlike their previous forms which have been just as much a proof of concept as they are money-making model lines, 2022 will see a vast diversification of electric cars in all forms, although a true dedicated all-electric sports car is still out of reach over the next 12 months.

Below, we go into more detail about what to expect this year. Who said the performance car was dead?

Aston Martin 

Aston Martin’s financial and management structure continues to be of interest as we move forward into 2022, but we’re more interested in the new models that are now coming out from the Moers era. The first one due will be the V12 Vantage, with that exciting combination of Aston’s biggest engine in its smallest car. Aston Martin has confirmed this will be the last V12 Vantage, which alongside its limited production run will make it immensely desirable.

Aston’s DBX will also receive its first performance derivative, with prototypes spied featuring either a high-performance variant of the current V8 or perhaps even Aston’s V12 under the clamshell. We’ll likely have to wait until after 2022 to see the wider range updates across both Vantage and DB model lines though, changes that should increase variety and dramatically improve the cars’ interiors. The Valhalla will also commence its rigorous development period, while Aston’s specialised Valkyrie production will finally ramp up to full capacity.

Alpine

Alpine’s A110 has just been revealed with a new range structure and some subtle styling and specification changes, but it will be 2023 before Alpine’s next big move when it debuts the first of its own high-performance electric models. This shift from small-output sports car maker to Renault’s performance arm was announced last year, with commitment to the production of three new models – an all-electric version of the A110 sports car, a take on Renault’s upcoming all-electric 5 hatchback and a compact SUV.

Alpine will continue to produce petrol-powered A110s for as long as people continue to buy them, which works just fine for us.

Audi 

Audi’s due a relatively quiet 2022, with 2021 having been the year of its (excellent) new RS3. The model that’ll be under most scrutiny this year will be the R8, as e-tron GT production in the same Neckarsulm factory ramps up, leaving limited space for the supercar’s production. While a new R8 RWD Performance has been revealed, rumour has it a far more specialised and hardcore model which is expected to be built in extremely small numbers is also in the wings to sign off the current R8.

The year will otherwise be a bit of a stopgap before Audi’s new PPE-platform EVs arrive in 2023, with only minor mid-cycle updates for certain models due.

BMW 

BMW is on for a big 2022, due not only to an influx of new models, but also the fact BMW M will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. Starting with that, an all-new second-generation M2 is due to arrive this year. There’s also the long-awaited M3 Touring, and perhaps most excitingly, a new and even more focused M4 Coupe, either to be called CS or CSL – we don’t know which because BMW apparently hasn’t made its mind up yet. It’ll follow the last two eCoty-winning CS models that BMW has released, and comes with some pressure to match their success. What a fitting 50th birthday present if it does.

BMW M will also reveal its first bespoke model since the M1 supercar in the challenging XM SUV, with a standard X8 derivative expected to follow alongside an updated X7 and X5. BMW’s mainstream range will also see some big movements, with an all-new 7-series due that will introduce a new generation of exterior and interior design language. We also expect BMW’s all-electric range to continue to proliferate, with an i7 derivative to accompany the combustion-powered saloon.

Ferrari

Ferrari has had plenty of controversial models in its time, but few will be under more heavy scrutiny than the Purosangue SUV. Due to be the first four-door Ferrari to be put into series production (personal commissions such as the seven 456GT Estates notwithstanding), it will pack both traditional V12 and V8 powertrains alongside electrification in various forms. And while we and others might call it an SUV, judging by the body-on prototypes now circulating around northern Italy the notion might be a stretch considering the car’s stance and proportions.

Looking at more traditional Ferrari market segments, the limited-build Daytona SP3 will hit the road, as will the 296GTB and SF90 Spider. A Spider version of the 296 is also in the wings. Knowing Ferrari, this won’t be all we’ll see in a year that’s promising ever more growth in sales.

Ford

Ford’s global priority remains SUVs and EVs in 2022, but for European hot hatchback fans the news is good, with both the Focus and Fiesta being given a mid-life update that includes their ST derivatives. While the changes are likely to be subtle, both supermini and hot hatchback models have plenty to work with when it comes to hardware. Expect to see both arrive in the first few months of 2022.

This year will also see the all-new Ford Puma WRC car hit rally stages after the introduction of the championship’s new hybrid era. Co-developed with M Sport, the Puma’s inclusion in the WRC reaffirms Ford’s commitment to the sport, and as such fans of small high-performance models like the Focus, Fiesta and Puma STs.

GMA

The new year will see GMA’s T.50 finally reach customers, and it’ll also give us a look into the company’s next steps with the T.33 – a more traditional two-seater supercar, but one packing the T.50’s same combination of naturally aspirated V12 engine and manual transmission.

Much like the T.50, the T.33 will be built to deliver pure driving engagement, a notion that clearly appeals given the mere minutes it took for the T.50’s entire build run to be sold out after its reveal.

Honda

There’s absolutely no doubt that one of the year’s most exciting new cars is the next Honda Civic Type R. It might have some huge boots to fill given the sheer brilliance of its predecessor, but every indication so far says that Honda’s on track for another triumph. That’s because Honda seems to have taken the best bits of the old car and made them better, with a chassis that’s largely the same in terms of proportion and make-up, but honed yet further.

The powertrain should also be similar to that of the old model, and that’s no bad thing. But best of all, Honda has fixed both the interior design and the old car’s challenging exterior looks. If the new Civic is as good as we all hope it is, it’ll surely be one of the year’s best cars, and given the sheer quality of the new high-performance cars on their way, that’s a big claim.

Hyundai

With a year of big updates and all-new N models behind it, 2022 is looking to be a slightly quieter year for the high-performance sub-brand, and instead a year of new EVs and experimental design beckons. This might include a high-performance N version of the Ioniq 5, one that could share the 571bhp electric powertrain with Kia’s EV6 GT. Regardless of tuning and power output, the idea of a 2100kg-plus SUV doesn’t sit easily next to the N models we hold in the highest regard.

What’s to come from Hyundai’s RM19 and subsequent RM20 mid-engined sports cars is less clear, but work is still being done on that project behind the scenes so we expect to hear more about its progress as the year goes on.

Lamborghini

Lamborghini is holding its cards close to its chest regarding new models, but after a flurry of new sightings our best guess is that Lamborghini’s run of traditional V12 flagships might be about ready for a new name to be added.

Lamborghini’s V10 range might also receive some more attention after the extremely well-received STO gave the seven-year-old model some serious momentum. The Urus SUV is also about due a facelift, and after experimenting with hybridisation in the Sian and new Countach, the time could also be now for Lamborghini’s first series-production hybrid.

Land Rover

Land Rover’s 2022 will be dominated by all things Range Rover as the all-new model prepares for its market launch. Soon after the full-size Range Rover reaches customers the Range Rover Sport will be ready for its own debut, traditionally following its bigger brother by a matter of months.

We expect the new RRS to share pretty much all of the full-size model’s hard points – chassis, powertrain, drivetrain and technology – but the design promises to be even more distinctive, drawing on the smaller Velar and its sleeker horizontal lines rather than the far more stately and upright look of the Vogue.

Lotus

The fruits of Lotus’s Chinese investment will finally bear fruit beyond its seven-figure electric Evija hypercar when the Emira reaches customers in Q2 of this year. The new model will essentially replace the Elise and Evora, with a larger and more civilised package that will rival the Porsche Cayman.

The Evira will be joined by a bespoke new SUV, representing the real fruits of its new Geely ownership. The SUV will plunge Lotus right into a marketplace it has little experience of, but signifies the first step of the British brand turning from a niche sports car manufacturer into a full-scale performance brand.

Maserati

Maserati’s renaissance continues to elude the brand, but with MC20 supercars now reaching customers hope has once again been reignited, with a Spider soon to be revealed and the long-winded Grecale’s development now finally coming to a close.

Both SUV and supercar have been confirmed to be available with all-electric powertrains as well as their combustion counterparts, with both coming under the new Folgore badge. A new Gran Turismo is also on the cards for later this year, it too utilising both the Nettuno V6 and all-electric powertrains.

Mazda

As with most Japanese manufacturers, Mazda’s 2022 is murky, but highlighted by progress on exciting new projects that should yield their first products this year. This includes Mazda’s brand new rear-wheel-drive chassis and straight-six petrol and diesel engines. While four SUVs are the only specific models to have been explicitly detailed by Mazda, we expect a saloon to follow.

There’s also been progress made with Mazda’s rotary development, and not just in its initial use as a small range extender, but also as a plausible use in a rear-wheel-drive sports car that’s reported to be in development. No prototypes have yet been spied, but multiple patent applications have been lodged by the Japanese brand, with some specific to a production variant of the RX-Vision Concept. A new MX-5 is also reportedly in the works, but there’s no indication of timing.

McLaren

Had McLaren had things its way, the Artura would not need to be mentioned in our 2022 round-up, but thanks to a variety of factors the all-new hybrid V6 supercar has still to reach us. However, it won’t be far off with production due to ramp up in Q1, and we suspect an Artura Spider will not be far behind.

With Elva production now in full swing, we also expect a new Ultimate Series hypercar to be on the cards in 2022.

Mercedes

Like BMW, both Mercedes and AMG have a big year ahead, but for quite different reasons. AMG will kick off the year with its all-new SL, the new 2+2 roadster having been developed entirely by AMG for the first time alongside the GT replacement, which we expect to hear more about later in the year. AMG’s E Performance electrified rear axle will also find a home in the C-class, S-class and SL this year, with the C63’s introduction due in the next few weeks. The Project 1 should also finally come to fruition after years of development work.

Mercedes will have a bigger year with its electric models, with the EQE launching and two EV SUVs in both large and medium sizes joining soon after. Meanwhile, the A-class is due an update, there’s a new GLC on its way and a new mid-sized cabriolet will replace both the C- and E-class cabriolets in a single model.

Porsche

Porsche’s GT division is already looking at a big 2022 with the launch of the first GT4 RS. Revealed late last year, the 718 Cayman GT4 RS promises to be one of the most exciting and visceral models in Porsche’s year, alongside the GT3 RS that’s also due. The new GT3 RS has still yet to be revealed, but with prototypes constantly seen on and around the Nürburgring, its debut won’t be far away.

Porsche will also reveal a quirky 911 ‘Safari’, as well as its new all-electric Macan, while there’ll be a gentle update to the Panamera, possibly alongside the reveal of a Cayenne GT Turbo-like flagship, as well as a sizeable mid-life refresh for the Cayenne itself.

Renault

Renault’s 2022 will focus on the revitalisation of its core models as the whole brand repurposes itself as an EV specialist. This starts with the new Mégane E-Tech which will join the range alongside the existing petrol-powered Mégane. There won’t be a Renault Sport variant of the new model, but Alpine is expected to get a shout-out as the brand’s new electrified sub-brand.

Production versions of the Renault 4 and 5 reboots aren’t expected until 2024 at the earliest, with the brand instead being kept busy getting the new Mégane and its corresponding SUV derivative (in both combustion and all-electric forms) off the ground.

Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce will bring its first all-electric model to the world in 2022, electrifying the Wraith’s replacement entirely. The new model, due to be called the Spectre, isn’t far away either. However, whether this electric powertrain will also find itself in more traditional saloon models remains to be seen.

Toyota 

Toyota’s kicked off 2022 in the best possible fashion, previewing a faster and more hardcore version of the GR Yaris that will debut later this week at the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon. Few specifics are known so far, but we suspect there will be a subtle increase in power, alongside a focus on shedding weight, increasing aero efficiency and further sharpening the already brilliant chassis.

The Auto Salon will also preview Toyota’s GR GT3 Concept, its take on the GT3 racing class. While Toyota doesn’t currently compete in GT3, it might have eyes on doing so alongside its Le Mans Hypercar entry. Otherwise, the Japanese brand remains an enigma with regard to its 2022 plans, because more than just about any other brand Toyota has had a habit in recent years of coming out of nowhere with a performance superstar.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s 2022 looks to be largely electric in terms of new models, with the Golf’s performance range now fully established save for the Golf R Estate. And yet, while we’re unlikely to see anything too revolutionary in terms of performance models, Volkswagen has given us some indication that it’s not yet done with the Mk8 Golf, reacting to criticism of its high-performance models with a promise that more is to come.

What form this will take we don’t yet know, but with another four years to wait for the next GTI anniversary it’s unlikely to take one in celebration of an anniversary as hot GTIs often do. The GTX badge will also likely find a new home in VW’s electric range. We suspect it won’t be applied to the smaller ID.3, rather the ID.5, a coupe version of the ID.4 SUV.

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