Premium

My top five cars from the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show

Vauxhall Corsa 
Vauxhall's Corsa is one of Britain's most important small cars, and the 2020 model shown at Frankfurt will be available as a battery-electric car for the first time Credit: Sean Gallup /Getty Images Europe 

The Frankfurt Motor Show is one of the largest events of its kind in Europe, and many hundreds of new cars, concepts and products are unveiled in the cavernous hangars of the city's exhibition centre. In time-honoured tradition, Telegraph motoring correspondent Andrew English reveals his 'top five' cars of the show. 

5. Volkswagen ID.3

VW's eve-of-show Gruppe Nacht isn't the ostentatious automotive carnival it once was. This year's attempt by the company's to display itself as a caring, sharing, post-Dieselgate electric brand seemed jinxed when the curtain around the new ID.3 failed to drop on cue, leaving the rest of the presentation to take place against a background of cherry-pickers and frantic technicians. Was this the last laugh for VW's egregious former boss Ferdinand Piech, who died last month aged 82?

The Volkswagen ID.3 was one of the most eagerly awaited launches of the year, but got off to an inauspicious start  Credit: German Select /Gisela Schober 

The ID.3 is the first example of VW's electric strategy, a family-sized hatchback and a rival to the best-selling Nissan Leaf. If it looks familiar that's because it is. We first saw this car in 2016 and since then VW has been offering test drives of the concept and pre-production models to everyone and their dog. With a recharging capacity of up to 125kW, the ID.3 will potentially have a faster charging time of any direct competitor – its We Charge App will be allow access to 2,400 charge points at 600 Tesco supermarkets.

Prices will start at £25,550 including Government grant, the base model will have range of 205 miles, with the biggest battery option giving a range of 342 miles. Charging on a fast-charge point, the ID3 will gain a 160-mile range boost in half an hour. VW says it has received orders for half the production run of the initial 261-mile range 'First' models, which arrive next year. The hatchback comes first, but a combi van will follow soon after.

4. Porsche Taycan

Of course we've seen the Taycan before (just about everywhere actually), and as the launch was done simultaneously across three locations around the world a week ago, the surprise effect of the unveiling at Frankfurt was rather muted.

"Taycan links our heritage to the future," said Oliver Blume, Porsche's chairman. "This day marks the start of a new era."

The Porsche Taycan joins a small number of truly exciting electric sports cars  Credit: DANIEL ROLAND /AFP

There will be two versions, both four-wheel drive; the Taycan Turbo and Turbo S priced at £115,858 and £138,826 respectively and it's available to order now with first deliveries in January. The 761bhp top model Turbo S can accelerate from 0-62mph in 2.8 seconds and has a range of 257 miles. Recharging time differs but on a high current DC charger an 80 per cent fill can be achieved in 22 minutes. 

That pricing raises questions about the much lower price of the Tesla Model S; is Porsche taking a huge profit out of the Taycan, or is Tesla selling at a marginal loss? 

The price might be discounted by a Government grant of up to £4,000 although Porsche UK is still in the process of applying for this perk. It will also include three years access to the Ionity and Porsche charging networks and a 'roaming' ability across a number of different charge-point operators, similar to that offered by Mercedes-Benz with its electric vehicles. Three years seems rather mean to us, but perhaps Porsche owners won't mind.

3. BMW i4

Unlike the slab-sided Vision M Next concept, which posits a replacement for BMW's extraordinary i8 PHEV supercar (it's weird), the i4 is a fairly production-ready study on next year's 4-series and in particular the all-electric version which arrives at the end of 2020. Check out that grille! Designed to echo the upright kidney grille of the Thirties 328 sports car, in the metal it looked like a fretwork fireguard. BMW says it is to make the car look more exclusive and there certainly is nothing like it on the road.

Does anybody think BMW's new radiator grilles are attractive? Credit: Sean Gallup /Getty Images Europe 

Exact dates and technical details were scant, but interestingly BMW announced that it is working on a hydrogen fuel-cell car and displayed an X5 with hydrogen branding on the flanks. BMW's history with the fuel cell hasn't always been easy; its insistence on storing hydrogen cryogenically in a vacuum flask and its tie-up with Toyota (which promptly made public all its fuel-cell patents) have put progress back. We'll be reporting more on this renewed development.

2. Vauxhall Corsa

There were lots of new small cars at the show (Mini e, Hyundai i20, new VW eUp), but this was by far the nicest. Vauxhall’s Corsa has long been a young person’s ride of choice because it's inexpensive and its cabin easily accommodates larger teenagers and this new version, which arrives in the UK in January, aims to tick the same boxes. 

It's based on PSA's Common Modular Platform (CMP), which also underpins Peugeot’s 208 and Citroen’s C3, and means that kerb weight has fallen by about 10 per cent all round. I think it’s better looking, too, although Opel/Vauxhall design head Mark Adams was looking a bit ragged on the stand and admitted he’d never overseen a new design in such a short time. 

The new Corsa is an important small car in the UK and other parts of Europe  Credit: FRIEDEMANN VOGEL/EPA-EFE/REX /REX

Prices will start at £15,500 rising to £25,990, with the popular SRi trim level at £18,700. There will be two petrol and one diesel engine. The 74bhp, 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol with a five-speed gearbox starts the range; there's also a 99bhp version with a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic. The diesel is a 101bhp, 1.5-litre triple from the Peugeot stable, which produces 85g/km of CO2.

By late spring a full battery electric version, the Corsa-e, will arrive priced at £26,490 including the Government grant of £3,500. Its 134bhp electric motor will give a WLTP range of 211 miles.

1. Land Rover Defender

Fabulous, fabulous, terrific. The 'commercial' van-style version of the much-trumpeted new Defender was, on steel wheels, with Wilks Bros livery, exceptionally desirable. I really do want one. 

Land Rover stands shouldn’t be as busy as this, with well-wishers, former employees and hacks paying compliments. Nick Collins, Land Rover’s product engineering head, was moved to tears by this car’s reception and he wasn’t alone.

This car, in this trim, with those white steelies, is Andrew English's star of the show  Credit: Andrew English

Development hasn’t been easy and the extra hours in the office (or off-roading in the countryside) have been tough. Collins confirmed that the Defender’s all-aluminium monocoque construction can be cut into a pick-up if the market so desires, as well as taking machine guns, cranes, ambulance bodies and all manner of kit. 

Ralf Speth, JLR’s chief executive, said he didn’t think that being built in Slovakia would matter at all to the vast majority of prospective Defender buyers worldwide. 

The website went live at 10am on Tuesday and they’d sold the first one 15 minutes later; apparently it takes about 20 minutes to work through the 170 options available.

The one thing that I learned off the stand at Frankfurt show was, however, that when it comes to the new Land Rover Defender, less really is more.

For tips and advice, visit our Advice section, or sign up to our newsletter here

To talk all things motoring with the Telegraph Cars team join the Telegraph Motoring Club Facebook group here

A-Z Car Finder