Change is most certainly in the air, with children across the land about to say goodbye to days getting under mum and dad’s feet and hello to chewed up pencils, cross country runs in the pouring rain and dreaded double maths (well that was my memories of school anyway).
Changes are afoot elsewhere, with the launch of the 2014/15 Premiership season ushering in a plethora of new multi-million pound signings, while Saturday night telly watchers are becoming accustomed to a darker, edgier Doctor Who.
The world of motor manufacture is also ringing the changes, with a number of its flagship models undergoing their own regenerations and revealing their new and hotly anticipated faces to the world.
This will certainly be the case this autumn, with a number of models set to become leaner, meaner and indeed sexier, with lines and curves that would flatter most super models and engines that are as frugal as a pre–epiphany Ebenezer Scrooge.
With 2014 versions of the Volkswagen Polo, Nissan Qashqai and Hyundai i10 already garnering rave reviews following their releases, a lot is expected from the remaining competition.
I have chosen to look at four models which are already attracting a huge amount of press, the new Skoda Fabia, Toyota Yaris, Renault Twingo and Ford Focus.
First up is the new Skoda Fabia which will make its first public appearance at the Paris motor show in October. The new Skoda Fabia is set to build on its position as Skoda’s second biggest selling car (the Octavia just pips it), with a range of internal and external refinements that should help cement its position as a real rival to the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta.
Improvements to the look of the Skoda Fabia include sharp lines along its flanks and a raised line running from the centre of the bonnet. Inside the car is expected to be noticeably bigger, with the 90mm added to the width of the car countering its 30mm reduction in height.
Tweaks have also been made to the Skoda Fabia’s range of engines, with reports that the most economical version, the 1.0 litre three cylinder engine used in the Volkswagen UP! and Skoda Citigo, registers a figure of 91mpg.
One manufacturer that has been working hard to position itself as a highly fashionable brand is Toyota, with its city cars and super minis proving popular among younger drivers looking for a car with personality as well as inner city performance.
Subject to £70m of investment and 576,000 hours of R&D, the Toyota Yaris super mini will now be able to strut its stuff alongside its once funkier younger brother, the Toyota Aygo, with an instantly more identifiable look.
Available to buy now, the cross shape design at the front of the new Toyota Yaris has been lifted from the Toyota Aygo, while new headlights, bumper and backend light cluster complete the look, making for what is now one cool looking car.
While the range of engines have remained untouched (which is no hardship given the 1.4 D4-D diesel engine’s 72.4mpg and 99g/km CO2 output) other areas of performance have been updated, with new softer springs, shock absorber and electric power steering improving the overall drive.
Another car that has undergone the kind of physical transformation achieved by former frumpy number cruncher Carol Vorderman is the Renault Twingo.
We are just weeks away from the release of its newest iteration, with motor journalists already singing its praises as one of the nippiest and practical city cars ever to be released. And who would argue, with its 8.59 metre turning circle guaranteed to attract jealous glances from Smart car owners, while it still has enough space inside to accommodate most of what a certain Swedish furniture manufacturer stocks in its warehouse.
To add further to its new super practical image, the Renault Twingo now boasts five doors and, as a result of its engine being fitted to the back of the car, is also equipped with a huge amount of storage space, including 29 litres under the front seats, a removable 2.6-litre bin under the centre console and a 6.4-litre glove box.
Slated for an October release, the new Ford Focus again has managed to push the boundaries of what can be expected of a hatchback, with a new sleeker look and more efficient petrol and diesel engines all but assuring its position as one of the UK’s best selling cars.
The new Ford Focus will have a 1.5-litre EcoBoost petrol engine, with outputs of 148bhp and 177bhp, plus a 1.5 TDCi diesel with 94bhp or 118bhp The superbly efficient 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine also remains in the mix, with a choice of 99bhp or 123bhp outputs.
For those that like to show off to their friends as well as stay safe on the road, Ford’s ‘SYNC II’ software allows the driver to control functions such as the stereo or sat nav by voice, while a new ‘Pull Out Assist’ system helps to reduce blind spot problems by detecting passing cars which the driver may not be able to see when reversing.
Throw in a more user friendly dash, complete with a modern touch screen, and you have a car which could make traffic jams a far less painful experience. Possibly.
For great deals on all Skoda, Toyota, Renault and Ford models visit http://www.drivebenfield.com.