Towards the end of July, Dyler was invited to attend the 2021 SMMT test day at the Millbrook testing ground in Bedfordshire, and we used it as a bit of a research day…
The day is when car manufacturers come together in one location and allow members of the automotive media (that’s “people who write about cars” to you and I!) to test drive and experience some of the cars they have one sale today.
After a day of enjoying some of our favourite and not-so-favourite machines on sale today, the list below features seven cars we believe will become classics of the future.
Scroll below to find out our choices, and don’t forget to tell us if you agree or disagree!
BMW 4 Series
If, like me, you’re of a certain age, you’ll have reached this point in your life - you still appreciate good looks and a sorted drive in a car, but comfort also starts to play an important role because of things like a pinched nerve in your back. And clicking knees. And gout. Cars these days for me are more about taking it easy than tooling about on a race track. This is where the new BMW 4 Series comes in. To begin with, this car is sensationally good looking in the flesh. Its design is a talking point without being obnoxious. It’s sporty, without looking like an equivalent Lewis Hamilton-spec Mercedes. In short, it’s everything a BMW should be. Behind the wheel, both the 420i and M440i are sensational drives thanks to the sorted chassis we’ve come to expect from the brand over the decades. The twin-turbo 3.0L M440i is the more rapid of the two, and it’s as close as you’ll get to an M4 without scaring yourself. The 420i, however, is my favourite car in BMW’s line-up right now, and if we’re using one of the criteria of a classic car needing to be desirable, then the entry-level 4 Series is the one to get… especially when you set the car in comfort mode. Despite bemoaning the demise of the six-speed manual fitted to BMWs of old, the 420i’s eight-speed automatic gearbox is perfect for cruising. Its turbocharged, in-line four 2.0L motor has just the right amount of power - not too much, not too little, and plenty to get you out of trouble if you need it. What’s more, the interior is a lovely place to soak up the miles when it comes to comfort, style, and quality. Bravo, BMW, you’ve created a car we’ll be talking about for years to come… and that’s not just because of the styling.
*Insert James May “Good News!” joke here*, but here’s the thing; the All-New Dacia Sandero is one of the most fun-to-drive cars on sale today, and despite its £11,995 asking price, it comes with bags of personality. Now, don’t go expecting mega levels of performance because they aren’t there - the little Dacia’s Renault-sourced, turbocharged 1.0L three-banger motor produces 89bhp and it will reach 62mph in 11.7 seconds. But here’s the thing - a car doesn’t necessarily need to be fast to be fun, and the Sandero does that in spades. The Sandero’s appeal lies in its simplicity - there’s no semi auto gearbox, because Dacia - and thank you for this - have given the car an old school, six-on-the-floor manual. Mated with the tiny motor which boasts as much of a sense of happiness as the rest of the Sandero, you’ll find yourself barrelling down a B-road with an enormous grin on your face. It’s far from perfect, but none of the cars on this list are. However, in 2021 where cars are becoming increasingly autonomous and packed with tech, the day will come when we look back at the Sandero and miss it for its sense of joy and simplicity. For that alone, Romania’s finest deserves future classic car status.
Peugeot 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered
If you’ve been keeping an eye on motorsport news, you’ll have noticed that Peugeot will be making a return to Le Mans in 2022. Yet prior to its LM announcement, Peugeot was already taking its hybrid-powered performance vehicles seriously. Since Peugeot joined the Stellantis umbrella, it’s fair to say that it has regained its mojo for creating interesting cars, which are a hoot to drive. Step forward the 508 Peugeot Sport Engineered. Peugeot’s halo car is aimed squarely at the cars such as the Audi S4 and the Mercedes C43 AMG, and like its German rivals, it has a limited top speed of 155mph. The people at Peugeot Sport have fitted their halo car with the 1.6L four-cylinder motor from the rather excellent Peugeot GTI, and bolted on an electric motor to each axle to give the - let’s face it - badass looking 508 PSE a mega 355bhp. That’s right - 355bhp in a Peugeot. You’ll also be pleased to know that it goes as good as it looks. The chassis is HEAVENLY. In Sport mode, it’s rigid enough to give you the confidence to hustle and snap through the sweet, almost lag-free eight-speed auto box. Yet it’s never back-breakingly hard. In Comfort mode, well, it’s what you’d expect from a mid-sized French car. Inside it’s a masterclass in Peugeot at its brilliant best. The trademark dinky steering wheel allows you to see all of the dials clearly, and it gives you the stones to push on and really take advantage of that chassis’ dynamics when the mood takes you. Inside, the “piano keys” that control the heating, car controls, and infotainment systems are a stylish, quirky alternative to the fingerprint-unfriendly digital dashboards found in its rivals. Like other big French cars before it, expect the 508 PSE’s £55k asking price to plummet on the second hand market when the time comes. Great looking, fast, well-made, and a left-field choice, what’s not to want here?
BMW M3 and M4
The latest iterations of the BMW M3 and BMW M4 are arguably two of the most controversial cars on this list, and not for THAT reason. To begin with, they are big. Really big. Compared to the M3 E46 - a car considered to be amongst the greatest M Cars of all time - the new car is 10 inches longer, and seven inches wider than its great, great, great grandfather. No M Car has ever been cheap, but the new M3 and M4 are what can only be described as expensive - the standard M3 and M4 start at just north of £74,000 and £76,000 respectively, but tick every box on the options list, and you’ll be at £92k easily. Yet dimensions, prices, and let’s face it - questionable looking - carbon fibre seats do not matter one iota when you’re on the move, because both cars are sublime. Their chassis are taut, poised and fizzlew with that traditional M Car magic. I wouldn’t say either the M3 or M4 are comfortable. However, BMW makes the 420i and M440i for that. Throw either the M3 or M4 into a corner, and it will stick, and stick... and stick some more. In fact, the amount of grip both cars possess will make you ache as they pin you into that snug, carbon fibre race seat. Oh, and did I mention the noise? In Normal mode, neither car is quiet. Put it into M Mode, and the turbocharged 3.0L six-cylinder, straight-six found in the M3 and M4 will snarl, spit, and gargle as you shift through the eight-speed box and reach what feel like warp speeds; the landscape becomes a blur, and your eyes won’t blink until the car forces you to back out. Make no mistake, both of these cars are hard, brutal, and scary, but that’s why they are on this future classic car list. We’re still talking about them some three weeks on since they were driven, and where they stand in the BMW M Car hall of fame is surely something which will be discussed for many years to come amongst car enthusiasts. I’m happy to go on record and say that the latest M3 and M4 are both more than likely to become classic cars of the future - if you’re not fully convinced, please just go and drive one.
Just like the Dacia Sandero, there is absolutely nothing pretentious about the Suzuki Jimny, which is why this roly-poly, little bundle of joy is on this list. Without a doubt, the Jimny is the rarest car on this list. In the UK, Suzuki sold the Jimny for 2020 only. Out of the 1,300 cars ordered by UK buyers, only 150 have been delivered so far. To keep up with the demand, Suzuki introduced the two-seat Light Commercial Vehicle - or LCV version - you see here to keep up with demand amongst business buyers, and a miniscule 400 of these cars will make it to UK shores. Like the Dacia Sandero and the Toyota GR Yaris below, the Jimny was one of the few cars with a manual transmission available at the SMMT day. Its agricultural, naturally-aspirated 100bhp, 1.5L motor is far from rapid and it requires some creative driving to get the best out of it. However, the process of doing so whilst the Jimny’s soft-suspension bounces you across a muddy track or B-road is an absolute joy. Its playful, sit-up and beg styling belies a car that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Happily, behind the wheel, that’s exactly how it feels. In an automotive world where the necessity behind plenty of SUVs on sale is questionable at times, the Jimny is a breath of fresh air thanks to its simplicity and no-frills, rugged personality. It’s also rarer than a Range Rover Evoque. Prices for a Jimny on the second-hand car market start around £25,000 with lower-mileage models reaching the £36k mark. The Jimny is a rare car as it is. Expect its exclusivity - and by default, prices - to rise sharply in the coming years.
Toyota GR Yaris
The Toyota GR Yaris was one of the most anticipated cars for 2021. And that’s for good reason too, because it’s effing brilliant. Toyota’s pocket rocket is a homologation special of 25,000 cars, which was developed with the expertise of Toyota’s WRC title-winning Yaris WRC from 2018. In short, the GR Yaris is a rally car made for the road from the ground-up. To save weight, Toyota did away with the Yaris’ rear doors, fitted a carbon fibre roof, and added a bonnet, tailgate, and door skins fashioned from carbon fibre. The result is a weight-saving of 27.5 kilograms. Yet the lightweight 1280kg construction isn’t the most impressive thing about the GR Yaris. Much of the little Toyota’s magic lies in its three-cylinder, 257bhp, 1.6-litre turbocharged engine. When mated with Toyota’s gorgeous six-speed manual (and it’s a proper manual with a clutch and no paddle shift option), the GR Yaris fizzles and cracks and pops and bangs with joy when driven hard. In short, the harder you push, the more rewarding it is. The WRC-derived all-wheel-drive system provides buckets of grip. Neck-aching levels of grip with zero understeer. It’s so well balanced. In fact, the levels of grip are so much, you’d need to be seriously bereft of talent to lose the Yaris. In Sport mode, the Yaris’ torque is split 30:70 front-to-rear and it’s noisy. Plant the throttle, and growl from the three-banger gets rowdy as you push on, and you’ll find yourself imagining that you’re Ott Tänak pushing on during his 2018 championship year. The Yaris dances and changes direction with aplomb as your confidence grows. This is a special car, make no mistake. Not since the 1990s has a car maker made a proper road-going rally car because it simply fancied it. The GR Yaris is also affordable, thanks to its £30k price tag and some attractive finance options. It’s a once in a generation special for the 2020s, and Toyota have smashed the future classic status out of the park. Bravo.
To look through the listings of the cars mentioned above on Dyler, please click here.