If you’re looking for a new Motability car you might keep hearing or reading about terms such as ‘facelift’, ‘model year’, ‘update’, ‘next generation’ and ‘refresh’ in vehicle reviews and conversations with Motability Specialists. Phrases like ‘the Vauxhall Crossland is about to get a facelift’ and ‘recently updated SEAT Ateca’ describe some kind of refresh to a model, but what does each one mean? Here’s everything you need to know.
The model year (or MY) of a new car is one of the main ways to identify the slight differences between vehicles that are the same make and model. So, for example, a 2020 model year car will often be slightly different to a 2021 model year vehicle. Changes are usually very minor, like a refresh of the car’s technology or a slight tweak to the vehicle’s engine range or performance. It wouldn’t normally include any changes to the exterior of the vehicle.
The model year of a car isn’t always the same as the year in which it was built. You can usually order a new model year car a few months before a new calendar year starts, as carmakers tend to start their new model year production in the Autumn. This is thought to be because car plants, especially those here in the UK, would traditionally close their factories for two weeks in August or September every year to give most of their workers a holiday, during which they would update the production line and introduce new products.
A great facelift can breathe new life into an ageing car. If a model has had a facelift, then that’s generally considered one step above a refresh or a simple model year change. The term 'facelift', which is also sometimes known as a ‘major update' by car manufacturers, describes a substantial change to a model which normally also coincides with a model year change.
These changes often mean that a vehicle has a noticeably different appearance inside and out when compared to the previous year’s model, along with updates to the engine specs, safety features and technology. Colour choices and trim levels (sometimes including the names) often get updated during a facelift as well.
Take a look at the recent update to the Vauxhall Crossland (in the picture at the top of this page) to see the kind of exterior changes that manufacturers make to a car when giving it a mid-lifecycle facelift. The new and refreshed 2021 Vauxhall Crossland is the vehicle on the left, while the old Crossland X model - introduced in 2018 - is shown on the right.
Most car manufacturers will launch the next-generation of a model every five to eight years, which starts a cars lifecycle all over again. ‘Next-generation’, ‘redesign’ or ‘all-new’ are terms used to describe what is typically a totally new vehicle (usually on a new platform) with extensive changes both inside and out. Expect brand new or revamped engines, the latest in-car technology, a fresh new interior and the latest safety features. Most next-generation cars released today also tend to have some degree of electrification alongside (and sometimes instead of) traditional combustion engine options.
These completely new cars tend to be higher in price (with fewer special offers and incentives available) when compared to the older model that it replaces.
The arrival of a next-generation or facelift model usually means that stock of the old car needs registering before the new one starts to arrive in showrooms, so if you don’t mind taking delivery of the older version there’s often deals and special offers available to tempt you into one. You'll often get one of these older models quicker as well.
So if you’re about to start looking for your next Motability car and there’s an important feature or option that you really want, remember to double check that it’s definitely on the model year you choose and that the Motability Specialist who processes your application orders the exact vehicle that you want.