It’s almost half-time and the game is tight. The Australian new car industry has fallen behind on record results scored in 2016, but there’s a plan to bounce back with a host of compelling machinery set to arrive in coming months. Here’s a class-by-class look at the important players set to come off the bench in the second half of the year:
Holden’s small car offensive is set to continue with a new Astra sedan that joins the established Astra hatch. Though they share the same name, the cars are fundamentally different – the sedan is a Korean-sourced successor to the discontinued Cruze, while the hatch hails from Opel’s European operation.
Fiat is preparing an upgraded version of the 500-based Abarth 595 hatch with slightly reworked looks and new improved infotainment features, while Volkswagen is prepping a new Polo that may just scrape in before New Year’s Eve.
The big news on the Volkswagen front surrounds an updated Golf. The facelifted spin on the seventh-generation hatch brings slightly sharpened looks as well as fresh technology such as an Audi-style digital dashboard and BMW-like gesture control for the stereo, but in a much more affordable package. The regular Golf arrives in July, followed by performance-oriented GTI and Golf R models in August.
Australia’s own Holden Commodore dies in October, just after Kia introduces a spiritual successor of sorts in the GT Stinger . Kia’s first rear-wheel-drive family sedan offers a choice of turbocharged four-cylinder and six-cylinder power accompanied by immense curiosity from Australian car enthusiasts. Can the Korean upstart brand truly produce a dynamic rival to the likes of BMW? We can’t wait to find out.
Hyundai’s new Sonata, due in August, is a much safer proposition, though it’s unlikely to stir the soul. The same could be said of Toyota’s next-gen Camry, which will be built overseas after the brand winds up its local manufacturing plant in October.
Keep an eye out for a new Subaru Liberty and Outback too, with mild updates on the way to reinforce its style and tech appeal.
On the SUV front, Ford is set to introduce an updated version of its EcoSport that shifts its spare tyre away from a place of prominence on the tailgate, and you can also expect to find the blue oval’s latest “Sync” infotainment features in the cabin.
Hyundai is set to bring its Kona baby SUV to market in the second half of the year, giving the brand a rival to the likes of Mazda’s CX-3 and the Toyota CH-R. Intriguingly, Kia Australia has opted out of a Rio-based crossover sold overseas.
MG promises to rock the establishment with its new ZS baby SUV, a Thai-built model that will focus on value as a counterpoint to established rivals.
Jeep badly needs a win in order to address sliding sales in Australia. The answer could lie in the Compass, a butch-looking India-sourced model crafted to take on the likes of Mazda’s CX-5 and the Volkswagen Tiguan. As usual, you should expect the Jeep to offer a touch more off-road cred than its alternative, particularly in toughened Trailhawk form.
Holden will put the popular, if critically panned, Captiva to bed with a new Equinox SUV in November, giving the brand new metal in one of motoring’s most important segments. The five-seat Equinox will be followed by a seven-seat Acadia that replaces the larger Captiva 7 in 2018.
Honda has had a big year on the back of the new Civic hatch, and there’s more to come in the form of a fresh CR-V. Powered by a punchy 1.5-litre turbo engine, the new CR-V holds plenty of promise for the Japanese giant.
Subaru is expecting good things from its new Impreza-based XV, a pioneer of the high-riding hatch genre, while Mitsubishi’s upcoming Eclipse Cross represents a new addition to its crossover line-up.
Keep an eye out for Peugeot’s new 3008, which will be the launch platform for the brand’s new local distributors in Inchcape, the same organisation behind Subaru’s Australian operation. Expect a more prominent presence from the French marque as the company looks to make good on its local investment.
The key products in the full-sized family SUV range for 2017 have already arrived in the form of Toyota’s Kluger and Nissan’s Pathfinder, but that won’t stop LDV from having a go with its new D90 wagon. The Chinese brand has made a name for itself with surprisingly well-sorted commercial vans, which could translate well to its first local SUV.
We’ve already seen updates to the Isuzu D-Max and Nissan Navara, so the big ute story in the second half of the year surrounds Mercedes’ new X-Class. While it won’t arrive in time for Christmas, there will be plenty of hype surrounding the model as the three-pointed star tries to woo buyers away from the likes of Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak. At the other end of the spectrum, LDV is readying its new T60 ute, a model set to take on Great Wall and Tata in the race for affordable commercial vehicles.
Given that luxury models and SUVs are responsible for much of the growth in the global car market, it’s not a surprise to find plenty of luxury SUVs on the menu in 2017.
Alfa Romeo’s Stelvio is an important one, as the Giulia-based high-rider represents the brand’s first attempt at a vehicle of this type, one that could help direct the future of the brand.
Audi’s Q5 is the follow-up act to one of the most popular cars of its kind, bringing new looks and technology in a popular platform, while Volvo’s XC60 will look to steal market share away from the Audi in October.
Range Rover has style-conscious supporters covered inside and out with its new Velar, a road-focused model set to sit between the Evoque and Range Rover Sport, while Maserati’s petrol-powered Levante S injects much-needed passion into the brand’s first SUV.
Lastly, muscle car fans looking for something new could consider the upcoming Mercedes-AMG GLC 63, a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre machine that is essentially a C63 wagon with all-wheel-drive and more ground clearance (not that you would ever take it off road).
Drivers who are looking to go off road could consider the fifth-generation Land Rover Discovery, due locally in July. The do-everything core of Land Rover’s local line-up features Range Rover-esque styling along with a lightweight aluminium construction and increasingly clever electronics.
If that’s a step too far, Jeep’s updated Grand Cherokee range is around the corner. The American brand will offer the usual mix of petrol, diesel, comfort-oriented and hardcore models – and better yet, a supercharged SRT Trackhawk version will arrive next year.
Ford is also set to introduce an updated version of the Everest four-wheel-drive that, like the baby EcoSport, benefits from improved connectivity features such as Apple CarPlay.
Luxury Under $80,000
Setting SUVs aside, Volkswagen will go after the likes of Audi’s A4 with the new Arteon sedan, a successor of sorts to its Passat CC four-door coupe. Don’t expect it to be much cheaper than the Audi, particularly in fully-loaded form.
Hyundai’s Genesis brand will go out on its own in the third quarter of the year with a pair of models starting with the Genesis G80 (a replacement for the V6-powered Hyundai Genesis sedan) and the Genesis G70 (a smaller model with close ties to Kia’s Stinger sports sedan).
Luxury Over $80,000
Volvo is bringing sexy wagons back with the new V90, a full-sized five-door based on the elegant S90 sedan. It’ll have first-class safety features, stylish looks and a family of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines that offer strong economy.
While Volvo has form in the wagon sector, it’s new territory for Porsche as the sports car brand prepares to introduce its new Panamera Sport Turismo wagon, a sleek-looking model that offers outrageous grunt in top-end Turbo form.
Jaguar is also joining the trend for luxury wagons with its new XF Sportbrake in December, a Christmas present for those who wouldn’t dare be seen in a school-run-spec SUV.
And Mercedes-Benz’ S-Class flagship will benefit from a mid-life update that brings a mild styling change accompanied by tweaks to the interior and a bolstered set of active driver aids.
Performance under $60,000
Motorists looking for a dash of performance are set to be spoilt for choice by a range of turbocharged options.
Volkswagen’s Golf GTI and Golf R are back with more power, reworked styling and clever tech to bolster their appeal. Expect a mild facelift for Subaru’s WRX and STI duo, too.
The big news in the world of hot hatches surround’s Honda’s Civic Type R, a model that recently broke the front-wheel-drive lap record at Germany’s Nurburgring circuit, thanks in part to its wild aerodynamics and 235kW engine.
Ford will respond to the Honda in late 2017 or early 2018 with an upgraded version of its Focus RS featuring a clever new front differential for its all-wheel-drive system that should make it even more sensational when pushed to the limit.
Performance Over $60,000
Nissan is preparing to follow-up its breakthrough GT-R Nismo coupe with a Nismo-tuned version of the V6-powered 370Z that may represent a farewell of sorts to the Z-car. Audi has ditched naturally aspirated V8 power for a turbocharged V6 in the new RS5, a model that promises to be faster (if a little less sonorous) than its predecessor.
Customers at the top end of town will be spoilt for choice by three bona-fide supercars from Europe. McLaren’s new 720S promises Ferrari-taming performance in a dramatically-styled carbon-fibre body, Ferrari’s 812 Superfast brings a sensational screaming V12 and Porsche’s latest 911 GT3 represents a return of the manual transmission to please power-crazed purists.
It wouldn’t be summer without new convertible options, and there are plenty on the way.
Unfortunately, they all require you to part with significant savings.
The cheapest model here is likely to be Mercedes’ new E-Class Cabriolet, a car that blends cutting-edge tech with the marque’s smooth new style. Jaguar is targeting sports car buyers looking to make a splash with a new four-cylinder spin on its F-Type coupe and convertible, while Aston Martin’s Vanquish S Volante represents the last hurrah for the brand’s naturally-aspirated V12.
While we’re on the subject of free-breathing engines, the new Audi R8 V10 Spyder offers open-air access to one of the great modern engines, while Mercedes-AMG’s GT S roadster represents a turbocharged alternative with a hot-rod soundtrack.