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New in 2014: Full steam ahead for passenger cars

Top seller: Toyota will be hoping the addition of its Corolla sedan will keep it on top of the sales charts in 2014, but it faces stiff competition from Mazda's new 3.

Expect an influx of releases in 2014, most in the light- and small-car classes

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Outlook logo3 Feb 2014

LIGHT CARS

SEVERAL key new-generation city cars will arrive in 2014 with the potential to help redress the 5.0 per cent sales drop at this end of the market in 2013.

Italian brands Fiat and Alfa Romeo will get the party started with a special 50th Anniversary edition of the Abarth 595 hot hatch in the first quarter and the arrival of the updated Alfa MiTo QV late in Q2.

It is a big year for Honda in the light-car class, with its City sedan set to arrive around May and the all-new Jazz hatch landing mid-year to try and claw back sales it has lost to the Mazda2, Hyundai i20 and Toyota Yaris.

A booted version of Mitsubishi’s tiny Mirage – dubbed Attrage in some Asian markets but likely to get the Mirage sedan moniker here – lands in local showrooms mid-year, around 12 months after it was first revealed and nearly 18 months after the hatch.

The second half of the year will see the launch of a midlife update for Volkswagen’s popular Polo that will bring with it a range of new petrol and diesel powertrains, as well as a facelifted version of the second best-selling car in class last year – the Toyota Yaris.

While little is known about the third-generation Mazda2, a replacement for the top-selling hatch could arrive by the end of the year, although it could be pushed out to 2015 depending on global launch timing. Expect to see a concept version at the Geneva motor show in March.

A facelifted Nissan Micra could arrive this year, but timing is yet to be confirmed, while Proton’s long-awaited Savvy replacement is a chance for a 2014 debut.

Hyundai is yet to confirm the Volkswagen Up-sized i10 for the Australian market but if it gets the green light it could be here by year’s end.

WHAT’S COMING:

Alfa Romeo MiTo QV - Q2
Fiat Abarth 595 50th Ann - Q1
Honda City - May
Honda Jazz - Jun/Jul
Hyundai i10 - Q4 est
Mazda2 - Q4
Mitsubishi Attrage/Mirage sedan - Jul
Nissan Micra facelift - Q4 est
Proton Light car - Q4 est
Toyota Yaris facelift - H2
VW Polo facelift - H2 SMALL CARS THIS year kicked off with arguably one of the most important new-car launches of the year with the drastically improved new-generation Mazda3 range landing in showrooms on February 1.

Mazda is out to regain the sales crown it lost to the Toyota Corolla last year, but the introduction of the new-gen Corolla sedan in late February could also give Australia’s top-selling brand the boost it needs to stay at the top of the pile.

February will see the release of Kia’s new-generation Soul, which sticks to the same formula as its slow-selling predecessor with its boxy lines and spacious cabin.

Volkswagen’s Mk7 Golf wagon lands in February, replacing the previous-generation version that has been selling concurrently with the redesigned hatch since last year.

Arrivals in Q2 include a facelift for the Renault Megane hatch and wagon range as well as the delayed Skoda Rapid, which will be available only in Spaceback (hatch) body style after the VW-owned company canned plans to introduce the sedan.

The big arrival at the back-end of the year is Peugeot’s long-overdue replacement for the 308 hatch that is already on sale in Europe. There is no word yet on whether Australia will also get the stylish wagon version that was revealed last month ahead of its Geneva debut.

Nissan will introduce a sedan version of the sporty Pulsar SSS, while Alfa Romeo’s facelifted Giulietta will also go on sale in Q3 and Q4 respectively.

Subaru surprised more than a few punters by unveiling the Levorg performance wagon at last year’s Tokyo motor show and while it is not yet a lock for the Australian market, the production car could slip in before the end of the year if it gets the green light.

WHAT’S COMING:

Alfa Romeo Giulietta facelift - Q4
Kia Soul - Feb
Mazda3 - Feb
Nissan Pulsar SSS sedan - Q3
Peugeot 308 - Oct
Renault Megane facelift - Jun/Jul
Skoda Rapid Spaceback - Q2
Subaru ‘Levorg’ Q4 - est
Toyota Corolla sedan - Feb
VW Golf Wagon - Feb MEDIUM CARS AFTER a strong sales performance in 2012, the mid-size passenger car segment took a dive last year of 12.6 per cent, with mainstream models (priced below $60,000) down 16.4 per cent.

Undeterred, car-makers have continued to introduce new models to the segment, with a number of recent (US-targeted) arrivals such as the Nissan Altima, Holden Malibu and Honda Accord all arriving. In the US, it’s worth noting, this segment is second in size to pick-up trucks.

Other mid-sizers to launch in past 12 months include Skoda’s rejuvenated Octavia and the impressive Mazda6.

We mention these recent arrivals because, by contrast, 2014 will be a lot quieter, with just three launches scheduled for the year.

Kia has already kicked things off, launching its refreshed Optima mid-size contender in January via the company’s tie-in with the Australian Open tennis championship.

Korean sister brand Hyundai may have discontinued its i45 sedan at the beginning of 2013, but the popular mid-sizer is expected to return to the Australian market when the next-generation model arrives in the third quarter with a new-but-familiar nameplate: Sonata.

There is a small chance that Subaru’s sixth-generation Liberty – to be officially revealed at this week’s Chicago motor show – will arrive late in the year, however depending on production timelines this could be pushed out to early 2015.

WHAT’S COMING:
Hyundai i45/Sonata - Q3
Kia Optima - Jan
Subaru Liberty - Q4
LARGE CARS THE long-term decline of the large-car segment continued last year, despite Holden’s best efforts with the VF Commodore.

The VF stemmed the flow of double-digit sales downturns for Holden, finishing the year 9.1 per cent in arrears of 2012, but the mainstream large-car segment (under $70,000) was still down 17.2 per cent – not helped, of course, by Ford and Holden both revealing that they are closing down their car-making operations in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

While Ford recorded its lowest sales ever for Falcon last year, the Blue Oval brand will introduce a heavily facelifted version of the iconic nameplate in November – the swansong Falcon before the vehicle is retired in two years’ time.

As GoAuto revealed exclusively last month, the ‘FH’ Falcon will carry a new nose similar to the design of the Fusion/Mondeo mid-sizer and will include updates to the instruments and trim, as well as new connectivity technology.

While 2014 will mark the demise of Ford’s FPV performance arm, it does mark the return of the once-popular V8-powered XR8 variant to the refreshed range. Ford says the decision to resurrect the XR8 was due to overwhelming customer demand and to celebrate the end of local V8 production.

Before this, but still in the second half of the year, Skoda will launch its refreshed Superb range, more than a year after its debut at last year’s Shanghai motor show. The midlife facelift brings a completely new front end and minor mechanical updates.

In a bid to move further upmarket, Hyundai will launch its striking Genesis premium large sedan in Q3. Tipped to kick off from the mid-to-high $50,000 range, the 248kW/400Nm V6-powered Genesis will compete with a diverse array of rivals from the BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50 to Holden’s Calais V and the Chrysler 300.

WHAT’S COMING:
Ford ‘FH’ Falcon - Nov
Hyundai Genesis sedan - Q3
Skoda Superb - H2 PEOPLE-MOVERS THIS is a year of renewal in the people-mover segment, with some of the longest-running and most popular models due for next-generation replacements.

Honda’s fifth-generation Odyssey arrives in February, designed more as a traditional MPV than the car-like model it replaces. The new Odyssey will, for the first time, feature sliding rear doors and will have improved interior space, the option of seven or eight seats, and a new 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine.

One month later, French car-maker Citroen launches the belated replacement for its Grand C4 Picasso seven-seater. The latest iteration carries a visually striking design that was previewed by the Technospace concept from last year’s Geneva motor show, and despite being built on the same platform as the forthcoming Peugeot 308, it has a longer wheelbase than the model it replaces.

Staying with the PSA group, a facelifted version of Peugeot’s 5008 people-mover could arrive by year’s end, but may be pushed out to early 2015. The current model went on sale locally in May last year, with local distributor Sime Darby finally deciding to launch the car in Australia after initially rejecting it.

Specification updates for SsangYong’s recently released Stavic arrive in Q2 and Dodge will launch a special-edition Journey in quarter three.

The biggest movement in the people-mover segment will come in December when the top-selling Kia Carnival is replaced with an all-new model. Little is known about the next-gen MPV but expect it to carry Kia’s signature design language and a host of safety and comfort upgrades over the eight-year-old-and-counting current model.

WHAT’S COMING: Citroen Grand C4 Picasso - Mar
Dodge Journey special edition - Q3
Honda Odyssey - Feb
Kia Carnival - Dec
Peugeot 5008 facelift - Dec
SsangYong Stavic update - Q2

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