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New in 2016: Slow year for passenger cars

Hybrid hero: Toyota’s fourth-generation Prius arrives in the first quarter, but Hyundai’s new Ioniq could take a bit out of its sales when it lands in the third quarter.

Outlook - Small passenger cars to dominate


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21 Jan 2016

WITH Australia’s continued shift away from conventional sedans, hatchbacks and wagons into the blossoming SUV market, the 2016 passenger-car launch diary has a few more quiet weeks compared with the high-rider and crossover calendar.

That said, there are still a few new arrivals that swim against the SUV tsunami, not least in the small passenger car market, which, despite sales dipping by 7.6 per cent last year, looks set to continue attracting a buyer that is after something practical, fun and affordable.

Offerings from the light and large ends of the scale are thinner on the ground this year and the corresponding popularity of large and compact SUVs is not likely to be just a coincidence.

MICRO AND LIGHT CARSAt the compact end of proceedings, 2016 gets off to a busy start with all of the confirmed new arrivals touching down in the first part of the year.

GM Holden’s baby Spark drops the Barina prefix when it launches in the first quarter, and according to the company’s executive director of sales, Peter Keley, the new city car “will be the best car in its segment, without a doubt”.

The new Spark forms part of Holden’s new-model onslaught that includes 24 new or heavily revised models arriving in showrooms by 2020.

GM’s latest global micro-car will be sold in the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom with various monikers through Chevrolet, Opel and Vauxhall, but as GoAuto has exclusively revealed, the Australian-spec version has also undergone local engineering work to ensure it is better suited to our local conditions.

Mitsubishi’s smallest offering is expected at about the same time when the facelifted Mirage rolls out, while Fiat’s contender in the light segment also touches down with a revised 500.

Kia enters Australia’s micro-car segment for the first time in quarter one with its Picanto hatch that has been on sale in global markets since 2012. An all-new version is likely to debut late this year or early 2017.

Chinese-owned British brand MG will re-enter the Australian market after a failed attempt under a previous distributor in about March with its MG3 hatch.


DS3 - Q4
Fiat 500 – Q1
Holden Spark – Q1
Kia Picanto – February/March
MG3 – February/March
Mitsubishi Mirage – Q1SMALL CARSSMALL-CAR offerings also get off to a flying start with strong representation from the Korean brands throughout the year, starting with the facelifted Kia Cerato in the first quarter, the Hyundai Elantra in February and both the Ioniq hybrid and sporty Elantra SR at a point in quarter three.

Not to be outdone, the Japanese brands also put forward a number of new models in 2016, starting in March with Toyota’s next-generation Prius hybrid pioneer.

The all-new version again carries a bold, futuristic design and is built using Toyota’s lightweight ‘New Generation Architecture’ that will eventually underpin more than half its models, as well as some Lexus models.

Subaru’s spicy WRX-based Levorg wagon arrives mid-year to fill a gap in the car-maker’s line-up left by the now defunct Liberty GT load-lugger, and is expected to be priced around the mid-$40,000 mark.

Honda’s 10th-generation Civic sedan is expected to give the company a boost after sales of the current model have dropped dramatically in recent years. For the first time in a number of generations, the Civic sedan and hatch will be built on the same platform and at the same Thai plant. The hatch is expected in 2017.

The third quarter will see the arrival of Suzuki’s reborn Baleno hatch that will sit above the popular Swift in its line-up.

Holden marks the arrival of its European-sourced all-new Astra hatch later in the year, as part of its strategy to reinvigorate the brand with 24 new models arriving before 2020. The Australian-built Cruze continues, with a fresh Z-Series launching this month, but looks set to be replaced by a fully imported redesigned model next year.

The Europeans complete the 2016 small-car introductions with a couple of hot-hatch offerings in the form of Peugeot’s 308 GTi in February and the manic Ford Focus RS in the middle of the year. Renault’s Megane should come along in the third quarter, although no mention is made of a Renault Sport RS replacement at this stage.


Ford Focus RS – Mid-2016
Holden Astra – Q4
Honda Civic sedan – Mid-2016
Hyundai Elantra – February
Hyundai Elantra SR – Q3
Hyundai Ioniq – Q3
Kia Cerato – Q1
Peugeot 308 GTi – February
Renault Megane – Q3
Subaru Levorg – Mid-2016
Suzuki Baleno – Q3
Toyota Prius – MarchMID-SIZE AND LARGE CARSTHE year is most sedentary at the mid-size and large end of the passenger car market with just a few new models expected at this stage, starting with Ford’s final Falcon and the swansong Sprint in quarter one.

While Ford is yet to release detailed information on the Sprint range, it will be attached to all XR performance variants, including XR6, XR6 Turbo and the XR8.

Skoda continues its push for a greater slice of market share with its all-new third-generation Superb range in quarter one. The Superb shares much of its underpinnings with Volkswagen’s impressive new Passat and will be available in liftback and wagon guise.

Subaru will introduce an updated Liberty and Outback pair in February, just a year after the new generation was launched, and MG will relaunch its MG6 mid-sizer – now distributed by the brand’s parent company SAIC Motor Corporation – in March. MG will introduce the facelifted version and it will likely be sourced from Thailand as opposed to China.


Ford Falcon Sprint – Q1
MG6 – March
Skoda Superb – Q1
Subaru Liberty/Outback – February

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