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New in 2014: Premium players ready to roll

All class: Mercedes-Benz has another busy year ahead, with the new C-Class (left) landing in July, ahead of the C63 AMG performance variant in the fourth quarter.

Huge year for European luxury models, Japanese and Korean sportscars also due

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Outlook logo3 Feb 2014

By MIKE COSTELLO

LUXURY CARSTHE luxury race kicked off with a bang this year with the launch of the Maserati Quattroporte GTS V8 in January, to be joined by an ‘entry’ V6 version in February.

February will also see the second ‘second coming’ of Infiniti courtesy of its new Q50 mid-sized sedan rival for the BMW 3 Series. The Q50 will be further bolstered later in 2014 when it gets a Mercedes-Benz petrol engine option, but will make do from the start with hybrid or diesel power.

The new three-cylinder Mini hatch arrives in April six months after its world premiere in LA last November, retaining its novel retro appeal. At the same time, Audi will lob its revised A8 limo flagship, headlined by a heavy-hitting S8 arriving one month later.

The Ingolstadt marque will also launch the 206kW/380Nm S3 sedan, the hottest version of newly launched three-box baby. At the other end of the premium-small spectrum, Lexus will launch a facelift of its CT hybrid hatchback early in the second quarter.

Maserati is expected to complement its new Quattroporte with the smaller Ghibli during the second half of 2014, although global demand for the BMW 5 Series rival might see Australia’s allocation pushed back in the queue until the third quarter.

Also due around the middle of the year is BMW’s 4 Series Gran Coupe, yet another niche model from the Bavarian car-maker that will arrive here hot from its world premiere in Geneva in March.

July will see the arrival of the big daddy of the premium market: the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which get S-Class limo cues both inside and out, and will put even more pressure on the 3 Series and Audi A4 – both of which it continues to outsell even at the end of the current model’s lifecycle.

An AMG version will hit our shores by year’s end, as will the new flagship S-Class Coupe range-topper that replaces the CL-Class. A facelift to the popular B-Class tallboy hatch, including a redesigned nose, could also arrive on local shores by the end of 2014.

Two electric luxury cars will also arrive in 2014: the BMW i3 hatch due in October, and the Tesla Model S – originally expected in June 2013, but now blown out to late this year.

WHAT’S COMING:
Audi A8 facelift - Apr
Audi S3 sedan - May
Audi S8 - May
BMW i3 - Oct
BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe - Jun/Jul
Infiniti Q50 - Feb
Infiniti Q50 Turbo 4-cyl petrol - Q4
Lexus CT facelift - Q2
Maserati Ghibli - Q2/Q3
Maserati Quattroporte - Jan/Feb
Mercedes B-Class facelift - H2
Mercedes C-Class - Jul
Mercedes C63 AMG - Q4
Mercedes S-Class Coupe - Q4
Mini Cooper, diesel, Cooper S - Apr
Tesla Model S - Q4SPORTSCARSA SIGNIFICANT number of new or facelifted sportscars will touch down in 2014, from more affordable fare such as the new Subaru WRX in March to European exotica wearing Alfa, Jaguar and Porsche badges, among others.

First out of the blocks will be the 412kW/700Nm Audi RS7 in February, giving the Ingolstadt marque a rival for the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG S. Around the same time, Porsche will release its even more potent Panamera Turbo S sedan.

Porsche’s raft of new additions will continue into April when the new-generation Cabriolet 911 Turbo and Turbo S arrive priced from $388,800, a shade under $30K more expensive that the hard-topped equivalent. Half way through the year, Porsche will also add the 1960s-inspired 911 Targa.

BMW will launch a pair of new even-numbered offerings in March when the 2 Series coupe and 4 Series folding hard-topped convertible touch down. Pricing for the baby 2 kicks off from $50,500, while the 4 Series will start at $88,800 from launch, but expect to see a cheaper 420i emerge down the road.

BMW’s range will grow further from July with the launch of the M3 sedan and M4 coupe, while the petrol-electric i8 EV supercar is expected to hit here around October.

Budget Euro Skoda will rev-up its Octavia range in the second quarter by launching the hotted-up RS sedan and wagon version with a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.8 seconds.

Breaking away from Europe, Subaru launches the eagerly awaited new WRX in March, replete with a downsized 199kW/343Nm 2.0-litre turbo engine and a starting price around $40K. The faster 227kW/392Nm 2.5-litre STI-badged fire-breather arrives in April, shortly after its global launch.

Later in the first quarter, Kia will launch its first ever hot hatch in the form of the awkwardly named Pro_cee’d GT, powered by a 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol engine.

Niche British marque Lotus pads out its local range in the first quarter when it launches the Exige S Roadster – its fastest convertible. Fellow Brit Jaguar will release the sexy F-Type Coupe, which harks back to the legendary E-Type.

Peugeot will inject some much needed extra razzle-dazzle in May when the RCZ R arrives, sporting the most powerful drivetrain from the brand – a manic little 199kW/300Nm 1.6 turbo. Australia will get a generous 40 units from the strictly limited global production run.

Shortly after, likely in July, Alfa Romeo will launch its gorgeous lightweight, mid-engined, rear-drive 4C coupe. It bears supercar looks but will lack the supercar price – it’s expected to slot in well below $100K.

In late Q2, Volkswagen will launch a pair of hot-hatches: the GTI Performance and the 221kW/380Nm hardcore Golf R.

One of the final sportscars to leave pitlane this year will be the stunning Lexus RC coupe, the Japanese brand’s show-stopping answer to the BMW 4 Series.

It shares much with the IS sedan, but has the sort of traffic-halting style that Lexus is so keen to acquire.

WHAT’S COMING:
Alfa Romeo 4C - Jun/Jul
Audi RS7 - Feb
BMW 2 Series - Mar
BMW 4 Series Convertible - Mar
BMW M3/M4 - Jul
BMW i8 - Oct
Jaguar F-Type Coupe - Q3
Kia Pro_cee’d GT - Mar
Lexus RC Coupe - Dec
Lotus Exige S Roadster - Q1
Peugeot RCZ R - May
Porsche 911 Turbo/Turbo S Cabriolet - Apr
Porsche 911 Targa 4 and 4S - Jun/Jul
Porsche Panamera Turbo S - Feb
Skoda Octavia RS¬ - Q2
Subaru WRX - Mar
Subaru WRX STI - Apr
VW Golf GTI Performance/Golf R - Q2

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