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New in 2016: SUV boom continues

Lap of luxury: Bentley’s Bentayga marks the first time the company has entered the SUV space, and it hits Australian shores in Spring.

From tiny crossovers to luxury wagons, the SUV segment has never been busier


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21 Jan 2016

THE popularity of SUVs continues to grow in Australia, and the appetite for high-riders shows no signs of abating.

Last year about one-third of all vehicles purchased in Australia were SUVs, with the market share hitting 35.4 per cent – an increase of 3.7 per cent over 2014 – while passenger car sales dropped 3.1 per cent to 44.6 per cent.

The trend is all but certain to continue in 2016 with the calendar jam-packed with SUV launch activity, from a slew of tiny crossovers to family-friendly wagons, rugged off-roaders and ultra-luxury offerings.

SMALL SUVThe past few years has seen an influx of all-new small SUVs stealing sales from micro, light and small passenger cars, with big-name brands such as Mazda (with the new CX-3) and Honda (with HR-V) making an immediate impact on the market.

In 2016, the launch activity is not as furious, but there will be a few big-hitters to help keep the segment growing.

First up is probably the quirkiest arrival of 2016 – Citroen’s C4 Cactus – which lobs in March to add some French flair to the crossover segment. Citroen will offer the C4 Cactus in one specification level and two powertrains – a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol from $26,990 plus on-road costs and a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel from $29,990. It will come standard with the Airbump plastic protection panels on the four doors.

Following in quarter two is the turbocharged version of Suzuki’s recently resurrected Vitara crossover, delivering 103kW/220Nm, and replacing the normally aspirated 1.6-litre RT-X all-wheel drive as the range flagship. The turbo will also be offered in two-wheel-drive guise From January, all Vitaras will be offered with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

GoAuto understands that Suzuki’s reborn Ignis crossover will also lob in the final quarter, bringing the Japanese car-maker’s compact SUV count to four alongside S-Cross, Jimny and Vitara, although given the dimensions of the Ignis it is set to be the smallest crossover in its line-up.

Quarter four will see the launch of Volkswagen’s long-awaited Tiguan replacement that was shown at last year’s Frankfurt motor show. The second-generation version is larger than the outgoing model and will eventually be offered as a seven-seater, helping it appeal to a wider buyer group in Australia.

The Tiguan has a sharper design and more interior space than the outgoing model, due in part to a wheelbase that is 77mm longer. It will be available in two- and all-wheel drive, and while eight four-cylinder powertrains will be offered in Europe, Australia will get about half that number.


Citroen C4 Cactus – February/March
Suzuki Vitara turbo – Q2
Suzuki Ignis – Q4
Volkswagen Tiguan – Q4MID-SIZE SUVKia is using its sponsorship of the Australian Open tennis championship this month to promote the arrival of its all-new Sportage, which brings a bold new face, improvements to cabin materials and comfort, and new safety gear to help it compete against segment big guns including Mazda’s CX-5 and the new Hyundai Tucson.

In February, Subaru will launch a lightly facelifted version of its top-selling model, the Forester, while Volkswagen’s Passat Alltrack also arrives for those looking for a high-riding wagon rather than a straight-up SUV.

Chinese SUV specialist Haval continues its quest to crack the Australian market in the second quarter with the arrival of its mid-size H6 Coupe, powered by a 145kW/315Nm 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine. This model follows the H2 crossover and H8 and H9 large SUVs that went on sale late last year.

August marks the arrival of Chinese-owned British marque MG’s GS crossover to follow up the relaunch of the MG6 mid-sizer and the arrival of the MG3 city car. Given the GS is entering a hot segment, it could prove to be one of the more successful offerings from a Chinese brand in Australia.

The facelifted version of Mitsubishi’s electrified Outlander PHEV lands mid-year, while Ford’s Kuga also picks up a facelift – as shown at last year’s Los Angeles motor show – in quarter four.


Ford Kuga – Q4Haval H6 Coupe – Q2
Kia Sportage – January
MG GS – August
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – mid-2016
Subaru Forester – February
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack – February
LARGE SUVIt is a quiet year for large SUV launches, but Jeep will mark 75 years since the brand’s inception with special 75th Anniversary editions of the rugged Wrangler and the Grand Cherokee – as well as the Patriot, Compass and Renegade – during the second quarter.

One of the biggest launches of the year will be Mazda’s new-generation CX-9 mid-year. It will be the first model in the company’s arsenal to use a turbocharged SkyActiv petrol engine, but sales could be hindered by the fact that it will not be offered with a diesel engine option.

The entire CX-9 range will be powered by the new 186kW (169kW with 87 RON petrol) and 420Nm turbo-petrol engine, which is based on the naturally aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder units found under the bonnet of the CX-5 and Mazda6. It replaces the thirsty 204kW/367Nm 3.7-litre V6 that powers the existing model.

While the new seven-seat CX-9 is 30mm shorter than the current model, its wheelbase has been stretched by 55mm, ensuring more interior space.

A safety upgrade is anticipated for the trusty Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series wagon later in the year, most likely the same time as the pick-up version.

Holden’s Colorado 7 was recently spied by GoAuto undergoing testing in Victoria and it looks set to introduce new advanced driver-assist technology to the big seven-seater range.

The Colorado 7 followed its pick-up sibling to market in November 2012 and has had a number of tweaks since launch, but this will be the first major facelift for the model that counts the fresh Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, Toyota Fortuner, Ford’s locally developed Everest and the mechanically related Isuzu MU-X as its key rivals.


Holden Colorado 7 – H2
Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee 75th Anniversary editions – Q2
Mazda CX-9 – Mid-2016
Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series – H2LUXURY SUVsPremium car sales have skyrocketed in the past few years and high-end car-makers are cashing in on the SUV boom just as much as mainstream brands.

This year will see the launch of the most luxurious SUV in the world, and an all-electric crossover as well as a number of high-performance high-riders.

Kicking the year off are variants of the BMW X1 and X4, while the manic 265kW/500Nm twin-turbo V6-powered Porsche Macan GTS and the R-Design variant of Volvo’s well-received XC90 also land in the first quarter. The plug-in hybrid version of the XC90 will follow in the third quarter.

A facelifted version of Mercedes’ GLA crossover lobs in February or March and, while they are not officially confirmed, the Benz SUV stable looks set to grow with the arrival of the GLC Coupe and GLC450 AMG Sport late in 2016.

Quarter three is busy with the plug-in hybrid version of Audi’s Q7 launching around the same time as Volvo’s version. Infiniti’s all-important QX30 compact SUV is also on the calendar, along with Jaguar’s first SUV – the F-Pace. The the big cat comes with high expectations given the success of the XE sedan on which it is based, while another Jaguar Land Rover product, the niche Range Rover Evoque Convertible, will likewise launch about the same time.

Bentley’s Bentayga hits showrooms in the second half, led by the strictly limited First Edition, packing a 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 engine and luxuries not seen in the SUV sector. Another ultra-exclusive new model – Maserati’s long-anticipated Levante – also due to arrive late in the year, while Tesla’s highly anticipated all-electric Model X is also set down for launch in the final quarter.


Audi Q7 e-tron – Q3
Audi SQ5 Plus – Q2
Bentley Bentayga – Q3
BMW X1 sDrive/X4 xDrive35d – January
BMW X5 eDrive – May
Infiniti QX30 – Q3
Jaguar F-Pace – Q3
Land Rover Discovery Sport Dynamique – May
Maserati Levante – Q4
Mercedes-Benz GLA – February/March
Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe – Q4
Mercedes-Benz GLC450 AMG Sport – Q4
Porsche Macan GTS – Q1
Range Rover Evoque Convertible – Q3
Range Rover Sport HST - January
Range Rover SV Autobiography – March
Tesla Model X – Q4
Volvo XC90 R-Design – Q1
Volvo XC90 T8 – Q2/Q3LIGHT-COMMERCIAL VEHICLES2015 was a massive year for light-commercials in Australia, particularly utilities, with all-new or heavily facelifted versions of the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton, Nissan Navara and the big one – Toyota’s top-selling HiLux – all lobbing before December.

This year things will be a bit quieter with no major ute launches on the horizon.

Renault has launched a 12-seat bus version of its Master commercial van this month and Iveco’s Daily van range gets a boost with the addition of a 4x4 version in February.

The Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series safety upgrades also carry across to the pick-up version in the second half, while the yet-to-be-seen Volkswagen Amarok facelift is scheduled to land in the fourth quarter.

An updated Holden Colorado is also anticipated, following GoAuto’s exclusive sighting of development models in testing recently.


Holden Colorado – H2
Iveco Daily 4x4 – February
Renault Master Bus – January
Toyota LandCruiser 70 Series – H2
Volkswagen Amarok – Q4

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