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New in 2015: Growing market for small SUVs

Rebel: Designed by two fresh college graduates, the Renegade represents a fresh take on the familiar Jeep look.

The SUV influx continues in 2015, with plenty of new offerings this year

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Outlook logo19 Jan 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

LIGHT SUVsTHERE has been a lot of talk about the booming light SUV market and, while 2014 saw a few new contenders hit the scene, including the Ford EcoSport, not many of the tiny crossovers set the sales charts on fire.

Overall the sub-$40,000 small SUV segment grew by 16.2 per cent last year, aided by strong results from the Mitsubishi ASX (+34%), Holden's Trax (+293%) as well as Nissan's Dualis and the Qashqai that replaced it.

This year the segment will heat up even more, with one of the most buzzed about launches of 2015 being the Mazda2-based CX-3 that is receiving loads of attention ahead of its arrival in March. GoAuto drove a pre-production prototype in December and can happily confirm Mazda looks set to have a pretty big impact on the segment.

Before the launch of the CX-3, however, Honda will debut its Jazz-based crossover that resurrects the HR-V nameplate for a new generation. Honda is hoping the new baby SUV will reignite sales that have slumped in recent years.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia have a big year ahead with the rugged looking Jeep Renegade range - that includes an off-road capable trail-rated version - arriving in the final quarter of the year, followed by the slightly more city friendly Fiat 500X.

A couple of models that were expected last year are set for 2015 launches, including the much delayed Renault Captur in February, as well as Citroen's zany C4 Cactus crossover later in the year.

Suzuki will inject a bit of life into its local line-up with the resurrected Vitara and SsangYong’s stylish Tivoli is a chance to be here in August.

WHAT’S COMING:Citroen C4 Cactus - Q4
Fiat 500X - November
Honda HR-V - February
Jeep Renegade - Q4
Mazda CX-3 - March
Nissan Juke facelift - April
Renault Captur - February
SsangYong Tivoli - August
Suzuki Vitara - Q3
COMPACT-MID-SIZE SUVsWHILE it sits in the small SUV category for VFACTS new-car sales purposes, the Hyundai ix35 straddles that segment and the compact-mid-size segment.

A new version is on its way in the second half of this year, and while little is known about it at the moment, sources have told GoAuto to expect the second-generation ix35 to resemble a mini Santa Fe.

The South Korean car-maker will be hoping it can maintain its spot at the top of the sales charts in its segment, so expect improvements to ride and handling and cabin quality.

The facelifted Mazda CX-5 is the first cab off the rank this year, arriving in late January with a tweaked front end and improvements to suspension for better ride. The cabin has been upgraded with the latest connectivity tech too.

MItsubishi’s Outlander gets a significant facelift in the first half, with the Japanese car-maker working hard to improve a design that was seen by some pundits as a little bland to begin with.

Elsewhere, Peugeot’s unusual 3008 crossover gets a styling makeover in about March or April to bring it closer into line with the rest of the French car-maker’s stablemates, and Subaru’s popular Forester diesel gains a continuously variable transmission in March.

WHAT’S COMING:Hyundai ix35 - late 2015
Peugeot 3008 facelift - April
Mazda CX-5 facelift - February
Mitsubishi Outlander facelift - Q1
Subaru Forester diesel CVT - March
LARGE SUVsIT’S a big year for Ford, with its all-new Mondeo, facelifted Focus and Mustang hero car on the way, but it’s the Blue Oval’s big new SUV that is garnering a lot of attention.

The Everest is a full-size, seven-seat SUV that - like the Ranger ute that it is based on - was designed, engineered and tested in Australia for global markets.

The big family hauler is expected to be a diesel-only proposition when it lands in the second half of the year, and it looks set to have serious off-road credentials.

Another big arrival in the large SUV segment this year is Kia’s third-generation Sorento, which lobs in April or May.

Kia’s latest high-riding wagon features a dramatically improved interior featuring high-quality materials, as well as NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) engineering work that should make for a more hushed cabin.

Should it maintain its competitive pricing, the Sorento could give the big guns in the segment - namely the Toyota Kluger, Ford Territory and Jeep Grand Cherokee - a bit of a scare.

Speaking of which, Jeep will launch a limited edition high-end version of the Grand Cherokee later this month.

Mitsubishi’s Challenger also arrives in new-generation guise in the second half, following the launch of the Triton ute that it is based on. Expect big improvements to styling, and ride comfort.

WHAT’S COMING:Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Platinum special edition - January
Ford Everest - late 2015
Kia Sorento - May
Mitsubishi Challenger - Q2
LUXURY SUVsA NUMBER of popular luxury SUVs will be replaced with new-generation versions this year, notably Audi’s all-new Q7 in the third quarter.

The new Q7 is up to 325kg lighter than the nine-year-old version it replaces, thanks to the Volkswagen Group’s MLB platform, and Audi will offer a plug-in hybrid version that will fall under its e-tron banner, down the track.

The German premium brand will also introduce a mid-life update for its high-selling Q3 crossover in quarter 2, which will do battle with BMW’s all-new X1 that is landing Down Under in either late 2015 or early 2016.

If you value brute power over off-road ability, then BMW’s X5 and X6 M twins are here in a few months to offer blistering performance from the 423kW/750Nm 4.4-litre TwinPower turbocharged V8 engine.

About the same time, we can expect Range Rover’s hi-po Sport SVR that was the fastest SUV around the Nurburgring circuit for a few months until Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo S - due in the second quarter - spoiled the Rangie’s fun by undercutting its time by 14 seconds late last year.

Land Rover’s highly anticipated Discovery Sport arrives to do battle with Audi’s Q5 and the BMW X3 in May, and it has been aggressively priced to knock the Germans off their perch.

Mercedes ditches the ML-Class moniker in the second half, in favour of the new GLE badge that will adorn the facelifted X5 rival. A swoopy X6-style crossover, dubbed the GLE Coupe will also lob shortly after it.

But Benz will be hanging on the quarter four launch of the GLC-Class, that will finally give the Stuttgart-based car-maker a player in the increasingly popular premium mid-size segment to tackle the aforementioned X3, Q5 and Disco Sport.

Perhaps one of the most critical launches of the year will be the replacement for Volvo’s 12-year-old XC90 early in quarter three.

The all-new model ushers in a new styling direction for the Geely-owned Swedish car-maker as well as a more flexible Scalable Product Architecture that will underpin a number of its future models.

Volvo has confirmed its Drive-E petrol and diesel powertrains will have no more than four cylinders, and, much like the Q7, a plug-in hybrid is also on the way.

Meanwhile Lexus’ first turbocharged engine will debut in the NX200t SUV next month, and hybrid versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport are set to arrive in April.

WHAT’S COMING:Audi Q3 facelift - Q2
Audi Q7 - Q3
BMW X1 - late 2015
BMW X5M/X6M - Q2
Range Rover Sport SVR - March
Range Rover and Range Rover Sport Hybrid - April
Land Rover Discovery Sport - May
Range Rover Evoque MY2016 - August
Lexus NX200t - February
Mercedes-Benz GLE (ML) facelift - late 2015
Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe - late 2015
Mercedes-Benz GLC - Q4
Volvo XC90 - Q3

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