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New in 2015: Large sedans take a back seat

Party on: Hyundai's eagerly awaited Carnival people-mover will arrive mid year, replacing one of the oldest vehicles in the local MPV segment.

SUVs steal large car attention with most new passenger car arrivals mid-sized

Outlook logo19 Jan 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

LIGHT CARSGROWING inner city populations and an increasing focus on environmental impact have maintained the popularity of light cars in Australia with only a slight dip in sales to 9.8 percent of the total market for 2014.

Ranking second only to the top performing small car segment in passenger car sales, the various manufacturers have some important light cars to roll out this year starting, with the Kia Rio range later this month, and an additional SLi flagship variant in March.

The South Korean car-maker has another little offering at the other end of the year with the sub-Rio Picanto likely to arrive in the final quarter of 2015, which will bring an even more compact option to the popular brand's line-up.

Fiat's unmistakable 500 has been attracting fans with its cheeky looks for a marathon seven years without any significant alteration to its appearance, but in October the Italian brand will reveal a first facelift for the jelly-mould.

The Europeans will also get a look in during the year with Volkswagen's facelifted Polo GTI hot hatch lobbing in April, while the closely related Skoda Fabia range is expected in the second half.

Suzuki's longstanding Alto will take a bow this year but the the Celerio will stand in to take the baton from the little run-about in February, while Toyota and Nissankick off the Japanese newcomers with Prius C and Micra facelifts in quarters one and two respectively.

WHAT'S COMING:Fiat 500 facelift - October
Kia Rio S, S Premium, Si - January
Kia Rio SLi - March
Kia Picanto - Q4
Nissan Micra facelift - Q2
Skoda Fabia - late 2015
Suzuki Celerio - February
Toyota Prius C facelift - Q1
VW Polo GTI - April
SMALL CARSAll eyes are on Australia's most popular new car segment this year with a mostly sporty and driver-focused line-up on its way over the next 12 months.

Alfa Romeo opens the proceedings next month with an updated Giulietta QV which packs a bigger 176kW punch thanks to the engine borrowed from the eagerly awaited 4C.

The Europeans keep the new kit coming through the first part of the year with Peugeot lobbing two new warmed up GT variants of the 308 in late February, while Audi will jump in with its first plug-in hybrid - the A3 e-tron in March.

Citroen's offering for the year comes in the form of the new C4 Picasso sharing some of the kit with the mechanically similar Peugeot 308, including the little frugal three-cylinder engine.

Fellow German maker Volkswagen completes the Euro arrivals with its go-anywhere crossover version of the Golf, which combines a wagon body with a jacked-up ride-height and four-wheel drive for Dub fans who want to get out of the urban jungle and into the real one.

Local heroes Ford and Holden have two offerings each for the year with a spicy Focus ST variant for the current shape in quarter two, and a facelift for the whole range is booked in for the latter part of the year.

An updated Cruze and new Astra take care of the lion-badge offerings in quarter one and two respectively, while Hyundai will deliver a facelifted i30 that could be followed by a flagship turbocharged version.

WHAT'S COMING:Alfa Romeo Giulietta QV - February
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron - March
Citroen C4 Picasso 5 Seat - February
Ford Focus ST – Q2
Ford Focus facelift - Q4
Holden Astra GTC/VXR - Q2
Holden Cruze update – Q1
Hyundai i30 facelift - Q2
Peugeot 308 various additions - 1.6 petrol turbo, GT petrol, GT diesel - March
VW Golf Alltrack wagon - Q3
MEDIUM CARSThe first part of the year is packed with a wide range of mid-sizers catering for most tastes, from performance powerhouses to frugal family wagons.

The first quarter of the year will also see the arrival of the drastically delayed Ford Mondeo, which has been on sale in the US as the Fusion for nearly two years.

Mazda and Skoda will also cram in a new arrivals to the busy start of the year with a facelifted Mazda6 and the high-riding Scout version of the Octavia.

This month will also host the launch of Volkswagen's updated Jetta and the seriously price-reduced Subaru Outback and Liberty four-wheel drive models.

A new hot Insignia VXR will remind Australians of the short lived Opel that came and went in 2012 and 2013 when Holden delivers the new model alongside the smaller Astra, while Toyota will wheel out the last version of the locally built Camry in the middle of the year.

The year will be rounded out by Kia and its next generation Optima, which could bring major changes such as a wagon bodied variant, hybrid and high-performance turbocharged powertrains.

Volkswagen is also due to fit in one last roll-out in the last part of the year when it goes public with the new Passat and its new future-proofed and elegant looks.

The green light hasn't yet been given for the only freshly announced crossover version of Volvo's S60 sedan named the Cross Country, but it will have to wait until after its European launch in the middle of the year if it does come Down Under.

WHAT'S COMING:Chrysler 300 facelift, include Oz-only SRT8 - Q1
Ford Mondeo - Q1
Peugeot 508 facelift - March
Holden Insignia VXR - late 2015
Kia Optima - Q4
Mazda6 facelift - February
Skoda Octavia Scout - March
Subaru Liberty/Outback - January
Toyota Camry - June
Toyota Aurion facelift - July
VW Jetta update - January
VW Passat – Q4
Volvo V60 Cross Country - late 2015
LARGE CARSPerhaps the most exciting vehicle in the segment is the Chrysler 300 SRT8, which as well as packing a mighty 6.4-litre V8 punch, will only be available in Australia from quarter one following a decision by its maker to limit the historic SRT badge to Dodge models only – except the 300 in Oz.

A lightly restyled 508 will arrive from Peugeot at some point in March or April bringing a revised front suspension system and Xenon headlights, while Toyota rounds out the big car proceedings in the middle of the year with the final locally built Aurion.

WHAT'S COMING:Chrysler 300 facelift, include Oz-only SRT8 - Q1
Peugeot 508 facelift - April
Toyota Aurion facelift - June
PEOPLE MOVERSWith large SUVs on the rise and taking the place of more car/van-like vehicles, just a handful of true people movers will see the light of day this year starting with the eagerly awaited Kia Carnival.

Arriving in February, the South Korean car-maker has high hopes for the new version, which in its previous generation has been kicking goals since its introduction on 2006, but has just been overtaken by Honda's renowned Odyssey.

The middle of the year will welcome in the new V-Class from Mercedes, which will replace Viano and Valente models with a more high-tech and luxurious offering.

At about the same time Toyota will introduce the smallest competitor to enter the 2015 people mover category with its restyled Prius V.

The frugal hybrid Japanese car might have relatively diminutive proportions but it is a genuine seven-seater nonetheless.

WHAT'S COMING:Kia Carnival - February
Mercedes-Benz V-Class - June
Toyota Prius V facelift - July

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