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New in 2017: Passenger cars take back seat

Super seller: The all-new version of Toyota’s Camry mid-size stalwart will arrive in the last quarter of 2017, the first non-Aussie built Camry since 1987.

Updates and facelifts the main theme for passenger car launches coming in 2017

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Outlook logo17 Jan 2017

By ROBBIE WALLIS

FOLLOWING on the back of a slow year for new passenger car vehicles in 2016, the 2017 forecast looks to be much the same, with a sizeable chunk of the new-vehicle market in Australia being cannibalised by the rise of compact and mid-size SUVs.

Passenger cars saw a 5.7 per cent drop in sales in 2016 following a 3.0 per cent slide the previous year, compared to an 8.0 per cent rise in SUVs, and a 9.4 per cent increase in light-commercial vehicles, demonstrating Australia’s love for one-tonne utilities in particular.

However, it is by no means a dying segment, with a number of exciting new models and updates making their way Down Under this year to keep fans of hatchbacks, sedans and wagons excited at what is to come.

MICRO AND LIGHT CARSTHIS year will be uneventful for the most diminutive offerings on the market, with only a few manufacturers releasing new models in the micro and light segments.

The new-generation Kia Rio, which was revealed at the Paris motor show last October, will arrive here at the end of the month, sporting a new 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine that replaces the previous 1.6-litre four-cylinder, as well as fully revised styling and bigger dimensions inside and out.

The South Korean car-maker will also debut its next-generation Picanto light car in April, only a year after the current one touched down in Australia for the first time.

The new-generation Picanto will come with significantly revised looks and interior, and is expected to be offered as a single variant – as is the case now – but there will be plenty of scope for customer personalisation via colour and trim options.

Toyota has a facelifted Yaris light hatch coming around March following its release in Japan last week, while in the second half of the year Fiat will release the Series 4 instalment of its cute and quirky 500 hatch.

Little is known about the latest Italian micro-car at this stage, however expect the styling of the 500 to remain relatively unchanged, as has been the case for previously facelifted versions.

WHAT’S COMING

Fiat 500 Series 4 – Q3/Q4
Kia Picanto – Apr
Kia Rio – Jan
Toyota Yaris – MarSMALL CARSSMALL cars remain the single biggest-selling segment in Australia and, following some major releases last year, 2017 will be relatively quiet in this corner of the market.

Most new arrivals will be facelifts, technical upgrades or new body styles of existing models, with the notable exception of a couple of hot hatch firecrackers.

Toyota has kicked things off this month with updated versions of its top-selling Corolla in both hatch and sedan guise, while Holden’s Astra sedan is due to touch down in May.

As reported last week, the latter is a rebadged version of the Korean-built Cruze, with Holden switching nameplates to capitalise on the extra cache brought with the European version.

Honda will boost its recently released Civic range with the arrival of hatch variants in the second quarter, adding to the all-new 10th-generation sedan range released in May last year.

Hot hatch fans will also delight in the fact that the Japanese manufacturer is resurrecting the Civic Type R, which will arrive late in the third quarter and muscle in on the Ford Focus and VW Golf R from around $50,000.

Hyundai will launch the third generation of its hot-selling i30 in April/May, debuting only in five-door hatch guise at first. It is likely to be offered with a choice of three powertrains – a 2.0-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol, 150kW 1.6-litre turbo-petrol and 100kW 1.6-litre turbo-diesel.

This will be followed by Hyundai’s first performance hatch – the i30 N – which is due in the final quarter. It will be the first offering from Hyundai’s ‘N’ division, and will likely be powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine with a power output around 200kW.

Volkswagen will update its ever-popular Golf in hatch, wagon and Alltrack form, debuting a new 1.5-litre petrol engine and possibly even the performance-oriented GTE hybrid. Expect the new versions in showrooms mid-year.

VW Group partner Skoda will give a facelift to its Rapid Spaceback small wagon in the third quarter, while Renault will roll out sedan and wagon variants of the Megane in the first half of the year, following the hatchback’s launch last October. It will also introduce a diesel engine into the Megane line-up.

WHAT’S COMING

Holden Astra sedan – May
Honda Civic hatch – Q2
Honda Civic Type R – Q3
Hyundai i30 hatch – Q2
Hyundai i30 N – Q4
Renault Megane sedan/wagon – Q1/Q2
Skoda Rapid – Q3
Toyota Corolla – Jan
Volkswagen Golf – Mid-yearMID-SIZE AND LARGE CARSTHE medium and large-size passenger car segment has suffered at the hands of the ever-growing SUV market, but 2017 will still feature a number of all-new and updated models.

Holden will soon release three different special editions of its swansong Aussie-built Commodore, sending it off with a bang before it is replaced by the Opel Insignia-derived version early next year.

Hyundai will facelift its affordable Sonata mid-sizer in the second quarter, giving it a mid-life refresh after launching in February 2015 and receiving a bump in standard spec and price midway through last year.

One of the stars of the Detroit motor show last week, the newly revealed Kia Stinger rear-drive sports sedan, will arrive either late in the third quarter or early in the fourth, sporting a twin-turbo V6 at the top of the range. A crucial car for the South Korean manufacturer, the Stinger has already been rumoured as a possible replacement for the Commodore as the vehicle of choice for Australia’s police force.

Skoda will launch its facelifted Octavia mid-sizer in the middle of the year, with boosted standard equipment and polarising front-end styling the main talking points for the Volkswagen Golf-related sedan and wagon range. The Czech brand will also release a halo variant of its Superb large sedan and wagon in February dubbed the Sportline, positioned above the current range-topping 206TSI and offering a bunch of optional equipment as standard.

The first imported Toyota Camry in two decades will touch down in the final quarter, with the eighth-generation version of Australia’s favourite mid-size sedan to be shipped from Japan following the closure of the company’s Altona plant later this year.

Volkswagen will release a high-performance version of its soft-roader Passat Alltrack wagon in February, called the Wolfsburg. It will likely be powered by a more powerful version of the current 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, or even a 206kW 2.0-litre turbo-petrol unit found in the Golf R.

The German brand will also release a new flagship model for its passenger range. Called the Arteon, it replaces the discontinued CC and will be powered by the same engine as the top-spec 206TSI R-Line Passat, but contain extra features and technology when it arrives in October.

WHAT’S COMING

Holden Commodore specials – Starting Q1
Hyundai Sonata – Q2
Kia Stinger – Q3/Q4
Skoda Octavia – Mid-year
Skoda Superb Sportline – Feb
Toyota Camry – Q4
Volkswagen Arteon –
Volkswagen Passat Alltrack Wolfsburg – Feb

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