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Future models - Rolls-Royce - Ghost

New decade dawns for Aussie motor industry: part two

Rolling along: All-new Rolls-Royce Ghost arrives in May for a mere $695,000.

Part two of our bumper 2010 new-model preview: Mercedes-Benz to Volvo

Rolls-Royce logo31 Dec 2009

By MARTON PETTENDY

WITH a few exceptions, most industry experts agree Australia’s new-car market will remain flat in 2010, but as you’ll see from the preview of car launches that follows, it won’t be due to a lack of fresh metal rolling into showrooms Down Under next year.

While Ford expects the 2010 market to exceed the 930,000 mark widely tipped for 2009 – before returning to the million-plus figures recorded for the first time in 2007 and 2008 – Toyota believes sales will fail to match this year’s levels.

Both brands forecast a sales slump in early 2010 due to the pull-forward effect of the federal government’s 50 per cent tax break, which expires today and has significantly increased the number of small business owners buying cars this month.

So it will be interesting to see whether car companies continue to reduce spending on new car launch campaigns in 2010, when the number of new cars tipped to join Australian roads will again be down by up to 100,000 on 2008 levels.

Another fascinating battle will be the one between Toyota and Hyundai, both of which will benefit from price cuts on imported models as a result of the five per cent duty reduction for passenger cars in 2010.

While Australia’s most popular auto brand will attempt to reverse an 18 per cent sales plunge so far in 2009 – but has few new models to offer apart from the homegrown Camry Hybrid in February – Hyundai is up more than 40 per cent and will release three new volume-sellers in the first half.

In between, Holden and Ford (which are both down about 10 per cent this year) will launch Australian-made Cruze sedan and hatch models plus an E85 Commodore in the third quarter, and an upgraded Falcon mid-year respectively, while Mazda will be relatively quiet but is only 4.5 per cent down in 2009.

Then there is the usual array of redesigned luxury models from the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus and Audi, which remains 21 per cent up in 2009 and will produce yet more niche models like the A5 Sportback that kicks off the automotive launch season in January.

Top-end highlights will include new super-coupes from Ferrari (458 Italia) and Mercedes-Benz (SLS AMG), and super-limos in Rolls-Royce’s brand-new ‘baby’, the Ghost, and a new Bentley king, the Mulsanne. And at the other end of the market there’s new compact SUVs from Hyundai and Kia, and Volkswagen’s first ute.

Throw in the launches of Australia’s first $10,990 car for two decades and the first passenger cars from at least one Chinese brand and, whatever happens in 2010, Australian consumers will have access to another bumper crop of new models at some of the most affordable prices in years.

Mercedes-Benz

MERCEDES-BENZ will stage a commercial van event in late February, before releasing the W212 E-class Cabriolet to replace the CLK Cabriolet here in May.

But the biggest Benz fanfare in 2010 will be reserved for the all-new SLS AMG super-coupe, 50 of which will hit local shores initially from June, at a price of around $500,000. The born-again ‘gullwing’ will bristle with a 420kW dry-sump version of AMG’s 6.2-litre V8, matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch auto.

Mini

THE biggest Mini release of 2010 – although it may not make it here until 2011 – should be that of the Mini Countryman (also referred to as the R60 and Crossman).

Mini’s first SUV will be previewed at Detroit next month by Mini’s door-less Beachcomber concept, which itself is inspired by the original Mini Moke. The production SUV should come with 1.6 turbo-petrol and, perhaps, 1.4 turbo-diesel engines.

Definitely set for Australian release by mid-2010 are 10 examples of the John Cooper Works World Championship 50 (or JCW WC50) Mini. Just 250 examples of the piping-hot limited-edition Mini will be made globally, to celebrate John Cooper’s Formula One world championship in 1959.

Mitsubishi

THE slow-release of Mitsubishi’s sub-Outlander compact SUV, to be known as the RVR when it goes on sale in Japan in February, will culminate in a formal reveal at Geneva in March, before it goes on sale here mid-year.

Available in front-drive AWD formats, with 2.0-litre petrol and 1.8-litre diesel engines, the Evo-look mini-SUV will be a direct rival for Nissan’s Dualis, priced from about $25,000.

Also expected from Mitsubishi next year is an Evo-look cosmetic facelift for its Colt light-car, which should also gain extra standard specifications.

Nissan

NISSA.”

S new 370Z Roadster is only three months away from Australia. Power will come from the same new 3.7-litre V6 as in the 370Z Coupe, but the soft-top Z-car will weigh about 100kg more and carry the usual price premium. Six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic transmissions will be available.

Also a chance for Australia from Nissan in 2010 is the Thai-built version of its Micra light car and a redesigned Patrol large SUV, which is under development but continues to remain under wraps.

Peugeot

BIGGEST Peugeot release of 2010 will be the RCZ, a compact 2+2-seater coupe featuring a glass and aluminium double-bubble roof to compete directly with Audi’s TT.

Due here as early as July, the RCZ will eventually spawn a hybrid version, but should launch with 147kW 1.6-litre turbo-petrol and 120kW turbo-diesel engines. Expect a pricetag of around $60,000.

Porsche

FIRST deliveries of the new 911 GT3 ($281,600) commence in January, and a month later the new 911 Turbo will be launched here, priced at $360,100. The latter will boast the first all-new engine since the Turbo emerged in 1974, with peak power boosted to 368kW from a turbocharged 3.8-litre flat six.

Due here around April is the limited-edition Porsche 911 Sport Classic, 911 GT3 RS ($337,700) and Boxster Spyder ($143,600). The latter will be powered by a 235kW 3.4-litre flat six and weighs 80kg less than the Boxster S.

Finally, Porsche will debut its second-generation cayenne SUV in late 2010. The redesigned five-door wagon will borrow the Panamera’s uprated 4.8-litre V8 engines while carrying over its V6 petrol and diesel entry-level engines, the latter priced again from about $100,000. Hybrid power is also promised, but is unlikely before 2011.

Proton

PROTON will launch a 1.3-litre G version of the new 1.6-litre S16 sedan priced at just $10,990 from April. Before then, an automatic version of the S16 GX 1.6 sedan will become available in March priced at $13,990, while a flagship GXR version of the S16 is due in Australia in July, powered by a 1.6-litre engine and priced at $15,990 ($17,990 auto).

In January, Proton will also introduce entry-level ‘G’ versions of the 1.6-litre Satria Neo three-door hatch ($14,490 manual, $16,490 auto), the 1.6-litre Persona sedan ($14,990 manual, $16,990 auto) and Gen.2 five-door hatch ($15,990 manual, $17,990 auto).

While PCA remains mum on the redesigned Jumbuck ute it has committed to releasing here in the first half of 2010, the second half will see Proton release ‘LE’ manual and auto versions of the 1.6-litre Persona (August) and S16 (September), and a top-shelf manual ‘CPS’ version of the Satria Neo in October.

Rounding out a bumper year for Proton here will be the brand’s first people-mover, the seven-seat Exora, which will initially be available from November in GX guise with a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine.

Renault

THE French brand will launch the Megane RenaultSport 250 and Clio 200 Sport hot-hatches here in 2010, plus a new Kangoo van, a facelifted Koloeos compact SUV and updated Trafic van.

Both the Koleos and Trafic will arrive here in the first half with a new look and equipment upgrades, while the Megane RS 250 will pack a 186kW turbocharged four to rival VW’s Golf GTI and the Clio 200 Sport should be joined by limited-edition variations, including the Gordini, around March.

Rolls-Royce

THE most important Rolls-Royce of the modern era will be the ‘compact’ Ghost, which goes on sale here in May priced at $695,000 – almost $400,000 less than the Phantom.

The BMW 7 Series-based Ghost is powered by a 6.6-litre twin-turbo V12, matched with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, which propels the 2.4-tonne sedan to 100km/h in an alleged 4.9 seconds.

Saab

THE future of Saab – and its redesigned 9-5 flagship sedan – continues to be unknown while parent company General Motors decides whether to wind down Sweden’s second-largest car-maker or sell it to interested parties such as Spyker.

Skoda

THREE new-to-Australia Skoda models are on the 2010 agenda for Volkswagen’s Czech brand. While the Fabia light-latch remains unconfirmed for a local launch, the Yeti compact SUV and Superb Estate will be definite starters in the second quarter.

The VW Tiguan-based Yeti, Skoda’s answer to Toyota’s RAV4, will be available in front-drive and AWD formats – and with petrol and diesel engines – priced from under $30,000, while the Superb wagon line-up may echo that of the Superb sedan, which starts at $42,990.

While there will also be a facelifted Roomster from Skoda in 2010 (featuring a revised interior, TSI turbo-petrol engine and an automatic gearbox for the diesel), a DSG dual-clutch auto transmission will also arrive for the slow-selling Octavia Scout TDI.

A facelifted version of the VW Polo-based Fabia is expected to emerge at Geneva in March and could form the basis of an Australian release of Skoda’s first light-car here, spearheaded by an RS version.

SsangYong

THE troubled Korean car-maker could introduce its all-new C200 compact SUV in Australia in 2010. If sold here, it should be available with 2.0-litre diesel and 1.8-litre petrol power – and better styling than any SsangYong model before it.

Subaru

SUBARU’S top-selling Forester compact SUV will be bolstered by a diesel version from June, with the Forester 2.0D powered by the company’s first diesel boxer engine. However, as with the Outback diesel, the 110kW/350Nm 2.0-litre oil-burner will be matched only with a six-speed manual transmission. Expect a pricetag that’s about $2500 higher than the entry-level Forester X petrol ($34,590).

Suzuki

THE Japanese small-car specialist will kick off 2010 with a facelifted SX4 small-car in February, and a similarly upgraded Swift light hatch is also due here by the end of 2010.

Suzuki’s biggest 2010 release, however, will be that of the Kizashi in May. The company’s first mid-size sedan will be powered exclusively by a 2.4-litre petrol four, priced from about $35,000 to compete directly with upmarket mid-sizers like the Mazda6.

Toyota

NOBODY will miss the release of Australia’s first locally built petrol-electric vehicle, the Camry Hybrid sedan, in February. Expected to carry a minimal price premium over its petrol-only siblings at around $33,000, the hybrid is based on Toyota’s facelifted homegrown Camry and promises better handling, performance and economy.

Also due from Toyota in early 2010 is an updated Corolla sedan, to go with the recently updated Corolla hatch. Expect subtle cosmetic revisions, more equipment and standard stability control.

Volkswagen

EUROPE’S biggest car-maker will launch a redesigned Polo light car, Golf wagon, its first ever utility in the Amarok dual-cab and an updated Transporter van range in 2010.

The latter will appear here around March with a new range of engines and a fresh face for the T5 Caravelle, Mutlivan and Transporter, while the Amarok won’t be sold here until the second half with a choice of two diesel engines offering 120kW/400Nm and 90kW/340Nm – the latter returning as little a 7.6L/100km.

The all-new Polo is due in the second quarter in both three and five-door guises, followed by a GTI version sometime in the second half. Garden-variety versions should offer 77kW 1.2 turbo-petrol, 1.4 turbo-petrol and 1.6 turbo-diesel engines, with prices opening above $17,000.

While sleek Scirocco continues to elude an Australian business case, VW will import the Golf R hot-hatch by mid-year. The most powerful Golf ever will be preceded by a more pedestrian version of the Golf, with the wagon due on sale in February.

Volvo

SWEDEN’S number one vehicle brand will launch a facelifted C70 coupe-convertible here in March, offering a fresh look and updated engines – as will its smallest model, the C30 hatch range, which should be joined by a DRIVEe eco-model with idle-stop technology that helps return fuel economy as low as 3.8L/100km.

Volvo biggest launch of the year, however, will be for the new S60 sedan, which makes its production debut at Detroit inside two weeks and will bring a new level of style and technology. Expect a November release date for the redesigned Volvo mid-sizer, which should gain a wagon derivative dubbed the V60 in 2011.

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