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BIMS makes a mark with local premieres

Brisbane to kick-off the 2008 motor show calendar with at least 11 Australian debuts

29 Jan 2008

By MARTON PETTENDY in BRISBANE

THE Brisbane International Motor Show (BIMS) will underline its position as the third most significant event on the country's motor show calendar this Friday (February 1) when the 2008 extravaganza presents a number of Australian debuts.

As Australia's first international motor show for the year, the 2008 BIMS will launch or preview no fewer than 20 new models among around 400 vehicles from 30 manufacturers at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre until February 10.

A highlight of this year's Brisbane show will be the return by popular demand of motorcycles after a two-year absence, with Suzuki's limited-edition 300km/h Hayabusa, the same brand's new GSX-R750, Kawasaki’s 2008 ZX-10R, Ninja 250R and KLX250R and the BMW R1200GS among at least six two-wheeled Australian firsts.

The list of four-wheeled Australian debuts will be even more extensive and includes national public premieres for BMW’s twin-turbo 1 Series coupe (125i and 135i) and twin-turbo diesel X5 (3.0sd) SUV, Citroen’s C4 HDi and C3 HDi hatches, Fiat’s Ritmo hatch, the facelifted Lexus GS sedan range (including the upgraded GS460) and the new LX570 SUV, Mazda’s limited-edition RX-8 coupe, Subaru’s Impreza WRX STi hatch, Suzuki’s Grand Vitara diesel SUV and the Volkswagen Passat R36 sedan.

The reveal of final production versions of Toyota’s TRD HiLux and the first right-hand drive, Australian-specification iteration of Maserati’s all-new flagship, the GranTurismo coupe, will also count as Australian debuts in Brisbane.

Subaru will kick-off the four-wheeled media proceedings on Friday with the presentation of its third-generation Impreza hatch-based STi rally rocket. Pricing will be announced ahead of the more refined and upmarket model’s national launch next week and this time two versions are expected to be offered.

Expect both prices to be between $60,000 and $70,000, which is a big step up from the outgoing model's $56,990 sticker and creates room for another model to be positioned between both the STi and the $39,990 turbocharged, all-wheel drive WRX upon which it is based.

For the money, the new STi will continue to offer blistering performance, via a tweaked version of its current 2.5-litre flat four-cylinder engine that now delivers 221kW at 6000rpm (up 15kW) and peak torque of 407Nm at 4000rpm (up 15Nm).

Next up Citroen will give its C3 HDi and C4 HDi 2.0 turbo-diesel hatchbacks their Australian motor show debuts. While the oil-burning C3 (a $23,990 price for which was announced in October) is now being delivered, first deliveries of the C4 HDi 2.0 start next week.

 center imageLeft: BMW 135i coupe, VW Passat R36, Lexus LX570, Subaru STI, Fiat Ritmo and Maserati GranTurismo.

Pricing for the C4 HDi 2.0 six-speed auto, which is powered by a 100kW/340Nm turbo-diesel four and will offer the same equipment level as the flagship C4 2.0 petrol variant, will be announced on the day in the mid-$30,000 region. The newest C4 sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 10.4 seconds and returns 5.1L/100km.

The Aussie debut of BMW’s long-awaited 1 Series coupe will come in the form of the 135i, powered by the German brand’s brilliant twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre inline petrol six. Its 225kW/400Nm is enough to push the two-door 135i to 100km/h in a claimed 5.3 seconds.

The 135i will go on sale alongside the 2.5-litre 125i in May, with prices for both models to be announced at Brisbane on Friday. The entry-level 125i should arrive with a sticker price of less than $57,000, while the 135i with M Sport Package will be priced under $75,000.

Also making its Aussie debut from BMW will be the X5 3.0sd, pricing for which was announced in December at $102,800. The twin-turbocharged diesel X5 – which delivers no less than 200kW and 565Nm of torque, sprints to 100km/h in 7.2 seconds and returns combined-cycle fuel consumption of 8.8L/100km – will carry a similar equipment level to the X5 3.0d Executive ($96,300), representing a $6500 premium for the most powerful ever diesel vehicle ever sold by BMW Australia.

The storming new Passat R36 will be Volkswagen’s star car at Brisbane, where the German giant will reveal full pricing and specifications ahead of the release of sedan and wagon bodystyles in mid-2008.

Powered by Volkswagen’s new naturally-aspirated 200kW 3.6-litre V6 and driving through a six-speed DSG transmission and all four wheels, the hottest Passat ever sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 5.6 seconds (5.8 for the Estate). Expect a hefty premium over VW’s current Passat range-topper, the 3.2 V6 4Motion sedan ($54,990), and the same $2000 price premium for the wagon.

Lexus will provide two Australian firsts at Brisbane with the appearance of both its facelifted GS sedan range and all-new LX full-size SUV. A host of design and equipment upgrades accompany the base GS300 and GS450h hybrid, which go on sale immediately after the show, while the re-powered GS460 hits Lexus showrooms in March.

The upgraded GS range-topper adopts its 4.6-litre V8 engine and world-first eight-speed automatic transmission from last year’s new LS460 sedan flagship, but all revised GS variants will represent better value for money, especially at the opening end of the range. LX570 prices will not be revealed until the new model’s launch in April.

It is a similar situation with Toyota’s TRD HiLux, which makes its Australian debut in final production trim ahead of its national launch in the second quarter of this year, when full pricing and specs will be announced.

Offering 25 per cent more peak power than the standard engine's 175kW (with peak torque jumping from 376Nm to “well over 400Nm”), the TRD-fettled, dual-cab 4x4 version of the biggest selling vehicle in Queensland in 2007 will enter production in late February, ahead of a second-quarter launch.

Deliveries of Maserati’s new flagship coupe, the GranTurismo, began in December following the announcement of pricing ($292,800) at October’s Sydney motor show and a private customer function last year, when a European-spec left-hand drive example was displayed.

Hence the GranTurismo makes its local-spec debut in Brisbane on Friday, when Australia’s factory allocation will be known. Maserati Australia currently holds an order bank of nearly 160 customers for the sleek new Maser (more than the total number of Maseratis sold in 2007, when Quattroporte sales doubled following the launch of the automatic version), but is hopeful of satisfying demand this year.

Known as the Bravo overseas, Fiat’s small Ritmo hatch will be launched nationally at the Brisbane show, where a starting price of $30,000 is expected to be announced. The Italian five-door will be offered with two engines (the 110kW/230Nm 1.4 T-Jet Turbo petrol and the 110kW/305Nm 1.9 JTD Multijet turbo-diesel) and two equipment levels: base Emotion and top-spec Sport.

Both trim variants will offer, as standard, power windows/mirrors, cruise control, power steering, remote central locking, an advanced audio system, air-conditioning and alloy wheels, with the Sport comprising features like a rear spoiler, side skirts, sports seats and pedals, larger alloys and leather interior components. Both engines will initially be available only with a manual transmission.

Having been released earlier and January at a price of $34,990, Suzuki’s diesel-powered Grand Vitara DDiS now makes its Australian debut in Brisbane. On sale nationally from February 1, the oil-burning compact SUV comes with a standard five-speed manual gearbox and carries a $4000 premium over the V6 petrol model and a $6000 premium over the four-cylinder petrol version.

The new 1.9-litre common-rail direct-injection intercooled and turbocharged diesel engine produces 95kW and 300Nm (from just 2000 rpm) – up from 103kW/183Nm for the 2.0-litre petrol four and 135kW/250Nm for the 2.7-litre petrol V6. Fuel consumption is rated at 7.6L/100km versus 9.4L/100km for the manual-equipped petrol four and 10.6L/100km for the V6.

Mazda will launch a limited-edition RX-8 at Brisbane, with just 200 examples to be made available. Designed to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Mazda rotaries (and to stimulate RX-8 sales, which stood at 731 in 2007, down from a peak of 1639 in 2004), the RX-8 LE will cost $55,840, representing a $6850 premium over the standard RX-8, and add both luxury and handling upgrades.

Extra equipment includes leather and Alcantara-lined sports seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and 40th anniversary badging, high-gloss 18-inch alloy wheels, unique engine cover, blue reflector foglights, floating rear spoiler and sunroof. Handling upgrades come in the form of Bilstein shock absorbers and urethane foam-filled front suspension cross-member.

Finally, its V8-engined S5 sibling may have taken all the limelight in Sydney, but now it is the Audi A5 coupe’s turn to appear at an Australian motor show for the first time. Priced at $91,900 the (195kW/330Nm) A5 3.2 FSI Multitronic went on sale in December, while the automatic/all-wheel drive version ($95,900) arrives in April. May 2008 will see the arrival of the S5 4.2 FSI quattro Tiptronic ($134,900) and the entry-level A5 1.8T FSI Multitronic (about $70,000), while the A5 3.0 TDI quattro Tiptronic (about $100,000) go on sale in August.

Over at Saab and in line with parent company General Motors’ global push towards ethanol power, the Swedish brand will make a significant announcement in Brisbane on the alternative fuel’s availability, following the launch of E85-compatible versions of its 9-3 and 9-5 models.

Mitsubishi will use the Brisbane show to showcase the Lancer Evo sedan – which made its Aussie debut in Sydney in October but goes head-to-head with its nemesis, the new STI, for the first time in Brisbane – as well as a new range of “Panther” accessories for its Pajero, Triton, Grandis and Lancer models.

Other Queensland motor show debuts will include the M3 coupe, revised 6 Series, X3 2.0d and 520d from BMW, Kia’s delayed Rondo people-mover, personalised versions of Ferrari’s 612 Scagliettei, 599 GTB and F430, Audi’s all-new A4 sedan, Holden’s VE Commodore Sportswagon concept, the Mazda6, Nissan’s recently launched Dualis SUV, Peugeot’s forthcoming 308 small hatch, Skoda’s current Octavia and Roomster model ranges and the Volkswagen Touareg R50 due on sale in April.

Bentley will also be on hand to show the Continental GT Speed coupe for the first time in Queensland, but a plan to showcase its new Brooklands flagship will not eventuate.

Brisbane no-shows will include Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Porsche, SsangYong, Proton and Volvo but, for many, consolation will come in the form of a low-kilometre 1971 example of Ford’s revered Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III muscle car – one of more than 20 classic to go under the hammer in the inaugural Shannons Brisbane International Motor Show classic auction. It is expected to fetch up to $780,000.

A total of 234,551 vehicles were sold last year in Queensland, representing a growth rate of 10.4 per cent – more than any Australian state or territory except the ACT. Queensland is easily Australia’s third-largest vehicle market, about 30,000 sales behind Victoria. NSW again led the way in 2007, with 320,055 sales.

Read more:

First look: BMW's compact coupe is the One

First look: Passat goes R-rated

Sydney show: GranTurismo makes Maserati mania

Sydney show: GranTurismo makes Maserati mania

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