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Melbourne show: A to Z guide

Local heroes: Ford Territory and Holden One-Tonner (rear) were stars of the Melbourne show.

Ford's recent successes continue with a strong showing in Melbourne

6 Mar 2003


THERE'S no doubt about it. For the first time in recent memory Ford has trumped Holden at a major local motor show.

Not only was the Ford Territory all-wheel drive wagon the headline act, the supporting cast comprising the new BA Fairlane, forthcoming Fiesta and Hi-Ride Falcon utility were able back-ups.

Holden's reborn cab-chassis One-Tonner - for all the good vibes it evoked - backed up by a hi-po HSV Maloo version, a production-ised Commodore panel van, the ZC Vectra and the Astra SRi turbo lacked the sheer drama and gravitas of the Ford line-up.

Indeed, Toyota Australia's first concept car, the X-Runner utility, held such significance in terms of the company's future that it too shaded the Holden offerings for impact.

It was that kind of week for Holden. Knocked off as the premier show act for the first time in years, beaten by Toyota in February sales, forced to buy its best V8 Supercar race teams to avoid their closure and capped by an asbestos scare at its new V6 engine plant.

Holden boss Peter Hanenberger and his team will be happy to close the books on the month and forget about it - a rare feeling for Fishermens Bend crew in recent times.

Away from the big local players - we haven't forgotten Mitsubishi, which just had a quiet show - there was plenty more happening with the world launch of the second generation Smart and the Suzuki Ignis Sport.

The show also served as the launch pad for the return of the Ssangyong brand to Australia.

This week, to cap it all off, Mercedes-Benz will reveal the new CLK cabriolet virtually simultaneously to the public in Geneva and Melbourne this week.

It is proof - if further proof were needed on top of the cavalcade of new metal revealed during last week's media preview - that the show and the industry are in rude health at the moment.

And that message certainly got through to the buyers and browsers, with a record attendance flocking to the Melbourne Exhibition Centre over the first weekend of the show.

Alfa Romeo

THE Italian brand used the Melbourne show to showcase its 184kW hot hatch, the 147 GTA, which made its debut Australian appearance and will go on sale here mid-year.

Set to become the most powerful vehicle in its class, the 3.2-litre V6-powered 147 GTA will join the 156 GTA, launched last August, as the second GTA-badged Alfa Romeo to become available Down Under.

Although pricing and final specifications are yet to be confirmed, 147 GTA is expected to be priced to compete with the $67,420 Audi S3.

But Alfa says 147 GTA will have a higher level of standard equipment to go with its extra performance, including 17-inch alloy wheels with 225/45-section tyres, ABS with EBD, ASR/TCS traction control, VDC stability control and MSR torque modulation during downchanging.


JUBILANT Audi Australia managing director Graham Hardy presented a number of low-volume niche models in Melbourne, after announcing an 18 per cent sales increase in 2002 to 4160 units, which means a 40 per cent sales increase over the past two years.

Audi hopes to increase that figure to 4400 in 2003.

In the limelight was Melbourne's debut appearance of the new A8 "sports limousine", which goes on sale here in July. Audi expects about 75 large luxury car buyers to stump up the expected $200,000 price tag per year.

As eye-catching as the sleek sedan was, it did not have the impact of Audi's two newest stove-hot S cars, the all-new V8-powered S4 quattro, making its Aussie debut, and twin-turbo RS6.

Due on sale in November in both six-speed manual and six-speed Tiptronic guise, the new S4 sedan's 253kW/410Nm 4.2-litre V8 will propel it right into BMW M3 and Mercedes-Benz C32 territory with a claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time of 5.5 seconds.

Using the all-new A4 as its basis, the new V8 S4's weight is not expected to increase from that of its twin-turbo V6 predecessor, spelling even more blistering performance.

Final specification, pricing and sales volumes are yet to be announced, but Audi says the S4's pricing will go up from the $109,320 it currently sells at, which will still be well short of the M3 and C32's sticker prices.

Meantime, Audi's most powerful car ever, the RS6 quattro, drew plenty of attention with its twin-turbo 331kW V8 and electronic gadgetry such as an electronic suspension system called Dynamic Ride Control and an eight- piston high-performance brake system.

Set to go on sale in Australia by around June for about $230,000, just 25 examples of the BMW M5 and AMG E55 competitor are earmarked for Oz, with the majority of Audi enthusiasts likely to opt for the sedan, rather than Avant, version.


VOLKSWAGEN'S luxury brand showed off the long-wheelbase Arnage RL for the first time in Australia, as part of the Series Two Arnage range that also comprises the Arnage T and Arnage R.

Complete with a Mulliner "dress-up" package, the RL on show was worth a cool $810,000, compared to the standard car's $625,000.

Bentley also confirmed 100-plus orders for the Bentley Continental GT in Australia, with more than 3000 orders worldwide.


PRICING for the forthcoming Z4 roadster was confirmed in Melbourne, with the 2.5i priced at $78,500 for the five-speed manual or $81,100 for the five-speed Steptronic automatic model.

The Z4 3.0i is $92,000 in six-speed manual guise or $94,600 for the five-speed Steptronic automatic. Deliveries of the Z4 begin mid-year.

BMW also announced the entire 3 Series range is now fitted with Dynamic Stability Control II, while the 325ti Compact gains the M Sport bodykit and in-dash CD player (joining the boot-mounted CD changer) as standard, as well as a six-speed manual gearbox.

Six-cylinder 3 Series models gain an automatic rain sensor, while all of the Coupe models have new-design 17-inch light alloy wheels, in-dash CD player and centre lap/sash rear seatbelts.


CHRYSLER'S wicked Crossfire two-seat coupe was the star attraction at the Chrysler-Jeep exhibit, making its Australian debut in concept form before going on sale in Australia in either late November or early December this year following its Sydney show production debut.

Priced to compete with the likes of Audi TT, BMW Z4 and the Mercedes-Benz SLK, Crossfire packs a 3.2-litre V6 and will offer the choice of manual and automatic transmissions.

Just 156 examples are allocated for Australia during 2003, with a further 350 cars due to arrive in 2004.

Departing Chrysler-Jeep boss Judith Wheeler, in one of her last public appearances before heading to Chrysler HQ in Michigan to become director of national dealer development, also confirmed the local launch of the Sebring convertible will be pushed back until early 2004 due to delays in releasing Crossfire.

Originally planned for an October on-sale, Sebring will be priced at "easily under $80,000".

While an all-new model is slated for release in 2006, Australia will receive the facelifted version due to appear in the US later this year.

A local right-hand drive conversion partner has been appointed and is tooled up, but is yet to be announced. It will produce 250 Sebrings for sale this year, with a further 250 units for release in 2004.

Meanwhile, Ms Wheeler said the arrival of the Dodge brand Down Under "has received tentative approval but is not yet definite", and that a final decision would be made in late March for a possible 2004 launch.

"Dodge would be an easy fit for Australia, but every model would have to be profitable," said Ms Wheeler, adding that the small M80 pickup truck was likely to be among the first models sold. Dodge would be positioned as a "performance" brand, with Chrysler to target the "premium" end of the market.


MELBOURNE was the venue for the launch of the Kalos mini car in both four and five-door variants. A three-door is still about a year away.

The Kalos will replace the Lanos in the now Holden-owned distributor's line-up next month. Standard equipment includes a 1.5-litre engine, air-conditioning, power windows and a four-speaker CD player.

Pricing is expected to start for both body shapes at $14,990 plus on-road costs. The company hopes to sell 5000 Kalos' this year.

GM Daewoo also showed the Flex concept people-mover that made its world debut at the Seoul motor show late last year.


THE small car company lived up to its name by confirming the tiny Copen roadster would go on sale in Australia next spring priced in the low $30,000 bracket. So popular is it in Japan that only 1200 will be made for export, of which we will get around 300.

The return of the Charade was also announced in Melbourne, as a 989cc three-cylinder 12-valve three-door, to replace the Cuore. Only on sale in Japan since December where it is sold as the Mira, the new generation Charade should make it here by mid-2003.

Daihatsu promises pricing "comfortably" under the five-door Sirion, which starts at $11,250. The Charade will not have standard air-conditioning.


THE Territory was a huge presence - but Ford did not let up there, unleashing the new Fairlane and a high-rise Falcon ute.

While the BA Fairlane and the ultimate luxury spec LTD do not go on sale until July 1, Ford decided to display it at Melbourne because it thought Holden would show the new WK Statesman as well. Holden didn't.

Ford not only showed the new Fairlane but also revealed a new performance variant called the G220, which will sit above the Fairlane Ghia and, as the name suggests, be powered by the new Barra 220 5.4-litre V8 engine.

The G220 will also feature sports tuned Control Blade IRS, 17-inch alloy wheels, red leather seats and the absence of woodgrain inserts, replaced by a brushed aluminium finish.

Fairlane Ghia and LTD buyers will get the traditional warm charcoal leather and woodgrain interior, along with a plusher ride.

The Hi-Ride utility sits 80mm higher off the ground than its Falcon ute relation and is designed for the tradesman who has to go off the beaten track but does not want four-wheel drive.

The Hi-Ride has a locking rear differential with in-cabin switch allowing 'shift-on-the-fly', an increased wheel track of 50mm, underbody protection shields and ABS.

Features include power windows, power driver's seat, CD player, driver's airbag, the choice of three engines including the 220kW 5.4-litre V8 and a range of transmission options including a four-speed floor shift automatic, four-speed column shift automatic and a five-speed manual.

Pricing for the Hi-Ride is tipped to start around $30,000.

Ford also revealed two forthcoming imports, the Focus ST170 hot hatch that will go on sale in the second quarter and the Fiesta light car, which will not be seen here until early 2004.

For more on the Ford Territory cross-over wagon, new Fairlane, Focus ST170 and the introduction of the Fiesta please read the separate stories in the Future Models section


HOLDEN did not let the cab-chassis One-Tonner - in both standard and HSV form - do all the talking, unveiling several more highlights.

Primary among them was the return of the Holden panel van, brought to production reality in the wake of the fervour created by the Sandman a couple of years ago.

The V8 panel van on display featured a canopy developed by Holden by Design, which will be available for fitting to VY utes from July.

The other stars were imports from Europe - the new generation ZC Vectra and the 147kW Astra SRi Turbo.

The Vectra goes on sale in April in three models - 2.2-litre CD sedan and hatch, 3.2-litre V6 CDX hatch and CDXi hatch. Watch for substantial price rises compared to the old model.

The Astra Turbo will arrive in the second quarter and will be a three-door. Look out for an Astra Turbo convertible, due around the same time.

For more on the One-Tonner, panel van, Vectra and Astra Turbo please read the separate stories in our Future Models section


LIKE Jaguar and Toyota, Honda used the Melbourne motor show to showcase its F1 involvement, with BAR in this case, but its headline act was the Japanese brand's seven-seater MDX luxury four-wheel drive.

Having already debuted Down Under in right-hand drive form at the recent Brisbane motor show, MDX will go on sale in Australia from April.

Presented amid great fanfare by Honda Australia director Lindsay Smalley, MDX is claimed to be the most advanced Honda ever, with four-channel ABS and a revolutionary new Vehicle Stability Assist program set to be among MDX's standard fare.

Luxuries such as full leather upholstery, heated front seats and automatic climate control will also be part of the new crossover wagon's arsenal.

There will also be a five-speed automatic transmission and 191Kw/345Nm 3.5-litre 24-valve VTEC V6 that qualifies MDX for Low Emissions Vehicle status, as well as providing best-in-class performance.

New MDX rivals will include the new Lexus RX330, also due on sale in April, and the Volvo XC90, which will go on sale in the third quarter.

The three vehicles have been named by Ford as being closest in concept to its new Territory all-wheel drive, due on sale in early 2004 at a price expected to be in the $40,000s.

Styled along similar lines to Honda's Odyssey and built in Canada, MDX has proved popular with US buyers since going on sale there in October 2000. It will slot into Honda Australia's range above the top-selling CR-V, which starts from $32,000, and the $50,000 Odyssey.


THE return of the Accent and the introduction of a new entry level 1.3-litre Getz were Hyundai's highlights.


THE supercharged V8 298kW new generation Jaguar XJR was unveiled by Australia's Formula One superstar Mark Webber and his Jaguar F1 teammate Antonio Pizzonia.

The company also announced the new generation XJ range will go on sale from July, with pricing starting at $169,000 for the XJ8 3.5-litre.

The 4.2 will be $189,000, the XJR $219,000 while the new Super V8 - with the supercharged engine and more luxury features - is $229,000.

That's a substantial hike over the current XJ range, which starts at $123,250 and tops out at $175,750.

The all-new XJ uses an aluminium monocoque chassis rather than the traditional steel structure, making it up to 200kg lighter.

Jaguar claims the new body is 40 per cent lighter and 60 per cent stiffer than its predecessor.

Performance for the XJR is scintillating - 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds with a top speed electronically limited to 250km/h.


THE "other" Italian supercar-maker did its best to steal some thunder from Ferrari's wild new Enzo with a drop-dead gorgeous iteration of the wild Murcielago coupe making its Australian debut direct from its world premiere at January's Detroit motor show.

The Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster is only a concept at this stage but Melbourne is just one of four motor shows at which it is due to appear this year to test reaction before possible production in 2005.

Designed by head of Lamborghini design Luc Donckerwolke and likely to top $750,000 on the road, the topless Murcielago V12 is said to remain true to the Barchetta concept by offering "torsional rigidity unheard of in an open-top car".

Lamborghini, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in May, also confirmed details of its second vehicle line, called Gallardo, which will officially break cover at this week's Geneva motor show before appearing at October's Sydney show.

A smaller, cheaper and higher-volume sibling for Murcielago, the new four-wheel drive Lambo will feature a new, mid-mounted 5.0-litre V10 built on a new production line, along with a six-speed manual or sequential "E-Gear" transmission.

Lamborghini Australia spokesman Andrew Smith said that although 23 orders had been taken already, just 20 cars have been allocated locally this year, with a further 45 due in 2004. "We're about to become the biggest used Ferrari dealer in Australia," he joked at the show.

With an alloy chassis supplied by parent company Audi, the 1350kg small Lamborghini is projected to sell in numbers of up to 1100 units per annum globally, compared with 400 Murcielagos.

Land Rover

LAND Rover Australia offered two Melbourne show firsts this year, the facelifted New Look Discovery and the Defender 90 Extreme, pricing for which was announced at $45,950.

The updated Disco comprises more than 700 new components, including twin-pocket headlights similar to the new Range Rover's.

The entry level Defender 90 will join Land Rover Australia's existing 110 and 130-model Defenders, powered by a 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel.


THE first local showing of the RX330 soft-roader was the highlight here, the five-door wagon making its local debut just two months after its world reveal at Detroit.

Due to go on sale in Australia in April, the RX330 will be offered in two specification grades with pricing kicking off around $70,000, lining up approximately against the ML Benz and X5 BMW.

Lexus Australia is looking to sell 100 RX330s per month, which would play a key role in bumping volumes for the brand to a record 4200-plus in 2003.

RX330 is powered by a 3.3-litre double overhead camshaft V6 engine matched to a five-speed automatic transmission. The RX's all-wheel drive system uses vehicle stability control hardware and software to control torque distribution between the four wheels.

Lexus also announced in Melbourne that an additional 20 GS300 L-Tuned would be made available.


THE rotary car-maker lobbed at Melbourne with its four-door RX-8 sports car, making its Australian debut in production form about four months before going on sale here.

Some 178 customers have already put down firm orders for the rotary-engined "coupe", with the number of serious expressions of interest now standing at an impressive 3000.

With 400 orders expected before the car is released and a 2003 allocation of 900 units, according to Mazda Australia managing director Malcolm Gough, RX-8 appears likely to be sold out for at least three months when it goes on sale here in July.

RX-8 pricing was previously announced at a competitive $56,170 manual and $57,000 auto, including 18-inch alloys, limited-slip differential, stability control, cruise control, six-CD player and six airbags as standard.

A Leather Pack, including leather trim, HID headlights, fog lights, power driver's seat and Bose sound system, will cost $62,610 manual and $63,280 auto.

While six-speed manual versions will pack a 184kW rotary engine, autos make do with 154kW. Consequently, Leather Pack manuals comprise about 90 per cent of orders taken so far.

Mazda also showed revised Tribute models and its soon to be released Genki-badged Mazda2.

Mr Gough said Mazda Australia expected to better its record sales result of 39,000 units in 2002 by selling about 43,500 vehicles this year.

MG Rover

FINALLY, after much waiting, MG Rover got its new entry level 75 Classic launched.

Priced at $49,990, it does without leather and traction control.


TAKING pride of place on the Mercedes-Benz stand was Australia's first AMG-fettled S-class, the S55 AMG - the flagship of a facelifted S-class range for the 2003 model year.

On sale now, the new S-class range begins with the new 180kW/350Nm 3.7-litre V6-powered S350, priced at $175,900, with a long-wheelbase version also available for the first time, priced at $190,900.

The S430 ($204,900) and S430L ($223,900) is the entry level V8 S-class, while the $257,900 S500L represents another new S-class entry.

The 368kW/700Nm supercharged 5.5-litre S55K AMG and 380kW/800Nm twin-turbo V12-powered S600L cap the top end of the expanded S-class range, each priced at $349,900.

Mercedes-Benz also used the opportunity to announce the arrival of the new CLK Cabriolet, which will make its Australian debut at the show this week to coincide with its Geneva show premiere on March 6.

While the topless CLK will go on sale here by mid-year to rival BMW's 3 Series coupe, the new E-class Estate is expected to go on sale around September and the million-dollar Maybach super-limo is due during the third quarter.


IN contrast to the other local manufacturers, it was a quiet show for Mitsubishi with the all-wheel drive Magna continuing to be the star.

Also on the stand was the new Outlander compact SUV and the CZ2 concept that provides a pretty accurate preview to the Mirage replacement, the Colt, which is due here either late this year or early in 2004.


AUSTRALIAN show-goers have their first chance to examine close-up the challenging styling of the new generation Megane three and five-door hatchbacks in Melbourne.

While pricing and specification will not be confirmed until closer to the local launch in October, Renault Australia did confirm the engine line-up would consist of both 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol engines.

Both engines offer four-cylinder 16-valve operation with VVT (variable valve timing).

The 1.6-litre engine generates 83kW at 6000rpm and torque of 152Nm at 4200rpm, while the 2.0-litre variant generates 98.5kW at 5500rpm and torque figures of 191Nm at 3750rpm.

Five-speed manual is the standard transmission for the 1.6 and a six-speed for the 2.0, but a four-speed Pro-active transmission, equipped with flick-shift sequential selector, will be offered on selected variants of the Megane range.

Safety equipment will include the Renault System for Restraint and Protection (SRP), first seen in the Laguna saloon and estate range.

This system combines twin-volume airbags and adaptive safety belts with dual load limiters and dual pretensioners in the front seats, while the rear seats are equipped with three three-point safety belts. The two side rear seats are also equipped with pyrotechnic pretensionsers with load limiters. Front side airbags and curtain airbags are standard across the range.

In addition, the three-door Megane sport hatch introduces the anti-submarining airbag, a world first, to provide an anti-submarining function for the front seats. Active safety systems fitted to the Megane range include latest generation Bosch ABS 8.0 braking with Electronic Brake Distribution and Electronic Brake Assist.


A LOW-KEY show for Saab, which was ruing the lack of availability of a new generation 9-3 Aero to display. Instead a hotted up Saab Performance by Hirsch 9-5 Aero had to suffice, boasting 225kW for around $100,000.


MERCEDES-BENZ "officially" launched the Smart city-car brand in Australia with the updated City-coupe and cabrio. These two cars are on sale now with deliveries starting in May, while the Smart roadster will be seen here in November.

The reveal in Melbourne was actually the world launch of the second generation two-seater, beating the Geneva launch by a few days. Prices are $21,990 for the coupe and $26,990 for the cabrio.


THE South Korean car-maker chose the Melbourne motor show to officially launch the Ssangyong brand in Australia in its own right for the first time.

First made available in Australia via Mercedes-Benz dealerships in 1996, the Ssangyong brand now hopes to revive its fortunes under a new national importer for the brand, Rapson Australia, which plans to retail 450 cars this year through four regional distributors.

Ssangyong will open a new dealer network when its new model, the Rexton off-roader, officially goes on sale on April 28, and hopes to have 50 dealers in place by 2004.

Rexton, launched in South Korea in 2001, took pride of place on the Ssangyong stand and will be available in two specifications: Sport and Limited, with both variants available with either a 2.9-litre five-cylinder turbo-diesel or a 3.2-litre straight six petrol engine.

Both engines will also be available with either manual or automatic transmissions.

While the entry level RX290 Sport turbo-diesel manual will be priced from $39,990, the range will extend to a fully optioned RX320 Limited automatic, priced at $60,000. Seven seats and dual-zone air-conditioning will be available as options on all models.

Rexton aside, Ssangyong also showcased two concept vehicles at the show, although neither model arrived in time for the opening presentation.

Both the Crossut and Hemos were shown at last year's Seoul motor show and give a clue to the four-model range of "niche vehicles in the 4x4 and MPV segments" Ssangyong Australia hopes to have on sale by 2005.


APART from revealing the Trekka Forester, which adds a bed, stove and other camping extras to a standard Forester for less than $3500 - production of which is three months away - Subaru Australia took the unusual decision to sing and dance about the five-star Australian New Car Assessment Program crash rating recently achieved by its top end XS Luxury Pack model.

Joining the Renault Laguna (2001), Mercedes C-class (2002) and Saab 9-3 and Benz E-class this year, the side airbag-equipped Forester flagship is the first Japanese car to achieve a five-star crash rating, leading Subaru Australia to claim it is Australia's safest compact four-wheel drive.

"There's been no shift in policy," Subaru Australia general manager Nick Senior told GoAuto when asked why the company had chosen to promote the ANCAP results despite a general understanding among local car companies not to do so.

"Renault made the first such announcement. We achieved an excellent (crash test) result and had a story to tell," he said.

ANCAP is backed by the nation's motoring organisations and statutory transport bodies, but not the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.


THE X-Runner concept was dominant here, with the rest of the stand very much the support act.

Top of the list was the Prado off-roader launched the week before the show, while other displays included the MR2 Street Affair and the locally-built SP9R two-seater sports car.

For more on the X-Runner, Prado and SP9R check out the separate stories in our Future Models and New Models (Prado) sections


THE New Beetle Cabriolet, claimed to capture the spirit of the original folk's wagon even better than the New Beetle hatch, received much fanfare at its Australian debut before it goes on sale here in June - the same time it goes on sale in its German home market.

Featuring a glass rear window, electrically-operated roof claimed to open in 13 seconds and pop-up rollover hoops, the open-top bug will be available with a 2.0-litre engine and the choice of five-speed manual and six-speed Tiptronic transmissions. Pricing is set at $46,990 for the former and an extravagant $49,490 for the latter.

Another Australian debut was the Touareg luxury off-roader, set to be launched here from August in three well-priced specifications: a 162kW 3.0-litre V6 at under $68,000, a 228kW 4.2-litre V8 at around $80,000 and the 230kW/750Nm 5.0-litre turbo-diesel V10 for about $130,000 - all with six-speed Tiptronic transmission.

The wild 177kW V6 Golf R32 was also shown. Although not confirmed for sale Down Under, 200 examples are likely to arrive around the third quarter of 2003, priced below $60,000.

Volkswagen Group Australia also revealed Seat would join Skoda back in the Australian market by the end of 2004.


VOLVO took the wraps off the S60R high performance sports sedan for its Australian debut.

Expect to see about 25 examples of the S60R and its wagon counterpart, the V70R, go on sale here in the last quarter of 2003.

Pricing will be between a 10 and 20 per cent premium over the current range-topping T5 variants of S60 and V70, which means the "R" cars will be a little above or below $100,000.

Both cars are powered by a 220kW/400Nm five-cylinder turbo engine mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and all-wheel drive. Ride and handling are looked after by Volvo's Active Chassis technology.

Volvo also showed us the XC90 again, along with pricing - $69,950 for the 2.5T and $82,950 for the T6. A third row seat in either is $5100.

  • Cross-over is Ford Territory - go to Future Models
  • Holden's One-Tonner back in black - go to Future Models
  • X-Runner is a first for Toyota - go to Future Models

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