Sports and performance cars
Australians love performance cars and it’s not just sporty coupes we’re snapping up. Increasingly, buyers are opting for performance-focused SUVs, while small hot hatches are still big business.
On the hot hatch front, the Toyota Yaris GR will go head to head with Ford’s delayed Fiesta ST that finally arrives in quarter one. The Fiesta’s larger cousin, the Focus ST, is also expected in the first quarter and will lock horns with the likes of the Hyundai i30 N and Honda Civic Type R when it launches.
Renault’s Megane Trophy-R and VW’s Golf GTI TCR (a swansong for the Golf Mk 7 GTI) are also expected, and Mini’s hardcore JCW GP hatch lands mid-year.
While some of these represent the more affordable end of the sports segment, there’s quite a bit of action happening at the top end of town.
Holden will start taking orders for the fire-breathing Chevrolet Corvette this year, but it looks like deliveries won’t start until 2021. It’s the first time the all-American sports car will be offered in Australia, imported directly from Kentucky in factory right-hand-drive configuration.
BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have multiple performance cars lobbing this year, with the former launching a final ‘heritage’ edition of the M4, ahead of the reveal of the new-generation 4 Series at some point this year. The gorgeous V8-powered M8 Coupe and Gran Coupe will be here soon and the eagerly anticipated M2 CS coupe – a more powerful and lightweight version of the brilliant M2 – lands mid-year. The X5 and X6 M Performance models will top the brand’s SUV line-up in quarter two.
Benz has a slew of AMG-fettled models on the way, including the all-new A45 S hot hatch and its mechanical sibling, the CLA 45 S sedan, in March. Mercedes’ answer to the X5 M – the AMG GLE 63 SUV – and its hulking GLS 63 stablemate both lob this year, powered by the same 4.0-litre V8 engine pumping out 450kW/850Nm.
Audi’s revised R8 Coupe lands mid-year, as does the bahn-storming RS6 Avant and RS7 Sportback mechanical siblings and the RS Q3/RS Q3 Sportback performance SUV twins.
That other German prestige brand, Porsche, also has a busy year, kicking off with the 718 Cayman GT4 and 718 Spyder in the first quarter, followed by the excellent Macan GTS SUV. Another pair of sporty SUVS – the Maserati GTS and Trofeo – lob in the first quarter.
The convertible version of the stunning Lexus LC500 V8 hits showrooms in the second half of the year and Jaguar’s heavily revised F-Type sports car is set for an April launch.
As far as the exotic brands go, McLaren’s track-focused lightweight 620R lands in very limited numbers in the first half, while Aston Martin will serve up a drop-top roadster version of its wild Vantage in the middle of the year.
Premium cars and SUVs
Following Porsche, Maserati and Lamborghini, Aston Martin is the latest sports car manufacturer to turn its attention to SUVs and its first attempt – the DBX – is expected this year.
Mercedes-Benz will lob the facelifted version of its E-Class mid-sizer, as well as the GLA and GLB compact SUVs. The latter is a boxy seven-seat offering that should appeal to buyers needing a bit more space.
Filling yet another niche is BMW with its 2 Series Gran Coupe small sedan that will battle the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 sedan. Speaking of Audi, a number of facelifted models including the A4/A5 and Q7 SUV are coming, as is the new coupe-like Q3 Sportback crossover.
One of the most anticipated events on the automotive calendar is the return of Land Rover’s famed Defender nameplate. The all-new version, which replaces the iconic model that had a production run of 67 years, promises unrivalled off-road prowess while offering the latest safety and connectivity features.
Hyundai’s freshly launched premium arm, Genesis, will finally join the SUV market this year with its big GV80 in the first half. The all-new G80 large sedan – a rival for the Lexus GS – is expected before year’s end.
While Australia trails many developed countries when it comes to the uptake of EVs, more buyers are putting electrified cars on their shopping list and plenty of new models are on the way in 2020.
One of the more affordable BEVs to land this year will be MG Motor’s ZS EV. While the company announced a keen $46,990 driveaway price tag for the first 100 examples of the SUV last year, the full-time pricing is expected to increase to more than $50,000. The ZS has a 262-kilometre driving range and will compete with the likes of the Hyundai Kona Electric.
The revised version of Renault’s tiny Zoe electric hatch lands later in the year with an increased driving range of 390 kilometres and an overhauled interior.
The Mini Electric hatch is slated for an Australian launch in mid-2020 and along with a 240-kilometre driving range, it promises to retain the brand’s trademark go-kart-like handling.
Audi’s delayed e-tron electric SUV will finally arrive in mid-2020 to take on Mercedes’ recently launched EQC and the Tesla Model X, but Tesla’s smaller Model Y and BMW’s iX3 SUV are expected to push out to 2021.
One of the most talked about EVs of recent years is Porsche’s Taycan and it arrives in the final quarter of the year. Its chief rival will be the Tesla Model S, but it will soon face competition in the form of four-door EV sports models from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, among others.
Volvo will launch its standalone Polestar performance EV brand later this year, with the Polestar 2 small sedan expected to lead the charge.
2020 marks a big year for plug-in hybrids, which is great news for green-focused buyers who are concerned about range anxiety. Ford’s all-new Escape mid-size SUV will be offered in plug-in guise in the second half of the year and will be capable of driving on electric power only for 50 to 55 kilometres.
Volvo will introduce a PHEV version of its hugely popular XC40 small SUV in the second quarter and Porsche will add another PHEV variant to its Cayenne large SUV range with the sporty Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe.
BMW’s X3 xDrive30e SUV lands in quarter two and Mercedes has no fewer than three PHEVs lobbing this year, with a plug-in version of its A-Class hatch and GLC and GLE SUVs on the calendar.
More petrol-electric hybrid models are coming too, including the Toyota Yaris, but the big news is that Subaru will finally enter the hybrid market. The Japanese car-maker will offer hybrid versions of its two most popular models – the XV and the Forester – from March this year.