A guide to 2021’s new car releases

A yellow-green Volkswagen Golf hatch back on the road

Tim Nicholson

Posted February 03, 2021

From everyday EVs to next-generation SUVs and hot hatches, our motoring expert rounds up this year’s new car releases.

A record number of new battery electric models are set to hit dealer showrooms in 2021, giving Australians more choice than ever before when it comes to low and zero-emissions vehicles. A clutch of fresh hybrid and plug-in hybrid models are also expected on our shores before the year is out. 

After a year of poor new-car sales, demand started to pick up at the end of 2020 and industry observers are expecting continued recovery this year.   

Buyers may be tempted by a slew of new SUV releases, from compact urban runabouts to rugged 4x4s. But the number of traditional passenger cars landing in 2021 is down, reflecting the trend away from sedans, wagons and hatchbacks.  

There’s plenty of choice for cashed-up buyers, with a long list of premium and ultra-luxury models due to launch this year.  

No matter what your budget or vehicle choice, there’s bound to be something of interest arriving on the local market in 2021. Here’s our roundup of what’s on the way.


In this article

Electric vehicles

Hybrids and plug-in hybrids

Small cars and SUVs

Family cars and SUVs

Utes and off-roaders

Sports and performances cars

Exotic cars

A white Kia Niro SUV on the road

Kia will finally enter the Australian EV market with its Niro small SUV.


The new cars hitting Aussie shores in 2021

Electric vehicles

Electric vehicle (EV) sales are expected to rise again this year after a 16 per cent increase in 2020. More EVs are headed Down Under in 2021 than in any other year and while most of the action is with premium manufacturers, mainstream brands are busy too. Kia will finally enter the EV market with its Niro small SUV, which has been on sale internationally for a few years already. The version due to arrive here in quarter two is the mid-life facelift, and will come in full EV, plug-in hybrid and regular hybrid versions. The fully electric e-Niro EV has a driving range of approximately 455 kilometres on the ‘real-world’ WLTP standard. 

Other EVs confirmed to arrive  in 2021 include:

  • Hyundai Ioniq 5: The exact timing and pricing has yet to be revealed but Hyundai has confirmed it will launch the Ioniq sub-brand of electric models, starting with the retro-inspired Ioniq 5 SUV, which will have a driving range of about 450 kilometres. 
  • Hyundai Kona Electric: The popular EV gets a facelift and a boost in driving range to 484 kilometres in the latest Kona, due to arrive before April.
  • Mazda MX-30: Mazda’s first EV, due to arrive mid-year, is a coupe-style SUV that will be available in both electric and mild hybrid guise. Complete with rear-opening rear doors reminiscent of the iconic RX-8, the MX-30 EV has a driving range of about 200 kilometres. The mild hybrid version will arrive first.
  • Nissan Leaf e+: Due to arrive in April, the new e+ will sell alongside the regular Leaf but will boast a longer driving range of 385 kilometres compared with 270 kilometres. 
  • SsangYong Korando E100: The electric version of the Korando mid-size SUV is due to arrive in the final quarter of 2021.  
  • Audi e-tron S: The performance version of the e-tron, due to arrive in the second half of 2021,  pumps out 320kW/808Nm and can do 0-100kmh in 4.5 seconds. 
  • Audi e-tron GT: The GT four-door coupe will be Audi’s flagship EV. Release date not yet confirmed.
  • BMW iX3: Based on the X3 mid-size SUV, the iX3 will land here mid-year to compete with the Audi e-tron, Jaguar I-Pace and Mercedes-Benz EQC. 
  • BMW iX: The striking iX SUV features a futuristic interior and has a driving range of more than 600 kilometres. Although it’s not due here until quarter four, and pricing has yet to be announced, online pre-orders have already opened for keen Aussie buyers. 
  • Jaguar I-Pace: The latest update promises fast charging times, upgraded infotainment and new driver tech. 
  • Lexus UX300e: Due for release in quarter four, Lexus’s first EV is an electric version of the UX small SUV and comes with a driving range of just over 300 kilometres. 
  • Mercedes-Benz EQA: Similar in size and design to the GLA small SUV, the EQA can drive 426 kilometres before requiring a charge. It will arrive here mid-year.
  • Mercedes-Benz EQS: Benz has yet to confirm, but the S-Class of EVs is likely to make it to Australia this year. We’ve only seen the concept, but the production version will be revealed soon. 
  • Porsche Taycan: One of the most highly anticipated EVs was supposed to launch last year but was delayed until this month thanks to COVID-19. Prices start at $190,000 before on-road costs and climb to $338,500 for the Turbo S. The 2021 allocation is all but exhausted. 
  • Tesla Model Y: The Model 3-based small SUV was also expected last year, but Tesla is yet to confirm a date for the first Australian shipment. It could push out to 2022. 
  • Volvo XC40 Recharge: A companion for the XC40 plug-in hybrid, Volvo’s first EV is due to go on sale in June.  
  • Toyota Mirai FCEV: Hydrogen fuel cell cars are yet to take off, but Toyota’s second-generation Mirai will be offered to small fleets and businesses as part of a pilot program in the first half of 2021. 
  • Hyundai Nexo FCEV: Hyundai has a similar program to Toyota for its hydrogen-powered Nexo SUV.
A white Porsche Taycan in a garage next to a charger

The launch of Porsche’s highly anticipated Taycan EV was delayed until 2021 thanks to COVID-19.


Hybrids and plug-in hybrids

More Australians bought hybrids last year than ever before, with sales up 94 per cent year on year.  That was largely due to Toyota’s range, led by the RAV4. Sales of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are a fraction of hybrid numbers, but that could change as several new models arrive in the next 12 months. 

Here are the hybrids and PHEVs on the way this year:

  • Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV: This small SUV uses the same setup as the Outlander and can drive for 57 kilometres on electric charge before the petrol engine kicks in. It’s due to arrive here mid-year.
  • Ford Escape PHEV: This plug-in variant of the recently launched Escape medium SUV, due to arrive towards the end of 2021, has an electric range of about 50 kilometres. 
  • Honda HR-V: A Hybrid powertrain is confirmed for the new-generation HR-V SUV but has yet to be revealed. Expect to see it in showrooms late 2021 or early 2022. 
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe: Also due here late this year or early next, Jeep will drop the diesel engine in favour of a PHEV for its new-generation large SUV.
  • Kia Sorento PHEV: Kia’s first plug-in hybrid for Australia uses a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine and a 67kW electric motor that can drive in pure EV mode. It will be followed by a regular hybrid version in the second half of the year.
  • Toyota Kluger hybrid: A rival for Kia’s Sorento, Toyota’s latest hybrid is due for release here in the first half of 2020.  
  • Peugeot 3008/5008: The French manufacturer offers two PHEV powertrains in Europe, but Peugeot Australia is yet to confirm which one will make it here this autumn. 
  • MG HS PHEV: MG Motor will add a plug-in hybrid to its electrified portfolio that already includes the ZS EV. Expect to see it here in the first half of the year.
  • Ferrari SF90 Stradale: With a starting price of about $850,000, this exotic plug-in is due to arrive in the first half of 2021. 
  • Lexus LS500h: A facelifted version of the hybrid limo launched in January and is on sale now from about $195,000.  
  • Maserati Ghibli: The mid-size Italian sedan is going hybrid in the first half of 2021. 
  • McLaren Artura: The yet-to-be-revealed Artura is rumoured to pair a twin-turbocharged V6 engine with an electric motor, but McLaren has not confirmed whether it’s a hybrid or PHEV. It’s due for release in the first half of 2021.
Renault’s new coupe-style Arkana SUV will land later in the year.
Jaguar’s small E-Pace SUV lands here soon.

Small cars and SUVs 

The interest in small hatchbacks has declined in recent years as buyers turn to compact SUVs, but one model is likely to attract a lot of attention when it lands in the first half of 2021. The eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf will move up in price and start from a tick under $30,000, but it will come with more standard safety gear, fully digital instrumentation and a new automatic transmission instead of the dual clutch.  

Other models to look out for include: 

  • Skoda Scala hatch: A cousin of the Golf under the skin, the Scala arrived here in January after a delayed launch.  
  • Citroen C4: This all-new crossover is expected to improve the French brand’s sales in Australia when it arrives here in the second half of 2021.  
  • Hyundai Kona: Arriving in showrooms this month, the Kona’s polarising design is toned down as part of a facelift for the strong-selling small SUV.  
  • Kia Stonic: Kia has finally entered the light SUV class with last month’s launch of the Stonic, which will compete head-to-head with the Mazda CX-3.  
  • Nissan Qashqai: This highly anticipated new-generation SUV could be offered in Australia with Nissan’s e-Power hybrid system when it launches towards the end of the year, but it’s yet to be confirmed.  
  • Renault Captur: This second-generation light SUV, due to land in April, will be the French brand’s entry model, after the related Clio hatch was discontinued.  
  • Renault Arkana: Renault’s new coupe-style SUV will land later in the year to replace the slow-selling Kadjar. 
  • Honda HR-V: The next-version HR-V is expected to be a little larger than the wildly successful current model, but little else is known at this stage ahead of the launch later this year or early next.  
  • Jeep Compass: Jeep will be hoping the revised version of the Compass will help improve its sales when it launches in the second half of the year. 
  • Haval H2: Chinese brand Haval’s next generation of vehicles are expected to be a significant improvement on current models. The new H2 small SUV, to be released here in the second half of the year, will follow the design of the Concept H.  
  • Audi A3: Audi’s small-car range shares underpinnings with the VW Golf but with a more prestigious flavour. Expect improvements to fuel economy and interior tech when the A3 launches in the second half of 2021.  
  • Audi Q2/SQ2: The Q2 SUV comes in for a facelift when it lands here in the second quarter and there’s a spicy SQ2 sports variant.  
  • Jaguar E-Pace: Jaguar has dropped the diesel engine but added new infotainment tech for the small SUV’s first facelift, which lands here soon. 
Two Subaru Outbacks on a hill

A brand-new Subaru Outback is due to land in March.


Family cars and SUVs 

It’s a big year for family cars, specifically SUVs, with some big sellers set to be replaced with all-new models. It all kicks off with a brand-new Subaru Outback in March. A new platform brings improvements to ride and handling, as well as interior comfort, but some buyers will lament the loss of the 3.6-litre six-cylinder engine. A new 2.5-litre unit is the only engine on offer.  

Other family offerings due for release include: 

  • Haval H6: The first of Haval’s new-model rollout, due before mid-year, should showcase improvements to ride and handling. 
  • Honda Odyssey: Honda’s people-mover comes in for a major refresh with a new infotainment setup, a power-opening door and better standard safety gear, when released in the first quarter of 2021. 
  • Hyundai Sonata: Medium sedan sales are in serious decline, but Hyundai believes its sleek new Sonata will attract buyers who don’t want an SUV, when it launches in the first quarter. 
  • Hyundai Tucson: Hyundai’s dramatically styled medium SUV will arrive before mid-year to take on the Toyota RAV4. 
  • Kia Carnival: Just arrived in dealerships, the striking new eight-seater people-mover shares its underpinnings with the impressive new Sorento and starts from around $47,000.
  • Kia Sportage: Mechanically related to the Tucson, the all-new Sportage hasn’t been seen yet but is expected to adopt Kia’s latest design language when it arrives here in the second half of 2021. 
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee: The long-delayed new-gen Jeep is bigger all round, has a completely redesigned interior and is charged with pushing Jeep further upmarket. It’s due here after mid-year.
  • Mitsubishi Outlander: The replacement for the ageing mid-size SUV will increase in size and carry a bold design based on the Engelberg Tourer concept. It’s due to arrive here in the second half of the year with a plug-in EV version to follow in 2022.
  • Nissan X-Trail: Not due for release here until late-2021/early-2022, the new X-Trail has been revealed in the US with a much more modern design, plus the latest safety and in-car tech.
  • Peugeot 3008/5008: The soon-to-arrive five-seat 3008 and seven-seat 5008 medium SUVs gain a modern front-end design and a new 10-inch infotainment screen. 
  • Skoda Octavia: Yet another VW Group model that shares underpinnings with the new Golf, the larger Octavia liftback and wagon will once again be offered in Sport RS guise when released here in the second quarter. 
  • Subaru Outback: Underpinned by the same global platform used for the impressive Forester, Subaru has modernised the Outback but maintained evolutionary styling. It’s due for release in March.
  • Toyota Kluger: Adopting a new platform, the new Kluger introduces the latest safety gear and will likely continue its sales lead over other car-based seven-seat large SUVs when it arrives here before mid-year. 
  • Volkswagen Tiguan: The refreshed version of the medium SUV, due for release in quarter two,  adopts a fresh face influenced by the new Golf, and new model grades. 
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio: The Italian SUV gets a minor update in the first half of the year. 
  • Audi Q5/Q5 Sportback: The second-generation SUV gets a mid-life refresh and will be joined by a swoopy coupe-style Sportback version when released mid-year.  
  • Jaguar F-Pace: The mid-size SUV gets an extensive mid-life update in the next month or two, with new six-cylinder engines and a completely overhauled interior. Prices start from about $75,000.
  • Genesis G70: A significant facelift for the impressive G70 sedan in the second quarter ushers in the latest Genesis design.
  • Genesis GV70: If you like the G70 but want a higher-riding SUV, keep an eye out for the GV70 in quarter two. It is expected to be the fledgling luxury brand’s top-selling model. 
  • Land Rover Discovery: A mid-life update will deliver a simplified line-up and refreshed styling as well as new-gen powertrains. Its release date here has not been announced.
  • Range Rover Velar: Similar updates to the Discovery, with new engines and fewer variants for the stunning SUV. 
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The S-Class is always the pinnacle of Mercedes’ tech know-how and the seventh-generation is no exception. Due for release in March, it will be the first production vehicle to feature forward-facing airbags for the outboard rear-seat passengers. 
  • Volvo V60 Cross Country: The mid-size wagon will be offered in higher-riding Cross Country guise and will be available with a mild-hybrid option when the new model arrives mid-year.  
The massive Chevrolet Silverado pick-up trucks are perfect for towing horse floats – but won’t be cheap.
A two-door version of Land Rover’s new-generation Defender 4x4 is due to land this year.

Utes and off-roaders 

Last year was a bumper year for new utes but things are quieter in 2021. In fact, most of the action comes from hulking US-built trucks such the RAM 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado. Both the Chev and RAM are re-manufactured to right-hand drive at Walkinshaw’s Clayton site – the former HSV factory.

Other utes and off-roaders set to hit the road include: 

  • RAM 1500: The new-generation 1500 was revealed in the US a couple of years back but is only going on sale this year. The supercharged V8-powered RAM TRX performance model will follow. 
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2500: Part of General Motors Special Vehicles, the massive pick-up trucks are perfect for towing a horse float – but they won’t be cheap. The current one starts at around $113,000.
  • Nissan Navara: Heavily updated Navara hits showrooms this month, followed by a go-anywhere Warrior variant later in the year.
  • Volkswagen Amarok W580: VW’s Walkinshaw-tuned performance ute will appeal to cashed-up tradies when it arrives in April. 
  • SsangYong Musso: The underrated Korean ute gets a model-year update in June, along with the related Rexton 4x4 SUV. 
  • Isuzu MU-X: Revealed late last year, the all-new D-Max-based 4x4 wagon will be less agricultural than the model it replaces. Its release date isn’t known yet.
  • Mahindra Thar: A rather odd Indian-built Jeep Wrangler lookalike is slated for release this year.
  • Land Rover Defender 90: The soon-to-arrive short-wheelbase two-door version of the new-generation Defender will be a hit with urbanites, according to the company.  
  • Mitsubishi Pajero Final Edition: Mitsubishi will farewell the ageing Pajero off-road wagon (not to be confused with the Pajero Sport) with a final edition, to be released here mid-year. 
  • Nissan Patrol Warrior: Nissan Australia is yet to confirm, but expect a rugged Warrior version of the Patrol wagon, developed with Melbourne-based engineering firm Premcar, to appear in showrooms some time this year.
The all-new mid-engined Corvette supercar will be imported direct from the US factory later this year.
The second-generation Subaru BRZ coupe is packed with more safety gear and a fresh new design.

Sports and performance cars 

Aside from a few significant new models, things are looking pretty quiet in the sports-car segment this year. One brand that will be making quite a bit of noise, however, is Hyundai, with not one but three seriously sporty offerings in the pipeline. 

Keep an eye out for these sports and performance cars coming in 2021: 

  • Hyundai i20 N: The i20 is Hyundai’s European-market light hatch and Australia will see only the  playful, front-wheel-drive ‘N’ performance model. The time of release is yet to be announced, and while price has not been confirmed, it is expected to be between $30,000 and $35,000.
  • Hyundai i30 N: The Australia’s Best Cars-winning i30 N gets a mid-life upgrade in the second quarter of 2021, with the option of a dual-clutch automatic offered for the first time. 
  • Hyundai Kona N: Details are thin on the ground for the first Hyundai SUV to get the ‘N’ treatment, but it’s likely to use the same powertrain as the i30 N, including the dual-clutch auto. 
  • BMW M3/M4: The polarising long double-kidney grille design from the 4 Series Coupe will be seen again on the soon-to-arrive 353kW/550Nm M4 coupe and its M3 four-door sedan twin. 
  • BMW 4 Series Convertible: The 4 Series is also ready to drop its top in quarter one. 
  • Chevrolet Corvette: Rising out of the ashes of Holden and HSV, General Motors Special Vehicles will import the all-new mid-engined Corvette supercar direct from the US factory later this year, with prices starting at $149,990.
  • Ford Mustang Mach 1: Ford will offer a strictly limited track-focused version of the Mustang V8 sportscar with a price tag just shy of $84,000. It’s due for release this quarter.
  • Porsche 911 GT3 and GTS: A pair of more powerful versions of Porsche’s flagship 911 are expected before the year is out. 
  • Subaru BRZ: The second-generation BRZ coupe – a twin of the Toyota 86 – is coming in quarter three, packed with more safety gear and a fresh new design, but sharing the outgoing model’s platform. 
  • Subaru WRX: Subaru will keep things hot with an all-new WRX performance sedan, due to arrive late in the year. 
  • Toyota Yaris Rallye: Another rally-bred beast, Toyota’s ballistic little hot hatch, due here before mid-year, adds an arsenal of performance parts. 
The stunning Ferrari Roma is expected to arrive here mid-year, priced from a tick under $410,000.
The Maserati MC20 supercar is set to debut mid-year from $438,000.

Exotic cars 

This year the British and Italian marques will be most active in the ultra-luxury and supercar segments. If you have cash to splash, or just like to dream, here’s what to keep an eye out for. 

  • Aston Martin Vantage Roadster/Vantage manual: This gorgeous convertible is due for release this quarter, priced at about $315,000. 
  • Bentley Flying Spur V8: The British limousine gets a more affordable V8 version before mid-year to sit alongside the V12 models. 
  • Bentley Bentayga Speed: One of the fastest SUVs on the planet, the Bentayga can cover 0-100kmh in just 3.9 seconds. It’s landing here in quarter two.
  • Ferrari Roma/Portofino: The stunning Roma is expected to arrive here mid-year, priced from a tick under $410,000, while the ‘entry-level’ Portofino is just under $400k. 
  • Lamborghini Huracan STO: Packing a 470kW V10 punch, the wild Lambo is locked in for Australia – in very limited numbers. Timing to be confirmed.
  • Maserati MC20: Another beautiful Italian, the MC20 supercar is set to debut mid-year from $438,000. 
  • Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series: Featuring the most powerful V8 Mercedes-AMG engine ever built, the 537kW/800Nm track weapon will set you back about $800,000 when it goes on sale here in April.
  • Rolls-Royce Ghost: Rolls’ ‘most affordable’ sedan starts at about $628,000 and is powered by a twin-turbo V12 engine. It’s due here mid-year so start saving.