Flavours of the months

Put them on the cal­en­dar — the 10 most im­por­tant mod­els com­ing our way stick with the com­pact for­mula

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - COVER STORY - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@news.com.au

A WAVE of new com­pact SUVs and hatch­backs will ar­rive in show­rooms this year, as the bigselling brands do bat­tle in the most hotly con­tested seg­ments of the mar­ket.

Toy­ota, Hyundai and Kia are af­ter a piece of the small SUV pie and Audi is launch­ing a Q2 for those who want to down­size their high-rid­ing trans­port.

Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar SUV, the Mazda CX-5, en­ters its sec­ond gen­er­a­tion with the prom­ise of a qui­eter cabin and more re­fined ride and the Land Rover Dis­cov­ery should roll into deal­er­ships midyear.

Three of the small-hatch heavy hit­ters — the VW Golf, Hyundai i30 and Kia Rio, will have new or up­dated mod­els and Honda will launch the more pop­u­lar hatch ver­sion of its well-re­ceived Civic.

Here are the 10 most im­por­tant cars com­ing our way.

VOLK­SWA­GEN GOLF

If see­ing is be­liev­ing then the Golf up­date will be lost on most peo­ple. The bumpers and lights have been lightly re­shaped and there are new wheel de­signs. Of more sig­nif­i­cance is the move to a 110kW 1.5-litre en­gine for the base ver­sions (up from 92kW in the cur­rent 1.4) and a host of soft­ware changes aug­mented by big­ger in­fo­tain­ment screens. VW is also likely to in­clude the lat­est safety tech as stan­dard across the range, which could push prices past the cur­rent model’s $23,000 start­ing point.

HOLDEN AS­TRA SEDAN

The Euro­pean-built hatch will be joined by a Korean-built sedan based on the nextgen­er­a­tion Cruze. We’re likely to get only the smaller 1.4-litre tur­bocharged four-cylin­der (the hatch gets a 1.6-litre turbo as well). Sedans aren’t as pop­u­lar as hatches in this seg­ment so ex­pect prices to start be­low the As­tra R hatch’s $21,990 when the cars ar­rive in the first half of this year.

MAZDA CX-5

Mazda’s aim­ing for a quiet revo­lu­tion with its SUVs so the new CX-5 — due lo­cally around May — fol­lows on from the CX-9 in sup­press­ing cabin noise. It is one of the few crit­i­cisms own­ers have of the cur­rent car, which helps ex­plain why the styling changes are evo­lu­tion­ary to avoid of­fend­ing the faith­ful. The en­gines are car­ry­over but with im­proved out­puts and ef­fi­ciency. Ex­pect the base vari­ant to be priced be­low $30,000 be­fore on-roads.

TOY­OTA C-HR

One in seven SUVs sold in Aus­tralia has a Toy­ota badge — and the com­pany doesn’t even com­pete in the small soft­roader seg­ment. That will change in Fe­bru­ary with the ar­rival of the rad­i­cal-look­ing C-HR. The five-door “CoupeHigh Rider” will be sold in just two trim lev­els and in front and all-wheel drive guises, com­pet­ing against the likes of the Mazda CX-3 and Mit­subishi ASX. Cars­guide pre­dicts a start­ing price of about $25,000, which is ex­pen­sive for the class. Toy­ota is ex­pected to off­set the steeper pric­ing by mak­ing adap­tive cruise con­trol and au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing stan­dard. It will be a big year for Aus­tralia’s most pop­u­lar brand, as a new Kluger and Camry also will de­but.

KIA RIO

The five-door Rio hatch launches later this month with a 1.4-litre en­gine and a big­ger, more up­mar­ket in­te­rior. Those want­ing more per­for­mance will have to wait un­til the 1.0-litre

turbo en­gine ar­rives midyear, along with a six-speed au­to­matic in place of the car­ry­over four-cog auto. A fiveinch in­fo­tain­ment screen will be stan­dard but auto-brak­ing is tipped to be an op­tion on low­er­spec mod­els. Kia will have a new Pi­canto baby hatch this year and a baby SUV shortly af­ter the Hyundai twin de­buts.

HYUNDAI SMALL SUV

There isn’t even an of­fi­cial name for this baby soft-roader yet but Aus­tralian buy­ers can still ex­pect to see it late in the year. Likely to be re­vealed at the Geneva mo­tor show in March, it is tipped to be based on the i30 plat­form, which will give it a size ad­van­tage over Mazda’s strongselling CX-3. Hyundai has been late to the small SUV party and is rush­ing to make amends. Hyundai will also launch an all­new ver­sion of its best-sell­ing i30 in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017 with sharp new styling, more pow­er­ful en­gines and a more com­plete arse­nal of safety tech­nol­ogy.

HONDA CIVIC HATCH

The Civic sedan is go­ing gang­busters but hatches are the heart of the small-car seg­ment and Honda has its new one here in April. The hatch has been styled as a sportier propo­si­tion to its four-door sib­ling, com­plete with a pair of ex­hausts in the mid­dle of the big rear dif­fuser and an un­der­body aero kit. Trim lev­els and en­gines will be shared by the two ve­hi­cles, mean­ing an en­try level 1.8-litre and a bet­ter-per­form­ing turbo 1.5-litre.

FORD ECOS­PORT

The EcoS­port was shown in Los An­ge­les in Novem­ber with a sub­stan­tially up­dated in­te­rior and ex­te­rior and no spare wheel on the side­ways-open­ing rear tail­gate. The US out­fit opted to ditch the ugly and un­wieldy setup in favour of a tyre re­pair kit and the re­vised EcoS­port looks bet­ter for it. The in­te­rior over­haul is in­tended to ap­peal to younger buy­ers and in­cludes Ford’s new­est Sync3 in­fo­tain­ment soft­ware. The car launches late this year and, de­pend­ing on spec, prices shouldn’t rise much over the $21,000 start­ing price for the cur­rent model.

JEEP COM­PASS

The last Com­pass didn’t do Jeep any favours but this one looks as if it’s head­ing in the right di­rec­tion. The ex­te­rior styling is based on the Grand Chero­kee and the in­te­rior will look fa­mil­iar to mod­ern Jeep own­ers. Jeep hasn’t com­mented on fea­tures, en­gines or pric­ing other than to say the Com­pass will sit be­tween the $26,000 Rene­gade and $36,000 Chero­kee. There are two and all-wheel drive ver­sions and the Trail­hawk vari­ant picks up a 20:1 crawl drive. It is due late in the year.

SUBARU XV

The XV is es­sen­tially a high­rid­ing Im­preza and the new model due midyear will mir­ror the spec­i­fi­ca­tion of the im­pres­sive new small sedan. The “Eye­sight” ac­tive driv­ing aids are likely as stan­dard in the top two vari­ants. Pric­ing: about $28,000. The XV should match the sedan‘s an­nual ser­vices (in place of six-month in­ter­vals) and cheaper ser­vic­ing costs.

TOY­OTA C-HR

FORD ECOS­PORT KIA RIO

MAZDA CX-5

SUBARU XV HOLDEN AS­TRA

VOLK­SWA­GEN GOLF

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