BUYERS snapped up record numbers of luxury vehicles last year, with SUVs leading the charge.
Luxury car sales were down on the previous year but sales of small and mid-sized SUVs were up by almost 50 per cent.
There’s no reason to doubt the growth will slow in 2017 and new SUVs will once again take centre stage. Here are the main luxury arrivals for 2017.
The Giulia could make or break the Alfa brand in Australia. The rival for the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class arrives next month, with pricing predicted to be on par with the Germans. The Italian sedan’s turbo petrol and diesel fourcylinder engines come in different states of tune. The range-topping Quadrifoglio (pictured back page) with twinturbo V6 can slingshot to 100km/h in a claimed 3.9 secs.
As most people were nursing their hangovers, a select few were picking up a brand new DB11.
Deliveries of the DB9 successor have started, at $428,032 plus on-roads. The DB11 has a new chassis and a new 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12 that puts out 447kW/700Nm.
At the other end of the spectrum, Audi kickstarts a big year by launching its baby Q2 SUV next month. It will be the fourth and cheapest Audi SUV, starting at $41,100 plus onroads for the base front-drive model with a 1.4-litre petrol engine. Two all-wheel-drive models will feature a bigger petrol engine and a diesel. The German brand will follow up with the A5 coupe in March and a new Q5 in the third quarter.
The new 5 Series debuts in March, taking the fight to the recently released MercedesBenz E-Class. The new car is meaner, leaner and smarter than its predecessor, matching the Benz’s automated driving technology while retaining its trademark “driving pleasure”. The redesigned body and underpinnings deliver weight savings despite more technology in the cabin. There are two new turbos — a 2.0-litre four-cylinder and a 3.0-litre sixcylinder. Also in March, subsidiary Mini will introduce a new-look Countryman.
The open-top version of the limited edition La Ferrari, called the Aperta, arrives in the first quarter. If you haven’t ordered one of the petrolelectric V12-powered supercars, don’t bother. They are already accounted for.
The Q60 Red Sport, a higherpowered version of the sports coupe, arrives in March. Powered by a 298kW twinturbo engine, the Red Sport starts from $88,900 plus onroad costs.
A sportswagon version of the XF — called the Sportbrake — should just sneak in before the end of the year.
The updated Aventador S should arrive in the second half with more power from its V12, better aerodynamics and an eye-watering price tag of $788,914.
The new Discovery 5 is due in July with softer exterior styling and a 480kg weight reduction. That will mean better fuel consumption from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder that is likely to be the popular choice. The bigger V6 diesel is likely to remain, while a V6 petrol should be available at some stage after launch. Prices will start at $65,960 plus on-roads. Tweaked versions of the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport are due in March.
The LC500 coupe is the star attraction. The brand, having long differentiated itself with hybrid models, goes old-school with the striking coupe with naturally aspirated V8. A petrol-electric V6 hybrid will be available for the purists. The best-looking Lexus in a while debuts the first 10-speed auto in a production model.
The sports car maker has ventured to the dark side — the first customer deliveries of its Levante SUV have trickled into the country. The car launches properly this month and the Italian brand says the order book is already over the 200 mark for the vehicle destined to become its bestseller Down Under.
The car to turn heads in 2017, the AMG GT R, has just set a new lap record for a production car at the famed Nurburgring track in Germany. It is due in the third quarter along with a roadster version of the GT. There’s plenty more on the launch pad for Benz. An E-Class hybrid, due next month, leads the way for the E-Class Allterrain and coupe in the second quarter and the cabrio in the last quarter. AMG versions scheduled for this year include the C63 S cabrio next month, the E43 in March and the E63 in the third quarter. An S-Class facelift will cap off a busy year.
The 911 rollout continues with a GTS model in the second quarter. The Macan gets fourcylinder power about the same time. The Panamera 4S petrol and turbo models should arrive next month, while there is speculation that a Sport Turismo (wagon version) will debut at the Geneva show and squeak into Australia before the end of the year. It could be joined in December by the 911 GT3.
Snow-covered, camouflaged mules of Volvo’s XC60 midsized SUV have been spotted in northern climes in recent months and the long-awaited Audi Q5 rival should arrive locally just before the end of the year. The punchy supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre fourcylinder that debuted in the XC90 is expected to be a more lively companion in the lighter XC60 and it should cement its position as Volvo’s top-seller in Australia .