Premium Blend

As more Aus­tralians are choos­ing SUVs over tra­di­tional sedans, lux­ury car brands are tak­ing note. Be­low are the stars to look out for this year.

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - EXEC STYLE - Words CAMERON McGAVIN

The past year will go down in Aus­tralian au­to­mo­tive his­tory as the time when the lights went out on lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing, but it also marked another land­mark shift — when SUV sales over­took those of pas­sen­ger cars.

Our trans­for­ma­tion to a pri­mar­ily SUV-con­sum­ing na­tion isn’t done yet. This year a host of premium brands are mak­ing a splash with some new con­tenders. Here’s five to watch out for.

Volvo XC40

This new com­pact SUV de­liv­ers all the safety and de­sign cred of Volvo’s large XC90 and medi­um­sized XC60 mod­els in a smaller, more af­ford­able and youth­ful pack­age, along with clever stor­age so­lu­tions and a funky colour pal­ette. Avail­able in petrol or diesel when it goes on sale early this month, with plug-in hy­brid and all-elec­tric mod­els to join the line-up later on. Pric­ing TBA.

Lam­borgh­ini Urus

Al­ways wanted a Lam­borgh­ini but have prac­ti­cal needs? Here’s one you can cram the kids in­side or fill up with a week’s worth of shop­ping. Still, it con­tains plenty of tra­di­tional Lambo, with its 478kW twin-turbo V8. Just be warned — when it ar­rives in the sec­ond quar­ter of the year it will also be priced like a tra­di­tional Lambo. From $390,000.

Jaguar E-Pace

Meet Jaguar’s com­pact premium SUV, set to take on Audi’s Q3, BMW’s X1 and Range Rover’s Evoque when it goes on sale this month. It looks ev­ery inch the mod­ern Jag, prom­ises the same kind of driv­ing flair as its si­b­lings and will be avail­able in all types of flavours (five en­gines, eight trims). From $47,750.

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

The Stelvio, the first Alfa SUV, should have just ar­rived in Aus­tralia as you read this, and it’s de­signed to make you think twice about that Audi Q5, BMW X3 or other medium pres­tige SUV. With its oh-so Alfa looks, choice of petrol or diesel and zesty driv­ing char­ac­ter, it has a chance of do­ing just that. A sporty 375kW twin-turbo V6 range-top­per lands later in the year. From $65,900.

In­finiti QX50

Nis­san’s lux­ury di­vi­sion al­ready fields a trio of SUVs but this one will be its first crack at the ul­tra-com­pet­i­tive medium SUV class. Its tech ar­moury will in­clude the world’s first vari­able com­pres­sion petrol en­gine (which In­finiti says com­bines the power of a petrol en­gine with the torque and econ­omy of a diesel) and a semi-au­ton­o­mous driv­ing sys­tem when it goes on sale in late 2018. Pric­ing TBA.

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