Flavours of the months

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Cover Story - TOY­OTA C-HR CRAIG DUFF

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. 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. 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’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. 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. 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

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