HIGHLIGHTS January is traditionally the month bulk buyers go on holiday and private buyers come out in strength. And come out they did, in record numbers that pushed the market 4.3 percent higher. The Toyota Hilux (3860 sales) may have dominated the charts, but only 59 sales separated the secondplaced Ford Ranger and the best-selling passenger car, the Mazda 3. Ford came within a tonneau cover of overtaking Holden, while Kia spring-boarded from a record sales year to post its best January result in VFACTS history.
LOWLIGHTS Holden’s 40-year-old Commodore nameplate dropped from the Top 20 list for the first time. It posted 871 sales as stock of the VFII ran out ahead of the all-new ZB’s arrival. It’s also the first time in nearly 58 years that the Ford Falcon posted a duck’s egg for its sales result. Other noticeable absences that lost favour with mum-and-dad buyers included the Mitsubishi ASX (872 sales) and Pajero Sport (408), the Toyota Kluger (897) and usual Top 5 contender, the Toyota Camry (754).
Kia has provided an early glimpse of the next generation Cerato hatchback, with the launch of its Europe-only Ceed. The all-new Kia Ceed five-door was penned at the brand’s Euro design centre in Frankfurt, and features “innovative technologies and engines”. We’re not likely to see much of that Euro tech in the closely related Korean-built Cerato, but a Kia Australia spokesperson told Wheels the two models will share plenty of design cues. The Cerato hatch is slated for a late 2018 launch, a few months after the sedan (see Incoming).
Volvo is bullish on electrically enhanced motoring, with aspirations to electrify — either partially or entirely — at least one variant of each model line from 2019. Right now the most affordable Volvo that can run in a pure electric mode is the $92,990 plug-in hybrid XC60 T8, but the company has announced the XC40 will volt into contention — and is the first mainstream Volvo to have a purely electric option confirmed. Be prepared for a wait, though, as neither it nor its plug-in hybrid sibling are expected to arrive before 2020.
ALFA ROMEO Stelvio; AUDI R8 V10 RWS; BMW M5; CHEVROLET Silverado ute; CITROEN C3 hatch; HSV Colorado Sportscat; HYUNDAI i30 N; JAGUAR E-Pace; JEEP Grand Cherokee Trackhawk; LEXUS LS; MERCEDES-BENZ X-Class ute and AMG GLC63 wagon/coupe; PORSCHE 718 Cayman/Boxster GTS, 911 Carrera T and 911 GT2 RS; VOLKSWAGEN Mk6 Polo 70/85TSI
AUDI RS4 Avant: FORD Mustang facelift; HYUNDAI iMax/iLoad facelift; JAGUAR XJ update and XJR 575; KIA Cerato sedan; LAND ROVER Range Rover Sport/SVR facelift and Range Rover facelift; LOTUS Evora GT430; MERCEDES-BENZ S-Class coupe/cabriolet facelift; PORSCHE Cayenne; VOLKSWAGEN Mk6 Polo Beats and Polo GTI; VOLVO XC40
Launching here in March wearing a $173,100 sticker (or $179,080 as a PDK), Porsche’s fleshed-out flat-four Cayman GTS gains 11kW/10Nm over a 2.5-litre Cayman S (thanks to a new intake duct and other tweaks), as well as standard Sport Chrono Package, Porsche Torque Vectoring with mechanical rear diff lock, and Porsche Active Suspension Management. Stuttgart reckons the 718 Cayman GTS with seven-speed PDK ’box and launch control can crack triple digits in 4.1sec and 290km/h flat out. Visual GTS signifiers include a Sport Design front bumper, black-tinted head- and tail-lights, a black rear lower bumper, central black tailpipes for the standard sports exhaust, and satinfinish 20s also dipped in black.
Unveiled in Detroit in January, Kia’s new-gen Cerato sedan arrives here towards the end of May. Riding on an extensively revised platform (as per Hyundai’s Elantra and new-gen i30), the Cerato’s body-in-white is 16 percent stiffer and its windscreen cowl has moved 127mm rearward to bring some Stinger-esque styling sizzle. The sedan will initially offer three trim levels – S, Sport and Sport Plus – powered by Kia’s carryover 2.0-litre atmo four, though a GT version is mooted by year’s end, featuring an unconfirmed 1.6-litre turbo-petrol donk and IRS (as per i30 SR).
South Korea’s SUV staple has grown in both grandeur and stature with its fourth generation, expanding in all directions bar height to improve its once-compromised seven-seat capacity. New Santa Fe’s wheelbase is now 65mm longer (though still 15mm shy of its Kia Sorento cousin), unleashing 38mm more second-row legroom and 22mm of additional third-row headroom. Its boot is bigger too (up 109 litres to 625), while the cabin gains stitched trim and a classier vibe. The 2.2-litre R-series turbo-diesel scores an eight-speed auto.