HIGHLIGHTS Rental buyers collectively jumped off their backsides to account for one in every 20 new-car sales in February, helping to push the rest of the market 8.4 percent higher compared with January’s result. Most of the rental gain was in passenger cars, up 1404 units to 2193. Strong sales of the Mitsubishi Outlander helped the Japanese brand comfortably rise to fourth spot. Large SUVs performed strongly, up more than 12 percent as the Toyota Kluger and Prado cornered 30 percent of sales in the segment.
LOWLIGHTS Once again, trade utes dominated the market as the Toyota Hilux (4426 sales) and Ford Ranger (3544) locked out the front row of the dummy grid. Holden fell to just a 4.6 percent market share to be within 25 sales of falling to number 10 on the charts in February as it continued to wallow in its post-manufacturing doldrums. The usually strong MercedesBenz GLC-Class (307 sales) was easily outgunned by Audi’s Q5 (414 sales) in M-B’s worst result since it split out commercial vehicle sales.
Hyundai continues its focus on the highperformance realm with the appointment of Thomas Schemera as head of its newly established High Performance Vehicle and Motorsport Division. Hyundai says a major aim of the division is to “maximise synergy” between its Korean headquarters and Hyundai Motorsport GmbH, under Hyundai’s first high-profile appointment, Albert Biermann. Like his fellow German, Schemera, 55, brings a history at BMW, starting as an engineer in 1987.
Some aggressive advertising, sharp drive-away deals (how does $16,990 for a Sport auto sound?) and a couple of sales events all combined to elevate the smallest Hyundai in the showroom to the pointy end of the field.
Every once in a while Toyota really flexes its Aussie muscle. In February, the Big T’s market share hit 19.0 percent, up from 17.3 percent in January, with sales up by almost 10 percent and buoyed by Corolla, Camry and Kluger.
BMW has followed Mercedes-Benz in announcing it will not attend next year’s Detroit motor show. The Munich maker issued a statement that read: “The overall goal is to communicate our ideas and plans regarding future mobility in the best way and achieve the greatest possible visibility for our products, technologies and innovations.” The Germans join several car companies that either did not attend or had a scaled-down presence in 2018. Detroit is hoping a new focus on mobility and technology will help arrest the trend.
AUDI RS4 Avant; CHEVROLET Silverado ute; HSV Colorado Sportscat; HYUNDAI iMax/iLoad facelift; JAGUAR XJ update and XJR 575; JEEP Grand Cherokee Trackhawk; KIA Cerato sedan; LAND ROVER Range Rover Sport/SVR facelift and Range Rover facelift; LEXUS LS; MERCEDES-BENZ X-Class ute, AMG GLC63 wagon/coupe and S-Class coupe/cabriolet facelift; VOLVO XC40
AUDI A7 and A8; FORD Mustang facelift; HYUNDAI Santa Fe and Ioniq; JEEP Grand Cherokee update; LAND ROVER Range Rover plug-in hybrid; PORSCHE Cayenne; VOLKSWAGEN Mk6 Polo Beats and Polo GTI, Tiguan Allspace
You’ll be familiar with the forthcoming Audi RS4 Avant’s 331kW, 2.9-litre twinturbo V6, which is the same donk fitted to the RS5 coupe. It’s not technical difference, then, that piques our interest in Ingolstadt’s next-gen wagon weapon, but the fact this has always been, and remains, one of the brand’s coolest models. In the role of fast family wagon the gentle criticism that’s been levelled at the snail-assisted six – that it’s a bit too polite in a hi-po sports coupe – won’t carry much weight, while the all-round abilities of the MLB Evo platform and the brand’s routine nailing of cabin class should rise to the fore. And choosing a pumped wagon keeps your centre of mass low and your image slick in a way an SQ5 cannot.
Ford has announced that a limited-edition Mustang Bullitt will be offered in Oz, arriving shortly after the rest of the 2018 line-up, which is due in June. Based on the V8 GT Fastback, the 50th anniversary silver screen tribute ’Stang will come in Dark Highland Green and roll on black five-spoke alloys. The Mustang, meanwhile, continues a run of more than two years as Australia’s best-selling sports car, and the forthcoming MY18 is set to bolster the appeal with standard SYNC 3 connectivity and a Performance Pack including 19s, sports suspension and, for GTs, Brembo brakes.
Despite the expanded proportions of the sixth-gen Polo, the brand’s newly upgraded plant in Uitenhage, South Africa, will reportedly utilise large shoehorns to coax the Golf GTI-sourced 2.0 turbo engine in. With 147kW and 320Nm this will be the most potent Polo ever. A six-speed dual-clutch is the sole transmission, initially at least. This is down to short supply of the six-speed manual rather than a shift away from the stick: the DIY ’box remains in demand in a light hot-hatch such as the Polo.