US President Donald Trumpís hardline protectionist stance against Chinese imports has thrown cars right into the middle of a new trade war. Trump recently slapped a 25 percent tariff on US$50 billion ($A67.4 billion) worth of goods including cars, affecting manufacturers including Volvo, which will build its Polestar 1 hybrid coupe just outside Shanghai. The move has sparked fears that Trump would extend the tariff to all imported cars in a bid to win voters ahead of the upcoming US mid-term elections due in November.
HIGHLIGHTS: May was up almost 18,000 sales on April, but down 2.1% on the same period last year. SUVs drove much of the monthís momentum with mid-sizers including the Mazda CX-5 (up 38%) and Mitsubishi ASX (up 19%) firing with buyers. Peugeot had a strong month showroom-wide Ė its 230 sales up 50% and led by the 3008 (125 sales, up 49%). Audiís A4 bounced back from a poor April, claiming 194 buyers (up 81%), while VWís Arteon (74 sales, up 90%) had its best month since its October 2017 launch.
LOWLIGHTS Few brands had a bad month. Porsche fell 16% as the model changeover for new-gen Cayenne (18 sales, down 44%) had an impact. Holden slipped another two spots despite a 12 percent rise over Aprilís result on stronger Commodore (1040, up 77%) and now-discontinued Spark (123, up 180%) sales, as Captiva (370, down 29%) and its newer Equinox SUV sibling (428, down 15%), weakened. Fordís transition to the MY18 Mustang saw sales fall 30% to just 267 for the month, the lowest since its December 2015 launch.
BMW has wrapped its most powerful non-M model to date in an alluring, fastbackstyled body that resurrects the 8 Series name for the first time in almost two decades. The M850i Coupe, which packs a 390kW/750Nm twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 under its shapely bonnet, was revealed to the public in the lead-up to the 24 Hour of Le Mans, suggesting this may one day join the 6 Series in the German luxury brandí racing stable. Pricing? Just like its arrival, thatí still a long way off.
AUDI A8; ASTON MARTIN Vantage and DB11 Volante; BENTLEY Bentayga V8; BMW i8 facelift and i8 Roadster; CHEVROLET Camaro; JEEP Grand Cherokee update; KIA Sportage facelift; LAND ROVER Range Rover P400e plug-in hybrid; MERCEDES-AMG C63 S update; MERCEDES-BENZ A-Class; SKODA Karoq; TOYOTA Corolla hatch; VOLKSWAGEN Mk6 Polo Beats and GTI, and Tiguan Allspace
AUDI A7 Sportback; BENTLEY Continental GT coupe; FORD Focus; GENESIS G70 and G80 sedans; HYUNDAI Ioniq; MAZDA CX-3 update, MX-5 update and CX-9 facelift
Franceís hottest supermodel since Marie Antoinette is mere months away from its Oz debut, starting at $97K for the driverfocused A110 Pure with its lightweight Sabelt sports seats and Renaultsporttuned dynamic excellence. The Legende ($103,500) gets six-way Ďcomfortí seats in brown or black leather, a Focal audio system, climate control, sat-nav, LED lights, and front/rear parking sensors with a rear camera, while the Premiere Edition ($106,500) will be limited to just 60 examples, all painted Alpine Blue and featuring Brembo brakes and an active sports exhaust. Every Cayman-baiting Alpine A110 will boast a 185kW/320Nm 1.8-litre turbo-petrol four tied to a sevenspeed dual-clutch, and 44/56 rear-biased weight distribution. Expect a waiting list.
Following on from last yearís G-Vectoring Control introduction with accompanying visual tweaks and safety-feature upgrades, Mazdaís CX-3 small SUV is set for another freshen-up come September. Retuned suspension combines with different tyres and new urethane in the front seats to make the CX-3 quieter and comfier around town, as well as more fun to drive, according to Mazda. A new 1.8-litre turbo-diesel will debut, along with a revised 2.0-litre petrol as per the latest CX-5, and thereís a new centre console design featuring an armrest and electric park brake.
With existing Sportage sales just managing to hold station in its booming medium-SUV category, this mid-life facelift couldnít be better-timed. Hitting Kia showrooms mid-July, expect the 2018 Sportage to offer a full active-safety suite on every model, along with smartphone mirroring and a bunch of cosmetic enhancements. What we wonít see is the mild hybrid version offered elsewhere, or a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol flagship, though the existing engines will receive a boost via a new eight-speed auto.