Market Place

Little SUVs increasingly big players

HIGHLIGHTS Booming baby SUVs continue to be the growth segment, climbing by 14.1 percent compared with the same month last year to account for 12.6 percent of the total market in October. Medium SUVs, meanwhile, still make up the largest chunk of total SUV sales – they contributed 18.1 percent of SUV sales in October. Sports utility vehicles made up 43.9 percent of the market in October and account for 38.5 percent of the market year-to-date. But the growth of SUVs couldn’t offset the passenger-car decline...

BMW goes X-large

BMW has lifted an enormous cover off its all-new X7 SUV, revealing the largest model in the company’s line-up. Okay, the X7’s 5151mm length is exceeded by long-wheelbase 7 Series models, but those uber limos have nothing on the towering 1805mm height, and 2000mm width of the large SUV. Four variants will be available at launch, and enthusiasts will be glad to hear BMW engineers have slotted a 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 under the bonnet for a flagship version coming to Oz, the xDrive50i. A M50d, xDrive 40i, and xDrive 30d will also be available.

LOWLIGHTS: The total national market for October was down 5.3 percent compared with October 2017. Passenger cars (27,802 units) led the sales decline – they were down 23.6 percent compared with the same month last year, and among these, private purchases contributed the largest proportion, down 12 percent across all vehicle categories in October. The total YTD market now tallies 971,723 units, 1.3 percent below the same period in 2017.

PASSENGER & SUV TOP 20 BY MARQUE

Toyota’s hybrid push

Toyota Australia’ decision to offer the new RAV4 in hybrid form when the mid-size SUV launches locally in April 2019 will take the company’ petrol-electric line-up to six – well on the way to meeting the commitment of offering 10 hybrid models by the middle of 2020. Globally, Toyota claims that by 2025, every model will be offered in hybrid or electric versions. Of the current line-up, Toyota has the option of adding hybrid versions of the C-HR, Yaris and Kluger, which are all available in hybrid forms elsewhere.

Incoming

DECEMBER-JANUARY

AUDI Q8; BMW i8 facelift and i8 Roadster; FORD Endura, Focus, Mustang Bullitt and Everest update; GENESIS G70 and G80 sedans; HYUNDAI Ioniq hybrid, plug-in and EV; JAGUAR F-Pace upgrade and SVR; KIA Cerato hatch; LAND ROVER Range Rover P400e plug-in; LEXUS CT200h update and UX; MERCEDES-BENZ C63 AMG update and X350d; PORSCHE 911 GT3 RS; SKODA Fabia facelift; SSANGYONG Musso, Rexton and Tivoli

FEBRUARY-MARCH

ALFA ROMEO Stelvio QV; ASTON MARTIN DB11 AMR; AUDI A4, A6 and RS5 Sportback; BENTLEY Continental GT coupe; BMW 3 Series and i3; FORD Fiesta ST; HYUNDAI Veloster and Kona EV; JAGUAR I-Pace; JEEP Wrangler; KIA Cerato GT; PORSCHE Macan update; SUZUKI Jimny and Vitara Series II

Ford Endura

The Blue Oval’s replacement for the locally developed Territory will be hitting showrooms as you read. The large SUV positioned between the Escape and the Everest will kick off at $45K as a Trend front-driver with an eight-speed auto. It will feature a 140kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, from the base model, up to a sporty mid-spec ST-Line to the $68K Titanium AWD. On the safety front, there’s standard AEB with pedestrian detection, traffic-sign recognition, lane-keeping assist, and eight airbags. Ford’s Sync3 system features, with Apple Carplay and Android Auto connectivity via an 8.0-inch colour touchscreen. In addition to the decent standard spec, options include 19in alloys for the Trend, a panoramic glass sunroof for Trend and ST-Line, and B&O audio plus 180-degree camera for the ST-Line and Titanium.

Kia Cerato GT

A warm Kia Cerato hatch and sedan are due shortly after the cooking Cerato (December) featuring a 150kW turbo-petrol four, manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions and front-wheel drive. The sportier versions of Kia’s small car feature red-stitched leather, a nice flat-bottomed wheel and plenty of safety, comfort and convenience kit. Externally, there are bigger 18in wheels in a multi-spoke design, aero-look additions to the front and rear bars, and lower-side mouldings. A multi-link rear suspension underpins a set-up stiffened for increased handling crispness and control.

Audi A6

Our initial overseas drive suggested that the high-tech, next-gen Audi A6 is a surprisingly satisfying large luxury car to steer, which is ironic because the new model also sees the A6 make leaps towards a self-driving future. A mild hybrid system does as much for flexibility as efficiency and drivetrain appeal. It works a treat, on 12V in fourcylinder versions and 48V for the sixes. Letting the A6 take over for self-driving stretches allows extra focus on a classy cabin that takes Audi craftsmanship to the next level or, at least, generation.