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Future models - Alfa Romeo - Brera

Class of 2006

From left: Toyota RAV4, Honda Civic, Nissan Tiida and Porsche Cayman S (front).

Family sedans top a calendar crammed with new offerings

18 Jan 2006

IF you thought 2005 was awash with a confusing array of shiny new vehicles then brace yourself – there is virtually not one week throughout 2006 that will pass without a new vehicle being launched.

And by far the most eagerly awaited new cars among family buyers will be the Holden VE Commodore, four-cylinder Toyota Camry and 3.5-litre V6 Avalon.

With the just-launched Mitsubishi 380 hitting its straps and the revised BF Ford Falcon line-up becoming more entrenched, there is plenty of action for large car aficionados.

This year we will also see the return – finally – of Fiat passenger cars.

The stylish Italians will be joined by US brand Dodge, both of which have not been seen here in serious numbers since the 1970s.

Fiat will preview the new Grand Punto at the Melbourne motor show next month, with an on-sale date in June, while Dodge plans to start life here with the front-wheel drive Caliber hatch in September.

As well as some of the more lavish arrivals listed we will see a new Kia Optima sedan, Proton Savvy and Satria, Hyundai Grandeur, Elantra, Accent, as well as a Santa Fe 4WD, Honda Civic sedan, Audi TT and interesting derivatives such as the Holden Astra VXR, Chrysler 300C SRT, Peugeot 407 Coupe, Saab 9-3 Combi, Toyota Yaris sedan, Suzuki Swift GTi, VW Jetta, Mercedes-Benz G-class, as well as the new Holden 4WD based on the Daewoo S3X concept.

Subaru’s $60,000 B9 Tribeca 4WD will also provide a step up for Subbie buyers wanting something bigger.

Alternative vehicles will grow in numbers too with both Honda and Lexus launching new hybrids.

The Lexus GS450h and RX400h hybrid will create some interest when they arrive in May and October respectively. An upgraded petrol-engine 3.5-litre RX350 is also due to arrive in March.

Honda is tipped to launch a hybrid Civic sedan.

Apart from hybrids, diesels will become more widespread, with Alfa Romeo releasing a turbo-diesel 147, Jaguar the S-Type bi-turbo TDi, along with SsangYong’s Kyron diesel and perhaps the Mazda6 turbo-diesel. Welcome to 2006!

26 center imageLeft: Ford Focus XR5, Toyota Tarago, Hyundai Santa Fe and Jaguar XK coupe.

Alfa Romeo Brera
ALFA Romeo can always be relied upon to deliver some stylish cars, the Brera and 159 being two of them. Designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, it first appeared as a concept in 2002 at the Geneva motor show.

The Brera is available in Europe with two JTS petrol engines, a 140kW 2.2-litre and a Holden-built 195kW 3.2-litre V6 and a 150kW 2.4-litre JTD turbo-diesel.

While both six-speed manual and automatic transmissions are also available in Europe, Australian specifications have not yet been released. The Brera coupe will also spawn a Brera Spyder.
When: June
Price: $75,000
Aston Martin V8 Vantage
ALTHOUGH launched at last year’s Sydney motor show, the Vantage V8 will trickle through in some numbers this year.

Powered by an all-new, front-mounted 288kW 4.3-litre quad-cam V8, the coupe has a glued and riveted aluminium backbone chassis clothed in an aluminium, steel and composite plastic body.
When: Now
Price: $236,000
Audi Q7
IT has taken a while but Audi has now joined the SUV set. The Q7 is a big, roomy wagon with seven-seater capacity and will be powered by a range of petrol and diesel engines.

It will arrive here with 4.2-litre V8 petrol and 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine – both with a six-speed auto and quattro all-wheel drive as standard.

Expect lavish equipment levels such as leather and a navigation system.

The Q7 sits on a 3002mm wheelbase that dwarfs X5, the VW Touareg and the Mercedes-Benz M-class.
When: October
Price: From $85,000
Audi TT
AUDI has not officially admitted it, but its Shooting Brake Concept is a loosely disguised TT.

The low-slung four-seater TT will debut at the Geneva motor show and possible head up Audi’s stand at the Sydney motor show in October.

The new TT will be bigger in every dimension than the current car and, apart from a possible three-door like the Shooting Brake, expect cabrio and Roadster versions.

Power is likely to be a range of turbocharged four cylinders as well as the 184kW/320Nm 3.2-litre V6 borrowed from the A3 range and quattro permanent 4WD.
When: November
Price: From $65,000
BMW Z4 coupe
BMW will overhaul and expand its two-seater Z4 brigade but the big news is the coupe, which is due to arrive in the second half of the year.

Apart from the coupe, the soft-top Z4 and Z4 M Roadsters benefit from a styling makeover and extra equipment.

The Z4 coupe was unveiled as a concept at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September and its near-production ready styling meant it was only a matter of time before it became a reality.

The coupe, to be built at Spartanburg, South Carolina, in the United States, where the X5 is built.

Joining the 195kW 3.0-litre six cylinder coupe will be the hot Z4 M coupe, sharing the same 252kW straight six 3.2-litre as the M3 coupe.

Apart from the hard-top coupe, the convertible Z4 and Z4 M Roadsters benefit from a styling makeover and extra equipment.
When: September
Price: From $90,000
BMW 3 Series Touring
THE 3 Series sedan has been a hit for BMW, now it is the Touring's turn.

The wagon is 42mm longer, at 4520mm, than the previous model, 78mm wider at 1817mm and 9mm higher at 1418mm. The wheelbase is stretched a further 35mm to 2760mm.

Practicality abounds in the Touring as the wagon styling allows luggage space to grow from 460-litres (an increase of 25-litres), up to 1385-litres when the rear seats are folded flat.

Typically the wagon has a 50/50 weight distribution, rear wheel drive, long wheelbase and short body overhangs front and rear.
When: May
Price: From $60,000
Citroen C6
TOUTED as one of the world’s safest cars, the new C6 is also one of the most avant-garde. It could be said it returns Citroen to its roots.

The large sedan has a long pedestrian-friendly front and sweeping headlights, wide grille, ribbed bonnet, frameless doors, concave rear windscreen and a short rear overhang.

Interior treats include electric rear seats, ‘soft diffuser’ air-conditioning and laminated side windows, while technical highlights include variable damping suspension and electric park brake.

Australia is likely to initially get the 155kW 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine mated to a slick six-speed automatic, although a 150kW 2.7-litre V6 turbo-diesel is also available.
When: June
Price: From $75,000
Dodge Caliber
IT has just been revealed at the Detroit motor show and the brand will return here this year with the Caliber hatch.

Exact engine and specifications are still being finalised, but expect competitive pricing and equipment levels for the chunky front-wheel drive.

A range of variable valve timing engines are offered in the US – a 103kW 1.8-litre, 110kW 2.0-litre and 125kW 2.4-litre, and ChryslerJeep Australia is considering a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel.

Although offered with all-wheel drive as well, it is unlikely to be offered here.
When: September
Price: From $25,000
Fiat Grande Punto
AFTER its preview at next month’s Melbourne motor show, the Grande Punto will make its debut in June.

The Punto will spearhead the on-again, off-again return of Fiat passenger cars to Australia.

Italdesign-Giugiaro, together with the Fiat Centro Stile, penned the Grande Punto with a distinctly Italian flavour, while the interior has up-to-the-minute equipment, quality and practicality.

The Punto is VW Golf, Holden AH Astra, Ford Focus size with up to seven airbags, including driver’s knee bag, three-point pretensioner seatbelts and a fire protection system.

Local specifications are yet to be finalised but expect a range of petrol and possibly turbo-diesel engines mated to five and six-speed gearboxes.
When: June
Price: From $28,000
Ford Focus XR5
FAMILIES can sometimes be great things. Look at Ford and Volvo. Being part of the same company means Ford has been able to borrow Volvo’s blown 2.5-litre five-cylinder engine from the Volvo S40 and pop it into a five-door Focus hatch with 18-inch alloys, lowered suspension and beefy brakes.

The 166kW/320Nm machine is mated to a six-speed manual, while the car’s overall height has been dropped 25mm and the firmer riding suspension is tuned for sports handling.
When: May
Price: $35,000
Ford Territory Turbo
FORD refuses to admit it but we’ve seen the photos of the Territory Turbo and development mules have been doing the rounds near Melbourne.

The performance off-roader is likely to have a slightly detuned version of the 240kW/450Nm straight six in the Falcon XR6 turbo, designed for plenty of mid-range punch rather than outright power.

Buyers can also expect some go-fast bits and pieces and possibly an XR-look front-end treatment. An intercooler bonnet scoop is also on the cards as well as 18-inch alloys, beefier brakes and firmer suspension.

Ford could reveal all with the Terry Turbo at next month’s Melbourne motor show.
When: August?
Price: From $48,000
Holden VE Commodore
SPY shots of the new VE Commodore show a remarkable resemblance to the hot-pink twin-turbo Torana TT36 concept hatch shown at the 2004 Sydney motor show.

However, the VE Commodore won’t be a hatch. Convention dictates that it will be a sedan with wagon variants and perhaps, at some stage, a new VE Monaro.

Expect the usual Holden models, Executive, Calais, a 6.0-litre SV8 as well as long-wheelbase Statesman and Caprice variants.

The Alloytec V6 carries over but the interior is roomier and the Commodore reported to be much safer than the current car.
When: August
Price: From $30,000
Holden S3X
THE $1 million question about Holden’s new Ford Territory competitor is what, if any, impact will it have on the Adventra? The stylish S3X, called Captiva in some markets, has the goods to claw away Adventra V6 sales.

It has a higher seating position, choice of front or all-wheel drive as well as seven-seater capability.

The S3X will come with several powertrains, including a 2.4-litre four-cylinder, a Holden-built 3.2-litre V6 and a choice of two Korean-built 2.0- litre turbo-diesels.
When: March
Price: From $38,000
Honda Legend
THE Legend will be powered by a new 221kW 3.5-litre VTEC V6 mated to a new all-wheel drive.

A five-speed sequential sportshift automatic also makes an appearance, complete with steering wheel-operated paddle shifters.

Honda calls its new all-wheel drive system Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system (SHAWD), which is claimed to be the first and only all-wheel drive platform that varies torque between front and rear wheels as well as between the left and right rear wheels.

SH-AWD is teamed with four-wheel independent suspension and a new crash safety structure.
When: July
Price: $85,000
Hyundai Santa Fe
FOR our money Hyundai’s new Santa Fe will be one of the more eagerly awaited vehicles this year, purely because it will be pitched into the ever-expanding four-wheel drive segment.

The off-roader is bigger in every respect than the current car – 175mm longer, 55mm wider and 50mm higher – while riding on a longer 2700mm-wheelbase.

Local specifications and trim levels are yet to be decided but three engines are available in Korea – a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel, 2.7-litre petrol and 3.3-litre V6, shared with the new Sonata sedan.

Both V6s have variable valve timing and a variable intake system. The 2.7 will offer either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic while the 3.3-litre will be a five-speed sequential automatic only.

The 2.7-litre develops 140kW at 6000rpm and 248Nm at 4200rpm while the 3.3-litre is sure to up the ante, given that the same engine in the Sonata develops 173kW at 6000rpm and 304Nm at 3500rpm.

The Euro IV compliant common-rail turbo-diesel develops 114kW at 4000rpm and 343Nm at 2000rpm.

The Santa Fe also gets a new electronically controlled four-wheel drive system that automatically varies drive to the wheels.
When: July
Price: From $33,000
Jaguar XK coupe
JAGUAR claims the new XK sports car is the most technologically advanced Big Cat ever.

At 1595kg, the newcomer is not only 90kg lighter but also 31 per cent more rigid than the previous XK.

Power is courtesy of a 224kW/411Nm 4.2-litre V8, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted gearshift paddles in lieu of Jaguar’s traditional J-gate shifter.

The XK coupe blasts to 100km/h in a claimed 6.2 seconds. Expect the usual luxury levels of wood and leather and superb road manners.
When: July
Price: From $200,000
Mercedes-Benz S-class
BIGGER, faster, more luxurious and more powerful. It has to be a new Mercedes. The S-class will be available in both long and short wheelbase versions.

The 285kW V8-powered S500 kicks off the range. It is one of three models on offer that will include the 200kW V6 S350 and 380kW 6.0-litre V12 S600 limousine.

There is a choice of two body lengths – 5076mm or 5206mm – which is 33mm and 43mm, respectively, more than the previous S-class.

The wheelbase is longer and the car bigger in every respect than the S-class, which translates into more interior space in the lavishly equipped cabin.
When: February
Price: From $180,000
Mercedes-Benz R-class
THE R-class is a luxury six-seater, using three pairs of bucket seats in a host of seating positions. Mercedes claims the big wagon devotes almost two-thirds of the vehicle’s overall length to the passenger compartment.

The second and third row seats can be folded down to create a fl at luggage fl oor (and a volume of up to 2057 litres).

R-class will be sold with a series of engines and model designations, including R350 V6, R320 with a 170kW common-rail turbo-diesel V6 and R500, which has a 5.0-litre V8. All engines will be partnered with Benz’s 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic.
When: June
Price: From $100,000
Nissan Tiida
FORGET the Pulsar name, the Tiida – pronounced "tea-da" – is its replacement.

In Japan, two four-cylinder engines are available – a newly developed 80kW/148Nm 1.5-litre and a reworked version of the current 94kW/176Nm 1.8-litre – mated to either a five-speed manual or Nissan’s Xtronic continuously variable transmission.

Although offering roughly the same footprint on the road as the current Pulsar, the Tiida’s wheelbase is 2600mm, 65mm longer than the Pulsar. The overall width of 1695mm remains the same. A sporty Q model will also be offered.

The Tiida will be the focus of most of Nissan’s attention, but the five-door hatch is also tipped to spawn a hot three-door SSS version based on the Sport Concept unveiled at the New York car show last year.

However, Nissan Australia remains coy about when, or even if, such a car would make it Down Under.
When: February
Price: From $22,000
Peugeot 407 Coupe
IT has come as something of a surprise to many that a diesel V6 will spearhead the stylish 407 coupe when it goes on sale in March.

However, traditionalists can rest easy as the range-topping diesel will be joined by a more traditional petrol-powered 3.0-litre V6 as well.

The 2.7-litre V6 turbo-diesel, shared with such luminaries as the Jaguar S-type and Land Rover Discovery III is tipped to sell for around $72,500.

This only just eclipses the $71,550 406 Coupe, discontinued in October 2004, despite being bigger, roomier, more powerful, safer, better equipped and offering turbo-diesel economy.

The HDi engine develops 150kW at 4000rpm but unleashes 440Nm of torque from just 1000rpm.

This contrasts to the 3.0-litre V6’s 155kW at 6000rpm and 290Nm of torque at 3750rpm.
When: March
Price: From $65,900
Saab 9-3 SportCombi
OVERSEAS reports are suggesting the 9-3 SportCombi is a seriously good thing.

It cannot come soon enough for Saab Australia, as the range sorely needs an injection of excitement.

The SportCombi will debut at the Melbourne motor show next month and introduces the first turbocharged version of General Motors’ new global V6.

The 2.8-litre DOHC 24-valve V6 features variable valve timing and a twin-scroll turbocharger. Maximum output is 184kW – 29kW more than the current 2.0-litre high-output turbo HOT engine.

Initially available as a front-wheel drive wagon, a SportCombi AWD variant is also believed to be in the pipeline.

Visually, the 9-3 SportCombi is very close to the 9-3 Sport Hatch wagon concept previewed at the 2003 Frankfurt motor show.

The Combi has a twin-floor system featuring an area underneath the cargo floor to hide objects.

With 1273 litres of luggage space it offers comparable space to the Audi A4 Avant, Mercedes-Benz C-class wagon and Volvo V50.
When: March
Price: $42,000
SsangYong Kyron
SSANGYONG will be hoping to shake up the medium SUV segment with its turbo-diesel Kyron five-seater wagon.

It will offer a 2.0-litre turbo diesel in the $30,000 entry model, one of two on offer, and one petrol engine in the line-up.

A 3.2-litre petrol V6 model, fitted with leather, stability control, hill descent control, rollover protection and a host of other safety features, is tipped to start from around $45,000. A 2.7-litre CDi model will also be available from around $40,000.

One of the first turbo-diesel engines offered in the small-medium off-road segment, the 2.0-litre diesel has an output of 141kW/310Nm.
When: March
Price: From $30,000
Toyota Avalon
TO put it bluntly, the old Toyota Avalon was a dud on the local market.

But Toyota Australia hopes the new-generation Avalon will be a standout statement.

Apart from the more contemporary look via an obligatory chromed grille, twin tailpipes and large tail-lights, the new model features a 100mm longer wheelbase and is 25mm wider.

It is expected to get an Australian-developed version of the same 24-valve DOHC V6 dual variable-valve timing V6 offered in the US Camry.

In that car it develops 200kW at 6200rpm and 336Nm at 4700rpm and is mated to an all-new six-speed automatic transmission.
When: September
Price: From $35,000
Toyota Camry
GONE is the whitegoods-on-wheels look and in its place is a thoroughly modern-looking sedan with steeply raked front and rear windscreens.

The car has a longer wheelbase, more interior room, is safer and stronger and has a high-class, Lexus-inspired interior.

Toyota claims better crash safety, including up to seven airbags (including a driver’s knee bag) and a pedestrian-friendly bonnet.

Australian Camrys will be four-cylinder only in an effort by Toyota to distance it from the next-generation V6-only Avalon replacement.

It will arrive with either a five-speed manual or five-speed automatic (with pseudo-manual mode) transmission, the revised 2.4-litre engine produces 118kW at 6000rpm – up 6kW and 400rpm higher over the current version – and 220Nm at 4000rpm, a modest increase of 2Nm (delivered at the same rpm).
When: August
Price: From $29,000
Toyota RAV4
THE styling may not be as sassy as the outgoing RAV4 but buyers will appreciate the extra space and increase in power.

The new RAV4 is 160mm longer than the old car, 80mm wider and 10mm taller, which all translates into a roomier cabin.

There’s an all-new 4WD system that uses electronics to control drive to the wheels. Power comes from a 124kW 2.4-litre four-cylinder.
When: February
Price: From $32,000
Toyota Tarago
JOINING the RAV4 will be the new Tarago, known as the Estima in Japan.

Although details and local specifications are still some way off, the Estima has just been unveiled in Japan, where it will be offered with either a 125kW/224Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder or new 206kW/334Nm 3.5-litre engine.

The V6 will be offered with a newly developed six-speed sequential shift automatic while the 2.4 will come with a CVT-i transmission with a seven-speed sequential shift function.

The Tarago has Toyota’s GOA (Global Outstanding Assessment) safety body structure as well as a host of active safety features, including stability control and dual front, side and curtain airbags and blind-spot monitoring system with intelligent parking system.

The wagon has been developed on a new platform shared with the new Camry. It has a MacPherson strut front suspension and a torsion beam at the rear.

The car’s wheelbase has increased 50mm while its height has decreased by 40mm to create a lower centre of gravity. In Japan it will be offered in seven and eight-seater configurations.
When: April
Price: From $45,000
Volvo C70
PERHAPS the most intriguing thing about Volvo’s new convertible is its three-piece cabrio roof.

To see it cavort and perform a pirouette is quite spectacular. It takes just 30 seconds to open and close the roof.

In true Volvo style the four-seater C70 presents new levels of occupant safety and a very strong body and well-equipped interior – the seats and dashboard will be familiar to those who have sat in the S40.

The C70 will be offered in two models – the 125kW/230Nm 2.4i and the turbo 162kW/320Nm T5.
When: July
Price: From $75,000

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