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Class of 2005: the year ahead

On a roll: this year will see record numbers of new cars launched, including Range Rover Sport, a new Focus, Chrysler's 300C and Elfin's Streamliner.

Record new model launches will make 2005 an automotive year to remember

12 Jan 2005

IF you thought 2004 was a boom year for the Australian automotive industry, then brace yourself because this year looks set to break even more records.

Australians fell short of buying an unprecedented one million new vehicles by less than 45,000 cars in 2004, following a record number of launches that saw a new model released, on average, every third working day.

With no fewer than 50 new models – and at least another 100 facelifts, body style derivatives and variants – set to be launched over the next 12 months, with prices of imported new vehicles falling due to tariff reductions, and with all economic indicators remaining favourable, 2005 looks set to eclipse last year’s record result.

If the industry doesn’t break the million mark this year, it won’t be for lack of trying.

New model activity will be so frenetic this year that many models will be made available without official launch fanfare, while some manufacturers have taken the unusual step of delaying release dates to give other new models time to breathe.

As you’ll see from our snapshot below, and in the following pages, this year’s bumper instalment of new-car releases includes redesigns and facelifts of some major nameplates, including the first renewal of Australia’s four locally built models over the next two years in Mitsubishi’s new Magna replacement.

JANUARY

First cab off the new car rank for 2005 will be a high-tech 2.9-litre turbo-diesel version of Hyundai’s Terracan SUV. Launched this week, at less than $40,000 Terracan CRTD will be one of the cheapest oil-burners available.

Launched in December, BMW’s new Mini Cabrio also goes on sale in January, priced at a $6400 premium over the hatch. An Aisin six-speed auto will become available in Cooper S for the first time from March.

Also launched last year and available from January is Audi’s TT 3.2 quattro, the range-topping V6 coupe offering 184kW and a trick DSG transmission for $95,600.

Like October’s all-new 407 sedan, Peugeot’s 407 Touring wagon should go on sale without fanfare in January, when the medium Pug also becomes available with turbo-diesel motivation.

Ford will release the Courier V6 variant it showed at last year’s Sydney motor show, while the first fruits of Holden’s association with Elfin will appear in the shape of the 245kW V8 MS8 Clubman open-wheeler.

Finally, Mazda will release 100 examples of a more upmarket and luxurious RX-8 rotary, while Alfa launches a 2.0-litre JTS version of its GT coupe.

FEBRUARY

Kicking off February will be the release of Audi’s hotly anticipated A3 Sportback. The five-door A3 range will start around $38,000 with a 1.6 petrol and extend to 2.0-litre direct-injection turbo-diesel, 3.2 V6 petrol and, possibly, 2.0 turbo petrol engines.

Alongside a revised Commodore SV8 (priced $2000 higher at $43,990), February will see Holden launch its VZ AWD range, comprising the Alloytec V6-powered Adventra (priced from around $41,000) and Crewman Cross6 utility.

Porsche’s second-generation 987 Boxster convertible also goes on sale in February, priced at $107,400 and $132,500 (Boxster S), while Mercedes-Benz will finally bless its E-class sedan with new-generation V6 power in the shape of the upgraded E350, to be released alongside a new entry level coupe variant, the CLK200.

A revised Alfa 147 (with new suspension, second-gen Selespeed, more safety features and 2.0 petrol and 1.9 JTD turbo-diesel engines) also arrives in February, as does an upgraded, new-look Citroen C5 sedan/wagon priced from around $43,000.

Daihatsu's new Sirion will shirk three-cylinder power for a 1.3-litre 66kW four for around $14,000, while Suzuki’s similarly-priced new Swift five-door also lobs here in February - and don’t forget FPV’s turbocharged F6 Tornado ute ($51,950) and its unprecedented 550Nm of torque.

MARCH

March will see the release of Kia’s all-new Sportage SUV, based on parent company Hyundai’s Tucson and available with 2.0-litre four-cylinder (about $25,000) and 2.7-litre V6 (around $30,000) power.

Alongside Audi’s blistering new S4 Cabriolet (complete with 253kW/410Nm 4.2 V8, AWD and a circa-$150,000 pricetag), March will also play host to a heavily facelifted A4 sedan and wagon including with, for the first time, a 188kW 3.2 V6 and 147kW turbo four, plus 2.0 and 3.0 V6 turbo-diesel power.

Three hot new AMG-tweaked Mercedes-Benz models will be launched in March too – the limited-edition SLK55 roadster, SL65 convertible and S65 sedan.

Melbourne motor show month will see a gaggle of other launches take place, including Citroen’s all-new three and five-door C4 small hatch to replace Xsara from around $26K. Another Melbourne small car release will be MG’s ZR 160, priced around $33,000 with a 118kW 1.8.

Also expected to debut in Melbourne is a third-generation GS medium sedan from Lexus, which should include 3.0 V6 and 4.3 V8 engines from around $100,000.

Renault will emerge for 2005 with five and seven-seater versions of the second-generation Scenic people-mover. Priced lower than Grand Scenic, the base model should offer 2.0-litre four-cylinder power for around $28,000. Renault’s bigger-yet Espace people-mover may also make its long-awaited Aussie debut.

Volvo’s SUV cause should be aided by an oil-burning XC90 SUV, complete with Volvo's new common rail five-cylinder 122kW D5 engine, while the Swedish marque should also offer an all-wheel drive T5 version of the new S40 sedan in March.

Ferrari’s facelifted 430 Modena will be launched in Melbourne while, at the other end of the scale, the Ssangyong Stavic people-mover will also arrive here in March, complete with 121kW 2.7-litre turbo-diesel and optional all-wheel drive for under $45,000.

APRIL

The big launches keep coming in April, when Ford releases its important new three and five-door Focus, powered by a more powerful 107kW/185kW four from around $22,000.

Even more important for Land Rover is its redesigned Discovery 3, which goes on sale in V6 petrol, V6 turbo-diesel and V8 petrol guises with six-speed autos, priced between $55,000 and $91,000.

Proton is also due to launch its TRM-codenamed city car in Australia during April.

MAY

BMW’s E60 5 Series wagon lobs in the shape of the 530i Touring (priced around $110,000) and Volkswagen’s Golf GTI goes on sale with a 147kW 2.0 FSI turbo mill.

An all-new A-class is also due around May, available with three or five doors, a choice of 1.5 or 2.0-litre petrol engines and possibly a 1.7-litre turbo-diesel, priced from around $35,000.

Porsche’s all-new 239kW 997-series 911 Cabriolet arrives in standard and 261kW S guise and, finally in May, Volkswagen will launch its ambitious V8-only Phaeton limousine, priced around $200,000 to rival the Benz S350 and BMW 735i.

JUNE

Biggest BMW launch this year will be reserved for the redesigned E90 3 Series, which will bring a Valvetronic four for the entry-level 320i and new sixes for 325i and 330i. BMW will also top off its all-new E60 5 Series range with the fourth-generation M5, powered by a 373kW/520Nm 5.0-litre V10 engine for around $225,000.

21 center image Also in June, Nissan Australia will unveil a larger, seven-seat Pathfinder with a 4.0-litre V6, 2.5-litre turbo-diesel and body-on-frame chassis, priced from around $40,000. It will be launched around the same time as its 3.5 V6 Murano luxury SUV, priced at about $60,000.

Along with a larger new Sonata (with 2.0 and 2.4 fours and a 170kW 3.3 V6), Hyundai may also launch its Karmann-roofed Tiburon convertible here around mid-year.

JULY

Land Rover’s Ford-ified Range Rover facelift goes on sale in July, complete with Jaguar-sourced 225kW 4.4-litre V8 and 291kW supercharged 4.2-litre V8. Jaguar’s own facelifted XK coupe and convertible are also due here mid-year, shortly following the launch of its X-Type Estate.

Holden-Elfin will also release first examples of the Elfin Streamliner, priced from around $100,000, while the first of Ferrari’s new 575M Superamerica cabriolet will also arrive mid-year, priced well into the $600,000s.

AUGUST

The last change to the current, VT-based Commodore before the all-new VE arrives in the first half of 2006, the VZ Series II update is expected to bring minor cosmetic changes, more equipment and the debut of Chev's new Gen IV V8.

Also due on sale here in August is the third-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee featuring 3.7 V6 and 4.7 V8 engines and five-speed autos from around $90,000.

SEPTEMBER

Hyundai will replace its volume-selling Accent hatch in September, with the new model likely to gain interior space and improved dynamics, while Volkswagen’s new Bora compact sedan is also due in September, comprising 2.0-litre 110kW FSI and 150kW turbo engines plus a 103kW TDi variant.

Finally, the Mazda6 MPS all-paw turbo sedan lobs here for around $55,000.

OCTOBER

October’s Sydney motor show will be a mecca for new model activity, led by a vital replacement for Mitsubishi’s Magna in the shape of a 3.8-litre V6 Galant sedan codenamed PS41.

Also due to debut in Sydney is Citroen’s XM-replacing C6 luxury sedan (priced under $75,000), Honda’s all-new Legend luxury sedan with AWD and a 220kW V6, and Jaguar’s S-type with 153kW/435Nm 2.7 AJD-V6.

Holden may also use the Sydney show to launch its folding metal-roofed Tigra TwinTop to rival 206CC, while Kia’s larger new 85kW Rio small car will also be a Sydney star following its Detroit (sedan) and Geneva (hatch) debuts this year.

Saab’s 9-3 Sport Hatch comes on stream with 2.0 turbo fours including a 155kW aero, while Australian Ssangyong importer Rapson should also launch its superseded E-class-based Chairman luxury sedan in Sydney.

NOVEMBER

The all-new Range Rover Sport will appear here late in 2005, complete with new atmo and supercharged V8s from the facelifted Rangie, while Chrysler’s long-awaited 300C sedan arrives brandishing 3.5 V6 or 250kW 5.7 HEMI V8 firepower from around $70,000.

Nissan’s all-new Pulsar sedan and hatch is also due on sale here in November.

DECEMBER

On sale in December will be the all-new Mercedes-Benz M-class, offering more space than before and a monocoque chassis.

Just 30 examples of BMW’s V10-powered M6 super-coupe arrive here before year’s end, priced at close to $300,000, while Volkswagen’s new Passat mid-sizer should also hit showrooms before 2006 – available with 2.0-litre turbo-diesel, 2.0-litre FSI petrol and 184kW 3.2-litre FSI V6 power.

Also due on sale here around the end of 2005 is a 2.4-litre MIVEC-engined Lancer, Mitsu’s Lancer Evo IX, Audi’s larger new A6 Avant, a 2.5-litre Lexus IS250, Peugeot’s new 407 coupe, a Proton Satria GTi replacement and of course Mazda’s redesigned MX-5 convertible.

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