There’s a rite of passage for mountain bikers where their bike will, at least at one stage, will likely be worth more than their car. However, while most vehicles can easily cope with having a bike strapped to them, the list of cars that can lug more than a couple of bikes, the associated gear as well as a few fellow riders, isn’t quite as long.
What should you look for in a mountain bike lugger? Well, space for a start. A modern wagon has a surprisingly large amount of space, of course, but it’s also easier to load bikes onto the roof than a taller SUV. Utes, too, are pretty useful, but a modern mountain bike can often be slightly longer than the tray of a standard dual-cab, so that’s worth keeping in mind.
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And of course, being a mountain biker you’ll likely be travelling a little further afield than the average cycling enthusiast, and probably need to access areas that require a more rugged vehicle than the norm.
Planning to shop for a new MTB-friendly car this year? Here are the cars that are set to launch this year that will fit the MTB bill. To help you form your shortlist, we’ve covered the bases from the outrageously expensive to the surprisingly affordable, as well as a couple of left-field picks for you to consider.
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Audi’s new SUV flagship is a big coupe-like alternative to the Q7
Closely following the design cues teased in the Audi Q8 Sport Concept unveiled at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, the Audi Q8 is a sportier, more luxurious sibling to the Q7 large SUV. It will be one of the most technically advanced Audis ever and is even able to park itself while you wait outside, although this may not be offered on Australian models. WhichCar understands Australia will get a 3.0-litre turbo petrol variant initially, possibly followed by a turbodiesel.
Audi RS5 Sportback
Take the Audi handsome A5 and transplant in the RS4’s powertrain. What’s not to like?
Rivals: Mercedes-AMG C63, BMW M4
Due: January 2019
The hotrod Audi RS5 Sportback joins its wagon twin, the Audi RS4 Avant, and the RS5 Coupe early in 2019, sharing the same 331kW/600Nm twin-turbo V6 powerplant that flings the grunt at all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic.
And though it wears the ‘coupe’ label, the Audi RS5 Sportback is equipped with four doors and a quasi-hatchback rear entrance for proper practicality. Because it’s an MY19 version of the RS5 pairing, it’ll also be graced with Audi’s digital dash, a heads-up display, wireless phone charger and rear USB ports as standard. It’s also available with this exclusive green paint, too, called Sonoma Green.
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The C5 Aircross has morphed into an SUV that harks back to comfortable Citroens of old.
Price range: $38,000 -$55,000 (estimated)
Due date: Mid-2019
Rivals: Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, Peugeot 3008, Renault Koleos
Citroen says the new Citroen C5 Aircross will be the ‘most comfortable and modular SUV in its segment’ by building on its predecessor’s plush hydro-pneumatic suspension with new tech that it calls “Progressive Hydraulic Cushions”. Ride comfort will be further enhanced by ‘Advanced Comfort’ seats that filter out road disturbances. The 4.5-metre-long Citroen C5 Aircross will make the most of its spacious interior by offering a wide centre console and flexible rear seating that can expand boot space from 580 to 720 litres.
Ford Focus Active
A jacked-up version of the Ford Focus for those with an outdoorsy bent
Price range: $29,990
Rivals: Subaru Impreza XV, Fiat 500X, Citroen C4 Cactus
Due Date: second-quarter
The Ford Focus hatch has already received its full model changeover by now, but the family will grow when the Focus Active rolls into Ford showrooms in 2019.
Following a similar format to the Impreza-based Subaru XV crossover, but described by Ford as a passenger car rather than an SUV, the Focus Active will bridge the gap between the regular Focus hatchback and Ford’s bona-fide SUV line-up. The ‘missing link’, if you will. Only one engine, a 134kW 1.5-litre turbo petrol, will be offered, and the Focus Active is strictly front-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic.
Iconic workhorse plugs into the 21st century
Rivals: Toyota Hiace, Volkswagen Crafter, Hyundai iLoad, Mercedes Sprinter
Due date: August
It’s not quite confirmed for Australia at the time of writing, but Ford says the first electrified version of the humble Ford Transit in more than half a century is under consideration. If green Transit power gets the green light for local sale, it will touch down in the second half of the year.
As for competition, there’s not a lot of electrified commercial vehicle action in Australia with only the Renault Kangoo ZE full EV (and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV at a push) to apply any pressure... for now. Imagine how many bikes this one could fit!
Long-rumoured Wrangler-based pick-up finally confirmed with badass name.
Price $60,000 (estimated)
Rivals: Ram 1500, Ford Ranger Wildtrak, Mercedes X-Class
Due date: Late 2019
Details are light on the ground at the time of writing but Jeep’s late offering in the one-tonne market will bring a more style-focused option in a carpark occupied by many forgettable designs. What is known is that the Jeep Gladiator will be mechanically almost identical to the all-new Jeep Wrangler, which is known for its go-anywhere capability and is also arriving locally this year. Expect Jeep’s first production ute in decades to be an authority when the paved road ends.
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V6 diesel joins the Mercedes ute range to worry the as-yet unchallenged Volkswagen Amarok
Rivals: Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger Raptor, Toyota Hilux
Due date: January
Until now, the Volkswagen Amarok V6 has claimed the title of Australia’s most powerful one-tonner, but the arrival of the Mercedes X350d returns fire with a stout 190kW and 550Nm of torque from a turbo diesel V6. It’s pricey, but the German car maker is kitting it out with the equipment and luxuries to match. If you’re looking for a MTB-compatible ute that’s got proper off-road chops but doesn’t feel like you’re driving a commercial vehicle, this could be one for you.
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A major update and facelift of the fifth-generation Mitsubishi Triton ute.
It’s not quite a completely new model for 2019, but with more than 2400 changes including new sheet metal, an updated six-speed auto, more cabin equipment and safety tech, the 2019 version of the Mitsubishi Triton is significantly different. A new flagship is also expected at a later date bringing a tough truck rival to the Ranger Wildtrak and HSV Sportscat.
Renault joins the one-tonne ute revolution at last, but is it fashionably late?
Price: $26,000 to $55,000 (estimated)
Rivals: Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Isuzu D-Max, Ford Ranger, Holden Colorado, Mazda BT-50
Due date: December
After a protracted gestation and a drawn out arrival date, the Renault Alaskan will finally launch into the lucrative dual-cab ute segment toward the end of the year. Like the Mercedes-Benz X-Class, the Renault Alaskan also takes its underpinnings from the popular Nissan Navara, and although exact Australian specifications are yet to be confirmed, it’s likely the French contender will offer a high-end version with lots of kit as well as a more affordable workhorse at the entry point.
Baby of the Ram range gets a more manageable thirst without sacrificing grunt
Price: $95,000 (estimate)
Rivals: Ford Ranger Raptor, Chevrolet Silverado, Volkswagen Amarok V6
Due date: January/February
From launch, the ‘smallest’ model in the Ram line-up, the 1500, was available only with gas-guzzling V8 power, which likely put off a few fence-sitting fans. However a V6 diesel version of the Ram 1500 is on the way and it compromises little for the extra efficiency. Exact output figures are yet to be finalised for the Australian launch but the 3.0-litre V6 turbocharged diesel could produce up to 200kW and 600Nm. That compares with the current 5.7-litre V8 which pushes out 291kW and 556Nm, so going for the more economical engine isn’t really at the expense of load-lugging mechanical grunt.
The Volkswagen Touareg, VW’s large SUV, is now a truly premium offering that’s dripping with comfort and technology that rivals its Audi Q7 cousin
Price range: $83,000 - $120,000 (estimated)
Due date: May 2019
Rivals: Audi Q7, BMW X5, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLE
The first all-new Volkswagen Touareg since 2010 is the most luxurious and technologically advanced Volkswagen SUV yet and is built on the same platform as some of the world’s most luxurious high-riders including the Bentley Bentayga, Porsche Cayenne and Lamborghini Urus.
Featuring interior trim levels that range from lounge-like to the sporty R-line, creature comforts will include VW’s biggest panoramic sunroof yet, 18-way electronically adjustable seats with high-quality leather detailing. Perfect for a relaxing post-ride journey home.