Aussie car buyers are, by and large, a pretty conservative bunch. Even though we have more brands than almost any other country in the world and more than 600 models to chose from, it's the same old stagers from established players like Toyota, Ford and Mazda that keep topping the charts.
We're also pretty fond of grey, black and white colour schemes, too.
Amongst those 600-odd models and multiple brands, though, lurks the unusual, the quirky and the oddly cool. They might be a couple of years into their respective model cycles, or sold by a brand without the ability to splash a logo across a football jumper, but that doesn't make them any less attractive to the right buyer.
An auto industry buddy once told me of a limousine-sized press car from a prestige European brand that arrived into HQ, its colour sourced only from a paint chip. What should have been a dark magenta ended up being Mary Kay pink. 'I'm doomed,' thought my buddy... right up to the point where, upon first glance in a Gold Coast showroom, the car sold the same day at full retail.
"There's a car for everyone,' he told me.
Here, then, is a handful of cars that aren't on the front page of most buyer's shortlists... but maybe they should be.
It’s got the soul (and the oily bits) of the last generation Mercedes Benz A-Class and a style that’s all its own. Not really a hatch and not really an SUV, the Infiniti Q30 bounded onto the scene four years ago, but sales are sparse - not having much of a dealer presence doesn’t help. It’s only a small model range, too, and it’s not cheap - though we reckon the pricing will be much sharper on the showroom floor.
If, however, you want a deceptively pretty, beautifully built, totally unusual hatchback (and you don’t really need to use the back seats that often), it might pay to look it up.
Peugeot 308 Allure
Why the sweet, curvy little Peugeot 308 hatch doesn’t sell better is a complete mystery to us. It’s won a bunch of prestigious awards in its lifetime and every time we drive it, we fall in love with its pizzazz and verve all over again.
It started out expensive, sure, but range reviews from the local Peugeot office mean that the Allure, for example, is a cracking deal for a shade under $32,000. It’s not a Mazda or a Toyota, and it will depreciate a little bit more quickly than more popular cars, but who cares if you smile every time you drive it?
Kia Cerato GT
The Cerato GT isn’t your usual convenient but conventional Kia. The spiritual successor to the funky but flawed three-door Pro cee'd GT, the Cerato GT adds two doors, an updated engine and a new attitude to the Cerato’s excellent basic package. You can even have it in hatchback or sedan form for the same price.
It rides city bumps more firmly than its more pedestrian brethren, sure, but to us, that’s part of its appeal - it blurs the line between a pukka hot hatch and a warmed-over runabout, and does it all with a cheeky grin and a seven-year warranty.
Born of the funky Yeti, the Skoda Karoq small SUV is less adventurous and more polished than its boxy predecessor - yet it’s managed to retain an air of the accomplished outcast about it.
You might know that Skoda is part of the Volkswagen empire, but it’s definitely not a brand where old VW tech goes to die. In fact, the Karoq has beaten its parents to the compact SUV punch by a couple of years!
Packed with novel, real-world practical touches and simple, proven mechanicals, the Karoq SUV is worth hunting down.
Honourable mention - Nissan Juke NISMO
Sure, it’s expensive, old and deeply flawed in a few areas... but the Nissan Juke NISMO has a roguish charm and devil-may-care attitude underpinned by a properly punchy engine and chunky, meaningful steering.
If there is a better example of a car you’ll either scoff at and ignore, or fall in lust with on the spot, we’d like to see it.