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These are the cars you should be excited about in 2021

By Cameron Kirby, 22 Oct 2020 Car Advice

Volkswagen Golf GTI 2020

There’s a slew of new metal coming next year, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited

Like everything else in the world, the automotive sector hasn’t had a great year in 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic pushed the global supply chain to near-breaking point, Holden left Australia, and a multitude of new model projects were either delayed or cancelled altogether.

In short, 2020 has been a bust. But, if everything goes well, 2021 will make up for the ordeal of the last year.

MORE GMSV urges Holden dealers to refund Corvette deposits

This isn’t a definitive list of every new car coming in 2021, but it’s the key models that should get you excited for the year ahead.

So, let’s get into it.

HYUNDAI TUCSON

What is it?

The second generation of Hyundai’s mid-size SUV. It’s an ultra-important model for the Korean manufacturer, that it hopes will take the fight to the likes of the Toyota RAV4 and Mazda CX-5.

This all-new model will be the pride of Hyundai, heralding a new design language, electrified power, and eventually a performance flagship.

Why we’re excited

Hyundai has already said the Tucson will be its flagship model, with bold styling, cutting-edge tech, and importantly, new powertrains.

Previously the Tucson was powered by 2.0-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder petrol, or turbo diesel engines, while this new generation has a 2.5-litre petrol engine, hybrid power, and the option of a 1.6-litre turbocharged unit.

MORE Will Australia be getting a Hyundai Tucson N?

There’s also a raft of safety technology... and well, just look at it!

If priced well, the Tucson could make quite the splash when it lands midway through 2021.

What could go wrong?

The Tucson faces some extremely tough competition in the mid-size SUV segment. The Toyota RAV4 arrived in 2019 and set a new high watermark.

Buyers have been waiting for months to get their hands on the RAV4, with the hybrid powertrain a customer favourite.

Hyundai will need to have nailed the execution of its electrified Tucson to challenge the RAV4 for segment supremacy.

Hyundai Tucson

SUBARU OUTBACK

What is it?

Sitting above the Forester, the Outback represents the most practical wagon-turned-SUV in Subaru’s arsenal.

With a large focus on practicality, the Outback is suited to tribes wanting a transport option that’ll take them off the beaten track.

Subaru Outback

New for the 2021 model is the addition of a turbocharged 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine, along with the naturally aspirated 2.5-litre used in the existing Forester.

Why we’re excited

We’ve long held a soft spot for the Subaru Outback, with its wagon sensibilities and genuine off-road ability.

This sixth-generation model is built on Subaru’s Global Platform architecture, which is a good thing! The same design is used for the current Impreza, XV, and Forester.

MORE Which wagon is best, the new Subaru Outback or used Audi S4 Avant?

With the new chassis comes a revised suspension design, as well as the full suite of Subaru’s EyeSight safety features.

Fans of capable family haulers should be pleased by this news.

What could go wrong?

We’ve been waiting for the all-new Outback for what feels like an eon now (it was first revealed in April 2019). Can it live up to expectations?

There’s also no longer a six-cylinder variant to choose from, with four-cylinder engines proliferating the range.

It could be too little, too late from the big Subie wagon.

Toyota Kluger

What is it?

The Toyota Kluger has never topped the new car sales charts, but it has to be one of the most loved cars by suburban Aussies.

The large Toyota SUV has been incredibly popular for a while now, with the second-generation model being on sale locally since 2013, and received a mid-life facelift in 2016.

But now, finally, there is an all-new model on its way.

The large SUV will have both V6 and four-cylinder hybrid engine options, and capacity to carry seven occupants.

Why we’re excited

The all-new Kluger was first revealed in early 2019, but is yet to arrive locally.

The important large SUV can’t come soon enough for Toyota, with the current model feeling decidedly dated and outclassed by more modern rivals.

The most exciting addition for this next-gen Kluger is a self-charging hybrid variant. Following the smash success of Toyota’s RAV4 hybrid models, it could the shot in the arm the Kluger needs and will bring affordable fuel-efficient family-hauling to the suburbs.

What could go wrong?

Having to wait almost two years for the new Kluger to land Down Under could dampen its impact.

With the rapid advancement of technology in the automotive world, two years is half a lifetime.

Can it impress enough to make the wait worth it?

MERCEDES-BENZ S-CLASS

What is it?

A towering technical tour de force from Mercedes-Benz filled to the brim with cutting-edge systems that will make a science fiction writer’s head melt.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The S-Class is the crown jewel in Mercedes-Benz’s range and stands for all things luxurious.

Why we’re excited

Mercedes-Benz’s biggest and most expensive saloon is a timeless icon of forward-thinking luxury for a reason.

This seventh generation of Mercedes-Benz’s luxury limo flagship (codenamed W223) lives up to that legacy with advancements in driver assistance, computing power, and head-up displays.

The biggest tech showcase is a huge augmented reality head-up display, which Mercedes says is the equivalent of having a 77-inch TV screen placed 10 metres in front of the car.

The system projects info such as turn-off arrows “virtually and precisely” onto the road in front of the driver.

MORE This one-off S-Class wagon has the same engine as a Zonda

Computing grunt and processing power is a large part of this new S-Class, and the luxury sedan has a data bandwidth of 41.8 gigabytes per second – more than enough to mine bitcoin if that takes your fancy.

Safety has long been an S-Class calling card, and the W223 is no different, debuting a world-fist frontal airbag for rear-seat occupants, which deploys from the back of the front seats, using a tubular structure to inflate and ‘catch’ the head of those riding in the outer rear seats.

What could go wrong?

Mercedes-Benz isn’t the only one breaking new ground in the technological arms race any more.

That makes life hard when you are trying to stand out as a genuine innovator. Will the S-Class’s new tech showcases be enough to convince buyers it’s the leader they need to be seen in?

CADILLAC CT5-V BLACKWING

What is it?

A four-door mid-size sedan with a weapons-grade supercharged V8 under the bonnet built by GM.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well, GMSV is hoping that the same recipe that had buyers laying down big money for hotted-up Holdens will work with this yet-to-be-revealed Cadillac.

Cadillac CT5-V Blackwing

The CT5 is Cadillac’s mid-size four-door sedan, with the V badge denoting a performance variant. Sitting atop the range will be the Blackwing, powered by a supercharged 6.2-litre V8

Why we’re excited

We’ve wanted Cadillac to be offered in Australia for years now, and it could finally be happening.

Trademark applications have been completed locally for the Cadillac brand, and GMSV is perfectly placed to sell the luxury performance models locally.

MORE How GM lost $23 million building the orphan Blackwing V8

Powered by a 6.2-litre supercharged V8, the CT5-V Blackwing is expected to produce roughly 485kW, sending power to the rear wheels via an automatic transmission, or importantly, a six-speed manual.

Big, brash V8 sedans with manual transmissions are a dying breed, but this Caddie does the formula proud.

What could go wrong?

There are several big hurdles to overcome.

The first is completing and validating the re-engineering process. Putting the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car isn’t the work of the minute, and will prove a challenge for Walkinshaw’s Australian engineers.

Then there is the issue of securing a steady enough supply out of America, and getting them to Australia.

We really would have liked for the Blackwing to be fitted with the eponymous twin-turbo V8, but internal politics at GM killed that, and instead, customers will have to make do with a supercharged unit.

Finally, and perhaps most challenging, is getting the price right. The Aussie dollar isn’t its strongest, and the re-engineering process isn’t cheap, meaning a price tag for the CT5-V Blackwing could rival the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C63 (or be even higher).

HSV was previously able to charge serious money for a GTS model. Will Australians pay the same for a relatively unknown product without the cultural significance?

VOLKSWAGEN MK8 GOLF GTI

What is it?

An all-new generation of the perennial hot hatch hero. The base Mk8 Golf is almost ready to land in Australia, but fans of the go-fast GTI will need to wait until 2021.

With a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, the GTI sticks to the traditional formula of sending power to the front wheels, with gears selected with either a dual-clutch automatic, or manual transmission.

The GTI will preview the even-faster Golf R.

Why we’re excited

There is a good reason why the Golf GTI has remained the vehicle every competitor is measured against in the hot hatch segment – it is a damn good car.

Think of the Golf GTI as the Porsche 911 of hot hatches, so an all-new model (even if it is just a slight tweak on the existing design) is something to get gee’d up for.

Volkswagen has taken a refined approach to upgrades for the new GTI, fixing areas that needed improvement (such as DSG gearbox tweaks and a trick new vehicle dynamics system), while leaving things that already worked alone.

MORE Volkswagen’s 300kW Golf R+ plans revealed

The hot hatch segment is hotter than ever, with ripper contenders from the likes of Hyundai, Honda, Ford, and Renault giving VW plenty to think about.

Eight generations in, though, the GTI should never be counted out.

What could go wrong?

While it wears a Mk8 badge, the new Golf GTI is at its core an evolution of the existing Mk7.5 car. It shares the same EA888 engine (and associated outputs) and is built on a revised MQB platform.

While we can’t judge the GTI too harshly before it arrives, there is a chance that VW hasn’t done enough to keep up with key rivals in the segment.

Supply from Volkswagen internationally could also prove an issue, with a number of models from the German manufacturer taking their sweet time arriving Down Under as demand from larger international markets gobbled up supply.

VW Mk8 Golf

Hyundai i20 N

What is it?

Hyundai’s second N model, which it hopes will solidify the Korean brand's performance credentials.

Based on the small i20 hatch (which isn’t sold in Australia in its base form), the i20 N is a light front-drive hatch built specifically to dominate your local twisty b-road.

Powered by a hotted-up version of Hyundai’s 1.6-litre turbo four-pot, outputs are a claimed 150kW and 275Nm.

Sure, it’s not massive, but the i20 N weighs just 1190kg, making it lighter than both the Ford Fiesta ST (1262kg, 147kW/290Nm) and Volkswagen Polo GTI (1285kg, 147kW/320Nm).

This is clearly a car pointed directly at enthusiast buyers, with no automatic gearbox option in sight just yet. Want one? You’ll be dealing with three pedals.

When Hyundai dropped the i30 N on us, it instantly changed the game when it came to hot hatches and elevated the class benchmark to new highs.

Can the i20 N do the same in the lighter weight class?

Why we’re excited

We’ll let this excerpt from Tim Robson’s first drive of the i20 N prototype do the talking: “

“Straight away, it’s easy to access the i20N’s fun side, with tonnes of grip from those expensive tyres, a suspension tune that dances right on the line between compliance and support, big-ass stoppers and sufficient oomph delivered in an (almost) straight line.”

High praise, then.

By the time the i20 N goes on sale locally in early 2021, both the Ford Fiesta ST and Toyota GR Yaris will have been available for a little while, bringing a refreshing and fast update to the mini hot hatch genre.

What could go wrong?

The biggest risk facing the i20 N is any possible delays getting it into the country. We’ve driven a prototype version of the i30 N’s smaller sibling already, and well, let's just say the Ford Fiesta ST has some stiff competition coming its way!

Pricing will also be important. Hyundai hasn’t confirmed anything yet, and we expect the i20 N will slot in around the $32,500 mark. This gives the bigger i30 N’s $40K+ pricetag enough of a buffer, while remaining competitive against the Fiesta ST’s $32,290 sticker.

Bring on the pocket rocket showdown!

 

PORSCHE CAYMAN GT4 RS

What is it?

Oh, you thought the Porsche Cayman range had topped out with the GT4? Not so, with Porsche’s GT division working in secret on a harder, faster RS version.

The Cayman GT4 is one of the best drivers’ cars of 2020, and next year Porsche is expected to reveal an improved, focused version.

Porsche’s GT division reserve the RS badge for only its most extreme creations. This should be good.

Why we’re excited

Do we really need to spell this one out?

A track-focused Cayman with more power, better rubber, and improved aerodynamics from Porsche’s most skilled engineers.

Yeah, that’s what we thought.

What could go wrong?

Being an RS model, the GT4 RS will be an automatic-only affair, meaning it won't

be hamstrung by the regular GT4’s manual gearbox and its far-too-long ratios.

However, there is the issue of how to extract more power (and revs) from the GT4’s 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine.

MORE Porsche Cayman GT4 and 911 Carrera on Australia’s greatest driving road

This could be a costly exercise, with Porsche having to dip into a parts bin that is filled with exotic materials and technology to get the job done. Expect costs to be significant as a result.

But come on, it’s Porsche we are talking about. There’s little need to be worried.

Cayman GT4 RS