THE world’s focus may be about to swing to the rising stars of the 2016 Paris Motor Show, but that doesn’t stop you going out and buying an ex-show star.
Here’s the second of our two rundowns of the show-stoppers unveiled at 2014’s Paris Motor Show that you can go out and buy today.
It was a good-looking jigger when we first saw it at Paris, and that impression wasn’t lost in translation when it arrived here. As well as its sharp suit, the Sorento was quick to establish itself as the class leader in the big seven-seat SUV sandpit, winning a Wheels comparison – the first time a Kia-badged car has had the honour.
LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT
The all-new Land Rover Discovery Sport was introduced as a direct replacement for the Freelander – not to be confused with the bigger Land Rover Discovery unveiled for this year’s show. The smaller Disco Sport looks good, sports a classy cabin with decent space for five, and sharp handling. It’s available with either a petrol or diesel engine, priced from $56,355.
This is the fourth generation of Mazda’s city runabout, introducing the latest suite of the carmaker’s Skyactiv fuel-saving technologies that run across everything from shedding weight to minimising friction in engines. Alongside the likes of the Volkswagen Polo and Renault Clio, it’s a stand-out in its class. Prices start from $14,990 – and you can even add a boot for free, as the sedan is the same price as the hatch.
The fourth generation of Mazda’s two-seat roadster unveiled at Paris turned out to be so good it was awarded the 2016 Wheels Car of the Year title – the third time a Mazda MX-5 has taken the top gong. Spirited, fun to drive, and relatively low-cost, the Mazda MX-5 is a fun little car to own – as long as you’re not using it to cart all the kids for the school run. It also has a Fiat-badged version arriving soon, called the 124 Spider. The Mazda MX-5 starts from $31,990.
MERCEDES-BENZ AMG GT S
Another Wheels Car of the Year finalist after it lobbed in Australia last year, the AMG GT is everything a sports car should be. A long bonnet, stretched wheelbase and low cab-rearward design all wrap up into the fastest road car that Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Benz’s performance skunkworks, has ever turned out. At $294,325 it’s a bit out of most people’s reach, but we can all dream.
PEUGEOT 308 GT
A warmed-over version of Peugeot’s small hatch is a definite winner in the style stakes. Introduced as a new variant to the 308 range, the GT is a more powerful, better handling and more richly equipped flagship for the 308 line-up. There’s a bit of a trade-off, with the sportier ride of the GT taking just a little bit of the shine from the base 308’s decent ride and handling, but it’s a small compromise to live with. It starts from $41,990.
PORSCHE CAYENNE PHEV
Porsche is all about performance cars, so what’s this plug-in SUV? It’s the first of a fleet of ultra-frugal future Porsches, soon to include a Panamera four-door saloon that’s also on the hunt for a wall socket. Despite the green tinge, the battery-and-petrol-fuelled Cayenne will sprint to 100km/h in just 5.9 seconds. Yours for just $143,055.
We first saw the new Suzuki Vitara as a concept car in Germany in 2013, and 2014’s reveal of the showroom version didn’t come as much of a surprise. What was, though, is how good it looks and drives. Although it uses a small 1.6-litre engine (a turbo version has arrived that adds a bit more poke under the bonnet), inside it’s spacious and comfortable, it will happily tackle corners, and for the more adventurous it includes some off-road ability. The range kicks off from $21,990.
VOLKSWAGEN GOLF ALLTRACK
If you like the SUV looks but aren’t fond of the extra height, Volkswagen’s Golf wagon-based soft-roader has the answer. It has all the comforts of the regular Golf, all-wheel drive with an off-road function, a more practical boot than a high-riding SUV, but only sells with a 1.8-litre turbo petrol engine under the bonnet. It’s priced from $38,340.
VOLKSWAGEN POLO GTI
The go-fast version of the smallest VW-badged hatchback you can buy shocked the world when it was revealed by featuring a manual gearbox – flying in the face of a more widespread shift to automatic transmissions. The result is a polished performer that brings acute dynamics together with a willing, muscular engine that can play hard yet maintain its manners around town.
The tall, long Swede has evolved into one of the best-looking seven-seat SUVs on the market. Another one of our Wheels Car of the Year finalists, it’s Volvo’s first completely new product post-Ford ownership, ushering in a new platform, a new generation of engines and fresh design language under former VW designer Thomas Ingenlath. It’s just soggy dynamics and German prices that let the package down.