WE’RE more than halfway through 2016 and we’ve already seen plenty of tasty metal hit local showrooms. The BMW M2 has already blown us away with its balance of price and performance, the Porsche 718 Boxster has proved a turbo flat-four belongs in a car wearing the badge, and the Jaguar F-Pace demonstrated that yes, the Brit marque is capable of making a decent SUV.
But the flow of cool, unique, fast and interesting new-car launches isn’t going to dry up anytime soon, with plenty more remaining on the 2016 calendar. Here’s a list of what we in the WhichCar office are salivating over the most.
Abarth’s turbocharged drop-top is the Mazda MX-5’s twin-under-the-skin, but you can expect Italy’s take on the Japanese roadster to have its own distinct flavour courtesy of unique sheetmetal and a peppy turbo 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine under the bonnet.
Sure, the interior might be nearly identical to the MX-5, but it’s the Abarth 124’s promise of more acceleration-enhancing torque – a common criticism of the MX-5 – that has the WhichCar staff champing at the bit to drive it.
The Abarth 124 is coming to Australia in October, and WhichCar expects it will be priced in the mid-$40,000 region.
The Infiniti Q50 gains a mid-life facelift before the end of this year, and besides some fresh interior and exterior plastics there’s also an engine upgrade in store for Infiniti’s mid-size sedan family.
The headline here is the addition of a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6, which replaces the current model’s 245kW naturally aspirated 3.7-litre V6. The turbo V6 is essentially a downsized version of the 3.8-litre engine found in the mighty Nissan GT-R supercar and comes in either 223kW or 300kW trim.
With such athletic DNA under its bonnet the fresh-look Q50 should be an exciting drive when it arrives in a couple of months – and potentially a solid rival for the $100K Mercedes-AMG C43 that’s also due to arrive before year’s end.
The next-generation Holden Astra is scheduled to go on sale locally late in 2016, where it will take over from the Cruze hatch as Holden’s volume selling five-door small car. Two turbo petrol engines will power the range, and a “Sports Tourer” wagon may also find its way to our shores.
It should be nicer to sit in than the Cruze thanks to modern design features and upmarket materials, with the new Astra set to adopt a slightly more premium position relative to the ho-hum Cruze that it will replace.
Will the Astra’s price tag head upmarket too? We’ll have to wait to find out.
It’s not often that a Volvo sedan leaves WhichCar sweaty with anticipation, but Volvo’s S90 is definitely one to watch.
The S90’s big, bluff body boasts more Scandinavian style than an entire IKEA store, and the innovative turbocharged <and> supercharged <and> hybrid T8 variant could be a strong performer despite only having a 2.0-litre petrol engine under its stylish bonnet.
The S90 is the latest in Volvo’s ongoing campaign to pinch sales from the German luxury brands, and could prove an appealing alternative to buyers seeking something a little different from a BMW 5 Series, Audi A6 or Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Fun Fact: for a while after it launched, the Audi SQ5 accounted for roughly one in every two Q5s sold in this country. Not a huge surprise considering Australians appear to be in love with performance cars and SUVs – combine the two and a sales hit is seemingly assured.
Audi is getting ready to replicate that success with the SQ7, which takes the SQ5 formula and upsizes it for the brand’s biggest SUV model.
With a triple-turbo 4.0-litre diesel V8 under the bonnet there’s a hefty 320kW of power and a monstrous 900Nm of torque. With one of those turbochargers sporting an electric motor to help spool it up early, Audi says the SQ7 has virtually no fun-sapping turbo lag.