If there’s one key takeaway that we got from 2018, it was that the car-buying public are increasingly shying away from regular passenger cars and gravitating in ever-swelling numbers toward SUVs.
But that doesn’t mean the flow of passenger car product is about to stop. Not by a long shot. There are more than a few new non-SUVs entering the fray in 2019 that are worth a look-in, and there are more than a few that would make a very attractive alternative to an SUV – provided you’re okay with going against the tide, that is!
Do any of these 2019 passenger cars have your attention? Let us know in the comments.
An all-new iteration of Audi’s gateway hatchback.
Price range: $30-40K
Rivals: Mini Cooper, Fiat 500
Due Date: March/April 2019
Spun-off from the new Volkswagen Polo’s platform, Audi’s box-fresh second-generation A1 city hatch promises to inject a great deal more sophistication into the bottom end of the German brand’s product portfolio. Now measuring over four metres long it’s physically bigger than before, but a range of new powertrains – including a 1.5-litre turbo four with cylinder deactivation – move the mechanical game along as well.
Inside there’s a greater sense of maturity in the cabin furnishings, plus plenty of infotainment tech.
Another all-new Audi, this time in executive-grade large sedan form.
Price range: $80-120K (sub-Audi Sport variants)
Rivals: Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Volvo S90, Lexus GS
Due Date: First quarter of 2019
Evolutionary styling might make the 2019 Audi A6 look broadly similar to the current model, but get up close (and perhaps take a peek underneath) and the differences become pretty stark.
Sure, there’s still a quasi-hexagonal grille, sharply-creased sheetmetal and a generally broad-shouldered look to Audi’s upcoming E-Class fighter, however Audi claims it’s a much sportier-feeling car to drive while the adoption of mild-hybrid tech in every model helps curb the big sedan’s thirst.
Additionally, rear-wheel steering, active rear differentials, heaps of aluminium and a brace of muscular turbo diesel and petrol V6s amp up the A6’s driver appeal, while all occupants will benefit from the latest generation of the company’s ever-evolving infotainment system.
BMW 8 Series
The return of one of BMW’s most-missed nameplates
Price range: $180-250K (non-M variants)
Rivals: Bentley Continental GT, Maserati GranTurismo
Due Date: First quarter, 2019
The BMW 6 Series has bowed out to make way for the long-awaited return of a legend – the 8 Series. Exciting, right? But don’t let the change in numbers fool you, for the 8 Series doesn’t necessarily represent any great increase in size, spec or sportiness. Generally speaking, the anticipated three-variant 8 Series family (two-door coupe, convertible and a low-slung four-door) will mirror that of the departed 6 Series range quite closely, and we expect their pricetags will too.
The M850i coupe will be the first out of the blocks in the first quarter, packing a V8 wallop to the tune of 390kW and 750Nm. Performance should be mega, but expect an M8 performance flagship to arrive later and turn the wick up even higher.
The Fiesta returns for another generation – but only as a hot hatch
Price range: $28K-$30K
Rivals: Volkswagen Polo GTI, Suzuki Swift Sport, Renault Clio RS
Due Date: Second quarter 2019
The Fiesta has long been a dynamic darling of the compact hatch set, and Ford will be cranking up the athletic ability of its next-generation Fiesta next year with the Fiesta ST hot hatch.
However, the ST will be the only way you’ll get to put a new-gen Fiesta in your driveway, for Ford Australia has declined to bring lesser models in the range to local showrooms due to unfavourable exchange rates putting the squeeze on pricing.
As for the ST, we’ve already driven it and declared it to be one of the best hot hatch options at its expected high-$20K price point. Expect to see it land sometime in the second quarter.
Ford Focus Active
A jacked-up version of the 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 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 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.
The Accord returns for a tenth time, and with a tech focus
Price range: Expected to be high $40K, low $50K
Rivals: Holden Commodore, Toyota Camry, Skoda Superb
Due Date: December 2019
Honda celebrates its 50th year of selling cars in Australia in 2019, and the biggest news on its car launch calendar is the arrival of the tenth-generation Accord at the end of the year.
Already on sale in the USA since mid-2017 the Accord will be something of a latecomer to Australia, however Honda’s hands have been tied due to delays in right-hand drive production. Rapidly declining demand in the mid-size car segment - where the Accord will sit - might temper sales somewhat, but Honda Australia says it won’t be gunning for big volumes with its next Accord. Rather, the family-sized sedan will instead be pitched into the market as a high-specification technological flagship to give it a point of difference.
Details are still under wraps, but don’t be surprised if the high-end strategy sees the Accord’s price of entry head north of $50,000.
Hyundai i30 N Fastback
The only way you can buy an i30 that isn’t a hatchback
Price range: $40,000
Rivals: Subaru WRX, Renault Megane RS, Honda Civic Type R
Due Date: Unknown
While some overseas markets enjoy the ability to buy an i30 in a more mature ‘four-door coupe’ bodystyle, Hyundai Australia says the i30 Fastback is not coming our way… unless you spend big on the high-performance N variant.
Fatter profit margins at the circa-$40k mark mean the European-built i30 N Fastback actually makes economic sense for Hyundai to sell in cost-sensitive Australia, even though lesser variants aren’t. For buyers looking at the existing i30 N, the impending option of a grown-up looking Fastback may prove quite alluring, especially as it retains all of the go-fast mechanicals of its hatchback brother.
Exact launch timing has yet to be settled, but the i30 N Fastback’s price should only wear a very modest premium over that of the hatch.
Mazda 3 – mid-2019
In the middle of the year Mazda Australia will change over its popular Mazda 3 range with an all-new generation hatch and sedan, and while local details such as range structure and pricing are still far from ironed out, the design of the new 3 shows that Mazda’s mainstay small car is set to be a real looker. The hatch and sedan will be quite visually distinct from the B-pillar rearward – certainly more so than the current generation – and the local powertrain lineup is likely to include Mazda’s innovative and ultra-efficient SkyActiv-X supercharged compression-ignition engine.
Nissan’s all-electric hatch returns
Price range: $50-60K
Rivals: Hyundai Ioniq EV, BMW i3
Due Date: March 2019
The Nissan Leaf electric car will return for its second generation in March, following the same format (and built on the same architecture) as its predecessor, but packing in greater energy storage and more power than before. The styling has also been dialled back to take the Leaf in a more conservative direction, and there’s a greater emphasis on driver-assistance technology, giving the new Leaf some limited self-driving capabilities.
Car-to-grid charging technology also unlocks some interesting new avenues for the Leaf, potentially making it a part of an interconnected smart power grid and giving it the ability to passively earn its owner money while it’s parked. Try doing that with a combustion-engined vehicle!
Ooh la la – who knew a midsize sedan could look this good?
Price range: $40K+
Rivals: Volkswagen Passat, Toyota Camry, Mazda 6
Due Date: June 2019
After a couple of generations of extraordinarily soporific 508s, Peugeot has shaken off whatever ailment afflicted its design department and released a stunning mid-size pair in the form of the 2019 Peugeot 508 sedan and wagon.
Strong visual links with the 3008 and 5008 are in evidence both inside and out (a very good thing), and the new 508 looks modern, dignified and flaunts a far more premium aura than most would expect of the French brand. Lightweight engineering also promises more than a skerrick of dynamic aptitude as well. Translation: it’ll drive like a dream when it gets here in mid-2019.
Tesla Model 3
Tesla’s long-awaited ‘affordable’ EV, but is it really?
Price range: $60K+
Rivals: Nothing, really
Due Date: Mid-2019
Few cars are more heavily hyped than the Tesla Model 3, and the most affordable model from the American auto maker has endured an interesting start to its life. Production difficulties have crimped supply and Tesla is still working through fulfilling the huge number of pre-orders. Right-hand drive markets like Australia have been a low priority thus far.
The first deposits by would-be Australian owners were put down in March 2016, but Elon Musk himself says deliveries to Australia aren’t expected to begin until “around mid-2019”. A long time to hold out for a car that will, by the time it reaches here, already be halfway through its lifespan, but for some people the promise of a comparatively affordable premium electric car is too enticing to ignore.
Volvo’s product renaissance continues with an intelligently-designed sedan
Price range: Unknown
Rivals: Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Lexus IS, Jaguar XE
Due Date: Early 2019
Volvo plays to its Scandinavian strengths with the new S60, which takes the elegant design language introduced by the XC90, S90, XC60 and XC40, and wraps it in an incredibly handsome four-door bodystyle – with an interior that wouldn’t look out of place in a high-end interior design mag.
A V60 wagon equivalent will join it too, and between them they’ll take on the dominant Germans in the mid-size premium market with a range of 2.0-litre petrol and diesel powerplants – some with extensive electrification and a fuel-saving plug-in hybrid capability. If the rest of the modern Volvo line-up is anything to go by, the Germans will have some very stiff Swedish competition on their hands.