December 2015 will be a hot month for new car launches in Australia. Traditionally, the summer season is a little slow—not this year. Two groundbreaking new models will hit local soil—the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and the Ford Mustang. Ferrari, Fiat, Mitsubishi, and Volkswagen will share the limelight with new cars or updates also hitting the ground running.
In the ultimate expression of late being better than never, Mercedes-Benz crashes into the medium SUV segment with the GLC-Class in December. Expect long wait lists as the inner-city crowds are drawn to the brand’s first Australia-bound SUV model based on the C-Class. It’s strictly a five-seater, but its choice of petrol and diesel engines are strong; the visual similarities to the C-Class outside and in will send it to the top of its class. Its prices aggressively undercut the BMW X3 competition, and it’s surprisingly cheaper to get into a GLC than an equivalent C-Class. The $64,500 GLC 220 d base is the sweetest of the two oilers, though the $69,900 GLC 250 diesel will be the big seller.
The latest in a string of awesome performance Fords hits Australia next month. The five-litre Mustang GT is pitched as a complement to the Falcon XR8 with which it shares much of its engine. However, the demise of local Ford manufacturing in less than two years will see the Mustang replace the XR8 as the flagship fast Ford. A base manual turbo-four Mustang will set you back $44,900; the highest-end automatic V8 convertible is $63,900. Our pick is the V8 manual coupe.
The fourth-generation Lexus RX, revealed at this year’s New York Auto Show, arrives in Australia to relieve the old model after eight years of service. The exterior design takes the brand’s most aggressive form since the NX crossover…but under the bonnet, changes are limited. The addition of the new Lexus turbo four is a good thing, though the 3.5-litre V6 and V6 hybrids are simple carryovers. The interior debuts new brand cues like a widescreen floating tablet display. Prices to be announced.
The car we expected to be the next Challenger will in fact be called the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport. Handsome from the front, the rear-end is pretty how’s-your-father…though Mitsubishi are hoping the bona fide off-roading capability and seven-seat capacity will be enough to push you over the line. Prices are also yet to be announced, but the Pajero Sport will be pitched in the high forties between the Outlander crossover and the full-size Pajero.
The waiting list may stretch to 2017, but Ferrari’s upgrades to the eight-cylinder 488 have turned the wick up to 492kW accompanied by 760Nm of twist. First deliveries will occur next month; an open-top Spider is also available.
The tiny Fiat 500 receives another nip-tuck for 2016, with revised taillights and a refreshed front-end. Stylistic changes inside are pretty limited, though the work outside keeps the tw0-door hatch and two-door convertible up-to-date. The biggest news will be the launch of the new-for-Australia 500X—a four-door crossover version of the 500. The 500X will be just perfect for inner-city Fiat lovers that have struggled to shove the kids / pets into the back of the diminutive two-doors.
It’s hard to believe that the last Transporter was with us twelve years, but it was. The latest Volkswagen van / minivan / ‘the Kombi’s back, man’ model enters just its sixth generation since 1950. With a variety of rad paint jobs available for the passenger version, the Multivan and Kombi versions attempt to blend cool with safe. Meanwhile, hardworking Transporter will of course be available with a trusty (compliant) diesel four.
The AMG one-upmanship game continues, with the updated A45 hatchback hitting Australian showrooms this December. The five-pot Audi RS3 was briefly king of the hot hatches, with its 270kW besting the old A45’s 265kW. That wasn’t to be, however, with AMG engineers squeezing another 15kW from the already-stressed taps to create a 280kW monster. Not that we’re complaining.
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