Is 2017 the year of the new car for your garage? It's pretty easy to work out what's available now, but here are the most exciting models that are yet to arrive in showrooms to help you make the best choice.
New Giulia sedan
It has been a very, very long time coming, but Alfa's on-again off-again 159 replacement will finally launch here in Australia in February starting with the M3-baiting 375kW QV version with the rest of the range to follow in March, powered by a 147kW 2.0-litre four cylinder engine.
The new Alfa scored the highest adult occupant safety score in EuroNCAP history, is believed to come standard with AEB, pedestrian detection and lane departure warning. Alfa remains tight-lipped about pricing, so we'll know more come February.
The Q2 slots neatly under the Q3 as a mini-SUV offering from the German brand and is very much chasing the fashionistas. Starting from $41,100 (the only confirmed price and higher than Q3's) the Q2 is going to steal a few sales from the upper-end of Japanese cars like the Honda HR-V and Mazda CX-3 while also trying to pinch Mercedes GLA and BMW X1 customers, mostly by undercutting them. And maybe a few Mini Countryman punters, too.
The new Q5, which debuted in Paris in September 2016, will arrive around the middle of the year, sometime in the third quarter. The new Q5 is a very important car for Audi as the company sells boatloads of them every year. Unconfirmed reports have the go-fast SQ5 possibly joining the range before year's end, but that's a long shot.
Audi's hot A4, the S4 and its wagon version, the S4 Avant will arrive in February. The V6 loses the characterful supercharger but gains a turbo nestled deep in V and Audi reckons they've made 800 changes to release 15 more kilowatts and another 60Nm. It's also lighter and sports an eight-speed ZF automatic.
The brand new 5 Series will land in Australia in March, starting at $93,900 for the 520d. Codenamed G30, the 5 inherits loads of new technology from its big brother, the 7, while premiering Apple's wireless version of CarPlay.
Standard equipment is up across the range, too, with heads-up display, various semi-autonomous technologies and a big 10.25 screen. The next M5 will probably follow, as is BMW's wont, in 2018.
In the middle of the year there will also be the new 760Li xDrive, BMW's first all-wheel drive sedan in Australia. That one will be loaded with fascinating tech and no doubt go like a rocket for passengers who like a thrill and to be able to choose the cabin fragrance.
If we were betting types, we'd put a large amount of cash on a new X3 to combat Mercedes and Audi a little more effectively and there could be some news on the next 3 Series, possibly at September's Frankfurt Motor Show.
You can also expect to see a few models given a light going-over as the year wears on.
Ford's big release for the year is the Escape which will be on our roads by February to replace the unloved Kuga. The name is changing to bring it into line with Everest and EcoSport while the cringey Kuga nameplate will soldier on elsewhere. The new Escape is a bit of a looker, with a more square-rigged approach than the current Kuga sheetmetal.
There will be plenty of new tech inside too, with Sync3 bringing Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the mid-sizer. Prices start at $28,490 (down $760) and will be along early in the new year.
Continuing the SUV trend, the rear-wheel drive Everest will lose the third row of seats which will come with a new, very competitive price tag of around $50,000.
The Ranger will also get a longer options list.
Yet another SUV might reach us by year's end, the new small SUV EcoSport which has been confirmed for Australia, but not when.
G80 update, new G70
The G80 is the new name for the current car known as the Hyundai Genesis and it will receive the usual mid-life-style upgrades and new badging.
The G70 is bigger news. Hyundai isn't mucking about with this new brand, so the next car is a 3 Series-sized car expected to count a 3.3-litre turbo six among its power plants to go with smaller capacity turbo fours.
2017 is the year Holden makes its final transition to an import-exclusive brand after the sad end to local manufacturing of the venerable Commodore. A new car bearing that name will be revealed during the course of 2017, with plenty of softening up of local fans for what is going to be quite a change to the car that once dominated Australian roads.
February will see a comprehensive facelift of the mini-SUV Trax. A new nose will give the car a fresh face although later Cruze owners will recognise the Chevy-based dual port grille. The backside's changes are less obvious, with new bumpers and lights.
Inside looks much-improved, with the slightly wacky instrument pod making way for a more conventional arrangement and a new 7-inch screen to accommodate the newest version of MyLink, which will include Apple CarPlay.
The new CR-V can't come soon enough for Honda who are all too aware of the Australian market's fickle nature and apathetic approach to the brand.
Honda has three new cars coming. The first is the Civic hatch to join the recently arrived sedan. The hatch is mechanically similar to the sedan but shorter and with a smaller boot. While the looks are polarising, there's no denying the interior will be one of the most spacious and cleverest in its class
Next up will be the CR-V. Honda is again taking aim at Tucson and RAV4, telling CarsGuide in December 2016 that the mid-sizer will need to clock up 1000 sales a month to be competitive. The local arm wouldn't be drawn on whether we'll get both five and seven-seat versions, but we'll definitely not be getting a diesel. If we do get the seven-seat (hell will freeze over if we don't), that could be the key to Honda jumping several places in the sales charts.
The final confirmed release is the nutcase Civic Type R. Set to trouble the Renaultsport Megane and Focus ST for front-drive super hot hatch honours, the wacky looks will certainly turn heads.
New i30, new small SUV.
Hyundai has a big year ahead even though there's just two confirmed launches. Its Corolla-bashing i30 hatch is to be replaced with a more Euro-centric new generation already previewed in 2016's Elantra and shown at the Paris Motor Show. The new i30 will - initially at least - be restricted to the five-door hatch. The Korean brand discontinued importing the wagon Tourer in 2016 due to falling sales. Shame - we had one for a year and it's a very capable car.
The second big release of the year will be the small SUV dealers have been screaming for. It hasn't got a name or a specific release date, but with Toyota's C-HR coming as well, Mazda's CX-3 won't have it all its own way.
The likely but unconfirmed launch for the year is the first from Hyundai's new performance brand, N. The i30N was previewed at the Paris show with a slightly silly WRC crossover style hatchback and is expected to be a solid start for the go-faster range.
One of Britain's greatest new exports will arrive in Australian driveways and muddy ruts in mid-2017, starting at a mildly surprising $64,300 for the 2.0-litre TD4. Across twelve distinct models and four spec levels (S, SE, HSE, HSE Luxury) and three different diesel engines, prices will rise up to the $130,000+ limited First Edition with a turbodiesel six-cylinder.
The Disco is still hugely popular here in Australia despite being older than some of our readers. That low starting price is less surprising, however, when you see it doesn't even have sat nav as standard but will have autonomous emergency braking, reversing camera and rear parking sensors.
The Range Rover Sport will get a new engine in the line-up as well as an updated version of the InControl entertainment system and the Autobiography model will join the Range Rover's model range.
After a fairly busy 2016 with the F-Pace, Jaguar is going to have a rest until December when the new XF Sportbrake (wagon) will arrive. Expect pricing to be higher than the coupe-sedan and we think it might just have a new petrol engine under the bonnet.
New engine for Q60
It's going to be a very quiet year for new products at Infiniti, with a new, bigger engine for the Q60.
We're expecting an update to the Grand Cherokee heavyweight but the biggest news out of Jeep is the new Compass. Details are still a bit hazy, but we hope to see it this year. There's also a slim possibility of a new go-anywhere Wrangler, replacing the old-stager currently on sale.
Kia's smash-hit Rio small hatch will be renewed along with its cousin, the Hyundai i30. Expect funky new looks, improved dynamics and a big lift in the interior. The new Rio will be along early in the first quarter.
The tiddly new Picanto will arrive with fresh styling inside and outis getting a mild refresh, which should be with us by mid-year.
The new Stinger, unveiled at the Detroit Show in January will also reach our shores in both 2.0-litre turbo and 3.0-litre twin turbo V6, both driving the rear wheels. The 2.0 turbo has an impressive 190kW to start with, so 272kW Stinger V6 owners might want to get to know their local tyre supplier.
This is a bold move from Kia - it's fine-looking machine, has the grunt to go quickly and stay on the road but with enough power to get out of shape with.
We're not surprised (Kia has threatened this for a while), but it will generate a lot of column inches because it's almost as big as the current Holden Commodore but with way more tech and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Again, there will be a new small SUV with shared underpinnings from sister company Hyundai, and we're expecting an unveiling before the end of the year, possibly as early as August.
Lexus' big bold sports coupe will arrive this year, although we're still not sure when or how much. Available with a traditional V8 or a hybrid drivetrain, it will duke it out at the top end of the premium market with the BMW 6 Series.
Lexus tells us the V8 was benchmarked against the glorious-sounding Maserati Gran Turismo, so for that alone we're looking forward to it.
The runaway success CX-5 SUV is still topping the Australian sales charts, despite its advancing age but because it's still a fine car. The new one doesn't look a lot different and isn't much bigger, either, so Mazda is banking on owners looking to upgrade and new customers to notice the refreshed interior and tech uplift.
The styling is sharper and has been brought into line with the CX-9 while the interior has been redesigned with new seats, dash and a bigger screen in the instrument pod.
The A pillar has been moved back slightly to improve vision but under the skin it’s the same CX-5 Australia knows and loves. There's been some work to stiffen the chassis and Mazda has added its funky new G-Vectoring steering tech. Expect the same engine line-up and no, the brilliant, award-winning turbo 2.5-litre from the CX-9 has not been confirmed for the CX-5. Yet.
The new CX-5 will arrive by the middle of the year.
Mazda's brilliant MX-5 is to get a sibling in January. No, not the Abarth 124 Spider, that's more of a cousin thing (and already here), but the retractable-roofed hardtop version, dubbed RF. Apart from the modded bodywork, little else is expected.
New Levante SUV.
Maserati is always late to the party and this Levante comes decades after European brands BMW and Mercedes fitted the wheels to the SUV bandwagon. Of course, Maserati's fraught financial position back then had a lot to do with that and now in the loving, more organised arms of the Fiat-Chrysler group, the trident has a platform to use and the know-how from various parts of the Italian giant. Priced from around $139,990, the diesel-only Levante will be here from February 2017, but you can order one now if you like.
Merc's fire-breathing sports coupe is set to become even more fiery towards the middle of the year with the GT3-inspired GT-R. More power from the twin-turbo V8, more everything from the chassis, the GT-R should be good-scary.
And the small-ish SUV GLA will get a light going-over to keep things competitive.
The new Mini Countryman will be along towards the middle of the year to further upset Mini purists but to help cash in on the continuing mini-SUV boom. It'll have some stiff competition from the Audi Q2.
The Japanese manufacturer has a lot of work to do in 2017 to make up a lot of lost ground. The first half will see three releases, two of them facelifts and one a rocket on wheels.
Nismo's version of the GT-R (aka Godzilla) will arrive in February, no doubt even harder and faster than the already terrifyingly quick all-wheel drive twin turbo coupe.
The seven-seat Pathfinder large SUV will receive a facelift around the same time as the GT-R Nismo arrives. These two cars couldn't be more different, could they?
And around the middle of the year the X-Trail SUV will also come under the surgeon's knife although details are scarce.
The little SUV that can, the 2008 will arrive around the middle of February with a light going over to improve the appeal of Peugeot's off-beat and underrated 2008.
The big news is the all-new 3008, which will arrive sometime in the first half of the year, probably end of March, beginning of April. The old 3008 was a bit of a duffer but building on the success and ideas of the excellent 308, it's a much better place to start and to take on Euro, Japanese and Korean rivals. Peugeot's weird iCockpit is installed in the 3008 and is like Audi's Virtual Cockpit (in concept at least).
In the probably-too-hard basket is the all-new 5008. This car hasn't been confirmed for Australia but it's unlikely the French marque will pass on it. At best (and we're talking one percent possibility), we could see it on the roads here by the end of 2017.
Ignore anyone who says that Renault's first ute-truck thing isn't coming here. We think it's an odds-on cert and the only real question is when. It could be this year...
Hot on the heels of the new Megane, one of 2016's standouts, is the replacement for everybody's favourite front-drive hatch, the Renaultsport Megane. The RS has been giving Golf GTi drivers and even Golf R drivers a run for its money with its incredibly accomplished chassis, so the new one on its new platform should be a ripper.
The Clio will get it first proper update since launch, which won't come with a huge fanfare while nostalgia buffs should get their first glimpse of the new Alpine sports car.
We've already driven the Kodiaq overseas, but the new seven-seater from Skoda will reach Australia around mid-year, and the brand is hoping it lands in a blaze of glory. Bigger than its VW Group brother, the Tiguan, the Czech SUV will use the same petrol engine (132kw/320 2.0 turbo petrol) with a 140kW TDI coming later in the year.
The Octavia's updated version will also touch down around July.
Hot on the heels of the new Vitara and Baleno, there's another blast from the past on its way from plucky Japanese company Suzuki. The new Ignis, which made its debut at September's Paris Motor Show will be here before Easter.
Specs and pricing are yet to be confirmed, but you can expect prices to be fairly punchy.
The little-hatch-that-can, the Swift, will also be replaced this year. It's yet another evolution of one of our favourite underrated hatches.
New Model X
You're probably sick to death of hearing about it, but Tesla's electric SUV with the wacky doors will finally begin local deliveries, probably within the first quarter.
Toyota's new baby SUV, the C-HR, looks to be the game-changer we've been waiting for from Toyota. The Japanese company makes a range of very solid and dependable cars, but that's not how you sell cars to the young 'uns. The 86 is too niche so Toyota has bitten the bullet and gone to town with its CX-3 competitor that hits showrooms in February.
Annoyingly, C-HR stands for "Coupe - High Rider" but if you can ignore that and drink in the wild sheetmetal, you'll see that Toyota is finally setting about appealing to a younger demographic and not building the Rukus that ended up being bought by baby boomers.
There will be plenty of sensible standard equipment, though - autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise, lane departure warning, lane keep assist and reversing camera.
We knew Toyota had it in them.
The dependable Kluger will also get a mild update sometime in the first quarter.
New V90, V90 Cross Country
The Swedes have two releases for us in the first half of the year, the new V90 and V90 Cross Country. These two cars are the off-beat alternatives to Mercedes and Audi's big wagons and jacked-up wagons.
In the second half of 2017 the all-new XC60 will be unveiled. It has been a very long time since we saw a clean-sheet XC60 from Gothenburg and if it's half as good as the new XC90, it should be a cracker. And the spyshots confirm it has those awesome Thor's hammer headlights.
Updated Golf VII
There facelifted Golf is due to hit showrooms on our shores in July. It's one of the more subtle goings-over of recent memory, even in the context of the Volkswagen Group's notoriety for such things. There are new LEDs in the headlights, a wider intake grille and a chrome strip. Out the back the metal has been tweaked to make it look wider and some cars might have scrolling dynamic indicators.
Almost nothing changes inside although the digital dashboard seen in Tiguan might make an appearance in higher models. The jury is out on whether we'll get the new 1.5-litre petrol turbo just yet, so the existing 1.4 could score an upgrade to the cylinder-on-demand spec found in the current Audi A3. The new Volkswagen group seven-speed DSG transmission is also set to make an appearance.
Probably the biggest changes will be upgrades to the safety package to likely include AEB across the board. None of this is confirmed, so there's definitely no pricing to talk about.
We could also see the seventh-generation Polo which was still running about in camouflage in Death Valley a couple of months ago. It looks a bit longer than the current one and will be built on VW's MQB platform which has found its way under a number of VW Group cars. The interior should be a lot nicer than the current car, too, with a big touchscreen and some new tech.\