Stamp duty for cars explained
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There was once a time when a "most exciting cars of the new year" list would feature a light sprinkling (at best) of SUVs, surrounded by a sea of passenger sedans, hatchbacks and performance cars. But such is the ferocity of our SUV obsession, the ubiquitous high-riders now demand an entire list of their very own.
And if you are in the market for a brand new SUV, 2019 is shaping as an absolute cracker, with a return to form for some high-riding icons, a new crop of performance-flavoured heroes, and some new high-tech offerings from the world of battery-electric vehicles to choose from.
Toyota’s trailblazing RAV4 will be back in an all-new fifth generation in Australia next year.
There's a long list of firsts for this new and tougher-looking small SUV, too, including the use of Toyota's (very good) New Global Architecture (or TNGA), which has a laser-like focus on improving driving dynamics at its core, and has lifted the new Corolla, for example, well and truly out of the doldrums.
Also new is the adoption of Toyota's hybrid technology, which links with petrol engines and CVT autos to reduce fuel economy. There will be regular petrol engines, too (but no diesels) which pair with a traditional eight-speed automatic and will be available with all-wheel drive.
There are significant raps on the new RAV4, and Toyota has been in something of a purple patch of form lately, so our hopes are high.
This all-new Macan (even if it doesn't look it) will arrive in February 2019 in two guises; the $81,400 Macan and the $97,500 Macan S. Those two relatively sedate examples will be joined by more ballistic models later in the year.
The base Macan gets a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, and the S gets a bigger 3.0-litre turbocharged V6, and both provide ample poke to get Porsche's popular SUV moving. Expect a circa-6.5 second sprint from 0-100km/h in the base car, and circa-5.1 seconds in the S.
The focus here has been on an exterior refresh (that LED light strip that runs sideways across the rear of the car is new), and a tech update, with the 7.2-inch touchscreen in the dash replaced with a bigger and better 10.9-inch unit.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but expect the five-seat, five-door EV SUV to wear a sticker price that's around the $140k mark. To put its size and positioning into perceptive, you're looking at an SUV about the same length as the brand's Q5, though the e-tron is significantly lower.
Audi reckons you'll get a 400km driving range from its under-floor battery pack, which is used to power a motor at each axle. The one at the front wheels will give you 125kW, while the rear-wheel motor will produce around 140kW.
All up, that'll mean 265kW, 561Nm and a 0-100km/h sprint time under 5.7 seconds.
Both motors can operate in a 'boost' mode, too, which ups the output.In fact, according to Audi: "it generates up to 300kW and 664Nm of torque".
The all-electric version of the Hyundai Kona (not to mention the Kia e-Niro, which will arrive later in 2019) have been officially confirmed for Australia, and should genuinely provide a much-needed affordable option in the often-unobtainable world of EV SUVs.
The Kona Electric has already secretly toured Australia - undergoing cold-weather testing in Jindabyne in winter last year - and a local ride evaluation and suspension tuning program is already underway in Oz.
Hyundai says we will likely only take the higher-output version (a less powerful option is offered overseas) which means a 449km range from its 64kWh battery pack. Our cars will produce 150kW/395Nm, meaning a 0-100km/h sprint in around 7.5 seconds.
You can plug the electric Kona into your mains power, with charging to take around 10 hours, but Hyundai says a fast charger will drop that time to under an hour for an 80-per-cent charge.
Pricing is yet to be confirmed, but a circa-$50k starting point wouldn't surprise us.
Want most of a Ferrari SUV but for a fraction of the price? The Stelvio Q could be just for you. Because nestled under the bonnet of Alfa Romeo's first SUV lives a Ferrari-derived twin-turbo V6 that pumps out out 375kW/600Nm, enough to push the Q from 0-100km/h in a seriously fast 3.8 seconds.
The secret to its speed is its Q4 all-wheel drive system with 'Active Torque Vectoring'. The set-up apes that of a traditional rear-wheel drive system, shuffling 100 per cent of power to the rear wheels in normal driving, only engaging the front tyres when the back ones break traction.
It will cost you $149,900 when it arrives, and you can expect to see it early in the new year.
Mercedes-Benz will likely join the EV SUV party with its EQC in late 2019, but it's actually the second-generation of its GLE (and the GLC) SUV that will likely do the best business.
Due for its first major update (this will be the second-gen car), Benz has thus far only shown us the GLE 450 4Matic, but there will be diesel, plug-in hybrid and high-performance AMG models in the future.
The 450 version makes use of a a 48-volt 'EQ Boost' motor combined with a 270kW/500Nm six-cylinder petrol engine, and you can expect a full technology and interior overhaul, as well as a more spacious cabin, compliments of an 80mm longer wheelbase.
Some SUVs are built for plush on-road comfort, and others... well, they're the Suzuki Jimny. And the Japanese brand's powerhouse Mighty Mouse will land in Australia on January 26.
The iconic (but pint-sized) off-roader will get a naturally aspirated 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, paired with Suzuki's 'ALLGRIP 4WD' system as standard, along with off-road goodies like hill-descent control, not to mention its iconic solid axles.
The Japanese brand says it has received over 200 pre-orders for its Jimny so far, with the tiny truck generating something of a cult following here in Australia.
VW's Touareg has some seriously famous siblings - think Lamborghini's Urus, Porsche's Cayenne, the Audi Q7, and Bentley's Bentayga - which all share the same VW Group MLB platform, the same that underpins this third generation of VW's largest SUV.
Fitting, then, that VW has vowed to up the luxury and technology stakes in its new-gen Touareg, which will arrive in Australia around mid-2019 with a 190kW/550Nm turbo-diesel V6 engine.
Before the end of 2019, you can expect another pair of diesel-flavoured V6 engines (170kW/500Nm and 210kW/600Nm) to follow.