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Nissan Qashqai, Ford Mustang Mach 1 and Toyota Corolla Cross: Australia's biggest brands' most exciting new models coming in 2021

Could Ford's Mustang Mach 1 be their most driver-focused car yet?

Last weekend we looked at the most important new models coming in 2021 for Australia’s most popular brands. This weekend we’re taking another look at what the biggest brands have coming next year, but this time we’re looking not at the models that will be the most important, but the ones that will be the most exciting.

What’s the difference? Well, in our mind an important model should have a significant impact on either the brand’s sales total or its image in the market. The most exciting, on the other hand, are cars that bring something a bit special or different; or just create a buzz that gets customers interested.

You’ll notice that Mazda is missing this week for the simple reason the brand likes to play its cards close to its chest in terms of new models, and based on what we know already the MX-30 we covered last week arguably fits the bill for the brand’s most important and most exciting new addition in 2021. 

Nissan Qashqai, Ford Mustang Mach 1 and Toyota Corolla Cross: Australia's biggest brands' most exciting new models coming in 2021

Toyota Corolla Cross

Can a car company have too many SUVs? It doesn’t seem so, at least not for Toyota. It already has several popular crossovers including the C-HR, RAV4, Kluger and Prado and recently added the Yaris Cross.

By the end of 2021 the Japanese giant should have added the all-new Corolla Cross to fill the gap between the C-HR and RAV4. As the name implies the Corolla Cross will be based on the same platform as the popular hatchback but sports a unique look that clearly sets it apart.

It’s also expected to get the same engine choices as the Corolla, which means both a petrol and hybrid; and it could use the same electric all-wheel drive system as the RAV4 too.

It may be a crowded SUV line-up but the arrival of the Corolla Cross will mean more excitement at Toyota dealers in 2021.

Hyundai i20 N

The Hyundai i20 N wears unique 18-inch grey matte wheels with Pirelli P-Zero tyres.

Hyundai will take its N performance brand to the next level in 2021 introducing a raft of new products. The addition of an all-new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission to the bigger i30 N is arguably the most important new addition to the range (at least in terms of volume), but the introduction of the smaller i20 N is the most exciting news.

The pint-sized pocket-rocket will give Hyundai an all-new N model, expanding its reach beyond those who want a circa-$40k hot hatch. While it may be the same size as the Toyota GR Yaris, the i20 N is expected to compete more directly with the likes of the Ford Fiesta ST and Volkswagen Polo GTI.

Powered by a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine making 150kW/275Nm and with an upgraded chassis that makes it fun to drive (on the track at least), this should help expand the brand’s performance appeal.

Ford Mustang Mach 1

With the new Ranger still another year away, Ford’s most exciting model for 2021 will be its second most-important model - the Mustang. Having failed to secure a right-hand-drive version of the Shelby ‘Stangs, Ford Australia has scored a supply of the Mach 1 special edition.

The Mustang Mach 1 gets a more potent version of the 5.0-litre V8 (good for 345kW/556Nm) as well as a limited-slip diff, active sports exhaust and a unique bodykit. 

Given the current Mustang is starting to age, Ford needs the Mach 1 to add some excitement to its line-up. 

Kia e-niro

The South Korean brand originally planned to send it's all-electric e-Niro into showrooms amid the fanfare of its Australian Open sponsorship in January this year, but demand for the car around the world meant that plan was scuppered.

Now however, Kia is targetting a mid-2021 date to add its battery-powered compact SUV to its range, as it also looks to hybrid versions of the Sorento in 2021 as it begins its electric transition.

Given the brand’s steady growth with conventional models, bringing the e-Niro in 2021 would help generate some buzz around the brand as it also introduces a new logo as it tries to forge a new image as one of the country’s biggest mainstream brands. 

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV

Nothing sums up where the car market is in 2021 more than Mitsubishi’s most exciting new model - a small SUV with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. More and more motorists are making the switch to electrification, and plug-in hybrids are helping to bridge the gap for those who want the most efficient model but still struggle with range anxiety.

The new Eclipse Cross PHEV will expand the recently-introduced range and use the same powertrain as the bigger Outlander PHEV. That’s a 2.4-litre petrol engine with a pair of electric motors; one on each axle for electric all-wheel-drive traction.

Mitsubishi claims an EV-only range of up to 57km, which should be enough for most suburbanites to live with each day without needing to use the petrol engine. This should excite many potential buyers.

Nissan Qashqai

With the production version of the Z Proto unlikely to arrive until 2022, the most exciting model coming for Nissan next year will undoubtedly be the all-new Qashqai.

Why is it exciting? Because it’s already one of the brand’s most popular models, so the arrival of a new model that promises a step up in quality and the introduction of a hybrid powertrain should only help draw buyers to Nissan showrooms.

In fact, it will only be hybrid-powered, with Nissan confirming already that the Qashqai will be available with either a 1.3-litre petrol engine with mild-hybrid assistance or the long-awaited e-Power system that uses the petrol engine to charge a small battery which powers an electric motor. It’s a popular choice in Japan and Nissan has long teased its introduction here, touting it as being more efficient than a conventional hybrid.

It will also boast more technology, including Nissan’s latest ProPilot system as well as featuring the brand’s next-generation styling.