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NZ beats Australia! The cool cars, SUVs and electric vehicles Aussies miss out on but the lucky Kiwis get to enjoy - including the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid, funky all-new Honda Jazz, Skoda Enyaq EV and legendary cheap-as-chips Duster SUV

Dusted but not down under: Dacia's chunky but cheap medium SUV has struck a chord with value-focused buyers in Europe.

Australians aren’t exactly starved for choice when it comes to cars, trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles. In the past, we’ve enjoyed an unprecedented number of make and model options, for a smorgasbord that’s been the envy of the wider world.

But something’s shifted. There are a host of more recent vehicles that manufacturers simply don’t bother importing into our country – yet go to the trouble of supplying New Zealand consumers who are happy to snap them up. Some are the most advanced in the world.

Are Kiwis deemed more sophisticated than Aussies? Do they have better taste and appreciation for the finer things in life?

Maybe. With the current Australian federal government dragging its knuckles (let alone feet) on electrification and meeting lower emissions targets, it’s just too hard for some carmakers.

So, here is a list of some of the more desirable new models barred from Australia but readily available in The Land of the Long White Cloud. Read it and weep.

Dacia Duster

It might sound like a hand-held vacuum cleaner, but the Dacia Duster is a medium-sized SUV that’s wooed Europeans for over a decade with its chunky good looks, trusty Japanese base engineering, Renault-inspired dynamics, available go-anywhere 4x4 capability and low, low pricing. How low? Try a Nissan X-Trail-sized crossover for Toyota Yaris coin.

Yep, it’s that cheap. It may only score three safety stars (like the Ford Mustang), but the Duster competes against older and/or higher-mileage used alternatives which would struggle to match the same rating anyway. With the right marketing, the Romanian-made Renault-controlled Dacia would garner a huge following in Oz.

Skoda Enyaq EV and Superb PHEV

According to Skoda NZ, it’s been working behind the scenes with the Czech brand to ensure its attractive Enyaq electric vehicle lands over the Tasman Sea in a timely manner. It’s already on the brand’s Kiwi website.

Daft name aside, the mid-sized EV comes with some very promising stats, being based on the VW ID.4 architecture – including over 500km of range between recharges in the top-spec version.

That’s not all. The Superb iV plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) is already on sale, offering up to 62km of pure EV driving or 930km when the petrol engine kicks in.

Honda Jazz

Recently turfed from Australia, the old Jazz was a worthy city car bringing exceptional packaging talents to the genre – but was a bore to drive.

This new-from-the-ground-up fourth-generation redesign has character for miles on the outside, a beautifully classy presentation inside, and offers the sort of advanced specification that Honda built its reputation on back in the good old days.

The latter includes a two-motor hybrid powertrain option that is a truly capable and attainable EV ownership proposition. But not for Aussies, it seems, as Honda Australia has thrown in the towel on the brand’s most promising small car in a generation.

Ford Transit PHEV and Tourneo PHEV

Ford’s Transit range has set the benchmark in vans since 1965. Year-to-date in 2021, the nameplate is the Blue Oval’s third bestseller in Oz after Ranger and Everest. It’s also number three overall behind the Hyundai iLoad and first-placed Toyota HiAce.

Yet we miss out on the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle option offered in NZ, offering 56km of pure EV range, before the mighty 1.0-litre three-pot turbo petrol engine kicks in to extend range past 500km.

And the same applies to the people mover version not even imported here, known as the Tourneo. Given how dynamic, comfortable and refined the German Transit is, this is a big loss for big families, hotels and airport run companies across Australia.

Peugeot 208 and e-208

One of Europe’s most lauded superminis isn’t just a redesign of the old model sold in Australia from 2012, but a complete rethink, with an all-new electrification-ready platform, lightweight engineering for exceptional ride and handling capabilities and a sumptuous high-tech interior.

But, as with the Honda Jazz, the importers believe Aussies no longer are interested in advanced city cars, meaning we are missing out on the best that the world has to offer. This includes the e-208 EV, which is currently regarded as one of the best of its type available.

At least NZ is only a few hours’ flight away for most of us.

Hyundai Tucson Hybrid and Tucson PHEV

Hyundai’s head-turning all-new fourth-gen Tucson has the presence, space, interior, handling and practicality to really give the class-leading Toyota RAV4 a run for its money… but where are the hybrid and PHEV versions?

Over in NZ, evidently, since both the 1.6-litre four-pot turbo petrol-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid EV models – with all-wheel drive – will be available from launch next month, bringing some much-needed competition to the hyper-successful RAV4 Hybrid and upcoming Ford Escape PHEV respectively.

Not only are these electrified powertrains the most interesting and future-relevant of the ones offered in the new Tucson, they’re also a welcome relief from the dreary 2.0-litre atmo fours that the vast majority of buyers will choose in Australia. Bring them on.

Seat and Cupra

Does Australia actually need a brand that failed spectacularly 25 years ago to return?

Nowadays, \ Spanish arm that started life 71 years ago making (mostly) Fiat-based cars before the Germans moved in during the latter ‘80s has been fashioned as a sort of Alfa Romeo within the organisation, making slightly sportier versions of VWs and Skodas.

The current range have quite a bit of spunk to them, from the Kamiq-style Arona, Karoq-like Ateca, Golf-based Leon and Kodiaq-esque Tarraco. Most are highly regarded abroad – including in NZ.

The Kiwis also already get to enjoy Seat’s dedicated performance brand, Cupra, which is slated for Australian launch sometime next year.