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The 10 most important new cars of 2015


January is always a great time to drive home a bargain on a new car as dealers are desperate to clear last year's stock.

But the start of 2015 is gearing up for more hot deals than usual because new car sales stalled last year for the first time since the Global Financial Crisis.

It means dealers are overstocked and they're even more eager to make way for fresh metal.

Adding to the pressure - and putting buyers in the driver's seat - is the uncertainty around Australia's currency, which has taken a hit in recent months. Buying a new car now could mean a double-saving; get the discount on end-of-year bargains and beat possible price rises.

Record low interest rates and favourable exchange rates saw new car prices fall to 20-year lows in 2014 as affordability hit a 38-year high in 2014.

But once the cars imported at last year's exchange rates are cleared, the chances are new models won't be discounted as heavily, or prices may even rise.

Most cars sold in Australia are sourced from Japan (30 per cent), Thailand (20 per cent) and South Korea (12 per cent) - rather than the US (5 per cent) - but most car companies buy in US dollars as it has historically been more stable.

The prices of Japanese branded cars are likely to remain steady because the Japanese Government artificially devalues the yen to boost exports. But the value of the Australian dollar against the currencies of Thailand, South Korea and the US is less stable.

It means price rises are likely on almost every ute sold in Australia because most are made in Thailand, including the top-selling Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton and Holden Colorado, among others.

South Korean brands Hyundai and Kia, two of the industry's biggest discounters, may also lose some of their bargaining power if the Australian dollar continues to head south.

But one brand you may not be expecting to go backwards due to a shift in currency is Holden, which sources eight of its 12 models from South Korea and two from Thailand.

With that in mind we have assembled the 10 cars we reckon are worth waiting for. 

TIPS FOR BUYING A NEW CAR 

Remember to always judge a car by its build date (the day it went down the production line and how its age will be measured when it comes time to sell), rather than the compliance plate (in effect, when the car cleared Australian customs).

Be warned: there are still some 2013-built cars out there (Nissan, we're looking at you), so be sure to haggle hard and make sure the factory warranty starts the day you take delivery.

Sometimes it's worth waiting for an all-new model, or at least knowing if you have more bargaining power if the dealer is trying to clear not only last year's model but one that is about to be superseded.

The new year promises to deliver plenty of new models, here are the highlights.

Suzuki Celerio

The successor to Australia's cheapest car from a mainstream brand is just around the corner with a new look and a new name. The Suzuki Celerio is bigger than the Alto and the 1.0-litre three-cylinder has been tuned to run on regular unleaded (rather than premium like its predecessor), making it one of the cheapest cars to own and operate. Expect a super-sharp $13,990 drive-away starting price when it goes on sale in February.

Mazda CX-3

Australia is going to be crawling with pint-sized SUVs next year but the Mazda CX-3 is likely to take most of the spotlight. Available with a 1.5-litre turbo diesel or a 2.0-litre petrol engine it is expected to start between $20,000 and $25,000 when it goes on sale in March. It will join the Honda HR-V (February), Renault Captur (February), the next generation Suzuki Vitara (June), the unusually named Citroen Cactus (June), and the cutesy Fiat 500X (November).

Jeep Renegade

The city-sized soft-roader market is so huge globally even off-road brand Jeep has joined the fray. The Jeep Renegade may look like a scaled-down Tonka Truck but it is based on the same underbody as the Fiat Punto, Alfa Romeo Mito and the Fiat 500X. Powered by a 1.4-litre turbo petrol or 2.0-litre turbo diesel matched to a segment-leading nine-speed automatic transmission, the Renegade is due in showrooms in October priced between $20,000 and $30,000.

Nissan Navara

The first new Nissan Navara in 10 years arrives in showrooms in April with two new 2.3-litre turbo diesel engines (one with a single turbo, the other with twin turbos). The outputs are almost the same as the previous 2.5-litre turbo diesel, despite being smaller in capacity (a 118kW/403Nm version and a 140kW/450Nm version). Payload and towing capacity are yet to be confirmed but bank on a one-tonne cargo rating and a 3500kg towing limit (bringing the Navara into line with class leaders). The 550Nm Navara with the Renault 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 has been dropped. It will be a big year for utes, with a rebodied Mitsubishi Triton due in May, significant updates due for the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT50 in July, an all-new Toyota HiLux in October.

Ford Mondeo

Take a close look at the new Ford Mondeo due on sale in April. This is a pointer to the vehicle that will eventually replace the Falcon. Available in sedan and wagon body styles, likely with a choice of 2.0-litre turbo petrol or 2.0-litre turbo diesel engines, prices are expected to range from $30,000 to $50,000. It will also be loaded with technology including LED headlights, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and industry-leading rear seatbelt airbags. A hybrid version will join the Mondeo line-up later in the year.

Jaguar XE

Jaguar is making a second attempt at the lucrative mid-size luxury sedan market dominated by the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C Class. After learning from the ill-conceived 2002 X-Type based on the Ford Mondeo, Jaguar has started with a cleansheet design and aluminium construction. It will be available with a 2.0-litre petrol engine, and a 2.0-litre turbo diesel said to sip 4.0L/100km, less than the Audi A4 (4.8L/100km) and BMW 320d (4.5L/100km) aided by an eight-speed auto. At the other end of the scale: a supercharged 3.0-litre V6 with a 0 to 100km/h time of 5.1 seconds. Due on sale in September, it's likely to start about $60,000.

Volvo XC90

The first new Volvo XC90 in 12 years is also the first all-new model developed since Volvo was bought by China's Geely motor company in 2010. Promising to the world's safest SUV it will automatically slam on the brakes if you're about to turn in front of an oncoming car, and can also spot cyclists and pedestrians at night. It even has eyes in the back of its head: a radar system can detect if you're about to be hit from behind, and will prepare the seatbelts and headrests for the sudden impact. It will be available with a choice of four-cylinder petrol or diesel power, and a plug-in hybrid that can travel up to 40km on battery power alone (before switching to petrol power), the first seven-seater of its type in the world. Due in showrooms in July priced about $90,000.

Mazda MX-5

Mazda has gone back to basics – in every sense of the word – and wound back the clock with the new MX-5 sports-car. The first all-new MX-5 since the original was launched 25 years ago goes back to its lightweight, low cost roots (each wheel only has four locating nuts instead of five, for example) and promises a soft-top roof and a sub-1000kg mass for the first time since last century. Since 2006 the Mazda MX-5 has had a folding metal roof to help it weather storms and thwart thieves, but this has added weight, complexity and cost. The new model is expected to be available with a choice of two engines – a 1.5- and a 2.0-litre – when it goes on sale in September priced below $40,000.

Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang returns to Australia in October for the first time since 2003, but it will be the first time in the nameplate's 50-year history that it will be made in right-hand-drive on a Ford production line (Flat Rock, Michigan). All models before this one were converted to right-hand-drive locally. It will be available with a choice of 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo or 5.0-litre V8 power in coupe and convertible body styles. Prices will range from $50,000 to $70,000.

Mercedes-Benz AMG GT

Mercedes-Benz's answer to the Porsche 911 arrives in July priced about $270,000. Powered by a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 that will also power the upcoming AMG C63 sedan, it can complete the 0 to 100km/h dash in just 3.8 seconds. Fun fact for the tech heads: it has a better weight distribution (47/53 front to rear) than either the Porsche 911 (39/61) or Cayman (46/54). Game on.

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