Browse over 9,000 car reviews

Toyota Corolla Cross, Nissan Qashqai, Cupra Formentor and more segment-splitting SUVs that could be Australia's most popular new cars

Nissan’s Qashqai enters a new generation toward the end of this year.

The days of our vehicular choices being simply “big”, “small”, or “sports” are well and truly behind us, and new car shoppers these days now have a vast menu of cars to choose from. 

Granted, some vehicle types are evaporating– mid-size sedans and compact hatchbacks, to name just two – but elsewhere in the market there’s a seemingly unending flood of new product. 

SUVs in particular. High-riding wagons and crossovers are well and truly dominant, but believe it or not there are still some areas where existing SUV choices aren’t quite sufficient. 

It’s the boundary between small and medium SUVs that’s getting increasingly blurry these days, as new segment-splitting cars try and find the Goldilocks zone between small SUVs that are seen as too compact, and mid-size SUVs that are either too big or too costly. Here are the ones you need to know about.

Cupra Formentor

At the upper end of the price spectrum is Cupra’s Formentor, a small-to-midsize crossover that features edgy Euro styling and engaging performance as its core selling points. Cupra is a newcomer to our market, but with its opening salvo including a tasty right-sized SUV like the Formentor (which also has a plug-in hybrid option, albeit at an expensive $60,990 before on-road costsl), its future on our soil could be a bright one.

Honda ZR-V

Honda has one of the smallest SUV line-ups in this country, with just the newly-arrived third generation HR-V and the aging CR-V to offer. That’ll change when the ZR-V arrives sometime next year, with the all-new nameplate positioned to split the difference between the small HR-V and the mid-sized CR-V. Local specifications aren’t confirmed but a hybrid option is locked in, and with a body that should be more accommodating of passengers (unlike the four-seat-only HR-V) but more affordable than the CR-V, it could quickly become a core model for Honda Australia.

Nissan Qashqai

Hard to pronounce but clearly appreciated by the car buying public, Nissan’s Qashqai enters a new generation toward the end of this year. It’ll be a thorough modernization too. We’ve already experienced a UK-spec car and deemed it to be a surprisingly premium and feature-rich thing, but the arrival of the new-generation Qashqai will also see Nissan’s ePower hybrid technology introduced to Australia. 

ePower differs from a typical hybrid by using a petrol engine exclusively to generate electricity, which is then stored in a small-capacity lithium battery before being sent to an electric motor that drives the wheels. Nissan says it’s more efficient both in terms of fuel consumption and resources used, and with demand for hybrids running hot these days the arrival of ePower could be a savvy move for Nissan Australia.

Toyota Corolla Cross

Toyota doesn’t have Honda’s problem. If anything, SUVs have proliferated wildly over at the Big T, with the Yaris Cross, C-HR, RAV4, Kluger, Fortuner, Prado and Landcruiser all flying the SUV flag within Toyota showrooms. However, it appears that’s not quite enough. The Corolla Cross is coming later this year to slot right between the Yaris Cross/C-HR and the RAV4, squeezing into the gap left behind by the RAV4 that, with successive generations, has grown upwards and outwards both in size and price. 

If nothing else, the Corolla Cross should take some of the heat off the RAV4, which has been a victim of its own popularity with a waiting list sometimes stretching beyond 12 months for high-demand variants. With some customers able to better served by the Corolla Cross instead, which will offer slightly less cabin volume but also a corresponding reduction in retail price, Toyota’s newest SUV should very quickly become one of its most popular ones. 

Volkswagen T-Roc

Visited a VW dealership and judged the T-Cross to be a smidge small? The T-Roc might be more your thing, being a Golf-sized alternative to the Polo-esque T-Cross. The updated version lands here in August with a simplified two-grade lineup (Style and R-Line), with pricing kicking off at $37,250 before on-road costs. Want some added spice? The T-Roc will set itself apart from other mainstream SUVs by offering a proper high-performance variant as well, with the T-Roc R grafting the Golf R’s 221kW turbo 2.0-litre and all-wheel drive hardware into its practical SUV body for a rather reasonable $59,300.