NZ motoring highlights predictions for 2014
Here are our predicted vehicle highlights for 2014.
While the Giulia will be well received when it gets here mid- year, the big news will be the mid- engined 4C sportster. Before the end of the year, Alfa will also show its Mazda-linked RWD Barchetta concept as well as hints of future rear-drive sports sedans and its worst secret, an SUV.
The big news in 2014 will be the technology-sharing deal Aston Martin has just signed with Mercedes-Benz's AMG division. We'd expect to see some less expensive smaller engined Astons to be announced to help give the brand a broader buying base, like Porsche's and Jaguar's. No new sheet metal just yet though.
The A3 sedan and Cabriolet will be the first new models in 2014 for New Zealand while we'll soon see concepts pointing to what the new Q1 will look like. An all new, lighter Q7 will soon appear, coming our way in 2015. E-tron hybrid, plug-in and extended range versions of every platform will soon occur.
Now that Bentley's Continental, Flying Spur and Mulsanne have been elegantly revamped and re- engineered we'll start to see hints of what the company's luxury SUV will look like. It wasn't well received in its initial guise - laughable some said - expect something very special to be signed-off by the end of the year.
Along with its i3 and i8 EVs, BMW's first front-drive cars will appear, using powertrains developed for and shared with the Mini III. The M3 sedan and M4 coupe will arrive while a four-door Gran Coupe will be added to the new 4-series range.
With its J1, J3 and J11 models already being noticed on New Zealand roads, expect far more up to date and highly specced ground-up designs to spring forth from the brand as it aims towards a stronger presence in Europe as well as a new start in the US.
We only have Chrysler 300s and Voyagers from the company's manifest at the moment, but having seen the all-new 200 mid-sized sedan without disguise - it's based on Alfa architecture - more affordable and street credible offerings are on the way.
It's largely unknown how reasonably priced Citroens are these days, possibly due to many people - and we've heard them - not believing that cars that look so good could possibly be affordable. The big news new model due this year will be the all-new Picasso which has had a great reception in Europe.
The rumours of the brand being removed from our market won't go away, and we hope it will stay. However, its importers could easily sell the Dodge Journey as the Fiat Freemont instead.
Lots of hard-edged Ferraris have arrived in the form of the 458, FF and F12 in recent times, so for 2014 we'll start hearing about a replacement for the very underrated California convertible - still Ferrari's only front-engined V8 to date. It's unlikely that the amazing LaFerrari will get here as only those who already own six Ferraris qualify to have one, and only then after being personally vetted by Luca di Montezemolo. Smaller V6s and plug-in hybrids are also rumoured.
Fingers crossed we'll get the family sized 500L this year, along with the Panda. There's also a 500 five-door waiting in the wings, while an all-wheel-drive 500X might get here too. Fiat commercials are already doing well and it's hoped that its new importers will realise what a great line-up of desirable cars they could be selling here.
The good news for the first quarter is the arrival of Ford's wee EcoSport baby SUV based on the Fiesta's platform. The bad news is the absence of the stunning EcoBoost 3-cylinder powertrain option for it. Also great news is the arrival of the new Mustang which might just sneak into showrooms by the end of the year as a 2015 model. By the year's end a new Mondeo may break cover too and it can't come soon enough for Ford.
With one of the steepest learning curves in the market, Great Wall has responded quickly to criticisms of its earlier offerings and improved them out of sight since coming into our market. We can expect more improvements and new powertrains in the next year or so while its makers are a little coy about model selections.
Like Ford, Holden is far more than a seller of big sedans, with one of the most comprehensive line-ups of affordable SUVs, three sizes of hatchback and some small and mid-sized sedans. So rumours of the Holden brand disappearing are just that: rumours. Expect to see announcements about higher performance HSV versions of the Cruze and Malibu during the year, plus confirmation as to where future Commodores may come from; we think it will be Chinese Buick based.
The main news for Honda in 2014 will be the arrival of the series III Jazz, which, like its predecessors, has taken a Japanese Car of the Year gong. Also on the way is the Jazz-based Vezel SUV which Honda hopes will do a CR-V for the company. Sadly, we can't report on any activity to do with the stunning new UK Civic wagon, or any diesel options.
After a year of consolidation, we'll hear more about Hyundai's activity with fuel cells in 2014, with the US and Europe already taking fuel cell versions of the iX35. The iX35 will undergo some refettling, while the second generation rear-drive Lexus- chasing Genesis is due soon with right hand drive for the first time.
With the stunning XF wagon, and the F-type roadster already here, the latter car's fastback coupe version will arrive in New Zealand this year and we think there may well be an interesting entry-point powertrain announced too. There'll also be signed-off SUV soon and maybe a proper name for it. By the end of the year, the shape and size of Jaguar's new BMW 3-series chaser will be known, and this time it's NOT based on the Mondeo!
Already going great guns thanks to new Pentastar V6 options and clever new transmissions with up to eight-speeds, the Jeep range's most important model, the all-new Cherokee arrives this year, with polarising styling and good driving characteristics. A Fiat 500X based small SUV concept is due called the Jeepster.
Kia, too, is revealing its new rear-drive sedans and coupes on many markets this year. But in New Zealand it could do well to sort out its supply problems with every dealer telling us they could sell more cars if they merely had more to sell. Meanwhile the Cerato Coupe turbo is here soon.
The idea of a Lamborghini sedan and SUV just won't go away, but in the meantime the big news for Kiwi Lambo fans will be the replacement for the Gallardo, the Huracan LP 610-4, while at the more ethereal end of the scale will be the very limited edition Veneno, Egoista and Sesto Elemento models.
The replacement for the famous Defender looms ever-nearer and we may at least see what it looks like this year. Seven-seater, bob-tailed and Convertible Range Rover Evoque rumours won't go away, while a replacement for the Discovery will probably appear as ''leaked'' sketches before a motor show concept reveal.
Following their wholesale reveal of 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid power for IS, GS and ES models, the same powertrain will appear in the LF-NZ which looks amazing and will also offer supercharged petrol fours. Lexus also looking at coupe versions of the IS, some with big V8 power and a joint venture Subaru-linked sports car is also on the horizon.
With the new Quattroporte and Ghibli already here, Maserati is well on the way to assembling its manifest of new models to help it move from just under 6200 sales in 2011, through 40,000 units in 2014, to 60,000 in 2015. To achieve that, the marque will need a quality SUV and a replacement for the still impressive and gorgeous GranTurismo coupe.
Having slipped the CX5, Mazda6 and soon the new Mazda3 into the market in short order, Mazda doesn't slow down this year, with its joint-venture Alfa-Romeo shared MX5/Barchetta platform due to appear. Meanwhile the new Mazda2 is also due, hopefully with a Rotary-powered range extender plug-in hybrid version.
Where do we start? The list is enormous, with a new C-class sedan, wagon and coupe due, as well as the GLA and GLX SUVs, more plug-in hybrid and super- frugal diesels across the range on many markets and the usual rumblings - literally - from AMG which will offer a bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 for the new C-class.
We've had the new MG6 for more than a year, but you'd never know it. It's hoped that the MG6 line-up will be expanded to include diesels soon, but the most eagerly awaited car is probably the new MG3 which is already in China and the UK, while sketches and concepts of an MG3-based SUV have already been seen.
The new Mini III will be revealed next month in hatchback form, while five-door, Countryman, cabriolet, roadster and coupe versions will dribble-through over the next year or so. Big news are diesel and petrol three-cylinder engine families and a superhot range-topping turbo 2.0-litre four - all shared with BMWs.
We've already tested the astonishing PHEV Outlander, which gets here in late March, and this will be a real fillip for the brand at a very affordable $60,000. A new Pajero will use some of the same technology and we expect to see some concepts for a small SUV product to fit in with current trends before the end of the year.
Pulsar, Juke, Altima, Pathfinder and Patrol have all arrived within two years, so we expect that the next big surprises will be replacements for the X-trail and Qashqai models, while the Micra could also do with at least a going over as well as new three-cylinder engine this year.
No news yet for better automatics to help the company's excellent 208 and 2008 models to be more accepted in the New Zealand market, but there's good news in the form of an all-new superlight 308 model which has impressed overseas drivers well enough to be a European Car of the Year finalist.
The 918 supercar hybrid will still draw attention but the biggest news is probably the new Q5-sized Macan SUV which Porsche promises will become its most affordable and most popular car. A new flat four-cylinder engine for racing and the Boxster, Cayman and Macan is on the cards.
The Clio arrives here this month with a sub $21,000 sticker we're told, but the potential bombshell is that Renault is considering the sale of some Romanian Dacia models in New Zealand, albeit with Renault badgework. The range includes the high-value Duster crossover with established Renault/Nissan powertrains and optional AWD.
After stunning all who drove its new Wraith coupe this year, Rolls- Royce could drop even more jaws this year if it confirms a full-sized SUV which has been rumoured and not denied for some years.
A four-door coupe version of the Octavia has been confirmed, while the Roomster utility wagon is about due for a redesign. An all- new Fabia concept is likely to be shown at the Paris Motor Show in September. In New Zealand we can expect the fully-facelifted Yeti to arrive soon, while a larger Yeti for some markets is also being talked about.
SsangYong is making quite a fuss about its upcoming SIV-1 concept due to be shown at the Geneva Show in March which pundits predict will be to complement its trusty Rexton which still has plenty of years left in it. Meanwhile, we can't understand why we don't see more of the pretty, well-priced Korando out there.
With a new WRX due here in March and the Levorg show car indicating what a future Legacy might look like, complete with a new 1.6-litre flat-four engine family, there's plenty of activity here. We're not so sure about the Levorg name, which combines Legacy, Revolution and Touring, but reads 'Grovel' backwards.
While a replacement for the Vitara is always rumoured around Suzuki, the company has just introduced its SX4 S-cross. It's larger than the SX4 it replaces and is a huge improvement and we expect this to be a big mover for Suzuki in 2014 and worth a look.
The only all-new Toyota due in New Zealand this year is the third generation Highlander SUV. Meanwhile we can expect running improvements to the Yaris and Hilux, while Toyota Australia must make an announcement for its manufacturing operation, following Ford and Holden's intended production closures.
With several World Car of the Year wins under its belt in the last five years, and the ability to shrug- off recalls like no other company, VW is on an ominous roll, selling all it can supply in most markets. A new Tiguan in two sizes is on the cards, the larger version to be built in the US to fill a hole below the Touran.
For New Zealand it's hoped that a more entry-point version of the V40 will be available as it currently starts at $49,990 and it deserves to be driven by more people. The Swedish concern will be announcing an all-new XC90 after 12 years of the old model. It will share a platform with the new S80 large sedan and will be the most important SUV reveal of 2014.