Peugeot 308 GT – March
The new warm-hatch version of the Peugeot 308 hatchback, the new Peugeot 308 GT, is set to hit showroom floors late in the first quarter of the year.
The GT model is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine pushing out 151kW and 285Nm (or slightly less than a VW Golf GTI and about the same as a Kia Pro_cee’d GT) in petrol guise. The diesel 2.0-litre has 133kW and 400Nm.
Expect it to be sold as a five-door hatch and small station wagon, and it should be easily distinguishable from the rest of the 308 range by its sporty body additions and larger 18-inch alloys.
Who knows? We may even see a 308 GTi by the end of 2015.
Read more about the Peugeot 308 GT.
Holden Astra GTC and VXR — April
A very well-known badge returns — again — for now in performance guises only. That said, expect the regular versions of the next-generation car to launch here inside a few years.
The Astra GTC three-door model will offer buyers a warm-hatch experience with a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing an expected 125kW of power and 280Nm of torque. It’s essentially the same model that was sold here in Opel badges in 2013.
The Astra VXR is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo with 206kW of power and 400Nm of torque, which sends its power to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. It’s getting on in years, but remains one of the market’s more potent hot-hatches.
Ford Focus ST update – May
The German-built Focus ST hot-hatch will be the first of the updated small car range in Australia, beating the rest of the Thailand-sourced Focus range that’s due to launch around the middle of the year.
The 2015 Focus ST features mildly revised styling with a higher honeycomb grille, larger lower intake, slimmer headlights and foglights, re-profiled bonnet, tweaked tail-lights and a deeper rear bumper.
The cabin benefits from an overhauled centre stack with a larger 8.0-inch touchscreen display with a reverse-view camera and fewer button and dials, aiding usability. A new flat-bottom steering wheel is standard, while heated front seats will be available in some markets.
The 184kW/340Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine and six-speed manual transmission carry over unchanged, though Ford has reworked the steering and suspension, targeting an even sharper drive.
Read more about the Ford Focus ST.
Volkswagen Polo GTI update – Q2
The Volkswagen Polo GTI will return with a manual gearbox in the second quarter of 2015.
The new GTI may look similar to the existing model, but there are myriad changes – including that new manual transmission – and a new 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine with 141kW and 320Nm. For those who wish to let the car do the driving, there’s a seven-speed dual-clutch auto option, too.
A revamped interior includes a larger media screen than in the standard Polo range, meaning it should include satellite navigation and a reverse-view camera. Specifications are currently unclear, though.
Pricing for the entry manual model is expected to drop to a new baseline, possibly tackling the Ford Fiesta ST at $25,990 plus on-road costs.
Read our 2015 Volkswagen Polo GTI Review.
Mini JCW hatch – Mid 2015
The all-new Mini JCW will become the most powerful model in the iconic British brand’s history when it joins the local line-up around the middle of 2015.
The JCW’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine pumps out 170kW and 320Nm of torque, the latter across a broad 1250-4800rpm range – easily outgunning the old JCW’s 155kW/260Nm 1.6-litre turbo.
Teamed with the optional six-speed auto, the new engine launches the John Cooper Works hot-hatch from 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds – slashing six-tenths of a second off its predecessor’s sprint benchmark. The six-speed manual is 0.2sec slower at 6.3sec.
Mini Australia national manager Kai Brusewitz told CarAdvice in November the new JCW would cost from around $48,000, undercutting both the old JCW and its closest rival, the $49,900 Audi S1.
Read more about the Mini JCW hatch.
Fiat Abarth 695 Biposto - Q3
A $65,000 price tag has already been confirmed for the angriest version yet of the 500 and what is essentially a road-going version of Abarth’s Assetto Corse racecar.
The highlight of the car due in the third quarter has to be its motorsport-style six-speed manual that swaps smooth-shifting syncromesh gear rings for dog rings designed for the fastest of (clutchless) shifts.
Add in a bunch of famous go-faster suppliers such as Brembo (brakes), Akrapovic (exhaust), Extreme Shox (adjustable dampers) and Oz (wheel rims) and you have all the ingredients for a riotous track day.
Read more about the Fiat Abarth 695 Biposto.
Honda Civic Type R – Q4
Honda still isn’t quite sure when, but the important news is that the new-generation Civic Type R is definitely on its way to Australia.
With its UK launch scheduled for May, we’re hoping to see the reborn hot-hatch on our shores before the end of the year.
The production model will closely resemble the updated concept version that was shown at October’s Paris motor show.
The Type R’s turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine will produce in excess of 206kW, will redline at 7000rpm, and will be paired exclusively with a six-speed manual transmission.
The cult classic will also debut Honda’s new ‘+R’ performance mode button. When pressed, Honda says the steering wheel-mounted button heightens engine response by altering the torque mapping, makes the steering more responsive, and tweaks the new four-point adaptive damper system for enhanced handling performance.
The model is currently undergoing an extensive development program designed to make it the fastest front-wheel-drive car around the Nurburgring.
Read more about the Honda Civic Type R.