There can be no bigger launch next year than this fundamental re-working of an icon.
It’s from Europe, albeit tuned here. It’s front- or all-wheel drive. It’s a liftback rather than a sedan. There’s no V8 option. A diesel engine will be offered. There’ll be a jacked-up crossover wagon spinoff… The list goes on.
Pricing will range from $33,990 to $55,990 before on-road costs, with the Mazda 6 and Kia Stinger shaping up as clear rivals, albeit for different reasons. The fact our pricing and specifications news story has close to 500 comments shows the level of interest.
Hyundai i30 N
Korea’s first true hot hatch (sorry, Kia Pro_Cee’d GT) has set our pulses racing already, ahead of its launch near the start of 2018.
If Hyundai’s entry into the World Rally Championship (with an i20) signalled its intent, then poaching former BMW M Division honcho Albert Biermann to run its performance division, using a custom facility at the Nurburgring, was confirmation.
Ford Ranger Raptor
Ford’s Ranger is the second most popular vehicle in the country, with an inordinate number of these sales going to the pumped-up XLT and Wildtrak versions.
So an even more hardcore offering due in the second half of the year is clearly going to make waves. Or more accurately, a tsunami.
“Designed and engineered to deliver an adrenaline pumping experience, Ford Ranger Raptor sports… a level of capability and off-road performance never before seen in the mid-size pickup truck segment,” the company claims.
We can’t wait to find out how true this is.
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
If the 4C coupe heralded Alfa’s comeback, and the Giulia proved it could compete with the big Germans in a major segment, then the Stelvio is the car to open this most iconic of brands to a whole new type of buyer.
The most exciting offering will surely be the Ferrari-engined Stelvio Quadrifoglio, owner of a Nurburgring Nordschleife SUV lap record. Nothing impresses like excess, right?
READ MORE: Alfa Romeo Stelvio news, reviews and more
Haters suggest that Daimler’s first dual-cab ute in this class is just a Nissan Navara with a fancy coat and nice lippy. But there’s a fair bit that’s different.
Unique sheet-metal, chassis and suspension components, and a V6 diesel option all make the Benz stand out.
READ MORE: Mercedes-Benz X-Class news, reviews and more
Hyundai’s luxury arm will relaunch early next year with the G70 and G80 sedans, kicking off a rollout that’ll include SUVs and more over the next few years.
The rear-wheel drive G70 will sport the Kia Stinger’s 272kW force-fed V6 engine, an eight-speed auto, Peter Schreyer styling, and what should be unbeatable value for money in the premium class.
It may lack badge cache right now, but how long until that changes? Let’s see…
READ MORE: Genesis G70 news, reviews and more
Jaguar is on a roll, and the stunning I-Pace electric car is something else entirely.
Joining the Tesla Model X crossover EV in market, it'll help the Leaping Cat hedge against the Germans, all of whom have EV SUVs coming soon.
Powered by a 90kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, Jaguar claims the I-Pace has a range of up to 500km.
Word from JLR's Australian boss, Matthew Wiesner? “Our competitors are going to do it and we’re going to do it. Because the simple fact is, this is the future".
Let's hope it's good.
READ MORE: Jaguar I-Pace news and more
Speaking of new brands, Renault’s revived French icon based in the little coastal city of Dieppe will roll out its reborn Berlinette next year.
The lightweight, minimalist coupe can dash to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds, and with Renault Sport’s suspension nous on board, should live up to its rally car predecessors’ reputations.
Better still, we’re only one of three RHD markets to get the car. It’ll arrive in the second half of 2018.
READ MORE: Alpine news, reviews, comparisons and more
It’s the first car made on an architecture to be shared with Volvo’s Chinese parent company Geely, has edgy styling by the Swedish brand’s standards, and a cabin look to die for.
It’ll also drop Volvo’s average buyer age by a not insignificant number…
Skoda’s Yeti replacement is far less polarising outside, and far nicer inside. It’s based on the same fundamental setup as the Volkswagen Tiguan and will form a vital part of the brand’s growth plans here.
Given the brand’s staple skill is making things practical and clever, a medium SUV plays to its strengths.
READ MORE: Skoda Karoq news and more
Due right near the end of 2018, the new Wrangler looks very much like the current one, and the one before that. Which is the point.
But the more refined cabin, even more hardcore off-road potential, better engines and the undoubted improvement in on-road manners, make this one far more exciting.
Oh, and the soft-top roof is way easier to use.
Nissan must remind people that it was the world's real mainstream EV pioneer, even if a certain California-based company run by Elon Musk gets the plaudits.
It may share much with the old car, but it now has a useable driving range of 400km and will surely cost less than $50k.
Will be a stocking stuffer for Xmas 2018, and will corner the market for a little while. Until the Volkswagen I.D arrives in 2020.
Unlucky to miss out were:
Volkswagen Polo - mini Golf isn’t just a fun family game…
BMW X2 - edgy new Bavarian crossover
BMW M5 - we reckon it's way better than the old one
Renault Megane RS - hardcore 4WS French hot hatch, with manual option!
Colorado SportsCat by HSV - HSV’s future ain’t the Maloo, guys…
Chev/HSV Camaro - it'll cost way more than a Mustang, but great to see some competition
Suzuki Swift Sport - small, light, turbocharged, old school hot hatchery
Jaguar E-Pace - little brother to the F-Pace crossover will turn heads from April
Infiniti QX50 - the Japanese luxury brand finally gets serious
Ford Endura - badly named, much-needed family SUV
Volkswagen Golf GTI Original - stripped-out take on a classic
Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen - brand-spanking hardcore 4x4 for the jet set
Tesla Model 3 - if it comes next year...
What have we missed? Tell us in the comments and we'll swallow our pride