A fully-electric Porsche sedan, the first all-new Land Rover in 72 years and a $90,000 Hyundai have been named as Australia’s best cars.
Online site Carsales has compiled a short-list of Australia’s ten best cars for 2020.
The finalists for the Car of the Year crown will be tested in coming weeks, in the Murray River border city of Wodonga, when New South Wales reopens to Victoria.
A majority, or seven out of ten, of the contenders are SUVs with the field including a $90,000 Genesis – Hyundai’s upmarket answer to Lexus and BMW, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle from Volvo and affordable hatches for less than $30,000 from Mazda, Volkswagen and Skoda.
A fully-electric Porsche sedan, the first all-new Land Rover in 72 years and a $90,000 Hyundai have been named as Australia’s best cars. Pictured is a new Land Rover Defender
The finalists were whittled down from a list of 27 but two more cars from this pool will be thrown in as mystery wildcards to be tested by eight judges.
Australia’s best cars
Land Rover Defender
Volvo XC40 plug-in
Toyota Corolla – including hybrid
This will see a dozen cars battle for the Car of the Year title, to be announced in January.
Carsales editor-in-chief Mike Sinclair, one of the judges, said the eligible cars had to sell for less than $250,000 and would be assessed on how they functioned as their designers intended.
‘We judge a seven-seat family SUV differently than we would a sports car, they’re judged on how they function and how they fulfill their requirements for the sector they sit in,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.
All cars must have active emergency braking, traction control and a reverse camera, with the judges also considering running costs like insurance, fuel and depreciation.
The Porsche Taycan, a fully electric luxury sedan, makes the list despite prices starting at $200,000 for three models.
With a 390 kilowatt engine, it can accelerate from a stand start to 100km/h an hour in just four seconds.
The drive away price accelerates closer to $300,000 as more exclusive options are added from bespoke leather interiors to a special suspension.
Porsche first produced sports cars in 1948, starting with the 356 coupe, which Hollywood heartthrob James Dean drove, but it didn’t make it’s first all-electric green production machine until last year.
The Porsche Taycan, a fully electric luxury sedan, makes the list despite prices starting at $200,000 for three models
With its rich motoring history, Mr Sinclair said the Porsche Taycan was a much better electric car to drive than a Tesla Model 3.
‘Porsche, it delivers a vehicle which has the traditional values in terms of fit and finish, build quality and also how it performs on the road,’ he said.
‘Teslas are really good in a straight line but aren’t terribly good around corners.
‘They also don’t necessarily have the control, feel and the soft skills of the established brands.’
Land Rover, which like Porsche also debuted in 1948, has also released an all-new Defender shape for the first time in 72 years
Land Rover Defender
Land Rover, which like Porsche also debuted in 1948, has also released an all-new Defender shape for the first time in 72 years.
While the Defender name has only been around since 1983, the original basic shape goes back to the early post-war period and has long been a favourite of the Queen.
The Land Rover model has kept the same shape for 72 years, almost three times as long as the original Range Rover which was in production for 25 years until the mid-1990s.
The all-new Defender, priced from $70,000, takes English four-wheel drive in a new, more technologically-advanced direction.
With more equipment, it now has a similar price to the Land Rover Discovery, traditionally a more upmarket four-wheel drive than the Defender, favoured by farmers.
‘It’s vitally important, that car for Land Rover globally because it’s a new family of vehicles that they hope to move closer to what the general public want,’ Mr Sinclair said.
‘It’s a high-tech vehicle that flies in the face of where Defender was but it’s also very much fit for purpose in terms of its ability off road.’
A few years ago, if someone said they would be spending more than $90,000 on a Hyundai, they would have been referred to a psychologist or a very persuasive financial planner. Pictured is a new Genesis GV80
A few years ago, if someone said they would be spending more than $90,000 on a Hyundai, they would have been referred to a psychologist or a very persuasive financial planner.
Now the Korean car maker, best known for cheap runabouts like the Excel, wants you to spend that much on a luxury SUV – and that’s just the starting price before the range climbs into the six figures.
The Genesis GV80 doesn’t wear any of those H-badges and is even styled like a Bentley Bentayga (pictured) with a silver mesh grille at the front below a winged badge
The Genesis GV80 doesn’t wear any of those H-badges and is even styled like a Bentley Bentayga SUV with a silver mesh grille at the front below a winged badge.
Mr Sinclair said the despite the price tag, this Genesis was a lot smaller than a Toyota LandCruiser and would be aiming to compete with the BMW X5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE in the premium SUV space.
‘Genesis is the Hyundai family’s new prestige brand so they won’t label them a Hyundai, they’ll be labelled as a Genesis.
‘It’s the first of their SUVs. It’s got some nice technology.’
While Genesis is the first chapter in the Old Testament of the Bible, Hyundai isn’t the first Asian car company to create an upmarket brand, with Toyota having success since 1989 doing that with Lexus.
Mazda didn’t fare so well with Eunos while Honda’s Acura brand has mainly been limited to North America.
At the other end of the price and size scale the $32,000 Ford Fiesta, as a high-performance ST, was expected to be very popular with the judges
At the other end of the price and size scale the $32,000 Ford Fiesta, as a high-performance ST, was expected to be very popular with the judges.
‘I’ll have trouble getting some of my test team out of that car – they’ll love it,’ Mr Sinclair said.
‘It’s just such an engaging, great drive.’
Mr Sinclair said Ford hot hatches were underrated in Australia with buyers more in favour of Volkswagen Golf and Polo turbos.
Despite being a great pocket rocket, the three-cylinder turbo Fiesta is still struggling to find a following.
‘Ford makes fantastic, small performance hatches. Unfortunately, in this market, they’ve never really got the pricing right,’ Mr Sinclair said.
With seven of the ten contenders being SUVs, there are high-ground clearance motoring creatures big and small including a plug-in hybrid electric Volvo XC40 (pictured)
With seven of the ten contenders being SUVs, there are high-ground clearance motoring creatures big and small.
On the small side, both the Volkswagen T-Cross, from $28,000, and the Skoda Kamiq, from $29,000, share the same platform with Volkswagen Polo – a chassis also known as the MQB-AO.
Getting in on the small SUV act Mazda’s CX-30, priced from $29,000, shares the same underpinnings with the Mazda3 – putting it one size above the Mazda CX-3, a small SUV based on the Mazda2.
Getting in on the small SUV act, Mazda’s CX-30 (pictured) shares the same underpinnings with the Mazda3 – putting it one size above the Mazda CX-3, a small SUV based on the Mazda2
Stepping up half a size again, Volvo’s XC40, from $65,000, has added to its range a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle option.
From South Korea, Kia is selling a new Sorento, from $47,000, with Mustang-style lights at the back.
Picking a winner
Finding a winner will take two to three weeks as eight test drivers do laps at the Wodonga TAFE driving circuit.
The number of judges from Sydney and Melbourne has also been reduced from 12 to eight to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
On the small side, both the Volkswagen T-Cross (pictured) and the Skoda Kamiq share the same platform with Volkswagen Polo – a chassis also known as the MQB-AO