Ian Crawford | Oct 22, 2012

Despite some negative publicity about who isn’t at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney, there are more than 400 new models, concepts and exotics that will make a visit to the show a mouth-watering experience.

Sure, 25-or-so brands are not there … people like Ferrari, BMW, Audi, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Maserati, Chrysler, Jeep and MINI are nowhere to be found.

But as show director Russ Tyrie points out, the 27 brands at the show represent nearly 95 percent of cars people actually buy.

For new product, Toyota, Holden, Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz – the latter with surprising new models on its biggest-ever stand – have a lot on show to whet appetites and capture the imagination.

The big T’s new Corolla

In Toyota’s case, the big news is the sharp new Corolla.

Available in four models, three of which are cheaper than their predecessors, the European-styled 1.8 litre Corolla offers a CVT transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox and the car already has achieved a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

Nissan Pulsar, and the Juke - coming in 2013

For its part, Nissan has reversed one of the silliest moniker-changing decisions in the history of motoring. It has dropped the Tiida nameplate and brought back the Pulsar.

2012 nissan aims 01

As well as showing off its new Pulsar, Pulsar SSS turbo and its big, luxurious petrol-only Patrol, Nissan Australia boss Bill Peffer has revealed that the quirky Juke crossover will arrive in Australia in the second half of next year.

Peffer says local dealers have been advised that they will have the Juke in their showrooms after production kicks off in July or August 2013.

The Pulsar sedan and Patrol will both go on sale from February 1, next year, with the Pulsar hatch and SSS following about three months later.

Mazda’s starring new 6

Mazda Australia it seems can do no wrong at the moment, and the Japanese brand is on track to crack the 100,000 annual sales barrier this year.

The stars of its line-up at the show are the all-new Mazda6, a new-look CX-9 SUV and the facelifted MX-5 sports car.

The 6 has always been a stylish mid-sizer, but the 2013 version takes ‘good looks’ to a new level. Despite being taller, longer and wider, the new model is lighter than its predecessor and petrol and turbo-diesel engines are now on offer.

Set for local launch next month, the 3.7 litre V6 petrol-powered CX-9’s new frontal treatment adopts Mazda’s new family face and the car boasts some technical upgrades for things like the audio and satellite-navigation systems.

Heavy-duty Colorado 7, neat Malibu

With only the Captiva 5 and 7 to keep it in the SUV game, Holden’s sales performance has as a result been somewhat inhibited.

But all that’s about to change when in December, the new Colorado 7 turbo-diesel arrives in dealer showrooms.

The General hasn’t had a tough off-road 4WD SUV since the demise of the Jackaroo back in 2005, and Holden boss Mike Devereux is clearly excited about the sales potential of his soon-to-arrive new baby.

Other Holden product on display is the Malibu midsizer which arrives next April with its sights firmly set on the Toyota Camry, the surprisingly-roomy and nicely styled Cruze wagon (it arrives in December) and the revolutionary Volt electric car.

Ford’s EcoSport and stunning Evos concept

Arch-rival Ford has an interesting mix of great new product, a stunning concept car and an outdoor hill-climb and automatic-parking set-up.

Star of the new-product line-up is the EcoSport compact SUV. It is powered by Ford’s 1.0 litre EcoBoost engine that gives the car the performance of a conventional 1.6 litre engine with less than 140 g/km CO2 emissions.

2012 ford aims 01

The little powerplant was recently voted the 2012 International Engine of the Year.

Ford says the EcoSport will give customers accustomed to small city cars “a smart alternative that is about driving fun and freedom, compactness and agility and a contemporary family SUV shape that puts them in command of the road”.

When the EcoSport teams up with the Kuga and the Territory, Ford will have one of the strongest SUV line-ups in the country.

Certainly the most amazing car on the Ford stand – and one of the show-stoppers of the whole show – is the Evos concept.

Ford says it showcases a new vision for customer-focused and smart technologies and global design language.

The four-door, four-seat fastback concept uses lithium-ion plug-in hybrid powertrains and a dazzling array of cutting-edge electronic and IT goodies.

The Evos also offered an early look at the upcoming Mondeo - also on show in Sydney - before the new midsizer had been revealed earlier this year.

Korean track-twins

2012 hyundai aims 05

Korean cousins Hyundai and Kia have their share of new product and interesting show cars.

Hyundai’s stand has the rather fearsome-looking grey and fluoro-orange Veloster street concept and the Veloster race concept - a car that many expect to be flagging a rally or race program next year.

The car has been engineered to meet all FIA and CAMS tarmac rally competition regulations and requirements.

Hyundai did extremely well with its now-departed i30cw wagon and, to maintain the momentum, the company has on show a UK-spec i30 Tourer.

The wagon will arrive here in the second quarter of 2013.

As well as current production cars like the just-released facelifted and generally upgraded Sorento SUV, the star of the Kia stand was the funky Track'ster concept that made its debut back in February at the Chicago Auto Show.

Jaguar F-Type

But for something a tad more exotic… and multiple tads more expensive than most of the cars sold in Australia, head for the Jaguar stand.

There, nestled in seductive splendour, is the glamorous F-Type.

When it arrives here next year, buyers will have the choice of a naturally aspirated V6, a supercharged V6 or a naturally aspirated V8 – each of which is mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Given it’s the first genuine two-seat sports car Jaguar has produced in more than 50 years, the F-Type is a hugely significant car.

Bullish exotica: Lamborghini’s Aventador

Lamborghini didn’t care that its Italian competitors Ferrari and Maserati have stayed away.

The VW Group-owned supercar brand has the strikingly aggressively styled $754,000 Aventador LP700-4 as the star of its stand.

The flagship of the Lambo range, its lightweight 60-degree V12 engine can catapult the car to 100km/h in an eye-popping 2.9 seconds.

Lamborghini also showed off its strictly-limited and devilishy handsome Sesto Elemento.

Mercedes A-Class Surprise

With Audi and BMW missing in action, Mercedes-Benz carries the flag at the show for the premium German brands.

And while it has wonderful things like slinky AMG SL roadsters and luxurious coupes and sedans on its stand, the big news is the new A-class premium compact.

Arriving here in March next year, Benz has announced a starting price tag of $35,600 - a figure that has rocked industry observers.

Powerplants will range from 90kW to 155kW and there will be a generous standard-kit inventory that includes a radar-based collision-prevention-assist system and a reversing camera.

And the show-stopper…

With all of the foregoing as background, what’s the absolute show-stopping car at this year’s show?

For me it was the $2million super-stunning One-77 Aston Martin (owned by a very well-heeled Queenslander).

The super-Aston is powered by a 7.3 litre V12 engine that is good for 560kW of power and a thumping 750Nm or peak torque.

So, despite some surprising ‘no-shows’, the 2012 Australian International Motor Show still has plenty of motoring eye-candy on display.

Some is the stuff of dreams. But the real feast is in the head-spinning diversity of automotive choice – the sheer numbers of makes and models, and the astonishing technologies now loaded into ‘everyday cars’ – in this incredibly crowded Australian market.

If there was any doubt we were spoiled, take a walk through the 2012 Australian International Motor Show.

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