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Trevor Collett | Feb 7, 2016

Suzuki Australia confirmed launch timing for its Baleno compact hatch this week, arriving here in the third quarter of this year and to be available with a direct-injected turbocharged engine similar to that slated for the upcoming Vitara Turbo.

Precise specifications have yet to be revealed, but, bigger than the Swift (3,995mm long, 1,745mm wide, 1,470mm high), expect the Baleno to be positioned as a Toyota Corolla competitor with a starting price in the high teens.

Suzuki says the Baleno's compact external dimensions conceal an interior that rivals most bigger small cars, and, with a claimed boot capacity of 355 litres, the Baleno at least equals many of its competitors for luggage-toting ability.

Holden offered the first details and images of its all-new 2016 Spark ahead of the model’s April launch.

Dropping the Barina prefix of the current model, the new Spark will line up in the sub-light vehicle class against competitors like the Suzuki Celerio, Mitsubishi Mirage, and the soon-to-arrive Kia Picanto.

Powered by a new 1.4 litre four-cylinder engine, the Spark will have a more-than-reasonable 73kW of power and 128Nm of torque underfoot.

Australia’s new car market is off to another strong start in 2016, with 84,373 sales recorded for January - up 2.7 percent on the same month last year.

VFACTS revealed that healthy growth for SUV (up 19.5 percent), light commercial (up 11.9 percent) and sports car (up 38.6 percent) sales, saw January 2016 top January 2015, giving the market a solid grounding to better last year’s record sales figures.

Mazda celebrated its strongest January on record with 10,016 sales. This figure eclipses Mazda’s previous January record of 9411, set in 2014, and is the first time the carmaker has beaten 10,000 sales in the opening month of the year.

In other news, data out of Europe showed a growing demand for SUVs as the high-riders outsold all other ‘traditional’ passenger car classes in 2015.

Rumours suggested Kia is planning to introduce a rear-wheel-drive sports sedan to its line-up as early as next year, developed under the ‘CK’ codename.

After a relatively short 13 years of existence, Toyota announced it will kill off its youth-oriented Scion sub-brand in the USA and Canada, with the brand to officially disappear in August this year.

Audi showed us an even hotter version of its RS Q3 SUV, with the RS Q3 Performance set to become the third RS vehicle to wear the Performance tag after the RS6 and RS7 Performance.

Hyundai unveiled its Carlino small SUV as part of proceedings at this year's Delhi Auto Expo.

The European arm of Mitsubishi Motors announced it will present a pair of concepts at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show in March, based on the ASX small SUV and the Triton ute.

Opel unveiled its updated small SUV competitor in the form of the Opel Mokka X, related to the Holden Trax under the skin, but with unique styling and powertrain options.

Skoda released the first sketches of the VisionS SUV concept, ahead of its global unveiling at the Geneva motor show, where it will preview an all-new seven-seat SUV for the brand.

BMW revealed that one out of every two cars it sells in Australia may soon be SUVs, as sales of high-riding wagons fast approach parity with the marque’s passenger car range.

Volkswagen applied the Atacama label to its latest limited edition variant of the Amarok ute, named after the Atacama desert in Chile which is the driest non-polar desert in the world.



We drove the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 this week, impressed with the feature list and beautifully-crafted interior but we were left feeling that the petrol engine wasn’t delivering its best.

The 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is a fab PHEV, which we found to be practical, luxurious and technologically advanced.

The 2016 Range Rover SDV8 Autobiography Long-Wheelbase is quite simply the large luxe that at this stage has no peer. It’s all yours from $252,110 plus on-road costs.

The 2016 Mercedes-AMG A 45, the fastest five-door priced below $100k, just keeps getting better. Check out our track review.

The 2016 Peugeot 208 GT-Line looks cool and is packed with features, and we found it offers an appealing package to the discerning buyer.

We declared the 2016 Porsche 911 Turbo the ‘weapon of choice’ for the comfortable daily drive, armed with bristling power that can offer life-changing, or shortening, performance when you want it.

Finally, a review with a difference as we took to the Colorado Rockies to test Mazda’s s iActiv on-demand AWD system in the snow as part of Mazda's Ice Academy. Check it out.

And that’s… the week that was.

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Filed under News the week that was 2016