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Mike Stevens | Dec, 30 2013 | 0 Comments

The 2013 That Was

Part 2: Australia's Big New Performance And Lifestyle Launches

Lifestyle cars, sports cars, performance cars, super cars and barely believable hyper cars.

Coupes and convertibles, quick hatches, three doors, four doors, five doors... sometimes hot, sometimes warm, sometimes little more than a styling pack and a 'leather' steering wheel.

Whatever its guise, whatever its marketing, fewer models are more hotly debated among TMR readers than those of the sports and lifestyle market.

The past year has seen a solid list of contenders at both ends of the sporting spectrum land in Australia, and more than a few of them figure among the best options the market has ever offered.

Read on for our list of 'the big ones' - and click through each linked item for news and reviews.

MORE: Australia's Major New Passenger Car Launches
MORE: Catch TMR's monthly sales coverage here


What Landed in 2013?

One of the earliest performance launches this year was the ill-fated Opel Performance Centre (OPC) range, arriving mere months before the brand's exit from the Australian market.

Arriving as a hot trio in February, the range included the light Corsa OPC, the ultra-hot Astra OPC (one of our favourite cars for the year), and the more family-oriented Insignia OPC.

MORE: Opel Australia Gone, Shutting Up Shop Immediately

February also saw the local debut of Audi's extra-hot 265kW TT RS Plus, adding more power and torque, and a host of styling tweaks to set it apart from the 'regular' TT RS.

The lifestyle-oriented new new VW Beetle also debuted on the same day, although Australian fans miss out on the more compelling 147kW model offered overseas. Take our word for it though, the new Beetle is a fun unit.

Volvo's new V40 hatch, which debuted in February, also brought a hotted-up sporting model with it, in the form of the T5 R-Design. Packing 187kW - and a six-speed auto only - the T5 is priced at $49,990.

MINI launched its new three-door Paceman SUV in Australia in March, with the range headlined by the Cooper S. The range got its true hero, the John Cooper Works model, in July.

March also saw the debut of an updated Holden Cruze range, which included an upgraded SRi with a powered-up 132kW 1.6 litre turbo engine. A 'warm hatch' by any measure, but an appealing unit.

A week later, however, Mercedes-Benz announced pricing for its new 2.0 litre turbo A 45 AMG hero hatch, offering a mental 265kW - quite literally twice the output of the Cruze (and three times more expensive).

March proved a hot month all-round, with Audi's updated R8 and R8 V10 twins also touching down in Australia.

BMW's 6 Series Gran Coupe range - technically a sedan, but something of a four-door coupe - was joined by the 640d diesel in March, and the hero M6 performer later in April.

Honda launched its powered-up (but still under-powered) CR-Z update in April, tweaking styling and boosting output to 100kW.

Porsche announced a haul of price cuts in April, falling by about 13 percent across the 911 range in particular. Good news for the well-heeled...

Speaking of options for the well-heeled, Jaguar's new F-TYPE roadster landed in May, priced from $139,000 plus on-roads.

The following day, Audi lobbed its hardcore SQ5 into Australia, the sports-tuned 230kW SUV priced at $89,400.

Nissan joined the parade - the back of the parade - with its new Pulsar SSS warm hatch, offering a handy 140kW and five-doors for just under $30,000.

Again in May, Peugeot's updated RCZ Coupe debuted, bringing updated styling and new pricing (it got more expensive). We're still waiting on the new 199kW RCZ R to arrive... (March 2014, they reckon.)

Holden's new VF Commodore line-up finally debuted in May, bringing a number of performance and lifestyle options from the SV6 and SS models, through to the hugely enhanced HSV Gen-F family.

Two-door fans got a boost in late May with the launch of the Nissan GT-R Black Edition, adding an exposed carbon-fibre spoiler, 20-inch forged alloy RAYS wheels and other key tweaks. Interested? $200,000 and it's yours.

On the topic of big dollars, Fiat also made its special Abarth 695 Edizione Maserati available in June. Unique colours, wheels and trim features, along with a 132kW turbo engine for a hefty $60,000 plus on-roads.

Ferrari's new $742,000 545kW F12berlinetta, priced back in October 2012, made it into Australian driveways in June.

Volvo's special S60 Polestar model also debuted in June, arriving as an Australia-only exclusive. The model has since gone global, but it took this nation of performance fans to prove the model's potential.

In July, Mercedes' updated E-Class Coupe and Cabriolet rolled into showrooms, bringing a fresh new face and a host of new features. The range starts at $79,900 for the E 200 coupe, and tops out with the $142,900 E 400 cabrio.

Jeep debuted its facelifted Grand Cherokee range in early July, headlined by the big-power SRT and its 344kW 6.4 litre 'Hemi' V8. A bit of a steal at $77,000.

A few days later, Subaru announced availability of a new S Sport Pack for its popular BRZ coupe. No extra power, but plenty of other handy extras.

The all-new Lexus IS sedan also debuted in July, topped by the IS 350 F Sport and its 233kW/378Nm petrol V6. The 153kW IS 250 F Sport, while far less powerful, also packs a sports-tuned chassis.

Audi handed down a new option for revheaded families in late July, launching the 426kW RS 6 Avant wagon at $225,000. (The kids don't really need to go to uni, right?)

In early August, Peugeot launched its salvo in the charged hot-hatch market, offering the new 147kW 208 GTi with a manual transmission and a $29,990 price tag.

While more hot offerings were on the horizon, Hyundai filled the gap with its locally-tuned i30 SR (129kW, $27,990) and Citroen introduced its DS3 Cabrio.

BMW also launched its upgraded Z4 roadster in August, bringing new features, a handful of small styling tweaks and new options packs.

But then in late August, Mercedes' new A 45 hatch finally hit showrooms (we mentioned it earlier, remember?), and Ford's Fiesta ST catapulted onto local roads and into TMR's book of ripping-good-drives.

Another warm hatch arrived in September - Holden's Barina RS - but as TMR discovered at the local launch, this too proved a surprisingly compelling offering.

Porsche injected September with some German power, launching the hero 911 Turbo and Turbo S Cabriolet models.

Mercedes followed with its new CLA 'four-door coupe' sedan in October, headlined by the $86,900 265kW CLA 45 AMG model.

Hyundai launched another SR model in October - this time the Accent SR - and partner Kia brought its smoothed-out Cerato Koup to Australian showrooms.

Importantly, the new-generation Koup's Australian debut also came with the 150kW Turbo model, featuring the same engine powering the Veloster Turbo and the upcoming Pro_Cee'd GT.

Nissan, at long last, introduced its Juke crossover in October, with the 140kW ST-S and Ti-S turbo models proving a cracking good drive.

As the year started to heat up, so too did the sports offerings. Late October saw the launch of Audi's RS 5 Cabriolet, offering top-end power and top-down style. A compromised package? Check out our review.

Nissan shaved a massive $12,960 from its 370Z Coupe and Roadster models in November - just in time for Christmas - and Proton launched its Suprima S turbo for not much more than the savings offered on the Z.

The triumvirate of hot-light-hatches was completed with the arrival of the Clio RS in early December, launched directly at Ford's Fiesta ST and the Peugeot 208 GTi.

Lastly, Audi delivered its new 206kW S3 hatch, priced at $59,900 in both manual and dual-clutch auto form.

Oh, one more: Lamborghini's all-new Huracan landed a $428,000 price tag, but you won't see that one here until July or August 2014.

MORE: Australia's Major New Passenger Car Launches
MORE: TMR Readers' Top 10 Reviews of 2013



  • TMR's Most Viewed Reviews Of 2013
  • Movement And Shaking In Industry And Government
  • Biggest Global Unveilings And What's To Come In 2014

Stay tuned...

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