Australians buy more SUVs than any other type of vehicle, but these four cars prove why you don’t need to consider one.
There are some excellent options available for buyers not obsessed with SUVs, here are the pick of the litter.
Our 300,000km VW Passat wagon is starting to go wrong. We’re looking for a replacement wagon – any brand – that will last another 300,000km. It doesn’t need incredible performance or to carry a huge amount – the kids have moved out. We’d budget up to $100,000 for the right decent-sized car. Hybrid would be good as we’ll be travelling more in retirement.
Think of Australia’s car market as a school playground. There are lots of SUVs wearing overpriced and often gaudy clothing harassing the quietly cool but outnumbered wagons in the corner. Our SUV obsession has decimated the traditional body type. Mercedes, for example, was once prestige wagon king. Today you’ll find none alongside its 12 different SUVs in showrooms. Why be an SUV sheep? There are still some choice wagon cuts to be had, but hybrid or plug-in hybrid versions are rare.
VOLKSWAGEN ARTEON SHOOTING BRAKE 140TSI ELEGANCE, ABOUT $70,000 DRIVE-AWAY
I was going to point you towards a new Passat, but VW’s Arteon Shooting Brake is too beautiful to overlook. It exudes “stylish retirement” rather than a Passat’s “middle management” vibe. Your preference for comfort over performance means the Arteon 140TSI will suit you over the racier 206TSI R-Line flagship. Inside, there are Nappa leather heated, ventilated and power seats, a digital dashboard, 9.2-inch infotainment screen with satellite navigation, Harman Kardon audio, ambient lighting, wireless CarPlay/Android Auto, a 360-degree camera and electric tailgate. All the necessary safety aids are included. The 140kW 2.0-litre turbo engine is smooth, powerful enough and frugal on the highway, while adaptive suspension blends dynamic handling with a cosseting ride. There’s a five-year warranty and five prepaid services cost $2500. It’s a pricey VW but feels premium from top to toe.
MAZDA6 ATENZA WAGON, $56,000 DRIVE-AWAY
A safe good value choice. It’s getting on in years but the top-spec Atenza 6 wagon is properly plush. Nappa leather seating can be pure white or walnut brown – either adds theatre to the clean and well laid-out cabin. There are heated seats front and rear (driver and passenger score power and ventilation too), a 360-degree monitor, Bose audio, head-up display and extensive safety aids. If you covet the latest digital everything the Mazda6 is wanting, while road noise is too invasive for a luxury car. It’s brilliant to drive, though. Cornering and ride comfort are excellent and its 170kW/420Nm 2.5-litre turbo engine has decent beans, although it drinks heavily when pushed. Warranty is five years and it’s $2137 for five services.
BMW 330I TOURING, ABOUT $90,000 DRIVE-AWAY
All things to all people? The 330i wagon comes damn close if you have no off-roading plans. It has a fast and frugal engine and superb dynamics. It’s also safe and practical, with ample luxury and tech. It’s a bit smaller than the rest here, but the 330i feels like a big, solid luxury car. Luxury Line is included (or M Sport if preferred) bringing leather and fine-wood trim. Standard are a digital dashboard, 10.25-inch infotainment, wireless CarPlay/Android Auto, head-up display and decent safety kit. Its 190kW/400Nm 2.0-litre can propel it to 100km/h in a claimed six seconds while returning 5.9L/100km, and it’s a proper driver’s car. A five-year service pack is $1750 but the warranty is stingy at just three years. It’s due an update this year too.
WILDCARD VOLVO V60 CROSS COUNTRY, $70,720 DRIVE-AWAY
Volvo’s going great guns with its SUVs but buyers have overlooked the rugged yet elegant V60 wagon. With all-wheel-drive and higher ground clearance than the others you’ll be more assured on unsealed tracks. Its punchy 183kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbo petrol has a mild hybrid system, but the return is a not-great 7.4L/100km. It has a beautiful cabin with loads of safety, electric and heated leather seats, wireless phone charging, tablet-style infotainment, a digital dash and power tailgate. There’s a five-year warranty and five services cost $2500. If exclusivity is your thing, you’ll be lucky to see another on the road.
The BMW is the best driver’s car, but the good looking new Arteon represents the best value.