Sales of large low-riding passenger cars are diminishing in the face of the SUV boom, yet that doesn’t signify any shortage of great options for those who think outside the box. Once dominated by staples like the Holden Commodore (honourable mention) and now-departed Ford Falcon, this market is now led by a new breed of players that are making it their own.
3: Peugeot 508
One obvious and newly launched case in point is the Peugeot 508 hatch and wagon range, which brings always welcome French design flair to the table, both inside and out.
Both the fastback (Peugeot’s word for liftback) and the wagon have spot-on proportions and head-turning details, while the cabin trims and overall look would be right at home in a luxury car twice the price. Just gorgeous. Bit pokey, though…
There’s only one specification level, priced at $53,990 plus on-road costs – or $2000 more for the wagon body – and comes loaded with gear including Nappa leather massaging front seats.
The 1.6-litre petrol engine looks small on paper but makes a solid 165kW and 300Nm, sending outputs to the front wheels via a new eight-speed automatic bought from Japan’s Aisin.
Peugeot 508 news and reviews
2: Kia Stinger
However, if performance is your thing, then the circa $48–$61K Kia Stinger liftback range is the pick. The base car’s 182kW and 353Nm 2.0-litre petrol engine is sprightly, but the GT’s 272kW/510Nm twin-turbo V6 with eight-speed auto is in another league.
There’s a reason a number of our state police forces are replacing their beloved Commodore V8s with these Aussie-tuned, rear-wheel-drive Korean muscle cars – given the 0–100km/h time of 4.9 seconds and genuinely good cornering to boot.
The Stinger is also a big thing, with plenty of space for four adults, and a pretty sophisticated cabin (aside from the odd rattle) with a typically long features list, all backed by an unbeatable seven-year warranty.
Kia Stinger news and reviews
1: Skoda Superb
But the best large-car range is the circa $44–$62K Skoda Superb, which comes in liftback and wagon forms, both front- and all-wheel drive, with the choice of two 2.0-litre engine tunes with either 162kW or 206kW of power.
It also sports arresting design, an unpretentious but well made and high-tech interior, back seat and boot space that leaves many full-sized SUVs for dead, Autobahn-ready refinement and road manners, and oodles of clever touches like door umbrellas.
In fact, the 206TSI Superb flagship is so good that it makes you wonder whether this growing Czech brand is causing sister companies Volkswagen and Audi to have some sleepless nights.
Throw in a five-year warranty, capped-price servicing and an expanding network of dealers, and the reasons not to consider this big Skoda really are few and far between. It’s a car that well and truly lives up to its nameplate.
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