Some vehicles have long reigned supreme over their nearest segment rivals, outselling them year after year. Their popularity is so established that many new car buyers may not even consider other contenders in the field. We got to thinking – what about the up and comers, the number twos that have existed in the shadows of their peers, the ones that are just as worthy to wear that crown?
Below we look at the champions and challengers across three vehicle segments that you could consider when looking for your new set of wheels.
Performance utes: Ford Ranger Raptor vs Nissan Navara N-TREK Warrior
Let’s kick things off with the heavyweights. As Australians’ hunger for sports utes intensifies, so too does the competition. The dual cab Ford Ranger has been a huge favourite for many years. Its top-of-the-range performance ute, the Raptor, arrived in Australia in 2018 and soon made a name for itself—being crowned the 4x4 of the year by 4x4 AUSTRALIA magazine the following year.
The Raptor’s most powerful weapon is arguably its race-bred suspension, specifically crafted to tackle the toughest of terrains. It also comes with 33-inch all-terrain tyres with a precise tread pattern, longer tread life and 20% tougher side walls than standard factory tyres. With the FordPass App on your smartphone1 you can locate your vehicle, lock and unlock the doors, and even start the engine remotely to heat or cool the cabin to the last known setting2.
Like the Raptor, the Warrior was also designed, built and tested locally to withstand the harsh Aussie climate and driving conditions. The N-TREK Warrior builds on the already powerful N-TREK, adding a bespoke steel bull bar, underbody protection and siderails, as well as an LED light bar, a redesigned towbar and various styling enhancements. Distinct within the segment, the Warrior comes with rear coil-spring suspension and heavy-duty shock absorbers which help to smooth out rough terrain.
One key difference to note is that the Raptor is currently available only with auto transmission, whereas the Warrior also offers a six-speed manual variant.
Nissan looks to gain further ground on Ford soon with the introduction of its newest Warrior flagship range, the PRO-4X Warrior, which is expected to be released in September 2021.
Mid-size SUV: Mazda CX-5 vs Mitsubishi Outlander
Next up, the most popular car segment in Australia, the mid-size SUV. According to the latest VFACTS sales figures released by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the Mazda CX-5 remains one of the best-selling SUVs in Australia. This medium-size SUV has won hearts for its spaciousness and practical cabin layout, as well as its considerable off-road ability. Its high-riding configuration allows for easy entry and gives a commanding forward view from the comfortable driving position. But that’s not to say there aren’t other models nipping at its heels. Take for instance, the Mitsubishi Outlander.
The Mitsubishi Outlander is a popular vehicle, particularly for families. It has seen an 81% increase in sales in July 2021, compared to the previous year. The Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the few mid-sized SUVs to offer seven seats. Its cargo capacity is substantial, with a large loading area and a one-piece, upwards opening tailgate. The flexible seating configuration also allows for added storage. In five-seater variants, you’ll have 477 litres of luggage, and up to 1,608 litres with the rear seatbacks folded. Seven-seaters have only 128 litres left behind the third row, but match the five-seaters with all seats folded down.
The Mazda CX-5 is slightly slimmer than the Mitsubishi Outlander, meaning it will be easier to manoeuvre into tight parking spots. Both vehicles feature excellent handling capabilities, so they’re both suited to city driving. And they have roughly the same towing capacity, so bringing along a trailer with all your extra weekend gear is a breeze no matter which vehicle you choose.
Small cars: Hyundai i30 vs MG3 Auto
The Hyundai has been a popular staple of the small car market in Australia for many years, winning over Aussies for its exceptional ride comfort, cabin space and visibility. It also leaves many larger small SUVs in its wake, in terms of practicality, with wide-opening rear doors, a 395-litre boot and cleverly designed features like roller-doored cupholders and a deep centre console.
Now for the challenger: If you don’t know much about the Chinese-built, British-badged MG3 Auto, you’re certainly not alone, but you may be surprised to learn that it is one of Australia’s best-selling light hatchback3. And it’s not hard to see why – it has what the media tech buyers are after, boasts 307 litres of boot space and makes a bold style statement, with an angular European-inspired silhouette and “London Eye” LED daytime running lights.
Both vehicles are equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, with the i30 featuring a slightly bigger touchscreen (10.25-inch to the MG3’s 8-inch). The i30 also comes equipped with a suite of advanced safety features, including Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, Blind Spot Collision Warning and Smart Cruise Control with Stop & Go.