When it comes to buying a new car, we Aussies tend to stick to what we know – the big players in the game, your Toyotas, Mazdas, etc. And while these automakers are popular for good reason, there are several others that produce very similar offerings which are worth your consideration.
So, we thought we’d spotlight some lesser-known auto brands, all of whom have achieved strong Australian sales growth in 20211. They just might offer you what you’re looking for from your car search.
A Czech automotive manufacturer that’s been in continuous production since 1905 and launched its current operations in Australia in 2007. Now part of the Volkswagen Group, the brand is known for its simple and clever design and elite European engineering.
The SKODA Octavia is the brand’s best performer in its main market of Europe. Oft-referred to as the bigger cousin of the Volkswagen Golf, the recently-refreshed Octavia is a family-friendly sedan and wagon range that combines practicality, premium styling and advanced technology.
Also worth a look is the Scala hatchback, a brand-new model that arrived on our shores in early 2021. Although compact, it’s packed with standard features you’d be more accustomed to seeing in higher-priced cars. These include 18-inch alloy wheels, a virtual cockpit, 8-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, wireless phone charging, extra-dark rear windows and auto tailgate. Safety-wise, there’s adaptive lane assist, adaptive cruise control, a built-in rear vision camera and LED tail-lamps/dynamic rear indicators. All that without mentioning its better-than-average CO2 emission performance2.
Isuzu Motors was founded in Japan in 1916 and is now one of the world’s largest manufacturers of trucks and diesel engines; it’s at the forefront of vehicle chassis and diesel engine technology. Isuzu was launched in Australia in 2008, bringing the award-winning D-MAX to our shores, followed in 2013 with the MU-X 7-seat SUV. And while these remain the only two models available to us, both have produced strong sales ever since.
If novating a ute, you’ll be looking at the range-topping D-MAX X-TERRAIN. With a 5-star safety rating, a 3.0L turbo diesel engine and a range of off-road driving tech, there’s little wonder why it’s proved so popular with Aussies for work and play. In fact, it was recently crowned Drive’s Best Dual-Cab Ute of 20213.
If you’ve got a large crew, the all-new MU-X (released in Sep 2021) could be for you. Like its stablemate D-MAX, this 7-seat SUV also boasts an exceptional safety rating and powerful diesel engine for towing trailers/boats/caravans. It features a number of practical and stylish touches throughout including split-fold rear seats, dual zone climate control and leather-accented seats (LS-T model only).
Founded in the UK in 1969 and now owned by German auto behemoth BMW, MINI (as you may have suspected) is best known for producing a range of small cars. Fun and nimble with a clever use of space, these premium, fuel-efficient vehicles are designed primarily for urban life.
The two most enduringly popular models are the 5-door and 3-door Hatch (which also offers an Electric model). Both ranges are packed with innovative technology to make navigating the city a breeze, plus optional features like Apple CarPlay, real-time traffic information and online search functionality. The 5-door Hatch not only comes with more head-and-leg-room, but the rear backrest folds down to create a much larger cargo area for any extra gear.
The fastest-growing model in the brand’s line-up is the Countryman. This is MINI’s only SUV offering, and its sales are up by 45 per cent year-on-year to date1. The Countryman boasts a spacious, versatile interior with 450L of luggage space and hands-free boot access. You can even add a cushioned picnic bench that transforms your rear bumper into a rest-stop.
The British marque now owned by Chinese company, SAIC, first appeared in Australia in 2016 and has steadily been gaining traction among new car buyers. In fact, in 2021 MG Motor broke into the top 10 selling automotive brands in the country4.
Blending timeless British styling with global technology, MG vehicles are known especially for their affordability, offering a suite of smart features that belie their modest price tags.
Its biggest seller in Australia is the MG ZS small SUV1. Named 2021 Drive Car of the Year for the Best Overall Value category, the ZS is big on space, style and practicality. With a rear interior headroom that is among the best-in-class, an extra wide cabin and fully foldable back seats, this small SUV might just offer you the level of driving comfort and flexibility you’re seeking.
The medium-sized MG HS (formerly GS) is the marque’s flagship SUV and was the first Chinese-manufactured vehicle to be awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating4. The vehicle features 10 active driving safety features as standard, including Active Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Detection and Intelligent Speed Limit Assist. Add to that sporty performance and a premium, spacious interior, and the MG HS is a worthy contender for anyone’s next family adventurer.