Some of Australia’s top-selling models are classified as small SUVs.
More than 100,000 vehicles wearing this classification have been delivered into Australian hands this year so far, with the segment taking 12.9 per cent overall market share.
The biggest-sellers are the budget MG ZS, ahead of the Mazda CX-30, Hyundai Kona, Mitsubishi ASX, and Kia Seltos.
Recent months have also seen the launch of new contenders such as the brand new Toyota Corolla Cross (likely to become a top-seller); latest-generation Honda HR-V and Suzuki S-Cross; and the updated Volkswagen T-Roc and Lexus UX.
Moreover, there are various newly launched electric (EV) options within this segment such as the updated MG ZS EV; and all-new BYD Atto 3, Kia Niro, and Mercedes-Benz EQA.
But there’s a lot happening behind the scenes, with a heap of other new or (at least) updated offerings in the pipeline that prospective buyers should watch out for.
The new Qashqai has been a while in coming, leaving Nissan dealers without a small SUV option for too long. But with a November 2022 launch pencilled in this will soon be rectified.
European-designed and UK-made, the third generation of Nissan’s small SUV staple is a substantial update on its predecessor model. The company previously said the new Qashqai would arrive in early 2022, while it was revealed overseas way back in February of 2021.
Headline news includes its new Renault-Nissan group platform, a higher-torque and more efficient new 1.3-litre turbo-petrol engine with an e-Power hybrid option following closely behind, longer list of safety features, and an entirely overhauled interior.
Four spec levels will be offered at launch, called Qashqai ST, ST+, ST-L, and Ti, wearing sticker prices of between $33,890 and $47,390 before on-road costs.
MORE: 2023 Nissan Qashqai price and specs
The updated 2023 Kia Seltos range will land in Australia during the fourth quarter of 2022, bringing a range of enhancements headlined by a fettled design, more tech, as well as a more powerful engine option.
The 1.6-litre turbo-petrol and all-wheel-drive drivetrain option will get a power bump (from 130kW to 147kW) and a new eight-speed transmission, while the entry 110kW 2.0-litre and front-wheel drive option will be made an option for all variants rather than some.
Expect additional driver-assist aids to be added across the range from the bottom up, as well as all variants to pick up rear vents and USB-C ports.
The cabin should get a new climate control panel and the option of dual 10.25-inch displays, much like the new Niro gets. The Seltos will become the second model in the brand’s Australian range to feature Kia Connect online services, standard from the Sport grade and up.
From a design standpoint, the new Seltos will feature updated headlight graphics, a “larger and bolder” front grille as well as revised bumpers. GT-Line versions score a new LED light design with ‘star-map’ signature, as Kia describes it.
MORE: 2023 Kia Seltos initial details for Australia, here Q4
At the more primo end of the market, the third-generation petrol BMW X1 arrives in the fourth quarter of this year, with a fully electric iX1 version due in early 2023.
The X1 has grown in every dimension compared with its predecessor. It’s 53mm longer, 24mm wider, and 44mm taller, and has a 22mm longer wheelbase.
That’s translated to more cabin space, including a larger boot. Capacity is up to 540L, which expands to 1600L when you drop the 40/20/40 split-fold rear seats. Combustion-powered variants can also be specified with a sliding rear bench.
The X1 and iX1 are the latest BMWs to receive the brand’s new BMW Operating System 8 and the Curved Display, which features a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.7-inch touchscreen infotainment system in one display.
The Australian X1 launch range comprises the X1 sDrive18i priced at $53,900 and xDrive20i at $65,900 – both before on-road costs. The iX1’s price will likely start in the $80,000 range.
MORE: 2023 BMW X1 price and specs
Chery Omoda 5
We’ve seen the Chinese MG ZS and Haval Jolion storm up the sales charts thanks to pricing that undercuts name-brands, contemporary design, and reassuring warranties.
The next cab off the rank will be the Chery Omoda 5, a sharp-looking crossover that will hit Australia in late 2022 or early 2023, according to ambitious plans from the company under a full local subsidiary operation.
Remember Chery? It had an unsuccessful crack at the Aussie market between 2011 and 2014 with the budget (and frankly crap) J1 and J3 hatchbacks, and J11 small SUV, through a deal with independent distributor Ateco.
Its first car for the relaunch is called Omoda 5, which measures 4400mm long – about par for the class. Two small turbo-petrol engines are listed on the spec sheet: a 115kW and 230Nm 1.5-litre mated to a CVT, and a 145kW and 290Nm 1.6-litre using a dual-clutch auto.
Available features depending on spec grade include include LED lights, sunroof, in-car WiFi hotpot, proximity key, heated seats, wireless phone charging, powered tailgate, and paired digital instrument and centre displays measuring a combined 24.6 inches.
MORE: Is this the next big-selling affordable Chinese small SUV?
Alfa Romeo Tonale
Alfa Romeo’s latest comeback begins with the arrival of the new Tonale in February 2023. With the demise of the Giulietta hatchback, this SUV serves as the brand’s entry-level model – at least for now, with an even smaller crossover in the works.
It’s understood to use Stellantis’ Small Wide platform, which also underpins the Jeep Compass. The Ti and Veloce pack a 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with a 48V mild-hybrid system, mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch, making 118kW of power and 240Nm of torque.
From there, the all-wheel drive Tonale PHEV called Tonale Q, billed as the performance variant of the range, will arrive from late 2023.
The touchscreen (with rotary dial) is 10.25 inches across and runs an Android operating system with over-the-air software updates. It’s said to be highly configurable via drag and drop motions.
Alfa Romeo Australia has announced a base price of $49,900 before on-road costs for the Tonale Ti, a few thousand dollars less than a base BMW X1. The better-equipped Tonale Veloce is $54,400.
MORE: 2023 Alfa Romeo Tonale price and specs
Subaru Australia will axe the two-generation-old XV nameplate, with its next-generation small SUV to be badged Crosstrek when it arrives here “soon”.
We do not have precise timing on when to expect the Subaru Crosstrek in Australian showrooms, though the company says it will share more information “in the coming months”.
The new Subaru Crosstrek, revealed on September 15, is once again pitched as a compact SUV capable of venturing a little further from the tarmac than most competitors.
The new Crosstrek is based on the latest Subaru Global Platform. Powertrain options will include a 2.0-litre Boxer flat-four mated to a CVT with eight manual ‘ratios’, as well as an e-Boxer hybrid option. Subaru being Subaru, all Crosstreks will be all-wheel drive (AWD).
The interior will sport a new 11.6-inch infotainment touchscreen, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a wireless phone charger.
MORE: 2023 Subaru Crosstrek set for Australia, replacing XV
Honda Australia has confirmed plans to launch a new SUV positioned between the HR-V and CR-V in 2023, expected to be a version of the new Honda ZR-V revealed in July this year.
In appearance terms it’s essentially a rebadged American HR-V, which is very different to the HR-V sold in Australia and Europe – more curvaceous and less edgy in its design, for one.
The ZR-V will likely be sold with a 1.5-litre turbocharged engine driving the front or all four wheels via a CVT, while the e:HEV is also expected to come with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder hybrid system, again with both FWD or AWD available.
“For those customers wanting five seats and/or more practicality, we’re very confident we’ll be able to cater for those needs [with the new SUV model],” Honda Australia chief Stephen Collins told us in May 2022.
“What we’ll see over the next 12 to 18 months or so, is a line-up of three distinct SUVs.”
MORE: Honda confirms third SUV model for 2023, with hybrid option