Despite the surge in popularity of SUVs, sedans remain one of the, if not the, most common body style seen on Australian roads. Offering ample room for a family, with enough luggage space for a proper holiday and some decent performance to boot, there is much to love about the humble sedan. They can be great for fuel economy too, thanks to their low, aerodynamic body shapes, when compared to SUVs, and you’re more likely to find a sedan with incredible power as opposed to an SUV – although some car companies are now making ‘hot’ versions of their larger people movers too.
But with such intense competition between manufacturers, all aiming to produce the best sedan on the market for the most affordable prices, which ones should you be spending your money on and which should be best avoided? We’ve compiled this list of the best sedans to buy right now in Australia, giving you ten incredibly popular choices. Ranging from simple A to B people carriers, to those that offer a little more luxury for more comfortable drives and even including some hot and fiery options for those who like to get places fast, there is something for everybody and every budget.
Fuel Economy: 8.8L/100km
Price: From $54,290 Drive Away
When the Kia Stinger was first released, many struggled to comprehend how such a performance-focused car – and a great one at that – could have a Kia badge stuck to the front. But a Kia badge it most certainly has, and the Stinger represents a testament to how far the South Korean car company has come since its days of more basic cars. There are four variants of Stinger to choose from, and while all benefit from decent power, it’s the 330S and GT that will have most tongues wagging, with their 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 units under the bonnet. The other two models in the range get a 2.0-litre 4 cylinder producing 182kW.
What you do get across the board, however, is a premium, well laid out interior. The cockpit is an absolute dream to sit in, and while particularly tall passengers may jostle for headroom in the back, on the whole it’s a comfortable experience. Naturally, the more money you spend on variants through the range, the more goodies you receive in return, such as flat-bottomed steering wheels and suede headliners – the GT Line model, still with 2.0-litre engine, shares much of the same interior stylings as its V6-laden GT brother.
Performance, no matter which model you opt for, is exemplary. Quick to pull away, comfortable to cruise in and not super thirsty on fuel (the V6 understandably drinks a little more, sitting at a claimed 10.2L/100km on a combined cycle). Ultimately, there is much to about Kia’s performance saloon, and it makes for a genuinely worthwhile alternative to something European.
- Classic muscle car/performance sedan feel at a competitive price
- Comfortable, reliable and very good looking
- Lack of V8 means it’s not a true Holden Commodore / Ford Falcon successor
- Kia nameplate might scare some off
BMW M3 (G80)
Fuel Economy: 10.1L/100km
Price: From $156,604 Drive Away
When you think of performance saloons, the BMW M3 will likely feature in your top 3, if not at number one. The crazy, fire-breathing version of the German marque’s popular 3-series, the M3 consistently rewrites what can be possible when you take a regular car, give it a bodykit, lower it a bit and make some tweaks to the engine. The latest version of the M3 is the most powerful one yet, and while it may feature that new front grille, there is more to love than ever.
With 375kW of power under your right foot, enough to fling you to 100km/h in 4.2-seconds, you’ll be able to whisk the kids away on a weekend trip quicker than ever, and in great comfort too. BMW has always been at the top of its game when it comes to interior finishes and comfort, and so the M3 doesn’t receive too many changes, save from some sports seats to hold you in place and some fancy (as well as extravagant) colour combinations.
You’ll want to drive the M3 solo much of the time, however, as it will give you the time to really find out what it’s truly capable of. Perhaps even take it to a track to let you inner Schumacher out. It might be an expensive option in the sedan sector, but it makes for serious driving fun.
- Truly the purest version of ‘the ultimate driving machine’
- Impressive feature list
- The nostrils!
- Exceptional price premium over a standard 3 Series
Volkswagen Passat (B8)
Fuel Economy: 6.4L/100km
Price: From $51,668 Drive Away
It’s fair to say that sedans have segued slightly from bring a family hauler and into more of an necessity for business people travelling up and down the country. The Volkswagen Passat is a prime example of this transition, with the only available trim level literally being called ‘Business’. A mid-size sedan, the Passat could be seen as a bit pricey compared to some rivals, but when you factor in the amount of equipment that comes as standard, the price tag is justified.
You get heaps of technology inside and out, including Apple CarPlay, tri-zone climate control and LED lighting. Volkswagen has also fitted its IQ.Drive driver assistance system, which include semi-autonomous functions such as lane-keeping assistant and constantly monitoring for potential collisions. Power comes from either a 2.0-litre, 140kW petrol-powered engine, mated to a seven-speed DSG gearbox. You’ll need to be happy with the standard configuration Volkswagen provides, as the only change you can make is for the exterior colour.
It’s smooth and precise to drive, and, like its Business moniker might suggest, you’re going to experience leisurely comfort as opposed to track-focused sportiness. But then, if you’re buying a Passat, then you’re likely buying it for work purposes and not something to throw around corners on a weekend drive.
- Lots of standard kit
- Surprisingly engaging driving dynamics
- Conservative styling
- Dual-clutch transmission still has a question mark hanging over it
Tesla Model S
Price: Plaid – From $186,990 Drive Away
When the Tesla first burst onto the Australian scene in 2014, everybody suddenly took notice of electrification in vehicles. Since then, Tesla has continued to dominate the EV market, launching the Model 3 and Model X in the process, and announcing other forthcoming vehicles to join the group. Today, the Model S has undergone a few changes since its early days, which includes an upgrade in power, now sitting at over 1,000hp.
That gives it a 0-100km/h time of 2.1-seconds and a top speed of 322km/h (for the Plaid edition, anyway), which is quite frankly, ludicrous. Inside the interior has changed too, with the huge central tablet screen being made landscape instead of portrait, and the steering wheel being replaced with something that wouldn’t look too out of place in a Formula One car. It’s quite simply the epitome of what can be achieved when a car company wants to throw as much modern technology at a vehicle as possible.
With comfortable seating for four adults and pretty much every conceivable amenity you can think of, the Tesla Model S could well the perfect, future-proof family sedan. Just make sure you’ve got the money to part with first.
- The ultimate combination of luxury, performance and technology
- You’re saving the planet
- Having everything on the touchscreen might not be to your tastes
- Tesla fit and finish can be very inconsistent
Alfa Romeo Giulia (952)
Fuel Economy: 6L/100km
Price: From $69,426 Drive Away
The Alfa Romeo Giulia makes for a very exciting proposition. Finally, the Italian marque has released a worthy contender to the big German manufacturers of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. With three versions to choose from: Sport, Veloce or the M3-rivalling Giulia Quadrifoglio, there is plenty to persuade those who have a pre-conceived opinion about the Italian brand. Yes, Alfa has never been known as the king of reliability, but many ‘Alfisti’ will tell you that is part of their charm, and then of course there’s the long-held belief that you can’t truly call yourself a petrolhead until you’ve owned an Alfa.
For us, the Giulia is the first genuine contender to persuade buyers to think twice about their next sedan purchase. If looks alone could make you part with some cash, the Giulia should be far more common on Australian roads: it looks sublime from every angle. Then there’s the choice of engines across the three models. The base Sport model gets a rather excellent 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit producing 147kW, the Veloce sees that power increase to 206kW, while the range-topping Quadrifoglio gets a 2.9-litre V6 bi-turbo with 375kW under your right foot.
You get plenty of standard equipment and rather excellent, subtle design touches across the board, with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, wireless charging and ultimately, it’s just a nice place to find yourself sitting behind the wheel. And behind the wheel is where you’re going to want to find yourself on a regular occurrence, because the Giulia, no matter which version you have, is an absolute joy to drive. It’s a true driver’s car, and will respond to wherever you want to place it. Want to go fast? It will happily oblige. Prefer a more leisurely drive? You’ll be kept feeling comfortable throughout.
- Italian flair without having to spend Ferrari money
- Alfa have finally ditched their reliance on the Fiat/Chrysler parts bin
- In true Alfa fashion, don’t expect it to be the most reliable car ever, although things have certainly improved
- Hard to justify against the Germans
Lexus IS (XE30)
Fuel Economy: 9.5L/100km (IS350)
Price: From $61,500 Drive Away
Similar to Alfa Romeo, Lexus is another brand that can often go under the radar when it comes to thinking about buying a new sedan. The Germans really do have the market cornered, but the Japanese brand is one that should definitely be considered. For starters, Lexus often exhibit incredible reliability, and even scores highly with regard to customer service. And now, Lexus has given the IS a complete overhaul both in terms of styling and what goes on underneath the rather good-looking body.
There are five models to choose from: two trim levels for the petrol-powered IS300; two for the hybrid-powered IS300h and the range-topping IS350, which gets a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 with 232kW of power. Something for everyone, then. Luckily, the driving experience has much-improved over preceding models too, with various changes made to the chassis and suspension that have resulted in a more planted ride that gives you a bit of confidence going into corners.
Inside, across the range, things are a standard Lexus affair. Luxurious and premium, without being so fancy that the price need not skyrocket. And, thankfully, for the incoming 2021 models, standard equipment has improved dramatically. Despite their solid reliability encouraging buyers to spend, they were then asked to part with a lot more cash for certain features we should come to expect from cars at this price. You now get some driver assistance packages, much-improved infotainment in the way of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto – although Lexus has remained a little stubborn and kept its somewhat dated UI. Of course, there are options you can choose from, which do ask for quite a bit extra, but on the whole, buyers will find much to like about the new range.
- Reliability and build quality are second to none
- Aggressive styling does much to shake the ‘boring’ reputation
- Still not as many standard options compared to rivals
- Infotainment system remains a weak point
Fuel Economy: 9.2L/100km
Price: From $45,562 Drive Away
Subaru has had a bit of a play around with its model range of late. The Liberty is completely gone from the lineup, both the sedan and the wagon, replaced by the just the Impreza as the only truly family-friendly sedan and hatchback in the range. But for those who love Subaru for its performance connotations – who can forget the bonkers Imprezas of old, not to mention the brand’s rally credentials – you’re served by the WRX. A more compact sedan offering compared to both the Impreza and some other cars on this list, the WRX – standing for “World Rally eXperimental” – is the distant cousin of the Subaru Impreza developed for the 1992 World Rally Championship.
That makes for incredibly exciting reading, for starters. And when you take a look at what you get as standard, even with the base model, that excitement only increases. 18-inch alloy wheels, Subaru’s EyeSight driver aid technology and a full suite of infotainment connectivity options are included as standard, with extra goodies being thrown in with both the WRX Premium and WRX STI models. The WRX and WRX Premium get 2.0-lite turbocharged boxer engines producing 197kW, while the STI, upholding its sporting reputation, gets a 2.5-litre turbocharged boxer delivering 227kW. The STI also comes with the iconic spoiler that made Imprezas so popular in the early ’90s.
Where some may feel the WRX is let down, however, is with the CVT automatic transmission. Fortunately, a 6-speed manual is offered across the range, but if you’re not attuned to driving a stick, you’ll either want to look elsewhere, or make do with a box that doesn’t quite cut it for a performance vehicle. Regardless, the WRX grips well when throwing it into corners (an experience amplified with the manual) coupled with a satisfying grunt from the engine. While perhaps not the most capable car for hauling a family (although it will fit four adults plus luggage), the WRX is an incredible car for those looking for fast, well-handling car, with an iconic history.
- Rally car performance in a practical daily driver
- Impressive suite of driver aids
- Somewhat underwhelming power increases over the outgoing model
- Bit of a bogan reputation
Fuel Economy: 9L/100km
Price: From $63,000 Drive Away
Genesis, the luxury arm of South Korean brand Hyundai, could comfortably be called a dark horse. As with Hyundai, which has come on leaps and bounds in recent years, Genesis too offers some incredibly desirable cars, especially for the price tags, making genuinely worthwhile alternatives to cars from Europe. The G70 is a testament to that, and the latest 2021 model now comes in just two variants, down from the previous six. The base price has increased a few thousand, but Genesis has thrown in a lot of extra equipment as standard to justify it.
Engine choices are either a 2.0-litre four-cylinder offering 179kW and a 3.3-litre V6 delivering 274kW, giving you the simple choice of deciding if you want a comfortable cruiser, or something a little more exciting. Standard equipment includes a large 10.25-inch multimedia display with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, 19-inch alloys and leather seats, which are also powered. You also get a complete suite of driver aids, many of which you would expect to pay extra for with some other brands.
The drive in either G70 is exceptionally good, being comfortable at cruising speeds, and more than happy to oblige with great handling and grip when you decide to put your right foot down. The V6 would naturally be our pick for the pleasant grunt you get from the engine alone.
- Unbelievable luxury for a highly competitive price
- Brand recognition isn’t there yet
- Needs bigger engine options
Toyota Camry (XV70)
Fuel Economy: 4.6L/100km
Price: From $34, 734 Drive Away
The Toyota Camry has always been a solid choice for those looking for a mid-size sedan, not least because of the Japanese brand’s remarkable reliability. The latest range is no different, although there have been some changes, primarily in the form of power: every Camry (there are four trim levels) now comes with the brand’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder hybrid (the base Ascent can also be specced with a 2.0-litre petrol unit). That means no more 3.5-litre V6, unfortunately.
Standard equipment, even for the base model, is generous, and you can of course expect the list of features to increase and improve the further up the range you go. Practicality-wise, Toyota almost rules the roost, as the Camry offers plenty of space for a family inside, along with a plethora of intuitive storage options. And, while some may think a hybrid powertrain will mean the Camry will be a bit of a slouch, it’s anything but. Sure, it’s not going to be as performance-focused as some other cars on this list, but for an everyday driver, it’s at the top of its class.
- Reliable and cheap. There’s a reason these sell well
- Completely effortless driving experience
- Incredibly sterile and boring
- You’ll look like an Uber driver
Range: Up to 420km
Price: From $174,693 Drive Away
Yep, believe it or not, the Porsche Taycan can be classified as a sedan, thanks to its four-door configuration and ample space inside for four adults. But, make no mistake, this is still a Porsche, and that means it’s incredibly quick and incredibly luxurious. It’s also the German marque’s first fully electrified vehicle, in response to forthcoming ban on combustion engines.
A leisurely family cruiser this is not. While it will settle and be comfortable at low speeds, you’re buying a Taycan for its performance, and boy does it perform. Being Porsche, and being electric, the Taycan is stupidly quick, with the ‘slowest’ 0-100km/h sprint time being 4-seconds. The range-topping Turbo S (which isn’t actually turbocharged) brings that time down to 2.8-seconds.
Inside its luxury and technology all the way, with barely a button in sight; touchscreens galore take their place. What most electric car buyers will want to know, however, is the range they can expect to get from their battery. The Taycan doesn’t lead the class here (that belongs to Tesla), and the most you can get from the Porsche is around 420km, thanks the the Performance Battery Plus add-on. But, as Porsche says, buyers won’t get a Taycan for the range, they’ll get one for the pure driving thrill and the speed it delivers, and for this, it’s exceptional.
- Looks like a spaceship and goes like one too. It’s a real Porsche
- Typically impeccable Porsche attention to detail
- One of the least efficient EVs on the market, if you care about that sort of thing
- Second row seating not as good as a Panamera or Model S