The Government’s luxury car tax is a rip-off - 33 per cent on top of every dollar over $61,884. The former government pumped it up to 33 per cent (from 25) back in 2008. We don't tax luxury in any other forms - from Rolex and Hugo Boss to antique furniture and yachts. But a LandCruiser GXL cops LCT. Crazy. Here are the top 10 coolest LCT-free cars on sale today
Luxury is: "a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense". Synonyms include opulence, sumptuousness, richness, grandeur, splendour, magnificence, & lavishness.
A LandCruiser GXL? Sumptuous? Not even Toyota's own marketing department would claim that. The $62k threshold is just about double the spend for a mundane car like a Hyundai i30 SR.
If you want to avoid paying this extortionate tax, these are the top 10 cars - by category - that are LCT-free, and which you can also love to own.
ULTIMATE LCT-FREE BALLISTIC MISSILE
Subaru WRX STI
Best Sub-$62k Performance Car
The Subaru WRX STI is the thinking man’s performance car - a brilliant execution of the range-topping WRX, slashed in price with the introduction of this model, and seriously pumped up in the comfort/civility department. The Subaru XRX STI would be a good buy at $70,000 drive-away. Fortunately it’s about 20 per cent cheaper than that, and as such it's LCT-free. Absolutely awesome grip levels in all conditions, a dial-in centre differential and a magnificent turbocharged 2.5-litre boxer engine means performance potential is way beyond the driving ability of most drivers. How Subaru can package the WRX STI for the price is absolutely beyond me.
AUSTRALIA’S BEST LCT-FREE SEVEN-SEAT SUV
Hyundai Santa Fe Highlander
Best Sub-$62k 7-seat SUV
The Santa Fe Highlander is everything an entry-level Volkswagen Touareg aspires to be, but isn’t. It’s got the performance, the warranty, the features and the refinement of a much more expensive SUV. The third row of seats rates a special mention: it folds away ingeniously to reveal a totally flat cargo floor - just right for infrequent use as a seven-seater, as luggage space is not compromised when the seats aren’t needed. And the diesel engine is a rock-solid performer. Hyundai has two vehicles in the range that are brilliant - this is one of them. (The other is the i30 SR.)
BEST LCT-FREE PREMIUM EURO SPORTS CAR
RenaultSport Megane 265 Cup Premium
Best Sub-$62k Euro Sports Car
The RenaultSport Megane 265 Cup Premium is the iron fist in the velvet glove, under the LCT threshold. The 2.0-litre turbo-intercooled engine makes almost 200kW (and it wasn’t that long ago that 5.0-litre V8s were doing that). Six seconds from 0-100km/h and a tonne of handling finesse. It’s also rare enough on the road that it’s a real head-turner - especially in egg-yolk yellow (not its real name...) It’s fully loaded on features and tech, and a brilliant lift in styling in the latest model.
BEST LCT-FREE MUSCLE CAR
Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core
Best Sub-$62k Muscle Car
The car immortalised by Bryan Cranston playing Walter White as Heisenberg in TV’s brilliant Breaking Bad is as awesome to drive as its portrayal on TV. If you’re into the muscle car thing, the Chrysler 300 SRT8 Core is a neck-snapping device for turning petrol into acceleration and noise. And it's not pedestrian like a (more expensive) HSV or FPV. The 6.4-litre Hemi V8, which offers peaks of 347kW and 631Nm, isn't about to win you any environment awards, but the sound is unbelievable. Buy the 300 SRT8, or, as an alternative, you could just cut out the middle man and put your licence in the shredder…
BEST LCT-FREE FIVE-SEAT SUV
Mazda CX-5 Akera Diesel
Best Sub-$62k 5-seat SUV
The range-topping CX-5 Akera diesel smashes the Audis, BMWs and Benzes you can buy for the same price. Unlike the notional German competitors, the CX-5 Akera diesel is fully loaded with features that are high-priced options on the German SUVs - and the Akera trades of nothing in terms of performance and refinement. And it comes in so comfortably under the LCT threshold that you could have a decent holiday with the change.
BEST LCT-FREE LUXURY PEOPLE MOVER
Kia Grand Carnival
Best Sub-$62k People Mover
Why - why - would you buy a Chrysler Grand Voyager for $84,000 drive-away of a Toyota Tarago Ultima ($77,600 drive-away) when you can get the works burger of Kia Grand Carnivals for $23k less than the Chrysler and $16k less than the Toyota? This is a 2.2-litre diesel that returns 8.1 litres per 100km in the combined-cycle fuel test. Not bad for a beast of a vehicle weighing more than two tonnes, and loaded with electric everything (including powered sliding side doors and rear tailgate). Seats for eight and everything that opens and shuts - brilliant. Same number of seats as a Toyota LandCruiser GXL; $30k less to spend. More luxury, too...
SEXIEST LCT-FREE EURO LUXURY CAR
Citroen DS5 DSport HDi
Best Sub-$62k Luxury Car
The Citroen DS5 DSport HDi is simply the sexiest Euro car you can drive for less (a lot less) than $100k. If you park your rear end in the driver’s seat, you will not want to get out. From the brilliant ‘watch band’ leather quilting in the seats to the awe-inspiring instrumentation and aircraft-style supplementary switchgear, the Citroen DS5 DSport HDi is a car you buy to impress the hell out of yourself - and not pay the taxman one red cent extra for the privilege. It is absolutely luxurious. The DS5 also comes with a confidence-inspiring six-year warranty, and nobody will know what you’re driving, which is excellent for kudos-factor.
TOUGHEST LCT-FREE ALL-TERRAIN WAGON
Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo V6 Diesel
Best Sub-$62k Off-roader
The Grand Cherokee is the kind of car Jack Bauer would commandeer in LA traffic, should the free world need saving (again). Seriously - awesome off-road ability, refined enough to valet in a five-star hotel, frugal on fuel, and the cargo space is massive. Notionally, the Laredo is the base model - but the list of standard features is longer than your arm. Proximity key, 18-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, voice recognition, trip computer, inbuilt flash drive, card reader, heated side mirrors, auto wipers, electric driver’s seat, and tyre pressure monitoring. One of the best Jeeps ever.
BEST LCT-FREE PREMIUM 4WD UTE
Holden Colorado LTZ Auto
Best Sub-$62k Premium 4x4 Ute
It’s a simple equation: of the more than 12 utes on the market today, only three are worth considering. And of those three, the Holden Colorado is the best. (The other two are the Mazda BT-50 and the Ford Ranger). The auto Colorado has the most potent engine (500Nm) together with 3.5-tonne tow capacity, six-speed transmission and a five-star safety rating. Colorado LTZ is packed with (literally) a truckload of standard equipment, so it’s a luxurious workaholic … flying comfortably under the LCT radar. Spend the rest on a three-and-a-half-tonne boat - tow it behind. There’s no luxury tax on boats...
BEST LCT-FREE FAMILY CAR
Mazda6 Atenza diesel wagon
Best Sub-$62k Family Car
If Ford or Holden managed to stop sucking on the taxpayer teat long enough to test the market, they might’ve built a car as good as this. Brilliant engine - 420 Newton-metres and fuel efficiency of just 5.4 litres per 100km (combined). Six speed transmission. It’s a great driver’s car; plenty of rooms in all five seats, a tonne of luggage space. The thing is: modern families buy SUVs. They actually need a car like the Mazda6 wagon - maybe one day they’ll figure that out ... and be better off for it.