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Car Sales Top 10

New car sales are still buoyant in Australia, with many buyers happily spending on an upgrade.  According to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), the total vehicles sold in April, including passenger cars, SUVs, light and heavy commercial vehicles and the national government fleet was 82,930 units.  Of these units the Toyota Hilux re-claimed first place as the top-selling vehicle, with 3596 sales in April.  How much of the car sales pie do Electric Vehicles take out?  Let’s have a look at Australia’s top 10 models sold in April 2017:

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The Green Hell.

Every country has a racetrack that is loved, respected, and wanted to be raced upon by anyone from armchair console players to professional drivers. Australia has Mount Panorama, The US perhaps Laguna Seca as the pick. Britain has a few including Silverstone, and then there’s Germany’s Nürburgring.The location is steeped in history and can trace its origin back to the 1920s. Races were held on the roads and run under the auspices of the ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club e.V). The Eifelrenen was an annual race that started in 1922. Held on 33 kilometres of public roads the mounting toll of damage and fatalities from this and other forms or racing lead to the founding of the original Nürburgring in 1927.

The original circuit had 187 bends and a distance of 28.265 kilometres. Bugatti driver Louis Chiron managed the quickest time and averaged 112.3 kilometres per hour. However, due to ongoing safety concerns, in 1929 it was decided to race only on the 22.8 kilometre Nordschleife for major races such as Grands Prix. The Südschleife, or South Ring, would host motorcycle and minor races on its separate 7.747 kilometre surface.

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Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster

Mercedes-Benz and AMG continue their strong family relationship with the release of the Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster. This takes the AMG range to an even twelve in number.
The newest addition features a hand-built alloy 4.0 litre V8 and packs twin turbos. This means a peak horsepower output of 515 hp, and peak torque of 494 lb-ft. This should have the aluminium chassised machine seeing 60mph in just 3.7 seconds whilst on its way to a top whack of 192mph. That torque is available through 1900 to 5000 rpm, and powers the rear wheels via a seven speed transaxle.
To squeeze the engine into a relatively compact engine bay, AMG have engineered the engine to locate the turbos in the V between the cylinder heads. Because they’re close to the exhaust headers this aids in lowering emissions. There’s a dry sump system onboard which allows the engine to be located lower, helping handling by having a lower centre of gravity. Weight distribution is 47/53 percent front to rear.
The double wishbone suspension holds adjustable adaptive damping and big wheels & rubber. Nineteen inches up front and twenty at the rear, the footprint is massive at 265/35 and 295/30. Inside those big wheels are composite brakes with plenty of stopping power thanks to a 15.4 and 14.2 inch diameter front at rear, with a six piston/single piston combination. The suspension is controlled via a dial in the sumptuously appointed cabin, with Comfort, Sports, and Sports+ available at the twist of a finger.
This is complemented by a five mode drive system, including the aforementioned three plus Race and Individual. These modes tweak the ESP, the position of the exhaust flaps, the steering and suspension.
Inside it’s the bespoke Silver Chrome Interior package. AMG fit high visibility silver highlights to areas such as the center console, steering wheel, and airvent bezels which complement the standard MB-Tex man made leather look material and DINAMICA micro-fiber trim. AMG allow a buyer plenty of leeway to personalise the GT S with a range of trim color options such as two tone Nappa leather or Nappa leather and DINAMICA.
If Silver is not the preference then AMG can install their Piano Black Lacquer. A superb high quality high gloss black replaces the silver element and further complements the black trim options. There’s even more customization available with matt silver fiber glass, gloss or matt carbon fiber elements.
Being an open top car, Mercedes and AMG offer the AMG performance seats and AIRSCARF heating system. Designed and engineered to blow warm air through vents in the headrest , the AIRSCARF system provides comfort in elegant surroundings whilst driving in cooler environments.
But if all of this sounds like it’s not enough, AMG add more. Their DYNAMIC PLUS package offers an enhanced suspension setup, a broader range of peak horsepower, increased levels of interior appointments and revised engine/transmission mounts.
The exterior isn’t overlooked with AMG’s Carbon-Fiber and Exterior Night packages. The front spiltter, mirror housings, front bumper inlet housings and more can be ordered in either style.
Due for release in the United States in 2018, pricing for the Mercedes-AMG GT S Roadster will be released closer to the expected launch date.

EV Ponderings

EV Networking

With all the fuss and excitement of electric vehicles paving the way of the future it’s worth pondering what sort of new electric-vehicle technology could be part of our automotive future.  Interesting current discussion regarding what sort of electric-vehicle (EV) fuel stations, networking and technology Australia might employ is necessary for keeping the Australian EV fleet ready for the road.  Plenty of excellent EV and EV-infrastructure planning and  management has to happen now for us to get the best EV product rolled out for our country.

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Private Fleet Car Review: Tesla Model S P100 D & Model X P100D

They’re potentially expensive. They’re controversial. They’re cracking good drives. And totally fully electric. The Tesla range consisting of the Model S variants and Model X variants has been with us in Australia for a few years now and the Model S remains the most visible. The P100D name means the car is an all wheel drive machine, with a pair (the D stands for dual) of electric motors powering each corner. The 100, by the way, means the kilowatt hours the engines produce and it’s through the range the numbers tell the output. Body wise the Model S rocks a five door coupe shape in a smooth and svelte design, the Model X a more pumped roof.Pricing structure within Australia varies state by state for the Tesla cars. Tesla Model S pricing and Tesla Model X pricing are the links for your location, however starting prices are $113,200 for the Model S 75D and $120, 200 for the Model X 75D. The top of the range gets the “P” designation, with Ludicrous mode, top end interior, and Premium Upgrade package standard. That’s the zero to goodbye license in 2.9 seconds for the Model S and 3.1 seconds for the Model X. Passing speeds are also eyeball smashing with the sprint from 75 to 105 km/h lasting a mere 1.2 seconds.Interior trim is full machine made leather or as Tesla calls it, an ecologocally sustainable material, alcantara roof and pillar lining, a massive 17 inch touchscreen that controls virtually every aspect of the Tesla, and a key fob shaped like a car that has to be on you if you want to get in. There is an app that can go on your smartphone that will open and close doors, start the car, and even pre-start air-conditioning. However the corresponding service has to be enabled via the touchscreen for the mobile app to work. Should the key fob be mislaid the app can also be used to get you underway.The powered and heated seats are comfortable to a fault, the steering column is easily adjusted via an electric toggle, and it’s a pretty simple office to be in and a good one to look at.There’s carbon fibre inlays to complement the black plastic, leather, and alcantara, and looks a treat. Cup holders are on board but no door has storage in the Model S. None. The Model X, being aimed more at the family, comes with a customisable seating configuration of five, six, or seven seats, and the doors do get holders. The doors, by the way on the Model X are powered and opened via buttons on the fob. Individual doors can be opened or closed or all of them, including the gull wing rear passenger doors at the same time. The car and fob communicate wirelessly so when walking to or away from the P100D Model S the door handles slide out or in. It’s secure and safe and it’s a switchable option from the touchscreen, meaning it can be deactivated.

A talking point about Tesla vehicles is the autonomous driving factor. In a basic form it’s here however there’s some caveats and they’re pretty strong ones. Hidden in the B pillar and front guards are tiny cameras that link to software on board. If these cameras can see white roadside markings then the full LCD dash will display a grey steering wheel icon. This tells the driver that autonomous mode can be used. A small lever on the bottom left of the steering column needs to be pulled twice and this engages the software. BUT it also warns you to have your hands on the wheel and if there’s no lines, no auto steer. So what this means is that as a fully autonomous driving system, no, it’s not. As an Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) yes but the human factor is crucially important, still.

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Holden’s Equinox Goes Oily.

As promised by Holden, a new diesel engine option has been made available for its Equinox range.
Available across the range, the 1.6-litre turbo diesel boasts an impressive fuel economy from just 5.6L/100km, while retaining strong power and torque of 100kW and 320Nm respectively.

The third engine to be introduced in the Equinox range, the new 1.6-litre turbo diesel engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and available in front-wheel-drive or all-wheel drive. Introduced in late 2017, the all-new Equinox now adds longer-range driving and improved fuel economy to an already impressive list of high-tech features including wireless phone charging and heated and ventilated front seats.

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Ford Australia Extends Warranty.

Ford Australia joins the growing band of manufacturers to provide a longer than three years warranty by offering customers a five-year unlimited kilometre Ford Express New Vehicle Warranty, as standard on all new vehicles, including Ford’s highly acclaimed commercial vehicle range. The warranty applies to all new vehicles delivered from May 1, 2018 and replaces Ford’s three year 100,000 kilometre offering.

It’s not restricted to passenger vehicles either, with commercial vehicles such as Ranger and Transit included. This makes Ranger a class leader in its segment.The five year, unlimited kilometre warranty extends Ford Australia’s comprehensive after-sales care package, which already includes satnav updates including Sync3 systems for up to seven years & Sync2 through to September 2014, Auto Club Membership with Roadside Assistance, loan car and their Service Price Promise.

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AMG: It’s All Four The Coupe.

It’s rare that Mercedes-Benz and AMG make lots of noise about a new model so when they do it’s clearly something special. And so it is with the AMG four door coupe called, logically, the AMG GT 4 Door Coupe. However there’s more being offered to commemorate the release. The Edition 1 will feature bespoke interior and exterior enhancements.

There will be 21 inch forged alloy wheels in black, a Graphite Grey Magno paint scheme, a bluff nose that links to a longs and slinky coupe body. Aerodynamically there’s a larger front bar and integrated air intakes, a larger rear diffuser, and a stand out rear wing. It’s fixed to the metalwork however the wing itself can be adjusted by the driver whilst on the move, with the whole body package dropping the drag co-efficient and increasing downforce.

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Private Fleet Car Reviews: 2018 Subaru Liberty 3.6L and 2.5L.

Subaru‘s Liberty sedan continues to be a pillar of the Japanese brand’s sales success. The current three tier range has the 2.5L engine in the 2.5i and 2.5L Premium before a 3.6L flat six trim. Private Fleet goes back to back with the Subaru Liberty 3.6L and 2.5L Premium.The Liberty range itself received a mild facelift in early 2018, with a change to the front lights and bar, the rear lights, and a freshen up inside. Software such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto was added to a touchscreen that was slightly larger than before, Lane Keeping Assist was added to the safety package, plus the Premium gains a updated safety package. Premium variants add a suite of Vision Assist features including: Steering Responsive Headlights, Adaptive Driving Beam, Side View Monitor, and Front View Monitor.Underneath there were changes to the suspension and drivetrain. There’s a smoother and more refined feel to both engines, and the seven speed CVT autos in both also feel crisper and smooth in the changes. However, in this driver’s opinion, the suspension is a backwards step, being floaty, soft, far too short in travel and banging quickly to the bumpstops on even the smaller speed inhibitors in shopping centres. There’s more noticeable skipping sideways as well, with a two and a half day trip to the Kiama and Illawarra region, south of Wollongong, finding plenty of spots where the rear would suddenly move sideways and too easily on the Dunlop 225.50/16 rubber and alloys.The two different engines require, like all petrol engines, plenty of spin to see the maximum power. The 2.5L four sees 5800 rpm for 129 kW, and the bigger six 6000 rpm for 191 kW. However real driving relies on torque, and it’s here the six wins with 350 Nm at 4400 revs. The smaller donk has 235 Nm and 4000 revs, a still not inconsequential amount for its size. Both do a sterling job of pulling the 1577 and 1655 kilo machines around, however the four suffers in comparison on the uphill runs. There’s noticeable drop-off quicker which requires a firmer right foot. That relative lack of torque in a vehicle that weighs as it does sees a zero to one hundred time of 9.6 seconds, and a full 2.4 seconds quicker for the flat six in an eighty kilo heavier car.Economy on the 2.5L shows that it’s otherwise a brilliant highway performer, with the return figure from the Illawarra standing up at 6.4L of standard unleaded per 100 kilometres from the sixty litre tank. That’s on par with Subaru’s claimed 6.2L/100 km for the highway. The 3.6L is quoted as 7.5L per 100 km and driven in a more urban environment wasn’t far from the quoted combined figure of 9.9L/100 km. It’s the quoted figure of over fourteen litres for every hundred kilometres for the urban cycle that’s the concern.In profile it’s a handsome machine with a full 4800 mm length, and with the LED C shaped tail lights glowing at night, the auto swivelling headlights at work, and the white metallic paint glinting in the night, looks eye-catching and appealing. There’s also door mounted puddle lamps which cast a LED light over a broad area. Inside, the bigger touchscreen is easy to use, is well laid out, and features satnav, apps, and compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The powered seats are heated but not vented, and lack enough side bolstering for genuine comfort. There’s no shortage of shoulder or leg room though, thanks to a wheelbase of 2750 mm, width of 1840 mm overall, and a long but height shallow 493L boot. There piano black trim on the steering wheel looks and feels cheap and is at odds at the otherwise classy interior.There’s a good level of tech on board with Active Torque Vectoring, and the Premium & 3.6L feature the Vision Assist package which is Front View Monitor, Lane Change Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Side View Monitor, and Adaptive Driving Beam. Seven airbags including the driver’s knee bag means occupant safety is high. Height adjustable seat belts enhance that level. Reverse camera is standard across the range. But, and this is a big but, neither car had rear sensors and in an age where these are virtually mandatory this level of oversight is simply not good enough. What is good enough is Subaru’s Eyesight system. Stereo cameras mounted alongside the rear vision mirror, which is auto dimming by the way, rear the traffic ahead and are part of a safety bundle.Adaptive Cruise Control, Brake Light Recognition, Pre-collision Braking (which occasionally threw out some false positives), Pre-collision Brake Assist, Pre-collision Throttle Management, and Pre-collision Steering Assist work with the other driving aids to provide as much warning and support to drivers to avoid a crash as possible.But it’s the ride and handling that distinguishes this version compared to the previous and that’s not necessarily a good thing. It really does float, waft, and roll, and that suspension crash at low speeds just simply doesn’t feel good nor does it inspire confidence. It’s a chassis feel that a neighbour with a 2013 model Liberty said would turn him off from buying a new model. And it’s a chassis tune that feels aimed at more…mature drivers.

At The End Of The Drive.
Subaru’s list price for the 2.5L Premium is a reasonable $36,640. The six comes in at $43,140. Factor in on roads and those prices suddenly don’t look quite so attractive compared to the new Commodore and on a par with the Mazda 6 2.5L. The ride quality isn’t as good as expected, the lack of rear sensors may outweigh, in some buyer’s minds, the excellence of the EyeSight packagae, and the thirst around town of the six may also counter the positives. There’s always the Outback, though….Book a drive and make up your own mind, here: 2018 Subaru Liberty range

Why We Shouldn’t Phase Out ICE Vehicles Yet

 

Hello, I’m a mule – the very first hybrid form of transport.

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