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Audi Unveils The e-Tron

Audi has unveiled the e-Tron in a webcast from California. Focusing on the design element, price, and the extensive charging network that Audi and its business partners have and will invest in, the e-Tron, Audi’s Tesla challenger, is available now to order online in the US. Audi have also partnered with global retail giant Amazon in what is currently a unique move, allowing one stop at home charging via the Amazon Alexa smart-home device.An energy recuperation system is expected to harvest up to 90% of the battery’s usable capacity to power the vehicles twin electric engines. Quick charging for the 95 kW/h battery provides up to 150kW or 80% from empty in around thirty minutes. A zero to 60mph time of the 5.5 second mark has been quoted also. Driving range won’t be an issue although Audi didn’t confirm expected range. With a raft of charging stations available throughout the US on major roads, connecting and recharging from the west to east coast won’t be an issue. With the immediate competition offering figures between 240 to 295 miles of range, an extensive network will alleviate range anxiety.

The e-Tron is based on the Q series of AWD vehicles, features the signature Audi grille which will have a platinum hue to signify Audi’s electric intentions, and will start in the USD$74K range. It also means that visually they are immediately more relatable, in an electric car sense, to buyers familiar with the Audi styling. Interior styling should be “standard” Audi with the multi-media and virtual cockpit fitments. There will be a pair of large screens for the centre section of the dash, with a 10 inch and 8.6 inch screen for satnav/entertainment, and climate control usage. With the driver having the Virtual Cockpit it means most conventional tabs and buttons have been removed. Autonomous driving will be on board but to a level that still requires human input. A Comfort and Sport mode is programmed to have the semi-autonomous factor as well. A panoramic roof and four zone climate control are standard. The much talked about digital mirrors will come later.Audi have provided the e-Tron with a signature look up front. Alongside the stylish grille are new four bar LED driving lights that blend well into the overall Audi styling. And the rear is standard Audi as well, with a clean and uncluttered design.

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A Danger In Safety.

Evolution is a part of our lives and nowhere more evident than in the growth and change to the humble horseless carriage. From an open cabin with a tiny horsepower or two, to nimble sports cars and big four wheel drives, there’s been plenty of changes to witness.

Steam power came and went, electricity is back in vogue, and the fuel we use is still dinosaur based but fed to the engine under pressure, not sucked in by the sweep of a crankshaft.

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2019 Toyota Corolla Ascent Sport 2.0L

The Toyota Corolla‘s recent update provides an option of a hybrid drivetrain featuring a 1.8L petrol engine and battery power, or a non-assisted 2.0L petrol engine. The range is fitted with a revamped CVT with launch gear (2.0L engine only), and it’s the 2.0L engine that makes a better fist of this combination. The engine is available across the new three model range and it’s that inside the Ascent Sport that we’ve has tested.The CVT has a feature called Direct Shift, a mechanical ratio that assists greatly, in the case of the 2.0L, in getting the Corolla off the line swiftly. Compared the the hesitancy that the 1.8L/battery system has the 2.0L is a far better proposition. There’s instant response, and forward motion is rapid to say the least. There’s no excess in economy either, with a constant 4.9L to 5.2L per 100km being seen on the econometer. That’s better than the quoted combined figure from Toyota of 6.0L/100km. The CVT feels more alive, more connected, and engages the driver on a higher level than the hybrid. Having better power and torque goes a long way to helping that. 125kW versus 72kW. 200Nm versus 142Nm.Handling is, oddly, also seat of the pants better even with a smaller wheel. They’re 205/55/16s on the Ascent Sport, with the roundy bits from Dunlop’s Enasave range. There’s occasional chirping from the tyres when pushed hard but otherwise there’s a real sense of fun and verve in the way the whole chassis holds together on road. There’s a touch of understeer when pushed hard yet it’s otherwise tenacious in every way. Straight line ride quality is subtly more comfortable, with less than flat roads made to feel pancake like.

The interior is closer to the SX too, with cloth seats, a slightly less visually appealing look and feel to the plastics, but still not without a decent comfort level though. DAB audio features and the tuner is better than that found in the Kia Cerato recently reviewed for sensitivity. There’s a good level of standard kit including driver aids and safety equipment including Toyota’s Lane Trace Assist and Lane Departure Alert with steering assist.Like the ZR and SX as tested and reviewed recently, the exterior has also been given a make over. The front end has been sharpened with a harder edged style to each side of the headlights, with the rear mirroring that. The outer edge swoops down at the front while the rear has a more heavily defined crease line forming something akin to an “X” look, drawing a line from a bumper crease through to an extended inwards tail light motif. The rear window is laid forward by an extra fourteen degrees and the triangular rear pillar is gone, replaced by a more traditional arch look. It’s a distinctive look that builds upon the revamp from a couple of years ago.

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Yes, Virginia (Fanpetals), There Is A New Biofuel Feedstock On The Block

Sida hermaphrodita or Virginia Fanpetals: a new player in the biofuel game.

When it comes to biofuels, especially the sort of biofuel that gets used for ethanol, there’s always a bit of an issue.  You see, it kind of defeats the purpose of having a sustainable fuel source if you have to pour on truckloads of fertiliser (a lot of which can come from petrochemicals as well) and tons of water.  It’s also rather frowned on if the crop in question takes away land from something that could be used for growing crops that people are going to eat directly (as vegetables, flour, cooking oil, sugar, etc.) or indirectly (after a fodder crop has been fed to animals that produce milk, meat or eggs).

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Holden Confirms Camaro Is Coming

The long talked about will they-won’t they car from GM is confirmed. The Camaro is coming but there’s a catch. Of course. Ford US is building the Mustang in both left and right hand forms and therefore is able to amortise the cost. Here in Australia that lands in 5.0L form at somewhere north of $60K. Holden has confirmed the Camaro, to be imported and converted to right hand drive, at $85,990 recommended retail. THEN there are government charges to be added so it’s a fair bet to say it’ll be over $90K. It effectively has the legendary nameplate of Mustang at something like $20K LESS than the car GM brought out in the mid 1960s to compete against the “pony car”.However there are one or two tempters. The Mustang has a four cylinder or a 5.0L V8. The Camaro will be fitted with a V8 only and at 6.2L is over a litre bigger in capacity. That will translate to a potentially better driving experience for some, as the torque output is 617Nm, a full 61Nm better than the Ford product. Peak power is the same, apparently, at 339kW but of course you’ll need to drive around at something like 6000rpm to take advantage of those. The sole transmission choice is an eight speed auto, complete with paddle shifts. Specification will be the GM speak “2SS” and metallics only will be the paint choice. Bose audio will feature inside, as will a heated tiller.

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Electric Vehicles: What Will Happen With The Fuel Taxes?

I think we all know by now that electric cars and hybrids are much more common on the roads than they used to be.  It’s 20 years since the original Toyota Prius  – the groundbreaking first hybrid vehicle – hit the roads, which means that if you’ve got your eyes open, you can score a second-hand hybrid.  They’re getting better and better with extended range and more body types coming with hybrid and even all-electric versions.

One of the reasons put forward for why you should switch to an electric or hybrid vehicle – and you hear this one more often with pure electrics – is that electricity is cheaper than petrol or diesel, so it’s cheaper to fill up.  You’re not paying all that tax.

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Mercedes-Benz EQC Unveiled and Mitsubishi ASX Updates.

It’d be fair to say that Tesla has been seen as an innovator when it comes to the fully battery powered car. Their Model X is a beautiful example of practicality, being a large and roomy people mover, with no challengers. Until now. Mercedes-Benz, an originator of the electric car, first put forward a concept of a people mover powered by electricity at the Paris Motor Show. That concept has now been released as a working version under a new branding, EQ. Known as the EQC, this SUV styled machine is powered by a pair of motors, one each for the front and rear combining to produce 300kW. Consumption is rated at 22.2 kiloWatt hours per 100 kilometres driven.Peak torque is quoted as 765Nm, and top speed is limited to 180km/h. Range is said to be 450 kilometres which of course will depend on driving conditions. It’ll be a hefty beast though, with a kerb weight of 2425 kilos for the 4761mm long machine. Gross Vehicle Mass for the 1884mm (sans mirrors) wide and 1624mm high EQC is 2930 kilos, with the battery pack making up 650 kilograms of that. However there’s enough oomph to get the EQC to 100km/h in a breath over five seconds.

Charging is courtesy of an on-board charger that is capable of delivering 7.4kW, making it AC home charging compatible. Using a M-B supplied “Wallbox” increases that by up to three times, with up to 110kW, and in forty minutes from nearly empty up to eighty percent.Styling is a mix of standard high riding SUV, a sloping rear roofline to add a bit of coupe, and a standout front panel in black. This encloses the headlights and a grille like structure. There’s an LED strip that borders the top of the panel that draws a line between the headlights. Design highlights inside have a ribbed edge to the instrument panel that resembles the heat exchange vanes from a music amplifier. Mercedes-Benz have ensured that the EQC will feel like a driver’s car by designing a cockpit-like feel to the cabin. Charging information can be found via the MBUX, or the Mercedes Benz User Experience. Charging current and switch off times can also be set here. MBUX will have its own tile on the screen to access EQ functions.

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Pajero Sport GLX

Once upon a time there was the Mitsubishi Triton. Then came the rise of the SUV. Enter, stage left, the Mitsubishi Challenger, a family wagon based on the Triton. Time passes, and now the Challenger is called the Pajero Sport. It’s still based on the Triton, and in GLX form it’s a basic yet comfortable machine. At the time of review it was priced in the mid $40K bracket driveaway.Power is provided by a slightly agricultural sounding diesel with a 2.4L capacity packing 133kW and 430Nm. The useable driving rev range is from 1000 rpm to 2500 rpm and off throttle it’s quiet enough. On throttle and it evokes the diesel rattle of the 1980s. The eight speed auto that’s standard across the range is slick enough however did exhibit some thumps and a jolt, a mild one yes, but a jolt when shifting between Park, Drive, Reverse. It’s not a deal breaker as it’s otherwise a good performer. There’s typical turbo lag, though, from standstill, and perhaps just a little too much of it. Packing 430Nm it’s a little less than others but it’s not all that obvious though. Punch it at highway revs and there’s plenty of torque through the auto to get the Pajero Sport up and hustling. From a standstill, and once the turbo has overcome the lag, it’ll launch well enough in 2WD, and just a little more so in 4WD high range.Mitsubishi has a great economy system. There’s the mandated urban, highway, and combined figures that the government has for all cars, but Mitsubishi is one of a very small number that shows the change of economy depending on how the car is driven, on the fly. Around town the Pajero Sport GLX hovered between ten and eleven litres per one hundred kilometres, but move to the freeway and you can see the economy rate improving, to a final figure of 7.9L/100km. The dash binnacle has a colour LCD screen with a five leaf logo, and it’s here that the driver’s indication of how “eco” they are is on display.The Pajero Sport is a big machine. In GLX form there’s plenty of rear room. Why? It’s a five seater. What this means is that you could fold up a small apartment block, whack it into the cargo area, and still have space for a Great Dane. And an elephant. There’s no skimping on head, leg, and shoulder room either, even with high set seats. Being Triton based does mean it’s a little on the thin side compared to its opposition but there’s ample space for two in the rear seat. The cloth seats are covered in a pleasant weave, are well padded, however there’s a “something” in the right side of the driver’s squab that continually pushed into the thigh when disembarking. It’s also only a manually adjustable seat, meaning that it’s fiddly to get just the right spot.It’s a simple layout for the GLX. No dual zone aircon, an uncluttered look inside, muted shades of black and grey, and a cleanly laid out seven inch touchscreen but the menu system isn’t intuitive for someone that may not be tech-savvy. Apple and Android compatibility is here, naturally, and needed as there isn’t onboard satnav. Surprisingly, also here is DAB or digital audio. It’s a pity that the sound quality was flat and compressed, even after adjusting the sound parameters. Other switch gear is generic Mitsubishi but they’ve managed to have a better look and feel than some competitors in the same market. Being the entry level means there’s spots in the dash that in higher grades have buttons, and although it’s a cost effective measure it looks a bit second rate.Nowadays the call is for USB and 12V sockets to be more available and the Pajero Sport GLX delivers here with four USBs spread between front and rear seat passengers, a 12V in the front, rear, and in the cargo section, and there’s even a three pin plug hidden away in the interior. Red back-lighting is in the tabs and buttons and it looks fab but the icons and fonts being lit tend towards the harder to read side of things. And being entry level it dips out on items like auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, and perhaps a luxury touch by no powered tail gate.It’s a well mannered beast on tarmac, but there’s an odd feeling to the steering rack. Imagine, if you will, a thick rod of lightly pliable rubber. Place either end in the hands and twist, feeling the resistance build. That’s effectively how the steering feels. There’s a full ninety degrees of turn required before there’s a semblance of directional change, meaning there’s some forward planning required for moving left or right. Forward planning is also required for the brakes. There little feel and bite for the stoppers.The Pajero Sport comes with the Terrain Select four wheel drive system. One can dial up two wheel or four wheel drive in high range, or low range with Mud, Gravel, Snow, for some decent dirty excursioning. The Blue Mountains are blessed with numerous tracks suitable for trialing a four wheel drive car, and the Pajero Sport didn’t disappoint. High range modes are swappable up to one hundred kilometres per hour but that’s not recommended at those velocities. The car must be at standstill and in Neutral for the low range options. There are also driving aids for off road work such as Hill Descent Control. This applies the brakes judiciously and for the most part is more than adequate.The GLX’s suspension tune is a compromise, by the car’s user nature, with a hard, quick reacting, feel on tarmac, but a slow and easy slide off road. Driven at velocities of no more than forty kph the ride soaks up the natural irregular surfaces without excessive transmission of those to the cabin. Hit the light reflectors on the highway at the posted speed and that change to bang bang bang is immediately noticeable.Although there’s a ride clearance of 218 mm the Pajero Sport feels like it could do with another ten to twenty. There’s ample approach, departure, wading, and break-over angles (30 degrees, 24 degrees, 700mm, and 23 degrees), and they’re of a level that would be barely explored by the vast majority of buyers. For those that do want to go hard, perhaps a different tyre to the Bridgestone Dueler 265/60/18s fitted may be an option, as they did slip a few times in some sections of the off-road track.Although it’s the bottom of the ladder version there’s still enough mandated safety features to please. Forward Collision Alert is here and it’s a mite sensitive in certain situations, throwing up a false positive and startling the driver. Reverse Camera and guidance is standard, as are parking sensors front and rear. Airbags all around plus the normal traction control features round out the safety package.There’s a limited colour choice for the Pajero Sport, with just four available. The test car was in a colour called Terra Rossa, with metallic paint a $590 option. Warranty is fives years or 100, 000 kilometres. Roadside assist is free for the first twelve months and Mitsubishi offers three years of capped-price servicing at a total cost of $1425 on a 12-month/15,000km schedule.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Pajero Sport suffers from an insidious disease called invisibility. With the advent of SUVs such as Hyundai’s Santa Fe and Tucson, Kia’s Sorento and Sportage, and the like, the need for a high riding, multiple passenger carrying, vehicle based on a four door ute, is declining.

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Stinger GT V6

Kia is a brand on the move and stamping itself as one to watch, especially with its big, rear wheel drive, Stinger. The 2019 Kia Stinger GT is the third Stinger we’ve driven, and the second V6. It remains an intoxicating mix of technology, comfort, driveability, and sheer exhilaration.Although not quite Euro quality inside, it’s also not far from it. There’s plenty of room, plenty of technology and safety, but there’s also, still, a lingering disdain and suspicion of anything from Korea that isn’t a smartphone or TV. More’s the pity for those that choose to ignore it simply because of the three letters on the badge.Kia have developed and delivered an absolute belter of a car. Start with an alloy block V6, strap on a pair of turbochargers, and an eight speed smart transmission. Add in electronics that adjust the suspension, steering, engine and gearbox mapping. That’s good for a peak power of 272kW, with torque up to 550Nm if you believe a dash display. Kia’s official figure is 510Nm between 1300 – 4500rpm. A folder and information selector on the not overly visually inspiring tiller will show fuel economy, drive modes, radio, a G-Force & torque usage. There is also a HUD, a Head Up Display, that needs a Holden like dial to more easily switch through the available information. It’s all very usable in this first iteration of the Stinger, it just needs tweaking and it’d be a fair bet the second Stinger will be just that little bit better inside.Driver and passenger face a well thought out dash. It’s ergonomic, easy to read, but lacks a measure of class. There’s a drive mode dial in the centre console which offers Sport, Eco, Smart, Comfort, and it’s noticeable both physically and visually as it brings up a colour coded image on the large dash screen. What’s confusing is the counter-point of drive setting options available via the menu system. The dial can be set to Sport but then suspension, steering, and more can be selected to other than Sport. However, though, the font and layout of the options are again clean and simple to read.Kia stay with simplicity by offering a rocker switch for the driver and passenger seat to both heat and vent the leather bound eight way adjustable pews. Yes, vent, an amazingly overlooked part of specification for Australia. There are two memory settings for the driver’s seat as well. Smartphone access is via USB, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. A wireless charging pad is located next to a module housing a USB port and 12V port, plus a 3.5mm socket for external music playback should the Stinger GT be in a DAB blackspot. And as good as the sound is from the fifteen speaker Harman Kardon system, the tweeters are door, not A-pillar, mounted, meaning they’re firing into both nothing and the steering column.It has a physically imposing presence, the Stinger, especially in the deep hued metallic red the test car comes clad in (Kia doesn’t list this as a dollars option). A long bonnet and coupe rear evoke cars such as E-Type, Rapide, and with styling cues taken from Maserati in the rear quarter it’s a handsome looking machine. There’s faux bonnet vents but genuine vents in the far quarters of the LED head and driving light equipped front. They flow through to distinctive outlets and a stylish scallop in the front doors. Although a fastback coupe in profile there’s no lack of rear headroom nor lack of cargo under the powered tailgate. The rear lights are LED and will flash, Euro Style, in an emergency stop situation. The GT sports LED puddle lamps and interior lighting is LED powered as well. Overall length is 4830mm, with a wheelbase of 2905mm. Cargo beneath the powered tailgate is rated as 405L which expands to 1114L with the broad rear seats folded.Safety is a priority with the Stinger. Along with fade free Brembo stoppers, there’s a 360 degree (selectable view) camera system, Autonomous Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning with Adaptive Cruise Control. Lane Keep Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert go hand in hand, and there’s Blind Spot Detection, a surprisingly handy feature that many drivers need. Pedestrian safety comes in the form of Active Hood Lift System, designed to move upward should the car’s sensors detect a forward impact with something not of a car’s mass. The driver has a kneebag along with front and curtain ‘bags as well.

The colour palette has two exclusively for the GT, being Aurora Black and Snow White Pearl, colours seen on the Sorento and Cerato reviewed recently. There are also Silky Silver, Ceramic Grey, Deep Chroma Blue, Panthera Metal and Hichroma Red as seen on the test car. It’s an immaculate colour, and one that caught many, many, eyes. Inside the triple turbine design air vents catch the eye in a soft touch material surrounding and sit just below the eight inch touchscreen that’s fitted with SUNA satnav.But it’s the driving ability of the V6 Stinger that wins hearts and minds here. There’s an optionable ($2300) bi-modal exhaust mode that adds extra aural excitement from start-up. The push button Start/Stop is hidden behind the tiller’s left spoke. Punch that and there’s a whirr momentarily before the V6 fires up. There’s a “woofle” from the exhaust before the engine settles into a warm-up cycle. The gear selector is a rocker style, not a linear Park through to Drive. Park itself is a push button just north of the selector.The eight speed gearbox is better when it’s warmed up; from a cold start there’s some indecision, some stuttering, but once warmed up, and recommended when wishing to use the Launch Control function, it’s slick, smooth, and sporty. Paddle shifts become largely superfluous once it’s settled, and combined with the mighty punch of the twin turbo power-plant, it can become an intimidating machine. Launch Control is on board and is a hidden procedure involving a drive mode, and traction control.The Stinger dawdles along in relative peace and quiet around town and cuts under the official urban consumption figure from 14.1L/100km down to AWT’s urban figure of 10.1L/100km from the 60L tank. But make full use of the 510 torques and horizons become blurred and closer quickly, eyeballs meet the back of the head, and inane grins cover faces. Mid-range acceleration has the driver reaching for a thesaurus and looking for words that mean stupendous. There really is a shove back into the seats when the loud pedal is punched hard, and there’s a slight squirm and squiggle from the rear. There’s a similar experience when the dial is switched to sports mode and from a standing start a seat of the pants count says something around the five second mark to reach freeway velocities.The steering rack is quick, with fingertip sensitive response from the electrically assisted variable ratio setup. Even with the big 225/40/19 rubber up front (255/35/19 rears) there’s plenty of feedback, a lack of numbness in the rack itself, and a fluid, nimble, chassis. Driven through a valley in the lower Blue Mountains with some turns marked at 15km/h, the Stinger showcases its chassis dynamics here with aplomb. However, there is a niggle, and one shared with the smaller sibling, Cerato. Drive through a sweeping curve that has the metal expansion sections at a radiating ninety degrees from the inside to the outside, and the rear end of both cars would skip. This indicates that the lateral stability isn’t being damped down, and these are at velocities of 80 km/h.The adjustable suspension settings, which are accessible via the touchscreen, take a few moments to adjust, and it’s noticeable in way the big 1780kg plus fuel and passengers machine rides. The Comfort setting flattens irregularities, where the Sport feeds more of these through without excessive comfort loss. The steering itself has different modes and it’s fair to say the differences aren’t so noticeable. Either way, however, the Stinger is a gentle giant when driven without accessing the turbo-fed dragon lurking under the long alloy bonnet.

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How Not To Use Your Phone In Your Car

Don’t stop reading and decide that this post isn’t relevant to you because you’re not one of those social media-obsessed millennials. The fact is that it’s not just teens and twenty-year-olds that get distracted by that beeping phone when they ought to be concentrating on their driving.  The problem seems to be common to all age groups. In the US (and possibly also here in Australia), it’s busy middle-aged people who are the most likely to be busted using their phones illegally while driving.

You’re going to have to break yourself of that habit of just taking a quick look at your phone to see what it’s notifying you about.  You know that it’s not safe and you know that the potential consequences go way beyond just getting busted and slapped with a fine.  To help you kick the habit, here’s a few things you could try to help you get out of the habit of checking texts, posts and calls while you’re driving.

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