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The Race To Zero Emissions

Once upon a time, we were all whispering about a possible conspiracy that someone had invented a car that ran on something that wasn’t fossil fuel but the Big Oil companies resorted to various forms of skulduggery ranging from buying out the patents or technology through to murder to ensure that petrol and diesel continued to reign supreme in the motoring world.  Fast forward to nearly 2020 (i.e. today) and there’s a new rumour on the block: the rumour that petrol and diesel powered cars are going to be phased out.

In fact, this is more than just a rumour.  They’re starting to do it already in the UK.  The famous university city of Oxford is going to ban fossil fuel powered cars from the city centre by 2020, meaning that only electric vehicles (and probably hydrogen powered vehicles) will be allowed to buzz around in the heart of the city.  Looks like the complaint made by JRR Tolkien back in the day about “the roar of self-obstructive mechanical traffic” in the streets of inner Oxford is going to be dealt with… well, at least the roaring bit.  The idea is to make the city centre the world’s first Zero Emissions Zone.  (OK, to be picky, it will be Zero Emissions as far as car exhausts go – there will still be carbon dioxide and methane emissions as long as human beings breathe, burp and fart.)

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Peugeot 208 GTi

Some say size isn’t important, and it’s how you use it. Clearly one of the world’s oldest car brands have this in mind with the 2018 Peugeot 208 GTi. With a starting price of a blink under $30K, it’s a pocket-sized road pounder with a smooth engine, slick six speed manual, and not a lot of real estate when it comes to the sheetmetal.Hiding under the thumbnail sized bonnet is a turbocharged 1.6L four cylinder petrol engine, punching out 208 horsepower or 153kW. There’s also 300 torques on tap at 3000 revs but plenty of twist on board below that. It doesn’t add up to be a rocketship but performance is nonetheless more than satisfactory. So is fuel consumption with a quoted combined 5.4L/100. We clocked 6.3L/100 km in a mainly urban drive environment.The clutch is light-ish and the pickup point isn’t entirely precise but there’s enough feedback from the clutch pedal travel to engage it smoothly. The six speed manual has more feel in the selector lever than Suzuki’s Swift Sport tested recently and is therefore more confidence inspiring. Once engaged there’s a minute hit of turbo lag before the torque comes in smoothly and allows the 208 to kick up its heels smartly. An 1160kg dry weight certainly aids this.Steering is well weighted via the flat bottomed, red striped, leather bound tiller. There’s some lack of connection dead on centre however lock either way has the steering become more communicative in regards to where the front wheels were going. Ride quality itself was firm, leaning towards hard, but with just enough initial give to not be completely uncomfortable. Out on the freeway, as a result, it was a flat, slightly taut feel to the chassis, and with the engine ticking over at around 2500 in sixth, right in the sweet spot for the waiting maximum torque. Changes of direction are lightning quick thanks to an overall length of 3973mm yet packs a 2538mm wheelbase. Front and rear track are almost identical at 1476mm and 1478mm respectively, also helping the rapid response handling.That gearing also made it pretty tidy around town, with fifth the preferred gear for most 80 km/h zones and sometimes needing a judicious heel and toe for lower velocities.Unfortunately, there was also more tyre rumble than expected on most road surfaces. The Michelin Pilot Sport 205/45/17 rubber is superbly grippy but that grip came the cost of the aural noise.Inside the 208 GTi features the i-Cockpit setup favoured by Peugeot, and one that receives mixed reactions from some. This has the driver’s dash binnacle sitting above the sightline of the steering wheel. For me this wasn’t an issue but it’s also easy to see just how the top of the wheel could impede vision of the dials. Thankfully the steering column is adjustable for both height and reach.The binnacle itself has a switch, which when activated, limns the binnacle in blood red, matching the stripe on the wheel.The cockpit itself is comfortable with red and black trimmed sports seating, which are fully manual in operation, soft touch materials throughout, and a seven inch touchscreen for satnav, reverse camera with guidelines, and six speaker audio. Apps are on board and using a USB connection has a smartphone connecting for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Other features include a tyre pressure monitoring system, folding power mirrors, six airbags, and Autonomous Emergency Braking. Outside there’s chromed exhaust tips, good looking alloys, cornering lamps, and rear spoiler. This sits over a cargo area that is, unsurprisingly, not big at 285L. That’s a little smaller than Ford’s Fiesta and quite a bit smaller than VW’s Polo. At night that’s overcome by the stunning claw tail lights.Peugeot offer a three year warranty or 100,000 kilometres and the Peugeot 208GTi comes with a five star ANCAP safety rating.At The End Of The Drive.
The 2018 Peugeot 208 GTi continues a solid heritage and builds nicely upon the small hot hatch history. Although not as quick off the line as expected, the mid range driveability makes it more a usable day to day proposition, especially for a single person or couple. It’s a sweet handler and will happily take you at speed through twisting roads whilst sporting a healthy grin.

Head to Peugeot Australia for more info.

The Most Frustrating Driving Habits

It would be so much easier if we all drove perfectly all the time, but not even a robot (aka an autonomous car) can do that.  The best that most of us can do is to try to avoid mistakes and try to be considerate of other people.  However, there are some people out there on our roads who have the most tooth-grindingly annoying bad habits behind the wheel, and I don’t mean that they pick their noses at red lights.  Not only are these habits annoying to other drivers (and pedestrians and cyclists and motorcyclists and…), they’re also a bit dangerous.

Here’s a list of some of the habits that really get up people’s noses.  Which of these get your blood boiling – and which ones are you guilty of and need to stop?

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Flying At Ground Level.

A certain British car show once had a story about a car powered by an engine sourced from a WW2 fighter plane. It was a spectacle to behold with flames, sparks, and smoke being emitted as it was piloted around the show’s test track.

British based John Crowhurst is one member of a very select group that has similar thoughts to the builder of that car. John, formerly based in South Africa, has found an engine that comes from the same basic aeronautic background, however it’s a British engine, not German.

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The Holy Hand Grenade Of Antioch.

Followers of Monty Python will get this once some more has been explained. Perhaps this will help: “The number thou shall count to shall be three. No more, no less.” Still from the same film and reference point but what exactly has this to do with cars?

Easy.

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Mercedes-Benz X-Class For The Tradies Is Here.

Along with German sibling Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz now offers a four door utility vehicle. Called the X-Class it’s got a starting price of $45,490 plus on roads. With an effective trickle style media campaign underway there’s already over 8000 registrations of interest in their new vehicle. As is to be expected, M-B will offer an almost bewildering range of variants. There’s will be a choice of two models called the X 220d and X250d, two diesel engines offering either 120kW or 140kW, a six speed manual for each or a seven speed auto for the 250d.
The 220d will be given either a rear wheel or all wheel drive system, with the 250d coming in AWD only. A high output V6 will be available by the end of 2018, with 190kW and 550Nm of torque.
There will be three trim levels: Pure, Progressive, and Power, designed to appeal to three distinct lifestyles and working groups. Underneath will be the tried and true, and fettled for Australian roads, double wishbone front and multi-link rears, with both ends riding on coil springs. This aims to provide a harmonious balance of safety with any load and a comfortable ride.

Safety won’t be an issue with the X-Class receiving a five star ANCAP rating thanks to seven airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, plus a 360 degree camera in the Power and optionable on the Progressive.It’ll have a significant on-road presence with a 5340mm length, 1920mm width and 1829mm height. The front end features a stand-out Mercedes-Benz emblem inside a twin louvre grille, a M-B family look to the lower front bar, and a powerful stance at the rear.The tray will hold a standard Australian spec pallet and towing of up to 3500 kilograms is factored in. Whilst working hard it’ll cosset driver and passengers in three trim levels inside including two leather and two roof lining colours.The Pure will be aimed at the working driver and will roll on 17 inch steel wheels. They’ll be able to access media via a seven inch touchscreen. The Progressive driver has 17 inch alloys, colour coded bumpers, heat insulating glass in the windscreen, and Garmin integrated navigation through the seven inch touchscreen.Power drivers will have their new ute fitted with 18 inch alloys, man made leather interior, parking assist via M-B’s PARKTRONIC system, and an eight speaker digital audio system.
A range of option packs will be available across the range for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

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Is Your Car Winter-Ready?

Lake Mountain Road, Vic.

It might not quite be winter yet, but we have passed the autumn Equinox, which means that the time when the sun is up is shorter than the time when it’s down. This means that it’s time to think ahead and get your car ready for winter. Because there’s no point in getting ready for something if it’s already come and too late, right?

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Is It Worth Holden On?

A recent post to Private Fleet’s facebook page has given rise to plenty of passionate, robust, thought provoking discussion. The subject? Holden and the new Commodore.

It seems there’s a couple of factors that have sparked what appears to be mostly “against” comments; largely, the fact there’s no V8 and that it’s front wheel drive. Yes, we know there’s the all wheel drive, but that’s only available with the V6. Only occasionally does the fact it’s no longer a locally manufactured product crop up, such as this: ” Doesn’t matter if designed in Australia, what mattered is assembled in Australia so that Australians have jobs. Is it any wonder our welfare bill is going up. Now most of car price goes overseas just like a lot of our income tax does.”

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Anniversary For Holden Maven Gig.

Imagine being able to trial a job for a month to decide if you liked the conditions, pay and hours, with so many new ways of working through the sharing economy, why shouldn’t this be possible? Holden agreed, so they launched Maven Gig, a car-sharing service that puts power into the hands of the driver.
Since launching a year ago, Maven Gig has achieved significant growth as more Australians turn to freelancing and the sharing economy to generate income and look for flexible ways to get on the road faster. As the personal mobility solution for members of the freelance economy celebrates its first anniversary, Maven Gig has reached a major milestone with its 1000th car hitting the road.
“We’ve seen massive changes to how our customers work and live, and we are embracing the challenge to offer the type of tailored experiences that people want and expect in every facet of their life. Maven Gig is just one way that we are creating new solutions that go beyond just a car, it gives people the power to choose how they want to drive and work,” said Matt Rattray-Wood, General Manager of Maven Australia.
“Freelance work and side hustles are becoming the norm as the public embrace new ways to work, and it’s incredibly exciting that as a car company we have the opportunity to be able to expand into this space. Maven Gig allows members to earn money and enjoy all the benefits of car ownership, all on their own terms.”
Maven Gig gives members access to a wide range of brand new or near new Holden vehicles such as the Trax, Astra hatch and sedan, and the seven seat Captiva. Drivers get unlimited kilometers, 24/7 roadside assistance, comprehensive car insurance and scheduled servicing all included in the rental cost. They can easily swap the vehicles depending on their work or needs.
Matt said the automotive industry was evolving at lightning speed and Holden and Maven intended to be at the forefront of this expanding market.
“With 1000 active members across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide, Australians are embracing this service and we are looking at new ways that we can expand our offering.”
“This first year has shown us that there is a strong appetite for our service in Australia, as we look to the future we are diving deeper into the sharing side of the business, exploring apps and what other opportunities there are to provide new mobility solutions for businesses and individuals.”
For more information click here Holden Maven Gig
With thanks to Holden Corporate Communications.

The Focus Is On The New From Ford.

Ford Australia will bring the most advanced, highly equipped and freshly styled Ford Focus to Australian customers in late 2018. The new German-made Ford Focus will bring the latest safety, technology, and European sophistication to more Australians looking for a dynamic and practical passenger car.Ford Australia CEO and President, Graeme Whickman said: “We already enjoy highly-sophisticated and praised Fords from Europe, which include the current Focus ST and Focus RS models – now, our state of the art plant in Germany will be the single-source for the entire Focus range.”

The first vehicle to be built on Ford’s clean-sheet C2 global platform, the new Ford Focus sports a sophisticated new chassis with advanced driving technologies with the goal of providing an energetic, engaging and rewarding fun-to-drive experience with increased cabin and powertrain refinement.The all-new Ford Focus continues the tradition of being a groundbreaking, standard setting vehicle in terms of safety, technology and value for money by offering a host of advanced features in an stylish package. Focus will have Autonomous Emergency Braking with Night-time Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection as standard across the range. This technology is designed to detect people in or near the road ahead, or who may cross the vehicle’s path. The system automatically applies the brakes if it detects a potential collision and the driver does not respond to warnings; is now also designed to detect cyclists and functions in the dark using light from the headlamps.

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