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A Few Snags With Voice Control Systems

Michael, I don’t think these modern cars are quite up to my standard yet.

Ever since at least the 1960s or possibly earlier, technologically minded geeky sorts have dreamed of having machines that will hear your voice and carry out your commands and popped this sort of tech into sci-fi stories. Kind of like having a very obedient slave who will do whatever is asked but without any of the nasty ethical implications.  Possibly the dream of voice-activated machines is even older – if you look hard enough in old books, robot-type things have been turning up since the 1600s.  Certainly, in the 1970s and early 80s when the way you got a computer to do something was by feeding in a punch card, the idea of just being able to tell it what to do would have seemed like the ultimate.  The people with these fantasies were probably the ones who dreamed up Knight Rider and the intelligent car named KITT… and the ones who are designing cars and in-car tech grew up watching this show.

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Picanto GT

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 Kia Picanto GT. It’s the pert and perky little five door hatch, with minor and tastefully styled body add-ons, an energetic powerplant, and a fun factor that’s off the scale. It’s a screaming bargain at just $17,990 driveaway.Under The Bonnet Is: A zippy and free spinning three cylinder petrol engine with a real warble when it’s spinning up. There are 74kW available at 4,500rpm, and a very useful 172Nm from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm. Power heads to the front wheels via a five speed manual. Boost and bang for the milk-bottle sized engine comes from a turbocharger that adds plenty of sizzle. The dry weight of the Picanto GT is just 1,007kg, which means that the power and torque, plus the five speed, don’t need to work hard to provide the spark.

Tank size is just 35L for the standard unleaded fuel. Economy, says Kia, is 4.8L per 100km for the combined. In the urban cycle, its far more likely home, it’s 6.2L/100km. Get it onto the freeways and that drops to 4.0L/100km. We finished on 6.4L/100km on our mainly urban test cycle.On The Outside It’s: The same little block of Picanto that’s been available for a few years but now with extra grin. There are colour highlights from inserts outside and in, new wheels, front bar additions with driving lights and extra air intakes, whilst the rear gets the cool “neon” light look at night plus a twin exhaust and a diffuser style add-on. Nexen supplies the 195/45 N Blue Plus rubber to wrap the 16 inch eight spoke alloys. The review car came clad in Aurora Black, with the GT also having Clear White, Signal Red, and Titanium Silver.

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Monterey Car Week: Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance.

In a field of diamonds there will be one that will shine, that will sparkle, just that brighter than the glittering surroundings. In the week of events celebrating automobiles, motorsport, fine foods and drinks, and superbly handcrafted timepieces, a stunning beachside locale named Pebble Beach becomes host once a year to a select number of the world’s best classic automobiles.

The area is steeped in history. Motorsport plays a large part in the origin of what is now the world’s premier concours event, with returning soldiers needing a place to vent post-WW2 frustrations. Road race events sprang up around the country, and Pebble Beach, with its natural oceanside setting and intoxicating mix of varying roads, quickly became a favorite. 1950 was the year the first concours was held and in the style of what had been seen in Europe. It was 1952 that saw the 18th green of the Pebble Beach Gold Club become the home of the concours and where it remains as the host for this year and beyond.

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Monterey Car Week: The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering.

The Quail. An unusual name, one big event. It’s part of the week that celebrates new and classic autos, new and classic aircraft, high end personal items and cordon bleu’ food in the coastal town of Monterey, California, every August. The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering itself is held in the beautifully manicured grounds of the Quail Lodge Resort and Gold Club in Carmel, just a few miles south of Monterey and a couple of miles east of Pebble Beach.

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Montery’s Auto Week: McCall’s Motorworks Revival.

Monterey, California. It’s located slap bang in the middle of the state’s coastline and once a year plays host to a number of car shows. Those two words, however, do not do justice to what is made available as there are events such as the fabled Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to attend in a must-see automotive week.

The McCall’s Motorworks Revival on August 14 is the ignition point for the week and for 2019 will be held once again at the Monterey Jet Center. It’s an ideal location as it allows the organisers the opportunity to take advantage of the open spaces, combine aircraft, luxury and sports cars, high end personal luxury items, and more.
Of note for the 2019 event will be the attendance of world renowned performance car company, Roush. They’ll be showcasing their one-of-a-kind Stage 3 Mustang and a powerplant producing 710 horsepower. It’ll sit by the side of their new F-150 SC pickup. Power here is from a supercharged 650 horsepower 5.0L V8.

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It’s A Man’s World In The Crash Test Facility

Notice the design of the chest, biceps, neck and jaw…

Take a look at your typical crash dummy – the sort they use in the ANCAP and similar tests (see the photo, sourced from ANCAP).  Notice anything about them and what they’ve got in common?  Ten points (or should that be five stars?) for you if you noticed that a crash test dummy tends to look like a guy.  I don’t know if you can really refer to a crash test dummy as a male but it (he?) is definitely masculine.

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CarReview: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0L Turbo

This Car Review Is About: The revamped and relaunched as a two car range, Genesis. No it’s not the Phil Collins version. It’s the rejig of the 3.8L V6 first seen a half decade ago, now called G80. And now there’s a BMW hunting smaller version, the G70. This comes in three trim levels and two engine choices, being 2.0T, 2.0T Sport, and 2.0T Ultimate or with the 3.3L V6 as found in the Stinger.How Much Will It Cost?: There’s a sticker price of $58K plus on roads for the entry level, $62K for the Sport, and a hefty $71K for the Ultimate in four cylinder guise. The Genesis website says $65,533 driveaway, or with sunroof $68,158. In Sport and Ultimate trim it’s $69,733/$72,760 and $76,978.

Under The Bonnet Is: The same potent turbo 2.0L as found elsewhere in the Hyundai and Kia families. It’s a 180kW/353Nm turbocharged 2.0L four cylinder. This is mounted “north-south” and drives the rear rubber via a slick eight speed auto. Otherwise there’s a 3.3L V6 effectively lifted from Kia’s underappreciated Stinger. Economy is rated as 9.0L per 100km for the combined cycle in the Sport, 8.7L in the standard 2.0L Our average around town barely moved from 8.7L/100km, and that was enjoying some of the fruits of the spirited engine.On The Inside It’s: Pretty nice in this entry level trim spec. Leather seats, heated, not vented (sigh) are comfortable, supportive underneath and around the abdomen and electrically powered for both sides. There isn’t memory seating though. The top level has a diamond quilted leather trim option for the seats. There’s a sunroof, of course ($2500 as an option), and mood lighting in the housing around the switches for the interior lights. If there’s an option to change the colour it wasn’t readily found. All models have a remote key for entry and exit, and it’s cleverly designed to fit in between the spring loaded supports inside the cup/bottle holders in the console.In the traditional styled centre console is a rocker gear selector, a drive mode dial, and a nook with wireless charging for smartphones, plus USB and 12V sockets. The charge pad is a tad fiddly and requires precise placement of the handset in order to initiate charging. The touchscreen is a 8.0 inch with a familiar look. As a result it’s super easy to use and to read. Satnav is standard and SUNA updates are included. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are embedded. Sound is via DAB and Bluetooth streaming. The 9 speaker output is beautifully balanced, crisp, and with plenty of balance in the bottom end.Paddle shifts are standard and work well with the smart transmission, which has rev matching technology when it comes to the cog swaps. There are five drive modes which are activated via a dial near the gear selector. Custom, Comfort, Eco, Sport, Smart, are the choices and each change the colour of backlight in the driver’s dash LCD screen. They also bring up a graphic on the main 8.0 inch centre screen which show a layout of the car and highlights areas with different colours. Embedded in the sub-menus here is the option to change the steering and transmission between Comfort and Sports.The rear seats are not excessively spacious in regards to leg room. Even with an average height driver the rear of the front seat is just a few inches from the squab of the rear seat, and they just don’t look as if there is real comfort for anyone of certain sizes. That’s due to a shortened wheelbase that, although it endows the G70 with great handling, then compromises for a proper 2+2 or 2+3. It also compromises boot space, with the BMW/M-B-esque end holding 330L. The spare is a space saver, not a full-sizer.What About Safety? There’s nothing left out in real terms. A console mounted tab for 360 degree camera was fitted in the review car, and the actual feature is standard in the Ultimate. Forward Collision Avoidance with pedestrian alert is standard, as is Lane Keep Assist with steering assist. The actual assist is aggressive and overly so in how it works to keep a car in between the lines. Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot Alert are also standard, as are a full suite of airbags including driver’s knee.On The Outside It’s: Low, slinky, full of sensual curves, and obvious who it’s looking to hunt down. It’s a long, long, bonnet on the 4,685mm G70, with lines and shapes that evoke BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and thanks to the badge, had a number of school yard car-spotters saying Aston Martin. It’s fair to say that the deep electric blue metallic paint is eye-catching, and on the school run had plenty of eyes on stalks swivelling to follow its progress. Even on the highway and residential roads the unfamiliar shape and badge had people stop or watching from inside their own car, eager to try and get a glimpse of the svelte lines. It’s a four coupe, almost, in profile, and the bootlid is a stubby, truncated affair with a built-in spoiler design. The grille on the Sport is a classy, black coated, diamond mesh design. On the front flanks is a chromed, boomerang shaped insert, and there is pressure relieving vents ahead and behind.The tail lights are LED and there’s even a hint of Mustang in the three vertical stripes when lit. There are puddle lamps in the wing mirrors that shine the Genesis logo, and the headlights and indicators are high intensity bi-LED and full LED respectively.Out On the Road It’s: Engaging. Wonderfully so. Dialing up any of the drive modes from another brings small but perceptible changes in the G70’s behaviour. In Sports mode for the steering it’s razor sharp, though process sharp in its reaction to steering wheel input, and adds a discernible heft to how it feels as it’s turned. Eco dulls the engine and transmission down to a smooth, slurry,easy going feel. Sport goes the other way, tightening up the responses for a crisper, sharper, experience.

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Why Do They Bash British Leyland?

Come on, it’s not that ugly really.

 

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Car Review: 2019 Isuzu MU-X LS-U

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 spec Isuzu five door MU-X LS-U. It’s also available in LS-T and LS-M spec and comes in 4×2 and 4×4 driveline options. The range was given a largely cosmetic upgrade in early 2019. It’s currently available in a drive-away package (LS-U 4×4) at $50,490. Recommended retail is $52,400 plus on roads for a RRP of $57,674.Under The Bonnet Is: The rattly 3.0L that makes 130kW and a handy 430Nm of torque from 2,000 to 2,200 revs per minute. In context, that’s below the 500Nm from the 2.8L as found in the Holden Colorado…At just under 1000rpm there is 300Nm and that peak torque is on tap through a narrow rev range of just 500rpm. There’s still 350Nm available at 3,500rpm but it’s a very noisy exercise taking the engine past 3,000rpm. It’s possibly one of the noisiest diesels available in a passenger vehicle when pushed even moderately however, compared to the D-Max utes there is extra noise shielding in the engine bay and transmission tunnel. It bolts to a six speed auto with sports shift and an electronic low range locking system.Economy is quoted as 7.9L/100km for the combined, 9.5L/100km for the urban, and 6.9L/100km for the highway from a 76L tank. In our drive loop we saw a best of 7.8L/100km for the seven seater, and an overall average of 8.1L/100km. Isuzu rate the towing capacity as up to 3.5 tonnes.

On The Inside It’s: Cloth seats for the LS-U, easy pull straps for the third row seats, and a raised cargo floor with covered storage behind them. As it’s clearly based on the D-Max it’s virtually identical otherwise. There is no seat heating, no seat venting. The LS-U’s front seats are manually adjusted. Rear seat passengers have plenty of leg room, and there is a USB port for the centre row passengers at this trim level. The third row seats aren’t recommended for anyone of infant or adult size.The LS-U starts with a traditional key. Isuzu fitted the review car with rubber floor mats front and rear. Only the driver has a one touch window up/down switch in both. The centre console houses the dial for the two or four wheel drive modes, and there are two bottle/cup holders. The driver and passenger have a pull out cup holder, and each door has bottle holders. Near the driver’s knee is some switchgear including one that looked like an On/Off switch for the parking sensors.Sounds come via an 8.0 inch touchscreen, with AM/FM, Bluetooth, no Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, CD, USB and 3.5mm inputs, and even a HDMI connection hidden behind a flexible rubber tab at the bottom of the centre console stack. There is no DAB or Digital Audio Broadcast. The screen’s display is the same as the D-Max, meaning it really needs a massive overhaul. It also features the same driver alert warning note that will stay on screen for as long as the car is running if the OK tab isn’t touched. The driver faces a basic looking but functional dash, with a pair of dials bracketing a display screen that shows trip distances, economy, expected range, and the diesel particulate filter status. Australian spec cars have the right hand stalk as the indicator and the left as wipers, and each has a button at the end of the stalk to access the screen info. The wipers themselves aren’t auto nor is there an Auto headlight setting. This is an oversight in the interest of safety, as a driver can too easily not switch the lights on in situations such as dusk or when it’s raining.Actual switchgear is mostly well laid out and accessible with the minor accessories ports located at the bottom of the stack. The centre stack features Isuzu’s standard aircon controls, with a huge dial for temperature as the hub. Fan controls are on one side, mode on the other, and the dial itself shelters a small LCD screen to indicate what’s going on. The dash itself is a double scallop design, with a stitched leather look to the materials. Fit and finish is mostly ok however the leading edges of the doors have a gap of about a centimetre to the plastics wrapping the windscreen. The upper dash storage locker here at least did open without issue, unlike one found in the D-Max. Total cargo capacity is up to 1830L with the second and third row seats folded flat. With the third row only down it’s 878L.On The Outside It’s: Largely similar to the D-Max from the front to the rear of the second row doors. Here it’s the addition of a the big pillar, roof, and non-powered tailgate, with a towbar added here as well. Rubber is 255/60/18 H/T or Highway Terrain tread from Bridgestone. There are, though, front and rear parking sensors and the warning tone inside is a very high pitched screech, making it unmistakeable in intent. Headlights are self-levelling and there are LED driving lights. The lower front bumper is bespoke for the MU-X.

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Playing Big In A Small SUV: Kia Seltos

It’s a big market that has small(ish) SUVs selling almost as quickly as they come off the production line and Kia has revealed details of the forthcoming Seltos. There will be four specification levels: S, Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line. Kicking off at around $26K the S will have 16 inch alloy wheels. Up front will be halogen driving lights, whilst inside will be cruise control, an 8.0 inch touchscreen that will have the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto apps, whilst safety in the entry level will have Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, rear camera and sensors.

The second level Sport is slated to be sub $30K also and will roll on 17 inch alloys, plus the spare is looking to be a full sizer. Aircon is climate control, and the touchscreen goes to a HD style 10.25 inch. Kia keeps baiting the hook with the Sport+. Seats will be wrapped in cloth and faux leather and front pews, plus the tiller, will be heated. The top of the ladder GT-Line will appeal even further with a sub $40K price tag. That brings LED driving lights and their now traditional ice cube fog lights. Factor in mood lighting, venting for the front seats, and a wireless charge pad for compatible smartphones, and there’s plenty to like. All cars will have LED headlights and tail lights.
Exterior design cues harken to the outgoing Soul with a hint of Volvo XC40 in the rear window line. The traditional “tiger nose” grille is here with a new, raised, diamond look. Depending on trim, tyres will be 205/60 R16, 215/55 R17 or 235/45 R18. Paintwork is taken up a level too, with a vibrant choice of colours. Cherry Black, Snow White Pearl, Steel Gray, Gravity Gray, Mars Orange, Neptune Blue, Dark Ocean Blue and Starbright Yellow will be available in various markets and this also covers a two tone offering. Buyers can select the roof in Cherry Black, Platinum Gold or Clear White to go with the various body colours.Sizewise the Seltos nudges at a medium SUV, with 4370mm in length and overhangs of 850mm. The wheelbase, of 2,630mm, provides plenty of human friendly space inside. It’s possibly the biggest for space in its segment and that includes the bootspace of 498 litres VDA or 752 litres SAE. Front seat passengers will enjoy up to 1051mm legroom, 1409mm shoulder space, and 1017mm headroom. Basic trim will be greys and blacks, however the materials will be soft touch, and the seats will have geometric motifs. Engines will be a 1.6L turbo four with 130kW and 265Nm, a naturally aspirated 2.0L with 110kW and 180Nm, and there will be the familiar drive modes of Eco, Sport, and Normal. The smaller turbo engine will power either the front or all wheels via a seven speed dual clutch auto, with the other running a new for the brand CTR, and again front or all wheel drive. Suspension tunes were finalised here in Australia and will be a mix of torsion beam rear and MacPherson strut fronts for the two wheel drive. Multilink rears will handle the AWD versions.Expected Australian sales will commence in the fourth quarter.