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2017 Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport: A Private Fleet Car Review

If one were to hop into the fabled time machine of H.G. Wells and travel back to the early part of the 21st century, you’d find that the letters S, U, V, were part of the alphabet and hardly seen in each other’s company. You’d also find that many luxury car makers would sniff at the idea of an all wheel drive capable vehicle being part of their stable. Note “all wheel drive”, not “four wheel drive”. Flash back to 2017 and there’s hardly a car maker of any decent size that doesn’t have an SUV. One such maker, a British brand known more for the slogan of “Grace, Pace, and Space”, has joined the SUV party albeit one with a slightly odd name.Built around the basic looks of their two seater sports car, the Jaguar F-Pace has the leaping cat well and truly poised to make a serious indentation on the SUV market share. With four standard models and one limited edition run (as of early 2017), a range of engines, and a list of options almost too big to comprehend, the Jaguar F-Pace R-Sport was the vehicle supplied to Private Fleet in February 2017.There’s a lot to like, up front, about the R-Sport. Captain of the team of likes is the monstrous 700 torques being twisted out by the diesel fuelled 3.0 litre twin turbo V6 fitted. There’s a 2.0 litre diesel as the standard with 132 kW and a not indecent 430 torques, or a supercharged 3.0 litre petrol, with 250 kW/450 Nm. Sir will take the 700 Nm, thank you. Along with the torque that’s enough to rip the cape from Superman’s shoulders, you get a surprisingly good fuel economy. Surprising because although the F-Pace looks a mid sizer, there’s a gross vehicle weight of 2570 kilograms. Jaguar quotes a combined figure of 6.0L of dino juice for every 100 kilometres driven from the 66 litre tank, 5.6L/100 km on the highway and a still better than impressive 6.9L/100 around town.Private Fleet’s time with the F-Pave R-Sport coincided with a visit to the central west NSW town of Dubbo. Some 340 kilometres from AWT HQ, a country drive with four aboard and luggage seemed an ideal way to test the mettle of the Jaguar metal. The return was 7.3L per 100 kilometres, a fair result considering the cargo inside. That also involved some necessary overtaking and it’s here where that torque comes into its own. It kicks in, as a peak figure, at just 2000 rpm, with something like ninety percent available at around 1600 rpm, and that’s about where legal highway speeds sees the engine’s revs. However, there’s some conditions here. The starting point is the eight speed auto the F-Pace has, then factor in choosing either Drive or Sports via the vertically rising dial in the centre console. THEN you have four drive modes including Dynamic Plus, accessed via two console toggle switches. Not only does it tighten up the suspension, the gearbox and engine settings are changed to provide a quicker response, a sharper response, a surge of warp speed response. It’s exhilarating and breath taking and makes for a far safer driving experience than a leisurely “I think I can” move.It’s a well packaged car, the F-Pace, with an overall length of 4731 mm, with a wheelbase of 2874 mm. Front and rear track sit well inside the overall width of 2070 mm with 1641 mm and 1654 mm. Inside there’s plenty of usable room with front headroom at 1007 mm and rear heads get 977 mm. That cargo space has a nifty trick, with the floor on one said the standard interior carpet, but when rotated 180 degrees has a firm plastic surface for items such as scooters or bike.The F-Pace also techs up with Adaptive Dynamics, which measures up to 500 times a second the driving style and body movement of the car You can then option up the Configurable Dynamics system, allowing a deeper measure of personalisation for gearbox changes, throttle mapping and steering feedback. Technology is a hallmark of Jaguar nowadays, with (optional) configurable mood lighting, keyless entry which includes waving a foot under the rear bumper to raise the powered tail gate leading to 508 litres of cargo, adaptive headlights, InControl Touch Pro (as fitted) which is a pair of widescreen oriented LCD screens at 12.3 inches for the multifunction driver’s screen and 10.2 inch console touchscreen which includes smartphone/tablet style pinch and move for the navigation.There’s famed British audiomaker Meridian onboard, with 825 watts of thumping audio along with digital radio, a CD/DVD drive, and 10 gb hard drive space for your tunes. Ahead of the driver is the (optionable) super clear, laser lit, Head Up Display, showing speed, speed zones, driven gear and even navigation. The laser tech makes it both easier to read and easier on the eye. Aircon is controlled either via the touchscreen or, smartly (and something a few other makers should take note of) via soft press tabs which are clear and beautifully legible.There’s a downside, though: the rear seat passengers get their own controls which, in the test car, seemed to control the front seats…and a major bugbear in that the superbly comfortable and looking sports style seats DON’T. HAVE. COOLING. Any and all Australian spec cars with leather seats should have ventilation. Even Renault’s Koleos Intens has ventilation. Also, the door, dash, and centre console plastics are hard, with nary a touch of give. Then there’s locating the seat’s memory buttons where, logically, the power window switches should go, and vice versa.The touchscreen has icons laid out across the bottom, allowing a quick access to a certain function, unlike manufacturers that have everything hidden inside a primary folder. It makes using the screen far easier. There’s also a screen for when you’re in full Dynamic, offering extra information such as a G-Force sensor and allows for more personalisation.Where the F-Pace R-Sport will win your heart is on the road. Let’s start with that number, 700. That torque figure makes driving in all dry conditions an absolute pleasure. Even with a light foot the torque simply reaches out and grabs the eight ratios by the neck, bending them to its need. It’s almost effortless, and wonderfully quiet inside the cabin, as the tacho swings around as does the speedometer. That’s in Eco and Normal modes. Gently push the selector down and clockwise into S, tap the drive mode button into Dynamic, sit back, press the go pedal, and feel your soul compress into a neutrino as the F-Pace gathers its thoughts for a nano-second before launching itself towards the horizon. Dynamic also firms up the steering and suspension, which has the effect of providing even more feedback and flattening the road further.Under normal conditions, the R-Sport is sure footed, adept, with each corner riding over road irregularities with minimal bodily intrusion. Sure, you’ll know what each wheel and tyre is doing, and you’ll feel the movement of the suspension as each corner works alone. Dynamic ups that feeling, with shorter travel yet an unexpected decrease in bumps and thumps. On the twisted and bent road surfaces west of Bathurst, this quality became invaluable and has an unexpected but very welcome side effect: it decreases the tiredness level of the driver. These same roads showed how well tuned the engineers have the car. Although sitting up high, as you do in an SUV, there’s no feeling of that, and you’ll feel confident in the way the car hangs on in long sweepers, unsettled and corrugated surfaces, and when the need is called for, how effective and quick the brake pedal tells you the pads are on the disc. All round, the F-Pace R-Sport stamps itself as a driver’s car.At The End Of The Drive.
The F-Pace has garnered acclaim and plaudits world wide, and with good reason. It’s a heavy-ish car, but superbly agile; the diesel is mutely powerful and will hasten the F-Pace along at indecent speed; and it’s beautiful to look at both inside and out. The technology on board is user friendly and non-confrontational, which is both appealing and amps the safety factor by not having eyes off the road for longer than neccessary.
What niggles there are, are just that. Niggles. It’s a comprehensive package and in R-Sport trim, provides a balance between economy, luxury, and room. The modern equivalent of Jaguar’s old calling phrase, perhaps?

For further information on the Jaguar F-Pace, go here: 2017 Jaguar F-Pace

Tech Talk: How Power Torques.

When car makers advertise their products, apart from price you’ll probably notice or hear xxx kilowatts. Great. Wonderful. Fantastic.


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ACCC Addresses Car Insurance Concerns.

Stratton Finance CEO Rob Chaloner has backed the ACCC’s stance to oppose a 20 per cent cap on commissions paid to car dealers who sell add-on insurance products, arguing that a commission cap will lessen competition and ultimately harm consumers.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has issued a report named “A market that is failing consumers: The sale of add-on insurance through car dealers”

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Uh-Oh, I’ve Used the Wrong Fuel. Now What?

As humans, we’re prone to an error or two from time to time. In fact, we could hardly consider ourselves human if we were perfect and not making the odd mistake. And while it’s not common to mix up different fuel types when putting them into your vehicle, it can and does happen. After all, for those pump nozzles to be colour-coded, and even slightly different fits, someone must have realised there was a problem. However, even if you end up making this surprisingly not so uncommon mistake, you can rectify the issue and minimise the prospect of any long-term damage to your vehicle.

When petrol is inserted into diesel vehicles, the more common mix-up, the engine and fuel injector system are most prone to issues. Petrol acts as a solvent to reduce the lubrication within a diesel fuel pump, in turn creating weakness within the diesel fuel pump. Where metals make contact with each other, a lack of lubrication can mean that tiny fragments are created. The impact of these fragments can be notable as they make their way through the rest of the fuel system. Engines potentially may also be exposed to damage as a result of the extreme and ill-regulated compression of petrol fuel.

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How Not To Use A Phone While Driving

They say that driving distracted is as bad as driving drunk when it comes to reducing your reaction times and making smart driving decisions.  Some distractions are beyond our control, such as half a swarm of bees flying through the open window (not making that one up – this happened to someone I know), a screaming child or a busting bladder.  However, using the phone is something that you can control.

We all know the rules.  Handsfree is the only way that you can do this legally and safely.  Putting the phone on your lap and glancing down so nobody knows that you’re using the phone is not an option. In fact, this is probably worse than having the thing openly visible up by the steering wheel in your hand – at least that way, you have half an eye on the road even if you do risk being spotted by the cops.  When the phone is on your lap, you have to take your eyes right off the road to look at it. Bad idea.

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The Guy We All Need To Thank: Nils Bohlin

What would you call a guy who has saved approximately 11,000 lives every year in the US alone and way more than that around the world?  You’d probably think that you were reading a cracker of a superhero comic but this guy is for real.  Was he a war hero?  An emergency response guy like a medic, firefighter or cop?

Nope – he was an inventor.  What he invented was the three-point seatbelt.  His name was Nils Bohlin. In later life, he looked a bit like Father Christmas. Which is kind of appropriate, considering the gift he’s given to the world.

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2017 Renault Koleos Zen & Intens: A Private Fleet Car Review

Renault’s 2017 Koleos has undergone a huge transformation compared to the model it supercedes. Based on Nissan’s X-Trail it’s bigger, brawnier, smarter and a whole lot prettier. Built on a three model and four trim level range, being the Life 4×2, Zen 4×2 and 4×4, and Intens 4×4, Private Fleet backs up the mid spec Renault Koleos Zen 2WD against the top of the range Renault Koleos Intens All Wheel Drive.The heartbeat of the Koleos is a fuel injected 2.5L petrol engine. Yep, no diesel. And if you’re looking for a traditional manual or auto, fawgeddit. It’s a CVT and a somewhat seemingly slippery one at that. What you’ll get is 126 kW (6000 rpm) and 226 torques (4400 rpm), hauling a mass of between 1550 and 1700 kilos dry. Renault quote a towing weight of 2000 kilos as well, along with an urban cycle consumption figure of the Euro5 compliant engine of 10.4 to 10.7 litres per one hundred klicks. That drops appreciably on the highway, down to 6.4 to 6.9. A Wheel Thing found 7.7L/100, admittedly on longer and free flowing suburban drives, from the 60 litre tank.It’s around town that the CVT’s faults are, naturally, most apparent. They’re prone to feeling like an old school manual slipping clutch at the best of times but this one’s even slipperier. From a standstill it becomes a raucous and almost overbearing roar as the engine gets up to 4000 and then varies in note as the transmission’s built in steps kick in. Note, too, there’s no paddle shifts to ease the pain although there is the mandatory sports shift on the geat selector. It genuinely feels that there’s a lack of gearbox traction when really pressing hard, however the Zen seemed more amenable to a lighter pedal pressure than the Intens, possibly due to the weight difference. What is also baffling and contradictory is the sensation of watching the speedo numbers change faster than the seat of the pants says they should.It’s a handsome car, the 2017 Koleos, and far prettier than the previous model. Where that was sharp and angular, the incumbent is fluid, rounded, smooth. There’s LED tail lights and daytime running lights in a C shape, along with LED headlights for the Intens. In profile it’s well proportioned, with a pleasing balance from bonnet to tapered rear. the Intens gets a powered tailgate as well. In fact, it’s a hard thing to find any angle of the Koleos that isn’t good to look at. The Intens gets a full length glass roof adding to the airiness of the feel of the interior. Consider a 4672 mm overall length and 2705 mm wheelbase, along with over 1400 mm shoulder room front and rear plus 290 mm knee room for rear seat passengers.Both cars come with blacked out insides and vary in a couple of key areas. Renault, unlike far too many makers, include ventilation for the front seats, not just heating, inside the Intens. There’s mood lighting in the Intens, however both get changeable themes for the driver’s LCD screen and centre dash display, of which the Zen has a different look to the Intens to help differentiate. Both have a swag of controls built into the touchscreen, such as aircon, DAB radio, even Blind Spot Alert and Tyre Presure Monitoring. The overall look is classy, user friendly, but not without quirks. For example, Renault have located the Cruise Control buttons in the centre console and have a separate stalk for audio under the right side of the steering column. Although not exactly ergonomic to look at, once used a few times it becomes second nature to use. Both cars appeal with their looks, with a luxury feel that mirros more expensive luxury SUVs. Cargo varies from 458 litres to 1690 litres with the seats folded and Renault have recognised the value of family by having two USB ports and an extra 12V socket under the rear aircon vents.Another winner for both is the ride quality. For a car of its size, it’s surprisingly well damped, taut enought to hold corners without roll and compliant enough to absorb most road irregularities. There’s even, oddly, enough oomph initially to chirp the front tyres in the Zen, backed up by a modicum of squeal when pushed in corners compared to the Intens. It’s a fluid and well balanced ride, with even the cursed speedbumps dialed out nicely, whilst hilly switchbacks saw the pair almost in sports mode, such was the grip and ride quality. Steering itself was well balanced, with good weight although not overly communicative in the Zen compared to the Intens, even though both should feel the same as both are fitted with the same 225/60/18 rubber.To further sweeten the deal, Renault offers as standard a five year warranty, five year roadside assist and three services at a capped price along with an attractive starting price of just $33990 driveaway.

At The End Of The Drive.
Renault is on a clear winner with the Koleos, especially with the Intens. A fabulous ride, a good looker, good mix of trim and equipment, a surprisingly quick mover, and good economy make the Koleo range a very attractive proposition and a worthy alternative to those seen as a more popular choice. To check out the four levels of Koleos, go here: Renault Koleos information

Fuzzy Dice And Other Watchacallums

Mascots?  Decorations?  Danglers?  Actually, the English language doesn’t have an actual name for those ornaments that hang from the rear view mirror.  Fuzzy dice are the iconic examples but the furry cubes aren’t the only things we’ve seen.  As this post is going to discuss them and it’s going to be boring to type out (and read) “fuzzy dice or other items hanging from the rear view mirror” every time, I’m going to make up a word: danglers.  Danglers will do.

The most important issue relating to danglers is whether or not they are legal.  The powers that be – and rightly so – take exception to anything that obscures the driver’s vision.  According to the Queensland police, anything that gets between you and the arc of the windscreen wipers is considered to block your vision and create a blind spot, and this applies to GPS units and mobile phone mounts as well as danglers (presumably, the heads-up displays that come in some luxury vehicles these days don’t count).  Roads and Maritime Services of NSW suggests that anything swinging and dangling will be distracting but doesn’t actually have any specifications beyond “the driver must have the clearest possible view of the road particularly in poor lighting conditions at dusk, night or while driving in rain.” In Victoria, they get a bit more specific: “Any vehicle presented for a roadworthy inspection with any dangling objects hanging from the rear vision mirror should not be issued with a RWC until the objects are removed.” South Australia’s spec sheet has plenty to say about tinting and TV/DVD screens but nothing about danglers.  It’s definitely illegal in Western Australia to have anything hanging from a rear view mirror (nice to have it spelled out so clearly and plainly!).  Across the ditch in New Zealand, it seems to be OK.

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2017 Peugeot 308 Allure: A Private Fleet Car Review:

When the 308’s current iteration was released, it won the 2014 European Car of the Year Award. It was lauded for its use of lightweight composite materials, its fuel efficient engines, and also for the interior, winning the Grand Prize for the Most Beautiful Interior at the 2013 Festival Automobile International. With that in mind, Private Fleet takes on the Peugeot 308 Allure, complete with peppy three cylinder engine.Sitting up front of the 4253 mm hatch is the PureTech turbocharged three cylinder, delivering 96 kilowatts at 5500, and peak torque comes in at 1750 rpm. There’s 230 torques from the 1.2L Euro 6 emission compliant engine, and is bolted to a six speed auto with Sports mode and manual shift via the gear selector. There’s the characteristic off kilter warble of the three cylinder as it hums its way up the rev range. The auto has a combination of dual clutch and CVT feel from stand-still, with a hesitation that intrudes noticeably before engaging and moving the 1125 kilo mass.In Normal mode, the transmission is unsure, indecisive, with clunky changes…sleepy would be a good word. Select manual or Sports, and the difference is startling. The same throttle pressure sees more oomph, more verve, more excitement and the changes are quicker, crisper, sharper, and there’s a sense of more involvement in the experience. Matched with a chassis that leans towards, slightly, the more sporting pretension, and it’s a far better proposition when in Sports than normal. Having no paddle shifts makes no difference to the alacrity of the change. Punch it when under way and again the transmission seems a distant cousin you once knew as being slightly odd but is now ready to flex some intellectual muscle. It’s bang bang bang through the ratios and with barely a physical notification of doing so.It’s a ride and handling package that delights as well, with grip aplenty from the 225/45/17 GoodYear EfficientGrip rubber. They respond well to the slow in/fast out cornering style advocated by performance drivers, combining with a tautish suspension tune, with just enough compliance to give a little luxury to an otherwise sportsmanlike ride. The shopping centre speedhumps do crash through, however, but that’s balanced by the smoothing out of corrigated and undulating roads found between home and the pick-up point near Sydney’s Mascot Airport.Where the 308 Allure does fall down, and badly, is in the connection between car and driver via two very important components: accelerator and brakes. The former, from standstill, is on or off, with no progession between the two, with nothing then a lurch as it tells the gearbox to do something. The brakes require patience and planning as well, with far too much travel before there’s a semblance of bite on the discs. Once on, they will haul down the petite little thing well enough. Ergonomically there’s a query, with the accelerator pedal seemingly too far towards the centre and close to the brake pedal than seems neccessary.Inside it’s a mix of quality and comfort; satin and matt black plastics contrast with a silver, almost aluminuim centre console trim and steering wheel hub spoke, with the seats clad in a charcoal suede trim in the centre and leather elsewhere. The centre section of the dash mirrors the binnacle housing the simple yet informative mechanical dials that bracket a monochrome display screen. The tiller holds basic audio and Bluetooth controls, with a separate stalk for the cruise control. Audio, controlled via the 9.7 inch touchscreen, was clear and punchy, with the Spotify app but lacked DAB. However the Pug stays a bit old school digitally, with a single slot CD player on board.Hill Start Assist is on board, as is cooling for the glove box, plus Tyre Pressure Monitoring. There’s the usual swag of safety programs, six airbags, emergency brake light flash activation, parking assist and sensors, and push button Start Stop. There’s an Electronic Park Brake as standard plus you’ll also get tyre pressure monitoring.
Cargo wise, cup and bottle holders abound and there’s that nearly too small but not quite 435 litres of boot space, which increases to 1274 with rear seats folded. The spare is the now commonplace space saver.Outside it’s familiar Peugeot, with good looking alloys, LED rears and LED driving lights. It’s a swoopy look, with an angular finish to the head and tail light housings joined by a defining line. It’s a strong look, yet just soft enough to broaden the appeal visually. It finishes (or starts) the way the 308 reaches out and sits you down with a comfy cup of tea, such is how the overall package settles around you.Peugeot offer a three year or 100,000 kilometre warranty, 12 months roadside assist, a three year paintwork guarantee and a 12 year corrosion gurantee on their passenger car range.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Peugeot 308 Allure sits mid range and fits in nicely pricewise at just under $33K. As an overall package the Allure is….alluring, however it’s then a question of adapting to the way the drivetrain works and the lack of feedback from the brakes in light usage. It’s a cracking ride and once underway, a cracking drive. Here’s how you can find out more: Configure your 2017 Peugeot 308

Holden’s Final Hurrah: 2017 Range Released.

As Toyota recently confirmed their date for shutdown, Holden’s moving towards their end of manufacturing as well and has released information about the final cars available. There’s been some additions of features, changes in price and deletion of options. Here’s how it looks for the final locally made Holdens.Colours: there’s three new additions, with Light My Fire (orange), Spitfire Green, and Son of a Gun Grey, with the nomenclature harking back to the way colours were named in the 1970s. Metallic paints are listed as a $550 option.

Transmissions: as part of the rationalisation of the range, the venerable six speed manual transmission is virtually extinct, being available only with the V8 sedans and utes. All other cars are available with just the six speed auto.Range: Holden has dropped the SS-V, but has stayed with the SS-V Redline, whilst the Calais Sportwagon has also been dropped. This has the range sitting thus: Evoke sedan/wagon/ute; SV6 sedan/wagon/ute; SS sedan (with manual and auto)/wagon (auto only)/utes (both transmissions); SS-V redline (same structure as SS); Calais sedan (V6 auto only); Calais V (V6 and V8, auto only, sedan and wagon), and the final Caprice (V8 & auto).Features: SV6 gets satnav and HUD (Head Up Display) as standard and will have 18 inch black wheels. The SS will get the same except for 19 inch wheels. SS-V gets more of the black out treatment (grille, fender vents, mirror surrounds, instrument panel & steering wheel, and DRL surrounds), plus “V” embossed sill plates with the ute gaining a blacked out “sports bar”. The Caprice V gets the leather wrapped steerer from the SS-V

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