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Archive for January, 2014

Perfect Poignancy: Holden Commodore SV6

SV6 profile 2It was with more than a twitch of sadness and emotion that I handed back to the dealership, after three weeks covering the Christmas/New Year’s period, Holden’s VF SV6 sedan, with six speed manual and coated in a a Perfect Blue paint scheme. Coming off the back of confirmation that Holden would cease local manufacturing in 2017, it was somewhat poignant to spend time in the Commodore that has been so well welcomed by the media and public.
The Driven Heart
It’s a strong combination in the VF Commodore; the torquey 3.6L V6 and six speed manual. There’s 210 killer waspsHolden V6 (at a high 6700 revs) to be had alongside an immensely usable 350 torques at 2800 rpm, a rev point where push in the back acceleration can be had in the right gear. It’s mostly easy on the brain to drive, with a firm and progressive clutch pedal travel but a pickup point that seems to be on/off like a light switch. The gear shift itself, although not heavy, has a notchy feel when slotting the lever home. Reverse is across to the left and up and has no lockout mechanism. Oddly enough, first leaves the SV6 somewhat ragged and breathless but moves into its stride come second and third, where the torque of the V6 can really come into play. At freeways speeds sixth has the donk ticking over just under 2000 whilst the flexibility can be used to either simply slot back into fourth on the downchange or miss a gear on the upchange. There’s some induction noise and a nice rorty tune from the exhaust.
The Sheetmetal
SV6 profileIn a nod to Peter “Perfect” Brock, SV6 rearHolden offer a blue so very similar in shade to the famous colour that coated the VK HDT range known as the “Blue Meanie” that it’s been called Perfect Blue. It’s a lovely shade and evokes, in those old enough to remember or those that follow motorsport, what HDT’s mid ’80s groundbreaker was all about. With contrasting matt and gloss black bodywork, it’s an eyecatching colour that highlights the curves and creases on the VF shape, from the eagle eye headlights cresting the LED DRLs wrapped in gloss black through to the almost Camaro like tail light clusters above the rear apron, SV6 bootlid spoilersporting twin pipes. SV6 frontThere’s a subtle lip spoiler for the boot which impedes only minimally on rear vision from the cabin. It’s a strong and assertive profile which suits the various colour schemes available, especially on the SS versions whilst chrome highlights the gloss black inserts at the nose.
The Office Space
The VF has been around for long enough now for it to be familiar to most. The main change to the interior of the VF SV6 is a carbon fibre look to the dash and an interesting carbon fibre style weave in the seat cloth. It’s flexible, looks good and feels good to theSV6 dash fingers. As a manual, seating position is important and this was the case here, with a comfortable SV6 carbon fibre weaveseating slot found easily. There’s sports style pedals, manual (not push button) ignition, red highlights to the dash display, whilst the centre dash display is the monochrome style from the Evoke, rather than the colour version found higher up the chain. Reverse camera parking was a doddle however satnav isn’t included, an odd omission. The MyLink system that is now standard across the range is user friendly, look the part and offers the internet based radio apps such as Pandora plus there’s Holden’s parking assist and blind spot notification system to enjoy as well. At the rear there’s the skiport access from the cavernous boot, a 60/40 rear fold would be handy though. Naturally there’s plenty of airbags should they be required.SV6 MyLink
On The Road
The FE2 suspension setup works a treat on the SV6; it’s firm yet supple, absorbent and fluid, provides confident handling and combines with a sensible steering ratio (with the electrically assisted steering) to give point and shoot driving. The Bridgestone 245/45/18s hang onto the road pretty well for the most part however did seems to lose some traction on barely damp surfaces, including one slide into a left hander on ramp. The six speed manual is not the epitome of smoothness in shifting, with a notchy crunch into each gear nor is the clutch exactly spot on. Although smooth and well pressured, the actual pick up point required a SV6 wheelmeasure of finesse and constantly felt a little “lightswitch” on/off. A nice and nifty addition is the hill start brake system, holding the brakes for a second or so in order for the first gear to be selected and not allow rollback. Under acceleration, first felt rough and thready, running out breath even however in third or fourth a good go at the loud pedal saw rapid forward movement plus there was enough of a bark from the bonnet and exhaust to tickle the aural tastebuds. Brakes were progressive with enough bite from moderate pressure to haul in the 1800kgs or so of the SV6. Overall fuel economy was 9.4L/100 km with predominantly suburban driving; the first indication of needing fuel came at around the 600km mark.
The Wrap
It was with more than a sense of sadness that I had to give the mid $30K SV6 back to its temporary home; sad that soon Australia will lose such an excellent, well engineered, home grown product. Sad that, as a manual driver by preference and ideology, that the Australian market prefers the self shifter. Sad that the downsize factor takes away some of the sense of freedom and fun that a solid and torquey V6 offers plus the sheer roominess of a large sedan. Although the Malibu has failed to excite the wallets of Aussie drivers, it is, at least, a size comparable with the VF and requires some styling and engineering tweaks if it’s to be a serious contender to go some way in offering a physically large car exercise once the VF sees the end of Holden made cars in 2017. It was a poignant moment for me to hand over the key to what is a shining example of what will soon be lost to Australia’s future generations.
Information on the VF SV6 and its family can be found here:

Motoring Resolutions for 2014

So it’s now 2014, and as this is my first post since we turned over the calendars, I guess I’d better do something new year-ish.  As usual in the motoring world, 2014 will see heaps of new versions and things being launched onto the Aussie market and you should be able to keep up with all the new developments on Private Fleet’s car reviews page.  On the more personal front, the only big event in my motoring life for this year will be my teenage son going for his licence – I won’t be on the lookout for a new set of wheels (assuming neither the Ford nor my husband’s Nissan Navara work ute blows up).  But it probably is time to draw up a list of New Year resolutions for driving.  Perhaps the rest of you might like to use this as a little inspiration.  After all, all of us could do with some improvements in our driving lives and habits somewhere.

  1. Keep the car clean inside and out.  OK, my Fairlaine  isn’t as messy inside as my friend’s Toyota Starlet but it’s high time I gave the seats and the floor of the car a good vacuum.  And I need to take out the mats and give them a good shaking, followed by putting them back straight. Maybe finding a rubbish bag to corral old chocolate bar wrappers, receipts and cider bottle caps would be a good
  2. Use the car less.  How many of us have decided (yet again) that we are going to lose weight this year?  Ditching the car for short journeys is one simple way of adding a bit more exercise (and is cheaper than a gym membership).
  3. Keep up the fluids.  Oil, brake fluid, the radiator, the window washing fluid…
  4. Upskill in some area of my driving and car-related activities.  Everybody’s got something that they could improve when it comes to cars.  Perhaps you/I/we could work on parallel parking without relying overly on the parking assist cameras (one day, you’ll have to drive a car without them, so knowing how to do it without electronic aids is a real must).  Perhaps backing a trailer. Perhaps learning how to do a bit more DIY when it comes to car maintenance and repairs – not every job requires a mechanic, after all.  Or becoming more comfortable with a manual transmission system if you mostly drive an automatic.ski0045
  5. Sort through the collection of CDs in the car and rotate them so I don’t always end up listening to the same thing every time I get in the car.  I’ve got rather eclectic taste in music but even so, I’d like a different set of choices from the options I’ve had over the last month or seven (for those interested, they are a collection of Celtic music, an obscure German electronica/trance album, several CDs of classical music and a Chris Rea album).  Better still, see about getting a new audio unit that has USB input so I can plug in an MP3 player.

That should keep me busy for a while, anyway.  Happy New Year to all of you and happy driving in 2014.

Here's Why you Should Upgrade your Car in 2014

The start of 2014 brings mixed news for the car industry around the world. Although car usage is more than looking strong, the automotive industry in Australia is shaky, and with the new that Holden is to leave in 2017, it leaves a lot of people asking, ‘where next?’

On a personal level however, the start of the New Year is a great way to start thinking about a new car. Been promising yourself the latest model of the car you’ve already got? Thinking about your finances and getting bored of shelling out on a rust bucket? Worry no more, here at Private Fleet we look at some reasons why 2014 should definitely be the year you upgrade your car.

You Deserve It

There’s something nice about buying a new car that feels like you’ve earnt it. That new car smell, the fact it’s your pride & joy and nobody can touch it or clean it but you. It’s also, fundamentally, a treat. There’s no point patching together ancient cars and you need to ride around in something you can enjoy.


Nobody can argue with the fact that new cars are safer than old ones. Not long ago, even having a minor crash meant that you were dicing with death, but statistics show now that you’ve got a far greater chance of surviving – especially in more modern and technology advanced cars. The world of safety in the automotive industry has become so much more advanced; and by purchasing a newer car you are making the most of this.

You Get More for Your Money

Cars companies at the moment are falling over themselves to pack more technology and gadgets into their cars than ever before. It means that in 2014, what you’re paying for is a great car, but also an excellent entertainment and navigation system, an enjoyable and comfortable place to sit and a very safe and technologically advanced

Warranty and Offers

Buying a new car has certain assurances, and manufacturers at the moment need to be able to sweeten the deal with consumers by offering extended warranties and good finance packages. You can never underestimate the importance of having certain assurances when buying a new car – if there are any faults you’ll be able to get them fixed for free and have peace of mind when you first take it out.

Can Be Delivered to Your Specification

No more trawling the listings for something that matches your dream. When you buy a new car you’re able to pick what you want and know you’ll be able to get it. Many car manufacturers offer a huge amount of options – and we have seen the issue of customisation really come to the fore in the last couple of years. The real boom in online shopping has helped with this, but even buying your car through more conventional means, you’re able to pick exactly what you want down to the finest details.

To find out more about the work Private Fleet carries out, visit the section of our site and find out how easy it can be to order your new car. Additionally, if you’re stuck in two minds, be sure to check out our car review section for more information about specific cars.

The Greatest Video Game Ever

Well at least now I have got your attention.

Video games are in a constant state of development, with better game play, graphics and fun with every new release. However, in much the same way as many oxygen breathing humans get with areas such as fashion, music and of course cars, the value of ‘vintage’ is most definitely on the up. I have played a host of games in the past on various platforms and consoles, everything from strategy, fantasy, war and, shock horror, racing games.

We are living in a world dominated by Forza, Gran Turismo and by extension, the driving options available in games such as Grand Theft Auto. The graphics may be unbelievably clear and the driving physics as close to realistic as is possible in a virtual reality, but none of these would win the prize as my all time favourite racing game. I realise that the title I gave this post was a little on the eccentric over-reaction side of life, but in my humble opinion this game will always be my number one in virtual motor sport.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to TOCA 2 Touring Cars.

The British Touring Car Championship was at its best during the 90s, and one of the greatest of these legendary years was 1998. Some of the highlights include a down to the wire championship battle, the introduction of mandatory pit stops, and Nigel Mansell. But why type a selection of words and phrases into my laptop to describe an amazing year, when I could just muster the power of video to explain my point… would you ever believe me if I said there was a BTCC race where Nigel Mansell (in a guest drive) started last and nearly ended up winning? No?

WELL then, watch this…

One of the greatest races ever, 1998 BTCC Donington Feature ft. Nigel Mansell

As John Watson so pointed out, “The British Touring Cars have totally eclipsed anything we have ever seen”.

TOCA 2 Touring Cars was released on the original PlayStation (the PS1 if you will), and was based on the 1998 BTCC season. Players had the chance to participate in the championship in one of three difficulty modes, which decided how many races the season would consist of. In addition, there are your usual time trial based modes. However, the game also gave players the chance to participate in the support car championships that were in effect in 1998. The game truly offers a full and comprehensive mode of play that truly reflects the giant of motor sport history that was the British Touring Car Championship of 1998.

TOCA 2 Touring Cars in all its glory

TOCA 2 Touring Cars in all its glory

Based on the picture you can now see with your eyeballs, you are probably making some comment on the poor quality of the graphics but what do you expect from a PlayStation One? And this game is in no way devoid of other issues. I will be the first person to admit that this game is dripping with issues. For example, the driving physics, as amazing as they are most of the time, have a habit of being massively unpredictable. When it comes to racing games, I am something of a perfectionist. And when a car has a habit of spinning wildly out of control for no reason although you have taken the corner no different to normal, it does vex me greatly. And I do not often use the word vex.

And I am not done either.

When it comes to competitive racing, it would appear that the AI cars seem to be possessed by some form of demonic spirit. When it comes to the first corner of any track on the calendar, I can promise you that the competition will find a way to take the corner at 5 times the speed that you have, whether through the gravel or on the tarmac, which usually means that you end up facing the wrong way in last place. Not only that, but it would seem that this satanic influence gives your opponents the ability to crash you off the road with a single touch, yet remain immovable when you try and return the favour.

All in all, the combination of these problems does definitely create rage filled controller flinging experiences. I can do nothing but apologise to my parents for the screaming, the shouting and definitely the damage as a result of my playing this game in my younger years.

Brutality is definitely the name of the game

Brutality is definitely the name of the game

And yet…

When everything comes together, the pure magic of the game becomes apparent. I mean yes there are faults left right and centre with the game quality, but what do you expect? And then again, in many ways it adds to the fun you can have with it. There is a level of madness and unpredictability that will wave goodbye to many hours of your life. And will you regret it at the end? No way.

What if I also told you that some aspects of the game were so forward thinking, that it took until the PS3 generation for other games to catch up. For example, usually in multiplayer modes, the number of opposition reduces to only 6 cars. However, in the co-op championship mode, you are still given a full grid of other cars. The problem I have with modern games is that they seem to assume that none of us have physical friends any more. New generation games seem to only offer multiplayer modes online, as if two friends would never DARE want to play a game together in the same place at the same time.

“Hey man, do you want to play some F1?”

“Yeah that would be awesome, i’ll see you in a bit yeah?”

“Wait, where you going?”

“Well you know, I have got to go home, log on and grab my head set”

“Oh yeah true that, see you in a bit!”

You know, some people seem to think that video games are making us less sociable. I wonder where that comes from.

In many ways, the game was as exciting as the real deal...

In many ways, the game was as exciting as the real deal…

As I have said, the combination of all these different elements, both good and bad, make this game a titan of video gaming. The competitive nature of the game make it more special and more exciting than anything you can get from a modern game. The driving physics are real yet ridiculous; you actually get different levels of handling from the different cars in the game. Trying to wrestle a Peugeot around a track often ends as badly as it did for Harvey and Radisich in ’98.

The original TOCA game never really did have the same spark, it lacked the same competition. And afterwards with the rise of TOCA Race Driver and beyond, the game began to look better and better, but somehow it just did not seem as fun. The level of co-op ability decreased, and in the case of TOCA Race Driver they tried to add the single most ridiculous over-Americanised story line known to the mind of mankind. Something about getting revenge for the death of your dad by becoming the greatest race driver ever…or something. I don’t know.

Recently, I managed something I was never able to do as a child. I completed what I would like to call the standard grand slam. 18 rounds. 18 wins. Only one thing remains. The expert mode takes racing games to a whole new level. I feel like I need some form of a professional workout regime to be able to psyche myself up for such a challenge.

And so, TOCA 2 Touring Cars may not be perfect, but it is the flaws that make it special. It reflects the no holds barred thrill that was the 1998 BTCC season. For anyone that has not played it, I really do hope that you will give it a go. There is after all a reason I came back to it 10 years after my first time.

No one is ever too old for video games. Good video games will never be too old.

TOCA 2 Touring Cars: a timeless classic

Keep Driving People!

Follow me on Twitter: @lewisglynn69 (I talk about this video game quite a lot)

Peace and Love!

Welcome Back!

Hello everyone, Private Fleet, its staff and contributors hope you all had a great Christmas/New Year’s period and the scales haven’t groaned too much!

Sadly, our roads were not trouble free, with too many losing their lives needlessly over the last couple of weeks with perhaps the most tragic the story of the four year old that apparently ran out in front of a vehicle. Without knowing the full details it seems that a situation such as this was utterly unavoidable in regards to the person driving the vehicle. Our sympathies and thoughts are with both families.police sign

So, what did YOU end up doing for your Christmas break? With two sub seven year old children and retail work it was a pretty quiet one for our household. Christmas Day at home, Boxing Day drive in Holden’s wonderful SV6 six speed manual down to just north of Wollongong with a stop Paraglidingat Stanwell Tops to watch the para- and hang gliders whilst New Year’s Day was a drive down to Botany Bay. A little bit of ham, a little bit of vege, a bit of wine….was a nice break. The roads were quiet, unsurprisingly but what was surprising was the relative lack of  a police presence seen. I think we saw more on the road leading into the Royal National Park from the south than at any other time.

As we all know by now, Holden has confirmed its cessation of manufacturing here; what isn’t known is where Toyota stand on the matter but it’s fair to say they’d be hard pressed to stay as a viable manufacturing entity in their own right and that leads to another whole set of issues. It’s not just about the workers directly involved, it’s the suppliers, their staff, courier driver and truck drivers and parts of the railway network that will all have some sort of impact upon their roles, even down to local shops and lunch bars. But with 68 brands available in Australia compared with 38 for North America and 42 in the UK, we have to question, with a population of under thirty million, why so many?

On the other side of the coin was the sales numbers; well over a million for 2013 with the Toyota Corolla Holden-VF-Commodore-SV6snaring first place. The Commodore came fifth on the back of increased sales from the VF range after a runout of the VE series 2, but of some concern in some quarters was the number of SUVs delivered, over 333, 000. Adding to the fragmentation and confusion though, is that not one SUV made the top ten sales list. For the record:  43,498 for the Corolla,  42,082 sales for the Mazda 3, 39,931 sales of Toyota’s HiLux,  30,582 for Hyundai’s award winning i30 , 27,766 for the VF/VE Holden Commodore , 24,860 with the Toyota Camry, 24,512 for Mitsubishi’s capable but aging Triton , 24,421 sales for Holden’s Cruze (due for an update in 2015 apparently), 24,108 for the Nissan Navara (new model available) and 21,752  for the Ford Ranger.

With 2014 underway and the FBT situation seemingly buried; repeat, seemingly and with predictions for sales this year to be in excess of the 2013 numbers, come have a chat to Private Fleet about your next vehicle. Again, hope you all had a great festive break and thanks for being part of the Private Fleet family.