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Archive for May, 2015

The Perfect Equation: Super Touring Cars and Brands Hatch

Photo taken from: supertcc.com

Photo taken from: supertcc.com

On any normal occasion the end of the month is a time of relief, happiness and impending financial gain. But this is no average month. On May 24th, the HSCC Super Touring Car Trophy returns to Brands Hatch for the Masters Historic Festival. With an expected bumper grid of over 25 cars, the glory of the 90s will once again flood back to Brands Hatch. After a strong opening race for the field at Donington Park, the excitement builds for Brands. And did I mention that there are two legends of the BTCC competing as well?

The 2015 BTCC season has already proven that it is fast returning to its status as one of the best race series anywhere in the world. The NGTC regulations have left other championships reeling in jealousy; cost-effective and ultra competitive make for some of the most entertaining races you will see. The combination of the modern championship with the returning HSCC Super Touring Car Trophy creates a beautifully poetic message about the timeless strength of touring cars as the best race category on the planet.

If the current BTCC represents everything forward thinking and fan-orientated about the modern era, then the glitz, glamour and excess that characterized the 1990s is perfectly epitomized in the Super Touring era of the championship. Big names, big budgets and titanic battles dominated proceedings throughout that time. The circuits may have changed and teams may have come and gone, but it was the iconic machinery that truly represented the golden age of touring car racing. When the HSCC announced it would run the Super Touring Cars, I was returned to my excitable years of innocence when as a child I would be glued to the television every time the BTCC was on. In an instant I was a child again, filled with wondrous joy and reveling in the beauty of Super Touring noise.

And Muller takes Cleland! Oh wait, its not 1998.. Photo taken from: supertcc.com

And Muller takes Cleland! Oh wait, its not 1998.. Photo taken from: supertcc.com

Last year, the Masters Historic Festival at Brands Hatch produced some beastly action from the F1 cars of days gone by, including a tear-jerking tribute to Jack Brabham. However, the Super Tourers were somewhat of a disappointment for those who had come to celebrate the height of the BTCC. After promises of large fields and intense action of a rumoured 30 cars, 7 turned up to the Brands Hatch meeting. In the case of one of the races, one car did not make the finish which did therefore mean there were only 6 cars that crossed the line. I have not seen a touring car race so embarrassing since the opening round of the 2001 season.

The event fell close however to the prestigious Silverstone Classic, which did present a considerable conundrum to the teams. The touring cars of the 1990s were so highly engineered and so specialist that one cannot wander into a mechanic and pick up some spare parts on a whim. There will likely come a time when the tyres that were made for the Super Touring cars will simply run out altogether. So in some ways, the increased television coverage and bigger crowds explains why many drivers chose to not enter the Brands rounds. Not only that, any touring car race at Brands Hatch is never without incident (ask John Cleland about 1995, I dare you), and the bill for repairing one of these BTCC icons will take more than your pocket money that’s for sure.

This year however, the time difference between the two is great enough that the full grid is expected to take to the tarmac. Just to add to the excitement, touring car legends John Cleland and Patrick Watts return once more with their ex-BTCC Vauxhall and Peugeot. They may be in their later years but lost their determination and skill they most definitely have not. On top of this, highly experienced historic racers James Dodd in his Nissan Primera and Stewart Whyte in his Honda Accord have been showing they have what it takes to fight it out at the top. The field itself consists of cars from across the full spectrum of BTCC history, including a Ford Sierra RS500, a Ford Escort Mk 2, BMWs from across the 1990s, the fearsome Renault Laguna, Ford Mondeos, Nissan Primeras (including the ex-Team Dynamics car of Matt Neal) and new for this year Audi A4s.

Multi-generations of Nissans: The beast is back! Photo taken from: supertcc.com

Multi-generations of Nissans: The beast is back! Photo taken from: supertcc.com

The first round at Donington Park saw a massive grid of 27 cars take on the track, with honours shared between Patrick Watts and Stewart Whyte. Moving forward, the rounds at Brands Hatch are expected to be something truly memorable. The sweet combination of BTCC and Brands Hatch has always created an electric atmosphere both on and off track. The elevation changes, overtaking opportunities, daunting corners and high speed straights make for one of the best circuits you will find anywhere in the world.

To name some of the historic touring car moments from Brands Hatch would take a lifetime. But who can forget the Reid – Rydell battle that ended in a post-race scuffle, or Simoni in 1994 who managed to barely keep his Alfa Romeo in a straight line while his team mate Tarquini powered to victory or perhaps more recently when Andy Jordan proved exactly why he deserved to be 2013 champion in the rain soaked final race of the year?

So many wonderful memories.. Photo taken from: supertcc.com

So many wonderful memories.. Photo taken from: supertcc.com

With such a packed grid, expect action from lights to flag as some of the most iconic racing machinery in the world come together to transport you back in time to reignite a fire long extinguished. Who needs Doctor Who and his Tardis when you have the Super Touring championship? The championship itself is fast gaining more support and recognition; it would not surprise me if in a few years time it becomes a regular support to the BTCC package itself. To describe me as excited would be a colossal understatement; my life is touring cars and those of the 1990s truly epitomize everything I love about tin top racing. If I could change anything, all I would want is the addition of some Volvo’s on the grid, lining up alongside some Rouse-prepared cars such as the ’92 Toyota or the Kaliber Sierra. And at that moment, my life may well just be complete.

I hope to see you there on May 24th. 

They’re back, and better than ever. 

You won’t want to miss this.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69 

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

BTCC 2015: Home Advantage for Honda at Thruxton?

The Honda team are expected to be on flying form at Thruxton. Image Credit: 2015 Honda Yuasa Racing Press Office

Image Credit: 2015 Honda Yuasa Racing Press Office

The first two rounds of the British Touring Car Championship have already more than proven the sensational form the series has returned to. If Brands Hatch and Donington Park proved anything, its that the old guard of the touring cars are anything but safe; the new generation of drivers are encroaching on the top positions. Heading to Thruxton however, the established teams remain on top, and it looks like it may well remain that way on Britain’s fastest and most daunting circuit. 

Over the years commenting on the motorsport world, a common observation has often been that I hold a great deal of faith in the underdogs. Apparently I have some cognitive roadblock when it comes to me aligning with any dominant team. The most relevant example I can muster must be the case of Honda in the BTCC. When they returned to the new look championship in 2002 I was a die hard fan, especially when Andy Priaulx got the team and made them a top scorer by the end of the year. However, as Honda became more and more dominant and transformed into the Neal-Shedden hybrid we know today, my love for them seemed to fade. I can only imagine that with dominance comes a sense of predictability, which in turn removes that drama and excitement that attracted you in the first place. This year however, the situation seems a little different.

We may have only had the first two rounds, but one thing that is clear beyond any shadow of a doubt is that nothing is certain anymore. The new breed of touring car stars have started their campaign for glory; Team BMR have shown blistering form, while names such as Aron Smith, Josh Cook and Aiden Moffat have taken their stand against the establishment. If there was a word to describe the 2015 season, it could only be unpredictability. Therefore, my attempt to make predictions ahead of Thruxton has already given me multiple headaches. Nevertheless, let’s give this a go.

Since 2011 there have been 12 races at Thruxton, 9 of which have been one by a single manufacturer. Of those 9 races, 8 of those have been won by the same team. The 2015 season may well be filled with uncertainty, but to put your money on a dominant Honda performance may well be one of the safest bets you could make all year. Not only is Thruxton the home circuit for the Honda team, but their composed chassis and strong engine has already given them 50% of the victories this year.

Honda are expected to be on flying form at Thruxton. Image Credit: 2015 Honda Yuasa Racing Press Office

Honda are expected to be on flying form at Thruxton. Image Credit: 2015 Honda Yuasa Racing Press Office

“We’ve had some brilliant results so far this season that have exceeded expectations – and long may they continue – but we need to keep on pushing the boundaries so we stay at the sharp end in this fast-moving championship.” Gordon Shedden

Considering Honda have seemingly out-performed their own expectations already this year, moving towards a historically Honda safe track must be a great confidence boost for the team,

We’ve got our heads down and are working hard on the car, because we know there’s still plenty of room for improvement – but we’re feeling positive. I’m looking forward to Thruxton; it’s traditionally been a happy hunting ground for us and the new Type R is monstrous through the high-speed areas, which is what this circuit is all about. That should definitely play to our strengths”  – Matt Neal

Speaking of tradition, Thruxton has never quite suited the Triple Eight MG team; the best placed MG last year was Jason Plato who managed 6th in the opening race. However, the all new line-up of Andy Jordan and Jack Goff have shown they are not be messed with this year. Andy Jordan took a win for Honda at Thruxton last year, so he knows exactly how best to tackle the tarmac for victory. I do think however that MG will struggle at Thruxton, having already fallen foul to the monstrous Honda team this year on multiple occasions.

In many ways the same can be said of both the BMW and BMR teams, who both possess either cars or drivers that are able to win at Thruxton, but question marks still hang over whether the 2015 combination will prove fruitful. I have faith that Priaulx will return after a disappointing Donington and be challenging for the podium positions and possibly even a win, following in the footsteps of Turkington who won the final race in the eBay Motors BMW last year. The new look BMR team have proven brutally fast already, and will certainly be on contention but I do not know if they will be able to match the Honda menace. Whatever happens, Turkington, Plato and supercharged Smith will be challenging from start to finish.

The high speed, abrasive circuit of Thruxton does often throw up some unexpected action, such as Simon Belcher’s stop drop and roll off the circuit last year. Questions have already been asked about the soft tyre and its suitability at Thruxton; given its performances so far it is likely that the soft tyre would not last a race. Personally I think the running of the soft tyre should be stopped at Thruxton, from a safety point of view.

The Moffatt Mercedes surprised everyone with its outright pace. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The Moffatt Mercedes may surprise at Thruxton. Image Credit: BTCC.net

The final race at Donington Park saw the dramatic rise to form of both Josh Cook and Aiden Moffat, with Cook nearly taking the outright race win if it wasn’t for the safety car. Moffat in the Mercedes is a proven racey combination already, and his determination is sending him soaring up the grid. Last year the Mercedes of Morgan finished with three top tens at Thruxton, which bodes well for both him and Moffat considering the drastic improvements that are already apparent this year. Thruxton in the past seems to have favoured the hot hatches, which would give some advantage to the A-Class over perhaps the VWs, Chevrolets and MGs. Possibly.

If the past is anything to go by, my attempts at making predictions ahead of a BTCC race meeting have been futile and utterly wrong when the results come in. The most skilled statisticians and race analysts in the world would struggle to predict the events of a BTCC race weekend. But I am nothing if not a courageous man. My predictions for Thruxton will be two race wins to Honda followed by a win for Aron Smith.

There we are, my money has been placed where my mouth is. Let’s see what happens shall we?

Bring it on!

Follow me on Twitter @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love! 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L.

Australia has had a love affair with station wagons for decades; sadly, new Aussie made wagons will cease in 2017 when Holden closes local manufacturing. Happily, there’s still wagon options available and Subaru’s evergreen Outback is a classy choice for the discerning driver. A Wheel Thing’s garage had the company of this classic for a week.2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L

Powersource.
3.6L. Horizontally opposed “boxer” engine. 191 kilowatts at 6000 revs and 350 torques at 4400. Economy levelled out at 8.5L per 100 in predominantly suburban driving (Subaru quotes 7.5L highway, 9.9L combined and an exceptionally unhealthy 14.2L per 100 km urban, from a 1700 kg wagon!) The fuel tank is 60L in size and can be filled with 91RON.2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L 6
The transmission is a CVT, a constant variable tranmission, allowing the Outback 3.6L to run to 100 klicks in around eight seconds. You can choose to shift manually via paddles at the rear of the steering wheel, with six programmed shift points to choose from.
The Suit.
There’s just over 21 cm of ground clearance to play with; the wagon body has been given the polyurethane add-on treatment, with front, rear and sill panels copping a lashing of black, allowing some good softroading thanks to the height and extra panel safety.2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L 3
The extra sheetmetal at the rear allows some usable cargo room, at 512 litres with the seats up and a gargantuan 1801 with the seats down. Staying with the rear, the tail light design echoes the sedan’s design plus continues the curve on the leading edge of the cluster. Both ends also get a aluminuim strip in the centre.2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L 2
The front features the Outback’s traditional look, with globe lit driving lights pushed to each bottom corner and surrounded by acres of plastic. The redesigned front features a smaller (and far better looking) head light cluster, with a more integrated shape, trimming the overly edgy shape the previous model suffered.

Atop the Outback is a pair of rails, giving the wagon a total height of 1675 mm; with a total length of 4815 mm and width of 1840, sitting on a wheelbase of 2745mm, it’s a larger car than the metal makes it look.

On The Inside.
Subaru have taken a soft broom to the interior; soft touch plastics, supple leather and its usual ergonomic approach add up for a classy look. Starting at the rear, there’s that aforementioned cavern for a cargo space, accessed via a powered tailgate. Adding to the class is a memory function, to store the level of height the ‘gate opens to.

Seats.
Although heated (not cooled) and comfortable they lack support, to the side and underneath. There’s a feeling of sitting on, not in, them, and the lack of bolstering leaves an average sized person feeling as if they may slide left or right. Both driver and passenger seats are electrically operated in eight directions. At the Premium and 3.6L level, the squabs are perforated for that luxury look.2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L 8

Rear Seats.
There’s a flat fold and 60/40 split ability, with the folding operated by a simple pull lever mechanism. The centre section naturally offers a fold out arm rest and drink holder. All four doors also have a bottle holder, as does the centre console.2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L 7

Interior Design.
The driver and front passenger face a dash and upper console that is a subtle yet effective revamp of the previous (fifth) generation. Subaru have amortised costs by giving the same look across the range, immediately inviting a sense of familiarity. The driver’s display is clean, highlighted by that cobalt blue backlighting. An information screen shows on the fly fuel economy, any warning systems such as Lane Departure or Collision Avoidance (via the much vaunted Eyesight system), trip and distance.

The aircon system works and works well, with the Mode button cycling from defrost to footwell without the need, as in another brand, to press the same button to deselect the airflow direction. The quibble with the display is the oversized, in comparison, temperature display to the clock and outside temperature.

2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L Premium interiorIt’s a black look to the lower half of the cabin, yet it’s neither claustrophobic or excessively dominated by the colour, as the upper half is an off white shade, providing a pleasant contrast and airy feeling, plus a sunroof gives that little bit extra.2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L 9

Subaru offer, depending on model, two different interior trims for the plastics, in this case the Premium is loaded up with piano black with silver highlights. For accessories to be powered up, there’s two 12V sockets to utilise, plus there’s Bluetooth streaming for music, voice command recognition, handsfree phone calling whilst the audio system in the 3.6L is American icon, Harman Kardon. It’s clear and punchy, with a well defined sound stage.

The steering wheel is chunky enough to give a decent surface area for the hands to wrap around on the leather, without stretching the fingers. There’s no sense of overloading the spokes with the various tabs and buttons for Cruise control, audio and information selection tabs on the lower left.2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L 4

In the upper centre console is Subaru’s integrated touchscreen navitainment system; it’s a true delight to use in its simplicity and offers a wide range of information and features, accessible from the Home screen and sub-menus embedded within. Above that is the stereo camera installation for Eyesight: http://www.subaru.com.au/eyesight-technology.

On The Road.
Compared to the sedan tested previously, it’s much more composed, stable and feels much more planted on the road. There’s a sensation of less body roll, more grip, with just a hint of understeer, easily controlled by a gentle prod of the right foot. The brake pedal is a touch soft at the beginning of the travel, with no feel of bite. To me, it needs to start earlier, to alleviate any feeling some drivers may have of the brakes not gripping.

The splendid looking 18 inch alloys hold onto 225/60 Bridgestone Dueller tyres, a dual purpose semi offroad and tarmac oriented design. They’re quiet across the coarser chip roads and add to the confidence in handling the Outback offers up. Rid equality is possibly more oriented towards the sporty style, with a touch of initial compliance before firming up but not uncomfortably so.2016 Subaru Outback 3.6L 5

Subaru quotes 7.8 seconds to reach 100 kilometres per hour with the 3.6L, it certainly feels capable enough indoing so, however, as good as the engineering is on their current crop of CVT’s, there’s still that seat of the pants feeling that a traditional auto could utilise the engine’s torque and power a touch more effectively. For the Outback, there’s also Hill Descent Control and a lockable centre diff.

Underway the car is mostly silent, bar the muted throb from the dual exhaust. Move too close to the centre or kerbside lines and you’ll trigger the Lane Departure warning system, with chimes aplenty. Thankfully, it’s a noise you can turn off. The Eyesight system offers adaptive cruise and a nifty feature alerting you if you’ve stayed still but the car ahead has moved on.Subaru eyesight

The Wrap.
Although seeming pricey at just over $50K, Subaru immediately passed on the dollar savings that a newly signed Free Trade Agreement brought to it. The Outback 3.6L comes with a solid features list, a comfortable interior, sweet ergonomics, plenty of family room but suffers from an excessively thirsty engine, from Subaru’s figures. The upside is that it’s a better looker than its predecessor and the increased sales figures reflect this.

For further details and pricing for your area: click here: http://www.subaru.com.au/outback/features

The Car: Subaru Outback.
Engine: 3.6L “boxer” or horizontally opposed six cylinder.
Power/Torque: 191 kW @ 6000 rpm/350 Nm @ 4400 rpm.
Transmission: CVT (constant variable transmission).
Fuel: 91RON.
Tank: 60 litres.
Economy: (City/highway/combined litres per hundred kilometres) 14.2/7.5/9.9.
Dimensions: (L x W x H in mm) 4815 x 1840 x 1675.
Wheelbase: 2745 mm.
Ride height: 210 mm.
Cargo: 512L/1801L (seats up/lowered).Private Fleet Logo - widget

Holy Roller: The Popemobile

Not too long ago, I did a wee post telling you all about the fancy-pants limo used by the President of the US of A, known as The Beast.  The research for this led me to odd bits and pieces about the Popemobile, so I thought that the opportunity was too good to pass up.

The Beast at least looks like a car.  The Popemobile… doesn’t.  Maybe that’s the real reason why the current pope, Pope Francis, doesn’t like it, as well as his apparent preference for keeping things simple.  And I have to say that I’d prefer to drive myself around in a Ford Focus or a Renault 4 , too, like he does, rather than sit in what looks like a glass box on the back of a ute.

Mercedes-Benz-Popemobile-01-626x416Popemobiles are a comparatively recent arrival on the scene, unlike presidential limos. Prior to 1976, the pope got carried about on a mobile armchair known as the sedia gestatoria, which roughly means “portable chair”.  Pope Paul VI scrapped the idea of being carried about on the shoulders of fellow human beings and organised a modified Toyota Land Cruiser  instead.  It used to take 12 blokes to carry it, partly because that padded throne was pretty heavy and partly in memory of the 12 disciples of Jesus… although Jesus’s preferred forms of transport were foot, rowing boat and a borrowed donkey.

Popemobiles tend to come in two varieties: open top and bulletproof.  The uncovered ones tend to get used when the Pope is on his home turf in the Vatican, with the bulletproof ones being kept for overseas trips. The bulletproof ones came in after the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981.

A number of vehicles have been modified over the years to be used as Popemobiles.  Fords, Fiats, a SEAT Panda (close cousin to the Fiat of the same name), a Kia and some British Leyland trucks have all been customised for the task, which is as close as a car comes to being consecrated.  A few other obscure vehicles have also been used over the years.  The current Popemobile is a modified Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV.  All Popemobiles have the same license plate: SCV 1, with the SCV standing for Status Civitatis Vaticanae meaning “City State of the Vatican”.

Engine: 5-litre V8, petrol fuel.  There are probably plans afoot for greener versions.

Seating: Five maximum: two in the front (one chauffeur and one bodyguard), one in the special chair and two aides in the rear cabin facing backwards and lower down where the general public can’t see them so well.  The answer to the debate over how many guardian angels you can fit in the rear of the Popemobile along with His Holiness is probably the same as the one about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.  The actual chair itself has a hydraulic lift system to get it up to the top of the turret for maximum visibility.  Entrance to the seat is through the rear door, and to get into this seat, the Pope goes through the rear door, climbs up a couple of steps, sits down then presses a button to get the chair up into the right place.

Performance: Tipping the scales at 5 tonnes thanks to heaps of body armour, the current Popemobile has a top speed of 160 mph and does the 0–60 mph “sprint” in 15 seconds, assuming that there’s a clear space in front.  The usual speed while on duty is more like 6 mph.  Fuel consumption is 15 miles per gallon.

Safety and security: The bulletproof glass around the rear cabin is actually plastic glass and is three inches thick, capable of withstanding explosions. The underside of the car is protected by a bombproof steel plate half an inch thick.  Kelvar body armour lines the sides of the cabin.  The rear cabin has its own oxygen supply and air filters to withstand biological attack.  The run-flat tyres are able to be used at speeds up to 70 mph.

I did notice that the special chair thing in the rear cabin doesn’t have a seatbelt…

Safe and happy driving – and don’t forget your seatbelts!

Megan

Blancpain Sprint Series Thunders Back To Brands Hatch

Image Credit: brandshatch.co.uk

Image Credit: brandshatch.co.uk

In the depths of darkness, the rapturous gods of thunderous passion have once more decreed their will; the Blancpain GT Series is to return to the once peaceful Kentish countryside. After a succulent success last year, the Sprint Series will once more grace the tarmac at Brands Hatch. The brutally British Bentley will join the returning marques of Audi, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini this year. The weekend will be nothing but spectacular, and there is no better place to watch the action than Stopwatch Hospitality.

When the Blancpain Sprint series came to Brands Hatch in 2014, no one was expecting such a spectacular weekend of racing. There is no doubt that the Blancpain GT series was something special, but until the eardrums were ringing and the rib cages rattling, no one was truly prepared for what was in store. The Brands Hatch round last year produced the closest qualifying and race finish that was seen all year round. Who would want to miss that?

The Blancpain behemoths will be piloted by a selection of some of the best sports car drivers you will see put hand to wheel, including Grand Prix competitors Markus Winklehock and Bernd Schneider as well as rising stars Craig Dolby and Sean Walkinshaw.

May the thunderous majesty return once more. Image Credit: brandshatch.co.uk

May the thunderous majesty return once more. Image Credit: brandshatch.co.uk

One of the biggest stories from that weekend was the return of motorsport legend Alex Zanardi, who had previously won two emotional gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics, which had been held at Brands Hatch. To say that the crowd was completely behind Zanardi would be an understatement. Despite some problems across the weekend, Zanardi would finish the main race 5th only 24.579 seconds behind the winning Grasser Racing Lamborghini.

The people’s hero, the people’s champion, the people’s inspiration.

 Even with the monstrous main course, the Blancpain package offers a succulent array of side dishes, including the ever popular GT Cup that had fans captivated from start to finish. Alongside their increasingly popular BTCC campaign, Power Maxed also run the Mini Challenge which will be out in force for your wonderment. The BRSCC Mazda MX5 Championship will too be making an appearance, pitting a full grid made up of a truly iconic sports car against each other. Did we also mention that there will be an immense super car display taking place on race day too? This is not something you will want to miss.

 Stopwatch Hospitality offers a race day package like no other, such as unrivalled views of the circuit, interviews and autograph sessions with drivers and a behind the scenes experience to see race teams in action. As an added bonus, guests will witness first-hands the delectable commentary delights of Downforce Radio who will be broadcasting some of the races from the weekend right from the suite! Add on top of that a wide range of complimentary drinks and food throughout the day in the suite alongside multimedia access to Twitter streams and live timing, is there really any other way to spend your day!

 Full Race day package available for only £75.

Trackside Lounge Package (excluding complimentary food/drink) £45

The only way is Blancpain. The only way is Stopwatch Hospitality.

See you there!

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Private Fleet Car Review: 2016 Subaru Liberty Premium 2.5L Sedan

Subaru has been an integral part of the Australian motoring landscape for close to five decades now and has sold solidly, if not spectacularly. That looks set to change, if March 2015 sales figures are anything to go by, thanks to the recent update to the Liberty range.

There’s an overall increase for the Japanese car maker of five percent for March, with a three point five percent increase on a year to date basis; Liberty itself sold 425 units whilst the ever popular Outlander moved an impressive and record setting 1180.

A Wheel Thing samples the 2016 Liberty sedan, in Premium spec and 2.5L engine, to see what’s been done to impress an increasing number of Aussies.2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L

Powersource.
The test car was powered by Subaru’s dependable 2.5L petrol engine. It’s also the familiar flat or “boxer” four cylinder configuration, with a hint of the throb the engine is noted for being emitted via the now single pipe exhaust. Power and torque (129 kW/235 Nm @ 5800/4000 rpm) go to all four wheels via Subaru’s Lineartronic CVT.2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L boxer engine

As are all CVT’s nowadays, it’s programmed with shiftpoints, six in this case and allows manual selection via paddles on the steering wheel’s rear. Petrol is stored in a 60 litre tank, with the engine tuned to run on 91RON, with economy claimed to be at 6.3L/9.0L/7.3L per 100 kilometres (highway, urban, combined). It’s EURO6 compliant, with emissions pegged at 167 grams per kilometre.

The Suit.
The most overt sign of change is at the front, with a larger grille, a more upright look, an aluminuim bonnet and a more integrated headlight assembly, compared to the angular and over extended mess on the previous model. There’s globe lit driving lights on either side of the lower air intake, sitting deep inside the strakes of the aerodynamic front bar.2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L 1

At the blunt end, tail lights are an evolution of the former, with a nicely styled look across the rear as they sit underneath the integrated rear deck spoiler.2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L Premium rear

There’s some minor panel join changes, however you’d have to be an “anorak” to notice them. In profile, there’s some minor changes to the rear window line, there’s two crease lines joining front and rear and the Liberty sits on 225/50/18 Dunlop rubber, wrapping some gorgeous 10 spoke bare metal and black painted alloys.2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L alloy

On The Inside.
Seats.
There’s two easily spotted and used buttons to heat the well padded but flat seats for driver and passenger, placed on the lower section of the centre console (no cooling?). The driver’s seat was fully electric, the passenger seat was manual. There’s some bolstering to the sides and hips however the overwhelming impression was sitting on, not in, the seats. The driver does get, though, a two position memory.2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L Premium interior

Dash and Console.
Simply stated: clean and uncluttered. A Wheel Thing appreciated good ergonomics and it’s here in bucketloads inside the Liberty range. The main dash dials are lit with a deep cobalt blue light, bisected by a full colour LCD screen with information showing instant fuel usage (expressed as a percentage), warnings such as Lane Departure and kilometres covered.

The centre dash console has a touchscreen, 7 inches on the Premium, with an elegant, almost piano black, look to the surrounds. There’s a set of menus, clearly laid out, taking you through to Settings, Navigation and more. It’s a clean and crisp look to the whole system and devilishly easy to use.2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L 2

Heating and cooling is dual zone, with two large dials to select the temperature and a light gunmetal grey finish to the selection buttons. Temperatures are displayed in large and bright LCD’s; a downside to this section is the tiny clock display; it’s too small and needs to be relocated to a more visible point.

Steering Wheel.
It’s adjustable for reach (in/out) and rake (up/down), is well sized in diameter and has a good grip for the hand. There’s controls for audio on the left and Cruise Control on the right, with the aforementioned paddle shifts easily reached at fingertip length. Again, it’s an ergonomic highlight.
Driving wise, there’s also the SI Drive, featuring two electronic programs, being Intelligent and Sports.

Sound System.
The submenu is, again, easy to follow; there’s Bluetooth connectivity plus USB and Auxiliary, CD and six speakers (top of the range gets 12 speakers via Harman Kardon). It’s well weighted with the sound mix, enough bass to punch through and clear with midrange and treble giving a well defined sound stage, out of the box.

Safety.
Subaru has its proprietary radar system called Eyesight (see end of review). Mounted to the left and right of the rear vision mirror, much like human eyes and a nose, lay two cameras. They tie in with the cruise control, providing a distance and collision avoidance system, tail light recognition, pre-collision steering assist and more.Subaru eyesight

Naturally, there’s airbags aplenty and electronic assistance; acronyms abound with TCS, ABS, ECT and TVS, the latter standing for Torque Vectoring System, whereby torque from the all wheel drive is sent to the corner needing it most. Airbags feature for driver, passenger and rear seat with curtain ‘bags plus the driver gets a kneebag as well.

Other Highlights.
The front door arm rests have a blue LED highlighting the hand grab and there’s puddle lights in the bottom of the doors. Rear seats are 60/40 split fold and easy dropped down to a prone position via a lever at the top. There’s plenty of cargo space at 493L (seats up). Looking upwards, there’s a sunroof to provide some natural light.2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L 3

On The Road.
It’s here that, for A Wheel Thing, this car displayed a considerable flaw. In this driver’s eyes, it’s the over sensitive and assisted steering setup. On pickup, the tyres were somewhat under pressured; when brought up to pressure, the ride hadn’t improved but the increase in tyre pressure was noticeable.

The steering had the Lane Departure warning system activating on a constant basis, such was the excess in assistance. Even the lightest of touches seemed to have the car veering left or right. To say it was disconcerting is an understatement. Left to its own devices, on a flat and straight surface, the car would track straight and true, but it rarely imbued the driver with a full feeling of confidence.

The suspension itself was well sprung, if a touch soft at times; again, that tyre pressure differential was noticeable. Over the short metal speed bumps in car parks, the give in the ride was apparent, however there was minimal body roll.

Acceleration is reasonable, not brisk, (Subaru says 9.6 seconds to 100 kilometres) with those torques coming in at a relatively high 4000, it takes a good shove of the go pedal to reach them. There’s also that unavoidable delay between Reverse and Drive, taking somewhere between a half and full second for forward motion to be re-engaged. braking is good, with enough of a progression on the pedal to not feel as if the system is underbraked.2016 Subaru Liberty 2.5L boot

The Wrap.
Subaru’s 2015/2016 range of Liberty variants are good lookers; it’s a definite case of quiet evolution and it’s working, judging by the numbers I’m seeing on the road, even though the car hasn’t been on sale for long. It’s a handsome enough looker, reasonably frugal if you don’t have a heavy right foot, full of safety features and the interior freshen up has given it some new life.

The over assistance in steering, the odd decision to shrink the clock to almost insignificance and the somewhat weird (on the test car) suspension pull the Liberty Premium back a couple of notches. Pricewise, it sits just under $40K driveaway, putting it within reach of the lower level Euro cars.
Backed by a three year, unlimited kilometre warranty (falling behind compared to the Koreans) and a 12 month Roadside Assistance package, there’s peace of mind included.

Follow the link for information and pricing for your area: http://www.subaru.com.au/liberty/specs

Specs.
Engine: 2.5L, horizontally opposed (boxer engine).
Power/torque: 129 kW, 235 Nm @ 5800/4000 rpm.
Fuel: petrol, 91RON compatible.
Tank: 60 litres.
Economy (claimed, city, highway, combined) 9.0L, 6.3L, 7.3L per 100 km.
Dimensions: 4795 x 1840 x 1500 (L x W x H in mm).
Weight: 1528 kg (tare).
Warranty: 3 years, unlimited kilometres, 12 month roadside assistance.
Cargo: 493L (rear seat raised)

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Subaru’s 20/20 Vision Wins Over Starry-Eyed Judges

Subaru’s new generation EyeSight® driver assist system has won an innovation excellence award from respected researcher, Canstar Blue.

EyeSight is one of eight innovations recognised within the automotive industry for offering a range of new features and services available to Australian motorists, with safety a key aspect of many.

The system uses stereo cameras mounted at the top of the windscreen, capturing “live” images of the road ahead – helping car and driver to react instantly to potentially dangerous situations. This can help prevent collisions, or reduce impact damage.

Megan Doyle, Canstar Blue General Manager, said: “A great safety feature to have as standard on any vehicle, EyeSight by Subaru is not only innovative, but most importantly it could help prevent some of the needless collisions that occur on our roads every day.

“As a driver you would have to be super-human not to experience the odd moment of tiredness or dip in concentration behind the wheel, which could potentially lead to disastrous results.

“Fortunately Subaru has created what is essentially an extra pair of eyes – alerting a driver to potential collisions and helping to mitigate the consequences of them.

“We applaud Subaru for its innovation and dedication to improving the safety of both road-users and pedestrians.”

Subaru Australia Managing Director, Nick Senior, said: “We’re delighted our EyeSight driver assist technology has been recognised for excellence in innovation.

“Safety has always been a top priority for Subaru, and when we introduced the EyeSight driver assist technology in 2012, we elevated our safety commitment even further, potentially preventing collisions or reducing the severity.

“In Australia, EyeSight has attracted insurance premium reductions for vehicle owners, while late last year in Japan, Liberty and Outback models equipped with EyeSight were awarded top ratings in a new type of assessment conducted by the Japan New Car Assessment Program (JNCAP).”

Other international acclaim for EyeSight includes a maximum six point rating in Front Crash Prevention (FCP) tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the United States.

In 2012, EyeSight won a prestigious Japanese government science and technology award. The five Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI) engineers who developed EyeSight received the prize for Science and Technology 2012, Development Category, from Japan’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The award-winning third-generation EyeSight system, adds brake light recognition, pre-collision steering assist and approximately 40 per cent improvement in obstacle detection distance and camera angle view, to its already impressive credentials:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Lane Departure Warning
  • Lane Sway Warning
  • Lead Vehicle Start Alert
  • Pre-Collision Braking System
  • Pre-Collision Brake Assist
  • Pre-Collision Throttle Management

Third-generation EyeSight comes standard on all new generation Liberty and Outback petrol variants which start from just $29,990 MLP*.

For more information on Subaru’s EyeSight driver assist system, head to www.subaru.com.au/eyesight

*Prices are Subaru (Aust) Pty Limited’s Manufacturer’s List Prices only and include GST on the list price but exclude dealer delivery charges and all other government and statutory charges. For the actual drive away price of Subaru vehicles consumers should be advised to contact their local authorized Subaru dealer.

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