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Archive for May, 2017

2017 Audi Q2 TDi: A Private Fleet Car Review

With SUVs being so popular, it’s no surprise that the next chapter in the SUV story is the lifestyle SUV. Think the original SUV, the Toyota RAV4, bring it into the latter half of the second decade of the 21st century, and that’s the market.
Not surprisingly, Audi, known for their quick response to market change, have done so and enter, stage left, the Audi Q2, with a choice of 1.4L TFSI petrol or 2.0L diesel quattro.Audi says that their designers have: “created a unique polygonal design for the Q2 using sculpted geometric shapes for a stunning interplay of lines. The octagonal Singleframe grille, the three-dimensional taillights, and the polygonal side profile work in harmony to define its powerful character. With a higher-ground clearance, the Q2 is undeniably an SUV, from the elevated driving position to everyday versatility.”Ok. That means it’s a funky new design for an SUV. But what does that mean for passengers? Well, let’s take a step back and consider the exterior. The test car came clad in a “won’t lose me in the car park” yellow. Vegas Yellow, to be precise. If there’s a colour other than silver that will highlight those edges, it’s yellow. There’s a solid plastic C panel in a light gunmetal grey which can be be swapped for other colours, with that choice dependent on engine spec. With eleven exterior colours to pick from the Q2 allows the savvy buyer some choice, to say the least.In fact, the Q2 offers a list of optionable equipment that will give any indecisive person the jitters. There’s the punchy B&O audio system, wireless mobile phone charging, Head Up Display, a storage and luggage compartment package, and a cool looking LED interior light system in the console and dash. You can also include the Technik Package, which has an 8.3 inch touchscreen, two card readers and 10 GB hard drive storage plus more. The driver gets the “Virtual Cockpit” LCD screen, at just over 12 inches in width.It’s a surprisingly compact unit, with an overall length under 4.2 metres, at 4191 mm, yet rides on a 2601 mm wheelbase, meaning there’s a reasonable, if cozy, amount of interior space. That also means that front and rear overhang is minimal, with 828 mm and 762 mm respectively. It’s almost square in a front/rear look, with 1509 mm in height, 1794 mm total with, and with front and rear track just millimetres apart at 1547 mm and 1541 mm respectively. Rubber was Michelin 215/50, on the optionable 18 inch alloys fitted.Interior space has 1091 mm from the front seat squab to the roof and just 966 mm in the rear, meaning taller passengers may find themselves getting intimate with the upholstery, both above and to the back of the seats ahead. The interior itself is a mix of flat charcoal plastic; textured, almost carbon fibre along the dash and hides the LED mood lighting; to the flat bottomed steerer and the screen in the upper dash standing monolithically, almost like The Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey.Cargo space is smallish at 450 litres, plus it’s a highish boot floor, making both loading height and outright useability a compromise.It’ll motorvate along nicely, however, with the 2.0L diesel (in the test vehicle) providing a linear deliver of torques, 340 of them, between 1750 and 3000 rpm, rolling off nicely into the peak power figure of 110 kilowatts from 3500 to 4000 revs. The TSFI delivers the same power albeit at 5000 to 6000 rpm, with peak torque a not indecent 250 Nm across a slightly broader rev range, being 1500 to 3500. The diesel’s quattro system has drive predominantly at the front, as is common in these sorts of vehicles, sending torque rearward as the sensor system dictates. It’s seamless and invisible to the senses.Both will roll along quietly with the merest flex of the right ankle, and with both having such a linear delivery of torque, will see each of the seven ratios nicely used, especially when at speed and needing a good overtaking move. The diesel is muted but will transmit a warm thrum through to the cabin when under load. Stopping power is confident, with the brakes providing instant information, rather than feeling as if there’s travel before bite. The steering weights well in the hand, with it feeling as if there’s a variable ratio the further left or right you turn.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Audi Q2 starts at $41100 plus on roads for the 1.4 TSFI, with the diesel quattro a whopping $6800 more, with a driveaway price of a gnat’s nasty under $53500. However you will get the standard three year or unlimited kilometre warranty and twelve year warranty for body perforation protection. The diesel is a good enough drive but the Q2 suffers from a lack of interior room overall. At that, one would suspect that it would be bought by singles or couples and would rarely see a need to employ the rear seat for anything other than extra space for shopping, or a small dog.
2017 Audi Q2 is the place to go for more info.

2017 Subaru BRZ: A Private Fleet Car Review.

The joint venture between Subaru and Toyota to produce a low slung, two door, coupe has been a raging success, in the form of the Toyota 86 and the Subaru BRZ. On Subaru’s side, with the car being the sole entry in an otherwise all wheel drive family, it’s been a standout. 2017 saw the single trim level car receive a mild refresh.The car itself remains largely untouched; there’s a sole powerplant choice, being Subaru’s own horizontally opposed four cylinder, and a choice of six speed manual or six speed auto. There’s slight differences between peak power and torque, depending on which transmission you choose, with either 152 kW or 147 kW and 212 Nm or 205 Nm available. It’s the torque figure that makes for curious reading, as peak twist is on between 6400 rpm to either 6600 or 6800 rpm. The engine is a snob, too, preferring 98 RON inside the 50L tank. Economy is rated at 8.4L/100 km on the combined cycle, a figure pretty well matched in the week long drive.That torque figure also belies the sheer tractability of the BRZ. It’ll rev happily to the redline figures, emitting a raspy snort somewhat at odds with the note you’d expect from a the boxer four. The gearing is such that although the PEAK torque is well over 6000, there’s plenty enough below for the BRZ to use it and use it well enough to see a zero to one hundred time of 7.4 to 8.2 seconds. The short throw, snicky, gear lever aids in this, making each gear just that much more accessible to the torque. It kinda helps that there’s less than 1300 kilos (dry) to get moving…There’s no change to the excellent ride, progressive and communicate braking, and handling either, with the BRZ willing to cock a rear corner when pushed yet still provide a comfortable enough ride from the MacPherson strut front and double wishbone rear suspension across a variety of road surfaces. On western Sydney’s mix of freeway and highway and residential roads, the BRZ varied between ignoring the various surface imperfections to feeling mildly unsettled without losing composure. The steering rack is also “fast” with instant response and a tight turn to lock either side, making for a real connection between driver and car. There’s skinnyish 215/45/17 Michelin tyres which, when combined with some exuberant driving (legally, of course) will have the car’s rear end liven up, skip around, feel like it’s about to break loose, and brings a smile to a driver’s dial.Getting in and out is still an issue, one that is not avoidable due to the low height. The roof is just 1320 mm above the tarmac, with the driver pretty much in the middle of the 2570 mm wheelbase, aiding the weight distribution and handling. With an overall length of 4240 mm it’s not the longest car in the world but with that wheelbase leaving around just 700 mm either end, it’s a long and lowish profile to drink in with the eyes.
There’s a bonnet longer than a boring conversation, a roof with a flattened vee for aero before sloping down to the new LED tail lights (which match the LED driving lights up front in Subaru’s current C shape ethos) and the stubby tail which hides the 218 litre cargo space and the space saver tyre.Inside…well, it’s a different story. There’s a mix of nice and not-so, with retro look tabs for the aircon, ill fitting soft touch material in the upper dash, a typical Toyota inspired blocky look to the actual dash fascia, mixed in with a simple to use yet effective touchscreen at 6.2 inches in size, backing up the 4.2 inch LCD screen embedded behind the speed and tacho dials. The sports seats are well bolstered, covered in grey and black material, and the driver gets alloy pedals for the sporting look. There’s auto self levelling headlights, steering wheel mounted Bluetooth audio controls, 2 12 volt sockets, and there’s a CD player also.No, there’s no room for adults behind the driver and passenger; it’s hard enough for the slide and tilt mechanism to cope with two children so adults genuinely have no hope. Even for a normal height driver, the gap between the front and rear seat makes it essentially unsafe to consider throwing anyone under 12 inches in height in the back. Although there’s the familiar (to anyone that’s had a two door car) pull strap to fold the upper seat section and slide the lower section forward, there’s just not enough leg room behind the two seats at all for genuine safety for the rear seat passengers.Warranty is Subaru’s standard three year/unlimited kilometre coverage, with 12 months road side assistance and the three year/60000 kilometre capped price servicing as well.

At The End Of The Drive.
Subaru lists the manual BRZ at $32990 plus ORCs, with the auto two thousand more. There’s a reasonable amount of standard equipment, enough to satisfy most in the hunt for a driver’s car and that’s the crux. It IS a driver’s car, especially with a manual transmission. It’s tightly sprung yet not so to be a teeth rattler. It’s snug inside and seriously not to be considered a family car…but you knew that, right?
For more details, head on over to here: 2017 Subaru BRZ

Hyundai and carsales Join To Clear Hail Damaged Stock.

Here at Private Fleet, we understand that shopping for a new car can be a minefield. There’s the sitting down and thinking about what kind of car you need: do I need a people mover, a sedan, a wagon? Will a diesel be better for me than the petrol? What about the servicing costs and what about the price?

Private Fleet is dedicated to helping YOU buy a new car and receiving the best price AND customer service that we can offer. But we also recognise that sometimes it’s a better thing to do by going outside the box in helping our customers find a bargain. A major competitor has something we think is pretty special, so in the interests of looking after you in finding a new car and knowing you’ll consider us for the NEXT car, we’d like to share this.

We understand that it’s highly unusual for a company such as ours do this and that we may lose a little bit of business to our competitor but that’s also why we think that sharing worthwhile news makes us stand out from the competition. We are here to help you buy YOUR next car.

carsales has signed an important commercial deal with Hyundai Australia to assist the car company sell over 3,000 cars that were damaged by the hailstorms that hammered Sydney in February and March of this year.

carsales has worked with Hyundai to enable the manufacturer to give substantial support to its dealers that have hail damaged stock that would otherwise be very difficult to sell.

Bargain hunters will be able to purchase ‘as new’ cars which have some hail damage at significant savings from 1st of May.

Through an exclusive agreement, carsales will host a Hail Sale clearance hub to help Hyundai clear the discounted hail-damaged stock.

The Hail Sale will be in the form of a dedicated clearance centre landing page on the carsales website. All hail-damaged Hyundais will be aggregated within the bespoke clearance centre with Hyundai display ads directing prospects onto the carsales site rather than the Hyundai corporate website which will enable a frictionless experience for consumers.

Hyundai’s website and other owned channels will also link through to Hail Sale to ensure the deal receives maximum exposure in order to deliver the best commercial results for both parties.

Agostino Giramondo, Sales & Strategy Director at carsales said: “This is the first time Hyundai has promoted a Hail Sale with such a large quantity of affected stock. It also marks the first time carsales has run a campaign of this nature with a mass manufacturer and demonstrates our commitment to collaborating with car manufacturers. We worked closely with the team at Hyundai to ensure their primary goal was met. This solution is all about selling cars in a contextual environment. It serves as a good reminder that the best solutions for manufacturers are on carsales.”

The hail-damaged Hyundais have only suffered minor cosmetic damage, which makes the Hail Sale an excellent opportunity for consumers to score a great deal. The vast majority of cars will have minimal kilometres and still benefit from Hyundai’s five year unlimited kilometre warranty – excluding panel and paint.

All Hyundai models will be available on the Hail Sale clearance hub, and the cars will be sold by Hyundai dealers around the country, giving all Australian consumers the opportunity to make significant savings on these cars.

Visit The Hyundai Hail Damage site for further information.

Why Driverless Technology In Cars Isn’t The Same As Autopilot Systems In Planes

One of the more interesting and exciting developments in the world of automotive technology these days is all the research into autonomous cars (aka driverless cars or self-driving cars). They’re really trying hard to develop these and get them working. In fact, one recent news report claimed that Volvo is looking for 100 volunteers from the industry’s home town of Gothenburg to commute to work for a year in prototype driverless cars – along a selected route that don’t have bikes, pedestrians or snow. That last factor might be a bit of a challenge in Sweden: Gothenburg may have a warm climate compared to the rest of Sweden but still gets an average of 10 snowy days per month during December and January, snowfalls possible from November to April, and had a record number of snowy days in 2016.

The drive (ha ha) behind driverless cars is to eliminate one of the main causes of accidents: human error. Humans make dumb decisions, forget the road code, have attention that wanders or gets distracted, get tired and get frazzled. Humans also like drinking alcohol. Computers don’t get drunk, etc. so the thinking is that if you can get a computer to take over a lot of the decision-making with a system that can calculate distances and speeds precisely, never forgets the highway code, doesn’t get tired and doesn’t start planning dinner in the middle of the commute. Therefore, a car that uses automated systems will be safer, as the human error is eliminated.

The standard comparison is to autopilot systems in planes, which have been in use for quite some time.

The Road Isn’t The Sky

OK, let’s just stop and think about that.  Although autopilot systems have been standard in most passenger aircraft since at least the 1930s (using an analogue system rather than computerised), the main idea in autopilot systems is, according to the FAA, designed to “significantly reduce workload during critical phases of flight”, not eliminate the workload of the pilot altogether. It can be turned on and off as the pilot wishes, kind of like cruise control.  The big fat FAA manual for general aviation (that’s the basic flying licence level) contains guidelines on when NOT to use autopilot.  Planes with autopilot function are not “pilotless planes”. Yes, drones exist, but they’re usually kept for missions you don’t want to send people on. If a drone crashes, that’s annoying. If a plane crashes with people on board… you get the picture.

What’s more, the air isn’t as busy a place as the road. Go to even the world’s busiest airport (Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, USA) and you’ll see an average of about 2.4 thousand aircraft movements (takeoffs and landings) per day.  The world’s busiest road (Ontario Highway 41 in Ontario, Canada) sees 500,000 vehicles per day go through on average. Do a simple test if you’ve got a spare day (don’t we all wish!) and pick an intersection near an airport. Count the planes going in and out, and count the number of vehicles going through the intersection, and you’re guaranteed to count more cars than planes, unless you’ve selected a tiny little airstrip in the Outback.

The sky also doesn’t have the equivalent of intersections. The closest pilots get to an intersection would be an airport. During takeoffs and landings, the pilot (and probably the co-pilot) is on full alert. What’s more, the issues to do with who gives way to whom and when the pilot can enter the “intersection” is handled by the ATC (air traffic controller), who has probably been in radio contact with all pilots approaching the airport and has had received all the flight plans about what’s going to land and take off earlier in the day. This does not happen at your nearest roundabout or traffic lights.

Driving a car also requires negotiating more intersections. In a plane, the pilot sets the autopilot function to navigate and steer, and the plane can go in a straight line, more or less, to where the pilot wants to go.  This doesn’t involve turning left in 200 metres, then taking the second intersection to the right, then along the one-way system until the next set of lights and turning left, then carrying on to the roundabout and…  well, you get the picture. This means that there’s less for the autopilot to do: it will make sure the heading is right, use gyroscopes to correct for any imbalances and get the attitude and altitude right.

Admittedly, there are more things that a plane’s autopilot function has to take care of, thanks to things like stall speed (go too slow and the plane will fall out of the sky), yaw, pitch, roll and thrust. The autopilot also handles some navigation issues via GPS and checks the altitude. However, these are mostly issues that are internal to the plane. Taking care of external things, such as coping with changing winds and weather, is the job of the pilot.  In a vehicle, we’ve already got electronic stability control packages and nobody thinks of those in discussions of driverless cars. However, what a driverless car would need to handle is mostly external to the car: oncoming vehicles and the like.

Our roads contain pedestrians, bikes and animals. These are not governed by computer algorithms and will do things that autonomous technology can’t predict. Detect, yes. Slow down for, yes. Predict, no. This is also a problem for pilots and is one that autopilot can’t do much about. Not that there are bikes and people whizzing about up in the flight paths but there are birds. Bird strikes are some of the major hazards of flying – if you remember about 10 years ago with that incident of a big passenger plane having to do an emergency landing in New York’s Hudson River, it was a collision with a goose that made things go to custard.

Pilots have to stay alert when flying. No pilot relies entirely on the autopilot all the time – just some of the time.  The pilot is always responsible for what happens. In addition, on longer flights, there is a second person or even a third ready to take over responsibility if the pilot has been on alert for too long. Pilots are in radio contact with other pilots along the route, plus the control tower(s), so everybody knows where everybody else is.  It’s not the same on the road.

So what’s the moral of all this?  In my opinion, our image of sitting back playing Angry Birds and sipping a latte while the vehicle takes us from our homes to work has to go when we think of driverless cars.  Even if the car has good enough sensors and navigation to get you around that corner at the right speed, and can remember the give way rules for you and gun into a gap at the roundabout, the driver will still have to be on the alert to take over if things don’t quite go to plan or if the unexpected happens.  Autonomous systems should be there to help and back up the driver and reduce workload, not take over from the driver completely. If you want the Angry-Birds-and-latte experience, take the bus or carpool so you get your turn at being the passenger.