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Archive for December, 2017

Mahindra Pik-Up Gets Update for 2018.

Some brands in Australia’s car industry seem to sail under the radar. Sometimes that’s a good thing as it gives the canny and investigative buyer a chance to stand out from the crowd. There’s also a sense of brand loyalty amongst those that do buy, and so it is with Mahindra. The Indian based conglomerate has released an update to the sturdy Pik-Up two and four door ute, covering the drivetrain, exterior and interior, and safety. The trim levels are named S6 and S10.
Drivetrain.
It’s a two body range, the dual cab and single cab (and S6 and S10 for both), with two and four wheel drive available for both. That’s available via a six speed manual attached to a small but grunty Euro V compliant diesel. The capacity is 2.2 litres, and peak power is 103 kilowatts. The important name and number is torque and there’s 330 of them, between 1600 to 2800. That’s smart engineering as it means driveability is enhanced in a real world situation.

In the 4WD versions, it’s a Borg-Warner transfer case putting that torque to the dirt through all four paws plus there’s an Eaton system that will lock the rear diff if slippage is detected.. Tank size is a massive 80 litres, not far off the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s 93L. Economy for the four door is quoted as 8.8L/100 km. There is a single cab due in 2018, with economy slated to be 0.2L/100km better. Towing is rated as 2500 kilograms, braked.Interior.
There’s the visible and invisible. Mahindra have upped the safety stakes, with ABS, collapsible steering column, Electronic Brake Distribution, front airbags as standard. For the family, there’s ISOFIX seat anchor points also as standard. Visibly there’s a six-inch touchscreen in the S10 (CD/MP3 campatoble head unit for the S6)which displays the reverse camera, along with cruise control and satnav, climate control, auto headlights and wipers. The driver’s dash display receives a 3D effect on the analogue dials for better visualisation. There’s an upright design to the dash itself, ensuring plenty of leg room for the driver and passenger, as do the rear sear passengers thanks to some well thought out packaging.Exterior.
The Pik-Up has always had a solid, bluff, look, and this stays. However, the S10 gets a classy mix of black chrome grille with subtle chrome highlights, a reshaped lower air intake for better engine breathing and aerodynamics, with both grille and intake receiving a visual update thanks to black mesh, and a subtle increase to the Mahindra badge.
There’s LED driving lights for the completely restyled headlights in the S10 and restyled foglights as well. Tyres will be P245/75 R16.Release Information and Pricing.
As of December 2017, there will be the 4×4 S6 single cab chassis at $26,990 driveaway. A 4×2 version will be available in early 2018 at $21,990. The 4×4 S6 dual cab will come with either a cab chassis or factory fitted “well side tub” at $26,490 and $29,990 respectively. The S10 trim level and tub takes it to $31,990. There’s a huge range of options available such as snorkel, tow ball set-up, and winch compatible steel bill bars, with more to come in 2018.

Colours are limited to a four choice palette: Napoli Black, Arctic White, Red Rage and De-sat Silver. Warranty is five years or 100,000 kilometres and also includes five years roadside assistance.
For more information on the 2018 Mahindra Pik-Up range, head here: Mahindra Australia

Goldilocks Goodyear* And The Three Tyre Pressure Bears

 

Getting the tyre pressure right is a bit of a Goldilocks process – it can’t be too hard or too soft, but has to be just right.  If you don’t get it right, it could result in an accident that leaves you looking like you have indeed had an encounter with three grouchy, hungry grizzly bears. Or it could turn your vehicle into a beast with one heck of an appetite for fuel. (On a complete sidetrack, wouldn’t Ursus or the word for Bear in some other language make a great name for a 4×4?)

The most common scenario is that you end up with Mama Bear’s tyres: too soft.  This is because valves aren’t perfect and slow leaks happen over time, what with little air molecules being sneaky.  Ideally, we ought to check our tyre pressure monthly but not many of us actually do this (and that’s me at the front of the queue for the confessional!).

The problem with too-soft Mama Bear tyres is that they bulge out.  This leads to two problems.  Firstly, because the walls of the tyre weren’t designed to balloon out like that, you’re increasing the chance of the tyre going boom on you.  Yes – underinflation and being too soft is what increases the chance of getting a blowout, not being too hard.

The second problem of having too-soft Mama Bear tyres that bulge out is because this increases the area of tyre contacting the road.  A moment’s thought will tell you that this has to be better for grip, right?  Well, yes.  It does increase the amount of grip between the tyre and the road surface, and that’s just the problem.  This means increased friction, and this means that your car has to work harder to get up to the speed you want to.  Remember what it was like when you were a kid and your bike tyre started getting a leak so you had to pedal that much harder when the tyre was flat?  Well, the same thing happens when your car tyres are flat (or your trailer tyres for that matter).  What this adds up to is terrible, terrible fuel economy.  If you’ve wondered why you don’t get the same fuel economy as the stats in the car ads say you should, this is one of the reasons why (the other reasons are because the vehicles are tested minus any load at all and in the lab where there’s no crosswinds or headwinds).

OK, so having the tyres too soft is a bad thing.  However, is there such a thing as being too hard?

As Goldilocks would tell us, yes, tyres can be too hard.  Papa Bear tyres might not increase your chance of a blowout the same way that Mama Bear tyres do, in spite of what the cartoons tell us. Papa Bear tyres are dangerous in another way.  Because they make the bottom of the tyre narrower and more convex, there’s less of the tyre touching the road.  This means less friction.

Less friction, of course, means less grip around corners and greatly increased braking time.  If it’s wet, then proportionally less water can be channelled out of the way, so the friction decreases even further.  Let’s stop and think about the implications of that for a moment, but not for too long.  The results certainly won’t be pretty, especially if speed is involved.  It’s a wonder that the cops don’t have random tyre pressure checks the same way they do random breath testing and random speed checks.  Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have written that – I might give them new ideas and new ways to milk our wallets.

So how do you get those nice Baby Bear tyres that aren’t too hard or too soft but just right, where you’ve got enough friction to make the car handle well but not so much that your car guzzles petrol?

The answer, of course, is to check your tyre pressure regularly.  Some say that you should even check the pressure every time you fill up with fuel, but this may be going a bit too far.  Maybe.  Most modern vehicles are very, very nice to us and have tyre pressure monitors installed and provide us with an alert when the pressure strays out of the Goldilocks Zone.

OK, so how do you know what pressure you should inflate your tyres to?  The answer to that is usually provided very kindly by the car manufacturers, either in the owner’s manual or on the door pillars (either on the driver’s or the passenger’s side).  In my Volvo  S70, the info is in the manual.  In my Nissan  Terrano, the information is on a sticker on the door pillar on the driver’s side… unfortunately in Japanese where it hasn’t totally faded away.  Curses and naught words!  Fortunately in situations like this, you can use online tools and good old Google to help you out (here’s one possibility: http://www.tyre-pressures.com/).

Tyre pressure, like porridge, can’t be taken too hot.  However, there is no such thing as too cold when it comes to measuring tyre pressure.   This is because heat makes the rubber a bit softer and the air inside take up a wee bit more space.

When you check the tyre pressure, you need to be sure that you use the right units.  Car tyre pressure is one of the few things that we still like to think about in Imperial units rather than metric (the others are height and the birth weight of babies).  The Imperial unit is pounds per square inch (psi) but the metric equivalent is kiloPascals (kPA).  The conversion formula is 1 psi = 6.8947 kPA, so if you use the wrong unit, you’ll either be underinflated or overinflated by sixfold.

Of course, getting Baby Bear tyres isn’t as simple as that.  If you’ve got a heavier than normal load in your vehicle, this will press down on the tyres so they bulge out and get a Mama Bear tyre profile and will therefore act like a Mama Bear tyre.  This really adds up to a beast with a big appetite, as the engine doesn’t just have to cope with the extra load, it also has to cope with the extra friction if you don’t increase the tyre pressure.  And don’t forget to make like Johnny Farnham and take the pressure down once you’ve dropped off the load!  Oh yes – and make sure that your tyres aren’t too worn or getting the pressure right won’t do diddly-squat.

To make things even more interesting, if you’re into off-roading, you need to adjust the tyre pressure according to the surface you’re driving on.  In sand, for example, you need the extra friction, so Mama Bear might be able to help you out if you get stuck.

Catch you later – I’m off to check the tyre pressure in both cars.

* This is not the name of a blonde model in the Goodyear equivalent of the Pirelli calendar.

Car Review: 2018 Mitsubishi ASX XLS Diesel AWD

Mitsubishi has a long and proud history with off road capable vehicles and continues that with the ASX range. Private Fleet spends time with the top of the range 2018 Mitsubishi ASX XLS, complete with the same 2.2L diesel as found in the Outlander, and seven speed CVT plus a six speed manual lower in the range.The range itself also offers a petrol 2.0-litre engine, and will power down via the front wheels or come with an all wheel drive system. It’s a mid-sized five seater, in the same bracket as theToyota RAV4. Mitsubishi is offering driveaway pricing deals at the time of writing, with the range starting at an easy on the wallet $24,990 for the LS 2WD petrol. Our test car is priced from $39,990.The engine is good for 110kW, and 360Nm between 1500 to 2750 rpm, making normal driving as easy as blinking. The CVT is well sorted, taking the right foor command and turning it into forward motion easily. The torque allows quick acceleration however doesn’t seem to be as comfortable with overtaking as Suzuki’s Vitara. Economy is good too, with a final figure of 5.9 litres of diesel consumed per 100 kilometres.

Inside, the ASX clearly shows its family oriented design, with leather accented cloth seats, digital radio, a sliding cloth screen for the full length glass roof, plenty of bottle and cup holders, USB charging ports BUT dips out on rear seat air vents and ventilation for the from seats, an almost unforgivable oversight for the Australian market. The plastics are hard to the touch, needing a more modern feel with padding and a softer feel where padding isn’t required. Also, the ovoid design of the console is now showing its age, needing a move to a more human encompassing design. However, cargo room is also looking good, with room for shopping, bags for the weekend way and suchlike, with 393L available with the rear seats up and increasing to to 1143L with the seats folded. Being a compact car in overall length, rear leg room is slightly compromised, with anyone from 180 cm and up maybe feeling a little cramped, but there’s plenty of head and shoulder room, front and rear.Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are available, as are DAB/AM/FM (no CD) as is Bluetooth streaming via the 7.0-inch touchscreen. But the reliance on the two smartphone apps means no built in sat nav, even though GPS, showing the coordinates but no navigation, is there. And currently the apps have to be accessed via the phones being connected with cables, a somewhat clunky method and untidy as well.Being the top of the range means loading up with plenty of safety features and the ASX XLS gets the supreme pizza, with Forward Collision Mitigation, Lane Departure Warning, and Euro style flashing brake lights for the Emergency Stop System. Autonomous Emergency Braking is not yet fitted to the range however. A reverse camera is standard across the range, as are the ISOFIX child seat mounts and pretensioning seatbelts, Hill Start Assist, and seven airbags including driver’s kneebag.

Back to the driving habits and it’s a typical diesel; floor it and it’ll hesitate as the turbo spools up before kicking the tyres into action. Breathe the right foot over the throttle and you can watch the numbers change quickly and quietly. Economy is rated as 6.0L/100km on a combined cycle from a 60-litre tank and with the ASX being a middleweight, at 1540kg before fuel and passengers, there’s a useable torque to weight ratio. As a result it’ll get off the line, even with the CVT, with a solid rush.When it comes to dimensions, there’s a 2670mm wheelbase hiding inside that compact body, meaning you’ll get a sure footed handling and composed ride in combination with the struts and multi-link suspension. Rubber is from Bridgestone, and they’re 225/55/18s. Exterior styling owes much, like the original Outlander, to the Lancer sedan, with the ASX sporting the same sharp edged, bluff prow. At each corner up front are almost vertical LED driving lights and there’s splashes of chrome. It’s assertive and appealing.The ASX is easy to live with on road, with the steering being light, but attached enough so you don’t find you’re missing out on contact with what’s happening up front. Point and shoot style is how the ASX XLS works and the flexibility of the peak torque makes city driving an absolute doddle. The CVT has no manual mode available via the gear selector, so if you use the paddle shifters you’ll need to quickly slide into Neutral and back out (NOT recommended) to bring it back to Drive, or, when stopped, pulling both paddles back until it re-engages Drive. Although the AWD system is front wheel drive biased, the AWD button mounted in the centre console will direct drive to the rear on demand. If you wish to utilise all of that torque for towing, the ASX XLS will do so up to 1400 kilograms.At The End Of The Drive.
The ASX has received a nip and a tuck here and there over its life however it’s now, like its “doner” car, showing signs of age. Yes, it’s still comfortable and roomy enough for a family of four however the dash design and plastics now lag behind competitors. It’s a fantastic city oriented car with a frugal, punchy, diesel but the value of the Mitsubishi ASX XLS is also beginning to be questionable. In no way is it a bad car, it’s just now not as good as other choices.
Here is where you can get more information: 2018 Mitsubishi ASX range

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD Diesel With Safety Pack

Revelations 2.2, Reading from the Book Of Diesel, Chapter: Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWDI had an epiphany whilst piloting Mitsubishi’s Outlander LS diesel seven seater (with safety pack) early on a Sunday morning to Kurrajong, a pretty area of the lower Blue Mountains and home to the start of the famous Bell’s Line of Road, the northern western bound access to Lithgow. The epiphany courtesy of the fact the reason we were on the way there was for day two of the little athletics carnival that our two kids were participating in.The epiphany itself? That little athletics can be a metaphor for a car and this car in particular. Truly. The Outlander diesel has a 2.2L capacity, offering a maximum power of 110 kilowatts and a very handy 360 torques. They’re available between 1500 to 2750 and ideal for the easy run from home to Kurrajong, via the sometimes curvy, sometimes twisty, but mostly straightish Hawkesbury Road into the southern reaches of Richmond, a few kilometres from the RAAF base, before the westbound journey into the lower reaches of the Blue Mountains.This means that it’s like a long distance runner, cruising along in a ten thousand metre race. There’s the get off the line grunt before settling into economy mode, barely breaking a mechanical sweat as you ease towards the finish line. Economy figures back that up with just 7.8 litres of dino juice imbibed after a predominantly urban 440 kilometres.Whilst you’re inside the seven seater, there’s plenty of room to enjoy, both for legs and heads. That means that you’re leading the race and by a good margin. There’s even space to stretch the legs up front, the same as being in that final twenty metres of a sprint and needing that extra pace. Those seven seats could be likened to an athlete that excels is more than just one discipline, with flexibility the key.One thing that stands out about the LS is just how comfortable it is. There’s cloth, not leather covered, seats, making getting back into the curvaceously bodied machine a lot easier to deal with on a hot day with hot and sweaty children. The rear row of seats fold up and down at the simple pull of a strap, with 128 litres of cargo (plus a 12V socket) with the rear seats up, enough for some esky bags and camp chairs, and when flat along with the middle row, allow 1608 litres of room.The steering is well weighted, and quite precise, just like a well practiced discus thrower. Think of the spin and throw and landing the disc in the same spot every time, precisely. Or a javelin, as you pick up the spear, judge its heft, the same as you would the steering into the tight turns of the Hawkesbury Road, and hurl it ensuring it buries itself nose first, just as you’d have the steering tell the nose of the Outlander exactly where to go. And it does.Then there’s that engine. It’ll purr along like a long distance runner, as mentioned, but it also has the sheer outright oomph that a hammer thrower, or shot putter, needs to launch the weight of the thing far and away. Wind it up into the torque zone, select 4WD lock from the three mode 4WD system, and it’ll happily pull itself up hill, over rocks, through puddles up to around 20 cm in depth nicely on the 18 inch diameter 225/55 tyres.This particular Mitsubishi Outlander LS AWD is fitted with Mitsubishi’s “Safety Pack”. Parking sensors front and rear complement the reverse park camera and airbags, then there’s the Lane Departure Warning system, Forward Collision Alert and Adaptive Cruise Control, which measures the distance ahead of the car whilst in cruise control and adapts speed to suit. Think of doing a long jump and adjusting your run up to the jump knowing you have centimetres more to achieve. Lob in Autonomous Emergency Braking, or pulling up if your run up is misjudged and before you cross the jump line, and it’s a well featured package. For extra additional enjoyment there’s the seven inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and DAB radio, just like a pair of lightweight running shoes that aid performance without being intrusive.As an everyday transport, the Mitsubishi Outlander LS (priced at the time of writing at $41990 driveaway without safety pack), with seven seats, diesel with oomph, the safety extras, and comfortable ride, is a revelation and as adaptable as a good athlete. With a five year warranty, 12 months roadside assistance, and three years capped priced servicing, it’s as good value as seeing your kids make their way through to the next level of little athletics.

The Rise of the Online Car Buyer

As society has grown to depend on the vital role that online marketplaces play in our lives, they’ve also shifted the landscape in which such transactions take place. In the car industry, motorists have increasingly voted with their feet – or perhaps more appropriately, voted with the click of a mouse. New car salespeople, who often have a reputation that precedes them, have turned buyers away from the caryards. Instead, many motorists now conduct at least their first line of research and enquiries online.

Whether it is P2P websites or online classifieds, car buyers now have a range of outlets available to them at the tip of their finger – all without needing to leave their very lounge room. At the same time, consumers also have access to more information than ever before, meaning they are better informed than the shoppers of years prior. In turn, this has meant that motorists have equal footing when it comes to dealing with salespeople.

As a result, the dynamics of the engagement between a buyer and seller have required a shift. Salespeople are now more attuned to the stereotypes that hang over their head and have largely modified their behaviour accordingly. While pushiness and shrewd tactics still exist, by and large things have evolved more towards an effort based approach to sales. That is, a salesperson needs to put in the effort required to quickly build trust and rapport with their prospective customer on the first visit, or said motorist will simply continue their search elsewhere. But has this necessary change come about too late?

The simple answer, is yes. The fact that technology has been the crucial point in redefining the market speaks to the extent of the shortcomings that were prevalent beforehand. On the part of the consumer, these issues while ‘patched over’, are not easily forgotten. There are still trust issues there and many motorists will narrow their search before they meet a salesperson. They will use this as the basis of their ‘targeted’ shopping experience, intending to optimise the transaction.

What’s more, the online car buyer now has added flexibility in the form of customisation. Of course motorists always had the option to include extras or upgrades as part of their purchase, but the integrated and streamlined process now details a level of convenience where all options are clearly presented, including a visual perspective, as separate and detailed offerings.

All said and done, the rise of online marketplaces have not been without issue. In some instances, unlicensed second hand car dealers have been operating from the anonymity of their online username. And when a market opens to participants who have not been vetted, consumers are forgoing many of the protective measures that have been mandated in the industry by regulatory authorities. Therefore, as always, buyers must be prepared to do the necessary research and consider the risks that accompany engaging with those they have not met, and/or cannot verify.