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Archive for January, 2018

H9: A Haval To Have.

Haval have unveiled the updated seven seater H9. The 2018 model comes well stocked with standard equipment in the two model range, designated Lux and Ultra, a 350Nm turbo petrol engine of two litres capacity but still no diesel…yet.Included in the updates are both power and torque increases, from 160 to 180 kW, and up from 324Nm for the torque. Haval have fitted an eight speed auto from ZF, and combined with a change to the compression ration inside the four cylinder engine, say a fuel consumption improvement of around ten percent should be expected. A drop in the time to 100 kmh from zero is also expected, down to ten seconds.The exterior sees the former three bar grille changed to a five bar design, plus the lower air intake has been massaged for better air flow. Five spoke 18 inch alloys are new. Inside there’s been a raft of changes including a new TFT display screen for the driver, which amongst other information and changes displays a digital speedo.The seats for the Lux are cloth, the Ultra gets leather plus passengers in the Ultra can enjoy Australian sunshine thanks to a full length glass roof. Safety gets upgraded, with the Lux gaining Blind Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Lane Departure Warning. The Ultra steps that up with a heated steering wheel, heated second row seats, and an Infinity sound system.It’s also off-road capable, with a Bosch backed All-Terrain Control System (ATCS). Haval says:

Auto: The system automatically adapts to any on- or off-road situation and is designed as a select and forget setting.
Sand: The Bosch Generation 9.0 Traction Control System allows higher engine speeds and bigger torque for maximum traction through dry sand.
Snow: Traction is adjusted for the slippery conditions prevalent in snow, utilising the high torque of the turbocharged engine and the technology of the German-engineered ZF 8-speed transmission to start in second gear to minimise slippage and maximise traction.
Mud: Operates like the snow setting, but employs the BorgWarner transfer case to sense slip in one wheel and transfer torque to the appropriate wheel for optimum drive efficiency.
4L: This setting is for the toughest conditions, or when maximum traction is required such as towing through muddy conditions. By engaging the low-range transmission, the torque of the engine is multiplied by a factor of up to 2.48.
Sport: This setting is for enthusiast driving, and ensures the ZF 8-speed transmission holds lower gears for longer before changing up. At speeds below 80 km/h, it locks out the two overdriven gears, making it ideal for urban driving conditions.

The Haval H9 is rated for 2500kg in towing and features a locking rear diff as well.Pricing is sharp; the Lux starts at $40990 and the Ultra at $44990, with driveaway pricing at launch of $41990 and $45990. Head to Haval Australia for more information and to book a test drive of the 2018 Haval H9.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus.

Citroen is known for smart engineering, clever engineering, and its famed quirkiness. The three come together with the C4 Cactus and it’s a car with something out of the ordinary. The smooth, organic, rounded, Cactus features Airbumps. Simple in concept and execution, they’re poly-urethane pockets filled with air. Made from TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) grade Elastollan AC 55D10 HPM (High Performance Material) the bumps are intended to give extra protection in close quarter situations such as carparks.The review car was badged OneTone, signifying one all-over shade and in this case, all white. There’s another trim level called Exclusive. Pricing varies more between manual and auto than the two trim levels available. The manual and auto Exclusive are $30592 and $33373 driveaway. The OneTone manual and auto are $31107 and $33888 respectively.Motorvation is provided by the PSA Group’s 1.2L petrol engine. Peak power is 81kW. Peak torque is a surprisingly good, for the size of the engine, 205Nm. That comes in at 1500rpm and is courtesy of a low boost turbo. The auto is the PSA Group’s EAT6 transmission. It’s a torque converter style with a bit of dual clutch auto feel. Under way it’s smooth enough but was sometimes (thankfully rarely) too readily caught in the wrong cog, sending vibrations through the Cactus body as it struggled with revs and torque not being available. From standstill it engages readily when in manual mode, hesitates slightly in auto, and will swap gear swiftly and mostly smoothly, as mentioned. While it’s underway, the engine puts out that familiar three cylinder warble. It’s not unpleasant but can override conversation levels.There’s two transmissions available for the Cactus: a six speed auto as found in the review car or five speed manual. Fuel tank size is fifty litres and Citroen quotes a combined fuel economy of 5.1L/100km for the auto, 4.7L/100km for the manual. A Sports mode is available at the push of a console mounted button. Top speed is quoted as 188km/h with the zero to one hundred time quoted as 10.7 seconds for the auto but a considerably quicker 9.3 seconds for the manual. This is explained by a 105kg weight difference. The manual tips the scales at 1020kg dry, the auto at 1125kg.It’s compact too, featuring an overall length of just 4157mm. The rear houses a handy 358L cargo bay that increases to 1170L when the rear seats fold. The cloth wrapped seats themselves are comfy enough but lack suitable side support for the front row. The rear seats are slightly slabby but due to the width (1729mm overall) there’s only room for two which is comfortable enough.
Leg room at the front is superb and rear leg room is also quite good. Headroom should pose no problem unless you’re two metres plus in height.The inside has a theme. It’s something along the lines of a suitcase, with the door handles rounded and with a leather like material and the glovebox has two latches, one of which opens the glovebox, and look like those found on a suitcase. The top of the glovebox has bumps that mirror the bumps outside and the door trims are embossed with something similar. There’s power window switches for the front only and they’re not auto Up/Down. The rear windows are popout in nature, with a lever mechanism, but don’t go down at all. The dash colour is a pink hued one called Habana over fish scaled plastic, contrasting with the black plastic abutting the windscreen and the rest of the interior trim.A slightly fiddly seven inch touchscreen houses all of the controls for audio, driver settings, aircon, car information, and the like. Fiddly in that sometimes more than one press or touch is required to access something like the audio screen, or the aircon screen, which means less concentration on driving. The driver gets a sci-fi inspired display screen, with 1970s look-a-like LCD blocks It’s shows speed and fuel but no revs. Consumption and trip meters are available via the touchscreen but revs aren’t…The OneTone Cactus is unremarkable in appearance bar the colour coded bumps on the doors and front & rear. The review car was Pearlescent White with matt white (Dune) for the plastic coverings. There are strip LED driving lights above the main headlights ala Jeep Cherokee/Hyundai Kona yet somehow it manages to look better than both, possibly due to the ovoid exterior design. That same Elastollan material also coats sections of both front and rear bumpers. Up top, there’s full length roof rails. The multi-coloured Cactus looks more striking with the contrasts in colours, such as a red and black mix.Safety levels are good but not great, with Hill Start Assist, reverse camera and six airbags but there’s no kneebag for the driver. Nor are there Blind Spot alerts, Cross Traffic alerts, adaptive cruise control or autonomous braking. There is something unique, though, about the passenger airbag. It’s roof mounted, coming down like a larger pillow.

On road, the suspension provides mostly smooth but sometimes unsettled ride quality. The Cactus is all too easily sent momentarily sideways, even over those dreaded shopping centre speedbumps. It’s also floaty, rather than wafty, wallowing where it should be up/down/stop. This isn’t altogether a bad thing as it does offer a cossetting ride, with no rear perception of harshness in any way. The diamond cut and painted 17 inch alloys are shod with eco-friendly Goodyear EfficientGrip rubber at 205/50 and they do hold on tightly, exhibiting mild understeer and quietly at that.Brakes are reasonable in hauling down the Cactus and pedal feel is nothing less than adequate. The steering is the same; it’s sometimes natural, sometimes artificial, but never less than adequate in feedback. Warranty is three years or 100,000 kilometres and in early 2018 Citroen Australia were offering free servicing for three years on plate clearance models.

Here is where you can find more information: 2018 Citroen C4 Cactus

At The End Of The Drive.
Citroen’s C4 Cactus is a mixed bag. It is a good looker in a way, it’s roomy enough, will drive well enough for most, but is hampered by a somewhat fiddly ride and doesn’t really offer anything out of the ordinary apart from looks and that French quirkiness.

The Daftest Car Names

There seems to be a little rule out there somewhere that states that if something’s in a foreign language, it’s more sophisticated, more desirable and generally cooler. A number of cars and other vehicles available on the Australian market have names that fall into this category, such as the VW Amarok  (Amarok means “Wolf”), the Porsche Carrera  (Carrera means “Race) and the Alfa Romeo Mito  (Mito means “Myth”). And a lot of them kind of work in the original language (even so we keep hearing that Pajero is the Spanish for “wanker”, although they were popular enough in some Latin American countries, nevertheless).  Some don’t, like the Maserati Quattroporte, which sounds cool until you realise that “quattroporte” merely means “four doors” – it doesn’t get more uninspired than that.

Some cars intended for the Asian market also have a go at trying to use a cool foreign language, namely English, and fail. Badly.  Some of them even made it onto the market over here, making you feel like a twit when you tried asking the salespeople for them.  Here’s a selection of some of the ones that made me snigger in no particular order so you can get a chuckle out of them too.  And maybe this might make you stop and think a little bit before you buy that shirt (or get that tattoo) with Chinese or Japanese characters you can’t understand just in case the reverse happens and you provide your Asian friends with something to laugh at in return.

  1. Great Wall Wingle

It’s not a bad little pickup really, in spite of a name that sounds like a cutesy term used by small children for boys’ private parts.

  1. Tang Hua Detroit Fish

The “Fish” part is understandable for a car that’s intended to be amphibious.  But we just don’t get the “Detroit” part.

  1. Mitsubishi Lettuce

OK, we get the need to suggest the environment and sustainability, but naming a car after a really common salad ingredient doesn’t seem to work (though Mizuna and Rocket, which are commonly found in your typical mesclun salad would kind of work, as would Mesclun itself).

 

 

  1. Honda Life Dunk
  2. Mitsubishi Mini Active Urban Sandal

Do the Japanese car manufacturers cut out words they like the sound of and pull them at random out of a bag? Is there any other explanation as to how these cars got their names?

  1. Geely Rural Nanny

OK, this ute is designed for the country – hence Rural – and it will take care of you – like a Nanny – but the two together…

  1. Mazda Bongo Friendee

This is actually quite a reliable van and I used to own one – it made a great camper and trade vehicle.  However, answering the question “So what sort of car do you drive?” was really cringe-inducing.  At least it amused the kids.

  1. Honda That’s

That’s…. what????  This is a car guaranteed to drive the Grammar Police nuts.

  1. Toyota Deliboy

This van type-thing would work for making deliveries from the local deli store or doing similar courier work.  But what if the person making the deliveries is a girl?

  1. Daihatsu Scat

OK, what’s a good name for a small 4×4 that suggests the great outdoors? How about one of the things that hunters use to track animals?  Did nobody tell the makers that when you find animal “scat”, you have not found footprints but something smellier.

  1. Suzuki Every Scrum Joypop Turbo

We repeat the theory of cutting up random words and pulling them out at random.

  1. Isuzu Mysterious Utility Wizard, aka MU

“Mysterious Wizard” has a certain ring to it, although it’s a bit grandiose.  But when you add in the “Utility” bit, it suggests a sorcerer who you can’t figure out a use for.  As for the “MU” bit, do you pronounce this “Moo” like a cow, “Mew” like a cat or “Em You”?  However, the weird name didn’t stop this being a reasonably popular and successful SUV, to the point that Isuzu have brought out a sequel in the form of the MUX (Mucks?  Mooks?  Em You Ex?).

  1. Mitsubishi 500 Mum Shall We Join Us?

Leaving aside the interesting philosophical question about why people would ask whether or not they would join themselves, what’s with the question mark?  And the Mum?

  1. Daihatsu Naked Be-Pal

The “Naked” bit is bad enough on its own, but the “Be Pal” bit?

  1. Peugeot Tepee

We get the reference to Native American buffalo skin tents but anything with “Pee” in it is a disaster.

 

Any beautiful disasters – in any language – that we’ve missed?  Or maybe  all, folks!

A Legend Returns: 2019 Jeep Cherokee Details Unveiled.

As promised in late 2017, Jeep has released in January details of the forthcoming 2018/2019 Jeep Cherokee range. Here’s the news.

Range.
Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, Overland, Trailhawk, will be the nameplates available for customers.

Engines.
There will be three available, including a new 2.0L petrol four. It’s full of tech including a cooled exhaust gas recirculation system, C-EGR; a small scroll and low inertia turbocharger that’s mounted directly to the cylinder head for better emissions, and it’s the first time that the combined use of a twin-scroll turbocharger, C-EGR system, central direct injection and the independent liquid cooling intake of air, throttle body and turbo have been employed together. Power is rated as 270 horsepower, with torque rated at 295 lb-ft (201 kW/400 Nm).

The other two engines are the proven 3.2L Pentastar V6 and Tigershark 2.4L inline four. The V6 offers 271 horsepower and 239 lb-ft (202 kW/324 Nm) with a 4500 pound (2000 kilo) towing capacity. The 2.4L petrol Tigershark will be the standard engine for the range, with 180 horsepower and 170 lb-ft (134 kW/230 Nm).Transmission.
Standard will be a nine speed Torqueflite auto. Design and engineering work have the software updated for better driveability and better packaging for compact fitment and lightweight for extra fuel savings.

Drive Performance.
Suspension travel is huge, with the MacPherson strut able to move up to 6.7 inches, whilst the multi-link independent rear has up to 7.8 inches of travel. The front suspension is mounted to an low-alloy crossmember and is torsionally more rigid than before, plus the steering rack is actuated by a fuel saving electronic unit.The Cherokee with have three drive modes, available in selected models depending on the mode. Jeep Active Drive 1 will be available for the Latitude, Latitude Plus, Limited, and Overland, which features a redesigned rear drive module that allows seamless transitions between two and four wheel drive. Jeep Active Drive 2 goes to a two speed Power Transfer Unit (PTU). There’s low range ability that comes via locking the front and rear driveshafts and raises the suspension by an inch. A crawl ratio for serious off-roading will vary depending on the engine chosen.Jeep Active Drive Lock adds a lock feature for the rear differential for enhanced off-roading and will be standard on the Trailhawk. Selec-Terrain will be on board, covering drive modes to suit Auto, Snow, Sport, Sand/Mud and Rock. There’s some sophisticated computing power too, with up to 12 systems reading the drive conditions and working with the on-board control modules for brakes and stability, hill ascent and descent, amongst others.The Trailhawk will be able to traverse some rugged terrain with approach and departure angles of 30 and 32 degrees, a rollover angle of 23 and clear 8.7 inches of ground travel.

Exterior.
It’s a refreshed yet familiar look for the Cherokee. The somewhat controversial front end stays in essence, however the headlights, previously located below the driving lights set either side of the bonnet, are now integrated into the driving light cluster, whilst the headlights themselves are full LED in nature along with a strip of DRL LEDs. The taillights are also LEDS and feature a revised cluster design. The tailgate also gets a makeover, with a composite material saving weight, a relocated handgrip for easier access, and under bumper kick sensor for hands free opening.

The sheetmetal is smoother, more flowing in presence, and there’s twelve colours in the exterior palette to choose from. Blue Shade, Sting-Gray, Velvet Red, Firecracker Red, Olive Green, Hydro Blue, Light Brownstone, Granite Crystal, Billet Silver, Diamond Black Crystal, Pearl White and Bright White.

Interior.
Eight airbags feature in a revamped interior that also sees the cargo area increased in size. A change in tone to the lower door panels, and a change to the weave to the upgraded fabrics sees a lighter, airier, feeling interior complemented by new high gloss piano black on the dash around the touchscreen. That has also been relocated slightly, with the result being more room for smartphone placement.The interior colour trims have had an exciting addition and one with an unexpected link: Iceland. The new Storm Blue interior was inspired by Iceland with its dark volcanos and black ash contrasted with blue skies.

Check with your local Jeep dealer for updates and availability for the 2018 Jeep Cherokee.

2018 Suzuki Swift Sport Readies For Release.

It’s been hotly anticipated since Suzuki updated its iconic Swift range for 2017 and now it’s here. The 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport, complete with 1.4L turbocharged petrol engine and six speed manual or auto, is sharply priced at $25490 or $27490.

The BOOSTERJET engine produces 103 kilowatts and 230 Nm of torque, with a quoted fuel consumption of 6.1L/100 km for a combined cycle thanks partly to a weight reduction of eighty kilos compared to the previous model. The auto will come with paddle shifts.

Ride and handling is improved, with a lower and wider stance in the chassis. The Sport will roll on 17 inch polished alloys and will turn night time to day time with LED head lights. There’s also LED daytime running lights, twin chrome tipped exhausts, and a sports body kit comprising rear diffuser, side skirts, and black honeycomb grille.

Inside there’s Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Suzuki’s user friendly seven inch touchscreen with satnav, climate control, Bluetooth and USB sounds connectivity, keyless Start/Stop, and red stitched semi-bucket seats.

The chassis has new safety engineering with TECT, Total Effective Control Technology for greater energy dissipation in the event of an impact. A five star safety rating comes courtesy of six airbags (no driver’s kneebag), stability control, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control.

Outside there’s a choice of five colour choices: Pure White Pearl, Champion Yellow, Super Black Pearl, Mineral Grey and Speedy Blue.

There’s Capped Price Servicing for five years and should a customer ensure their Swift Sport is serviced under that plan, the warranty gets extended from three to five years.

The 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport is available for test drive and orders from your local Suzuki dealership or enquire through here: 2018 Suzuki Swift Sport

What Did People Use Petroleum For Before The Internal Combustion Engine?

Vintage advertisement for benzine-based stain remover.

Petroleum is currently the backbone of the motoring industry, despite the push for alternate fuel sources such as biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, etc.  Ever since Karl Benz first invented the internal combustion engine and fitted it to the horseless carriage, vehicles have run on petroleum of some type – apart from a brief period where Diesel engines ran on vegetable oil.

On Bertha Benz’s legendary first long-distance drive in her husband’s new invention, she ran out of fuel and had to stop and pick up more from the nearest pharmacy.  It’s easy to just take in that sentence and think what a funny place a pharmacy is to pick up petrol until you stop and think about it: why was a chemist’s shop selling petrol?  What on earth were people using it for before we had cars to put it in?

Petroleum has certainly been known for at least four millennia. The name comes from Ancient Greek: petra elaion, meaning “rock oil”, which distinguished it from other sorts of oil such as olive oil, sunflower seed oil and the like.  The stuff was coming out of the ground all around the world, and quite a few ancient societies found a use for it.

The most useful form of petroleum back in the days BC (as in Before Cars as well as Before Christ) was bitumen, the sticky variety that we now use for making asphalt for road surfacing.  Bitumen (also called pitch or tar) didn’t just stick to things; it was also waterproof. As it was a nice waterproof adhesive, it came in handy for all sorts of things, from sticking barbed heads onto harpoons through to use as mortar – the famously tough walls of the ancient city of Babylon (modern-day Iraq, 2which is still oil-rich) used bitumen as mortar.  The Egyptians sometimes used it in the process of mummification, using it as a waterproofing agent.  In fact, the word “mummy” is thought to derive from the Persian word for bitumen or petroleum, making mummies the very first petrolheads.

For the next thousand years, petroleum in the form of bitumen was mostly used for waterproofing ships, to the extent that sailors became known as “tars” because they tended to get covered with the stuff.  In the 1800s, it was used to make road surface – before there were cars to run on them.

It was probably the Chinese who first had the idea of using petroleum as fuel.  “Burning water” was used in the form of natural gas for lighting and heating in homes, and in about 340 AD, they had a rather sophisticated oil well drilling and piping system in place.

The bright idea of refining bitumen to something less sticky and messy first occurred in the Middle East (why are we not surprised?) at some point during the Middle Ages.  A Persian alchemist and doctor called Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi (aka Rhazes) wrote a description of how to distil rock oil using the same equipment the alchemists used for distilling essential oils.  The end result was what we know today as kerosene, and it was a lot more flammable.  Kerosene was used for lamps and in heaters, especially as it was a lot cleaner than coal.  It was also used in military applications.  Naphtha (one of the other early names for petroleum products) was possibly one of the mystery ingredients in Greek fire.

Kerosene and the like really took off during the Age of Coal and the Industrial Revolution, as they were by-products of the coke-refining industry.  About this time, scientists started tinkering around with various ways to refine crude oil into products like paraffin and benzene and benzine.  Benzene and benzine are not named after Karl and Bertha Benz the way that diesel fuel is named after Rudolf Diesel.  These words are actually derived from “benzoin” and benzene was given its official name by yet another German scientist in the early 1800s.  The similarity between the surname Benz and the name of the petrol product is pure coincidence – really!

The petrol product (ligroin) that Bertha Benz picked up at the pharmacy was probably sold as a solvent, like the ad in the picture up the top. This was one of the most common household uses of bottled refined petroleum.  Petrol is still very good as a solvent and can bust grease like few other things, so it was popular as a stain remover and a laundry product.  It might have ponged a bit and you had to be careful with matches, but it was nice and handy, and meant you could get that candle-grease off your suit without putting the whole thing through the wash.  Other uses for benzene that sound downright bizarre to us today included getting the caffeine out of coffee to make decaf and aftershave.  REALLY don’t try this one at home, even if you love the smell of petrol, as we now know that petrol products are carcinogenic and you should keep them well away from your skin, etc.

It was the widespread use of petroleum-based products such as paraffin in the 1800s that made the demand for whale oil drop dramatically.  This happened just in time to stop whales being hunted to extinction.  Using petrol was the green thing to do and helped to Save The Whales.  Now that whales have been saved and are thriving, cutting down on the use of fossil fuels is the main focus of a lot of environmental groups.  Irony just doesn’t seem to cover it.

Korea Goals At Detroit Motor Show

If it’s January it’s Northern American car show time and Detroit stands at front and centre as one of the biggest. It’s a time where the car makers showcase what’s new and the two from Korea have been no different. Kia shows off a new Cerato and Hyundai unveils an updated Veloster.

Kia.
Cerato has received a substantial exterior update and wowee it’s a good looker. It’s sharper, edgier, sports a slimmer grille design and exudes sophistication in bucketloads. In profile it echoes the Stinger, with a longish bonnet and shortish tail proportionally, joined by a deep scallop in the doors. There’s further design cues from the bigger car, with the bonnet sporting a pair of eye-catching creases sitting over the restyled grille and assertive looking lower valance. There’s now two air intakes on either side and house relocated indicators. Headlights with a choice of LED or projection lamps will be available.The rear has been restyled as well, with LED lights as standard, while the indicators and reverse lamps are separate and located below them. Extra visual appeal has been added with a horizontal bar, similar to that seen on the Sportage, joining the lamp clusters.

Overall length has been increased by over eighty millimetres, taking it to 4640mm. This allows extra leg room and cargo space. Headroom goes up to 1440mm with width just shy of 1800mm. Interior changes start with a redesigned console housing an eight inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Wireless smartphone charging will be made available and Harman Kardon have stepped up to offer a 320 watt sound system. Airvents are inspired by the aeronautic industry and interior finish is increased with softer materials. Seat frame strength has been increased without gaining weight plus denser foam for better support has been fitted.

Underneath the Cerato has extra “hot stamped” components and a higher percentage (54%) high tensile strength steel. The chassis is sixteen percent stiffer as a result, which also aids ride and handling. Suspension changes and upgrades to the brakes have been enabled to provide better feedback.

The engine features an Atkinson cycle and a cooling system for the Exhaust Gas Recycling to help with power and emissions. Kia have also developed their first in-house CVT as well. Combined fuel economy, as a result, drops to 6.7L/100km.

Safety goes up a notch with the inclusion of Blind Spot Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance and Smart Cruise Control.

The new Cerato is due for Australia towards the end of 2018 and full specs and pricing will be made available then.

Hyundai.
Hyundai’s evergreen example of quirkiness, the Veloster, has been transformed thanks to a massive reworking to the exterior. With style cues shared with the i30’s update, the Veloster retains its unique 2+1 door configuration yet looks fresh and new. It looks lower, flatter, sharper as well, with a longer bonnet balanced by a more emphasised rear quarter curve. The overall look is more purposeful and muscular.The grille is enlarged and enhanced, with LED headlights to be available along with LED driving lights. LED tail lights will also be available. Wheels are 18 inches in diameter and do a better job of filling in the wheel arches. The rear air diffuser is more pronounced and is bracketed by exhaust tips with a “phatter” look.The previously V shaped motif style in the interior is gone, replaced by a classier look and feel yet retains the driver’s cockpit ethic. With the Turbo model a difference in colours highlights the driver’s section further.Engine wise, the 2.0L petrol engine also gets the Atkinson Cycle, with peak power and torque sitting on 110kW and 179Nm, albeit at a high 4500 rpm. Transmission will be either a six speed manual or six speed auto. The Turbo engine is a smaller yet more potent beast, with a 1.6L capacity delivering 159kW and a flat torque figure of 264Nm from 1500 to 4500 rpm plus an overboost that raises torque by 10Nm. The six speed manual will be offered alongside a seven speed dual clutch auto with both transmissions designed in-house. There’s even a new audio feedback system that pipes intake and exhaust sounds to the cabin in an effort to further enhance the driving experience.

Torque Vectoring Control will be standard on Veloster and will partner with a revised steering ratio and calibration for better handling. Along with 18 inch alloys and Michelin Pilot Sport rubber the Veloster should take all a driver can throw at it and more.

Safety will come from a similar equipment list to the Cerato, with Forward Collision Assist, Blind Spot Warning, Driver Attention Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Warning. A rear view camera with guidelines will be standard across the range. There’s six airbags as standard which means the driver’s kneebag will not be on board.Entertainment comes from the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled touchscreen with international spec models receiving satellite radio and HD audio upgrades. A Head Up display may be available for the Aussie market also as will wireless charging. Again, pricing and specifications will be made available closer to release.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Peugeot 2008 Allure

Peugeot continues to build upon its century plus of automotive building with a update to its smaller SUV, the 2008 series. It’s available in Australia in three trim levels; Active, Allure, and GT Line. I spend three weeks with the mid range Allure.

There’s some good pricing on the range too. The Active starts at a list price of $25490 for a final driveaway price of $29230. The Allure slots in neatly at $32865 driveaway and the GT Line rounds out at $35420 driveaway. These prices are on 2017 plated models. (Contact Private Fleet to see what we can do for you…)It’s not a big ‘un, the 2008. At 4159mm in length it’s right in there with cars such as the Audi Q2 or Holden Trax. Still, Peugeot squeeze in a 2158mm wheelbase, meaning leg room front and rear is at least adequate for most. With an overall (including mirrors) width of 2004mm there’s hip and shoulder room of of over 1300mm. At the rear the cargo space is roomy enough at 410L (measured to the window line) and goes up to 917L with the same measurement.Motorvation is courtesy of an award winning turbocharged three cylinder petrol engine with Euro 6 emissions compliance. It’s a miserly 1.2L in capacity and is just as miserly in its consumption of dinosaur juice. Peugeot says the combined cycle is 4.8L per 100 km from the 50L tank. Although it’s mated to a six speed dual clutch auto and a drive mode system for soft roading, it’s unlikely to see such environments so the quoted 6.0L/100km is more reasonable. We finished on 7.2L/100km. There’s Start/Stop and it’s virtually seamless in re-engaging from Stop mode.Given its size you’d be forgiven for thinking it would struggle moving the (tare weight) 1188kg 2008 around. Not so, comparatively. There’s a reasonable 81 kilowatts on board, but there’s a very handy 205 torques on tap at 1500 rpm. Even though Peugeot quotes a plus ten second time to 100 km/h it doesn’t feel as if it struggles to do so. Although the DCT suffers from the same gremlins just about every DCT does, being that seemingly yawning chasm between selecting Drive and forward motion, it’s otherwise near faultless, with crisp changes, quiet changes, and allows that rorty three cylinder to let you know it’s enjoying life.It’s also responsive enough, once under way, with kick-down and acceleration going hand in hand. Out on the flat it’ll slide into D5 easily enough and seems geared well enough to be content there. D6 was seen once the computer had declared speed and engines revs were suitable. It will then cruise along nicely and with no stress. Naturally there’s cruise control but if you’re a driver you’ll enjoy the interaction between foot, throttle, foot, brake as the 2008 reaches out and reminds you that fun is part of its nature.Ride quality from the Goodyear Vector 205/50/17 directional tread rubber is pretty good although the front will squeal with protest as it’s pushed hard into turns. The suspension seems tuned more for initial hardness before softening up. and it’s the upper rate that has body movement from the Allure. It can be jittery on rutted and unsettled tarmac and does have a propensity to skip sideways if even in a slight turn. It’ll pull down from undulations with just the slightest extra rebound, will allow a slow run over a shopping centre speed bump well enough yet will bump hard over the tarmac style ones.

Quality inside the 2008 was high. The plastics have a good look and feel, from the dash to the door trims with a carbon fibre and heat retaining alloy mix, from the seven inch touchscreen layout to the trim surrounding that and to the leather bound paddle shaped parking brake. The indicator stalk is on the left and pressing the button at the end engages voice activation. Oddly, though, it’s a key start, not remote. Cruise control is that seemingly peculiar to Euro brands separate stalk off the steering column and that also includes a speed limit alert. There’s a downside and that’s the tinny thunk as the doors are closed.The slightly chunky yet easy to hold tiller is typical Peugeot in that it sits below the binnacle, which itself is LED framed, shining a delightful blue. The dials themselves are clean and easy to read, and there’s a monochrome screen in the middle with speed, distance and the like. Seats are (optional at $2200) leather and heated only; again, that’s a huge oversight in the Australian market, especially with the car being tested through some of the hottest weather seen in some time. But, if it makes any difference, there’s two 12V sockets. And the Allure came with alloy door scuffs even though the brochure says they’re GT Line only. An optional full length glass roof was fitted and you can option the Peugeot LED Track that’s embedded in the laser cut headlining.Exterior design is a highlight with Peugeot expanding the elements that made the previous version a handsome looker. The taillights have a more defined claw motif, especially at night thanks to LEDs. The headlights with LED running lights bracket a more upright and enhanced grille, with the headlights gaining the shark fin protrusion as well. Front fog lights will pivot at night as well. The overall presence is smooth, almost organic, in appeal. Part of that comes from the alloy look full length roof rails and roof lid spoiler balanced by the black body mouldings. The Platinum Grey metallic paint is a $590 option.The test car came fitted with a full length glass roof (a $1000 option), and some decent safety tech including Active City Brake, Peugeot’s term for autonomous braking. Emergency hazard light activation under heavy braking is on board, the Allure and GT Line get City Park which is self parking and parking entry/exit assistance, six airbags (no driver’s kneebag) and hill start brake assist.

At The End Of The Drive.
Peugeot’s reinvention of its ranges of cars is paying off. The 2008 is extraordinary fun, even allowing for the delay in clutch bite inside the DCT. Once it’s hooked up, it goes and goes well, and does so with the appeal of elegance as seen from outside. It’s a smooth and flowing design that matches the chic interior.
Peugeot Australia has your info right here: 2018 Peugeot 2008 range

Just What Is On That Alfa Romeo Logo?

Automotive manufacturers’ logos come in a range of styles, ranging from the simple (e.g. the stylized signature of the founder for Ford or the three diamonds of Mitsubishi  – which means something like “three diamonds” in Japanese) through to more complicated designs (think of the helmet and lion of HSV, the double dragon of Ssangyong or the Pleiades constellation of Subaru). One of the more complicated designs that is deliberately reminiscent – and in fact borrows from – the old heraldic logos is that of Alfa Romeo .

Alfa Romeo has been making classy cars for over 100 years now (the company was founded in 1910) and the logo has only changed subtly over the years (not counting the badges on models from the World War 2, era, which have minimal colour thanks to wartime restrictions). Various small elements and the word “Milano” have come and gone, but the fundamental logo has remained the same. You know the one: the circle with a design on both halves.

On the left-hand half, you have a red cross on a white field, also known as an English cross or even St George’s cross. It’s also known as the emblem of the Crusaders.  You know the ones: the guys that got to be the heroes in most adventure stories set in the Middle Ages, starting from the Middle Ages themselves until a couple of decades ago.  It’s also the official flag of Milan, which used to be the capital of Lombardy, an independent nation in its own right. In fact, Milan had the red cross on a white field long before the Crusades, as this was the symbol of the patron saint of Milan, St Ambrose (who was knocking around in the fourth century, long before some idiot decided that the Crusades were a good idea).

On the other half you have… what the heck?  At first glance, it looks like a crowned snake with what is either a red triple-forked tongue or dragonish flames coming out of its mouth. On closer inspection, what’s in the snake’s mouth turns out to be human torso with arms raised. It looks as though the snake is eating that person. It’s more obvious in the post-2015 logo in the USA, which has been changed to white (green and white and a Slytherin serpent – how very Harry Potter). What is that all about?  Dragons: fair enough; Ssangyong has them and they fall into the “cool dangerous animal” category that lots of car manufacturers and brand designers love to draw on. But why would you have a logo that shows someone being swallowed by a snake or a dragon?

The arms of the House of Visconti.

Alfa Romeo provides a brief explanation: this device, along with the red cross, was part of the coat of arms for the Duchy of Milan (Alfa Romeo was founded in Milan, in case you were wondering what the obsession with Milan was).  This was the symbol of the House of Visconti, although the Visconti coat of arms has a blue and white crowned serpent and a flesh-coloured bloke in its mouth. This is presented along with the motto “Vipereos mores non violabo”, which can be roughly translated as “I will not violate the traditions of the serpent”, which really does sound like something JK Rowling made up. The serpent in question is known as the “biscione” and the human is described as either a child or (the even less PC version) a Saracen or Moor. The Saracens and Moors were the enemies of the House of Visconti at the time and they were practically sitting on the back doorstep of Milan, so the device acted as a kind of warning label: mess with us and we’ll devour you.  A more colourful legend tells of one of the Visconti ancestors killing a man-eating snake/dragon, which kind of goes with the St George’s cross – that’s St George as in the guy who killed the dragon and rescued the princess (and was, ironically, Turkish).

 

Another explanation that has been reported out there (possibly by Alfa Romeo themselves) is that the person is coming out of the snake rather than going in, kind of like Jonah coming out of the belly of the whale or something similar – all very Joseph Campbell and the Hero With A Thousand Faces and that sort of thing, where the Hero on his Journey goes into then returns from the underworld or the belly of the beast.  Explanations of this type tend to use words like “ouroboros” and “chthonic” and then start to ramble on about various serpent figures in mythologies from around the world. What this has to do with cars or with the ancient Duchy of Milan, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s because the experience of driving an Italian sports car makes you feel rejuvenated and reborn?  Or maybe it’s simply the very understandable wish to disassociate this rather prestigious line of vehicles from the unpleasant combination of Crusader cross and something eating a Saracen (incidentally, the website for Alfa Romeo Middle East conspicuously lacks the coat of arms… I wonder why!)

Alfa Romeo also uses a green four-leafed clover on a white field, known as the quadrifoglio, which means “four-leafed clover”. This means exactly what you think it does: it’s a good luck charm and was adopted in the 1920s when an Alfa racing driver wanted to overcome his run of bad luck.  The green and white livery and the serpentine associations might look like they inspired the Slytherin logo but this is probably coincidence: JK Rowling doesn’t drive a car.

For myself, I think I’m going to just enjoy the fact that a logo that was once carried by a knight mounted on horseback is now on the modern equivalent of a speedy warhorse, thanks to the Milanese origins of Alfa Romeo – and I’ll also enjoy the fantasy tale about the dragon-slayer. I’ll also enjoy getting behind the wheel of an Alfa when I get the chance.

Tracks To Follow: Ripsaw.

In a car based culture it’s understandable to overlook that there are other ways of motorvating yourself around. No, we’re not talking boats or bikes or hovercraft. They’ve been done.What we’re talking about is a tracked vehicle. You know, like tank tracks. American based company Howe and Howe Tech has the answer. Enter, stage left, the Ripsaw.
The easiest way to view this in your head is like this: think of a tank, take away the body and turret, replace it with something vaguely resembling a car body and that, in essence, is the Ripsaw. The vehicle is available in four specification levels and be warned, if you ask for the EV2 or EV3 (EV stands for Extreme Vehicles, by the way) it will take the firm around the six month mark to build. There’s the EV2, and now the EV3 in three levels, being the F1, F2, and F4. Simply put, they’re built to carry one, two, or four people.Price? Upwards of a half million US dollars.

But what do you get for your hard earned? Well, you can go for a powerplant that’s either petrol or diesel, and choose a power range that can go to 1000hp or 1500hp depending on an oiler or gasoline engine. You’ll get sixteen inches of suspension travel and air suspension for the cabin. There’s a choice of one or two 32 gallon fuel tanks in the F1, with 85 gallons in the heavier F4, which provide a range of up to 250 miles.Originally designed to be a small and fast attack vehicle, the Ripsaw was quickly (pun only slightly intended) recognised as being a worthwhile base upon which to build a luxury oriented vehicle. And by using both in-house supplied and readily available commercial truck parts, repairs and spares are easily performed and obtainable.Built with military grade tracks, going off-road is as easily done as thinking about it. With a low centre of gravity and that torque, angles of fifty five degrees are achievable, as long as you have a strong stomach.

Should your bank manager be agreeable, here’s some video of what the Ripsaw can do: Ripsaw on The Grand Tour
Official Ripsaw Footage

The vehicle also featured in the Fast and Furious 8 film.