As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Archive for June, 2018

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged-X and Rogue

It’s fair to say that sometimes a manufacturer will release a car that’s dressed up and sold as a limited edition in a cynically grinned cash-grab. Toyota‘s trio of body kitted HiLux four door utes, the Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue, are dressed up but Toyota says they won’t be limited editions. They’re actually a mid-life model addition to the range. The drivetrain remains the same as the three are, unsurprisingly, based on existing models. A 2.8L four cylinder diesel with 130kW and 430 or 450Nm (depending on whether a six speed manual or auto is bolted to it) is standard for the three. The boss tradie aimed Rogue is auto as standard whilst the let’s get weekend dirty Rugged and Rugged-X can be bought with either a three or two pedal setup. The entry level Rugged manual starts from $54,990 and there’s a $2K premium for the slushbox. Rugged-X starts from $61,690 and again has a $2K auto price jump. Rogue is the same price as the Rugged-X manual. Economy was worse in the Rogue than Rugged-X, finishing on 10.5L/100km and the Rugged-X finished at 9.7L/100km. These figures aren’t far off the combined cycle figures of 10.9L and 7.9L/100 respectively from the 80L tank, but as both were used only in urban environments, the dollars start adding up. Plus, Toyota quotes the Rugged-X as being heavier than the Rogue in a dry weight comparison, at 2252 kilos versus 2147 kilos. Hmmm…..Rogue comes with a restyled front plastic bumper with driving lights locked away in a niche in each corner. Said niche is angular in design and strongly resembles one from Kia’s Sorento from the early-mid 2010s. Both Rogue and Rugged-X have a roll-bar with bespoke nameplate, towbar, bash-plates under the nose, and sidesteps. Here’s there’s a slight difference, with the Rugged-X having narrower all metal steps called rock rails, and Rogue getting wider plastic shrouded steps. Both Rugged and Rugged-X have a snorkel but again a visual difference. The Rugged has a proper bullbar fitted with integrated LED driving lights, with the Rugged-X a smaller steel front bar, integrated centre mounted LED light bar, and sharply framed corners for easier off-road climbing. At the rear there’s matt black covers for the leading edge of the tail lights. Headlights in the Rugged-X are lined with LEDs but the Rugged dips out.There’s additional common features for the two; under-body tow hitch points front and rear, an open rear tun with urethane protection for the floor and sides, a blacked-out tailgate handle, and Rugged bonnet decals. The Rogue is more subtle in the decaling plus has a lockable hard cover for the marine carpet lined tub. Rogue has 18 inch black painted alloys, Rugged and -X have the same styled 17s. The Rogue came clad in a pearlescent white, the Rugged-X test vehicle in a complementary to the decaling grey.Inside the Rugged-X is an interior that’s almost a clone of what’s found in the Rogue. Bar a difference on the floor with rubber mats versus carpet, and slightly different sill trim, the pair are identical, through to the dash design, features, and somewhat near compromise in rear leg room. Even though the three are all over five metres long in total length and have a wheelbase of three, the actual cabin sizes aren’t great and hopefully this is something an update addresses. In essence, the rear cabin is tolerable for anyone hovering at six feet or so in height but if the front seats are occupied by those at the same height and by necessity push the seats back, then…The dash itself is heavily driver focused. The tiller feels broader than it probably is, a pair of dials bracket a small info screen that plays a GIF on startup and shows info via a tab on the right hand spoke of the steering wheel. The dash itself is a three fold shape and seems to fade off into the distance on the passenger’s side. Neither side wraps around, they simply end abruptly at each door.A centrally mounted touchscreen, a different design to that found in the Camry and looking more as if bolted in rather than designed in, houses a CD player, DAB tuner (which was fussy in both cars by only displaying a select set of DAB stations), Bluetooth, and via USB and Auxiliary located ahead of the gear selector. The all over look is black on black, with more black thrown in for good measure. This may suit the Rugged, the -X could do with a bit more lightness, and the Rogue needs a broader colour palette full stop.Seating in the -X and Rogue is leather with a one setting heat button next to the USB port. Driver’s seats were electrically powered and excellent in actual comfort levels. But the pair miss out on some now seen as essential safety equipment. Although a rear view camera is on board, there’s no parking sensors there, no Blind Spot Alert, no Autonomous Emergency Braking and that ;ast one is crucial given the lack of real stopping urge in the Rugged-X, and only slightly more inclined in the Rogue. ESC is standard though, as are seven airbags and trailer sway control. if you do wish to tow, there’s a 3200kg braked towing capacity. Cargo carrying, however, is well under a tonne for both, with Rogue 826 kilos and 748 kg for Rugged-X.On the road the pair display distinctly different characteristics. The Rogue is more inclined towards being car like, the Rugged-X is typical four wheel drive with a looser rear end and a ride quality tending towards wallowy and pogo. The steering in the Rugged-X was rubbery on centre but backed off from that through left and right. The Rogue again felt more like a car in its steering. Drivewise, being based on the same mechanicals meant they accelerated better in Power, were as equally more sluggish in Eco, and were reasonably quick in normal driving. Hard acceleration had the transmission move through the lower, more closely spaced gears, quickly although the engine became thrashy above 3500 rpm. Light acceleration is better for the transmission, as changes were far smoother, and less inclined to be physically felt. More than occasionally though, the transmission was caught out by slowing and then accelerating, as one does coming to a give way line or roundabout. The indecisiveness would have the six speed slip back from third or fourth a cog or two then suddenly drop down again. It was also prone, on longer yet more gentle declines, to drop back a cog too far in an effort to engine brake.Only the Rugged-X was taken off-road, as the tyres fitted to the Rogue were more of a tarmac spec, plus the Rigged-X was more specifically kitted for the purpose. It’s here that the departure and approach angles also differ between the two. Rogue has 30 degrees, Rugged-X 28. Departure angles are 21 and 20 degrees respectively. On our favoured test track for off roading, a fire trail with a great mix of gravel, rock, mud, mud puddles, and some good inclines, the Rugged-X ate these up without a noise. High range four wheel drive was selected and that was all that was needed even on the sections where low range, Hill Descent Control (which was tested and worked as expected) and diff-lock would have been suitable. Ride and handling immediately became obvious as being more suitable for the varying kind of terrain, as the spongy leaf sprung rear enabled the Rugged-X to roll over obstacles as easily as tarmac.Toyota’s standard three year warranty applies, as does their roadside assistance and fixed price servicing packages.

At The End Of The Drive.
After the failure of the Toyota Racing Division experiment, one could cast a cynical eye over the Toyota HiLux Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue. With a potential design update hint with the Rogue’s front bar, both should attract a bit of eyeball action. But like a well plated dinner that is eaten in two bites, there’s more to these two than looks. Absolutely there’s that proven off road credential and the Rugged-X will fit the bill for rural and dirt applications admirably.

The Rogue’s off road ability will be the same but it’s more for a “if it’s needed” rather than a stylish looking foreman type vehicle. If the Rogue is to be the trio’s leader then a cabin lift is needed. The seats need a step up from the Rugged-X, and the trim levels need a hint of greys below and a white to beige/bone roof lining. And an extension to the cabin’s rear for better leg room is almost essential, as is the addition of rear parking sensors as standard.

Here is where to find out more: 2018 HiLux range including Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue.

EVs, Power Bills and Emissions

How do we change a system employed by government?  If we went cold turkey on many of our traditional national policies the flow on effects throughout the public and business sectors would be ruinous.  If you believe the headlines which state that traditional motor vehicles are heading for a cliff edge where there will be no more fossil fuels available to power them, and that the environment will be so much the better without vehicles that are powered by conventional fossil fuels, then things look pretty dismal.  But is this actually so?

There are numerous countries around the world that have their special governmental team of policymakers pushing for electric vehicles (EVs) to be subsidised and made easier for those who can afford an expensive EV to buy one.  Across the ditch the New Zealand Labour/Green government are creating a fast track for EV purchase in the hopes to lessen greenhouse emissions and keep NZ green.  And in America they have recently brought in policy that reduces the initial purchase price of an EV by up to $7500 USD.  Of course, the subsidizing is paid for by the tax payer.  Those who cannot afford to buy a new electric vehicle pay for the privileges that the wealthier EV owners enjoy – like free use of public charging stations and preferential access to carpool lanes.  What about the grand schemes and plans of making some American States totally EV and thus pronouncing the ban of all internal combustion vehicles by 2040 (California).  Is this really fair?

Could this thinking and ideology be the motivation behind EVs in Australia?  How could the typical Australian on an average wage manage a law that states that you must drive a new and expensive EV by 2040?  By the way, we’ll also use your current taxes to help the wealthy buy an EV quickly (and enjoy its benefits) while you struggle to put the food on the table, let alone by an EV!

Let’s also remember that most of Australia’s electricity is made by coal and other natural resource plants.  A large fleet of EVs across Australia will draw down on the current available power supplies very heavily.  But wait, I know, we could use people’s current taxes to build more expensive cleaner power plants and provide bigger, better power networks!  That will make Australia a better place.  Power companies will enjoy the profits and will be sure to put the price of power up once electricity comes in short supply.

Hang on!  Are electric vehicles really as great as they claim to be?  Supporters of the EV suggest that EVs will reduce air pollution and tackle climate change.  But will they?  (Climate change is another issue – and one that many can make plenty of money, too)  It’s evident that a new vehicle powered by the modern conventional internal combustion engine is, in fact, way more pollutant-free than one might tend to think.  Extracting Lithium and other materials for batteries has an environmental impact of its own.

The appropriate comparison at governmental levels for evaluating the benefits of all those new electric vehicle subsidies, mandates and ideologies should be the difference between an electric car and a new petrol-or-diesel-car.  New internal combustion engines are very clean and emit only about 1 percent of the pollution that older vehicles did back in the 1960s.  New innovations on internal combustion engines continue to improve these engines and their efficiency and cleanliness.

When we consider EVs, and their large appetite for electricity, the energy to power them has to come from somewhere.  Cars are charged from the nation’s electrical grid, which will mean that they’re only as “clean” as Australia’s mix of power sources.  An environmental impact in the mining of the lithium, cobalt, and nickel that go into car batteries is evident.  Extracting Lithium is actually not so bad; most of it is extracted from brines that are evaporated by the sun, but it has a sizeable carbon and physical footprint.  We have a long, long way to go before the production of electricity for the main grid looks as green and as clean as an EV appears.

What’s the inexpensive answer?

Aston Martin Rapide AMR

Aston Martin is perhaps best known for a glittering range of two door hard top and convertible cars. Under the radar is the four door contribution to the super saloon family. The Rapide is a subtle four door design and has recently been upgraded to AMR (Aston Martin Racing) specifications. Powered by a naturally aspirated V12 with 433kW and 630Nm and transmitting that to the tarmac via an eight speed auto, the AMR will come with three trim levels. Standard, Silhouette, and Signature will roll on 21 inch diameter wheels clad in Michelin Super Sport rubber, a first for the iconic brand. Tyre sizes are 245/35 up front and 295/ at the rear.
The five metre long Rapide AMR asserts itself with a large grille that evokes the track weapon Vantage AMR-Pro. Subtle aero hints come courtesy of the carbon fibre tail spoiler, front splitter, sill panels, and rear diffuser. Weight reduction is also further enhanced by fitting a carbon fibre bonnet, complete with engine bay exhaust vents.

The engine has been massaged by fitting larger inlet manifolds that pack tuned length intake runners, with the kilowatts breathing out via a new quad exhaust system. Stopping efficiency is enhanced by modified brake ducts, dust shields, and utilise the spoked design of the 21 inch alloys to funnel cooling air onto the 400mm six piston carbon ceramic front brakes. These are backed up by 360mm four piston rears.
Being based on a racing design, the AMR Rapide sits 10mm lower courtesy of reworked suspension components. Aston Martin have gone over the front and rear double wishbones, fitted with stage three adaptive dampers, with plenty of Nurburgring evaluative work. To make sure the AMR looks the goods there’s a choice of four colours for the Standard and Silhouette. Mariana Blue, Scintilla Silver, Lightning Silver, and Onyx Black are complemented by AMR Lime Green highlights on the Standard’s sills, splitter, and diffuser, with the other gaining a China Grey or Clubsport White stripe.

The Signature goes one step closer to a racing look with Stirling Green paint, Lime accents and stripe, backed by a combination of AMR Lime or Galena Silver stitching for all three versions. Driver, front passenger, and each rear seat passenger are cossetted in Alcantara seats which will have discrete AMR logos in Galena Silver stitched in, and there’s extra glamour with a full length carbon fibre centre console. Apart from visiting Aston Martin’s bespoke “Q Store” a buyer can specify the optional One-77 steering wheel as well. Digital radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto will be standard, as will 700 watts of audio power.

Deliveries are scheduled to start from October 2018 worldwide. Contact Aston Martin Australia for details including pricing.

Tips When Buying a New Car

When it comes to buying a new car it can potentially be one of the top financial decisions you will ever have to make.  For some, hunting for a new car can be a daunting prospect, but for others the process is fun.  Here are some tips for you to consider when you are on the hunt for a brand new car.

Size

Firstly you will need to think about what exactly you will be using your car for.  Are you going to be carrying passengers or travelling alone?  What about the luggage – will you carry lots of items and therefore require a large boot space?  If you’re going to be mostly travelling around the city then a small car like a VW Polo will be a great little car for you.  A Corolla will happily accommodate four people and some luggage.  You might consider a an SUV-type vehicle like a Volvo XC60 or an MPV like the Honda Odyssey if you want to carry elderly people about as there is plenty of space to climb in-and-out of the car.  If you will be touring with the family, then a large estate like the Holden Commodore Tourer is superbly comfortable and spacious over the long open-road haul.

Number of Doors

SUVs, hatchbacks and station wagons with four doors and a big opening tailgate are all classed as having five-doors because the rear gate is a massive door that opens wide to access the boot space.  There are three-door hatchbacks with two doors to access the seats and one big door at the rear to access the luggage space.  Then there is the saloon car like a Honda Accord which has a smaller boot opening at the rear and four doors for access to the seating area – so it’s known as a four-door.  A two-door car like a Mazda MX-5 has two doors to access the seats and a smaller boot opening at the rear.  I’m sure once you’ve checked out a few cars with hands-on experience then you’ll form a good picture of the style of car you’ll want to buy.

Space

You’re going to need to consider the amount of space that passengers are going to either enjoy or hate.  The freedom of occupant space and the number of doors – or lack thereof – will affect the enjoyment levels of the occupants while travelling.  Even some three-door cars like the Renault Megane can accommodate passengers quite happily in the rear seats, however getting in and out of the back seats does require having to move the front seats forward in order for the rear seat occupant to get out of the car.  And if you’re sitting nice and snug in the front seat when the rear seat passenger needs to get out for a leak, then I’m sorry but you’ll firstly need to get out of your front seat for them to be able to get out of their rear seat space.  Not much fun!  Accessibility into the seats of a five-door or four-door car is easy.  Some SUVs like a Holden Trailblazer and MPVs like a Citroen C4 Picasso have three rows of seats and can carry seven occupants with ease.  Those sitting in the third row will usually require a second row seat to be folded for them to get out – but the access and occupant space is usually quite good in one of these types of vehicles.

Luggage Capacity

Most cars have their luggage space at the rear of the vehicle and this area is known as the boot.  Boot space, volume or capacity is given in the car’s specifications and is usually given in litres for us “down under”.  If you talk American then then boot space will be given in cubic feet – just to be annoying!  If you’re going to be carrying occupants and luggage regularly then it would be wise that you check out how much boot space your potential new car can offer.  Most hatchbacks, SUVs, MPVs and station wagons have rear seats that can be folded down to provide more luggage space when required.  Generally, the bigger the car – the bigger the boot space.

Fuel efficiency

It’s worth considering how economical a new car will be before handing over the cash.  If you’re on a budget, then definitely check out the fuel efficiency of the particular vehicle you’re interested in.  Most vehicles under 2.0-litre engine capacity will be quite economical with all of the latest engine technology like stop/start and more gears being standard on most new cars.  Turbo diesels – particularly small ones – can be quite efficient, but do remember that fuel taxes are heavier for diesel vehicles.  Hybrids like the Honda Insight are very efficient around town when they usually require most of the travel to be done by the electric motor.  They get thirstier when performing open road driving because the car will require its petrol or diesel engine over the electric motor.  There are purely electric vehicles which you can buy like the Nissan LEAF, but these are suited for city environments.

Warranty

All new cars come with a warranty.  Most manufacturers offer a three year warranty and some offer five years like Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Toyota.  Kia vehicles offer seven year warranties.  Having a good warranty on the car you’re going to buy is ‘peace of mind’, really.

Outgoing models

When a manufacturer is about to release a brand new model, the outgoing model is often offered at a great price.  So do keep this in mind when buying new.  If having the very latest isn’t such a big deal, then buying an outgoing model is a great way of knocking a few thousand off the purchase price.

Mazda Goes Great, It’s The CX-8! And How About The Mazda6?

Mazda has added a new CX model to the range, with the CX-8 also being the sole diesel powered entry to the family. The seven seater will have a 2.2L oiler with 140kW and 450Nm of torque. Name plates will be Sport with front and all wheel drive, and Asaki AWD as the range leader.Pricing will naturally be competitive with a starting price of $42,490 (manufacturer’s list price) for the FWD Sport. The AWD Sport will start from $46,490, and the Asaki from $61,490.  The Asaki will feature heated front and rear seats, a Bose sound system, brown or white elather trim, and a woodgrain dash finish.Size-wise the CX-8 will be on the same 2930mm wheelbase as the petrol only CX-9, but is slightly smaller in length, width, and height. It’s based on the CX-5 platform but shares the same wheelbase as the larger CX-9.Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Lane Departure Warning are expected to be listed as standard equipment, along with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors for the Sport. Further details are expected closer to the launch date.CX-8 is due to be released for a July 2018 sales date.

The Mazda6 has also had the wand waved over it. There’s a refinement to the exterior including LED headlights with integrated fog lamps, a 170kW/420Nm turbocharged 2.5L petrol four, and upgrades to trim.
Standard equipment includes the i-ACTIVESENSE safety package which includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control, and the top end Atenza gains a 360 degree viewing monitor and vented front seats, a boon for Aussie drivers in warm climates. The seats themselves have been redesigned with better support and higher vibration absorption levels.There’s 14 variants for the 2018/2019 Mazda6, covering sedan and wagon, with Sport, Touring, GT, and Atenza trim levels. Pricing starts at $32,490 (plus on roads) for the Sport sedan with the 2.5L 140kW/252Nm petrol four, and tops out at $50,090 plus on roads for the Atenza diesel wagon. A 2.5L SkyActiv four cylinder petrol is also available with 170kW and 420Nm at 2000 rpm.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Toyota Camry SL V6 & Ascent Hybrid.

Car reviews are always a personal point of view. People have a love for a brand and that’s personal. Toyota has that brand loyalty and it’s won them millions of customers over decades. Toyota‘s Camry is a big part of that loyalty here in Australia and we first saw it as a five door hatch somewhere in the 1980s.The mid noughties saw the V6 Camry reborn as the Aurion and was sold side by side with the four cylinder and hybrid Camrys. Now, in 2018, we’re back to no Aurion and a V6 Camry. One of those, the top of the range 2018 Toyota Camry V6 SL trim spec, with barely two hundred kilometres on the clock, graced the driveway. There’s also a Hybrid version that sits above the Prius range and below the similarly styled Lexus offering.Exterior and interior styling are strongly reminiscent of Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus. Tweaked for Toyota’s audience, there’s sharply angled headlights with LED lighting at both ends on the V6, standard globes for the Hybrid, a full length glass roof with sunroof offered for the full petrol car, and an almost coupe rear roofline. There’s aerodynamic strakes on the wing mirrors and embedded in the rear light plastics. The boot itself has a designed in extended lid that doubles as a spoiler. It’s perhaps the front end that brings a Spock like raised eyebrow, with a twin level V that stretches from each side to meet at the (blue hued on the Hybrid) Toyota logo.Inside it’s strongly Lexus, with multiple dash folds, a beige and black trim combination in the V6 car supplied, some buttons too easily hidden by the steering wheel, and a disturbingly cheap look plastic on the centre console compared to the rest of the interior. The dash design is an S shape line from the driver’s binnacle that winds down to finish near the passenger’s knee. Leg room isn’t an issue though, nor is cargo space. The Hybrid has moved the battery pack from the boot to under the rear seats, giving a full 524L of space. With a 2825mm wheelbase, an increase of 50mm over the outgoing version, front and rear leg room is more than adequate for intended passengers. What isn’t is no USB ports for them in the Ascent, that’s left for the SX and SL to deliver.Up front is a easily spun 3.5L V6. Peak power is 224 “killerwasps” at a almost stratospheric 6600rpm. Peak torque is 362Nm at a more typical petrol rev point of 4700rpm with quoted economy of 8.9L/100km for the combined. This is quite achievable in real world driving but utilise the spirited V6’s revving ability and that figure goes south and quickly. Power is put through to the ground via an eight speed auto connected to the front wheels. It’s not the most refined eight speeder around, with each change regardless of throttle position having the body rocking back and forth in sympathy. Compared to the super smooth nine speed in the ZB Commodore tested immediately before, it was almost harsh in its changes.The Hybrid counters this with a combined total of 160kW however this is less than the full capacities available from the petrol and battery system separately. The four is a 2.5L unit with 131kW and 88kW from the electrical side. Transmission here is a CVT and rarely does it feel out of step with the drive-train. It’s also a combination that equals the urge of the V6 when pushed, will quietly hum away on a (very) light throttle, and will pick up its side skirts and bootscoot away rapidly anywhere in between. Economy is quoted as 4.2L/100 km of 95RON or E10. AWT saw a best of 5.0L/100km and that was on a fuel sapping run to Canberra and back. The tank in the Camry seems to be of a V shape, meaning as the fuel level lowers the trips towards half, quarter, empty become quicker.Camrys have, somewhat fairly, been tagged as whitegoods on wheels. There’s little engagement, they’re designed to move human bodies from A to B and back again without issue. And these two do. If the word fun can be injected into these two, it’s the Hybrid more likely to do so but only just ahead of the V6, in a driver’s sense. A niggle with the Hybrid that AWT has had is the all too quick engagement of the petrol engine to supplement the battery system. On a flat road and with an eggshell’s pressure on the accelerator, the Hybrid will move away under battery only up to a point where the computer, regardless of whether EV has been selected via a button in the centre console, brings in the petrol engine.A dash screen on both allows varying info such as navigation, audio, and in the Hybrid, shows the power distribution and battery level. It shows the change between battery only, both, or when the petrol is driving and charging the battery. It’s here that faint thunks from the CVT as it deals with the changing drive inputs can be felt.

Road holding in a straight line shows that the Camry V6’s rear end is too soft. Every minor ripple set the Camry’s rear bouncing, and more often than not a good dip would have it on the bumpstops. The front was defineably tauter, with the same bumps that had the rear flustered consigned to a mere bump. Combined with a V6 and front driven wheels, a heavy foot will also induce a phenomenon rarely seen in cars nowadays. Torque steer. Some plough on understeer was noted as well with Bridgestone Turanza 235/45/18 rubber not seemingly up to the task. Another disconcerting suspension issue was the readiness of the rear end to skip sideways when on a turn and hitting even a small irregularity.Somehow, the Camry Hybrid felt better sorted at both front and rear. Float was reduced, turn in was crisper, there was a lesser feeling of understeer, a minimised lateral movement and compression at the rear. Ride felt more confident, perhaps thanks to the Michelin Primacy 215/55/17 tyres. Even in the rainy periods that struck Australia’s most populous city during the test week, the Hybrid gave a more composed and sedate performance on road, instilling a higher level of confidence.Features wise there’s plenty. DAB audio is in both and the model dependent varying sized touchscreens are easy to use although have a pre-programmed split screen look. Default mode has a map on two thirds and audio on the other third, however the soft touch Audio button then brings up the chosen source. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t installed but a connected smartphone allows music apps to be used. There’s a charging pad for compatible smartphones snuggled in under the lower dash fold, next to a 12V and USB/3.5mm socket connector. The tiller has tabs on the left spoke that allow access to the dash screen. Cupholders front and rear via the console and pull-down are in, as are door mounted bottle holders. LED lighting is featured and the glass roof in the V6 was simple to operate via the standard roof mounted toggles.Airbags (seven, including kneebag) and driving aids abound, with the Hybrid having the drive mode options in the console. The SL trim level has a Head Up Display which is discrete to the point it’s almost unnoticeable. Park Assist front and rear is fitted and it’s a doddle to use. Reverse parking comes with a camera and guidelines on the screen to help in tighter car park and roadside kerb parking. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert is SL specific.

At The End Of The Drive.
Pricing for the 2018 Camry range starts from a manufacturers list price of $27,690 for the four cylinder Ascent. The Hybrid Ascent is $29,990. Go to the Hybrid SL and you’re looking at $40,990. The SL V6 is $43,990, bot of course check with your dealership and for special offers head to Toyota Australia’s website

The cars themselves will sell to the Toyota faithful and potentially steal a few from elsewhere. Pedaled hard the Hybrid edges ahead of the V6 purely on driveability, is definitely more economical, and in SL form they have a goodly range of kit. From a driver’s point of view however there still doesn’t seem to be a real level of engagement, that sense of momentary flutter when getting in. For AWT it’s perhaps the somewhat disjointed looking dash design and the V6 SL’s lack of real ride as opposed to what a free revving V6 engine offers. That’s possibly best left to the V6 SX for those that want a rorty and sporty V6 Camry.

 

Build Your Own Bentley.

Wander into a car dealership and you’re presented with a range of automobiles that are an example of what is available. Mostly they’ll cover colors, perhaps some seat trims, and some options like roof racks, or wheels.
Iconic British car maker, Bentley, are at the other end of the spectrum. Their large limousine, the Mulsanne, offers via their Car Configurator, an almost endless list of combinations to ensure that Sir and Madam have a car tailored to their own exquisite tastes. There’s three versions of the Mulsanne: the Extended Wheelbase, Mulsanne Speed, and the Mulsanne itself.
The exterior has a basic choice of five single colors and one two-tone black and aqua-marine known as Velvetine. Click the “Colors” tab and this opens up an eight further options covering Blacks, Greens, Golds/Oranges/Browns, Blues, Reds & Purples, Silvers, Yellows and Whites, and Duo-Tones. A click on Silvers alone brought up a choice of thirteen distinct shades. Bentley’s own “Mulliner” branding is applied here and through the other very comprehensive options list.The choice of wheels is somewhat more restrained, with five available. There’s one twenty inch, two twenty one inch, and two Mulliner Specification.
Heading inside, the Hide tab has Colour Split and then Main Hide and Secondary Hide. Sixteen Main Hide and fifteen Secondary Hide options are listed including Highland Hare and Fireglow. Naturally these coverings are sourced from the most pristine of donors, especially checked for markings and flaws before Bentley takes delivery, where they’re further rechecked.
A standout of any classic British brand has been the wood veneer fitted. Bentley has a list of ten utterly gorgeous real wood veneers, including the classic Dark Stained Burr Walnut. Naturally there’s a choice of location for these veneers. Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus for the Gear Lever? Of course, Sir.Which sort of stitching would Sir like to complement that? Contrast, Contrast Hand Stitching, or perhaps Contrast Piping? If a subtle look is being aimed for, there is non-contrast stitching and piping as well.
Of course the fabulous Bentley logo is included, with Blind and Contrast stitching. The steering wheel is given a choice of five coverings, and both the seat belts and carpets can be tailored to match the hides selected.
But of course Mulsanne owners like to let the world know that it’s their car they’re driving. Or more likely being chauffeured in. That’s why Bentley’s Car Configurator has grille options, glass tint options, and yes, even options for the famous “Flying Spur.”
Cost, as the saying goes, is “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

Rolls-Royce Cullinan: One For The (Rich) Masses.

As often happens in Hollywood, two movies are released that have similar themes. And it is in the uber-luxury world with Mercedes-Maybach releasing a high end SUV, and now the British icon of Rolls-Royce has countered with the Cullinan.Immediately there’s a special kind of appeal for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan compared to the Maybach. It LOOKS like an SUV and ones with hints of historic British marques. A rear quarter view evokes Range Rover, for example, the front is pure “Roller”, whilst others have said there’s flashes of the iconic London taxi.

However it’s seen, it’s the first Rolls-Royce car of its type and nothing has been overlooked to ensure it embodies what R-R stands for. A clue to this can be picked from the name. In January of 1905 a diamond was mined in Cullinan, South Africa. At just under 3107 carats before being cut and polished, it’s still the largest gem quality rough diamond ever found. The two main Cullinan diamonds, incidentally, are part of the British Crown Jewels.

Motorvation is the famous 6.75 litre V12 which delivers 563 bhp (420 kW) and a orbit stopping 627 lb-ft (850Nm at just 1650 rpm) that’s connected to all four corners. Said four corners are also steerable. The drivetrain was engineered and refined through thousands of miles worth of testing in terrain as diverse as the sandy deserts of Arabia to the chill of the Scottish Highlands. Top speed is an electronically governed 155 mph or 250 km/h.

A key design feature that stands out in this Cullinan is the inclusion of “suicide doors” as seen in the sedan range. And being a Rolls-Royce, inside is a three box design, being front seats, rear seats, and rear cargo section that can be separated from the rest of the interior via a partition wall made of glass.Being the company’s first SUV, there’s the first opening tailgate and has its own name. “The Clasp” opens up to display a cargo space not unlike the style seen when luggage was carried on the exterior of cars.
Forward of this is perhaps the signature Roll-Royce seating layout. Sir and Madam can choose either Lounge Seats or Individual Seats which when fitted are located higher in what R-R calls Pavilion Seating. The Lounge will seat three and in yet another first for the iconic brand, the seats will fold at the touch of a button. Rolls-Royce don’t overlook detail here either with the headrests set to fold as well. Why? To avoid a headrest imprint on the seat’s leather. Full loading length is 2245 mm and offers 1930L of space.

Should the Individual option be ticked, a Fixed Rear Seat Console is installed and features bespoke whisky glasses and decanter. The glass wall has an extra benefit here. Should the rear seat passengers wish to be travelling in isolated comfort after raising the partition, when the cargo area is opened the interior temperature stays as chosen.The airbag suspension enables the Cullinan to not only waft along, it will lower the car by 40 mm and with the wide aperture doors open enables unparalleled entry and egress. Once inside there’s access to high tech features such as Night Vision and Vision Assist including daytime and night-time Wildlife & Pedestrian warning; Alertness Assistant; a 4-Camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility and helicopter view. Camera users can recharge from the five USB ports installed and smartphones are wirelessly charged.

Aluminuim was extensively employed in the sub-frame to ensure both lightness and rigidity met the standards expected by Rolls-Royce customers. It brings along future proofing as well as part of the proprietary “Architecture of Luxury”. There’s a new double wishbone front suspension and five link rear that holds the four wheel drive and suspension system which is in constant contact with a drive monitoring computer that calculates millions of times per seconds.

Cullinan brings with it one final surprise. The key fob has a button that when pressed accesses what R-R calls “The Everywhere Button”. It activates the Cullinan’s drive system and allows peerless finessing of the suspension for the drive ahead.The Cullinan. “Effortless, Everywhere”.

Game Changing Kia Cerato Updates For 2019

Today’s car sales figures feature SUVs and working utes as the leaders. Sedans are still available and Kia’s Cerato sedan has just been given a solid freshen up, inside and out. These updates have given the small mid-sizer more than enough appeal to bring back those perhaps tempted by SUVs or forgetting that there are still SUV alternatives. It’s an important car to Kia, the Cerato, with a third of Australian sales from this range.

In relative terms, the updates bring even more value to the Cerato. The range starts with the Cerato S at a current listed driveaway price of $19,990 for the manual six cogger. A six speed conventional (non CVT or dual clutch) auto is a $1500 premium. Engine choice is Kia’s free spinning 2.0L petrol powerplant with 192 torques and 112kW of peak power. The Si and SLi nameplates have been benched, replaced with the $23,690 Sport and $26,190 Sport+. Standard trim across the range is, to say the least, extensive. Kia says:”Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Driver Attention Alert Warning, front and rear parking sensors, 16-inch steel wheels, Drive Mode Select, six airbags, tyre pressure monitor, speed limiter, 6-way driver seat adjustment, cruise control, 8-inch touchscreen infotainment display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with voice recognition, 6-speaker DAB digital radio with Bluetooth connectivity, manual air-conditioning and power windows with driver auto-down.”Move up to the Sport and there’s alloys at 17 inch diameter, SUNA satnav with a ten year fee update cycle, higher level trim feel to the selector knob and steering wheel, aero-style wiper blade housings and sports patterned cloth seats. The Sports+ one-ups these with advanced smart cruise control, a pedestrian and cycle recognition system called AEB Fusion 11, dual zone climate control with rear seat vents, leather style trim and LED DRLs.The interior has been given more than a facelift as well. Higher grade plastics, a dash console mounted screen, a redesigned look overall bring a strengthened interior presence to the updated exterior packaging. Shoulder and leg room has increased, with the rear seat going to 906mm. There’s been a reshaping of the armrests whilst the boot gets an increase to 502L thanks to the extension of the tail. There is an extended body length, a steeper rake to the windscreen, a five millimetre increase in height, and a revamp of the Cerato’s front end. A re-emphasised “tiger grille”, redesigned air intakes, and for the Sports+ a Stinger related design cue for the DRLs. There are also enhancements to the shoulder line and tail lights.A $1000 Option Pack 1 will add Fusion II AEB, Smart Cruise Control (not available on S Manual), Blind Spot Detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Folding Mirrors and leather steering wheel to S and Sport models. Option Pack 2 will add Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert to Sport+ for $500 (the other features are standard on Sport+).Ride and handling have been fettled and done in conjunction with Kia Australia’s engineering team. A sixteen percent stiffer body contributes and a modified electric motor assistance system reduces the artificial feeling previously reported. Suspension settings have also been re-rated for a better ride.

Kia will be supplying the new Cerato range for review from the end of July.

Hybrid Subarus Are On The Way.

Subaru’s popular small SUV style cars, the Forester and XV, are coming to Australia in hybrid vehicle versions. The downside to this is that there’s currently no firm date in mind, however Aussie Subaru boss Colin Christie said: “We don’t have exact dates and times, and also not sure which tech will go into the cars, but Subaru has made it clear that they are moving down the hybridisation path and moving down the electric path. They have been talking about having fully electric vehicles in the early 2020s. I think it’s an absolute move in terms of environmental, fuel efficiency and economy but hybrids are still quite a small volume in the Australian market, but we see them as supplemental to our sales so we will have our 2.5-litre direct injection in case of the Forester, and then the hybrid will be an incremental model.”

The expected growth in EV and hybrid vehicles appears largely to do with the forthcoming emissions laws changes in Europe, to Euro 7, and the Californian government changes.

What this means for Australian importers is dealing with the choice of cars that would suit the Australian market. Subaru’s technology liason with Toyota will certainly help its cause, but, as always, there are questions as to who wears the costs of incentivising customers; is it the manufacturer or should it be the government?

Christie says: “There are customers out there looking for hybrid vehicles more and more, still relatively small numbers but that will grow and we are seeing more demand increasing in some areas, but at the end of the day it’s a future tech story and a step towards electrification, and a natural step in the journey for the brand.”

What are your thoughts? When it comes to getting more hybrid/EV cars on the roads of Australia, who should assist in off-setting costs?