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Archive for August, 2018

How Not To Use Your Phone In Your Car

Don’t stop reading and decide that this post isn’t relevant to you because you’re not one of those social media-obsessed millennials. The fact is that it’s not just teens and twenty-year-olds that get distracted by that beeping phone when they ought to be concentrating on their driving.  The problem seems to be common to all age groups. In the US (and possibly also here in Australia), it’s busy middle-aged people who are the most likely to be busted using their phones illegally while driving.

You’re going to have to break yourself of that habit of just taking a quick look at your phone to see what it’s notifying you about.  You know that it’s not safe and you know that the potential consequences go way beyond just getting busted and slapped with a fine.  To help you kick the habit, here’s a few things you could try to help you get out of the habit of checking texts, posts and calls while you’re driving.

(1) Analyse your excuses. Ask yourself why you feel that (a) you need to take a look at your phone right now and (b) why the law (yes, the law) about not looking at your phone when you’re driving applies to you.  Perhaps some of these sound familiar…

  • It could be important/urgent.
  • I’m a good/experienced driver and I know what I’m doing, not like those teenagers who are always on their phones.
  • The road’s not that busy right now.
  • I could miss out on bagging that new client/job/contract.
  • I’m only taking a quick look to see who it’s from.
  • I was at a red light so it’s OK.
  • I was just looking at the time.
  • I’m just looking at a photo.
  • I’m just taking a photo.
  • I’m perfectly capable of multitasking.
  • I’m trying to identify the song on the radio with the Shazam app.
  • I can text without looking at the keys/screen.

The cops have heard them all before…

Honestly, there isn’t a text, post or call that isn’t so urgent that it can’t wait 10 seconds while you find a place to pull over safely.  Yes, even that call that you need to make to secure that business deal – and if you were in the middle of a conversation that important, you shouldn’t have got behind the wheel in the first place.  The same goes for the text or call to the family or the boss to say that you’re running late – a few seconds later won’t make that much difference to them or you, but an accident while driving distracted will make a huge difference.

(2) Go cold turkey. As part of your pre-driving routine (closing the door, adjusting your seat if needed, putting on your seatbelt, starting the engine), either switch your phone off or put it in the back seat on the passenger side where you can’t reach it. Then you’ll either not know that you’re being notified or you’ll hear the beep but not be able to do anything about it until you can stop and reach the phone.  In the case of being able to hear the notification, you will probably find that the urge to respond instantly will pass after a few seconds, or at least a few minutes.

(3) Get an app. There are quite a few apps on the market that will autorespond for you if someone tries texting or calling while you’re driving. OK, you have to activate the app but this can easily become part of your pre-driving routine.  These apps might be marketed at teens and the parents of teens, but they work for everybody, just like the laws of the land and the laws of physics.

(4) Mute it. If you can’t hear the notification, you won’t be tempted to respond when you shouldn’t.  So mute your phone and don’t even have it on vibrate.

(5) Go offline. An awful lot of beeps and pings your phone makes are notifications from social media and emails.  The trouble with quite a few phones (at least it’s the case with mine) is that the notification for a text is the same as a notification for an email or an update.  Avoid quite a lot of temptations by going offline.

(6) Send a text before you drive.  Most of the texts and calls you receive are likely to be from your most important five contacts (probably family members, best friends and immediate work contacts).  Send them a group text telling them that you’re about to start driving (and maybe about how long you’ll be on the road) and they probably won’t send you anything for that period.  Again, this will dramatically cut down on the notifications tempting you.

(7) Enlist a passenger.  It’s kind of like the years B.C. (Before Cellphones) when the person in the front passenger seat had the job of reading the map for the driver. In this case, the front passenger becomes the official communications officer who will check the phone for you and tell you who it’s from, then (if necessary) opening the message and reading it out, and maybe typing out the reply you dictate.  Checking the identity of the sender before opening the message is a smart move if you and your significant other are in the habit of sending each other raunchy texts so your 10-year-old or your co-worker doesn’t suddenly end up being on the receiving end of way too much information.

Come on now – no more excuses!  Which of these steps are you going to try?

Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Unveiled At “The Quail”.

There are car shows and there are car shows. And then there is “The Quail – A Motorsports Gathering“, possibly the world’s premium display of new and classic automobiles. Held as part of the Monterey Car Week in California, where brands use the event to showcase the latest in development, Lamborghini has this year done so to showcase the latest in the Aventador family. Labelled the SVJ, which comes from Superveloce and Jota, it’s already conquered the Nürburgring-Nordschleife with a time of 6:44.97 for the 20.4 kilometre circuit. Fast is the word, as in get in fast, as Lamborghini will limit production to just 900 units worldwide.

Even more limited is the SVJ63. Built to commemorate the year of 1963, the year Lamborghini was founded, just 63 will be made. Featuring an extensive use of carbon fibre, the SVJ63 also has added aerodynamic bodywork to take advantage of the updated 770hp V12. Here’s what will be available.

Drive: all wheel drive and all wheel steering.
Speed: 0-100 km/h 2.8 seconds. Top speed over 350 km/h.
Power: 770hp/566kW, 8500rpm.
Torque: 720Nm, 6750rpm.
Transmission: seven speed auto.
Body: a wider front bumper, integrated side fins, new air intake, and ALA, Lamborghini’s Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva, their active aero package. The front splitter has been visually disconnected from the body, providing a floating look to the part. A scallop in the bonnet aids in airflow re-direction, improving both drag and downforce. The rear wing with new winglets, valance, and larger side air intakes combine with a redesigned under-tray to provide, along with resculpted roof panels, a 70% better contribution to the overall change in downforce.
Extra bodywork: a redesigned engine cover with a Y motif is manufactured from carbon fibre and can be removed easily thanks to motorsport style quick release clips.
Wheels:‘Nireo’ superlightweight alloy with optional ‘Leirion’ aluminum rims with ‘Y’ and hexagonal details will be available.

Active assistance: ALA is now version 2.0, which incorporates the bodywork changes and updated software to take into consideration the extra driving ability. Flaps and vents in the bodywork are moved via the ALA programming, with “On” opening the front flaps, reducing air pressure, and directing airflow underneath the SVJ. “Off” closes flaps at the rear and allows the massive erar wing to do its job unassisted. There’s also directional channels in the wing’s horizontal surface to assist in high speed cornering.Lamborghini Dinamica Veicolo Attiva 2.0 (LDVA 2.0) activates in under a half second with input from external sensors. This includes activating the ALA system in the wing depending on the direction of a turn, increasing downforce and traction on the inside wheel. This has the added effect of reducing load transfer.

Engineering Tech: new titanium intake valves and the cylinder head has been modified to assist the air flow coefficient. The suspension has better mechanical and aerodynamic grip, and a revamped stabiliser bar has an extra fifty percent stiffness compared to the SV Aventador. Lamborghini’s Magneto Rheological Suspension (LMS) has been recalibrated for better sensitivity and partners with the rear wheel steering for even more precise handling. The front end has been recalibrated as well, with more feedback and precision engineered in.
With the better overall chassis structure and handling, the drive train’s torque split system also needed work. There’s an extra 3% of the torque available now being sent to the rear end as a result. To take even more advantage of these, high spec Pirelli P Zero Corsa has been developed and fitted.

Deliveries are due to start in early 2019 with prices: Europe: EUR 349,116.00 (Taxes Excluded ), UK: GBP 291,667.00 (Taxes Excluded ), USA: USD 517,770.00 (GGT Included), China: RMB 7,559,285.00 (Taxes Included), Japan: YEN 51,548,373.00 (Taxes Excluded ).

Update: prices were released for Australia and New Zealand on August 31st, and they’re sure to raise eyebrows. AUD 949,640 (including taxes) + on road costs with New Zealand: NZD 818,864 (including taxes) + on road costs.

2019 Holden Colorado LTZ

Holden‘s Colorado is a solid competitor in the 2 and 4 wheel drive ute market, Up against the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux, and Nissan Navara it provides a worthy alternative, especially in the three key areas: payload, torque, and towing. We drive the four door 4WD capable LTZ and visit a hidden secret in the massive and beautiful Megalong Valley.The Colorado has a 2.8L diesel engine. Badged Duramax it has a peak power output of 147kW at 3600rpm, but it’s the 500 torques from the twin cam four valve engine that’s the appeal.That’s an an eminently useable 2000rpm for the auto, with 440Nm available for the manual versions. Tank capacity is 76L and unfortunately it’s needed. The 5361mm long machine is no lightweight with a gross vehicle mass of 3150kg and a kerb weight of 2128kg with economy finishing on a surprisingly high 11.1L/100km.Being a smallish diesel that 500Nm is pretty impressive. Consider the 3.2L diesel in Ford’s Ranger, that’s 470Nm and the same kilowattage. Nissan’s Navara produces 450Nm across the range of 1500-2500rpm. The smoothness of the drive-train is also impressive, with only a few hints of indecisiveness under way, and it holds gears on long downhill runs. It’s a reasonable puller on and off road, with tarmac drive manners subtle, restrained, and perhaps just a little slower than likeable off the line. Mid-range drive is understandably better and there’s a smooth progression though the gears, albeit with more noise up front than some others.Take it off road, onto some unsettled and rutted limestone style tracks, with gravel and marble sized coverings such as that found on the entry road to the beautifully located Dryridge Estate. This is at the far southern end of the Megalong Valley road, a twenty or so minute drive from Blackheath in the western fringes of the Blue Mountains. It’s a surface that needs the Colorado in 4WD to alleviate a loose tail end as in 2WD a loss of traction was not uncommon. 4WD High Range solved that and instantly the confidence level of the LTZ Colorado improved. Blind, tight, turns in 2WD had the pucker factor dialed up, but in 4WD the grip level hauled the big machine around and with nary a hint of fuss. For low range work a centre console dial is all that is needed. As there’s a proper mechanical transfer case on board the Colorado must be stationary before engaging 4WD low range though.The Colorado LTZ has the typical spongy ride of a 4WD capable ute, not least in part thanks to the big rubber underneath. Bridgestone and Holden have had a long relationship and the Dueler H/T 235/60/18 is no stranger to the brand. The relatively high sidewall and softish compound add extra bounce and also does aid absorption of some of the smaller ruts and ripples found on tarmac and these gravelly surfaces.The steering ratio and the feel itself are better tuned than some others. Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport stands out as one with a more rubber cord twisted feel left to right and back. The Colorado is more agile and nuanced in its feel. On the run down to Dryridge Estate the need for a tighter ratio and feedback is crucial. The road is shrouded in shadow for most of the day and some of those coat the more difficult to negotiate turns downhill. Here that response time and need to have a communicative steering is important and the Colorado LTZ delivers. On the gravel into Dryridge Estate the steering provided plenty of feedback too, with some of the ruts grabbing the front tyres and with the lack of freeplay the steering lets the driver know.Sadly it’s inside where it doesn’t. It’s generic GM and it’s frankly boring. The switchgear, the texture to the plastics, the reflection of the upper dash into the windscreen, and the driver’s binnacle are all without appeal. A word in certain levels that suits is “meh”. The seats are covered in cloth and the weave is a dullish dark grey print. The steering wheel is slabby and isn’t helped by the muted tones of the rest of the interior trim. The dual zone climate control controls look the same as any in the GM family, but there are a couple of upsides. There’s Digital Audio Broadcast radio, otherwise known as DAB. The tuner in the LTZ performed well compared to others, with its sensitivity to the digital signal quite high. Sound quality was also good and the equalf of of some more expensive vehicles through the multi-speaker system. There’s also a plus for the amount of leg/head/shoulder room, app connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and the embedded apps too.There’s a soft tonneau cover fitted to the test car, and it’s a simple hook and loop system to remove or fit. The tub itself is huge and at 1790mm long, 1122mm wide between the arches, it’ll be capable of holding enough cargo to suit many applications. Towing is also class leading at 3500kg. Colour range is reasonable with the test car clad in Absolute Red, with silver, black, blue, white, silver, and a brown called Auburn Brown available.

Safety isn’t overlooked and it’s a solid list from the Colorado LTZ. Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, seven airbags including drivers knee kick it off. Tyre pressure monitoring is here as is the full traction control suite of electronic assistance programs plus front and rear park assist. Reverse camera at the rear and LED driving lights up front add to the safety factor. It’s family friendly with ISOFIX seat mounts too. Other family items such as a rear seat passenger friendly 12V socket, driver’s foot rest, and keyless remote start are welcome additions.

At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing Holden are offering a drive-away price of $49,990 for the Colorado LTZ. That’s for the manual version. It’s $51,990 for the auto version as tested. There’s also a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty to back that up. Five years worth of roadside assistance is included. The first seven services are set at a capped price. There’s some serious incentives to get into the Colorado range and the LTZ in particular. It’s a good enough drive, a tad thirstier than expected, and is seriously let down by the interior. Being a world car it has to appeal to many different markets and here is where Holden is up against getting the interior to look more appropriate for our tastes. Check it out for yourself by going to the Colorado info page

Australia Has A New Motorsport Category.

Australia’s motorsport history is rich, diverse, and populated with plenty of examples of home grown thundering machines. There’s been inspiration from overseas and perhaps none more well known than the Formula 5000 series that ran in various parts of the world. There was the Tasman series, a yearly duel on track between Australia and New Zealand with the F5000 cars. But after a lengthy spell in the garage and a couple of stumbles in the last couple of years, Australia now has a rebirth of the F5000.

Welcome to our circuits, in 2019, the S5000.

The Super5000 car itself is a stunningly good looking open wheel design, and will be powered by a 5.0L V8 “Coyote” engine sourced from Ford. Australia’s Hollinger will supply the sequential six speed manual transmission, and grip comes from massive rubber front and rear, with the tyres at the powered end measuring seventeen inches in width whilst the front will be measured at twelve inches across. A carbon fibre body, complete with the FIA mandated “halo” comes from the noted French based chassis builder pairing of Onroak-Ligier and Australia’s Borland Racing will be responsible for the engineering and integration of their components into the French supplied parts.

To be run under the auspices of CAMS, the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport, the newly formed Australian Racing Group will oversee the category, with well known and highly respected magazine publisher and former racer Chris Lambden the category manager. The car itself is the brainchild of Chris, with the original Formula Thunder concept eventually morphing into this S5000 vehicle. Part of the expected driver’s appeal for the racing aspect will come from a deliberately restrained aero package, with moderate levels of down-force meaning the driver’s ability is more of the package and not electronically dialed out.Safety, of course, is not overlooked. The aforementioned halo is an integral part of the carbon composite body structure and there’s a solidly engineered floor-pan to add strength and rigidity. Overall length is 4900mm, and the S5000 will roll on a 3000mm wheelbase. They’ll be wide, too, at 1950mm. The engine is a sealed unit, meaning that mechanical tweaks will be zero. Power will peak at 560 horsepower and torque will be 460 ft-lbs (418kW and 624Nm).

Mechanically the power-plant will feature a front mounted drop gear set that will lower the overall engine height. This means the engine can be set lower in the chassis and aid the car’s centre of gravity as part of the handling setup. The Hollinger transmission will be a transaxle, with the outer structure also housing suspension mounting points and shock absorption.The actual racing calendar is yet to be confirmed however updates can be sourced by registering at the S5000 website.
(Images courtesy of the ARG, S5000.com.au, and SS Media)

Historic Holden Could Be Yours.

In Australia’s diverse and rich car & motorsport history there are few combinations of letters and numbers that get the heart beating like A9X. Almost a mythical being for some, the A9X was a code given to an options list for Holden’s LX Torana. Some sources say that the car was closer to the UC Torana that was released at around the same time as the VB Commodore. Just 33 hatchback shells were produced by General Motors Parts and Accessories (GMP&A) for sale to race teams.One of these rare machines is coming up for auction via Pickles Auctions in Perth. There’s a fair bit of history attached to this one. Noted 1970s racer Ron Hodgson had purchased from Holden three bare A9X hatchback car shells. Two of these were transformed into race spec cars. The other was effectively shelved in the case of needing spares. As it eventuated the shell was to be built into a working and running vehicle for a collector. A Group C specification 308cid engine and Warner T10 gearbox, plus Selby suspension and brakes, were fitted. The owner to be, Pat Burke, held onto the car for some years until Burke’s collection was broken up. Noted Western Australian collector Paul Terry purchased the vehicle and was delivered to his stable of cars at the Esplanade Extravaganza Gallery in Albany.It’s appeared in a book and was barely driven. One notable excursion into the public eye was in 1992, driven for just two laps at the Albany Round The Houses. The car’s current owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, says this was the first time he saw the vehicle. He bought it in 1993 and apart from some very judicious laps at Barbagallo Raceway, north of Perth, it remains in a largely untouched and almost pristine condition. There’s also the amount of kilometres covered in thirty years: just 475 kilometres and all of those are either track and event based or movements with 200 of these driven in the 25 years the current owner has had it in his garage of cars. It’s never been road registered.Pirelli P7 rubber wraps classic gold centred Simmons wheels, with an overall specification of 225/50/15. The body is also largely pristine, in the classic black and white combination, and there are black Recaro seats plus racing gauges. Being a pre-noise pollution and emissions reducing car it’s a full, unfettered, exhaust and engine combination.

Pickles have the car listed from August 23 until September 2nd.

2019 Toyota Corolla ZR & SX Hybrid.

Toyota has given its evergreen Corolla a substantial makeover. Inside and out it’s a new car and there’s also been a slight change to the way the range is structured. There’s three hatches: Ascent Sport, SX, and ZR, with hybrid technology featuring strongly. Private Fleet drives the 2019 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid and 2019 Toyota Corolla SX Hybrid with the Ascent Sport to come.The cars come with either a 2.0L petrol engine, or in the hybrid’s case, a 1.8L petrol engine. Sole transmission choice is a 10-step CVT in the SX and ZR, the Ascent Sport does offer a six speed manual alongside the CVT. Pricing is competitive, with the range starting at $22,870 + ORC for the Ascent Sport manual and finishing at $31,870 + ORC for the ZR Hybrid. Premium paint is a $450 option and the Ascent Sport offers privacy glass and satnav at $1000. Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000 kilometres with a new capped price service program at just $175 per service.Toyota says the economy of the cars is improved; the ZR Hybrid is quoted as 4.2L/100km for the combined cycle, a figure not reached by AWT but nor far off it at 5.0L/100km overall. A 1400kg dry weight is a good starting point. The engine itself is an Atkinson Cycle design and produces 72Kw & 142Nm by itself. Alongside the battery system that has a 6.5Ah output, the combined power is 90kW and 163Nm. The transmission features a three mode choice: Eco, Sport, and Normal. The CVT itself when fitted to the 2.0L has an innovative feature and one that Toyota claims is a world first. A “launch gear mechanism” Direct Shift is engineered in, allowing the engine and gearbox to work together and provide a fixed first gear ratio. Once the car has reached a preprogrammed speed it reverts back to the steel belt CVT mechanism. It does sound noisy but isn’t a thrashy note, rather a sound of refinement and “I’m working here!” Underway it works seamlessly and silently in the background, with the only time it reappears being when the accelerator is given the hoof.

However I continue to have a slight beef with the EV, Electric Vehicle, mode that the Hybrid tech has in Toyota cars. Select EV, hit the accelerator, and it almost immediately switches into both EV and petrol assisted mode. Move away gently and it stays in EV mode until the lowly speed of 20km/h is reached and again the petrol engine kicks in. Having driven purely electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and normal (non plug-in) hybrids, I would prefer the battery system to be more gainfully employed and have the petrol engine’s assistance lessened. It does assist in charging the battery as the levels drop but in a free-flowing drive environment is should be doing this, not driving the front wheels along with the battery system. As a result the mooted fuel economy should be further improved. However the centre console located gear selector is PRNDB, with the B being a stronger regenerative braking assistance. This means that the kinetic energy from braking is also harnessed and returned to the battery.The three drive modes work well enough in the real world, with Sport providing a crisper throttle response, faster acceleration and better high speed response. The ten speeds can be accessed via steering column mounted paddle shifts in the non-hybrid cars. The hybrid system itself in the ZR and SX is displayed in regards to its interaction via LCD screens in the driver’s binnacle. The SX has a small full colour screen mounted to the right hand side with the ZR’s seven inch screen a full colour display that shows a bigger version of that available in the SX. This includes a drive mode display showing the battery driving the front wheels, the petrol engine driving and charging as well. These are access via a simple four way toggle switch on the left hand spoke of the tiller which itself has been redesigned and is a new three spoke look. The look of the bigger screen though is busy and perhaps somewhat overloaded with info. It then points the ZR towards a younger, more tech-savvy, audience, and moves it away from the traditional mature aged buying base of the Corolla. Even the SX, perhaps?Toyota have followed the Euro route with a high centre mounted touchscreen for audio, apps (including ToyotaLink), and navigation. It’s smart and logical with a higher eyeline not distracting the driver from what’s ahead. The ZR amps this up by offering a HUD or Head Up Display with plenty of info such as speed zones, and soothes the ears with DAB via a well balanced JBL sound system. A voice activation system has been added, as has Siri Eyes Free. There’s leather accented seats in the ZR, cloth in the SX and Ascent Sport, but no electrical adjustment across the range, an odd omission in the ZR. However the ZR does have heated front pews and a wireless smartphone charging pad (as does SX), albeit hidden away under a dash section that perhaps protrudes too far into the cabin, counterpointed by a 24mm lower line. The dash itself is less busy and angular than before, with a more integrated and smoother look. Although not powered the front seats are comfortable and have plenty of under-knee support. Keyless start and dual zone climate control are standard in the SX and ZR. There’s also a higher grade feel and look to the textiles inside the ZR.There’s ample rear leg room and shoulder/head room is more than adequate. Boot space is just about right for a weekly family shop, As usual Toyota’s ergonomics are well thought out in where a natural hand movement would go, except in the case of the door grips. They’re forward of where a natural reach would go and in AWT’s opinion too close to the door’s pivot point. Safety is high in the ZR, indeed across the range, with seven airbags as standard as is a rear view camera. Adaptive Cruise Control is on board for all three, with a minimum speed of 30km/h and operates across a range of three preset distances to the car ahead. PCS or Pre-Collision Safety is here and works in a day & night environment range. AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking is part of this and the ZR also has Blind Sport Alert and Lane Keep Assist or, in Toyota speak, Lane Tracing. Cameras around the car measure the car’s position in relation to roadside markings and gently tug the car into position, along with uttering audible chirps to alert the driver. There’s also an active voice guidance safety system that’s integrated with the satnav, providing warnings such as school crossings and speed cameras.Underneath there’s been plenty of changes. It’s part of the Toyota New Generation Architecture, TNGA, with a 40mm lower, 30mm wider, and 40mm longer body that looks more assertive and confident. A 40mm longer wheelbase gives the 225/40/18 rubber on the ZR (205/55/16 for Ascent sport and SX) a more planted feel however there’s a lot of road noise from the Dunlop tyres on the ZR. The SX’s rear is far quieter. Ride quality has been improved by ditching the torsion beam rear and building in a multi-link system. McPherson struts have been a staple of the automotive industry for decades and Toyota have stayed with a tried and true setup here. Springs, dampers, mounting points, die-cast aluminuim frames and more have transformed the handling of the Corolla. Although the rear is a touch soft in AWT’s opinion the overall ride and handling is near nigh spot on. In low speed turns there is no understeer at all, the steering response at speed on the freeway and urban road system is intuitive, and the whole chassis is worthy of applause. There’s negligible float at any speed, turn in is assisted by an electronic “active cornering assist” system, and even the dreaded bump-thump from the shopping centre speed reducing devices is minimalised.The exterior has been well massaged, with the metal between the hatch and rear passenger doors changed to a more, for the want of a better word, natural look, for a hatch back, moving away from the previous triangular motif. The tail lights are freshened and sit underneath a fourteen degree sharper window. The window-line itself draws the eye to either end, and especially to the redesigned front end. There’s a lower cowl and a cropped front by fifteen millimetres that lend a more assertive look. Being a Hybrid the Toyota logo is limned in a cobalt blue, bracketed by even more slimline looking headlights and LED driving lights in a sharp, linear, look. There’s no spare tyre in the Hybrid, but there is in the standard petrol engined version. A tyre repair kit is added for the ZR Hybrid. The Ascent Sport gets either a full sized or space saver (Hybrid) and the SX is a space saver only. The rear also has an X subtly embedded into the design, with a line from each lower corner curving upwards and inwards, as are lines from the top edge of the rear lights.Eight colours are on offer to highlight the fresh, new, look to the world’s biggest selling car. There are solid, pearl, metallic and mica colours headlined by four new hues of metallic Volcanic Red and Peacock Black. In mica there are Eclectic Blue and Oxide Bronze. As well as the three new colours, Corolla hatch is also available in a premium Crystal Pearl along with Glacier White, Silver Pearl and Eclipse Black.At The End Of The Drive.
Spanning fifty years and more, the Corolla is a mainstay of markets around the world and continues to be a top ten and top five seller here in Australia. With the Hybrid tech making its way into the mainstream model range for Toyota, in this case Corolla, it opens it up to a new market but begs the question of what will happen to Prius…As a driving package the 2019 Toyota Corolla ZR Hybrid is trim, taut, and terrific. It’s responsive to minor steering inputs without going overboard, it’s composed and unflustered across a broad range of environments, and is “let down” by excessive road noise, a couple of design quibbles, and a slightly softer than expected rear end. However it’s a very competitive price range and price point for the ZR Hybrid, and if the bells and whistles of the ZR don’t appeal, the 2019 Toyota Corolla SX Hybrid, at $28,370 + ORCs may be a better and lighter wallet biter. All information can be found here for the 2019 Toyota Corolla range

Not All Supercars Have A V8: Lotus Releases The Exige Sport 410.

Colin Chapman said: “Simplify, then add lightness.” It’s become the cornerstone of the Lotus car company philosophy and the newest addition to the Lotus family, the Exige Sport 410, certainly adheres to this. It weighs just 1054kg to start with, making it the lightest V6 Exige made. Add mumbo from a 3.5L supercharged V6, and the 305kW/420Nm engine will slingshot the Exige Sport 410 to 100km/h in just 3.3 seconds. Top speed maxes at 290km/h in the Coupe version. There’ll also be a and Roadster version and will be priced from $159,990. That includes Luxury Car Tax and GST but not government and dealer charges.Intended to be a more road aimed version than the 430 it’ll feature sports seats rather than carbon fibre buckets. Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastic replaced carbon fibre front splitter, rear diffuser, and wing blades. Air conditioning becomes standard and a lithium ion battery is replaced with a standard tech battery. Otherwise the Exige Sport 410 shares the same chassis, brakes, suspension, and drivetrain as the Exige 430. Alcantara trim is found inside.Peak power is found at 7000rpm and the peak torque is spread across a range of 4000 revs, from 3000 to 7000rpm. Aero grip comes courtesy of a reprofiled front end, with wider air intakes aiding cooling as well.Downforce is a total of 150kg, with 60kg holding down the nose and 90kg at the rear thanks to the diffuser and rear wing. Ride and comfort on the road are thanks to the three stage adjustable Nitron dampers. Fabled roll bar company Eibach comes to the party with their adjustable front and rear bars, with rubber from Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 at 285/30/18 and 215/45/17 rear and front. They clad ultra-lightweight forged alloys which are available in either silver or black. Stopping power is from AP racing with forged four piston calipers.Extra lightness is on offer from a titanium exhaust system, subtracting ten kilos at the rear of the Exige Sport 410. Carbon fibre elements such as the binnacle and roof can be added. If one is of a mind to go trackside then items such as an onboard fire suppressant system and non airbag tiller can be added. Further customisation can be added via a choice of four colours from the Interior Colour Pack. Extra items such as a Bluetooth compatible audio system can be specified. Talk to Lotus Cars Australia for more bespoke customisation options and availability.

Kia Australia Releases 2019 Cerato S, Cerato Sport, Cerato Sport+

The evergreen Kia Cerato sedan has been given a pretty solid makeover, with the hatch due for its own tickle and release later this year, plus GT versions for both are said to be on their way. There’s also been a range realignment name-wise.. We have driven the Kia Cerato S, Cerato Sport, and Cerato Sport+.

The Cerato S sedan starts from $23,790 plus on roads, as tested. The review car was in Steel Grey, a pleasing shade and a $520 option. The Sport was $25,790 plus on roads, clad in a gorgeous Horizon Blue, and the Sport+in Snow White Pearl came in at $28,290, plus on roads, and paint. Servicing costs are for a fixed amount over Kia’s class leading seven year warranty, and top out at $2,869.00. There’s a good range of colours available but only one is classified as a non-premium colour…If you’re after a manual, you’ll find it in the Cerato S only. You’ll also find only a 2.0L injected four cylinder across the range, with six speeds, in both auto and manual guise, hanging off of the side for the engine. It’s a peak twist of 192Nm and power is 112kW. Rev points are 4000rpm and 6200rpm respectively and there’s a noticeable increase of oomph once 3000rpm is seen on the dial. As we drove the autos only, they’re pretty much all good in the transmission sense. It’s the engine that needs refining and smoothing. See 4000rpm on the tacho and there’s a noticeable harshness and noise. It’s a metallic keen that, although somewhat raucous, is really only ever apparent when a heavy right foot is used, thankfully. It’s otherwise quiet, pleasant even.

It’s here that the auto shines. Seamless shifting when left to its own devices, it delights in its smooth and unhurried nature. Tilt the gear selector right, it goes into Sport mode, and when rocked forward and back, the changes are sharp and crisp. Acceleration in all three is enhanced by using Sport mode as the changes suit the characteristics of the engine’s tune. That engine tune helps in economy too. Kia says it’s 7.4L per 100L from the 50L tank for a combined cycle and a still too high 10.2L/100km for the urban cycle. Driven in a mainly urban environment with engines all under 3000km of age, we averaged under 7.0L/100km across the three.Road handling from the three was similar yet in one car somewhat oddly different to the others. The Sport+ rides on the same tyre and rim size as the Sport. 225/45/17 is what’s bolted to each corner and the alloys look sensational. The S has steel wheels at 16 inches, with 205/55 rubber. The S and Sport are more akin in they ride than the Sport+, with the McPherson strut front and coupled torsion bar rear feeling tighter, tauter, and less composed in the Sport+. Long sweepers with minor corrugations had the rear step out, whereas the S and Sport were less inclined to deviate. In a straight line all three sat comfortably but the Sport+ was more the princess in the bed with the pea. Minor irregularities were magnified and enhanced in the Sport+, with just that little bit more unwanted pucker factor whilst sitting on its leather clad pews. Freeway rides are tied down, there’s little to no float, and road noise is minimal thanks to extra noise reduction materials plus NVH reduction engineering. Get funky in the tighter corners in the mountain roads and handling is predictable with steering nicely weighted. Boot it out of a corner and the steering loads up and there’s no tending towards lift-off understeer.The S and Sport have cloth seats, manual adjustment, and no heating. The Sport+ has heating, no venting, and no powered front seats, an odd omission for a top of the range car. In fact, there’s really not a whole lot of difference between the three in some areas. All have the drive mode choice of Eco/Comfort/Smart with Sport engaged as mentioned. All have AEB with Forward Collision Warning – Car Avoidance, with the Sport+ getting Pedestrian and Cyclist on top plus adaptive cruise. All three have Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, voice activation, and Digital radio via the eight inch screen, with the Sport+ having the same dropout issues as experienced in the Sorento. Climate control is in the Sport+, with “standard” aircon in the other two. The driver sees info via steering wheel mounted tabs on a 3.5 inch TFT screen between two standard analogue dials. Perhaps here a LCD screen for the dials would help add cachet and differentiate the the Sport+ further.All three have Blind Spot Detection as an option, as do they have Rear Cross Traffic Alert as an option. These are part of two safety packs available at a $1000 or $500 price point. All other safety systems such as Hill Start Assist are common. The Sport+ gets an electro-chromatic (dimming) rear vision mirror, LED daytime lights, push button start, centre console armrest that slides, and folding wing mirrors. It’s also the only one with an external boot release on the car. That sounds like nothing important but when you’re used to pressing a rubber tab on the boot and not using the key fob, it’s not a smart choice.What is a smart choice is the redesign outside and in. Kia’s gone with the Euro style touchscreen that stands proud of the centre dash and it looks good. There’s turbine style airvents and the Sport+ has more brightwork around these and in the cabin than the Sport and S. There’s a pair of 12V and USB ports up front, with one dedicated to charging and the other for the auxiliary audio access via the smartphone apps. Although the front screen has been moved backwards, there’s no decrease in head, shoulder, and leg room for the 4.6m long sedan. Boot space is, ahem, adequate, at 434L with a long and quite deep design, and the spare is a full sizer, albeit steel fabricated unit.Outside there’s been a major re-skin; the front screen has been moved by nearly twelve centimetres and the bonnet line has been raised. The headlight clusters flow backwards at the top into the guards, with a nod towards the Stinger in styling here. At the right angle, somewhere from the rear quarter, there’s more than a hint of a certain Japanese luxury brand too. Sport+ has LED driving lights in a Stinger like quad design around the main headlight. There’s angular vents at each front corner that house the indicators and the Sport and S have a pair of globe lit driving lights between. Rear end design has been revamped and there’s beautiful styling to the tail lights, flanks, rear window line, and an integrated lip in the boot lid itself. Reverse lights have been moved to a triangular housing in the lower corners, echoing the front and again harken to a Japanese brand. It’s a handsome and well balanced look overall.Warranty is Kia’s standard seven years and there is 24/7 roadside assistance available as well.

At The End Of The Drive.

Kia’s growth curve is strong. Its building vehicles with a good feature set, with high quality, and quietly doing so with gusto. The Cerato sedan, the latest in a range of cars that DOESN’T include a four wheel drive capable ute, is commendable for both its very good looking sheetmetal and high levels of standard equipment. What initially looks like oversights in some areas is potentially a pointer towards what will come in the Kia Cerato GT. As it stands, though, a weak link is the engine. It doesn’t feel smooth, slick, and quiet enough at revs, and for a naturally aspirated 2.0L petrol engine nowadays, a peak power of 112kW really isn’t advertising friendly. It’d be nice if the torque was available at a lower figure or if there was more of it, but for the average buyer, the main concern would be the rare occasion they’d venture into plus 3000rpm territory.

Frugal is the word that stands out here too. So bundle a good looking sedan with good petrol usage in with sharp sub $30K pricing and that feature set, and Kia is kicking goals. Kia Australia’s Cerato for 2019 is available now.

F1 2018 Movements And News In The Mid-season.

The mid season break is heading towards its end and there’s been plenty happening. The latest news has been expected yet still of sadness for F1 followers. Fernando Alonso, at the age of 37, has announced his retirement effective at the end of the 2018 season. It will also be the conclusion of his 17th competitive season in F1.
The rumours that swirled through the F1 paddock in the first half of the season all pointed towards a confirmation to be made. However it’s also a surprise as Alonso says: “”I made this decision some months ago and it was a firm one. There are still several grands prix to go this season, and I will take part in them with more commitment and passion than ever.”

Alonso has alluded to 2019 being a year of new challenges, which potentially could be again rumours being confirmed that he will make the move to IndyCar racing on a permanent basis.
Alonso started with the now defunct Minardi team at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix. He’s a double F1 championship winner, having taken the crown in 2005 and 2006. He’s placed second in the championship three times and has 32 wins, 22 pole positions, and has stood upon the podium 97 times so far.

Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Renault in 2018 is still clouded with acrimony. Part of this comes from within the team he’s signed with for the next two years, with team principal Cyril Abitetoul admitting that their own engine development hasn’t been as successful as it should have been.
“I believe indeed that we underestimated the potential of the current engine regulations, let’s put it this way,” Abiteboul said. “We are now four years into this engine regulation and after four years you would expect that you would see the flattening out of the development curve.”

Red Bull then seems to have potentially dodged the proverbial bullet with its decision to source powerplants from Honda. The current reliability issues and uncertainty about Renault’s engine development then hover over some of the Perth born driver’s decision to leave Red Bull. However Honda’s engines also haven’t been perfect so there’s question marks aplenty for both the team and the exiting driver.


Force India’s financial woes have been assuaged thanks to a buy-out lead by Lawrence Stroll (above) the father of F1 Williams team driver Lance Stroll. A consortium, and a powerhouse one at that, signed off on the buy-out in early August. Thankfully this also has resulted in over four hundred employees not losing the ir job, and all creditors are reported to have been fully paid out. This means the Silverstone, UK, based team, will be back out on track at the resumption of the season at the Belgian F1 GP at the end of August.

BMW Has Competition For The M2.

BMW Australia has announced another model for their brilliant M2. Powered by a 302kW/550Nm straight six, the BMW M2 Competition starts at $99,900 (plus on-roads) with a M2 Competition Pure starting from $104,900 (plus on-roads). There’s a seven speed DCT, or dual clutch transmission that will take the M2 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds. For those that prefer an old style manual, a six speed manual is offered as a no-cost option.That peak power is from 5,250 to 7000 rpm, with that V8 eating torque across nearly three thousand revs, at 2,350 to 5,200 rpm. This backs up the M2’s intent to be a track day weapon, as there is a 1.5 kilogram strut brace and it’s a similar design to that seen in the M3 and M4. The suspension has ball joints that are engineered to have zero excess movement, and elastomer bands that transmit lateral movement to the torque struts in the suspension.

BMW’s M-differential is on board, with the design and engineering allowing a “lock-up” with an amount of zero to one hundred percent allowing precise control through virtually every driving condition. Strength and rigidity comes from a new forged alloy which is employed for suspension components and parts of the five link suspension. Stopping isn’t an issue thanks to the 400mm front and 380mm rears with six pot callipers that are an option. Standard stoppers are 380mm and 370mm.

Rolling stock are 19 inches in diameter and are 9×19 up front, 10×19 for the rear. Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber wraps these, with 245/35/19 and 265/35/19 front and rear. These are super lightweight alloys and feature a Y shaped design coated in a light sheen or black. To take advantage of these there are three driving modes, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, operated via a dial in the cabin. There’s settings available via a toggle switch on the leather bound steering wheel.An exterior update has been fitted with a deeper front skirt for better cooling and airflow. High gloss black coats the grilles and the quad exhaust is also painted black. Wing mirrors are a double arm design that aids in airflow, a M hallmark. And specifically for the Australian market the Competition Pure also gains M Sports seats with Illuminated Headrests and Lumbar Support, front Park Distance Control and the M Seatbelts over the predecessor model.

Compared to the M2 Competition, the Competition Pure rides on the 19-inch light alloy wheels familiar to the outgoing M2, though the Michelin Pilot Super Sports retain the same dimensions as the M2 Competition specification (245/35 R 19 front, 265/35 R 19 rear). The new design wheels are optionally available.Other specification adjustments include a HiFi Loudspeaker system, manually-adjustable M Sport Seats, Bi-LED Headlights and remote central locking (in place of Comfort Access).

BMW says the cars should be available from early 2019.