As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Archive for November, 2018

Doors Opening For New Racers Through Race Academy International

Fangio. Brabham. Schumacher. Senna. Webber. Johnson. Brock. Recognise a few names? They all have one thing in common and no, it’s not the massive talent they displayed in their prime. Each and every driver had training, and lots of it. Some race drivers try and try and try and get nowhere because their talent, as good as it may be, may not be good enough. The few, the lucky few, that do, have that extra special percent that has the right door open.

However, there is a new race door opening and it’s one that will still require talent. Race Academy International is a new operation and staffed by people that, collectively, have more racing experience in the blood than many of us can ever comprehend. Key to its success is the sheer spread of the instructors brought on board to help interested drivers open one of the four doors RAI has available. It’s a genuine, and real, driver’s academy, where scores are weighed up by the instructors after each applicant is put through a stringent series of tests.Door one is just $990 and the Freshman level will look at car setup, feedback to the instructors, reviewing and interpreting data, plus a full half day session at Sydney Motorsport Park which includes two 15 minute trackwork tests. Just to add extra spice, a problem solving session with an engineer during a data review will be conducted.

Door 2 is the Clubman, at $1850, and looking at drivers that perhaps already have had some track time and need or want to improve upon that. There will be more intensive scoring and, in addition, a media training session and debrief interview with a motorsport journalist. Finally, any flags that a driver must need to know about on a race track will be covered in a training session.

More experienced drivers can opt for door 3 or 4, with the State and Ultra sessions especially tuned for those that have that, the experience, and the mental drive to win. All sessions in each level are scored and runners up will be formally recognised and awarded. Costs here are just $2850 and $2200.Some of the people doing the training have oil and petrol running in their veins. Matt Shylan, a regular competitor at Sydney Motorsport Park, is a relative late starter, competing in motorkhanas at the age of 12. Highly respected river, team manager, and experienced in motorsport PR, Gary Mennell brings 30 years of experience to RAI. Josh Muggleton was a competitor in the Nissan GT Academy International, has raced at Bathurst, and works with the Trackschool driver training group. Linda Devlin brings an extensive CV to RAI, with endurance racing, historic racing, and numerous class racing wins. Linda started competing at just 8 years of age.

Further information about this exciting initiative can be found here.

BMW Reveals New Models And Updates.

BMW’s popular X1 sports Activity Vehicle and X2 Sports Activity Coupe have received value added updates for the 2019 model year. Apple CarPlay has been added across all models in the X1 range, along with Navigation Plus and Head Up Display. An 8.8 inch touchscreen allows access to an app look interface, plus there is a voice interface called Natural Voice recognition. The X2 range also receives the Head Up Display and the Navigation System Plus. As with the X1, the X2 gets the Apple CarPlay interface as standard across all trim levels. To visually identify the entry level X2, 19 inch diameter wheels, up from 18s, are fitted.Like any company that does an update in such a broad reach, pencils have been sharpened too. The entry level BMW X1 sDrive18i is $45,900 plus on-roads (price includes GST and where applicable the LCT). The rest of the range is BMW X1 sDrive18d $49,900, BMW X1 sDrive20i $50,900, and BMW X1 xDrive25i $60,900. The X2 also gets the calculator waved over the top. The three trim level range now looks like this: BMW X2 sDrive18i $46,900 (includes GST and LCT where applicable plus on-roads), BMW X2 sDrive20i $55,900, and BMW X2 xDrive20d $59,900.The new M2 and M5 Competition models have also been released. The M2 has the grunty straight six from the M3 and M4. The twin turbo powerplant develops 550Nm between 2350rpm and 5200rpm, meaning throttle response is almost instant and brings great driveability. The peak power of 305kW comes in straight after that and runs until 7000rpm. The soundtrack is backed up by a twin exhaust system and electronic flap control. The whole package sees the M2 reach highway speeds in 4.2 or 4.4 seconds, depending on the M-DCT or six speed manual transmission chosen. Top speed is controlled to 250km/h, or 280km/h if the M Driver’s package is added. The price to pay for this is reasonable, with consumption rated at around 9.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

If the M-DCT is optioned in the M2, switches on the centre console provide control of drive characteristics for the engine, steering, and BMW’s Drivelogic functions. Personalisation is the key, allowing the driver to save customised settings.

Outside there are additional body stylings to identify the M2 and M4, with an improved cooling system receiving better airflow from a bigger BMW grille and redesigned front skirt. New double armed wing mirrors are fitted and stopping power is increased with 400mm six pot, and 380mm four pot, discs, front and rear. Fettling of the suspension takes parts from the M3 and M4, with front rigidity and steering precision improved.The Dual Clutch Transmission is an option. In Drivelogic there are three drive modes: Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, with manual mode giving the driver full control over changes. In automatic mode the driver can change the gearshift timing, the intensity of the change, and even the blipping on the downshifts. BMW also adds Connected Drive, which brings in optional driver assistance systems such as the Driver Assistant. Lane Departure Warning and Collison warning are just two of the supplementary services available. Check with BMW Australia for further details.

Toyota Hybridises The RAV4 And Ditches Diesel.

Toyota‘s RAV4 has been given a hefty whack with the overhaul stick. A hybrid drivetrain, new AWD systems, and a revamp of the exterior, will see the 2019 RAV4 head twoards the third decade of the 21st century with the same verve it brought when first launched a quarter of a century ago.

Currently scheduled to hit Aussie showroom floors in the second quarter of 2019, the Recreational Active Vehicle 4 wheel drive will have both hybrid and non-hybrid drivetrains, new engines, and a new eight speed auto. Engine capacities will be either 2.0L or 2.5L, with the smaller engine producing 127kW and 203Nm. Pick the bigger donk and there is 152kW and 243Nm. The hybrid package is slated to produce 155kW and a as yet unannounced amount of torque. The battery system will be located under the rear seat so no loss of storage space will occur. However, there will be no diesel engine to be made available as Toyota moves across to a hybrid SUV future.

A CVT or “intelligent” six speed manual can be selected for the smaller engine, with the manual said to be able to rev match in order to assist in economy and smoother shifts.The non-hybrid 2.5L is the one that will bolt to the eight speed auto. A lower ratio first gear not dissimilar to that fitted to the hybrid Corolla’s transmission assists in getting the vehicle up and running. This engine and transmission combination will have a mechanical AWD system, with the same size engine and hybrid receiving an electrical AWD setup. It’s smaller, lighter, and more energy efficient that a mechanical system, and coupled with a generator attached to the rear axle with a specific drive ration, will generate more torque at the rear for better driveability. Up to 80% of the torque generated can be rearward directed.

Torque vectoring also comes in and looks to be specific for the 2.5L and mechanical system. This will not only direct up to 50% of torque to the rear but will, as deemed necessary, split torque between the rear left and rear right wheel. If the onboard sensors feel that all is good, then torque and power is primarily aimed towards the front.

Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s vice president sales and marketing, said the new drivelines and AWD systems will add to the RAV4’s spirit of adventure and driving pleasure by delivering enhanced performance, capability and control.

“All-new RAV4 will offer even greater appeal for people looking to re-energise in comfort and luxury, whether on the everyday commute or while enjoying weekend trips away. The new drivetrains deliver confidence-inspiring performance and agility and will result in a new perception of hybrid with electric AWD capability that enhances driving pleasure.”

Extra driving goodness comes from AIM. The AWD Integrated Management automatically adjusts vital vehicle systems, according to the drive mode selected, steering assist, brake and throttle control, shift pattern and drive torque distribution. There’s Eco, Normal, and Sport modes to choose from, with Eco backing off the torque for fuel efficiency. Sport changes the steering assistance level, the throttle control, and the distribution of torque.

Inside the mechanical AWD RAV4 will be a drive mode switch for different terrains; mud and sand, or rock and dirt, can be selected for easy going soft-roading. Go to the hybrid version and Toyota will fit an automatic Limited Slip Differential, which can be activated via a toggle in the cabin, for difficult driving circumstances.

All of this will be packaged in a new body, with final sign-off for Australia yet to be confirmed as which style. Contact your local Toyota dealer to register your intert.

2019 Mitsubishi Triton Is On The Way

Mitsubishi have released details of the forthcoming Triton. Largely unchanged mechanically, the Triton has been given an extensive external makeover. Front and centre is the addition of the “Shield” design, the deletion of the forward angled tail light design in favour of a more conventional design, and a signature crease from front to rear. Also gone is the arcg between the rear doors and tray, replaced by a straighter angled line from side step to tray top.
It must be said that the front bumper’s design does bear a similarity to that sported by Toyota’s HiLux, with a rectangular look to the extremities that house globe lit driving lights. However the overall design is closely related to the Pajero Sport, itself based on the Triton.
Power comes from a 94kW/194Nm 2.4L petrol four or the diesel with 133kW/430Nm. The entry level GLX still comes with a manual, a dying breed of transmission choice. Manuals are five or six coggers, and Mitsubishi adds a new six speed auto, replacing the archaic five speed. Staying with six is a choice that on the face of it seems to be behind some of the Triton’s opposition, such as Ranger.But where the Triton will stand tall amongst its peers will be in safety. Autonomous Emergency Braking with variable speed speed recognition levels will be fitted, and it will use camera and laser sensors.

Surround view cameras are becoming more common and the Triton will have these. Blind spot detection and rear cross traffic alert will also feature. One unique safety system is also looking be be onboard. Called Ultrasonic Misacceleration Mitigation, it’s designed to read forward and reverse hard acceleration and act appropriately by momentarily cutting engine power. How this works with deliberate hard acceleration in a safe environment is yet to be seen. Ride and handling has also been fettled with 4WD versions of the Trion now getting a drive system selector so off-road work can be better utilised and enjoyed.
Interior trim levels have been lifted. Soft touch materials, slightly darker in tone, complement higher grade looking silver accents. Rear seat passengers now have a USB socket for charging and there are now aircon vents for the rear, and the upper level models now have smartphone mirroring apps. Hill descent control has also been added, along with sensors front and rear.

Built in Thailand, the Triton is a good seller for Mitsubishi Australia and is the company’s second biggest market ahead of Indonesia, Chile, and the U.K. Full pricing details should be released in December.

BabyDrive: Everything You Wanted To Know About Kids In Cars In One Handy Place

If you’re about to become a parent for the first time – or if you’re revisiting parenthood after a long break (it happens) – then you might be wondering what sort of car is right for your new family.  It’s not a stupid question.  Once upon a time, it might have been all right to sling the carry cot across the back seat and make the older siblings share a seatbelt and/or ride in the boot, but you’d get in major trouble if you tried that today.  They’re serious about car seats for children these days and the law says that children under the age of seven can’t wear an adult seatbelt – and even then, this depends on their size and height and some children may need a booster seat until they’re 12 or so.  (As an aside, I’m kind of glad that they didn’t specify a particular height or weight for using a booster seat – some petite adult women, such as my 18-year-old daughter, may not meet these and who wants to sit their license while sitting in a booster seat?).

Anyway, if you’re a parent-to-be, you mind may be buzzing with questions about what sort of car you need to get.  And if it isn’t, it should be!  A lot of first-time parents fall into the trap of putting a lot of thought and care into the birth plan and how they want the birth of their new baby to go.  While this is all very well, what they don’t tell you (and what I wish I had known all those years ago) is that labour and birth only last (at most) one day.  All the other bits about parenthood and life with a small child go on for months – years!  So if you haven’t started thinking about what sort of car you need as a new parent, it’s time to give it some thought.

There are a lot of things to consider and it’s easy to make a mistake.  Let’s just say that there’s a possibility that you may have to put that little sporty roadster on hold for a bit and buy something more family-friendly.  Been there, done that.  We said goodbye to our old Morris (which would be an absolute classic and worth a mint today if we’d hung onto it) because the pushchair wouldn’t fit in the boot and got a Toyota sedan – which was then traded in when Child #2 came along because there was no way that anybody could sit in the front seat when there were two car seats in the back – and no room between said seats either!  I’ve been watching my brother and his wife start to go through the same series of problems.

Imagine that you could find someone who could give you all the advice you need – kind of like a motor-savvy big sister who can answer all those very practical questions even better than we can here at Private Fleet (although we try our best!).  For example, if you’re expecting Child #3 and the eldest is still of an age to need a booster seat, or if you’ve got twins or triplets on the way, are there any cars out there that can fit three car seats across the back?  Which cars provide enough leg room in the rear seats so that bored toddlers don’t try whiling away the time stuck in traffic kicking the driver in the kidneys?  How do you know if the stroller will fit in the boot?

Well, this sort of big sisterly advice is exactly what you’ll get from a great new site that’s linked with Private Fleet called BabyDrive (yes, this is a shameless plug for the site but no, I did not write it, although I wish I had, and I wish Tace the reviewer lived a bit closer than Queensland because she’d probably be my new BFF).  This is a great site that has all the answers you need to do with choosing a new vehicle that will suit your new family – yes, it even tells you which vehicles can fit five car seats comfortably and which MPVs have the easiest access to the third row of seats.  It’s the sort of thing I wish that I had on hand when I was a new parent – and I’d certainly recommend it to any parent-to-be looking for a new family vehicle.  Like we do, BabyDrive reviews vehicles, but unlike us, they do it all from a parenting perspective.  You won’t find the hot little roadsters reviewed here and the car reviews don’t cover torque or fuel economy stats much.  However, each car is rated for driver comfort (you’ve got to love a review that tells you whether the headrest position works well with the typical ponytail hairstyle adopted by mums on the go!), carseat capacity, storage, safety and noise.  The reviews include some descriptions of driving as a new mother that will give you a rueful chuckle or two – even if you, like me, have your baby days well behind you.  It’s the sort of review that we couldn’t do here on Private Fleet unless I kidnapped my baby nephew.  We’ll tell you the other bits and pieces – as well as helping you score a great deal on pricing (another thing that’s appreciated by not just new parents!).  The reviews feature a video segment as well as a written review – great for those who are more visually oriented.

The noise review is particularly useful, especially given the tendency these days for cars to produce all kinds of beeps as warnings.  If you don’t know about the old parenting trick of going for a wee drive to help soothe a fretful child off to sleep, you know it now!  However, all the good soothing work of a nicely purring motor and the gentle motion of a car on the go can be undone by some wretched lane departure warning shrieking or a parking sensor bleeping, waking your baby up just as you get home.

And yes, you will find some hatchbacks reviewed on BabyDrive!  Of course, the big SUVs, MPVs and 4x4s feature heavily (and, as an extra piece of advice from a more experienced parent, these will stand you in good stead once your kids hit the school and teen years, and you have to take your turn doing the carpool run, or if you are ferrying a posse of teens to the movies or a sports match).  However, if it’s not a “BabyDrive” (i.e. something suitable for small children), then it won’t feature!

Check it out yourself at BabyDrive.com.au.

Car Review: 2019 Kia Sportage SLi Petrol & GT-Line Diesel

Kia updated their Sportage range in mid 2018 and although mainly cosmetic in nature, it keeps the range fresh. The new for 2019 Kia Sportage SLi with petrol and the diesel fueled 2019 Kia Sportage GT-Line graced the driveway for a week each and both showed why they are ideally suited for their respective target markets.The GT-Line is listed at $48,210 plus on roads, the SLi at $37,310. There is a very well specified equipment list for both, including Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Keep Assist now standard across the range, and a suite of GPS linked voice alerts for speed cameras, narrow roads, schools, and more. Apart from the different energy sources there are two different transmissions. Kia has kept the six speed auto for the petrol with its higher rev points for power and torque, The diesel has a new eight speed, and It’s a cracker. The 2.0L diesel has 400Nm of torque and the eight ratios are well spread to take advantage of the power and torque delivery. Torque is on tap from idle with that peak available from 1750 to 2750 rev. Peak power is 136kW and that’s at 4000rpm. The SLi is a front wheel driven unit, the GT-Line an all wheel drive setup and comes with a centre diff lock for soft-roading.The Sportage is a four model range, being Si, Si Premium, SLi, and GT-Line. The first three have a choice of 2.0L petrol engine or 2.0L diesel. The GT-Line is 2.4L petrol or 2.0L diesel. The 2.0L is a nice enough performer, with 114kW and 192Nm. This comes standard with the six speed auto. The petrol is a free revving unit and its own power and torque curve has the six speed auto running slick and smooth. Power for the 2.4L petrol is virtually identical to the diesel at 135kW however that’s at 6000rpm. Torque, naturally is a lesser peak figure and higher up the rev range, with 237Nm at 4000rpm. Kia quotes 7.9L/100km for the 2.0L, 8.5L/100km for the 2.4L, and 6.4L/100km in the diesel. The SLi finished on 8.3L/100km and the diesel finishing on 7.1L/100km, with both results from a 98% urban run. All models have a 62L tank.Driving the diesel and the new auto sees a new level of refinement from Kia. There is a distinct lack of the agricultural sound, a real feeling of smoothness, and a wave upon wave surge of torque from the engine. Cogs swap swiftly, quietly, and smartly, with the throttle sensor responding instantly to both pedal movement and information from the drive system itself. Kia has stayed with the three mode drive choice which, for both, is superfluous. From a standing start the diesel pulls the 1700kg machine away with minimal effort and minimal noise. Although front drive biased, there’s a noticeable shift of torque to the rear when the go pedal is punched. The result is rocketship acceleration, with a flicker of the needle on the tacho at around 3200 revs for the change. The extra two cogs over the six add so much extra flexibility and helps get the GT-Line to 100kph rapidly. Stopping power comes from 305mm and 302mm discs.Inside the SLi the petrol’s sound is a distant thrum, barely audible, and feels smoother than silk on ice. From a standing start it’s quiet and sometimes so inaudible there’s a glance at the tacho to ensure it’s actually spinning. Punched hard enough there’s a chirp from the front, but otherwise it’s a friendly, forgiving, machine to drive, Steering on both is a delight, with a beautiful balance and heft on the pair. There’s the barest hint of torque steer from the diesel and only under load in corners.Suspension on both is tuned to suit the audience. The SLi and GT-Line share McPherson struts and a multi-link rear, but the dampers are slightly softer on the GT-Line. Rubber is different at 225/55/18s for the SLi, 245/45/19s on the GT-Line. That extra width on the GT-Line provides a more sure footed and tenacious feel on road too. Not that the SLi is any slouch. It’s a fun car to drive too. Hit it up into a tight corner and speed and it’s flat, composed, almost begging to see more numbers on the speedo as it dares the driver. Both settle even more with a week’s worth of shopping in the 466L cargo space. That increases to 1455L if the superbly comfortable pews are lowered.

There’s a modicum of extra space inside the Sportage, with an increase of wheelbase and overall length. Wheelbase is up, from 2640mm to 2670mm. Length grows by 45mm, to 4485mm but that includes a front overhang increase of 20mm to 905mm and a rear overhang decrease of 10mm to 910mm. Overall internal measurements have headroom up by 5mm to 997mm and 993mm from 977mm front and rear. Front legroom has grown by 19mm to 1129mm, and 7mm to 970mm in the rear.

There are few changes to the exterior, the driving lights in the lower corners of the front bumper now have a horizontal line spanning the insert, and in the case of the GT-Line, splits the LED cluster. The headlight surround in the GT-Line also looks slimmer but that may be down to the LED lights and indicators. The rear of the GT-Line has LED lights, and a powered tailgate, with the tail light cluster on all models freshened up whilst adding extra visibility for safety.

There is ample leg, shoulder, and head room in the Sportage, even with the full length glass roof as fitted in the Fiery Red painted GT-Line. There are the standard pair of 12V sockets up front plus a USB. The GT-Line adds a wireless charging point for compatible smartphones and a 12V & USB socket for the rear seat passengers. The front windows in each are one touch.Equipment wise there’s little between the two. Or all four, for that matter.Consider this: standard across the range is Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, Downhill Brake Control, Hill-start Assist Control, Reverse sensors, and rear camera with guidelines. The Si dips out on front sensors, and only the GT-Line gets Intelligent Parking Assist System. Specific to the GT-Line is Blind Spot Detection/Lane Change Assist/Rear Cross Traffic Alert, which complement the Advanced Smart Cruise Control. All four have High Beam Assist, dusk sensing headlights, 2 ISOFIX seat mounts, and six airbags.

Comfort comes with heated and vented front seats for the GT-Line, ten way adjustable seats in both the SLi and GT-Line, an eight inch touchscreen with DAB audio, JBL speakers, Bluetooth, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. The latter two have voice recognition to boot. All four models have dual zone aircon systems with Kia’s proprietary CleanAir Module. Trim is soft touch plastics, with an alloy look to door and dash inserts. The SLi and GT-Line also receive a 4.5 inch full colour binnacle display.Kia continues to offer its seven year warranty and capped price service. The diesel is marginally more pricy per year for servicing, with the full price over the seven years at $3580 against $2742 for the SLi’s petrol. Premium paint is a $520 option.

At The End of The Drive.
Kia’s growth in the Australian market continues to go from strength to strength on the back of the Stinger, Sorento, and Sportage. the Cerato sedan is due to be joined by a revamped hatch soon, and the recent news of turbo engines for that overseas, and for the Picanto and Rio will add extra spice to the range. In the case of the diesel GT-Line, it’ll happily be welcomed back at any time. They’re both family friendly,, roomy and comfy, and pack plenty of tech. The SLi , perhaps, should have the 2.4L as an option or even as standard, to bring it closer to the GT-Line and separate it just that bit more from the Si pairing. Either way, both are immensely good value but for the win it’s the 2019 Kia Sportage GT-Line diesel.

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Trailblazer LTZ

Holden‘s 4WD ute and people mover range has had a chequered history, with the latest incarnation of a ute based people mover now known as the Trailblazer. Once known as the Colorado 7, it’s a curious choice as the front end looks like the current Colorado, the interior looks like the Colorado’s, and the profile is effectively unchanged. Perhaps to separate the two lines more effectively? The Trailblazer comes in seven colours, two and four wheel drive, three trim levels (LT, LTZ, Z71), and seats seven in relative comfort.The Trailblazer LTZ, at the time of writing, is $53,990 driveaway. Premium paint is a $550 option. There’s plenty of standard kit to come with that price, too like auto headlights front fog lights, and powered folding mirrors . Sound wise there is a DAB tuner, and smartphone connectivity via both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Holden’s MyLink is a user friendly interface on the eight inch screen. Safety is delivered in the shape of Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are standard on the LTZ. No Autonomous Emergency Braking though. The range also gets seven airbags including the driver’s knee ‘bag. With towing of up to 3,000 kilograms available having Trailer Sway Warning is standard too. However the large tailgate is not a powered version and that’s an item found on cars of similar or lesser value. But there is Remote Engine Start for those that like to pre-cool or pre-warm the interior.The front pews are covered in machine made leather and are heated, not vented, again an oversight for Australia’s climate. The driver’s seat is powered but really only adjustable for height and fore/aft. The dash itself is squared off and lacks in visual appeal. A flat fascia, rather than the Euro style wrap around that even the new Forester has adopted leave the Trailblazer’s design well behind. A bright spot is the vibrant and easy to use touchscreen. It responds rapidly to touch, has a sensible layout, and the DAB tuner is sensitive enough but the speakers lack real depth, with a lack of soundstage quite noticeable.A mix of dark and light greys and a lustreless alloy look trim around the gear selector and centre vents just don’t pull in the eyeballs. The front seats can see a 12V and USB socket, with the middle row getting just the single 12V. The rear seat passengers have access to cup holders on both sides and in the centre. There is a 12V socket on the left side and there is rear seat aircon as well, with roof vents and a switch in the front centre console for On/Off. The driver’s dash and switchgear are familiar GM in look, feel, and operation, with the multi-function tiller itself sporting simple to use buttons for audio and cruise control.Leg room up front is plentiful at 1045mm, as is the mid row seats, thanks to the 2845mm wheelbase. Use all seven seats and cargo space is a relatively small 205L. Use it in the more likely five seater mode and there is 878L in total. With all seats down there is up to 1830L to use. The seat are adequate for most people in size, shape, and support. The squab or the bumrest, seemed a little lacking in support for the thigh towards the front of the seat but a compromise of seat position and angle was sufficient to deal with it.Power and torque are courtesy of a 147kW/500Nm diesel of 2.8-L in capacity. Economy came in at 8.6L from the 76-L tank for every 100 suburban kilometres driven. The diesel is more agricultural sounding than others under load but off throttle it’s quiet enough. That 500Nm is rated at being available between 2000 to 2200 rpm but there is oodles on tap both below and above that up to around 3200rpm.Standard transmission is a six speed auto which means that Holden is behind the market here by not offering an eight or nine ratio ‘box. The four wheel drive models have a “shift on the fly” selection choice which is available via a centre console dial. With 500 Nm to play with a transmission able to really utilise that amount of torque would be better and just six cogs isn’t enough. Having a kerb weight of just on 2200kg matters too. The six speeder is a slick unit being mostly smooth in its changes, will hold gear nicely on downhill runs, and when the accelerator is punched it’s boom boom boom through the ratios. An eight or nine speed auto though would offer a better spread of ratios, making the Trailblazer more driveable overall, and potentially contribute to an even lower consumption figure.On road behaviour is refined enough given its ostensibly ute based origins. The LTZ tested has meaty rubber from Bridgestone at 265/60/18 and on tarmac they provide plenty of grip. It’s a coil sprung front, with a double wishbone design. The rear is a five link “live” or non-independent setup. It has the effect of the Trailblazer feeling noticeably but not unpleasantly tauter than the front. It feels a tad soft at the top of the suspension travel, which given its off-road ability is understandable. With 28 and 25 degree approach and departure angles, it provides a chance for most average drivers the ability to trial the high and low range transmission ability.

Steering on tarmac is not as tight as expected, with a slightly rubbery feel on the straight. Off centre it loads up quite well but never feels as if winding it on actually has the nose just where it feels it should be pointing. On gravel the suspension allows a little more communication to be fed through.

The brakes themselves also lack enough bite to suit the mass and payload. Coming up to red lights or stop signs, it felt as if the Trailblazer wasn’t being hauled up as rapidly and confidently as it possibly could do.The exterior design is not up to the visual appeal that a Santa Fe or Sorento offers. Ford’s Everest is also a better looker, for that matter. The profile is a standard three box design and is somewhat more squared off than the immediate competition in profile. Up front is the sharper looking nose design with plenty in common with the Colorado, with a more integrated grille and LED driving light design. The rear of the Trailblazer has the D pillar forward of the tail gate, with the window almost superfluous as a result.Holden now offers a five year warranty and that’s backed by fixed price servicing & 24/7 roadside assist.

At The End Of The Drive.
With the release by Holden of the petrol only Acadia, a stand alone, non ute based seven seater, Holden can offer a choice of bigger people movers. The Acadia is a US sourced machine, and being petrol only hands the economic advantage to the Trailblazer. Having said that, the 2018 Holden Trailblazer LTZ feels old and tired already, in looks, feel, and driveability. It’ll do the job but against Hyundai and Kia, then Audi, Volvo, and the like, it suffers straight away. Make up your own mind by booking a test drive here

Household Appliances And Cars From The Same Maker?

Don’t worry – Dyson’s proposed EV probably won’t look like this.

I heard the other day that a household appliance manufacturer is going to have a go at the electric car game.  Although my first reaction (and possibly yours) was to snigger, I then realised that it’s possibly not all that loopy after all.  For one thing, it’s not the first time that a company has had a go at making household gadgets and motor cars:  Toyota  makes sewing machines as well as their very popular cars and they’re not bad (the cars or the sewing machines – and I can vouch for the sewing machines, as I’ve got one).  Peugeot also started out making coffee grinders, umbrellas and crinolines.

For another thing, the makers of household appliances are already used to working with electric motors for – well, just about anything.  Household appliances just about all run on electricity and a lot of them use electrical motors – so why not scale up from teeny electric motors in electric shavers to motorcars? We’re used to other things that can run on either electricity or internal combustion engines, such as lawnmowers, so it might be just a matter of scale.

The household appliance manufacturer in question is Dyson, who also makes vacuum cleaners.  Cue jokes about “My car sucks.”  At the moment, they’ve managed to get a nice big factory space and the plan is to put a car out by 2020.  Or 2021, depending on which press release you get your hands on.  Details are still being kept secret but here’s what we know so far:

  • They’re going to convert a bunch of old World War 2 era aircraft hangars in the UK to use as factories.
  • They’re doing the research and development in Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia as well as the UK.
  • One of the former hangars has at least 15 km of vehicle testing tracks. Presumably they don’t test the vacuum cleaners on these.

OK, the idea of producing vacuum cleaners and EVs seems ludicrous.  However, I’ve often noticed that advertising for vacuum cleaners has a lot in common with quite a few car ads, ranting and raving about the power of the motor and how many kilowatts it can do.  In fact, I think that cars (OK, boats and motorbikes as well if you’re picky) and vacuum cleaners are the only things that use engine power as a selling point.  Dyson’s experience with filters and air flow will probably also come in handy for designing a car.  Maybe we’ll also see some interesting styling, given the way that Dyson produced a completely new style of vacuum cleaner when they put out their Dual Cyclone.

However, we need to hope that the Dyson EVs have better handling ability than the typical vacuum cleaner.  I don’t know about you, but I always have much more trouble getting a vacuum cleaner to go where I want it to, and they’re probably worse than supermarket shopping trolleys for bad handling.  Work to be done here, Dyson!

We also need to hope that Dyson learns a thing or three about pricing if they want to be really competitive.  Dyson may be the luxury marque for vacuums (and hair dryers, fans and hand dryers) but is there really room in the luxury EV market for somebody other than Tesla?  Especially now that more widely known makers, especially the European ones, are turning more and more to EVs and hybrids.  Your typical Dyson vacuum costs about 10 times as much as the bog-standard vacuum, after all.

My one humble suggestion to Dyson would also be to change the name for the vehicle line.  Toyota may be able to get away with producing sewing machines but they’re better known for their cars.  Not everybody does home sewing but most people except total slobs use vacuum cleaners.  Dyson, however, is a big name in the household appliance world, so that is going to be what people think of first when somebody announces that they’ve just bought a new Dyson with a powerful motor.  It doesn’t quite have the same kudos or cachet as, say, Lexus or Mercedes.  Perhaps Cyclone, in honour of the Dual Cyclone, or JD Motors for James Dyson would do the job.

It will be interesting to see if this venture comes off.  If it does, would you drive a Dyson car?  Would you prefer them to use a different brand name?  Does the idea suck or does it clean up?  Tell us what you think!

Oh yes – if Dyson could add in an in-car vacuum cleaner so we can clean up mess straight away, that would be grand!