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Archive for July, 2019

Playing Big In A Small SUV: Kia Seltos

It’s a big market that has small(ish) SUVs selling almost as quickly as they come off the production line and Kia has revealed details of the forthcoming Seltos. There will be four specification levels: S, Sport, Sport+ and GT-Line. Kicking off at around $26K the S will have 16 inch alloy wheels. Up front will be halogen driving lights, whilst inside will be cruise control, an 8.0 inch touchscreen that will have the Apple CarPlay/Android Auto apps, whilst safety in the entry level will have Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keep Assist, rear camera and sensors.

The second level Sport is slated to be sub $30K also and will roll on 17 inch alloys, plus the spare is looking to be a full sizer. Aircon is climate control, and the touchscreen goes to a HD style 10.25 inch. Kia keeps baiting the hook with the Sport+. Seats will be wrapped in cloth and faux leather and front pews, plus the tiller, will be heated. The top of the ladder GT-Line will appeal even further with a sub $40K price tag. That brings LED driving lights and their now traditional ice cube fog lights. Factor in mood lighting, venting for the front seats, and a wireless charge pad for compatible smartphones, and there’s plenty to like. All cars will have LED headlights and tail lights.
Exterior design cues harken to the outgoing Soul with a hint of Volvo XC40 in the rear window line. The traditional “tiger nose” grille is here with a new, raised, diamond look. Depending on trim, tyres will be 205/60 R16, 215/55 R17 or 235/45 R18. Paintwork is taken up a level too, with a vibrant choice of colours. Cherry Black, Snow White Pearl, Steel Gray, Gravity Gray, Mars Orange, Neptune Blue, Dark Ocean Blue and Starbright Yellow will be available in various markets and this also covers a two tone offering. Buyers can select the roof in Cherry Black, Platinum Gold or Clear White to go with the various body colours.Sizewise the Seltos nudges at a medium SUV, with 4370mm in length and overhangs of 850mm. The wheelbase, of 2,630mm, provides plenty of human friendly space inside. It’s possibly the biggest for space in its segment and that includes the bootspace of 498 litres VDA or 752 litres SAE. Front seat passengers will enjoy up to 1051mm legroom, 1409mm shoulder space, and 1017mm headroom. Basic trim will be greys and blacks, however the materials will be soft touch, and the seats will have geometric motifs. Engines will be a 1.6L turbo four with 130kW and 265Nm, a naturally aspirated 2.0L with 110kW and 180Nm, and there will be the familiar drive modes of Eco, Sport, and Normal. The smaller turbo engine will power either the front or all wheels via a seven speed dual clutch auto, with the other running a new for the brand CTR, and again front or all wheel drive. Suspension tunes were finalised here in Australia and will be a mix of torsion beam rear and MacPherson strut fronts for the two wheel drive. Multilink rears will handle the AWD versions.Expected Australian sales will commence in the fourth quarter.

SUV Favourites

SUVs are popular, and the reason for this is because they offer motorists increased safety, plenty of cargo area, and interior space is good for seating comfort.  There is plenty of SUV choice out there and, with diesel, petrol, electric and hybrid options available, a new SUV buyer has plenty to think about before making their final decision on which SUV to buy.  Ultimately, their choice will come down to their own individual preferences, their driving habits and on what they can afford to buy.  Here are some of the best SUVs you can buy new in Australia.  The list is not exhausted, but the following SUVs are popular for good reason.

Mazda is the favourite SUV for Australians.  Mazda’s popular CX series includes the small CX-3, mid-size CX-5, big CX-8 and largest CX-9 models.  They all boast nice clean design which always looks good, and their modern styling has given Mazda an edge.  Offering a wide range of SUV sizes in their line-up, Mazda has what you need when it comes to SUVs.  Mazda’s CX SUVs all drive very nicely, and are efficient, safe and reliable.  Buy one of the new Mazda CX Series vehicles and you can’t go far wrong.

We all know that Toyota is a very strong contender on all vehicle matters.  When it comes to a new Toyota SUV you know that you’re going to get a very well built vehicle that lasts the distance.  You can get yourself one of the larger well-known Land Cruiser and Prado models that boast very competent off-road ability.  However, Toyota’s SUV line-up also includes SUVs with light off-road capabilities in the form of the RAV4 and Kluger models which are surprisingly spacious and nice to drive.  For those who like the thought of owning a compact SUV, Toyota offers the chic C-HR which is beautifully stylish and funky.  The RAV4 Hybrid is going to be a hit for those who will appreciate its fuel economy and low emissions.  Again you can’t fault Toyota reliability, safety and overall value.

Mitsubishi offers the Outlander, ASX and Eclipse SUVs, and with their highly accomplished Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle).  This is definitely a brand worth looking into for your next SUV drive.  On all accounts Mitsubishi SUVs are stylish, well-equipped, safe and practical, remaining clockwork reliable for many km after purchase.

A new Subaru Forester or Outback SUV is always going to look great parked up your driveway, and they do look somewhat sleeker and even sportier than typically chunkier SUV drives.  Do check out the spunky little ‘XV’ which is sporty and characterful.  For driving satisfaction, safety and new car reliability, Subaru have for a long time been very strong.

Plenty more Kia SUVs are running on our roads, and this is for good reason.  Kia Sportage and Sorento SUVs are excellent medium-to-large SUV models that are rugged, reliable and stylish.  New Kia SUVs are very well equipped and safe SUVs to drive.  They are pleasant to drive, can tackle off-road excursions with AWD, and they remain reliable and practical SUVs throughout their ownership.

Honda give us their sleek HR-V and CR-V models which look good, remain ever-reliable, and on a practical note sing sweetly with good fuel efficiency to boot.  There are many loyal Honda fans out there, and the new SUV models are solid buys.  Buy a luxury CR-V and you’re in for a treat.  The car has plenty of smooth power, practical space, nice comfort levels and plenty of modern technology.

Nissan brings a good level of choice for new SUV buyers.  All Nissan SUV models (which include the: smaller Juke, medium-sized Qashqai and X-Trail, and the larger Pathfinder) are very stylish to drive.  Their top of the range varieties offer premium luxury and are very well-equipped.  Pathfinders and X-Trails do have some clever 4×4 drivetrains which can take you more off-road places than you might expect.

BMW appeals as a luxury SUV choice, and for good reason.  BMW ‘X’ SUVs are polished performers that do a whole lot of things very well.  Space is good, comfort good, economy can be good, and handling is very good along with performance.  With plenty of models available in the ‘X’ series the SUV buyer has loads of choice – large or small and anything in between.  And if the standard ‘X’ series variants aren’t exciting enough, you can always upgrade to the ‘M’ versions which are star performers in their field.  They boast sportier features, too.

Audi is another premium brand that is selling surprisingly well in the SUV market.  The SUV luxury brand offers an extensive range of vehicles that are known as Audi’s Q range.  Like BMW, Audi have SUVs that can be of any size – from the small Q2 right through to the big Q7 and Q8.  If you’re looking for something with more power, then Audi’s ‘S’ range may set your heart racing.  Audi tend to go out of their way to keep their buyers happy over long term ownership, too.  Stylish definitely, and if you can stretch to the bigger Audi Q7 or Q8 you’ll drive an SUV that has becoming quite a status symbol in it field.

Holden has a few interesting SUV options that are well worth a look, and the range is one of the larger line-ups currently available in Australia.  The Acadia, Equinox, Trailblazer and Trax are all available and well equipped vehicles.  Ongoing ease of servicing, a nice driving experience and overall satisfaction are what make owning a new Holden SUV a good choice.  If you can find yourself a top of the range Holden SUV then you’re going to be driving a very comfortable SUV.

Volvo has some very stylish SUV vehicles that are safe, efficient and easy to drive.  Their comfort levels and equipment are hard to beat, and they come in three flavours from the smallest sporty XC40, the mid-size XC60 and the awesome and large XC90.

Hyundai, another Korean brand, is doing really well on a global scale with an ever increasing fan base.  You’re sure to find a Hyundai SUV to suit your needs.  Three SUV models are available: the Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe.  A Hyundai SUV is stylish, easy to live with and rides and performs very well.  They are also pretty reliable machines, safe and relatively affordable considering the level of equipment offered.

Finally, Ford always has an SUV to suit your tastes.  Well made, practical performers, the Ford SUV range is comfortable and well-equipped with loads of goodies and great infotainment technology.  Small to large, the range of Ford SUVs is good.  The EcoSport, Escape, Endura and Everest will all make a fine companion that will reliably cart your family and gear around.

There are other SUVs out there that haven’t been mentioned, however, if you feel the need to put a good word in for a particular model, please feel free to do so.

Mitsubishi Global Reveal: 2020 Pajero Sport.

Mitsubishi has unveiled the new look Pajero Sport. Formerly known as Challenger here in Australia, the Pajero Sport for 2020 is scheduled for “early 2020” as a release for the Australian market. Pricing is yet to be confirmed.It will be powered by the same 2.4L MIVEC diesel and power down via an eight speed auto. Exterior design cues see the Pajero Sport dipping further into the “shield” look up front, with effectively a transfer of the Triton nose over to the Pajero Sport, with the driving lights in each corner a little larger. The much maligned teardrop rear lights have been shortened in length, stopping above the rear bumper with a reprofiled bumper featuring reflectors. The rear tailgate is powered on the upper level models and has a handsfree (read: kick operated) release system. Sitting above the rear door is a wind deflector.Inside sees a new digital dashboard instrument cluster in full colour. The centre screen is also in colour and at 8.0 inches in diameter. Mitsubishi also now offer an option for some functions that is a smartphone based app. The Mitsubishi Remote Control can send a note to advise the driver that doors were left unlocked, for example, and the tailgate can be raised or lowered. In addition, the tailgate reservation system can be preset by smartphone anywhere, which enables the driver to open or close the tailgate automatically when they approach or leave the vehicle. This is Bluetooth operated.
There has been an upgrade to the interior trim with extra padding to door and dash, a revamped console, and a storage tray that’s accessible from more angles. USB power ports are now backed up by a AC socket for the rear of the centre console.
Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Change Assist are now standard outside, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto added to the touchscreen system. Pricing and spec for the Australian market will be released later.

Warning Signs I’d Like To See On The Dashboard

Modern cars and even not-so-modern cars have warning signs on the dashboard that light up like Christmas trees at the slightest provocation.  However, unlike Christmas trees or fairy lights, the emotion experienced when one sees a dashboard warning light twinkling away isn’t one of joy but more like one of “Oh, heck!” to put it politely.

There seems to be warning signs for just about anything these days, which is why a few new cars use head-up displays for displaying the really important stuff.  Some of the warning signs monitor you, rather than the car, such as the tiredness recognition system in some new Mercedes models. These apparently look at your facial expression and behaviour and can use some fancy algorithm to figure out if you are getting sleepy.  The larrikin in me would probably want to mess with one of these systems by pulling faces at the camera, or seeing if I could fake tiredness well enough to fool the system (a challenge for any would-be actor or actress).

However, there are probably a few more warning lights or systems that could be handy to have amid the myriad of other ones. I daresay that someone somewhere has already thought of these, and has possibly created an app for them that will use your phone to talk to a car’s display system.

Seatbelt warning light 2.0. Yes, I know these already exist and have been around for a wee while.  However, most of them just say that the driver doesn’t have his/her seat belt plugged in properly. However, the EU is requiring new cars from this year forward to have warning lights and sounds for the front passenger seat and possibly for rear seats as well, although rear seats only get a beep and/or light if the buckle is undone while travelling.  I can understand the need for the “buckle undone during travel” trigger, as I’m not the only person who’s put a load on the back seat, and the big bag of dog biscuits, the hefty haul of library books and/or the groceries probably weigh as much as a small child.  What I’d like to see in these new and improved warning light systems, speaking from experience as a parent, is a system that lets the driver know WHICH seatbelt is undone, especially in an MPV, to avoid the “OK, which one of you has undone their seatbelt?” “It’s not me, Mum; it’s Jessica!” “Tis not!” arguments.

Cabin air quality sensors.  This wouldn’t be so much a warning light as a system. It’s no fun to be stuck in a car with a passenger who has had a meal of beans, onions and eggs with helping of some nice healthy brassica on the side, if you get my drift.  A flatulent dog in the luggage compartment of a station wagon or even a hatchback can be bad enough to cause a distraction when you’re driving.  In my dreams, this sensor and system would detect when the methane or sulphurous compounds in the air cabin reach a critical level, and would then open the vents a bit wider and get that smell out of there.  A warning light would probably be needed so that you don’t wonder what the heck has gone wrong with the climate control system.

Toilet reminder. Related to the previous one, I’m surely not the only person who’s been a passenger on a long car journey who’s politely and quietly asked the driver to stop at the next handy public convenience or large bush, depending on the location, only to have the driver completely forget about it and keep on driving straight past one, leaving you in desperation. You don’t want to sound like a whiny little kid going “I need to pee!” every two minutes but being forced to hang on for far too long isn’t brilliant for the plumbing.  If a system can detect that the driver is getting sleepy, it can detect that the passenger (or the driver) is fidgeting about in the seat, jiggling and all those other strategies that we use once we’ve grown out of wetting our pants – and it can take over the job of reminding the driver that somebody is in desperate need of the loo.  Or the passenger can activate the warning system so it can do the embarrassing job of reminding the driver.  Perhaps this system could work in with the GPS to give directions to the nearest convenience.

Passenger G-force calculator: Another rather irritating habit of drivers, from the passengers’ perspective, is to barrel around corners quite fast.  Yes, the car can handle it and is designed to do this.  However, as more than one passenger has grumbled, the driver has the steering wheel to hold onto and can anticipate all the upcoming G-forces involved in a corner.  A passenger often gets taken unawares and may not be ready for that fast corner, with spilled coffee being the result some of the time.  And if we had two other siblings, we probably all remember the game of Squash The Person In The Middle When Cornering on the back seat during trips along winding country roads.  If a car can detect that there’s a passenger in the front seat, then it should be able to work out whether he or she will get thrown about during fast cornering and remind the driver of this, or possibly work in with the suspension or even seat positioning to minimise the passenger getting chucked about as much.

I’m sure there could be others invented.  What are some that you’d like to have?

 

Car Review: 2019 Isuzu D-Max LS-T X-Runner & LS-U

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 spec Isuzu four door D-Max utes in LS-T and LS-U trim. The range was given a largely cosmetic upgrade in early 2019. The LS-T was fitted out in the limited edition X-Runner kit. The LS-U in standard trim is $45,990 driveaway and the X-Runner is $54,990 driveaway. Isuzu have increased the prices through the range, with the LS-T in non-X-Runner trim up by $1,000 to $51,990. The LS-U also came fitted with a lockable roller tonneau, snorkel air intake, and a “roo-bar” with LED spotlights. The LS-T has restyled wheels and gains, along with the LS-U, Highway Terrain or H/T tyres, as opposed to the All Terrain or A/T as previously fitted. These have had the effect of affecting handling. The roof rails and the lower strakes to the grille are now black, and the side steps are subtly different.Under The Bonnet Is: The rackety clackety 3.0L that makes 130kW and a thumping 430Nm of torque. In context, that’s below the 500Nm from a slightly smaller engine as found in the Holden Colorado…At just under 1000rpm there is 300Nm and that peak torque is on tap through a narrow rev range of just 500rpm. There’s still 350Nm available at 3,500rpm but it’s a very noisy exercise taking the engine past 3,000rpm. It’s possibly one of the noisiest diesels available in a passenger vehicle when pushed even moderately. It bolts to a six speed auto with sports shift and an electronic low range locking system.Economy is quoted as 7.9L/100km for the combined, 9.5L/100km for the urban, and 6.9L/100km for the highway from a 76L tank. We tested the X-Runner on a drive loop to Thredbo, Bega, and return, covering just over 1260 kilometres. Economy stayed at around 8.0L/100km throughout the whole trip, a decent figure considering the weight of the ute (1930kg dry) and the extra 300 kilos of passengers and baggage. Isuzu rate the towing capacity as up to 3.5 tonnes.On The Inside It’s: Cloth seats for the LS-U, leather appointed for the LS-T. There is no seat heating, no seat venting. The LS-U’s front seats are manually adjusted, with some electric motion for the driver in the LS-T. Rear seat passengers have plenty of leg room, and there is a USB port for the rear passengers at this trim level. The LS-T is a push button starter, with a traditional key for the LS-U. Both cars came fitted with rubber floor mats front and rear. Only the driver has a one touch window up/down switch in both. The centre console houses the dial for the two or four wheel drive modes, and there are two bottle/cup holders. The driver and passenger have a pull out cup holder, and each door has bottle holders.Sounds come via an 8.0 inch touchscreen, with AM/FM, Bluetooth, no Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, CD, USB and 3.5mm inputs, and even a HDMI connection. There is no DAB or Digital Audio Broadcast. The screen’s display is in dire need of a redesign and revamp, with one of THE most outdated looks seen in a passenger oriented vehicle. It’s lacking in visual appeal on every single screen. Hit the non-Auto headlights and there is no adjustment for the screen for day or night time driving. It also has a driver alert warning on engine startup and annoyingly will NOT switch off after a delay.The driver faces a basic looking but functional dash, with a pair of dials bracketing a display screen that shows trip distances, economy, expected range, and the diesel particulate filter status. Australian spec cars have the right hand stalk as the indicator and the left as wipers, and each has a button at the end of the stalk to access the screen info. The wipers themselves aren’t auto nor is there an Auto headlight setting. This is an oversight in the interest of safety, as a driver can too easily not switch the lights on.Actual switchgear is reasonably well laid out and accessible. The centre stack features Isuzu’s standard aircon controls, with a huge dial for temperature as the hub. Fan controls are on one side, mode on the other, and the dial itself shelters a small LCD screen to indicate what’s going on. the dash itself is a double scallop design, with a stitched leather look to the materials. Fit and finish is mostly ok however the leading edges of the doors have a gap of about a centimetre to the plastics wrapping the windscreen. There is a centre of dash storage locker that Isuzu don’t seem to have found a fix for in regards to the latch. It repeatedly failed to open.On The Outside It’s: similar but different. the X-Runner came in pearl white and has blackouts and logos spread over the metal. The nose has a bright red Isuzu as do the centre caps for the 255/60/R18 rubber and wheels. The LS-U has 255/65/17s. There are sidesteps here also on both and only the LS-U gets rear parking sensors. The LS-T had a lockable roller tonneau, a standard rollbar, and came fitted with a heavy duty steel roo-bar complete with LED spotlights. Otherwise it’s the same blocky profile with a wedgy looking nose.The rear of the LS-U had a lockable metal cover. It’s a roller mechanism which, on this particular vehicle, failed to allow itself to be pushed back. Something in the lock mechanism appeared to have jammed and although the key and button would allow a push and turn, the cover itself refused to move. the X-Runner LS-T has no cover fitted to the test car but there are tie down hooks, which came in handy for the long drive.The cargo section is 1,552mm in length in the four door utes. A maximum width of 1,530mm is here also and allows just over 1,000 kilos of payload.

Out On The Road It’s: Rackety clackety noisy. Think of being in a passenger jet on take-off where it’s fire and brimstone. Get to cruise altitude and it’s quieter. Landing where it’s off-throttle and there’s the background idle. That’s the 3.0L in a nutshell. It’s a determined load lugger too, and in no way can it be considered sporting. There’s a moment of turbo lag before the engine gets lively, and even then it’s a relaxed, don’t hurry we’ll get there, proposition.The transmission is mostly smooth, will drop a cog or two for downhill runs and engine braking, but will exhibit moments of indecisive shifting as well. On a normal acceleration run it’s slurry with hints of change, will downshift after a pause when the accelerator is pushed, but it’s a leisurely progression forward.

On the upside it’s a brilliant highway cruiser. That relaxed attitude sees the legal freeway speed ticking the engine over at 1800rpm and it’s here that it’s in airplane cruise mode. You know it’s there but it’s settled into the deep thrum that eventually becomes background noise. There is some road noise and the handling shows that the mixed terrain tyres are a compromise at best on tarmac. The front end of the D-Max is prone to running wide and it’s not helped by a steering ratio that has the nose move barely from a quarter to half turn of the wheel. It’s great when off-roading where that flexibility is needed, but normal driving needs something tighter. Also, the steering isn’t as assisted as that found in the MU-X, meaning more arm effort is required.The nose lifts as the D-Max goes into a turn with an uphill inclination, and occasionally this had the steering lighten to the point that a back-off from the accelerator and dab of the not-that-excellent brakes brought the rear around and shifted the weight to the front. In one particular turn of this nature the nose ran wide enough that it threatened to pull the vehicle into the bushes on the opposite side, and this was at the posted limit for the turn.

Brake pedal feel is numb, with an inch or so before there’s a sensation of grip, and the actual pedal travel and feel lacks communication. With a vehicle weight of over two tonnes there needs to be more confidence fed through to the driver.Ride quality varies from average to too jiggly. On highways the pair show reasonable manners as long as the surfaces are flat. Hit jiggly surfaces and the D-Max becomes less sure footed, less confident. Tighter corrugations confuse the coil sprung front and leaf sprung rear suspension completely and the ute wanders around, riding the tops of the corrugations but has not grip to stabilise and lock in a direction.

The four wheel drive system is electronic and Isuzu call it Terrain Command. Up to 100km/h the car will accept a change to 4WD high range, but for low range it must be stopped, and the transmission placed in neutral. A push of the cabin dial, a clunk as the transfer case engages, and the D-Max shows its chops. Although high range was engaged coming into Thredbo, it was close to the village itself due to a lack of snow. Therefore in Bega some river fording showed the ability and if there is a highlight of the driveline it’s the willingness to pull and push the ute in situations like this. By the way, this is the only drive mode change available, there are no programs for Snow, Mud, etc.Approach angle is 30.0 degrees, with a departure angle of 22.7 degrees. Rollover angle is good too, with 22.3 degrees available.

The Level of safety Is: Average. The mandated safety systems are here, there are six airbags, Hill Start and Hill Descent control are here but there is no Autonomous Emergency Braking, no Blind Spot Detection, no Rear Cross Traffic Warning. However, the ABS is a properly sorted four channel system and the reverse camera is of a reasonable quality.And The Warranty Is: Now up, to counterbalance the price rise, to six years/150,000 kilometres. Roadside assistance is also six years, up from five. According to Isuzu their research says most drivers don’t go over the 20,000 kilometre mark in a year. In regards to service: the D-Max sees 12 months or 15,000 kilometre service intervals with the first service just $350. Second year service is $450, with year three $500. Make it to Year 4 it’s down to $450, then it’s $340, $1110, and year seven is $400.At The End Of The Drive.
Isuzu has seen increased sales of the D-Max range, ahead even of its sibling by any other name, the Colorado. It’s a vehicle that really wins on price, a modicum of ok good looks, and possibly an appeal to those that don’t need what others seem to see as required. It’s an earnest, basic, no frills machine, and with pricing now backed by an extended warranty, there’s more appeal there. Those looking for a higher level of safety, a quieter driveline, and ride quality need to look elsewhere. If it still grabs your attention, go here.

 

Corvette Goes For A Mid-Engined Sting.

General Motors have confirmed details and American pricing for its forthcoming 2020 Corvette Stingray. It’s a mid-engined machine and will kick off at under USD$60,000. The engine configuration puts it into the same sphere as Ferrari, McLaren, and Lamborghini. Importantly, it will be produced in factory fitted right hand drive, and is due to start production later this year.The engine is the same sized “donk” as before, at 6.2L. It’ll be naturally aspirated, and with an optional performance exhaust will pump 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. In Aussie numbers that’s just shy of 370kW and 637Nm. Without that exhaust horsepower and torque drop by five each respectively. Expected weight is around 1530 kilos before fuel and passengers.

The engine is dry sumped, meaning a smaller oil pan. It also means, for the track day drivers, more consistent oil pressure as there’s far less oil to slosh around in a traditional oil pan. As it means a lower engine height as it sits behind the driver and passenger, it could mean a supercharger for later on…Transmission will be an eight speed dual clutch auto. Sadly, for the traditionalists, the manual transmission is no more, however the DCT will have paddle shifts as a semi-consolation prize. Expected 0-62mph/100kmh time is expected to be under three seconds.Of course, the big talking point will be the relocation of the powerplant. Not only has it given the exterior a sleeker design, it’s given the engineers a new platform to work on for handling. Mark Reuss, the former head of Holden, said: “The traditional front-engine vehicle reached its limits of performance, necessitating the new layout. In terms of comfort and fun, it still looks and feels like a Corvette, but drives better than any vehicle in Corvette history.” Each corner has coil-over suspension with the stiffer chassis. Those going for the option list can specify struts with what GM calls adjustable spring perches. Get the spanner out and this means adjustable ride height and stiffness.GM also offers Magnetic Ride 4.0, a system where magnets and a specific liquid work together to provide an adjustable ride height. There’s even a GPS enabled nose lift setup, where kerbs or speedhumps will hit the GPS and lift the nose to provide safe clearance. If you check the Z51 option box you’ll also get Pilot Sport 4S tyres over the 245/35/R19 front and massive 305/30/20 rear wheels, but Michelin ALS all-seasons will have to do for the bottom spec. Seat spec offers three choices: the comfortable GT1, the sportier GT2 or the track-focused and carbon-backed Competition Sport.Outside is different yet familiar. A choice of 12 colours will be available to coat the redesigned body. That body leaves little doubt where some of the inspiration has come from. Massive air intakes on the flanks, a 3.2mm glass pane to showcase the engine, a sharper and more angular nose cone with strakes underneath the headlights. Oh, and don’t forget the removeable roof sections. There’s also room in the rear behind the engine and up front in what is called a “frunk” or front trunk, for some bags. The relocated engine pushes the seats and cabin forward, leading to a lower roofline that tapers off at a more slender angle.

Inside are cues taken from the top line fighter jets in the form of F-35 and F-22. A 12 inch screen will provide information, and the relocated engine has the driver’s position feeling more in tune with the car’s chassis and suspension setup.There is no word yet on its expected Australian release date or its Australian pricing. At the time of writing though, the USD was around a$1.42 or so AuD, meaning a starting price of $85K plus the “Australia tax” and “on-roads”…it’s more likely to be, according to sources, closer to a $150K starting point.

Little Maintenance Jobs You Need To Do Right Now

You’re probably quite good at taking care of the big things when it comes to servicing your vehicle, such as keeping up with the regular services and the oil changes and the like. You definitely know not to run out of fuel – or battery charge, depending on whether your drive of choice is an EV or an ICE.  I hope you’re in the habit of checking the oil and the water regularly to keep an eye on things.  Back when I got my first car, my dad told me that oil and water ought to be checked once a week, which seems a bit over the top now, but I guess that my first car, like yours, was an old thing that’s probably a real collector’s item by now (wonder what happened to it once I sold it).

However, there are probably some little jobs that you don’t really think about doing quite so regularly.  There certainly aren’t little red, green or orange lights that light up your dashboard like a Christmas tree for them, with a few exceptions in some models.  But they still need to be done to make sure that you drive safely.  I know that I need to take care of some of them on my recently acquired Toyota Camry , as the previous owner had neglected to do so.  In fact, I probably ought to go and do them as soon as I’ve finished writing this.

  1. Change the wiper blades. Wipers wear out over time and when they do, they don’t do quite as good a job of removing rain, etc. from your windscreen. You do not want to find out that they aren’t removing everything when you’re driving behind a heavy truck on a rainy day and the truck spins up the contents of a muddy puddle all over your windscreen.

    If you can relate to this, you need new wiper blades.

  2. Top up the fluid in the windscreen washer reservoir. Related to the previous task, if you need to wash a splattered insect off the middle of your field of vision, then you’ll need to have something in that little tank.  You can use a proprietary product designed for washing windows, water with a splodge of dishwashing detergent in it or just plain water, depending on your fancy.  Just make sure that something is in there.
  3. Clean the inside of the windscreen. The inside of your windscreen might look clean but it can accumulate a fair amount of grime from whatever mysterious source it comes from. Unlike the outside of your windscreen, which gets regular washes and can be cleaned with the click of your wiper switch, the inside gets overlooked. However, all that mystery gunge will show up very strongly and will interfere with your ability to see the road when the sun strikes it at the right angle, which often happens in winter. The best way to remove that annoying film of whatever-it-is is with a soft cloth, either a proper chamois or a microfibre cloth or even an old cotton T-shirt. Don’t use wet wipes or anything that will leave a residue. Yes, I have made this mistake in the past.
  4. Make sure the spare tyre is in good condition. So you got a flat tyre a few weeks ago and had to change the tyre. However, what with the demands of daily life, it’s easy to make the mistake of just keeping on driving and forgetting that the tyre you put into the compartment under the boot (or on the back of your 4×4) is flat as a tortilla.  Best get it seen to ASAP so you don’t get caught out. Even if you haven’t had to change a tyre recently, then you should still keep an eye on that spare tyre to make sure that it is ready for you if you do get a puncture.
  5. Put a first aid kit in the glovebox. Even if you don’t get into a ding of some sort, you never want to be without a first aid kit, especially if you do a fair bit of driving on rural roads like I do.  If your main driving takes the form of Mum’s Taxi Service, then having a few sticking plasters, bandages, disinfectant, tweezers and paracetamol tablets handy will be useful now and again.
  6. Take the collection of second-hand clothes to the charity shop. Every kilo of extra clobber in the boot or on the back seat is an extra kilo that your engine has to work to shift. To improve your fuel economy, better actually drop that bag of old shoes and clothes into one of those bins or at the shop door itself.  The same principle applies to all the other odds and ends that accumulate inside the luggage compartments.

No procrastination now!  These might seem like small jobs but a lot of them are important to ensure that you can drive safely.

Now, where’s that jug that’s got just the right spout for the windscreen wash compartment?

50-11: Man’s Greatest Small Step.

“Houston. Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

“Roger Tranquillity, we copy you on the ground, you got a bunch of guys here about to turn blue, we’re breathing again, thanks a lot.”

These two sentences marked the ending of the first part of mankind’s most audacious mission ever. Just eight years before, on May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy had presented a speech which included the words:”First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”Through an intensive recruiting process, the formation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Mercury and Gemini missions with one and two astronauts, the tragedy of the losses of Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Roger Chaffee, and Ed White in a test inside what would be called Apollo 1, those eight years would culminate in words spoken by Neil Armstrong just before 10:52pm Greenwich Mean Time on July 20, 1969.

“Ok, I’m just about to step off the LEM now.” And moments later:”That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”Barely seven hours before, the lunar module dubbed “Eagle” had landed safely, but not without some peril, in an area of the moon called the Sea of Tranquillity. The proposed landing site was found, with barely a couple of minutes of fuel left inside the LM, to be dangerously strewn with boulders of a size that, if the Eagle had landed, would have been at an angle that may have resulted in the two level craft tipping over or at an angle that would not allow the upper or ascent stage to fire back into lunar orbit with Armstrong and the second man to walk upon the moon, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, aboard.

In orbit 110 kilometres above was Michael Collins, aboard the Command Service Module, named Columbia. He would soon be the loneliest human being in existence as Columbia would orbit to the far side of the moon and be the furthest human from Earth for up to 45 minutes.At 13:32 GMT, or 11:32pm Sydney time, on Wednesday July 16, 1969, the massive Saturn V rocket fired upwards from Cape Kennedy. The five F-1 main stage rockets, delivering a million and a half pounds of thrust each, drinking 15 tons of fuel each, took the 363 feet tall behemoth to a low earth orbit point before separating from the second stage.

Once upon the moon’s surface the pair would speak to President Richard Nixon, lay out and perform experiments, and read the words printed upon a plaque fitted to one of the four legs of the descent stage. “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind” The first lunar moon walks would occupy just two and a half hours, which also included the collection of moon surface samples to be returned to earth.Live footage of the descent of Armstrong descending the LM’s ladder was beamed to the world via the radio telescope in Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek, near Canberra. The back story of this, including the powerful wind storm that hit Parkes just as Armstrong began his historic descent, is immortalised in the film “the Dish”.

After just under 22 hours on the surface, Aldrin and Armstrong would lift off, but this too, was not without issue. A small but incredibly vital switch, the switch to fire the ascent stage engine, had been broken by Aldrin accidentally. Aldrin managed a quick fix with a felt tipped pen, jammed into where the switch should have been.On July 24, the conical Command Module would re-enter the atmosphere, and successfully landed the crew and their ship in the Pacific Ocean. Battered and discoloured from the immense heat, this module now resides in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. The ascent stage’s whereabouts are unknown but is thought to have crashed onto the moon after a series of decaying orbits.
The three astronauts would receive a hero’s welcome upon their arrival aboard the USS Hornet, the aircraft carrier tasked with retrieving them, and would be given a bigger welcome back in the U.S.A.

To date, just twelve men have walked upon the moon.

July 20, 1969, is the date, 50 years ago, that Apollo 11 landed the first two of those 12.

 

Bentley Unveils A Future Showcase In EXP 100 GT

When it comes to finding a car maker to put forward a concept car for the future that’s packed with technology, and luxury, then Bentley is the company to do so. Its recent unveiling of the EXP 100 GT provides us with a look at what they feel a Grand Tourer for the year 2035 could look like, and was built to be part of the marque’s centennial celebrations.It’s motorvated by a fully electric powertrain. Bentley say the 1,105 pound-feet or 1,500 Newton metre engines will propel the 1,900 kilogram/4,188 pound, 5.8 metre long, machine to 62mph/100kmh in 2.5 seconds. Range is said to be 435 miles or 700 kilometres on a single, full, charge. A fast charging system gets 80% in with a timeframe of 15 minutes. It’s also future ready as there is a built in provision for a hydrogen fuel cell power pack.Outside it’s pure Bentley. A long, lithe, low slung coupe styling starts with the trademark Bentley “eyes”, a pair of LED powered headlights bracketing a massive mesh grille, apparently comprised of 6,000 LED lights. It draws the eye to the signature Bentley “Flying B” before running along its length, seeing the sculpted aero design, the massive pair of upwards hinging doors, and the sleek fastback rear with deep red coloured LEDs for the tail lights. Although wheel size doesn’t appear to be stated, the Active Aero wheels look to be of a minimum of 22 inches in diameter.It’s a big car in width too. Measuring 7.9 feet across, the interior gives a new definition to sumptuous. Recycled 5000 year old wood with copper inlays, aluminum, leather (of course) and high quality wool house a series of fiber optic cables to bring light and life to the massive interior. That interior also features a rather unique and definably ecological bent. Called Air Curation, it has the ability to filter out road smog, but allow through the scents of a forest, a rain shower, and the like to the 2+2 seating configuration. Those seats are perhaps the most comfortable available. With weaving utilising the Trapunto Method that goes back to the 14th Century, and ecologically sustainable cloth sources, created from vegetable materials and wine skin waste, the whole process minimises wastes and eliminates waste water as a result. There is an extra ultrta-luxury touch, with hand cut crystal elements from Cumbria Crystal. Each piece located in the centre consoles for front and rear seats took between 10 to 18 days of painstaking mastercraftsmenship to create. One houses the cars Artificial Intelligence module, and it’s voice activated for five driving modes. One is called Cocoon, and recycles purified air and opaques the glass roof and windows.There is no price available for the Bentley EXP 100 GT. It’s a one off and built to be a concept only. But Bentley being Bentley, there would be no doubt at all of seeing some of these elements incorporated into their forthcoming cars in the short term future. Part of the intent was to showcase Bentley’s “Sustainable Innovation” look to the future. Bentley’s director of design, Stefan Sielaff, notes. “Like those iconic Bentleys of the past, this car connects with its passengers’ emotions and helps them experience and safeguard the memories of the really extraordinary journeys they take.”

BMW Ups The X6.

BMW is unveiling a new edition of the X6 Sports Activity Coupe. The new BMW X6 is available from launch in xLine and M Sport model variants as an alternative to standard specification. There’s been an exterior restyle and increase in size. The new BMW X6 has grown by 26 millimetres in length compared to the model it replaces, and is now 4,935 mm. It’s grown by 15 mm in width to 2,004 mm and sits lower by 6mm at 1,696 mm. The wheelbase has also increased, and is now 2,975mm, up by 42mm.The line-up of engines available for the new BMW X6 from launch includes two petrol units and a pair of diesel variants from the latest generation. The model line-up is spearheaded by a BMW M model with a newly developed 390 kW V8 petrol engine. The BMW X6 M50i quotes fuel consumption combined as 10.7–10.4 l/100 km with CO2 emissions rated as 243–237 g/km.

There is the BMW X6 M50d which is frugal at a combined: 7.2–6.9 l/100 km. CO2 emissions combined are 190–181 g/km, whilst peak power is 294 kW from the six-cylinder in-line diesel engine which packs a quartet of turbochargers.

The BMW X6 xDrive40i  has a straight-six petrol unit with an output of 250 kW. Fuel consumption for the engine is rated as 8.6–8.0 l/100 km for the combined cycle. CO2 emissions combined are 197–181 g/km. The BMW X6 xDrive30d rates fuel consumption on the combined cycle as 6.6–6.1 l/100 km and CO2 emissions combined as 172–159 g/km from a six-cylinder in-line diesel with 195 kW.

All variants of the new BMW X6 fulfil the requirements of the EU6d-TEMP emissions standard. The M Sport exhaust system fitted as standard on both M models is also available as an option for the other versions of the BMW X6 or as part of the M Sport package, and gives the car an unmistakable and emotionally rich aural presence. Standard transmission is an eight speed Steptronic and a torque-split system divides between front and rear on demand. Normal drive sees the power sent to the rear wheels and bias is also rear wheeled in dynamic driving environments. Opt for the M Sport spec and an electronically M differential lock is fitted to the rear axle or in the xOffroad package.BMW’s signature kidney grille is front and centre, with the outermost edges nudging the headlights. BMW also now offer the grille with backlighting.  The illumination is activated by opening or closing the car, but the driver can switch it on and off manually too. This lighting function for the kidney grille is also available while driving.

Laserlight LED headlights are optionable. When fitted, a BMW Laserlight spotlight with Selective Beam optimises the high beam function and ensures a non-dazzling drive for oncoming traffic. Range is up to 500 metres. When activated, BMW Laserlight can be identified by the blue x-shaped elements inside the signature BMW twin headlights.

The new X6 rolls on 19 inch alloys which are standard. 20 to 22 inches are optionable.  The BMW X6 M50i and BMW X6 M50d come with 21-inch light-alloy wheels as standard.

Suspension is in the form of a double-wishbone front axle and five-link rear axle. BMW says this gives them the tools for a dynamic drive and ride comfort on the road, plus unshakable traction off the beaten track. BMW’s bespoke Dynamic Damper Control is included as standard. There is also the Adaptive M suspension Professional with active roll stabilisation and Integral Active Steering. It’s said to endow the car with exceptionally agile and dynamic driving qualities. Air suspension for the front and rear axles have automatic self-leveling. Height adjustment of up to 80 millimetres is part of the air suspension. For those bold enough to hit the dirt, BMW also offer an off-road package is available for all model variants. But the X6 M50i and X6 M50d are counted out on this option. The off-road package provides extra progress in Snow, Sand, Rock, and Gravel driven areas. Inside is the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. Say “Hey, BMW” and the digital assistant will respond to the enquiry. There is also personalisation available in the form of providing a name for the assistant. Extra tech is in the shape of a 12.3 inch fully digital LCD screen for the high-resolution instrument cluster and Control Display.

Naturally there is plenty of safety tech too. Standard specification includes Cruise Control with braking function and the Collision and Pedestrian Warning with City Braking. Cyclist detection is included. Active Cruise Control with Stop/Go is also standard. The Driving Assistant professional includes the Evasion Assistant which is another component of the Driving Assistant Professional.  Rear collision warning, road priority warning and wrong-way driving warning systems, crossing traffic warning, Lane Change Warning and the Emergency Stop Assistant are also standard. Contact BMW Australia for a test drive here