As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Archive for July, 2019

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

 

HSV SportsCat Ready To Pounce.

Four wheel drive four door utes are amongst the biggest sellers in the Aussie market but it’s not an easy job to make them look tough and ready for an all-in brawl. HSV somehow manages to pull that off with their warmed over version of the Colorado. Packing a 147kW/500Nm diesel (with auto transmission), the SportsCat is more than a “whack on a sticker pack” effort. It’s now into its Series2 offering and it looks the goods, visibly and underneath. It’s available in two spec levels, SportsCat V and SportsCat SV.
Engineered to pound the ground, and hard, SportsCat has uprated frontsprings, stiffened to cope with 110 Newtons per millimetre of impact stress. This translates to far less body roll and movement when getting serious or even taking it easy on the freeway. The rerated suspension also has the front raised by 25mm, increasing the travel available and increasing ground clearance. HSV also call upon SupaShock Suspension to help in the ride and handling.
Connected to six-spoke 18 x 10 wheels wrapped in specially developed Cooper tyres, the dampers from SupaShock, available as factory fitted options, are larger diameter items. By reducing losses of response to friction they are more quickly able to adapt to the ever changing needs of on and off-road driving. Factor in a HSV engineered decoupling bar for the rear axle anti-roll bars, which increases stability at speed by controlling the roll attitude of the rear end, it activates when the SportsCat’s drive system is put into 4WD Low. It’s standard on the SportsCat SV and optionable on the SportsCat V.

Stopping power comes courtesy of the AP racing package. as fitted to the HSV GTS-R, it features four pistons callipers, 362mm x 32mm front rotors to haul down the big machine. These are standard on the SportsCat SV, optionable on the SportsCat V.
Inside and upfront, SportsCat features a reworked interior, including six position adjustable electric seats for driver and passenger. There is specific HSV trim on the dash, doors, and on the steering wheel. The seats are bespoke HSV, with embossed headrests, leather, and Windsor Suede. Outside HSV have a optionable sailplane for the roll-over bar.
Tech and safety are in the form of Remote Start, Front and Rear Park Assist,Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and seven airbags including driver’s kneebag. Towing is rated as up to 3.5 tonnes. These are backed by a five year, unlimited kilometre warranty and roadside assist package.

Pricing is as follows: SportsCat V six-speed manual is $62,490, with the SportsCat V six-speed auto ticking the box at $64,690. Move to the upper level and SportsCat SV with six-speed manual is $66,790 and SportsCat SV six-speed auto tops out at $68,990. Here is where you can find out more.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Hyundai iLoad Crew Van Liftback.

This Car Review Is About: a vehicle that doubles nicely as a passenger and commercial transport vehicle. The Hyundai iLoad is the cargo transport version of the dedicated passenger van called iMax. It comes with or without the passenger configuration. Or, if you will, the iMax is the passenger version of the iLoad…What Does It Cost: At the time of writing, Hyundai were listing the iLoad Crew at just over $48K driveaway. That includes a five year warranty or 160,000 kilometres, free first service, and 12 months of roadside assist up front. There is a 15,000 kilometre/12 month service schedule.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L diesel and five speed auto for the iLoad Crew as tested. Peak torque is a whopping 441Nm however the PEAK figure is available through a very narrow rev band of 2,000 rpm through to 2,250rpm. There’s no lack of urge available under that 2,000rpm though. Economy is quoted as 8.8L per 100km for the combined cycle.On The Inside It’s: A comfortable place to be. The two rows of cloth covered seats are separated from the 2,215L of cargo space by a fairly rigid barrier but was still prone to a squeak or two. The front seats are a 2+1 configuration, with the centre section featuring a folding backrest that doubles as a tray and cup holder. The driver has a one touch powered window for Down only, and for up it needs to be held. The windows in the sliding doors for the rear passengers are fold out and not that far either.Instrumentation is basic but functional here. The driver has a fully analogue needle set of dials and a basic but again functional monochrome LCD screen in the centre. This shows trip, odometer, and expected range, but we didn’t see a litres per kilometre display though. Headlights have an Auto on switch, the tiller houses the basic audio and cruise controls, and the wiper controls on the left are just a fingertip away during the rainy season.The dash console itself has a split level storage on the passenger side, a small nook in the centre for USB and 3.5mm auxiliary, a small pull out drawer lower down and a 12V socket.

The centre dash touchscreen is the same in that it’s basic to look at, works exactly as designed, and offers little in the way of fripperies. Audio is “old school” AM and FM, lacks DAB, but does have app access for Android Auto and Apple Carplay.The cargo section came lined with protective sheeting and cargo tie-down hooks.On The Outside It’s: received a mild facelift at the front compared to the original, slightly goggle-eyed, front. The headlights top line blends sweetly into the bottom of teh bonnet/top of the blacked-out grille. The rear is largely unchanged and there are no rear parking sensors.

The front brings the iLoad more into line with Kia’s Carnival with a more traditional passenger car and bonneted look. Headlights are more horizontally aligned and squared off, and this particular vehicle came with a nudge bar and super bright LED light bar. A tow bar was fitted at the rear. The rear gate isn’t powered but is easy enough to lift.Wheels and rubber were steel (with the review car having black painted alloys actually, wrapped in Hankook tyres) and 215/70/16 in size for the standard set, plus the spare is a full sizer.

Out On The Road It’s: A very pleasant drive. 100kmh to 110kmh sees revs at just under 1800rpm to 2000rpm. The commercial vehicle style rubber didn’t cope excessively well with the damp and wet conditions experienced during the review period.
On a flat road they would break traction, and on an uphill oriented curve would spin rather easily and bring in the traction control. As a result, some of the driving had to be dialled down in one particular section of a mountainous and curvy road. Front end grip wasn’t confidence inspiring and the taut, cargo carrying, rear end would feel on the verge of breaking away.

The steering was responsive on the softer front end, with the merest twitch seeing the nose respond.

However, a quarter turn was needed to see any real broadening of the movement, and even at around 40kmh into a reasonably easy left or right hander, depending on direction of travel, would understeer and require a foot lift, a dab of the brakes, before hitting the go pedal.

Actual off the line response was wonderful, with virtually no discernable turbo lag from the torque 2.5L engine, meaning dry road hookup was swift and without fuss. There is manual shifting but the ‘box is good enough to not really need it. It’s also a little more sensitive than others in that the brake pedal had to be firmly held in order for the gear selector button to depress.
There was a real sense of refinement to the driveline too. A muted engine noise, super crisp changes in the five speed auto, and almost instant throttle response were dampened, at times, by the road noise from the tyres and body.

At The End Of The Drive.
Although it’s effectively a commercial vehicle that just happens to seat six, there’s just enough to make it a very enjoyable family car if the iMax is out of the budget range. Proper passenger tyres, usage of the smartphone apps, and perhaps some custom built container spaces for shopping in the rear, and there’s a people mover hiding in plain sight.

The engine and gearbox make for a great pairing, and it’s not thirsty by any measure. Check it out at the Hyundai website

Hyundai’s Tucson Refreshed And Updated.

Hyundai Australia has released details of the 2020 refresh for the Tucson range. There is a four trim level choice and that’s courtesy of the addition of the Active entry level model. Active X, Elite, and Highlander are the others. There are upgrades to the safety systems, exterior and interior updates, and minor changes to pricing.

Active and Active X can be specced with a six speed manual transmission and are priced at $29,290 and $32,290, or with a six speed auto will be $31,790 and $34,790 respectively. Power comes from a 2.0L petrol engine, and prices are before government and dealership charges. Tucson Elite dips out on the manual but can be ordered with the 2.0L and auto for $37,850.

Move up to the 1.6L turbo four, seven speed dual clutch auto, and all wheel drive system, and Elite & Highlander price out at $40,850 and $46,500 respectively. Turn to the oiler, and that’s a 2.0L capacity unit driving all wheels through an eight speed auto. Hyundai offer that in all grades and prices are $37,090, $40,090, $43,150, $48,800 respectively. Premium paint is a $595 option and to call upon the nicely styled beige interior is $295.Safety is upgraded courtesy of a rear park assist system being added to the Active. Hyundai’s SmartSense package is standard here and in the Active X which includes Driver Alert Warning, Forward Collision Avoidance Assist with a City/Urban camera system, Forward Collision Warning and Rear Park Assist. Alloy wheels are standard across all four models with the Active and Active X getting 17s and 18s respectively. The Active has a driver’s window up/down on-touch switch in addition.

The Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist, (FCA) in City/Urban works from a windshield-mounted camera reading the road ahead. Should it “feel” that a collision is possible, the Forward Collision Warning System will make a noise and show a signal in the driver’s information cluster. It’s a system that works between 8 kmh and up to 180kmh. Forward Collision Avoidance Avoidance Assist – City Urban pairs up with FCW to hit the stop pedal automatically if the system judges no human intervention after an alert. This works between 8kmh and 65kmh. Elite and Highlander gain radar sensors to complement the camera and Hyundai extend the name to City/Urban/Interurban/Pedestrian. At speeds of between 10kmh and 80kmh the package brings the car to a complete halt.

Specification levels increase in sophistication as the range moves from Active to Highlander. Items such as rear camera, DAB audio, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay are common throughout. Active X has leather appointed seats, for example, and some electrically powered adjustment for the driver’s seat. The Tucson Elite has a cooling system for the glovebox, rain sensing wipers, and puddle lamps. The Highlander has a powered tailgate, and a wireless charging pad, plus bending LED headlights.
All models have the very handy Hyundai AutoLink, with the Highlander available via a SIM based connection. The other three connect via Bluetooth. This provides information such as driving analysis, driving history, contact with Hyundai dealers to book a service, and in the Highlander, real time weather updates, remote access to start/stop, and remote access to the climate control system, amongst other features. Hyundai also entice owners to have their Tucson serviced at a Hyundai dealership by including a ten year satnav upgrade plan and a ten year roadside assist plan.
Contact your dealer for a test drive.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Sorento GT-Line Diesel.

This Car Review Is About: A big, comfortable, and very well equipped vehicle from Kia. The top of the range Sorento GT-Line is a diesel powered seven seater that lacks for very little to appeal to those needing a SUV that isn’t intended to be an off-roader. The Sorento range is powered by either a 3.5L V6 or a 2.2L diesel.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.2L diesel for the GT-Line. It’s a quiet chatterer thanks to a mix of refinement and noise insulation in the engine bay and under the aluminuim bonnet. 147kW is available at 3,800rpm, and a whopping 441Nm of torque on tap between 1,750 rpm and 2,750 rpm. It’s a great long distance hauler, with an easy, loping attitude thanks to a freeway speed ticking the engine over at around 1,500 rpm. Kia quote 6.1L/100km for the highway cycle and this was bettered, albeit by 0.1L/100km. Overall economy, driven mainly in the urban jungle, finished at 8.2L/100km, with Kia’s urban cycle quoted as 9.2L/100km. Transmission is an eight speed auto putting that power and torque down via the front wheels, with torque split to the rear on demand. There is also a diff-lock for the rare excursions into a bit of mud or dirt.What Does It Cost?: $58,990 plus on road costs and metallic paint. That’s just $595. Capped price servicing applies for the seven years of warranty, with a yearly service or 15,000 kilometres. the most expensive service is year 4 at $684. At the time of writing Kia are doing runout deals for the Sorento range.On The Inside It’s: A seven seater with the third row the delightfully simple pull-strap design. A gentle tug, a pull of the strap backwards to lift the seats, or a tug and gentle push to lower them, and it’s something nearly all makers now use. The centre row is bordering on ideal for three adults, it’s certainly fine for two growing children. The left seat is set up to be slid to allow entry for the rear seats, and both centre seats are sliding & folding. The driver has an eight way powered seat, with the front pews heated, vented, and the driver having a heated tiller. Leather seats are a bit cold to touch in the cooler climes however the heaters take the edge off, but the rate of heating could be improved for a more rapid response.The dash is typical Kia but starting to show its age in one area. Manufacturers have moved to the touchscreen being raised up in its own plinth. This is for safety as it’s closer to the driver’s eyeline and not looking downwards. The screen here is super clean, intuitive, and is DAB/Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible. The DAB tuner has the same issues as the other Kias tested recently, with inconsistent signal acquisition and dropout. The plastics in the Sorento are of an almost leather look and have a fine grained finish to them. Open the front doors and Sorento glows a soft red at night in the sills.The dash display itself lacks a HUD but the dial for the speed is fully digital. It also shows which drive mode the driver has selected from the four available: Smart, Eco, Normal, and Sport. A centre screen section shows info such as range, driving distance, trip meter and economy.Auto headlights, rain sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear vision mirror, rear camera and guidelines, plus 360 degree camera are part of the interior fitment and everything is precisely laid out, showing Kia is well on top of the human engagement part of interior design. The Sorento also comes with a full length glass roof.On the Outside: It’s refinement, refinement, refinement. Compared to a Sorento design of, say, a dozen years ago, it’s recognisable as part of the family but obviously a modern design in its own right. It’s a two box design, with a bonnet that dips towards the imposing Schreyer “Tiger Nose” grille, whilst the body behind the windscreen has a smooth silhouette with a slightly odd angle for the rear window/tailgate. The tail gate is powered, of course.

There are LED driving lights, LED tail lights, LED headlights and are self levelling. Kia calls them Dynamic Bending Lights. It’s a big vehicle with a physically imposing presence too. Length is 4,800mm, width is 1,890mm, height is 1,690mm with roof rails. Wheelbase is 2,780mm and virtually joined by the GT-Line’s sidesteps. But with just 185mm of ground clearance it’s certainly not anything other than a soft-roader.Wheels for the GT-Line Sorento are 19 inch alloys and wrapped in 235/55 rubber from Kumho. Thankfully Kia also fit a full sized spare here, not the restrictive space saver spare.What About Safety?: Kia load the GT-Line with the supreme pizza, free drink, and free delivery, it’s that packed. All Sorentos have the mandated electronic aids such as stability control, traction control, and the like. Kia also add the Euro inspired Emergency Stop Signal which flash the indicators when the brake pedal is pressed harder than normal. AEB and Forward Collision Warning is standard through the range as is Lane Keep Assist and Driver Attention Alert, which would, annoyingly, tell a driver to have a break after just thirty minutes of driving.

Where the GT-Line goes further is Blind Spot Detection and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Where it doesn’t go further is by having six airbags, not a driver’s knee airbag.

Out On The Road It’s:
a superbly relaxed highway cruiser. That low revving engine and where the torque figure comes in makes for a low stressed package. It’s mostly a responsive engine to, mostly. Unusually, the engine in the review car showed measurable turbo lag and in the scheme of things it was a considerable amount. Start the car, move along to a junction, wait to clear traffic, press the pedal and…..there’s a yawning gap before it suddenly sprints forward, rather than moving away in a linera fashion. That linear fashion is shown though when under way, where the response is spot on.

Roll downhill and the transmission will quietly downshift with barely any physical sensation at all. There’s a flicker of the needle on the rev counter, a slight change to the muted chatter from up front, and the engine is well within its useable torque range. In the highway cycle and with the throttle feathered, there’s hardly any indication of the engine working, with the tacho sitting at around 1,500rpm. Give the go pedal a nudge and the chatter goes up in volume but is not intrusive. Road noise, though, on the coarser chip surfaces, was.

Handling is predictable, wit the front end tending toward a hint of understeer in normal driving. Back off the throttle and it’s easily controllable, bringing the nose back in nicely. The steering itself is well balanced but a touch numb, leaving the driver feeling a touch isolated from what’s happening. Go for the stop pedal and there’s more communication here, with a centimetres of dead travel before a progressive descent where the right foot can judge exactly how much pressure to apply.The suspension is well sorted, naturally, with a flat ride, minimal body roll, and dampers that bring the chassis to a controilled state swiftly. Go hard into a corner and the body remains unflustered, poised, and under hard braking there is is dive, but again it’s minimal. The ride overall is supple, compliant, and makes those shopping centre carparks a minor annoyance.

At the End Of the Drive.
Kia’s Sorento is the sister vehicle to Hyundai’s Santa Fe, and the Sorento, as good as it is, is now showing its age inside. Kia’s DAB tuner supplier also needs some work, as other companies have far better tuners. However it’s still fantastic value, a great drive, well featured, and economical. It does look as if a new Sorento isn’t far off as Kia are doing run-out deals at the moment. Head here for more info: 2019 Kia Sorento range

Sales Are Down Again For The Aussie Market.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, or FCAI, has released the June 2019 vehicle sales figures for Australia’s once thriving market. What it reveals is a pointer to the rest of the economy, with sales down overall by 9.6 percent. Compared to the same time in 2018, it’s even more drastic, at 18.5 percent lower for the passenger car segment at 33,864 sales.

June 2019 saw 117,817 sales in total, with SUVs and Light Commercial vehicles down to 53,509 and 26,372 respectively. These two segments saw drops of 4.7 and 7.0 percent each. The market leader in June was Toyota with 21,200 sales, followed by Mazda on 10,806, Hyundai with 10,001, Mitsubishi at 8,891, and Kia with 7,200. However it’s good news for one particular brand, with four entries inside the top ten.

Toyota takes out the top of the ladder, with the HiLux moving 5,396 units, but still down on last year by 6.9%. Ford’s Ranger is position 2 and showed a slight increase of 1.7%, up to 4,871 units. Grid position 3 belongs to Hyundai’s i30 range with 3,340, down by 5.8%. Toyota’s evergreen Corolla went to 3137 unit’s and that’s the third biggest decrease in the top ten at 17.3%. Position five is Mazda’s CX-5, down by 7.2% to 2,911.

Kia’s new Cerato is the big mover, up by 14%, with 2,832 unit finding new homes for position 6. Position 7 was Mitsubishi’s Triton, and compared to June of 2018 it’s down by 31.2% but this is accounted for by the outgoing model being on runout some time ago. The Mazda3 goes into Position 8 with 2,533 units, but that’s down by 23.9% compared to June 2018. Toyota takes out positions 9 and 10 with the RAV4 and Landcruiser, with 2,449 and 2,360. Again, though, they’re down by 9.0 and 707% respectively.

In brand sales Toyota holds top spot ahead of Mazda and Hyundai. Mitsubishi heads Ford for 4th and 5th, whilst Kia, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, and Holden fill out the top ten. It’s worth noticing that some of the brands in the top ten overall don’t feature in the top ten vehicle types. Nor do some of the more supposedly popular brands such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

Give Me A Brake

Imagine that you’re driving along a typical suburban street.  A movement to the side catches your eye and you spot somebody’s dog off the leash madly rushing full tilt down a driveway, barking madly at the cat across the road.  Next thing you know, Doggo is rushing into the road.  Without thinking, your right foot darts off the accelerator and hard onto the brake.  Your car screeches to a standstill, stopping short of that lunatic of a dog and shoving you hard against your seatbelt.  You growl something about idiotic animals and people who can’t control their dogs, then keep on going, barely thinking about the mechanical miracle that has just taken place.

Brakes. We take them for granted, especially after we’ve been driving for a few years.  However, they are super-important for safety.  Imagine what it would be like without them.  You might have had a small taste of this sort of thing as a child if you screamed downhill on a scooter or skateboard (or, in my case, a bike with worn-out brake pads) – that feeling of being out of control and knowing that gravity will accelerate you faster and that there’s no way of checking or slowing that thing down.

Needless to say, brakes pre-date cars.  Steam trains needed them and so did stagecoaches, and the basic principle behind all brakes is the same.  The vehicle is moving because the wheels are turning, so to stop it moving or to slow that motion down, one needs to slow the wheels down. This is done by clamping something large and hard onto the wheel, which produces friction that soaks up the kinetic energy of the wheels. And this is the first and most important mechanical principle behind any brake: friction.  The bigger the surface area applied to the turning wheels and the more force it’s applied with, the more quickly the turning stops.

In your car, the friction is applied by disc brakes, which have been around since Citroën put them on mass produced cars in 1955.  Disc brakes consist of a metal disc that’s incorporated into the wheel. You can have a powerful pair of callipers that grab this disc as it spins and slow the turning that way.  You can think of it as a more sophisticated adaptation of your old bike brakes: instead of grabbing the whole rim, it grabs something near the centre. The callipers are fitted with brake pads that are usually made of tough rubber, which absorbs heaps of force and can handle heat – and you need to make sure that you replace your brake pads on a regular basis, as they do wear out over time and you’re sunk without them.  You’ve also got drum brakes (or disc and drum), where a stationary disk covered with an energy absorbing lining, known as a shoe, presses against the disc, applying the necessary friction.

A lot of kinetic energy and a lot of momentum are involved in a moving car.  However, it takes the subtlest bit of pressure to slow a vehicle from, say, 100 km/h to 85 km/h as you approach a corner.  If your average mid-sized sedan has a mass of 1600 kg and the equation for velocity is K = (m × v2)/2… you’ll have gone from 617.83 kilojoules to 445.98 kilojoules or a difference of 171 kJ.  This is equivalent to roughly the energy expended by a petite woman doing slow dancing for quarter of an hour… and you sure didn’t apply that much with that little twitch of your foot. Obviously, something’s happened to amplify what your feet and legs did or the car wouldn’t have responded one iota.

The next mechanical principle that kicks in is the one discovered by Archimedes and I don’t mean the one that saw him running through the streets in the nude shouting “Eureka!” after his bathtub overflowed.  I mean the “Give me a long enough lever and a firm place to stand, and I can move the world.” In other words, the lever principle. One tiny movement on the short end leads to a lot of movement on the long end.  This is certainly at play in your brake system but amplification comes in the form of fluid courtesy of the principles of hydraulics.  Don’t make me go into the equations for hydraulics, as that’s university-level physics and I didn’t study that.

Fluids can’t be squashed, which is how water pistols work. Actually, a water pistol is a good place to start understanding the principles of hydraulics. You couldn’t throw water with one finger very far or with much force, but by applying pressure to that water, you can get quite a bit of water going a fair distance, preferably onto your big brother’s face.  The main force goes from your brake pedal to the master cylinder, which converts the force of your foot into hydraulic pressure, like your finger on the trigger of a water pistol.  The brake fluid then exerts pressure on the slave cylinders (one for each wheel that has the brakes) and the slaves apply the brake drum or the callipers, and everything kicks in to slow the vehicle down.

There are a lot of moving parts involved and naturally, given the nature of things, the business end of the brake will wear out over time.  And they will need to be replaced, so you really don’t want to try cheating or skipping on this important part of car maintenance.

If, for whatever reason, you’re in the scary situation where any of these systems fails, here’s what you do: