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Archive for August, 2019

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Picanto GT

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 Kia Picanto GT. It’s the pert and perky little five door hatch, with minor and tastefully styled body add-ons, an energetic powerplant, and a fun factor that’s off the scale. It’s a screaming bargain at just $17,990 driveaway.Under The Bonnet Is: A zippy and free spinning three cylinder petrol engine with a real warble when it’s spinning up. There are 74kW available at 4,500rpm, and a very useful 172Nm from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm. Power heads to the front wheels via a five speed manual. Boost and bang for the milk-bottle sized engine comes from a turbocharger that adds plenty of sizzle. The dry weight of the Picanto GT is just 1,007kg, which means that the power and torque, plus the five speed, don’t need to work hard to provide the spark.

Tank size is just 35L for the standard unleaded fuel. Economy, says Kia, is 4.8L per 100km for the combined. In the urban cycle, its far more likely home, it’s 6.2L/100km. Get it onto the freeways and that drops to 4.0L/100km. We finished on 6.4L/100km on our mainly urban test cycle.On The Outside It’s: The same little block of Picanto that’s been available for a few years but now with extra grin. There are colour highlights from inserts outside and in, new wheels, front bar additions with driving lights and extra air intakes, whilst the rear gets the cool “neon” light look at night plus a twin exhaust and a diffuser style add-on. Nexen supplies the 195/45 N Blue Plus rubber to wrap the 16 inch eight spoke alloys. The review car came clad in Aurora Black, with the GT also having Clear White, Signal Red, and Titanium Silver.

On The Inside It’s: Comfortable and familiar, yet carries a bit more cachet. There are red leather highlights on the front seats, alloy pedals with rubber strips for extra foot grip, and red backlighting for the switchgear. There’s some brightwork on the tiller and piano black for the console stack. Seats are manually adjusted but with the not-quite-as user friendly levers rather than the dials which are MUCH more user friendly. Luggage space is 255L with the rear seats up, 1,055L with seats down. It’s JUST enough, if packed correctly, to carry a decent weekly family shop but if it’s a really decent shop, then the space behind the front seats will need to be used.Space itself is more than adequate for a couple, but go more than three then the Picanto’s 3,595mm length and 2,400mm wheelbase come into play. Thankfully the front seat room is enough for all but basketball players so pulled forward the rear leg room becomes tenable. Shoulder room is a bit cosy thanks to the 1,595mm and headroom is fine even with a 1,485mm height.Storage comes in the form of two cup holders in the centre console, bottle holders for the front doors, a coat hook and net hooks in the cargo area. Sounds are from a non-DAB equipped audio system but Bluetooth streaming is standard. Sound quality isn’t as good as it could be either, with depth and punch not on the same level as other systems found in Kias. Apple and Android apps are standard as well. That’s a good thing for those that use them as satnav is not standard.What About Safety?: Covered. Sort of…AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) with FCWS (Forward Collision Warning System) leads the party, backed up by a reverse camera and rear parking sensors. LED driving lights up front add visual safety and add to the visual presence and the headlights are Auto on. BUT, and it’s a big but, no Rear Cross Traffic Alert, no Blind Spot Alert, no Lane Keep Assist, no front sensors, hold back the Picanto GT in crucial areas.

On The Road It’s: An absolute bundle of fun. The engine is a cracker and the gearbox is well specced for cogs. The clutch is light and really could do with more feedback as to where the pedal is in travel and where the plates are in gripping. Once the driver has worked that out though, practice gets the pickup point and shifts to launch just right. However the spring loading for the gear selector is also light and a touch vague in where the lever goes. The gate is close so a slide from second to third feels like it’s in the same line, and there isn’t enough definition in the shifter’s movement to properly advise where the lever’s going.

ONCE everything is worked out, the little engine that could, does. It’s got a real warmth to the sound, yes, but the appeal is in how it pulls the Picanto GT , in how it allows tractability in gentle around town driving or getting serious on the freeway. It’s geared for easy going driving, but also some get up and go squirt as required. The turbo kicks in at just under 2,000 and on the freeway that gearing allows a push of the pedal to see the Picanto GT rocket forward. It’s accompanied by a thrum, a not unpleasant rumble from the three cylinder donk, which is muted when not being pressed.Off the line it’s easy to feel pressed back into the seat easily when driving in anger. There is some real urge in this tiny engine and it’s something a driver can exploit and enjoy. Bang the gear selector from first to second to third and the GT simply rolls on inexorably, seamless in its acceleration. Throw out the picks and the lightweight car slows quickly and confidently.And thanks to the slightly bigger footprint, and the grippier tyres, hard-arsed cornering can be exploited and enjoyed too. Under power the Picanto GT can be punted into turns that would see the speedo read 20, 30 km/h slower (depending on the corner’s radius and driving conditions) whilst taking advantage of the engine on boost.

Ride quality is good but not great. The rear end is prone to a little skipping around on the roads that have the expansion joints and the whole car will crash bang on missing road sections. It’s a suspension that is flat and taut but not supple enough to dial these out.

What About Warranty?:
There is Kia’s 7 years warranty as standard. That’s with unlimited kilometres. Roadside assist is for 12 months initially however if the Picanto GT is brought to Kia for servicing then that extends to 7 years coverage also. Servicing is capped price and for every 15,000 kilometres or annually, whichever occurs first.At The End Of The Drive. The Kia Picanto GT is an embodiment of the words “pocket rocket”. That 172Nm of torque is so useable in a small car, and somehow manages to stay engaging even when loaded with two adults, a ten year old, and shopping. It’s the gear selector and clutch that blunts the engine’s sharpness as these really could do with tightening up. Ride quality is also not quite en’ pointe as there’s a lack of the absorption needed in the upper end of the travel.

The lack of DAB isn’t crucial but FM sounded dull. If a GT designation is to indicate a top of the tree model, then add a top of the tree audio setup. Make up your own mind by going here.

 

Monterey Car Week: Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance.

In a field of diamonds there will be one that will shine, that will sparkle, just that brighter than the glittering surroundings. In the week of events celebrating automobiles, motorsport, fine foods and drinks, and superbly handcrafted timepieces, a stunning beachside locale named Pebble Beach becomes host once a year to a select number of the world’s best classic automobiles.

The area is steeped in history. Motorsport plays a large part in the origin of what is now the world’s premier concours event, with returning soldiers needing a place to vent post-WW2 frustrations. Road race events sprang up around the country, and Pebble Beach, with its natural oceanside setting and intoxicating mix of varying roads, quickly became a favorite. 1950 was the year the first concours was held and in the style of what had been seen in Europe. It was 1952 that saw the 18th green of the Pebble Beach Gold Club become the home of the concours and where it remains as the host for this year and beyond.

Classic cars are the heartbeat of the Pebble Beach Concours. For 2019 Bentley and Zagato will celebrate their centennials here, Bugatti will showcase historic Grand Prix and Touring cars, and Hot Rods that have featured on magazine covers will be celebrated. the 2019 Class list reads like an automotive “who’s who” with Bentley, Duesenberg, Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, and Packard to name but a few that will be showcasing their metal monuments to automotive beauty.

Bentley Motors At Pebble Beach

It’s been said that to be accepted into the strictly limited numbers of entrants is honor enough. To keep the gloss and lustre that goes with that acceptance fresh, the class list is varied each year. Entries are accepted until a predetermined date in January with the lucky few notified by April for the August meeting. In order to ensure that only the very best of the very best are selected, potential entrants must only show at Pebble Beach. Nor can an entrant re-enter the car for another ten years, unless the car is sold and undergoes a substantive restoration.

It’s these kinds of stringent guidelines that allow attendees to see different cars each year. Each year brings fresh light to the field and returning guests are sure to see outstanding examples of cars built up to but not past 1972. Whilst the cars are hand-cared for, with super fine cloths and love working together to ensure the best possible shine, guests can wander through the gardens and partake of gourmet foods, exquisitely fine champagne and wines, and order picnic baskets with up to 800 wines to complement the specially prepared fare.

There are more than metal, leather, and rubber to appeal. Pebble Beach also host charity fundraising and in 2018 raised over $2.1 million. Over 80 charities in the local area benefit from the hard work and sponsorships, with some directly aimed at encouraging a new generation of automotive enthusiasts. What these new members of one of the world’s most famous concours can see is how the automobiles are judged for authenticity, for history, function, and style. They’ll learn how the class structure works in respect to the marques, the rarities that are barn finds are rebuilt to better than brand new, and what makes a winner at Pebble Beach so utterly special.

2018 Best of Show 1937 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Touring Berlinetta

Class judges are in a team that work with a Chief Judge. Automobiles that win their class to be named First in Class are the ones that become eligible for a tilt at the highly prized crown: Best of Show. Judging involves the Best of Show ballots which are provided to the Chairman, the Chief Judge, the Chief Honorary Judge, each Chief Class Judge, each Honorary Judge team leader, and select Class Judges. Judging is independent and free. Once the ballots are counted after judging, the most votes become part of Pebble Beach history, with the winner named Best of Show and becoming part of a very, very, select family.

The 2019 Pebble Beach Concours de Elegance will be on Sunday, August 19. For those looking to enter or attend for 2020 and August 16, www.pebblebeach.net is the site to go to.

Monterey Car Week: The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering.

The Quail. An unusual name, one big event. It’s part of the week that celebrates new and classic autos, new and classic aircraft, high end personal items and cordon bleu’ food in the coastal town of Monterey, California, every August. The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering itself is held in the beautifully manicured grounds of the Quail Lodge Resort and Gold Club in Carmel, just a few miles south of Monterey and a couple of miles east of Pebble Beach.

It’s perhaps the youngest of the numerous automotive themed events and shows that are held in the area, with this being more focused on motorsport. There are plenty of historic style vehicles that attend, but such is its stature, major brands such as Lamborghini and Bugatti, choose The Quail last year as the launch event for a new vehicle. Bugatti, for example, took the covers off of the Divo, powered by an 8.0L W16 engine. It’s a short-run car priced at “just” six million dollars…

This year’s event is to be held on August 16 and each year the organizers go for a theme or two. For this year, Bentley will celebrate and commemorate 100 years of motoring excellence, whilst McLaren will showcase a quarter century of its ground breaking F1. Modern times are given a nod with A Tribute To the Electric Car Movement also being part of the day.

Mclaren Senna (Photo Credit McLaren

It’s the sniff of petrol, the scent of grease, the raw appeal of well worn leather in the motorsports part of the event that draws the crowds. Traditional Classes such as Post-War Sports and Post-War Racing feature heavily, as do Custom Coachwork builds alongside Sports and Racing Motorcycles. There have been racing team displays such as Martini, who have brought along a selection of their legendary Lancias. Pagani have been here, Ferraris old and new gleam in the westering sun, performance companies such as Hennesy have highlighted their Venom F5, and Datsun/Nissan have provided rolling history lessons with classic rally cars.

Rimac’s California Edition C Two Hypercar (Credit: Somer Hooker/New Atlas)

Crowd management is simple. Tickets to enter are limited and this is done to maximise the usage of the location. It enables the cars to be properly viewed and enjoyed without fighting through crowds. It allows the useable space to showcase the event’s reason for existence: the cars. And it adds exclusivity which means the sponsors and haute couture suppliers aren’t pushed to the limit with supplies. Each ticket is fully inclusive too, so the once off cost covers an attendee for everything inside the grounds. However, there are tickets for the philanthropic which donates a portion of the ticket cost to charity, with a premium ticket granting access to helicopter transport to the Laguna Seca Raceway for associated events.

Genesis Essentia Concept: super smooth(Credit: Somer Hooker/New Atlas)

But it’s the judging, the concours, that brings the masses, and it’s done differently here at The Quail. Cars are put into classes and each car is judged by the owners of the other cars in the same class. The winner receives the “Best In Class” award and each of the winners then competes in a “Best Of Show” contest in the Rolex Circle of Champions, and again the winner is the one adjudged by the owners of the cars in competition. Last year’s winner was a truly beautiful example of the best from Italy.

Curtiss Zeus

A Pininfarina concept, a one off, and built upon the chassis of the Lancia Aurelia B52, the 1953 Lancia Aurelia PF200C owned by Anne Brockinton Lee stamped itself as being worthy of the accolade awarded from 235 competitors. A ten year restoration process ensured no part was left untouched in its meticulous rebuild. It’s this that makes The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering virtually unique in automotive week on the Monterey Peninsula.

Montery’s Auto Week: McCall’s Motorworks Revival.

Monterey, California. It’s located slap bang in the middle of the state’s coastline and once a year plays host to a number of car shows. Those two words, however, do not do justice to what is made available as there are events such as the fabled Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance to attend in a must-see automotive week.

The McCall’s Motorworks Revival on August 14 is the ignition point for the week and for 2019 will be held once again at the Monterey Jet Center. It’s an ideal location as it allows the organisers the opportunity to take advantage of the open spaces, combine aircraft, luxury and sports cars, high end personal luxury items, and more.
Of note for the 2019 event will be the attendance of world renowned performance car company, Roush. They’ll be showcasing their one-of-a-kind Stage 3 Mustang and a powerplant producing 710 horsepower. It’ll sit by the side of their new F-150 SC pickup. Power here is from a supercharged 650 horsepower 5.0L V8.

High end watch maker, Chronoswiss, will be there and they’ll be unveiling their startling Flying Grand Open Gear ReSec. Limited to just 50 pieces this beautiful and stylish timepiece embodies true Swiss watchmaking.

Along with the airport’s modern and historic aircraft displays, historic motorsport cars will appeal to those with more than a hint of gasoline in the blood. This year will see the BMW 320 Turbo race car, as campaigned by Jim Busby in the International Motor Sports Association competition. This car is just one of only two of its type built in 1978. It’s been raced at Silverstone, the Nurburgring, and competed with Jim behind the wheel in the 1979 IMSA GTX series. There will also be a LeMans winning Porsche at this year’s event in the shape of a GT3 RSR. Porsche have a long history with that famous race and this car is sure to have plenty of eyes on her.

Cessna is a name familiar around the world to anyone with even a passing interest in aviation. McCall Events are delighted to have this year’s Motorworks Revival Cessna’s new Citation Longitude. This sleek business jet is powered by a pair of Honeywell HTF7000 turbofan engines, has the quietest interior in its class, and can be configured to seat up to 12 passengers.

Attendees can taste high end fare, such as the gourmet caviar options from the California Caviar Company, or down a finger of tequila from El Jefe Tequila., whilst admiring Lamborghinis, McLarens new and historic, Gulfstreams, Pilatus aircraft, and perhaps even a James Bond Aston Martin DB5 or the original, prototype, Ford Mustang.

This year marks the 28th McCall’s Motorworks Revival. At its core is Gordon McCall, a man with plenty of events and concours experience. Gordon has over a quarter century of judging experience at Pebble Beach, and is the co-founder & motorsports director for “The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering”.
Tickets for the event go on sale the year before, shortly after the previous event, and are highly prized amongst regular attendees.

It’s A Man’s World In The Crash Test Facility

Notice the design of the chest, biceps, neck and jaw…

Take a look at your typical crash dummy – the sort they use in the ANCAP and similar tests (see the photo, sourced from ANCAP).  Notice anything about them and what they’ve got in common?  Ten points (or should that be five stars?) for you if you noticed that a crash test dummy tends to look like a guy.  I don’t know if you can really refer to a crash test dummy as a male but it (he?) is definitely masculine.

Yes, indeed.  Skipping the whole thing about gender identity and all that, there are only two basic human skeleton and tissue types: the male sort and the female sort.  And, in case you haven’t been paying attention, they aren’t the same. Women (in general) have wider pelvises, narrower chins, a higher proportion of body fat, smaller hands and feet and thinner necks than men.  They’ve also got their centre of gravity in a different place.  When guys get a bit chubbier, they put it on their tummies; when women do the same, it goes on the butt and thighs.  Men have flat chests and even my A-cup sisters have boobs.  Women are, on average, shorter (yes, we’re talking typical and average here and I know perfectly well that there are tall women and short men).  Male bones are denser and have a higher proportion of muscle mass.  Women have a larger lumbar lordosis (the curve in the lower spine that lumbar support in the driver’s seat is supposed to fit snugly into), which means that their pelvis tilts at a slightly different angle, which affects the walk. In fact, high heels are designed to increase that lumbar lordosis, the tilt and the swaying walk. And the list goes on.

Unfortunately, in spite of the key role of my heroine Bertha Benz in getting the whole horseless carriage thing started, car designers have used “standard” or “typical” human figures when designing cars.  Unfortunately, as most car designers up until now have been guys, guess what they see as being “standard” or “typical”: the others sitting with them around the drawing board, who are all guys.

Surely, I’m not the only woman driver who has sat there fiddling with the lumbar support control and wondered why the heck it doesn’t come out any further because it’s not quite getting into the right place, and why the seat angle is never exactly right.  We tend to start playing around with cushions at this point.  As for the problems that crop up when you’re a female driver in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy, trying to negotiate a seat belt around the baby bump and the set of Pamela Andersons you’ve picked up… don’t even get me started!  Apparently, women sit in the “wrong” driving position when they’re behind the wheel.

However, the safety systems that have been put in place by car designers have been developed and tested with the standard crash test dummy. Which is based on the average male.  The smaller size, the different shape, the different centre of gravity, the different tissue density and all the rest of it means that a female body does not behave like a male body during a collision.  OK, they did try during the 1980s to introduce a feminine crash test dummy, but this (1) had the same proportions as the male ones but just scaled down rather than having curves and (2) is usually put in the passenger seat during crash tests.

Can we just pause and think about that for a second? When they do crash tests, they mostly put the female dummy in the passenger seat.  This was pointed out just last year by a pair of (female) Swedish road safety researchers*.  Crash tests, in general, assume that women don’t drive.  These tests weren’t being carried out in Saudi Arabia, for goodness sake!  What were they thinking?

A truth that’s even more inconvenient than Al Gore’s is that women have a much higher rate of being injured in a car crash than men.  Given the same speed and impact type, women get hurt worse.  The simple reason for this is because the cars’ safety features have been engineered and tested with the average male body in mind.

To take just one example, think of whiplash.  A lot of new cars have active head restraints that are designed to cradle the head and neck to prevent whiplash.  However, you can guess what these have been tested on most of the time.  In fact, when the NHTSA started using “female” crash dummies (which they started doing in 2003), they used them for the side impact tests… which aren’t quite such a problem for whiplash, given the vectors of the forces involved.  Now, no woman is Barbie but we do have thinner necks than guys.  In fact, if you’re an artist or cartoonist, one of the quickest ways to make a head and shoulders to look masculine or feminine is to adjust the proportions of the neck.

Women’s necks don’t have the muscle and sinew there that guys do, so our heads and necks don’t behave the same way during the sort of crash that is most likely to lead to whiplash.  Add in the fact that women aren’t “sitting right” in the driver’s seat because we’ve got different pelvises, plus the fact that seatbelts are hard to get right if you’ve got anything on your chest bigger than a B cup, which is the case for most women.  Heck, we all know that fitted T-shirts and jeans for men and women are cut differently, for goodness sake!  Given all these differences, and it’s no wonder that women’s rate of getting whiplash is much, much higher than that of guys.

I’m going to be charitable here and put forward the notion that the guys designing cars and doing the crash tests are nice guys at heart rather than a bunch of sexist pigs.  Perhaps the idea of using a crash test dummy that looks more like a real woman jars with their inner knights in shining armour and a plan to put even a replica of a damsel fitted with lots of sensors so you can see just how much distress she gets into is upsetting.  If this is the case, well, that’s sweet of you guys, but you’re actually not doing us any favours.

However, change is afoot and more and more women are getting into car design and the safety side of things, although anything like a 50–50 proportion in the workplace is a long way off.   Yet another (female) vehicle safety researcher from Sweden has looked at the stats and is developing a proper female crash test dummy with female proportions.  Known as EvaRID, this dummy is designed with the whiplash issue in mind.  You can hear Dr. Astrid Linder introduce this dummy in her TEDx talk (in English, don’t panic!):

As you can expect with those safety-minded Swedes, Volvo is getting on board with the E.V.A. initiative (which stands for Equal Vehicles for All as well as cleverly echoing the name of the dummy, which is the Swedish for Eve, the first woman).  The senior technical specialist at Volvo Cars Safety Centre, Dr. Lotta Jakobsson (yes, another Swedish woman), is doing her bit by collecting real world crash data and heading a design team to make cars just as safe for women as they are for men. In fact, Volvo’s existing WHIPS design was tested on the EvaRID dummy as well as on the male one (the name of the most recent one is Thor, continuing the Nordic theme), and Volvo’s getting right behind the initiative.  This makes me want to run out an buy a new Volvo right away.  However, as we saw many years ago with the invention of seatbelts, where Volvo goes, others are soon to follow.

The fact that the designers, modellers, engineers, researchers and analysts focusing on the gender differences happen to be mostly women is also noticeable, which is also an argument for encouraging just as many girls as guys to get into the field of engineering.  We don’t need to go to the extremes of having a vehicle that is designed solely to fit a woman’s body – although it sure would be a best-seller – but making sure that we don’t forget 50% of the population (and let’s not even get started on ethnic differences in body size and type) by ensuring that some of said 50% knows their stuff with engineering will make better cars for all humans.

And, gals, you’ve still got no excuse for not wearing a seatbelt even if sits badly on your chest, so buckle up!

* Linder, A., & Svedberg, W. (2018). Occupant safety assessment in European regulatory tests : review of occupant models, gaps and suggestion for bridging any gaps. Presented at the 18th International Conference Road Safety on Five Continents (RS5C 2018), Jeju Island, South Korea, May 16-18, 2018, Linköping. Retrieved from http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:vti:diva-12886

CarReview: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0L Turbo

This Car Review Is About: The revamped and relaunched as a two car range, Genesis. No it’s not the Phil Collins version. It’s the rejig of the 3.8L V6 first seen a half decade ago, now called G80. And now there’s a BMW hunting smaller version, the G70. This comes in three trim levels and two engine choices, being 2.0T, 2.0T Sport, and 2.0T Ultimate or with the 3.3L V6 as found in the Stinger.How Much Will It Cost?: There’s a sticker price of $58K plus on roads for the entry level, $62K for the Sport, and a hefty $71K for the Ultimate in four cylinder guise. The Genesis website says $65,533 driveaway, or with sunroof $68,158. In Sport and Ultimate trim it’s $69,733/$72,760 and $76,978.

Under The Bonnet Is: The same potent turbo 2.0L as found elsewhere in the Hyundai and Kia families. It’s a 180kW/353Nm turbocharged 2.0L four cylinder. This is mounted “north-south” and drives the rear rubber via a slick eight speed auto. Otherwise there’s a 3.3L V6 effectively lifted from Kia’s underappreciated Stinger. Economy is rated as 9.0L per 100km for the combined cycle in the Sport, 8.7L in the standard 2.0L Our average around town barely moved from 8.7L/100km, and that was enjoying some of the fruits of the spirited engine.On The Inside It’s: Pretty nice in this entry level trim spec. Leather seats, heated, not vented (sigh) are comfortable, supportive underneath and around the abdomen and electrically powered for both sides. There isn’t memory seating though. The top level has a diamond quilted leather trim option for the seats. There’s a sunroof, of course ($2500 as an option), and mood lighting in the housing around the switches for the interior lights. If there’s an option to change the colour it wasn’t readily found. All models have a remote key for entry and exit, and it’s cleverly designed to fit in between the spring loaded supports inside the cup/bottle holders in the console.In the traditional styled centre console is a rocker gear selector, a drive mode dial, and a nook with wireless charging for smartphones, plus USB and 12V sockets. The charge pad is a tad fiddly and requires precise placement of the handset in order to initiate charging. The touchscreen is a 8.0 inch with a familiar look. As a result it’s super easy to use and to read. Satnav is standard and SUNA updates are included. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are embedded. Sound is via DAB and Bluetooth streaming. The 9 speaker output is beautifully balanced, crisp, and with plenty of balance in the bottom end.Paddle shifts are standard and work well with the smart transmission, which has rev matching technology when it comes to the cog swaps. There are five drive modes which are activated via a dial near the gear selector. Custom, Comfort, Eco, Sport, Smart, are the choices and each change the colour of backlight in the driver’s dash LCD screen. They also bring up a graphic on the main 8.0 inch centre screen which show a layout of the car and highlights areas with different colours. Embedded in the sub-menus here is the option to change the steering and transmission between Comfort and Sports.The rear seats are not excessively spacious in regards to leg room. Even with an average height driver the rear of the front seat is just a few inches from the squab of the rear seat, and they just don’t look as if there is real comfort for anyone of certain sizes. That’s due to a shortened wheelbase that, although it endows the G70 with great handling, then compromises for a proper 2+2 or 2+3. It also compromises boot space, with the BMW/M-B-esque end holding 330L. The spare is a space saver, not a full-sizer.What About Safety? There’s nothing left out in real terms. A console mounted tab for 360 degree camera was fitted in the review car, and the actual feature is standard in the Ultimate. Forward Collision Avoidance with pedestrian alert is standard, as is Lane Keep Assist with steering assist. The actual assist is aggressive and overly so in how it works to keep a car in between the lines. Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot Alert are also standard, as are a full suite of airbags including driver’s knee.On The Outside It’s: Low, slinky, full of sensual curves, and obvious who it’s looking to hunt down. It’s a long, long, bonnet on the 4,685mm G70, with lines and shapes that evoke BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and thanks to the badge, had a number of school yard car-spotters saying Aston Martin. It’s fair to say that the deep electric blue metallic paint is eye-catching, and on the school run had plenty of eyes on stalks swivelling to follow its progress. Even on the highway and residential roads the unfamiliar shape and badge had people stop or watching from inside their own car, eager to try and get a glimpse of the svelte lines. It’s a four coupe, almost, in profile, and the bootlid is a stubby, truncated affair with a built-in spoiler design. The grille on the Sport is a classy, black coated, diamond mesh design. On the front flanks is a chromed, boomerang shaped insert, and there is pressure relieving vents ahead and behind.The tail lights are LED and there’s even a hint of Mustang in the three vertical stripes when lit. There are puddle lamps in the wing mirrors that shine the Genesis logo, and the headlights and indicators are high intensity bi-LED and full LED respectively.Out On the Road It’s: Engaging. Wonderfully so. Dialing up any of the drive modes from another brings small but perceptible changes in the G70’s behaviour. In Sports mode for the steering it’s razor sharp, though process sharp in its reaction to steering wheel input, and adds a discernible heft to how it feels as it’s turned. Eco dulls the engine and transmission down to a smooth, slurry,easy going feel. Sport goes the other way, tightening up the responses for a crisper, sharper, experience.

But even Sport doesn’t completely dial out the unexpected. There is turbo lag, that gap between hitting the pedal and the engine lighting the candle. Once fired up via the push Start/Drop button, the motor settles into a ready for action mode. It’s sometimes too eager, like an energetic puppy, pulling at the transmission in its willingness to move. Get to a stop sign, the engine spins down. Go pedal pressed and there’s a hesitation as the electronics engage and the turbo finds boost once 2000rpm is seen on the tacho as the G70 gets underway.

On song, the 2.0L turbo pulls nicely in all driving areas. Having the eight speeds to choose from, along with the rev matching tech, means it’s hardly ever found wanting for response in throttle applications. Feather it into a twisting mountain road and the tacho blips and flickers as the engine and gearbox work side by side in keeping the revs where they need to be. Cruise on the highway and it’s inaudible. Plant the hoof and there’s a sharp intake of breath before a cog or two is swapped and it launches forward. In Sports mode there is a rumble fed through the audio system to add to the experience.Ride quality is never anything less than very good. The taut rear end will skip around, the steering in Sports mode is razor sharp in its response time. The suspension is a delight. Its compliant to a fault, dealing with the usual lumps and bumps without issue, even dialling out the dreaded shopping centre speed reducers without qualm. Road noise on harsher tarmac from the 265/45/18 tyres was surprisingly intrusive. Smoother roads were much quieter. There are 18s on the entry level, black painted alloys on the Sports, and bespoke Ultimates in 19 inch diameters for the top level. the Sport has Michelin Pilot Sport 225/40/19s and stopping power comes from renowned brake company, Brembo. These are super effective, hauling up the G70 time after time with pin point precision thanks to one of the best calibrated brake pedals going.

And The Warranty Is: For five years. There is free servicing for those five years too, along with the Genesis ownership experience, and 24/7 roadside assist. There is also a free service for drop-off/pickup when booking the car in for service if the owner is inside a 70km circle of a Genesis Studio. In Sydney, currently there is only one and it’s in the city itself.

At The End Of the Drive.
There are a couple of things holding the Genesis up from making its mark in the Aussie automotive landscape. Chief amongst the list is the brand recognition. When Genesis launched with the 3.8L V6 version, it was seen with a small measure of respect, a larger measure of disdain, and quickly fell into the hands of hire-car companies. Only Hyundai can explain why. Right now, with a presence that’s still virtually invisible, the marketing team needs to get behind it and let people know it exists.The next hump is the bias that Australians have when it comes to cars from Korea. Inexplicably, there is still a stigma attached to both brands, even with the superb quality and outright clout the cars have. Hyundai’s N class, for example, showcases real-world ability against class leaders like the Golf GTi. The Stinger has shown that a V6 powered rear wheel drive sedan has punch. The i30, the Highlander, the Santa Fe are plentiful on road, but still have that upturned nose and sniff of derision to cope with. And that’s unfair as Korea makes the best selling Samsung and LG TVs, phones, home appliances…

For a Genesis rebirth, there’s work to be done. Find out more, here.

Why Do They Bash British Leyland?

Come on, it’s not that ugly really.

 

 

If you, like me, enjoy picking up the odd coffee-table type of book from the motoring section in your local library (it’s in the low 600s in the Dewey system if you can’t find it), you’ve probably come across books that list bad, ugly and weird cars.  I love them.  However, I have noticed one wee tendency, both in these books and in series such as Top Gear (which my library also helpfully makes available in the motoring section of the library): the tendency to bash British Leyland vehicles.

What have they done to deserve this?  I mean, it’s not like other major marques haven’t had their share of absolute dogs. Dishonourable mention is usually made, in this motoring subgenre, of the abysmally ugly Ford Edsel, the notoriously flammable Ford Pinto, and all those Japanese cars with singularly bizarre names like Nissan Cedric, Mazda Bongo Brawny, Mazda Marvie Proceed, Subaru Touring Bruce and Mitsubishi Mini Urban Active Sandal.  In fact, nearly every big name turns up somewhere in this book I got from the library.  There’s usually a Lada or two in there somewhere as well.  But to hear the likes of Clarkson et al. talk, you’d think that British Leyland was an unmitigated disaster that never did anything right.

I mean, if a car company is really, really bad, it won’t last very long.  This was the fate of some other motoring horrors, such as Australia’s very own Lightburn Zeta (made by a washing machine company) that had no rear entry but did have an engine that, if you stopped it and restarted it, would work the engine in reverse, allowing you to go through the gears while travelling backwards.  That one didn’t last for very long.  Nor did Delorean, which is best known for its appearance in Back to the Future, Peel or Messerschmitt (who didn’t quite have the same aeroplane to car success as Saab and BMW).

However, British Leyland was BIG, and not just because it was a government-owned enterprise.  You’d think it was a sure-fire recipe for success: take wildly successful brands like Mini, Jaguar and Rover (which are still going strong) and some others that were equally popular like Austin, Triumph and Morris and you’re bound to have a winner, right?

Well, it worked on paper.  However, industrial relations in the UK in the 1970s and early 1980s weren’t exactly stellar, though I guess they were a hang of a lot better than what went on at Ford in the 1930s.  Throw in a bright spark up the top who decided that it was time to move on from the old classics and along came the vehicles that everybody loves to bash.

The vehicles that are notorious for ruining the reputation of British Leyland are the Austin Allegro and the Morris Marina.  So what was so bad about them?

The Austin Allegro made a couple of styling mistakes.  In the mid-1970s, vehicle styling was turning to the edgy and linear but the Allegro kept things curvy, earning it the nickname of a “poached egg on wheels”.  The steering wheel, however, was what we’d now call a squoval or a square with rounded off corners.  Apart from that… well, it’s hard to say exactly why the Allegro has such a bad reputation really.  It didn’t come in a hatchback version and the hydroelastic suspension was a bit on the wobbly side.  It picked up a reputation for picking up rust easily but it actually wasn’t too bad compared with others of its time.  Mechanically, it was adequate enough and that suspension did make it corner pretty well.

As a former owner of an Allegro, I’d have to say that it suffered from the reverse of Kardashian syndrome – instead of being famous for being famous, it was notorious for being notorious.  It was, however, one of the top selling cars in the UK all through the 1970s.  It was more a case of being the wrong car at the wrong time.  These days, that curvy styling and the slightly square wheel would be right on trend.

Then there was the Morris Marina.  I’ve owned one of these as well, for all of two weeks until it died.  This one did deserve its poor reputation and in many ways, its quality tarnished Leyland as a whole and it took the otherwise reasonable Allegro down with it.  The Marina really understeered and it really did have the bad rust problems.  It handled atrociously.  This is what happens if you try to rush something into the market when you’ve got a bunch of disgruntled employees.

These days, especially for those of us who entered the world at about the same time as the Allegro, the Marina and all the others of that era, they do have a certain charm, in spite of the vinyl seats and lack of safety features.  This could be a case of nostalgia, or it could be a case of perspective: after all, is there anything really wrong with unfashionable styling?  Or maybe not.  Sometimes, ugly is just plain ugly.

But I really don’t think that British Leyland deserves its poor reputation and the Allegro certainly doesn’t.  As for the Marina, well, that’s another story!

The book in question, in case you want to get hold of a copy for yourself, is “Total Lemons. One Hundred and Eleven Heroic Failures of Motoring” by Tony Davis, published by ABC Books, ISBN 978-0-7333-3086-5 (paperback) 978-0-7304-9983-1 (ebook).  Enjoy.

Car Review: 2019 Isuzu MU-X LS-U

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 spec Isuzu five door MU-X LS-U. It’s also available in LS-T and LS-M spec and comes in 4×2 and 4×4 driveline options. The range was given a largely cosmetic upgrade in early 2019. It’s currently available in a drive-away package (LS-U 4×4) at $50,490. Recommended retail is $52,400 plus on roads for a RRP of $57,674.Under The Bonnet Is: The rattly 3.0L that makes 130kW and a handy 430Nm of torque from 2,000 to 2,200 revs per minute. In context, that’s below the 500Nm from the 2.8L 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 however, compared to the D-Max utes there is extra noise shielding in the engine bay and transmission tunnel. 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. In our drive loop we saw a best of 7.8L/100km for the seven seater, and an overall average of 8.1L/100km. Isuzu rate the towing capacity as up to 3.5 tonnes.

On The Inside It’s: Cloth seats for the LS-U, easy pull straps for the third row seats, and a raised cargo floor with covered storage behind them. As it’s clearly based on the D-Max it’s virtually identical otherwise. There is no seat heating, no seat venting. The LS-U’s front seats are manually adjusted. Rear seat passengers have plenty of leg room, and there is a USB port for the centre row passengers at this trim level. The third row seats aren’t recommended for anyone of infant or adult size.The LS-U starts with a traditional key. Isuzu fitted the review car 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. Near the driver’s knee is some switchgear including one that looked like an On/Off switch for the parking sensors.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 hidden behind a flexible rubber tab at the bottom of the centre console stack. There is no DAB or Digital Audio Broadcast. The screen’s display is the same as the D-Max, meaning it really needs a massive overhaul. It also features the same driver alert warning note that will stay on screen for as long as the car is running if the OK tab isn’t touched. 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 in situations such as dusk or when it’s raining.Actual switchgear is mostly well laid out and accessible with the minor accessories ports located at the bottom of the stack. 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. The upper dash storage locker here at least did open without issue, unlike one found in the D-Max. Total cargo capacity is up to 1830L with the second and third row seats folded flat. With the third row only down it’s 878L.On The Outside It’s: Largely similar to the D-Max from the front to the rear of the second row doors. Here it’s the addition of a the big pillar, roof, and non-powered tailgate, with a towbar added here as well. Rubber is 255/60/18 H/T or Highway Terrain tread from Bridgestone. There are, though, front and rear parking sensors and the warning tone inside is a very high pitched screech, making it unmistakeable in intent. Headlights are self-levelling and there are LED driving lights. The lower front bumper is bespoke for the MU-X.

Out On The Road It’s: More of the same as that found in the D-Max. Steering is a little more assisted than the utes meaning turning and car parking driving is moderately easier. The rear suspension is a rigid live axle and coil springs, with the front being coil springs and gas shocks. Ride is more composed, more family friendly. The engine is the same rackety clackety noisy, just muted thanks to that extra insulation. It’s the same thrashy rattle from a start when pushed, more restrained off throttle, and almost invisible on idle and in cruise. 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 the same in that it’s 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 MU-X is prone to running wide but not as wide as the D-Max, 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.Brake pedal feel is nearly as numb as the D-Max, with perhaps a bit more initial feedback on the downward travel.

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 MU-X will be ready to get dirty. 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. Underneath the 4×4 capable MU-X is a sump guard plate that also covers the electrically driven transfer case.

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.
The MU-X is much like the Pajero Sport, the Trailblazer, the Pathfinder. All based on a ute with off-road ability, they’re clunky, agricultural, but still manage to deliver a form of comfort and there’;s the added extra flexibility of the third row seats. Isuzu is a truck maker, not a small sedan or hatch maker, and it shows. There’s value and that appeals, but for real appeal the interior and handling need a serious lift.

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 to the Isuzu website