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Archive for October, 2019

2019 Hyundai Elantra Sport: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The latest version of Hyundai’s long running Elantra, formerly Lantra, nameplate. It’s a small mid-sizer sedan and recently was given a mild facelift. It’s a sister car to the Kia Cerato and comes in a four tier, two engine, manual or DCT auto range. The range consists of Go, Active, Sport, and Sport Premium.Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.6L turbo in our test car, with a seven speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT), with manual shift options driving the front wheels. There’s a fair bit of oomph available here, with 150kW @ 6,000rpm, and torque of 265Nm between 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm. It’s EURO V compliant and runs on standard E10 unleaded. Our overall average was 7.1L on a mainly urban cycle with Hyundai quoting 7.0L/100km for the combined, a far too high 9.9L/100km on the urban, and 5.8L/100km for the highway. On one highway run the fuel meter appeared to indicate just 4.9L/100km.

The other engine is a 112kW/192Nm 2.0L MPI and a six speed manual the other transmission. Fuel tank is 50.0L.How Much Does It Cost?: The Go kicks off the range at a very nice $20,990 driveaway for the manual, $2K more for the auto. Premium paint is $495. Add $5,000 for the Active before the Sport starting at $32,600 and the Sport Premium at $35,200.


On The Outside Is:
A familiar shape, with a refreshed front and rear. It’s the front that has received the most attention and it’s a personal taste thing. It’s not unpleasing, by any measure, but there are a couple of angular aspects that seem at odds with the otherwise curvaceous body. The front lamps have been refined to a sharp triangle with LED driving lights housed within. the Sport also has a full suite of LED main lights. The sharpest point on the triangle now goes inside the “Cascading Grille” which sits between “Z” shaped supports, which on the Sport house the indicator lamps.The bonnet runs back to a steeply raked windscreen before finishing in the familiar coupe-style rear windowline. The rear lights have also had the makeover wand waved, with these also slightly sharper and a leading edge further into the rear flanks and bootlid. A pair of side skirts and a pair of crease lines on each side add some extra visual appeal. The windows themselves are shallow yet from the inside still offer plenty of breadth for vision.

Our test car came supplied with truly stunning alloys, with a crossover two by ten spoke design in silver and black. Michelin supply the Pilot Sport 225/40/18 rubber and they’re superbly grippy and absorbent. Sheetmetal was in Pearl White. This colour perhaps highlights the lithe profile of the Elantra, masking its surprisingly long 4,650mm length. That’s helped by a diminutive 1,450mm height. There’s plenty of shoulder room (1,427mm/1,405mm) thanks to 1,800mm in width.On The Inside Is: An interior familiar to anyone with exposure to the Korean brands. However, in the Sport, Hyundai have gone for a bit of spice with red leather on the seats and door inserts (a $295 option), a flat bottomed leather clad steering wheel with red alignment stripe, and alloy pedals. The red looks and feels great, and breaks up an otherwise solidly black colour scheme. By the way, the seats are manually adjusted, not powered, nor are they vented or heated. The Sport is push button Start/Stop. When it comes to indicating, here there’s something that isn’t 100% safety conducive. The spec sheet says the indicators are a soft touch setup, with 3, 5, or 7 flashes. We fully support a setup that has no option than on or off, as far too many drivers don’t provide the required “satisfactory indication” in lane changing. This also applies to the headlight switch. Auto should be the minimum, with no Off option.The dash is as cleanly laid out as you can get, with space between tabs and buttons, white print on the black background, and an in-dash, not on-dash, eight inch touchscreen. the driver’s dials are analogue, bracketing the now standard info screen activated via steering wheel controls. The aircon controls have had their housing revamped and to use them is an exercise in simplicity. Underlying the screens and tastefully chrome trimmed air vents is a strip of carbon-fibre look material joining each side.Familiarity comes in the form of a pair of 12V sockets and a USB port directly below the aircon controls, a U-shaped surround for the gear selector and a button housed here for the drive modes. There are air vents but no USB ports for the rear passengers. They also have up to 906mm of rear leg room, with 947mm of head room. Cargo space is a minimum of 458L and the boot is operated via the key fob.The audio system is DAB compatible and the speakers are from Infinity. It’s an impressive setup and really showcases the clarity of DAB in full reception areas. Naturally Bluetooth streaming is standard, as are the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay apps. There is no smartphone charge pad (Premium has it) and no electric parking brake. That last one, personally, isn’t a deal breaker. What is a niggle is the boot lid release mechanism. Although the fob has a button, it’s also supposedly engineered to wireless release the lid by standing behind the car for a hands-free operation. This, though, has to be enabled via the Menu system in the car. A few tries and not one successful activation. The interior handle also failed to pop the lid. When opened though, the cargo floor can be lifted to reveal the space saver spare.On The Road It’s:Fluid in the way the engine and transmission work. The caveat here seems to apply to just about every DCT driven of late: it needs to warm up before it’s as smooth and slick as the technology promises. In this car, from a cold start, it was noticeably jerky and hesitant, and also exhibits the typical gap between engagements of Reverse to Drive or Park to Drive. Getting off the line also showcased the issue with DCTs, with minimal engagement seeing a slow pace before the clutches engage.

Once everything is working, it’s as it should be. And, again, the gears are better for changing by using the manual shift option. It’s a crisper, more reactive, change, and the computers even allow changes at lower rev points from the engine. That 265Nm doesn’t seem a lot, but considering a 2.0L turbo averages 350Nm, and the weight of the Elantra Sport starts at just under 1,400kg, it’s plenty to keep the performance percolating. It’s a free and willing spinner, the 1.6L, and well proven in other cars across the Hyundai and Kia range.

The three drive modes were largely ignored as Normal, the default, is far better than adequate. Eco would suit any long distance highway drive but Sport, ironically, is virtually redundant unless punting the Elantra Sport in a track day environment. The steering is fingertip perfect, with a weighting that is Goldilock’s porridge. The same applies to the suspension. As always, Hyundai’s engineers spend months sorting spring and shock combinations, and it shows. The MacPherson strut and multi-link rear are supple, compliant, reactive to body movement instantly meaning body roll is non existent, and the usual minor road imperfections are disappeared. It’s deft and adept, and offers sharp handling without compromising comfort.Rough roads have the short tyre-wall Michelins humming through noise, but on the newer and smooth blacktop, it’s quiet. The Sport lives up to its name with these tyres, with maximum grip in the tighter corners, and almost non-existent understeer at normal driving velocities. Go harder in legal situations and there’s no doubt at all that these tyres will be there and have your back. this same exuberant driving allows the free spinning engine to breathe and dump its spent gasses with a bit of rasp. It’s subtle but adds a bit of aural backup to the Sport nameplate.

When it comes to safety, the active Lane Keep Assist is perhaps a little too willing to move the tiller. It’s not a gentle pull, it’s a toddler’s impatient tug on the trouser leg, and can catch lesser experienced drivers unaware. However it’s easily switched off via a tab near the driver’s right knee.

What About The Safety?: Along with the aforementioned Lane Keep Assist, Blind Spot Collision Warning is standard, as is Forward Collision Avoidance Assistance for city and urban drives. The spec sheet doesn’t state that Autonomous Emergency Braking or Smart Cruise Control are available.

Warranty And Service Are?: Five years as standard for the warranty however Hyundai are (at the time of writing) offering a seven year warranty. Hyundai also offer prepaid servicing which is factored into the purchase price. The Hyundai website has more information.At The End Of the Drive: It’s a great four seater and an excellent family car. There’s plenty of performance, grip, and the edgy good looks complement the drive, plus draw the eye. The DCT is a corker when warmed up and using the manual shift but still has the same DCT hiccups found anywhere these gearboxes exist. It’s well priced and with the added (at the time of writing) appeal of an extra two years warranty, should be on the shopping list for anyone looking for a very competent small to medium sedan.

Millennials, It’s Your Fault New Car Sales Are Sliding…Apparently

The sharp drop in new car sales throughout 2019 has had no shortage of publicity, particularly now that 18 consecutive months of declining figures have come through. Over that time we’ve heard from experts as to a variety of factors that have contributed to the rut.

From political uncertainty before this year’s election, to a tightening in lending regulations, a weakening economy led by subdued house prices, the effects of a drought, and believe it or not vehicle shipments contaminated by little bugs! Now you can add another ‘explanation’ to the list because millennials, it’s your fault new car sales are sliding…apparently.

 

The underlying trends

You see, the shifting trends among millennials are pointing to a change in views towards car ownership. Younger Australians are holding onto their first vehicle for a longer period of time, or otherwise putting their driver’s licence on the back burner. There is testimony from some industry insiders to suggest that millennials are less comfortable with the idea of a loan than previous generations given a tendency to spend more to stay up to date with the latest technology or to fuel travel and entertainment aspirations.

The prompts are largely coming about through the influence of technology, including the role it is playing on behavioural patterns. First and foremost, the rise of apps like Uber and Ola have reduced dependency on individual vehicle ownership, instead promoting the benefits of a flexible ride-sharing fleet. Online food and grocery services follow the same notion, where a few simple touches on a mobile phone are enough to avoid making that trip to the supermarket.

At the same time, we’re also seeing far greater levels of urban consolidation take place in our major cities. Given the significant rise in house prices since the end of the GFC, many millennials are forgoing the Australian dream to own a home. An increasingly popular choice of action is to rent in highly desirable locations, which typically translates to inner city living or convenient public transport links nearby – both reducing dependency on vehicle ownership.

Finally, vehicle subscription services and peer-to-peer car sharing are becoming more commonplace in this demographic segment as well. A variety of companies have latched onto this trend, allowing anyone to borrow a car from a friendly stranger in their neighbourhood. Who would have thought it would be possible all those years ago?

 

Is there more to it than meets the eye?

Notwithstanding the trends that are taking place, the conversation has really only started to emerge in recent months. Look a little further back however, and what you realise is that new car sales were coming off an all-time high. Quite frankly, a level that some would argue may well turn out to be a short-term peak, or an otherwise unsustainable level once evidence of a slowing economy emerged. These trends have been occurring for some time now, so should have been observed earlier on sales data.

Furthermore, many of these trends are being attributed to millennials, but they sure as heck aren’t the only ones nurturing such changes. Those who have been brought up through these technological and societal changes become an easy target to point the finger at for ‘leading the way’ so to speak, but if this was really at the heart of the matter, then a range of buying incentives should suffice among other demographics to offset this decline.

But the facts remain, we’re seeing high levels of population growth, the lowest interest rates on record, and vehicle prices as affordable as they’ve ever been before. If those initiatives aren’t getting other buyers into the market, to offset a supposed wane in interest among millennials, where does the fault really lie?

 

Japanese Makers Fire Electric Shots.

Both Nissan and Mazda have unveiled electric vehicles. Nissan’s is a test bed design and Mazda their first full production version. Nissan’s car is based on the Leaf e+ with Mazda naming theirs the MX30.

The Nissan has an all wheel drive system, with twin motors. Nissan also factors in their bespoke chassis control technology. The engines provide up to 227kW and a massive 680Nm of peak torque. The test car has a control system that adds regenerative braking to the rear motor as well as the front. Pitch and dive are minimised as a result. In addition to optimising the torque that’s spread between the front and rear, it also applies independent brake control at each of the four wheels to maximise the cornering force generated by each tyre.
Mazda’s car is an SUV as well. It’s powered by what Mazda call “e-Skyactiv system” It can be charged using AC power or rapid-charged using DC power. The system involves the battery, motor, an inverter and a DC-DC control unit. The inverter changes the DC to AC for the motors with the converter providing the charge for the onboard systems.

Mazda also engineer in a refrigerant cooling system that cools the battery pack when the temperature rises. By maintaining the best possible battery temperature even on hot days, the system helps protect the battery pack from degrading due to heat. Thin cooling tubes attached to the bottom plane of the battery module make contact with a heat exchanger. This structure contributes to realizing a compact battery pack. A sensor constantly monitors the battery’s temperature and controls the flow of coolant as needed. The result is an effective battery cooling system. There’s a single motor, mounted up front, and it will provide drive to the front or or four paws. The battery pack is rated at 35.5kWh, and has an expected range of around 200km. There is also a acceleration system called Motor Pedal. This adjusts on the fly response to throttle inputs and adjusts acceleration as well, depending on the speed the driver presses the accelerator pedal.

A key identifier for the MX-30 is the design. Not unlike the recently released 3 hatch, it features long and flowing lines, a curvaceous body, and suicide doors. It’s also green oriented, with cork and recycled plastic bottles being used in the interior trim. It’s not yet confirmed for the Australian market but it’s definitely in Mazda Au’s want list.

2019 Nissan Pathfinder ST 7 Seater: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 specification Nissan Pathfinder ST. It’s the entry level version to the second biggest passenger oriented car in their range. The vehicle provided was fitted with seven seats across three rows and that’s standard fitment.How Much Does It Cost?: The Nissan website has the ST 4×2 as starting from $44,490. The 4×4 version is from $51,550.

Under The Bonnet Is: A petrol fed 3.5L V6 with a CVT and AWD drivetrain. Power is rated as 202kW @ 6,400rpm, and peak torque is a decent 340Nm @ 4,800rpm. Economy is quoted as 10.1L per 100km on the combined cycle. That’s from a 73.0L tank and a tare weight of 2005kg. We finished on 11.1L/100km for a mainly urban drive.On The Outside Is: A big body. At 5,042mm in length it masks that by a svelte and curvaceous shape. The aerodynamics of the body contribute to both a “it looks smaller than it is” and a drag coefficient of 0.33. That’s pretty slippery for a big SUV. It stands at 1,793mm, making it one of the taller vehicles of its type. It’s broad, at 1,960mm and has a 2,900mm wheelbase. So, yes, it’s big, but by having more curves than a supermodel convention, it genuinely looks a lot smaller.

The front end is dominated by Nissan’s current design stamp. That distinctive “Vee” motif is across all of its SUVs and some of the smaller passenger cars, as are the thin headlights, almost invisible indicator light, and curvaceously swept fenders. There is also a pair of inserts in the lower bumpers that will have driving lights fitted in higher spec models. That long body is highlighted by a subtle curve from the front window, sine-waving its way towards the tail lights and enhancing a subtle flare over the rear wheels. Passenger windows are blacked out as well for security and privacy. The tailgate on the ST is manually operated, and opens to a cargo space of 453L with the simple to operate third row seats raised. From the rear there’s a distinctive slope to the body, from the Continental 235/65/18 Cross Contact rubber inwards to the high roof.On The Inside It’s: Roomy, comfortable, and a bit confusing. We’ll cover that in detail shortly.

Firstly , the view from the driver’s seat shows a slab of black ahead of the passenger, an easy to read 8-inch touchscreen that sits above a busy looking two-section for audio and climate control, before ending in a mix of traditional and hi-tech for the binnacle.The slab ahead of the driver could very easily be made to look more visually appealing, for starters. The ambience found in competitors from Korea, and similarly sized Japanese offerings are of a more suitable level. There’s plenty of head, shoulder, and hip room though, meaning taller and wider passengers shouldn’t feel cramped.

Then there is the touchscreen and it has a feature that is bemusing. Sports oriented cars have a G-force meter. This shows lateral and longitudinal forces during acceleration , braking, and cornering. It’s ideal for the GT-R. It’s out of place here.

Visually the controls for audio and climate control are somewhat hard to take in. Ergonomically they’re poorly placed, being well below the driver’s line of sight. Then there’s the additional fact that that the touchscreen has aircon controls as part of its programming…Inside the binnacle are traditional dials placed either side of a information screen that has an almost holographic look to it. It’s exotic and cool simultaneously. Counterbalancing this is the programming on one button on the left spoke of the steering wheel. Like virtually every maker now, there are two tabs to access the centre ino screen and the submenus. There is normally a rocker tab to access the submenu information. Here this one changes the radio stations instead…

The driver’s pew is electronic for movement as is the passenger’s, a nice touch, and starting the ST is push button operated, also a nice touch. Remember, the ST is the entry level.

In between the front seats is a relatively uncluttered console, housing a dial for the AWD system, and a non-manual gear selector. There is a push tab for Sports mode, but no option for manual gear selection. No, there are no paddle shifters on the steering column. The largish wheel houses the usual selection of tabs for audio, info, and cruise control.The second row seats are marked to indicate they fold flat, and they slide forward. The third row are pull strap operated to fold, and they provide an almost perfectly flat cargo space as a result. Cargo capacity goes to 1,354L with the third row folded, and a huge 2,260L with the middle row flat.

There is also a separate set of aircon controls for the second and third row passenger seats. Back up front and the audio system is AM/FM/CD plus Bluetooth streaming. No DAB but that can be added via USB connection.Safety Features Are: Airbags all around, Front Collision Warning and Intelligent Emergency Braking, plus Blind Spot Alert. Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Reverse Camera with guidelines are standard as well. The spare is a space saver however there is tyre pressure monitoring as standard.

On The Road It’s: Mostly a benign drive. Although nominally an AWD it’s predominantly front wheel biased, and the steering tells that story clearly. There’s a constant and gentle pull on the tiller, saying that the pesky V6 engine is driving the front wheels more than the rear pretty much all of the time.

Traction and grip levels are high, however. There’s no sense of the rear breaking away when driven exuberantly, and the front overcomes its incessant gentle pulling at the wheel, becoming more conversational about the drive and the road. Rubber is 235/65/18 Continental Cross LX Sport.

Damping is well sorted too. There’s minimal float, with rebound limited and dialled out quickly. Initial response to the usual road imperfections is quick, absorbing some of the more notably intrusive joins and bumps to the point their actual impact was negligible.

Front to rear balance was also well sorted, with both ends feeling the same, rather than a tighter or slightly looser response. Adding to the competent chassis is a nicely balanced brake feel. With a travel that tells the driver just where the pads are on their way to or from the discs, pulling up to a stopped vehicle, stop sign, or red light was intuitive and easy to judge. The weak spot here is the CVT, or Constant Variable Transmission. Also known as a stepless transmission, it’s evolved from its essentially single gear beginnings to having steps, or gera, programmed in to make it feel like a more normal transmission as it changes. These transmissions are best suited to smaller (read:less torque) engines. The issue here is that they feel like a manual transmission with a badly word clutch plate when put to the sword. There’s a feeling of slipping the gear, that not all of the torque is being utilised by the transmission, and therefore not as efficient in getting the engine’s workload through to the tyres.

In the Pathfinder ST, that 340Nm has a fairly steep torque curve from low revs, the engines normal and best operating range when underway. That torque really does seem to overwhelm the CVT here and one suspects that a traditional torque converter style transmission would be far more effective and more economical, especially with ratios of eight, nine, ten cogs now available. And remembering there is no manual change option, then there’s no change to exploit the torque more efficiently. Warranty And Services Are: Five years and capped price. Information is here.

At The End Of The Drive. The Pathfinder ST is by no means an unpleasant vehicle to drive. It’s a solid and competitive seven seater, making it an almost ideal family transporter. Having seven seats, and a third row that’s easy to operate go a long way to help the cause. There’s plenty of room for seven passengers and the seats are comfortable. Instrumentation is mostly user friendly however the dash below the touchscreen needs work. Then there’s the drivetrain. Even a DCT would be a better option for a big engine than the CVT.

Here is some extra information.

What Makes A Road Not Just Good But Great?

During a relaxed evening, I like to dig out DVDs of the old classic Top Gear show and watch an episode (bonus points if they decide to feature something I’ve written up for Private Fleet’s reviews). Now and then, the Terrible Trinity of May, Clarkson and Hammond take whatever gorgeous piece of metal and/or carbon fibre they’re talking about onto some road somewhere in the world and they start talking not just about the car but about the road and what a great road it is.

This got me thinking: what is it that makes a road not just good but great? Obviously, to be a good road, it has to be in good condition. Anything with potholes just doesn’t cut the mustard, no matter what other features it has. It has to be safe as well, which rules out the notorious Camino del Muerte in Bolivia from Yungas to La Paz (this has now ruled itself out – the government has now shut it to motor traffic and it’s a very, very popular mountain bike trail).

A bit of poking and prodding around online produced quite a few top ten and top twenty lists of what are considered by various bloggers and authorities to be the best roads in the world to drive. Rather than simply re-hashing what these others have said, I got all analytical on them to work out which characteristics made a good road into a great road. After all, few of us are able to travel the entire world to find the great roads, but maybe there’s some little hidden treasure not too far away from you that could have qualified for these lists, if only the writers (or the tourism promoters paying the writers) knew about them. Having said that, the Great Ocean Road in Victoria makes it onto a lot of these lists, so if you’re in Melbourne, you’re not that far away from an officially great road anyway.

Hallmarks Of A Great Road

  1. Amazing Scenery. Just about all of the famous roads on the various lists seem to feature spectacular scenery of some kind, preferably the sort that can be described as “dramatic”. Mountains and cliffs seem to feature heavily in most, but not all, cases.  However, the scenery would still be just as dramatic if it was viewed from the window of a tour bus, so there must be more to what makes a great road great than just the views.  What’s more, if you are driving on a road that qualifies as having great scenery, make sure that you pull over in a sensible place for your photo opportunities rather than trying to take something while standing in the middle of the road.
  2. Non-Metropolitan. I don’t know if “non-metropolitan” is officially a dictionary word but how else do you describe routes that include small to medium towns and villages as well as plenty of rural scenery? However, this seems to be another feature of the great roads. Probably, the ability to travel at full open road speed is something to do with it, punctuated by the chance to fill up with fuel, recharge, have a coffee and go to the loo somewhere civilized.
  3. Bends. Roads that are dead straight the whole way do not qualify as great roads, although long and epic roads that have significant straight sections do make it onto these lists (Ruta 40 in Argentina and the Ocean Highway in Florida being the main examples here). However, to be a great road for a driver, a road has to have a few bends in it, preferably large, looping ones. Where else would you get to see what the handling of your vehicle can really do?  One thing to bear in mind, though, is that spectacular scenery often means big drop-offs and/or idiots taking selfies in dumb places, and being non-metropolitan means that it can take some time for the emergency services to arrive and cellphone coverage may be dodgy.  Getting the exact quality and quantity of bends in the road to make it great is a fine balancing act.  Too many and the road becomes risky and you miss out on the scenery.  Too few and it’s not enough of a challenge for a driver.  If you’re interested in taking a mathematical approach to this sort of thing, rental car company Avis has got a formula it uses for creating its list of best roads that looks at the ratio of time spent going around bends to time spent on a straight.  Exactly how many bends there are and how sharp they need to be to make a road great or perfect will vary from driver to driver. Some people like to have more hairpins than a busy hairdresser (Stelvio Pass, I’m looking at you); others prefer wide sweeps and gentle undulations.  But bends are a must.

If you are lucky enough to get the chance to travel the world and try out some of the great roads beyond what we’ve got here, then one thing to remember is that although the piccies posted by travel websites and the footage on motor shows make it look as though you will have the road to yourself, you probably won’t.  So enjoy the drive, by all means, but share the love and share the road.

If you have been lucky enough to drive a road you consider to be great, then let us know all about in the comments… unless you want to keep a delightful secret all to yourself.

Speed Limiters Will be Heading Down Under

Those driving trucks will already be all too familiar with speed limiters, but it looks like the rest of us could well be confronted by the same prospect. You see, the European Union earlier this year sought to introduce new legislation that would make it mandatory for new cars to come with a series of safety aids previously deemed optional.

Some of these measures would be no surprise to Australian drivers. The likes of autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning are slowly becoming more commonplace in the latest vehicles. Other features however, would be raising a few eyebrows.

Take alcohol interlock installations for example. Many Aussies would view these as much a punitive measure and infringement of our rights, than a precautionary safety aid – even though it could go some way to reduce alcohol related road trauma. And then you have speed limiters. While in theory the premise that speed kills has been discussed extensively, there is argument in some quarters that this type of intervention might not have the desired impact.

 

What’s happening

Changes are not expected to unfold for some time, however the leading indicator will be the European market. With legislation set to come into effect in May 2022 – and 2024 for vehicles already on sale – it provides manufacturers and motorists with ample time to facilitate the changes.

The Europeans aren’t going it alone mind you. They’re actually taking heed of the suggestions being put forward by the United Nations, which is surprisingly taking a lead in this area by putting forward a proposal for such technology.

By now you’re probably thinking, so what, Australia has its own road rules and governance initiatives in place. That may be the case, but we are part of a working group helping the UN tackle this ‘issue’. Let’s also not forget that shared testing practices are common between jurisdictions, as is the case with ANCAP and EuroNCAP. This extends to the mandatory inclusion of AEB and lane-departure warning for a 5-star safety score.

Behind the scenes, what you may not also be aware of is an initiative that ANCAP has been undertaking for some time. They have been engaging in telemetry to assess the accuracy of speedometers in new cars. The thing is, one barrier standing in their way is provisions in the law permitting manufacturers to calibrate speedometers as much as 10 per cent higher than your actual driving speed. On top of this, speed sign recognition and GPS precision are hardly foolproof.

Aside from the concerning implications this sort of technology could have during overtaking conditions, particularly in rural areas, and the regulatory overreach that will aggravate many road users, something else is clear. Speed is a definite factor in accidents, but we already have a variety of initiatives to tackle this. Even if we become compelled to follow in the EU’s footsteps, as it appears will be the case, we’re certainly nowhere near ready.

Kia Goes Back To Black And Offer More Protection.

Kia Motors Australia has added a pair of distinctive Special Edition models to its showrooms, providing standout options to Sorento and Stinger buyers. The Sorento Black Edition offers outstanding value to buyers wanting to make a bold styling statement with their lifestyle-choice large SUV. Sitting on 19-inch gloss black alloy wheels the Sorento Black Edition also boasts a gloss black grille, gloss black roof racks, dark chrome door garnish and black side mirror covers. There are distinctive “Ice Cube” LED fog lights, black front and rear skid plates, panoramic sunroof and privacy glass to complete the street-wise look.

Available in both 2.2 diesel ($52,490 drive away) and 3.5-litre petrol ($48,990 drive away) the Black Editions are trimmed to sit between SLi and GT-Line. They are available in four colour options: Clear White, Silky Silver, Aurora Black and Snow White Pearl.

For Stinger, the Carbon Edition, based off the 3.3-litre bi-turbo GT, brings a deck of exclusive carbon fibre exterior trims to set the Special Edition model apart from its siblings. With carbon fibre door mirrors, grille surround, fender vents, rear skid plate and hood vent the Carbon Edition is easily identifiable as something special. For the interior there is a special Carbon Edition badge ahead of the gear lever and a sporty Alcantara steering wheel. At $67,990 (drive away) the Carbon Edition is available in the new Neon Orange, Micro Blue, Hichroma Red, Snow White Pearl and Aurora Black.

All models benefit from Kia’s industry-leading 7-Year Warranty, 7-Year Capped Price Service and 7-Year Roadside Assist program.

KIA is also leading the charge to improve the customer purchase experience with Australia’s first vehicle protection products sold as a genuine factory branded accessory. The KIA branded range will provide customers the opportunity to protect their new and pre-owned vehicles with the highest quality surface protection using ceramic coatings developed exclusively for KIA. KIA have partnered with MotorOne, Australia’s leading aftermarket supplier, to ensure their customers get the most technologically advanced protection formulas coupled with a comprehensive lifetime warranty.

The ceramic exterior surface coating is sourced from Korea, using state-of-the-art technology to protect the vehicle’s paintwork whilst maintaining the showroom shine without the need for waxing and polishing. Available only from dealerships, the treatment is professionally applied to new or used vehicles up to five years old. The treatment is especially important for car users that are plagued by the effects of bird and bat droppings when parking their car outside.

The complete interior surface protection formula uses an advanced polymer technology that maintains the condition of leather, vinyl, carpet and fabric surfaces. The treatment creates a dirt and liquid repellent coating, protecting the vehicle’s interior from stains and marks. KIA, in conjunction with the MotorOne product development team, has undertaken extensive product durability testing on all vehicles in the KIA range to ensure customers experience outstanding performance, durable protection and a vehicle that stays cleaner for longer.

Each KIA dealership is undertaking comprehensive training for the sales teams, covering education and treatment of paintwork and interior fabrics and, more importantly, extensive product application training for the technical team to ensure a premium delivery on every vehicle fitted with KIA Car Care products.

Are Skinny Lanes the Solution to Congestion on our Roads?

There’s no escaping it, our roads are congested across the country. It’s a nightmare for all of us. After all, nobody takes joy being stuck in traffic. It extends our commute and leaves us with less time for the things we actually want to do. We should be wondering, what’s being done about it?

Sure, we have tolls. There are also proposals for congestion charges to reduce demand for road use, or otherwise share the road in more efficient ways like giving priority to car-pool vehicles. Governments are also investing billions in infrastructure, much of which is dedicated to roads and highways. However, does that all go far enough? Is there another simpler solution sitting right under our noses?

One of the more radical ideas floating around in the news this past week was ‘skinny’ lanes. That’s right, it is exactly what it sounds like. The idea being, our road network remains largely the same. But in place of laying down new bitumen, space would be squeezed from existing lanes to create a new, narrow lane designed specifically for motorbikes and / or smaller cars.

Contrary to what you might be thinking, the idea isn’t one that was hashed out by two high school students. Nor was it conceived with the inspiration of a couple Friday night beverages. In fact, this has come straight out of the well-known and highly regarded think tank, the Grattan Institute.

 

 

Is it really feasible?

On paper, it sounds novel to expand capacity on our roads, without actually expanding physical capacity. The urban planning side seemingly checks out.  From a financial perspective, it’s definitely a cheaper proposition than building new roads. Plus, roads wouldn’t need to be closed anywhere near as long as they would if extensive construction were to be required to upgrade roads and interchanges.

But there is one important thing being overlooked here. Australians are increasingly shifting away from smaller cars to mid-size vehicles. Some experts point to these larger vehicles being at fault for the congestion, although that really is debatable. Small cars still represent a huge portion of fleet, but if we do not remain cognisant of the clear trend, then we could be jumping to a ‘solution’ that won’t align with the way we are actually using our roads.

One could argue that such an initiative has the potential to shape car selection among new car buyers. There is some merit to this argument, but at the same time, that is also what has been said for electric vehicles – we all know their adoption has been underwhelming at best. Then you also have the issue of giving exclusive priority to certain road users, when at the end of the day we all still pay car registration to be afforded the same access on public roads.

Comparisons are inevitable with European markets, where narrow lanes and smaller cars correspond with fewer road fatalities. What is missed in those examples is the greater access they have to public transport, in addition to the compact size of their cities. On the other hand, our commute extends much further, both geographically and by purpose.

As novel as the idea may be, it’s clear it is one that needs a rethink. What do you think of proposed skinny lanes to reduce congestion?

 

Toyota Updates: New Yaris and Corolla Hatch for 2020.

After a break of a few years, Toyota’s baby car, the Yaris, has been given a substantial makeover. In a both surprising, and unsurprising move, there’s a solid resemblance to the recently released Supra. There are muscular guards, a sharpened look to the nose, and more room thanks to an increased wheelbase of 50mm. 40mm of height reduction adds more to the sporting look as do new LED lights front and rear. Adding to the looks are two new powertrains. Both are 1.5L in size, with one being a three cylinder and the other a hybrid. The new 1.5-litre is big for a three-cylinder, Named “Dynamic Force”, the petrol engine is coupled with a direct-shift CVT with mechanical launch gear. This helps get a car with CVT off the line quicker and easier. Toyota also fit their new-generation hybrid system with an Atkinson-Cycle version of the engine and a high-density lithium-ion battery. It’s a new system for Toyota and can trace its roots to what is already found in cars such as Camry and Corolla. There’s been some solid refinement work put into this. Toyota say that thermal efficiency runs at 40% and improved internal friction, plus reduced energy losses.The tried and proven MacPherson struts system underpins the front front section of the new Yaris. The rear is a refined version of the previous torsion beam setup. This should help in improved dynamics and reduce body roll. Internal reinforcements, in areas such as the cowl, rear pillar, transmission tunnel, and inside the rear structure and rear wheelhouse, along with a stiffer dashboard panel will add to the stiffness and stability factor.Toyota has gone minimalistic, too, with an increase of spaciousness thanks to a paring back of the space used by the trim and equipment. The inside is refreshed, with a new 10-inch Head Up Display the centrepiece. Naturally there are screens for the driver’s binnacle and the centre console. Safety goes up a notch too, with an advanced version of pre-collision safety. The latest system can potentially prevent crashes at intersections by detecting oncoming vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing the road.

Toyota have also provided some updates to the Corolla hatch. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are now standard. The SX and ZR versions have been given Rear Cross Traffic Alert plus what Toyota calls “Parking Support Brake”. It’s a low speed function, working at velocities of up to 15 kilometres per hour, and uses the car’s sensors to read static and mobile traffic at the rear. The ZR’s seats are now eight way powered, and also now have lumbar support. Outside is a new two-tone paint option, with a black roof being made available to order alongside the colours for the main body which includes a new Feverish Red shade.

The range has this pricing structure, with all prices not inclusive of dealer and government charges. Ascent Sport petrol manual starts from $23,335, Ascent Sport petrol CVT from $24,835, and Ascent Sport hybrid CVT $26,335. The SX petrol CVT starts from $28,235, whilst the SX hybrid CVT starts from $29,735. The top of the range ZR starts at a petrol CVT price of $32,135 and ZR hybrid CVT from $33,635.

4 Essential Driving Apps

As Australians come to depend on their mobile phones for just about everything we do, developers have sought to capitalise on that trend by extending it to our daily mobility and driving. With apps covering the spectrum from navigation to parking, safety, entertainment and saving money – there is usually a solution for whatever you are searching.

While restrictions obviously prevent us from using our phones behind the wheel – and definitely don’t do this – we still have so many ingenious apps to choose from. But which ones deliver the most bang for your buck? Here we take a look at 4 essential driving apps.

 

Waze (iOS/Android/Windows)

Recently in the news for what some might classify as controversial reasons, Waze is a free, community based GPS and maps app. Peer-to-peer information sharing has led to a surge in its use and value. The purpose of the app is to allow road users to advise one another of hazards, delays or impediments on the road.

Of course, it was only a matter of time before users would start sharing information on mobile police locations. Nonetheless, Waze allows you to plan your trip according to real time information. When you have so many eyes out there doing the planning for you, that’s as good as any computer simulation can achieve.

 

PlugShare (iOS/Android/Windows)

This is a niche app dedicated to electric vehicle owners, or at least those who intend to venture down that path in the not too distant future. It is another peer-to-peer community app, albeit instead of just sharing data, here you are also sharing access to the electric grid network.

That’s right, not only can you see the charging network across the country, but you can view the location of users who have offered their own power supply to keep you going on the road. The search filter allows you to hone your focus to any specific needs you might need, including charging network, charger type, whether it is a free or paid charging station, and much more.

 

Fuel Map Australia (iOS/Android)

Making it three from three, Fuel Map Australia (formerly FuelMap) is a “crowd-sourced database of petrol stations and fuel prices from all across Australia”. It allows any user to add and edit the location of fuel maps wherever you’re located, as well as add pricing details as well. With filters allowing users to sort by pricing, you’ll have few issues finding the cheapest fuel in your neighbourhood to save yourself a pretty penny. As a bonus, you can also monitor your fuel economy and log purchases.

 

Google Trips (iOS/Android)

A tech list would not be complete without the addition of Google, so it’s little surprise we round out this selection with its Trips app. Perfect for the travel-oriented driver, or weekend adventurer, the real benefit here is the integration of plans and itineraries. You can track your destinations and identify tourist attractions nearby, as well as sights, activities and entertainment options as well. Even better, if you have reservations lined up in your calendar, they’ll flow through seamlessly.

 

Make sure you install these apps on your phone before you head out onto the road.