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Archive for April, 2020

Could Motorists Receive a Refund for Car Registration and Insurance Costs?

As the impact of the Coronavirus continues to play havoc on our day to day lives, roads are still largely empty compared with normal traffic levels. It’s hardly unsurprising, however.

On the one hand, we’ve been told to stay home unless going out for one of few “essential” reasons, and on the other hand, in the parts of the country where restrictions are starting to be lifted, that doesn’t mean jobs will come back any time soon. Given these changes, our cars are seeing much less usage than they normally might.

But what does that mean for some of the significant costs we bear each year as part of having our car on the road? For starters, we’re paying registration to have our vehicle authorised and approved for roadworthiness, yet we are discouraged (or even fined!) from taking our wheels out. Similarly, insurance is for the most part designed to mitigate any risk associated with an accident, but we should feel pretty comfortable there won’t be any collisions when our cars are parked up in the garage.

 

Should drivers be eligible for a refund?

If you ask thousands of Australian motorists, apparently, the resounding answer is ‘yes’.

In recent days, one online price comparison company has started a petition making the point as to why shouldn’t Australians be eligible to receive a refund on a portion of their unused car registration and insurance costs?

Quite predictably, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. After all, times are tough at the moment and we could all do with a little extra money in our pockets.

 

 

But is it likely that government and insurers would budge?

According to some, the principle of ‘fairness’ goes some way to underpin the request for a partial refund. And sure, if either state governments or insurers are feeling charitable, the prospect certainly can’t be ruled out.

However, we also have to put into perspective broader efforts being made by all levels of government. From health care costs, to support for businesses, jobs and the significant ‘benefits’ payments being distributed to support people who receive subsidies and/or find themselves impacted by a change in employment circumstances. This means that government debt is set to balloon. Believe it or not, we’ll all be paying for that soon enough.

What is also missing from this equation is a ‘benefit’ that motorists have seen offset their car expenses. That is, the overwhelming majority, if not all drivers have seen a significant reduction in running costs. Petrol prices have plummeted in recent weeks, not to mention, most of us are driving nowhere near as much as we normally might. On top of that, a reduction in wear and tear can only help delay some costs arising from repair work.

In light of this benefit relating to lower petrol costs, the federal government will also lose a chunk of its fuel excise intake due to refiners and petrol operators shifting less fuel. And ultimately, this fee is more linked to your driving activity than say, registration, which would still normally apply even if you were not using your car or out of the country.

Although insurance refunds could be on the agenda – especially if there is enough of a vocal push from insured motorists – even here, we have to consider, your car is meant to be insured even when it’s not being driven, in case of fire and theft, or for that once a week trip to the supermarket.

 

We can all hope for a better-than-expected outcome as far as partial refunds go, but let’s realise the principle of ‘fairness’ is merely a cover for that request.

Skoda Scala: Funny Name, Cool Car.

Czech manufacturer Skoda seems to slide under the radar at times. That’s a pity because the almost criminally underrated brand does make some pretty decent machines. Their Octavia wagon and sedan, and especially in RS form, is lauded by journos globally.

2020 ŠKODA SCALA 110TSI

2020 sees Skoda ramp up its attempt to be more visible in the marketplace and build upon their simple yet catchy “Simply Clever” marketing phrase.

A new small to mid-sized five door hatch is on the way. Named Scala, it builds upon the revamped design signature that Skoda introduced in 2019. It’s currently slated for a June release for Aussie showrooms and will come packed with plenty of tech and safety. There will be three models available: 110TSI, Monte Carlo, and a limited run Launch Edition.

It’ll be powered by Skoda’s potent 110TSI turbocharged petrol engine and drive the front wheels via a choice of transmissions. The good old three legger, a manual, is offered with six speeds and only in the entry level mode, or a seven-speed DSG transmission, available in each trim level.

2020 ŠKODA SCALA Monte Carlo

The lead-in variant, the 110TSI, brings with a feature list that would normally be found for thousands more. The Euro style sweeping indicator lamps which are becoming more and more popular (and are a sensible addition to any car) complement 18 inch alloys and privacy glass for the rear windows. For the humans inside adaptive cruise control, Skoda’s Smartlink smartphone pairing service, along with Android and Apple apps, plus a wireless charging pad, are also standard.

The “Virtual Cockpit”, a 10.25 inch full colour LCD display features in the driver’s binnacle. This too is standard across the three. A repositioned touchcsreen of 8.0 inches for the 110TSI/Monte Carlo and 9.2 inches for the Launch, allows access to the various onboard functions and apps, plus the audio system.

Red ambient lighting will provide a warmth to the cabin’s signature red styling in the Monte Carlo sports seats, whilst the Launch Edition will have leather trim. Monte Carlo’s passenger’s will have a panoramic sunroof as standard.

Extra standard equipment for the 110TSI includes a powered tailgate, Lane Assist, a tyre pressure monitoring system, and seven airbags. The Monte Carlo adds full LED front lighting, a dual zone climate control system, with teh front passengers having sports seats and sports pedals for the driver. The Launch Edition adds heating for the front and rear seats, body coloured door mirrors, a chrome grill frame and chrome window surrounds, Auto Parking Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Side Assist/Blind Spot Assist.

2020 ŠKODA SCALA Launch Edition

Launch pricing sees $26,990 for the 110TSI Manual, and $28,990 for the same car with the DSG transmission. Monte Carlo will start from $33,990 whilst the Launch Edition will price from $35,990. These are drive-away prices.

Classic Car Movies: The Car Is The Hero.

There are some topics in life which are more divisive than pineapple on pizzas. Star Wars versus Star Trek, Holden versus Ford, Connery versus Moore. Best car films in any discussion fall into the divisive category.

What makes for a good car film, though? Is it the car or cars that are why the movie is regarded as a classic ? The story line? The set pieces? Trying to pin down a definitive list is impossible, so we thought we’d shop around and get an idea of what people thought. One film that was a clear favourite is a home grown production.

Starring a young up and coming actor named Mel Gibson, it’s a movie that brings in just about everything a good car film needs. Action, pathos, a chase scene or three, “The Goose”, and of course that incredible XB Falcon. “Mad Max” is a film that simply can’t be overlooked.Steven Spielberg is best known for a few films starring Harrison Ford and a mind-blowing sci-fi film or two. However, an early part of his career involved a story that is about is simple as it comes. With minimal dialogue it relied on Spielberg’s ability to heighten tension with a simple camera move. Starring Dennis Weaver and based upon a book written by a car driver that had a similar experience with a mad truck driver, “Duel” remains one of the most gripping films of its kind nearly fifty years on.It’s almost impossible to write a list of car films without including this entry. The stars of the film were three little machines designed by Alec Issigonis. The story line, again, was simple. Money, in the form of gold bullion, a few gags, some brilliant scenery and an amazing chase sequence, toss in the broad Cockney accent of Michael Caine, and you have “The Italian Job”. This one celebrates fifty years or delighting audiences.It was agonizing to toss out some of the films that could have made the cut. There is the original “The Fast and The Furious” from 1955, and the remake & subsequent series of films. There was Jason Statham’s “The Transporter”, and the sublime recreation of the relationship between James Hunt and Niki Lauda in “Rush”.

But number 4 goes to a Steve McQueen favourite. Based on real life events, and featuring film from one of the races itself, “Le Mans” takes our fourth grid spot. Packed with macho appeal, and the sense of unburnt “gasoline” hovering around the screen, Le Mans was notable for the bravery of the cameramen hanging on to the cars and heavy cameras of the time.Number five features a product of Ford. It also happens to feature McQueen. It’s a film that has an unbroken street based chase scene of nearly ten minutes. Two cars were used, powered by a 325hp 390ci V8 powering down through a four speed manual. The film is, of course, “Bullitt”.  The car? A 1968 Ford Mustang 390 GT 2+2 Fastback. We know there are plenty of truly classic films that are built around and feature cars as the real heroes of the films. Let us know your thoughts.

The Dying Art of Manual Driving

Among the diehard motoring fanatics, manual driving has been a fundamental component of one’s driving abilities. Even then, it offers a level of authenticity that you just don’t get when the car does all the work for you! After all, there has always been something about those perfectly-timed gear changes that just resulted in a sense of self-satisfaction.

However, much like a lot of things, especially in today’s day and age, a ‘trend’ doesn’t necessarily stay in vogue. At least if something more convenient and simple takes over. It doesn’t matter how much more authentic manual driving might feel to the masses, because the masses quite frankly don’t care.

What is surprisingly, however, is that they also don’t seem to care about the prospect of some handy savings on the up-front price of a manual vehicle either. Although that could have something to do with the fact that selling a second-hand manual car on the market these days is becoming more difficult than it otherwise should be.

Where do manual cars stand in the market today?

While manual car sales remain resilient throughout many European countries, it’s a vastly different proposition down under. In fact, cars with manual transmission have accounted for a diminishing portion of all new car sales over a long time, and it doesn’t help that more and more manufacturers are turning their backs on manuals when releasing their latest models.

Now accounting for well under 10% of all new car sales in Australia, it appears that there is no love for manual driving anymore. Everyday Australians want the convenience of an effortless drive. And, when you would normally have to grind along in peak traffic, who can blame them?

But we also need to consider the role being played by the population’s fanaticism with SUVs. Once upon a time, not all that long ago actually, true SUVs built for off-road conditions were favoured with a manual transmission.

Now, however, because we use our SUVs for almost everything but off-roading, the clear direction has seen the latest models fitted with automatic transmission as default. Driving purists must be in disbelief! Or maybe they’ve made the switch as well, since less than 2% of SUVs are now manuals.

What does the future hold for manual driving?

If there is one sole bright spot for manual cars, however, they have a loyal support base among light commercial applications. As the preferred choice for many heavy-duty fleets, or tradies alike, there is surely a safe haven for the tried and trusted manual car?

Well, that may have been the case, but if you haven’t noticed around you, dual-cab utes have rose to prominence as some of the nation’s best-selling vehicles. More to the point, it’s not only tradies using these vehicles now. Instead, they are finding themselves in the hands of families who want convenience and simplicity. Yep, you guessed it! That’s another one of our preferences squeezing manual sales.

But at the root of all this, there’s something else happening. Younger drivers just aren’t interested in manual cars. Forget about the fact they can’t drive manual, they don’t even want to learn how to do so. What’s even more worrying for fans of the format is that if we do move the way of autonomous vehicles, what then for the nostalgic days of manual driving?

2020 Genesis G70 Ultimate: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A vehicle from the luxury arm of Hyundai, Genesis. Formerly a sub-brand, complete with one model and a Hyundai badge, it’s morphed into a brand in its own right and offers a two model range (G70 and G80) with three trim levels, being Sport, Ultimate, and Ultimate Sport for the G70. This has either a 2.0L turbo four or the punchy and potent 3.3L twin turbo V6 as found in the Kia Stinger.

How Much Does It Cost?: In a retail sense, before delivery and government charges, the G70 starts at $72,450. That’s for the Sport, with the Ultimate and Ultimate Sport from $79,950 each. In a drive-away pricing structure, Genesis says the G70 Sport is $80,500, or $83,125 with sunroof. The Ultimate is $88.375, a price shared with the Ultimate Sport.

Under The Bonnet Is: The firecracker 3.3L twin turbo V6 that continues to delight in its driving habits and flexibility. 272 kW and 510Nm, with the latter on tap from just 1,300rpm through to 4,500rpm on the rev counter dial, means switching between idling down a residential street to a lairy, chest beating display, is merely the flex of the right ankle away. It’s responsive to a “T”, with urgency all the way through the rev range when needed, as docile as a tired kitten when required.The choice of transmission is simple. It’s an eight speed auto or an eight speed auto. And it’s one that works best once it’s had a coffee or two to wake up in regards to smoothness. Economy hasn’t been the strongest part of the engine/transmission combo. The official figures are 10.2L/100km for the combined cycle, and on our restricted urban drives we saw nothing below 9.0L/100km. That’s with a mix of quietly idling away from the kerb to brief extractions of the potency of the power-plant. Fuel tank capacity is a little on the small side at 60L. Dry weight is 1,725kg.On The Outside It’s: Coated all over in a luscious, deep, red metallic, on our test car, called Havana Red. The door handles are a dark gunmetal grey door handles and dark grey painted alloys are wrapped in 225/40 and 255/35 on 19 inch grey painted alloys. It’s a stunning colour and beautifully highlights the supermodel curves of the G70. The wheels house 350mm and 340mm vented discs, clamped by Brembo.

The G70 is somewhat BMW-esque at the rear, and the snout is low, and broad, not unlike a Jaguar. The main lights are outboard, with a pair of sloping LED driving lights drawing the eye to them and the blades below. For all of the styling hints, the G70 is its own definitive look too. It’s wind-tunnel tested, with a drag co-efficient of 0.29cD. The guards, windscreen, and rear screen are tailored to provide as optimal an angle as possible for clean airflow, plus an under-body plate helps the G70 cleave its way through. The lack of wind noise is apparent as a result.It’s a touch shorter than expected, with 4,685mm in total length. That’s down to a 1,400mm height that makes it look longer, whilst an 1,850mm width adds to the stance. It’s also nearly impossible to not notice the resemblance to its sibling, Kia’s brilliant Stinger. Although the Kia is slightly longer, even though the pair share the basic chassis design, and more a five door hatch/coupe, the lineage is visible and not a bad thing.

What isn’t a good thing is the relative small 330L of boot space. A high cargo floor that holds the space saver spare is the culprit. Width isn’t a problem, but on our weekly shop test we had to put a bag or two into the rear seat section, a very rare occurrence.On The Inside It’s: Sumptuously appointed are the words most often used for cabins such as the ones found in the G70. Quilted leather seats, and complementary trim in the doors, set off the luxury feel. The front seats have for heating and venting, plus cushions that adjust for lateral support when Sport mode is selected, catch the eye first. There is venting for the rear seats, a nice touch. There is also a tab on the upper right shoulder of the passenger seat that allows the driver to move it fore and aft.

The driver works in a comfortable office; soft touch indicator stalk, a Start/Stop button in clear view, metallic buttons in the centre console plus a Drive selector button provide visual and tactile appeal. The Ultimate 3.3 has a HUD, it’s crystal clear in definition and shows items such as velocity, lane keeping status, cruise control status and more. The dash is a leather appointed affair with contrasting stitching. Information for items such as the door lock settings is found via the now standard tabs in the tiller. This includes a turbo pressure/torque/oil pressure screen, and one with G-Force and lap-timer. If there’s an area that the G70 could up, it’s having a driver’s display that isn’t, surprisingly, a full width LCD screen such as that found, say, in a Volvo S60. It’s an area that more than whispers the Hyundai/Kia origins and one that appears easily enough updated to say Genesis instead.

An eight inch touchscreen is the control centre for the car, with aircon, DAB audio via a premium Lexicon speaker system, drive information, satnav, and apps. Underneath the screen is a gentle slope towards the console and a sliding door opens to show the smartphone charge pad and USB/3.5 mm sockets. There is a sunroof for that extra sense of airiness when needed, and it does lighten the black-on-black ambience of the cabin.The DAB tuner is one of the best going. In areas where many other brands, including its own sibling, Stinger, drop out, the sensitivity of the Genesis DAB tuner is always pulling signal. Should there be an area where DAB isn’t available, Android, Apple, and Bluetooth stand ready to connect.

Drive-wise there’s a rocker gear selector and the electronic park is a button just ahead of the rocker mechanism. The material in the centre console is a cool and classy looking alloy style. The drive selector dial is located just south and is ergonomically placed.

Rear leg room though isn’t fantastic. There is 884mm versus 1,083mm up front. Head room isn’t an issue, even with the sunroof fitted. 978mm and 938mm are the front and rear measurements. Shoulder room is 1,430mm and 1,387mm, plenty here. There are a pair of ISOFIX anchorage points also to provide ample access for the little ‘uns.What About Safety?: Genesis achieved a five star ANCAP rating in 2018. ANCAP says: “All three grades of autonomous emergency braking (City, Interurban and Vulnerable Road User) and a lane support system with Lane Keep Assist (LKA), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Emergency Lane Keeping (ELK) are standard on all variants.” Seven airbags including driver’s knee are standard.

There is also a 360 degree camera system in high definition clarity. The camera allows for selection of differing points of view, including a fold down left hand side when reversing to pinpoint where the wheels are in relation to a kerb.On The Road It’s: A ball-tearer of a car to drive. Having over 500 torques on taps at the press of a pedal is an absolutely intoxicating experience. When the car is warmed up, it’s a potent package. A zero to one hundred kph time of 4.7 seconds from a car weighing close to two tonnes is mightily impressive. There is a setting in the touchscreen that allows for what mode of sound the cabin hears too, and on full song it’s a real snarl as the G70 hauls arse.

The transmission benefits from a warm-up period. We’ve found that the engine is ready to stretch and bellow almost from the get go, but the eight speed auto was indecisive, unsure, and stumbled between gears up and down. These hiccups slowly disappeared one by one as the fluids warmed, and it was just a few minutes before everything was smooth, slick, sharp.

The suspension varies depending on drive mode and on its most relaxed setting, Eco, the G70 still has limpet grip. Long sweepers don’t trouble the machine, the nose is still quick in response to the gentle tug of the tiller, and it all seems effortless. Sport feels as if the steering gets some weight and tightens up the front end; the steering wheel is at just the right diameter to hold and this allows the arms to move as they should to feel connected to the nose. In normal driving it’s neutral, there’s no wavering as the chassis track straight and true, and only minimal input is required.

The Michelin rubber is the type found on cars costing over one million, so there’s already an expectation that they’ll hang on tenaciously. In Sport mode with a tighter suspension setting, there’s some rear end skipping on the road joins in corners, however the response time from the suspension is such that rebound is nullified instantly, allowing the rubber to do what Michelin intended. Ride quality across the board is nothing short of brilliant. There’s almost nothing in our drive loops that put the Genesis G70 to the sword.Genesis have allowed the whole drivetrain some leniency; there is an option to use launch control, which involves the stability control being switched off, raising the revs, and hitting the go pedal hard. Without that process and simply sinking the slipper, the rear will squirrel momentarily before the system intervenes just enough to have the G70 regain its sense of sensibility. Brake feedback is sublime, with the pedal telling the braking foot just where it is in travel and the force needed or not.

In essence, the handling apckage of the G70 can boil down to this: it feels natural. It feels like the 2,000 kilos isn’t, the car shrinkwraps around the driver and it’s like picking up what looks like an iron glove only to find out it’s pure leather.

Warranty And Service Are: Five years with unlimited kilometres. complimentary servicing for five years or fifty thousand kilometres. There is also a pick-up service for addresses within 70 kilometres of the service centre. Genesis also offer a Connected Care package, which involves areas such as Automatic Collision Notification and Assistance, SOS Emergency Assistance, and On-Demand Diagnostics.

At The End Of the Drive. Dynamically the G70 shines. It’s an incredibly easy car to become one with, and the engineering and R&D work that the Hyundai team have expended is clearly obvious. It simply wraps around the driver like a custom made shoe, and does the job it should. The trim level is luxurious and ergonomics spot on. Audio is excellent and the usage of the controls is fingertip intuitive.

However the cramped rear sear seat and smaller than it should be boot aim the G70 more towards a DINK (Double Income No Kids) or for a young family. That does add a narrowing of appeal in one area, but makes its appeal perfectly clear in another.

Either way, it’s capable of delivering stonking performance and the grip ability to cope. Organise your own test drive via the Genesis website.

Large SUVs you can buy in 2020

So let’s have a look at the large SUVs we can buy in Australia this year.  A large SUV is a big vehicle offering stacks of space and comfort, and there are a number of really nice vehicles in this bracket with gob-smacking luxury, and then there are some that are decent all-round big SUVs that deliver plenty of comfort and technology without going overboard.

Audi

Audi Q7

Two models of Audi are available, both of which have superb build quality.  You’ll find in the Audi Q7 and Audi Q8 brilliant technology for the cabin with nice touchscreens and a superb digital driver’s display.

The Audi Q7 has space, comfort and status to offer its new owner.  Out on the road the Q7 delivers smooth, quiet performance, and the ride is fabulous.  A V6 TDi Quattro with 160 kW is the base model that’s available.  This is a five-seater model with the nice shifting eight-speed auto.  Masses of torque (500 Nm) has all the pull you’ll need for towing the caravan.  Five-star safe and an average fuel economy of around 6 litres/100 km; and life in the Q7 is pretty good.  There is also a higher performance engine that uses the same V6TDi, except with this one you get seven seats, 200 kW and 600 Nm to get you down the road.  An SQ7 TDi is the seven-seat Q7 flagship, with the ‘S’ standing for Sport.  Prices start at around $85k with the SQ7 boasting 320 kW and 900 Nm – figures that would make any Roadster envious!

Audi Q8

Audi’s Q8 AWD is a sleek large SUV showpiece.  It looks more dynamic than the Q7.  The new Audi Q8 also boasts Audi’s ‘vorsprung durch technik brilliance’ underpinning the sharp handling skills on this SUV.  A base model 3.0 TDi Quattro has 210 kW and 600 Nm, around 7 litres/100km economy and an eight-speed auto.  The powerhouse 4.0 TDi engine with 320 kW and 900 Nm is the flagship model that scampers through the 0-100 km/h dash in around 5 seconds.  Petrol fans will go for the 3.0 TFSI version with 250 kW and 500 Nm.  This V6 is very smooth and can get pretty good economy for a large SUV (less than 10 litres/100 km).  All Audi Q8s have five-star safety and five seats.

BMW

BMW X5

There has to be a BMW in this segment and, sure enough, we find the BMW X5 and X6.  The X5 is probably the most popular big SUV made by BMW, and for good reason; you get plenty of variants to choose from, plenty of kit on-board as standard with heaps of options available, and then the Motorsport variants with stiffened suspensions and sporty styling raise the bar.  The dashboard has twin digital screens, there is quality trim throughout, and for the models that come with leather the quality is exceptional.

The BMW X5 range starts with the X5 xDrive25d which lands at just below $100k.  Power comes from a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel that makes 170 kW and 450 Nm.  It gets along nicely via an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive system.  BMW claims a 7.5-second sprint to 100km/h.

Another newbie for 2020 is the BMW X5 xDrive45e which you can buy at around $129k, and it is the first plug-in hybrid to be offered in the new-generation X5 range.  With a new 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol, inline six with an electric motor and 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, you are good to go with 290 kW and 600 Nm.  The BMW X5 PHEV can hit 100 km/h from a standstill in around 5.6 seconds.  The maximum EV driving range is around 65km per charge.

The new 2020 X5 flagship model is the BMW X5 M50i xDrive (available from around $151k).  This model boasts 390 kW of power and 750 Nm of torque from its 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol, enabling the big SUV to scamper through the 0-100 km/h in less than five seconds.

All new BMW X5 variants are five-star safe and run with smooth eight-speed automatics.  The standout for me is the PHEV.

BMW X6

A new BMW X6 fills the niche that the X5 won’t, in that it is a bit more exotic and out there in terms of its purpose and styling.  Loads of performance is offered in the X6 xDrive 30d and M50d which are both diesels, and deliver loads of refinement which makes for a special drive.  Both are five-star safe, eight-speed automatics and can achieve around 8 litres/100 km.  The x30d models start out at around $110k and the M50d at around $140k.

Two X6 petrol variants stand out: an X6 xDrive 50i 4.4-litre V8(330 kW/650 Nm) with its colossal performance and its pricing starting around $140k, while the X6 xDrive 40i 3.0-litre (230kW/450 Nm) runs with smooth running gear and quick performance with its price starting at around $115k.

Ford

Ford Endura

Ford is making some excellent large SUV vehicles, the smaller of the two being the Endura which comes in three variants: Trend (FWD), ST-Line (AWD) and Titanium (AWD).  Very affordable, the tidy Endura is a slick, roomy SUV that can go anywhere and perform its tasks easily thanks to a grunty 140 kW/400 Nm, 2.0-litre, turbo-diesel engine.  You should be able to achieve an average fuel consumption of less than 7.0 litres/100 km.  It has five-star safety, 800 litres of boot space, runs with an 8-speed auto and boasts a comfortable interior.  These start from around $45k.

Ford Everest

A new Ford Everest is the flagship Ford large SUV that is available in Australia.  It comes ready loaded with impressive features, luxury and infotainment systems.  Comfortable for the long haul, this is a standout performer if you need a seven-seat SUV, awesome off-road ability (Titanium) and power and economy to boot.  Luggage space in the boot is between 450–1050 litres.

Running with the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel with 157 kW and 500 Nm it’s not short of breath.  You can opt for the 147 kW/470 Nm 3.2-litre single-turbo, five-cylinder diesel with a six-speed auto, as well.  Drive for the 2.0-litre auto is put through a smooth 10-speed auto.

A 2020 Everest starts from around $50k for the Ambiante RWD and $73k for the Titanium AWD.  RWD and AWD are offered alongside four grades (Ambiente, Trend, Sport and Titanium).  A new Ford Everest gives you plenty of space, seven seats and five-star safety.  Very nice!

Holden

Holden Acadia

Two big Holden SUVs are available, and the first is a magnificent offering known as the Holden Acadia AWD.  It’s an American built machine and rides sumptuously with comfort.  Inside, the luxurious cabin is roomy and the boot cavernous.  With all seven seats in place the Acadia has 292 litres for luggage, but fold that third row down and the boot space is 1042 litres.

Towing is a breeze with the trusty and familiar 3.6-litre petrol motor offering plenty of performance and pulling power (231 kW/367 Nm).  Boasting 5-star safety, three models to choose from (LT,LTZ, LTZ-V), a smooth automatic and the ability to cruise well under 10 litres/100 km, this is a stylish large SUV that has plenty of road presence for a decent price (around $44 – $70k new depending on model).  It’s hard to beat as a complete package, though it could do with a diesel…

Holden Trailblazer

The other big Holden SUV is the Trailblazer.  Only the one model is offered, the LTZ AWD, but it has all the bells and whistles and it comes with a decent 2.8-litre, diesel engine (147 kW/500 Nm).  Running with a six-speed auto and a low-range box, the new Trailblazer can average around 9 litres/100 km and tackle any off-road work with ease.  This large SUV is based on the Colorado Ute and brings a tough, go-anywhere talent.  You can tow heavy loads and it comes with seven seats.  As well as being 5-star safe it rides on-road with solid skills and a comfortable ride.  LT-Z models come loaded with everything, though the base model LT has plenty of goodies.  If you want a more sporty flavour, then the top of the range Storm or Z71 will be the models for you.  Expect to pay between $45k and $55k for a new Trailblazer – that’s pretty decent!

Hyundai

Hynudai Santa Fe

A new Hyundai SUV is quite a common sight on our roads, and for good reason.  The most popular SUV for Hyundai is their large Santa Fe.  This is a stylish new roomy SUV (boot measures 547 litres with five seats in place) with superb 5-star safety features and technology, and though the 2.4-litre petrol with 138 kW of power and 241 Nm of torque is a smooth, solid unit, it is the diesel that is a standout, refined performer.  Averaging around 8 litres or less per 100 km for its fuel consumption, the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel also packs stacks of creamy torque (147 kW/440 Nm) throughout the engine revs and is very easy to drive smartly over any road.  There is a bigger 3.5-litre petrol with 205 kW and 336 Nm should you like the thought of this alternative ULP variant.  All Santa Fe models have AWD or 2WD options and use an eight-speed automatic – including the petrol models.  There are three variants in total, the Highlander being the flagship model.  Pricing is around the $43 – $60k mark.

Isuzu

Isuzu MU-X

A 2020 Isuzu MU-X will be a dependable, tough SUV that is built on the rugged D-Max Ute’s platform.  You get seven seats, an automatic gearbox, and premium luxury and comfort.  Inside the MU-X it’s modern and comfortable with all the goodies like climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen, 18-inch alloys, a nice audio system and plenty of electrics to enjoy.  You also get 5-star safety.  The 2020 Isuzu MU-X range now kicks off from around $43k for the entry-level 4×2 LS-M, and runs through to around $58k for the flagship 4×4 LS-T.  All six variants use the grunty 130kW/430Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, which is linked to the Aisin-sourced six-speed torque-converter automatic transmission.  4×2 and 4×4 options are available across the stylish SUV’s three grades (LS-M, LS-U and LS-T).  With five seats in place, the MU-X offers 878 litres of cargo space.  Fold all the seats flat and boot space grows to 1830 litres.

Jaguar

Jaguar F-Pace

You can get yourself a new luxury SUV with decent space and plenty of pace.  The 2020 Jaguar F-Pace models are special SUVs to drive, and if you go for the insanely quick (and expensive) SVR model you get a V8 petrol engine with 405 kW and 680 Nm.  This model does not muck around, sounds magical and can hit 100 km/h from a standstill in just over 4 seconds!  A top speed of around 280 km/h ensures there aren’t many SUVs that will stay with you when you let all these horses loose.

There are other models, however, that are equally as delightful to drive but for different reasons.  The base model 20d uses a sweet 2.0-litre turbo-diesel that can offer its owner peppy performance and an average fuel consumption around 5.5 litres/100 km.  You still have 132 kW of power and 430 Nm to play with.

R-Sport models use a range of quick engines (25d, 25t and 30t) with plenty of torque (400-500 Nm).

Two V6 models are available: The S version with a petrol 3.0-litre offering 280 Nm and 450 Nm, and an SD version with a 3.0-litre Diesel offering 221 kW and 700 Nm (yes, that’s correct).

As you can see, the Jaguar F-Pace is a driving enthusiast’s SUV with excellent performance and AWD handling and grip.  All models come with a 5-star safety rating and deliver quite remarkable economy given the level of performance on offer.  Style, luxury, performance and space (up to 1740 litres of boot space) make a Jaguar F-Pace highly desirable.  In fact, some say it’s Jaguars most practical sports car!

Prices range from between $66k – 166k.

Jeep

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Big and impressive, a new Grand Cherokee always looks good for any occasion.  These are superbly comfortable, roomy SUVs that are 4×4 excellent if you need a pure off-road beast.  Equally at home on the tarmac, the Grand Cherokee rides handsomely and safely, and all the family will love the high tech infotainment systems and luxury features.

If you love seriously hot performance, there is a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk model which is arguably the quickest SUV in the world.  It boasts a 6.2-litre, V8 petrol that’s loaded with 522 kW and 868 Nm – enough to send it from a standstill to 100 km/h in 3.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 290 km/h!

Serious off-roaders will like the 4×4 trail-ready Trailhawk and Overland models.  There is 457–782 litres in the boot with the rear seats in place, and then with the rear seats folded flat the boot is massive.  All new Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs come with AWD, automatic gearboxes, big towing performance and 5-star safety.  Depending on the model, prices range from between $47-135k.

Jeep Wrangler

You can also grab yourself a funky Jeep Wrangler with spectacular off-road capability and loads of practical features.  Two and four door variants are available.  The Wrangler two-door has a boot capacity of just 197 litres with the back seats in place, but if you only have occasional rear passengers you can fold the seats forward to create a 587-litre load bay.  The four-door has a handier 533-litre boot; this extends to 1,044 litres when the seats are folded down.  Safety is good, but isn’t as good as some SUVs out there.

Three Wrangler model trims are presented, all using the 3.6-litre petrol engine boasting 209 kW and 347 Nm.  Automatic gearboxes with low-range and 4WD are standard on all models.  Expect at least 10.5-litres/100 km fuel consumption when driven sedately, but if you own one of these you probably won’t mind – because you’ll love the rugged 4×4 action!

Kia

Kia Sorento

Another very good go-to large SUV that ticks all the handy boxes is the 2020 version of the Sorento.  A new Kia Sorento is a seven-seater offering high levels of specification, boasts an excellent 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine (147 kW/441 Nm) across the range, has an eight-speed auto, and five-star safety which can detect rear seat occupancy.  A 3.5-litre petrol version is also available with plenty of refined power and creamy torque.  You also have the option of going 4×2 if you want; otherwise 4×4 variants deliver excellent traction off-road, making it quite a good buy for adventure enthusiasts.  Its rugged platform copes well with towing duties, as well.  Keep the third row of seats in place and there’s 142 litres of boot space, but folding them down and up to 605 litres behind the second row of seats is nice space.

This is an SUV at the right price that is hard to beat.  Pricing is between $43–$60k.

Lamborghini

Lamborghini URUS

You’re probably more familiar with Lamborghini offering formidable supercars.  You’d be right there; they do.  Some farmers will also know that they build tractors.  But did you know that Lamborghini offer the URUS 4WD SUV?  The Lamborghini URUS is a 5-door SUV model packed with performance (478 kW/850 Nm).  It’s five-star safe, has a beefy and thirsty V8 petrol engine, full-time AWD with Torsen-type limited slip-diff wizardry, 4-wheel torque vectoring, rear wheel steer and plenty of luxury.  You pay around $390k for the four-seat version and $403k for the five-seater, which makes it a pricey SUV.  But, hey, you’ll be a rare sight on the road – for sure!

Land Rover

Land Rover Discovery

As you would expect, Land Rover has some very nice large, luxury SUVs for those who need one of the best in the business.  The Discovery and Range Rover Sport are roomy SUVs that will seat seven comfortably while providing awesome interior tech and premium safety.  They also offer the go-anywhere 4×4 off-road ability Land Rover is renowned for.  These are about as good as you get in luxury 4×4 SUV motoring.

The latest Land Rover Discovery has legendary off-road ability, and you can get the latest 2020 model with two premium turbo-diesel options.  The first is a 2.0-litre with around 180 kW of power and as much as 500 Nm of torque.  This is impressive and is available standard in the least expensive SD4 S model.  A larger 3.0-litre with 225 kW of power and 700 Nm of torque is also available to the buyer, and it’s so strong in all conditions.  Remarkably, the big diesel sips fuel pretty slowly and can return around 8 litres/100 km.  Both engines are linked to the excellent 8-speed automatic with low range and crawl control.  Five-star safety with a huge boot makes life very nice owning a new Disco.  Expect to pay between $74 and $127k.

Land Rover Range Rover

The Land Rover Range Rover Vogue SE SDV8 offers us a more upmarket five-seater SUV that’s loaded with luxury, technology and 4×4 capability.  The 2020 models are more dynamic on-and-off the road.  Running with an eight-speed, V8 supercharged Diesel you have 250 kW of power and 740 Nm of torque, and you should be able to get down to 10 litres/100 km fuel consumption.  Buy new, and it comes with a 3 year 100,000 km warranty.  Boot space is a massive 909 litres – even with the rear seats in place!

Range Rover Sport

Range Rover Sport models have a wide range of options and trims.  Both the Sport and Velar variants lead the way in maximum luxury and opulence, and the 4×4 capability, five-star safe, seven-seat space and high-tech kit give these desirable big SUVs loads of street cred.

There are 2.0-litre 221 kW UPL engines, 294 kW Hybrid engines, a 386 kW V8 UPL engine, a 423 kW V8 UPL engine, 183 kW and 225 kW 3.0-litre Diesels, and a 250 kW 4.4-litre Diesel engines that are available for the Range Rover Sport models.  Prices for the Sport range are between $98k – 240k with loads of options to choose from.  The latest model is lighter, faster and more fuel efficient than ever before.

Range Rover Velar

Velar models are nice five-seater SUVs with excellent space, comfort and technology.  These are based on sister company Jaguar F-Pace models and their new smooth lines are easy on the eye.  Velar variants boast awesome luxurious interiors with all the mod-cons and infotainment features you’ll want.  Boot space is a healthy 632 litres with the rear seats in place.  Of course, with a luggage wall in place you can fill this space right up to the roof making it great for the family get away.  Current prices range from $70 – 177k range for the base model Range Rover Velar P250 (184kW) and the Range Rover Velar P550 SV A/B Dynamic (405kW), respectively.  Five-star safety, and petrol and diesel options give plenty of choice to the 2020 Velar buyer.

Lexus

Lexus RX

Lexus offer the striking new RX SUV which is a medium/large size SUV with petrol and hybrid power plants.  These are luxurious and sophisticated machines, and 2020 models come with the latest Incorporate Lexus Safety System +, active cornering assist, the Bladescan light enhancement system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Qi wireless charging for enhanced connectivity.  They offer the buyer a class-leading design that is eye-catching and practical.  Toyota running gear makes these one of the most reliable SUVs on the market and they are solid vehicles with five-star safety.  Ride quality is excellent, the handling nimble and direct, and the interiors comfortable and quiet.  Boot space in five-seater models with the split-fold second row seats in place is around 539 litres.  Seven seater versions are also available.

A turbocharged RX 300, the 3.5-litre V6 RX 350, or the technologically advanced RX 450h with Lexus Hybrid Drive are the powertrains on offer.  Powering the Lexus RX 300 variants is a 175 kW/350 Nm 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol, four-cylinder engine.  Powering the Lexus RX 350 is a 221 kW/370 Nm, 3.5-litre V6, petrol motor.  And, powering the Lexus RX 450h is a 230 kW/335 Nm, petrol/electric hybrid powertrain.  Want a five seater Lexus RX, then you’ll be paying between $72–110k.  Go for seven seats and the prices are between $85–111k.  Hybrid versions are the most expensive variants.

Lexus LX

Also available in the Lexus stable is the awesomely luxurious and refined LX 4WD.  It is an extra-large SUV with heaps of space (over 1500 litres boot capacity and seven seats are offered).  Running Toyota’s reliable gear, you can have the most luxurious of SUVs in petrol (V8, 5.7-litre, 270 kW, 530 Nm, approx – 15 litres/100 km), or diesel in some countries (V8, 4.5-litre, 200 kW, 650 Nm, approx – 10 litres/100 km).  Five-star safety is a given with some of the most sophisticated accident avoidance systems on-board the LX package.  Prices start from around $145k for the standard petrol model and around $170k for the S petrol LX.

Maserati

Maserati Levante

Stylish SUVs don’t come much more-so than with Maserati’s new Levante AWD.  The Levante is a brilliant new luxury SUV with all the goodies, premium safety and performance to boot.  Petrol models get either the V6 3.0-litre motor in the Luxury model with 257 kW and 500 Nm, or the 321 kW V6 petrol motor with 580 Nm of torque.

Interestingly, the Diesel option in the Levante has you enjoying all the luxury of the other two engine variants but for over $10k less.  This might be the bargain you really want because this model also comes with 202 kW and 600 Nm, and can regularly run at less than 8.5 litres/100 km.  Top of the performance ladder, however, is the 3.8-litre, Twin Turbo, V8 petrol boasting 441 kW and 730 Nm (0-100 km/h in 4 seconds).

Maserati Levante SUVs are five-star safe, offer five-seats and offer 580 litres of luggage space with the second row seats in place.  Expect to pay between $125k for the base 3.0-litre petrol model and $330k for the Trofeo V8 Petrol.

Mazda

Mazda CX-8

Another of the best two roomy SUVs you can buy; and with all the kit, decent space and nice comfortable interiors: Mazda’s CX-8 or CX-9 AWD SUVs.  Both of these are very good looking and sleek.

The CX-8 is a five-seater SUV and is exclusively diesel powered.  You won’t find a better handling everyday SUV on the market, and the performance is exceptionally smooth.  Under the hood is a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel with 140 kW and 450 Nm.  Fuel efficiency is excellent, with drivers easily capable of getting around 6 litres/100 km on average.  What more can I say: the six-speed auto is smooth and safety simply superb.  Pricing for the awesome Mazda CX-8 is between $47 and $66k, and there are both FWD and AWD variants for all four trims.

Mazda CX-9

The CX-9 is a seven-seater SUV with loads of occupant space, comfort and elegant style.  Flick the powered tailgate open, and with all seven seats in place the luggage space is 230 litres, but knock the third row over and it grows to become a cavernous (1081 litres).  Powered by a 2.5-litre, SkyActiv turbo, petrol engine there is heaps of power on tap (170 kW/420 Nm) and economy sits at around 9 litres/100 km.  You’ll find it very hard to find a better family wagon that is occupant and driver friendly.  This is an SUV with all the right features.  Prices are between $46k and 70k, with FWD and AWD versions available; and all versions are five-star safe.

Mercedes Benz

Mercedes Benz GLE

Luxury car-maker Mercedes Benz has a nice large SUV on offer that’s known as the GLE AWD SUV.  This is Mercedes Benz at its best with build quality and materials of premium standards.  Luxury, comfort and space are the hallmarks of the GLE, and all variants are superbly safe.  Riding in the GLE is refined and effortless.  Practicality is aided by the fact that the seven-seater boasts 630 litres in five-seat mode, which expands to 2055 litres when the second row is folded away.  All models can scamper off-road no problems at all as they all have decent 4×4 capabilities.

Models start with the 2.0-litre turbo-diesel powered 300d (180 kW/500 Nm).  The 300d engine is a sweetie and packs plenty of power along with an average of around 7 litres per 100 km for fuel efficiency.  In between is a GLE 450 petrol (270 kW/500 Nm).  Currently, the top of the ladder model is the GLE 400d with a 2.9-litre turbo-diesel engine with 243 kW of power and 700 Nm of torque.  Remarkably, the bigger diesel still delivers around 8 litres/100 km economy.

For what you get, the GLE is a reasonably priced luxury SUV, where the prices are between $105k–125k.

Mercedes Benz GLS

Bigger can be better with a new Mercedes Benz GLS.  With massively spacious boot space (5-seats offers 890 litres and 7 seats offers 355 litres), the GLS SUV is Merc’s top-of-the-line seven-seater; and it is luxurious.  Supremely comfortable and stylish the new GLS is packed with technology.  On the road the ride is superb thanks to some of the most sophisticated suspension and damping technology.  Boasting AWD/4×4 capability you can go anywhere in one of these, too.  Five-star safety is a given, and the current price of a new one starts at around $145k and tops out at $154k.  For what you get this is one of the best extra-large SUVs on the market.

The 400d uses a 2.9-litre diesel with 700 Nm of torque and 243 kW of power, while the hybrid petrol uses a 3.0-litre with 500 Nm and 270 kW.

Mercedes Benz G-Class

G-Class Mercedes Benz SUV models are classy and superior off-road 4×4 vehicles with comfort, space and power aplenty.  Three diff-locks and low range gearing offer the ultimate traction in rough terrain and the refinement has gotten better and better with each new model.  A 3.0-litre turbo-diesel gets the job done and provides 400 Nm and 135 kW.  You can get into a new 300 CDI for around $110k.

Top of the range G-Class models lay on all the equipment and use a 180 kW, 600 Nm turbo-diesel motor.  You should be able to get around the 10 litres/100 km or better for any of the models when driven sedately.  Space for luggage starts at 454 litres and grows to 1941 litres depending on the seat configuration.

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Pajero

Mitsubishi know all about AWD and have been making really good, solid genuine 4×4 SUVs for years.  Perhaps under-rated and overshadowed by other good Japanese models, the Pajero (since 1983) has, nonetheless, been part of Australia’s greatest adventures.  Its revolutionary technology has been tested to triumph over and over again in the most gruelling conditions in the Dakar Rally, so whatever you put in front of the big Pajero 4×4, it will prevail.

2020 sees the latest Mitsubishi Pajero as a confident, elegant, tough and reliable large SUV, and with your 4×4 Pajero you have the confidence to take on the off-road world with ease.  This is now one of the few remaining hard-core 4x4s with a truly rugged ladder-chassis design, making it a superbly strong seven seater.  The Pajero gives you plenty of space, comfort and towing capability, along with all the latest infotainment and techie features for modern daily life.

Mitsubishi Pajero 4WDs boast a magnificent 7 year/unlimited km warranty.  Base models (GLX) come with the grunty 3.2-litre, intercooled DOHC turbo-diesel engine with 141 kW of power and 441 Nm of torque.  Averaging around 10 litres/100 km, sometimes less, the Pajero also has a smooth 5-speed sports mode automatic transmission with Super Select II 4WD, a rear differential locking system, Smartphone Link Display Audio (SDA) and the full seven seats.  Five-star safety is part of the Pajero package.  You can get one for around $50k – which is a steal!

GLS variants add things like reverse sensors, automatic rain and dusk sensors, heated front seats, power front seats, High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps with auto levelling and headlamp washers.  You can get one for around $58k.

The top of the range GLS also has a ‘Leather Option’ which adds classy leather seats and leather trim into the mix.  Super nice, and you can get one for around $60k.  If I was on the hunt for a roomy SUV, 4×4 bargain, this would have to be on my radar – they are very hard to beat.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport

Also available is the new Mitsubishi’s Pajero Sport which is a seven-seat or five-seat SUV based on the award winning Triton Ute.  With five seats in play, it has a 673-litre boot space.  Very up-to-date, the Pajero Sport is more streamlined and sportier than its standard Pajero brother and can be had from around $47k for the base model and $58k for the top of the range Exceed.  All are superior off-road performers and they ride on the tarmac very nicely too.  The one engine powers them all, and this is the very good and dependable 2.5-litre turbo-diesel boasting 135 kW and 437 Nm.  You should be able to get around 8.5 litres/100 km fuel economy, and they come five-star safe.

Featuring a modern interior with an 8-inch colour monitor, a power tailgate, remote central locking via your smartphone, an array of electronic driver aids, lane change assist and even rear cross traffic alert, the new Mitsubishi Pajero Sport should be on your short list if you’re on the lookout for one of the best all-round SUVs in the market.

Nissan

Nissan Patrol

Nissan has in its SUV armoury the legendary big Patrol with true off-road capability and 3.5 tonne towing power.  Two variants are available, and both boasting the very grunty 5.5-litre petrol V8 with 298 kW and 560 Nm.  That’s enough power to send the hefty Patrol from a standstill to 100 km/h in a little less than 7 seconds.  The only drawback is it’s a tad thirsty, averaging around 15 litres/100 km.  It uses a smooth seven-speed automatic gearbox with diff-locking and low-range ability for delivering the drive to all four wheels.

You can buy a new Patrol Ti for around $77k, which is a really nice luxurious, spacious and comfortable large SUV in its own right.  Things like a leather interior and 3-zone climate control are standard features.  Step up to the Nissan Patrol Ti-L and things like exterior mirrors with puddle lights, a front cooled centre console box, heated front seats, a headlight washer system, intelligent brake control and a lane change warning system are part of the package.  Expect to pay around $93k for the Ti-L.

Tackling the tough turf in a 4×4 Patrol is a bit of a walk in the park, really.  This is meant for off-road business, and, if it’s a large 4×4 SUV you need, this has to be on your shopping list.  Five or seven seats play nicely with a massive boot – Nissan claims that cargo space is 468 litres in the boot with second and third row upright, 1413 litres with third row folded flat; and 2623 litres with second and third rows folded flat.  It’s has refined and relaxed highway cruising ability which makes this a very versatile vehicle.  It rides nicely, and you can do long hauls no problems in a new Nissan Patrol.

Nissan Pathfinder

Nissan also offers the stylish Pathfinder SUV in FWD and AWD variants.  There are plenty of trims to choose from, the flagship models being saturated in luxury, modern technology and infotainment features.  These are very roomy and quiet, and the Pathfinder sits nicely on the road.  You get five-star safety features and plenty of boot space (453 litres) with the third-row seats up.  Fold the third row seats down and this grows to a huge 1354 litres.  Of course, you can gain even more luggage space by folding the second and third row seats down.

Petrol variants are powered by a 202 kW/340 Nm 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6, while hybrid versions combine a 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor which is good for 188 kW and 330 Nm.  Both powertrains are coupled to a smooth CVT for getting the power out onto the road.  It can be a capable companion for when you want to explore off the beaten track, and for when you require a smooth open-road tourer for the family or just need to get all the kids to school, the Pathfinder is a great SUV.

Porsche

Porsche Cayenne

Porsche has its hand in the SUV market with the luxurious, comfortable and quick Cayenne models.  These are five-seater SUVs with huge boots (650 litres behind the rear seats), so if practicality is a must then these are superb vehicles.  Obviously, you’ll need to hand over a bit more cash to own one of these German beauties but they are very stylish and rewarding SUVs to drive.  A wide range of engines, petrol, hybrid and electric are available; and given the performance on offer, and the temptation to use it lots, the fuel efficiency is not too bad.

The entry-level Porsche Cayenne Coupe is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 petrol motor that’s boosted by a single turbocharger (250 kW/450 Nm) and it can waltz through the 0-100 km/h sprint in six seconds.

The middle of the range Porsche Cayenne S Coupe gets a smaller but more potent twin-turbo 2.9-litre V6 (324 kW/550 Nm), and it can do the 0-100 km/h deed in 5 seconds.

The Cayenne Turbo Coupe 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 (404 kW/770 Nm) has a top speed of 286 km/h, and its 0-100km/h dash takes less than four seconds.

You can also buy the flagship Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid Coupe variant, whose plug-in hybrid-boosted twin-turbo V8 powertrain packs a whopping 500 kW and 900 Nm.

Prices range between $128k and $292k, and they are all very safe 5-star rated SUVs.

Ssangyong

SsangYong Rexton

Here’s another great sizeable SUV that ticks all the right boxes.  The Rexton 7-seater boasts the rugged ladder chassis design, which is the ‘bees knees’ when it comes to toughness for off-roading, which you can do often in the stylish new Rexton AWD.  It’s the perfect set-up with a frugal, yet powerful, 2.2 turbo-diesel that puts out 133 kW of power and a lusty, smooth 420 Nm.  Running with an excellent 7-speed automatic and part-time 4WD the big Ssangyong SUV wisps along smoothly and economically.  The 3.5 tonne towing capability should raise a few eyebrows, making this quite the versatile family wagon.

A 2.0-litre petrol engine with turbocharging is the other alternative.  It remains smooth and responsive with its 165 kW and 225 Nm.  The petrol version is called the EX model and it is 2WD and six-speed auto, only.  This is the model that sees you into a new Ssangyong Rexton at around $40k.  The ELX and Ultimate models are diesel and AWD, and you have the choice of going with the six-speed auto or opting for the seven-speed automatic.  Ultimate models cost you around $53k.

All models have a seven year warranty from new, which is very attractive.  Boot space is decent, with seven seats in place you can still get a big load of shopping inside.  Fold the third row seats flat and there is well over 640 litres on offer – as the second row seats are able to slide forward for even more room.

Inside the cabin you are made very comfortable and all the necessary technologies are on-board.  With the Ultimate model everything is laid on and the leather interior is sumptuous.

Subaru Outback

Subaru Outback

Available in 2.5-litre petrol form with 129 kW, 235 Nm and an average fuel economy of around 7.5 litres/100 km, the new Subaru Outback is a five-star safe, roomy SUV that is a little more like a conventional station wagon than a bigger, boxier SUV.  It’s got nice handling, AWD, plenty of new features and boasts excellent reliability – you’ll enjoy this one.

In 3.6-litre, petrol form with 191 kW, 350 Nm, AWD and an average fuel economy of around 10.5 litres/100 km, this is the model that can really cover the ground quickly if you want to.

A 110 kW, 350 Nm 2.0-litre turbo-diesel is a nice option for very frugal (around 6.5 litres/100 km), long-legged travel.  This one moves along nicely too.

Luggage space is decent, so for a family this is a pretty nice way to get out and see the country.  The boot opens to reveal a generous 512 litres of luggage space, and then, if the 60:40 split-folding rear seats are flattened, you have plenty of luggage carrying ability on tap.  AWD and FWD versions are available, and all come with CVT automatics.

Current prices range from $38k to $51k for the Outback 2.5i AWD and Outback 3.6R, respectively.  The Diesel models can be had for around $40k.  My pick would be the Diesel AWD, though the 3.6R is the one for the driving enthusiast who likes to press on.

Toyota

Where there’s any market segment in the motoring world there will always be a Toyota, and it’s true when it comes to any decent large SUV alternative.  Toyota offers us the Fortuner, the Highlander the Land Cruiser Prado and the Land Cruiser 200.  Any of these vehicles have AWD, good ground clearance, excellent reliability and decent performance – whether you go for the diesel or petrol options.  They all ride very well on and off the road, are comfortable, practical and have plenty of space for the whole family.  Five and seven seaters are available, and all of them boast five-star levels of safety.

For those who want to head off-road in to the serious terrain, the Prado Land Cruiser is perfect.  This is a big, supremely capable all-rounder, but it is just as happy hopping curbs on the school run.

The biggest 4×4 SUV that Toyota can sell us is the awesome Land Cruiser 200.  Here we have a V8 Diesel with 200 kW and 650 Nm.  It’s brilliant on and off the road, and guaranteed to go the distance in any conditions.

Flagship models of all four variants, above, come extremely well appointed.

Volkswagen

Volkswagen Touareg

The VW Touareg SUV has a strong following, and for good reason.  It’s definitely got the style, space and comfort to make it a superb SUV, and the Premium models are stacked with nice technology and provide a sumptuous interior.  Currently, VW Australia has gone for just the one 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine with 190 kW and 600 Nm, and it’s known as the Touareg 190TDI model.  The running gear uses an eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission linked to a very competent AWD system.

You can get the new VW Touareg in two specification levels.  It starts off with the 190 TDI at around $80k and then you step up to the 190 TDI Premium model at around $86k.

The 190TDI Premium adds IQ matrix headlights, air suspension, seats with a higher grade of leather plus massaging and ventilation functions, 20-inch alloys and the option of a light-coloured interior.  For only an extra $5k this is worth it.

The new Touareg is a five-seater only, but you get a whopping 810 litres behind the rear seats for luggage.  This gets bigger as you flip the seats down flat.  It also provides decent five-star safety kit.

Volvo

Volvo XC90

One of the best new SUVs you can buy is the Volvo XC90.  It is not only one of the safest large SUVs but it is also extremely comfortable, quiet and capable.

It comes with loads of modern style, safety and cutting-edge engine technology along with very good infotainment systems.  The audio systems are powerful, and you can fit loads of cargo on board an XC90.  Seven seats are standard, and you run with a very smooth 7-speed automatic, and even the base 2.0-litre Diesel boasts 173 kW and 480 Nm.  Fuel consumption with this D5 AWD is superb, allowing you to easily get down to a low 6 litres/ 100 km.

The D5 T6 is a petrol engine that runs sweetly and powerfully.  It too is a 2.0-litre but runs as a petrol engine.  A hefty 246 kW links with 440 Nm of torque to make this a superb drive for all occasions.

A new Volvo XC90 T8 AWD uses hybrid technology and petrol to make 311 kW and 680 Nm from its 2.0-litre turbo power plant.  This is swift, superbly safe and effortlessly comfortable.

Even with all seven seats in place, the new Volvo XC90 boot can hold up to 302 litres of luggage.  Folding down all the second and third-row seats frees up a huge 1,856 litres of cargo capacity.

They don’t come much better than this.  A D5 kicks off at around $90k for the Momentum model and they finish with the flagship T8 R-Design Hybrid at around $115k.

Koenigsegg Gemera Is All Four The Experience.

It’s regarded as a seismic shift when a car maker, renowned for their dedication to producing hyper-luxury two seater vehicles, produces one that will carry four passengers, and endows it with the same quality as the rest of the family.Swedish based manufacturer Koenigsegg is well known for their production of upper-level vehicles, and has established a reputation for making the quickest, most luxurious, uber-performance and luxury cars on the planet. The Gemera, made from the Swedish “ge” or give, and “mera” or more, is a new expression of the company’s desire to deliver only the best, and then keep going. In this case, it will go until just 300 units have been produced.

At a cost of USD$1.7 million, Gemera is powered by something a little unexpected. A twin-turbocharged three cylinder petrol engine is the main component of the drivetrain. At just 2.0L in capacity, on its own it’s good for 600 brake horsepower, or around 450kW. It works in partnership with three electric motors. There is one each for the rear wheels, and one for the engine’s crankshaft. Koenigsegg have given the small engine its own name. It’s called the TFG, or Tiny Friendly Giant.

Each rear engine makes 500bhp, and torque is a mammoth 737.5 lb-ft, or 1,000Nm. The front mounted e-motor produces an extra 400 bhp and 368.78lb-ft/500 Nm to power the front wheels, making an individual amount of 1,400 bhp, and stepped down to 1,100bhp when working with the 2.0L engine. The battery is rated at 800V. In all, Koenigsegg say the final power output is 1,700bhp/1,270kW and 2,581lb-ft/3,500Nm of torque. The Gemera’s dry weight is just 3,780 pounds/1,715kg.

Top speed is unspecified, with Koenigsegg stating only that it will reach 248mph/400kph in record equaling pace. The sprint to 62mph/100kph really is a sprint. 1.9 seconds is all that is required. Range on a purely electric drive is up to 30 miles/50 kilometres and a full top speed on electric power only is up to 186mph/300kph. Total range is said to be around 620 miles/1,000 kilometres.

Koenigsegg have an eye of the future when it comes to fuel usage. It’s a flex-fuel engine, capable of running on Gen 2.0 ethanol or a CO2 neutral methanol like Vulcanol or any mix thereof. When doing so it is rated as being as at least CO2 neutral as a pure electric car. Whilst these “next generation” fuels are being further developed for better access, the Gemera can also be driven on E85 and in worst case normal petrol.With all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering, and torque vectoring (plus a Wet/Normal/Track drive selector), and a huge 118 inch/3,000mm wheelbase, Koenigsegg have opened up two critical areas; the ability to seat four, and to provide superlative handling. The rear-wheel steering adds in rapid response and increased agility, and then there’s the small car turning radius. High speed running provides extra directional control. Helping the ride and grip are a choice of (standard) Michelin Pilot Sport 4S 295/30 ZR21 and 315/30 ZR22 tires, with the other choice being Michelin’s Cup 2 R. Wheels are Koenigsegg’s third-generation Aircore carbon fiber wheels with optional center locking.

In a design sense, the Gemera is a strict two door vehicle. To allow access to both front and rear seats, the fronts of the doors hinge to allow vertically aligned opening. Given the doors have the side intrusion bars and windows, it’s an astoundingly clever piece of engineering. The A-pillars are blacked out to render them almost invisible and the rear seats are located to still provide plenty of forward looking view. It’s an impressive car to see in the flesh. It’s low, and long, and broad. 195.8 inches/4,975mm gives it an imposing presence, the 51 inches/1,295mm in height the slinky looks, and the 78 inches/1,988mm of width the space inside.For reverse views, there are high definition cameras on either side of the Gemera. There is a pair of screens for the driver to access information. One is placed behind the steering wheel and on the column, and one to the driver’s right. Each of the tabs on the carbon-fiber wheel have haptic feedback. It’s a practical vehicle too; Koenigsegg have built in eight cup holders, with one each of the four pairs heated. And each seat, heated, by the way, is carbon-fiber in structure, adding to the weigh reduction regime. The interior is bespoke luxury, with a choice of leather or Alcantara interior with custom contrast stitching.

Ceramic brakes provide excellent stopping power and again, weight reduction over steel discs. Each corner has double wishbones and adjustable gas-hydraulic shock absorbers. There is an electrically powered ride height adjust system for an extra 1.5 inches/35mm for the front. Just in case, there are a pair of fire extinguishers. Koenigsegg’s future proofing with Level 2 Autonomous Driving. Adaptive Cruise Control Lane Keep Assist, and Park Assist and standard, naturally, as is a helicopter-eye’s view for the 360 degrees worth of camera vision.

It’s the company’s first four door car. It’s pure beauty standing still. As a complete package, Koenigsegg have tagged the Gemera as the world’s first Mega-GT.

 

 

 

Hyundai Gives Veloster The N Treatment.

With a 1.6L turbo four and seven speed dual clutch transmission, (DCT), the Hyundai Veloster Turbo & Turbo Premium are a pair of performance oriented hatches that hover between warm and hot. Hyundai’s “N” Division has now waved their wand over the quirky four door, and added an eight speed wet clutch, the N DCT, with some interior and exterior enhancements to the pert Veloster. Although Hyundai don’t specify which engine is fitted, it does say that the zero to one time is down to 5.6 seconds.

N DCT has electronic actuators, which improves the change speed, plus, says Hyundai, focuses more on the driver engagement. The N DCT has a NGS, a Grin Shift mode, which allows a small but noticeable increase in torque thanks to the turbo running overboost and shaking hands with the N DCT to increase response for up to twenty seconds. The wet part of the N DCT comes from  the use of a specific oil inside the clutch mechanisms. This increases lubrication, adds more cooling, and increases the DCT’s lifespan.

Additionally, N Power Shift (NPS) engages when the car accelerates with more than 90 percent of throttle, thereby mitigating any reduction in torque by using upshifts to deliver maximum power to the wheels. This gives the driver a responsive feeling of dynamic acceleration when shifting. The N-gineers also understand that a driver will want to exploit road conditions, and the N TSS, or Track Sense Shift, partners the computers with sensors to “read” the road, and adjusts for the road conditions, selecting and shifting the gear that the system determines is just the right one.

Another mode, N PS, Power Shift, engages when the car is launched hard and 90% and above of the torque,  also working the gears to ensure proper usage of power and torque.

The Veloster N is a customer focused, nay, a driver focused car. There is the addition of Rev Matching, Launch Control, and the aforementioned Overboost. Downhill runs? rev matching brings the engine into line with the velocity and the gears, reducing wear and tear on the brakes. Racetrack work has the engine exploring the full range of revs and talks to the eight speed N DCT to maximise performance.

Head inside and there’s some cool options. Veloster N can be specced with N Light Sports Bucket Seats. The seats are wrapped in soft, suede-like Alcantara, a cool to the touch and grippy material, to firmly hold the driver in position when the car is taking corners at high speeds. There’s been some weight reduction; by utilising a thinner design around two kilos have been removed. There is an internally lit N logo in the seat, located up in the backrest section.

At the time of writing, Hyundai Australia isn’t planning to bring the Veloster N to Australia, however the N DCT will be available from 2021 inside the i30 N and i30 Fastback N models.

Disinfecting Your Car

During this pandemic, we’re all hyperaware of spreading infections and viruses like a bunch of neurotic obsessive-compulsive germophobes, or at least we should be. Hand sanitizer is becoming a must-have and it’s only a matter of time before we have the big fashion houses producing designer masks.

We’re all being encouraged to do our bit to prevent the spread of the dreaded lurgy, aka COVID-19. Handwashing and being extra vigilant about disinfecting surfaces is recommended. OK, if we’re doing as we’re told, we’ll be staying home as much as possible and not going out our cars much, but we are allowed to go to get groceries in the car. And essential workers have to go out in the car as well. Oh, the irony and frustration of super-cheap fuel prices at a time when going out for a drive for fun is discouraged for the rest of us!

However, it’s very easy to forget the car when it comes to good hygiene to the point of excessive hygiene. After all, if you’ve been out doing essential work (good on you, mate!) or if you’ve picked up groceries, you will have touched bits of your car. If by some chance you had the virus on your hands when you got in your car, even if you washed your hands thoroughly when you got home, the next time that you nipped out to the car for whatever reason, that virus will still be lurking there. Boom.

The boffins in the white coats encourage us to sanitise high-touch surfaces, so as well as wiping down things like your phone, computer keyboard, and the doorknobs of your house, don’t forget your car as well. There’s a ton of high-touch surfaces in there as well!

The smart and responsible thing to do is to wipe these places down as well, preferably after every time you come back from going out to get the groceries and other essential items. If you’re off work then you’ve got plenty of time to do this! If you are one of our essential workers, I don’t want to put more strain and stress on you but you’ll definitely have to do this as well.

What you use as a disinfectant for the high-touch spots in your car is up to you. You can use hand sanitizer but there are other options, ranging from common or garden disinfectant from the supermarket to disinfectant wipes to strong alcohol to homemade mixtures involving essential oils. I make my own with a recipe that’s safe for all surfaces and isn’t a beast for your skin (which gets enough grief from all that handwashing).

  • 200 mL white vinegar
  • 100 mL tap water
  • 1 teaspoon eucalyptus or tea tree essential oil.

Put in a bottle and shake well. Apply where you want it with a soft lint-free cloth. It smells rather powerful but better than commercial disinfectants. You also don’t have to explain it to any cops the way that you would if you used vodka to sanitise your car…

Now to get busy with the disinfectant. Here are the spots that you have to give a good wipe with the disinfectant of your choice:

  • Steering wheel. You’ve had both hands on it most of the time if you’ve been driving correctly. This includes any steering wheel mounted controls.
  • Indicators.
  • Handbrake
  • Gear lever. Yes, even if your car is an automatic, you’ll have had to put it in Drive and Park during your trip. Paddle shifters count as well.
  • Door handles. Inside and out. However, you only need to do the handles of the doors that have been used, not the whole lot.
  • Boot release lever or button. Feel smug and grateful if you’ve got one of those auto-opening smart ones. Don’t forget to sterilize the place where you put your hands when you closed the boot as well.
  • Key fob or keys. This one gets overlooked all too easily, even though this one comes into your house.
  • Buttons for automatic windows and climate control.
  • Touchscreens. Be careful when wiping these down and don’t use too much so you don’t damage the finish.
  • Handles of any storage compartments.

Stay safe, whether on the road or in your home!

Car Maintenance: Basic Car Care Tips

Summer in Australia. Perth has a dry, baking heat. Darwin and the FNQ region has “the wet”. Brisbane and Sydney have a mix of wet heat and thunderstorms. Melbourne and Hobart have their own climate requirements, as does Adelaide. Come Autumn into Winter, and the regional weather changes make how we look after our cars a different proposition.

This makes looking after a car’s paint potentially fraught with region specific issues for a vehicle built to cover a wide environment. Here’s a few tips that may help.
Although it’s not always possible, a garage or carport is a great start in protecting paint. This is a great investment against the number one killer of a car’s outside. Ultra violet rays. These can fry the clear coat cars have that are intended to seal the layers of paint underneath.

An added layer of protection can come from a car cover. This not only keeps the sunlight and UV off, it keeps dirt, dust, rain, and anything else skyborne. Most also come with venting in order to allow air flow. This stops moisture build up and potential mould and/or rust forming.

Washing a car the right way can go a long way to looking after paint. Although long gone are the days where a street would be lined with people washing their cars, getting the bucket and cloth out is still a good thing.

Never wash the car in the heat of the day. Whenever and where-ever possible a morning tub is the preferred time. This stops heat shock on the car’s metal and paint. It also stops water drying quickly and spotting on the paintwork and glasshouse.

Wash from the roof down. Gravity pulls the dirty and clean water downwards so it doesn’t pool. Circular motions with a cloth aren’t recommended, use a straight pull from front to rear on the roof, bonnet, and boot, and downwards on the doors and fenders. This stops or minimises the circular micro-scratches so commonly seen on cars.

There are some products that are a spray-on foam style. These work quite effectively by kee

ping the paint moist and lift away dirt particles as the foam expands upon contact. Clean micro-fibre cloths are a necessity. In tip-top condition these have an almost zero likelihood of scratching a car’s paintwork. This is important as any opening to the paint below the clearcoats can lead to the water and dirt getting in and starting that process of erosion that we see on cars. That’s that lifting of the clear coat and the look of the clear peeling like a sunburned skin. This leads to the dulling and fading of the main colours.

This is where a good polishing method can also assist. Again a clean micro-fibre cloth is a necessity. Any residual dirt particles can be trapped in a cloth and potentially scratch. Never press hard onto the car’s surface, let the polish itself do the work. And again, always do this in cooler situations. As liquid and cream style polishes have different methods and formulations, following the instructions to ensure the product does its job is a must.

A final tip is to head on out to a car show. Owners and drivers take a lot of pride in the presentation of their vehicles, so they’ll have the inside goss on which products and methods work best. There’s the deep, deep, gloss that makes the paint look as if you could put your finger in an inch deep and still not touch it. The gleaming alloy and chrome wheels, the inky black

of new or superbly maintained wipers. Look after your car and a few things outside will last a lot longer and make running costs cheaper.