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2020 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Premium: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The quirky and different Hyundai Veloster. It’s finally received a much needed makeover and it looks more like a member of the Hyundai family than the odd-one-out visage of the now superseded model. It’s a three model range, with Veloster, Turbo, and Turbo Premium, the model reviewed. The Veloster is also a dedicated 2+2 seater.

How Much Does It Cost?:
Hyundai’s website has drive-away prices, with $33,253 as a starting price for the entry level, $39,443 for the Turbo, and a starting rate of $43,048 for the Premium. The website appears to indicate zero extra charge for metallic paint. The Premium comes with a two tone roof option with Phantom Black or Tangerine Comet as the choices.Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.6L engine in capacity, complete with 150kW and 265Nm of torque. Both turbo models offer a seven speed dual clutch auto or six speed manual. The entry level Veloster runs a 2.0 Atkinson cycle non-turbo four and has a six speed non-DCT auto along with the manual. Those 265 Newton metres are available from 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm. Economy is quoted as 9.1L per 100km for the urban cycle, 5.6L/100km for the highway, and on the combined it’s 6.9L100km. That’s from the 50L tank in a chassis weighing 1350kg.

On The Outside It’s: Still the 2+1 plus hatchback rear shape. It’s been flattened, has the Hyundai signature tail light design of three strips in their individual enclosure, and it looks fantastic lit up. That’s with tinted lenses as well. The front loses the slightly bulbous headlights and now has the slimline LED lit setup. Wheels for the Premium are 18 inch in diameter and are a dark grey metallic colour. Rubber comes form Michelin’s Pilot Sport 4 range and are 225/40 in profile.It’s a pert little thing at just 4,240mm in length. It’s not tall at 1,399mm and offers plenty of shoulder room with a very handy 1,800mm of width. The wheelbase is 2,650mm and that adds to the sporty look and handling. Adding to the looks are the body additions front and rear. Up front a semi-gloss grille sits over a honeycomb grille air curtain, with subtle chrome highlights. The rear diffuser has extra width over the others and is complemented by a dark metallic finish on the lower bumper that sits around the centrally mounted twin exhausts. A small yet nifty touch is a hidden rear hatch opening button that’s integrated into the wiper housing and the locating of the left rear passenger door opener inside the rear door pillar structure.

On The Inside It’s: New Hyundai. That means classy fit, finish, and soft touch materials. Hyundai also show the other brands how to do it right with heating and venting for the front seats, a classy looking Performance Gauge screen with turbo pressure, G-Force meter, and torque output. This is accessed via an 8.0 inch touchscreen with DAB, Android and Apple app access. This tops a centre stack which is…busy to look at. It’s a little heavy in its layering, and the bottom layer which is the USB/Aux inputs are substantially more inset than the uppermost.For the driver a Head Up Display is fitted, and the binnacle below houses a pair of analogue dials. Naturally there’s the ubiquitous colour info screen and the tabs for this are on the right hand spoke of the tiller. It’s also a right-hand stalk for the indicator however Hyundai have fitted an intermittent mechanism for blinking. State laws in Australia ask for “sufficient indication” and a blinker that flashes just three time simply isn’t enough safe warning.

The gear selector has a red plastic insert on the rear and it looks as if it needs to be pressed, but it’s a fixed item. The selector itself is a straight forward and back mechanism, not a squiggly line as some do. There’s also Hyundai’s Drive selector button, and in Sport Mode (or tipped into Manual gear selection, which makes using the paddle shifts worthwhile) it brings a rev counter dial into the HUD’s information.Rear cargo is just, just, big enough for a weekly shop. The mechanisms to fold the 50:50 split-fold rear seats are on the shoulders of them however because the right side seat doesn’t have a door, it’s a touch fiddly to access and operate, And when folded the bottom of the seats don’t sit flush with the floor and the metal hooks stand proud. These, though, did come in handy by stopping a flat bottomed item from sliding, and the cargo net fitted also helped. Actual space is 303L seats up, and 1,081L seats down.The seats are set low due to the Veloster’s overall height. There is still decent room though, with the dimensions of 936mm and 911mm front and rear for head room, 1,433mm and 1,378mm shoulder room front and rear, providing better than expecting space to enjoy the cabin and the drive.On The Road It’s: An absolute hoot to drive. 265Nm doesn’t sound a lot, but coupled with a well ratioed auto and a relatively lightweight body, there’s more than enough zip to delight. Hyundai’s really spent some time working on the DCT’s biggest issue, and it’s one all companies have: lag between swapping from park to Drive or Reverse, and having the gear engage. However, practice shows that the lag can be minimised and it’s about how long the vehicle is stationary.

In a three point turn, so from Park to Drive to Reverse to Park, by bringing the Veloster Turbo to a complete stop quickly, it helps the DCT re-engage the chosen gear just that much more quicker and makes for a smoother progression from that moment of Neutral to gear.

Press it hard and there is some scrabbling of the front driven wheels before grip, or the traction control nanny, steps in to settle things down. Forward acceleration is good enough for the whole package but it’s not quite a neck-snapper as anticipated. What wasn’t also anticipated was the faint but audible “phut, phut” as the DCT does its thing and the engine lets the world know via the twin pipes. It’s an understated note and deserves more volume.Steering is rapid, light in the feel, and tenacious in how it has the front wheels responding to its command. That fore-mentioned three point turn is made a doddle to perform because of it, and on the highway the response is welcomed too. Feedback is plentiful and perhaps a little too much so for the untrained.

Suspension tune is firm, and the concrete ripples on sweeping bends ensure that every flake of paint has its height sent through to the driver’s hands via the steering wheel. It bang-crashes on the normal speed-humps yet soaks up the highway undulations without fuss. The weak spot of the Veloster is the brake feedback. There’s a harder than required shove to getting stopping done, and the pedal has a softer than expected feel when doing so.

What About Safety?: No problems here. Lane Keep Assist is on board and it’s perhaps a little too heavy handed, with the tiller all a-twitch in the driver’s hands. The intervention is, for our mind, just that too aggressive, it needs a smoother pull to straighten the Veloster Turbo Premium up. Torque vectoring is standard, as is Blind-Spot Collision Warning (BCW), Driver Attention Warning (DAW), Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) including City / Urban (camera) and Interurban / Pedestrian & Cyclist detection (camera & radar). There is also High Beam Assist (HBA), Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning (RCCW) and Smart Cruise Control (SCC).

And The Warranty Is?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, with servicing costs and details here.At The End Of The Drive. It’s a far prettier car than the original, still has plenty of squirt, and handles as a sports oriented car should. It’s definitely roomy enough inside, however the heavy design of the centre stack, the insistence of the Lane Keep Assist to make its presence known, and the soft brakes pull the 2020 Hyundai Veloster Turbo Premium down a couple of notches. Don’t take that as saying it’s not fun to drive, it is, and it’s a lively drive too. Just as a sports oriented vehicle should be.

Kia To Get Extra Sting?

It’s not confirmed for Australia however Kia has appeared to confirm their ballsy Stinger sedan/five door coupe is to get more mumbo. Currently packing a 2.0L turbo four or the punch you in the guts 272kW/510Nm 3.3-litre twin-turbo V6 engine, it’s being spoken that the car will receive the bigger 3.5L V6 as found in siblings Hyundai and Genesis.

Inside the Genesis G80, this mill produces 279kW and 530Nm. The turbo four may also be given some fettling, with a 2.4L version said to offer 223kW and over 420Nm. That’s in comparison to the current 182kW and 353Nm. There is also a milf facelift to the exterior and it’s as yet unconfirmed if much will be done to the interior, although it’s likely there will be.

Kia Australia, however, currently have a different perspective, with the head of PR, Kevin Hepworth, being quoted as saying: “”We are not anticipating any engine changes”. In this context, an extra 200cc offering just 7kW and 20Nm means most buyers would be highly unlikely to tell the difference. Considering that the sedan market is shriveling slowly (although in Europe it is regaining ground under the onslaught of SUVs), should Kia go ahead with that and make that the only powerplant choice, it leaves Kia Australia with either onselling the Stinger with the slightly bigger engine, having Kia pare back the outputs, or, and more unlikely, have Aussie spec Stingers come here with the 3.3L and 2.0L.

Sales figures for the Stinger indicate the V6 is the preferred engine, with around 98% of the 150 to 200 Stingers moved per month being powered by that, and of those a huge 81% are for the top of the range GT. The other factor coming into play is the Australian dollar exchange rate. It’s highly likely that the 2.0L four would be dropped and the 2.4L, if offered, would not be taken up on a cost basis reason.

The 3 Most Frustrating Features in Today’s Cars

There is no doubt that cars are getting more sophisticated by the day, offering levels of convenience, practicality and efficiency that we have never seen before. At the same time, however, that hasn’t always necessarily meant that we have enjoyed certain aspects of the latest features fitted into our vehicles. In fact, some of them can be downright annoying sometimes. Let’s take a look at a few of the most frustrating features in today’s cars.



Overly fiddly infotainment systems

Infotainment systems have become a mainstay in just about every car hitting the road. But if you’ve stepped into another vehicle recently, the first thing you might realise is that not all infotainment systems are created equal.

One of the most frustrating things with certain infotainment systems is just how poor their user interfaces can be. The user experience often hasn’t been the primary design matter. Certain driving and comfort functions may be buried away behind a complex set of layers that require you to dive into settings to access things like air conditioning.

The message to manufacturers here is simple. That is, keep it simple! Sometimes a button or dial is just easier, and let’s just stay away from touch-sensitive controls that really serve no ultimate benefit.


Stop-start systems

Sure, they might help optimise the fuel efficiency of the modern-day vehicle, however, stop-start systems aren’t always as beneficial as we might be led to believe. For example, if you are trying to cut across oncoming traffic, or head into a roundabout from a standstill, you want the fastest engine response to kick in.

Even if these systems have improved by leaps and bounds, they will still never quite have the instinctive burst of power that sometimes serves as more than a nicety. We can live with stop-start systems, but please, let us turn it off if necessary.



Excessive auditory distractions

If there’s one thing we appreciate, that is a friendly reminder. However, once you start to push that case, prompting the same message over and over, it’s only normal human behaviour that we start to ‘switch off’ and ignore that noise. And by ignore, I don’t mean we tune out, because you can’t really not hear something that is effectively barking instructions at you on repeat.

Some of the worst offenders include those chiming sounds that blare out every time your door is open, the sound of the horn when you activate remote locking, seatbelt warnings that ring endlessly when the car is in park or reverse and AI driver assistants that won’t stop talking or simply aren’t good enough for voice recognition….the list goes on.

Is it too much to ask for these signals to be better harnessed for their own efficiency? Can’t we just hear them when they are necessary, rather than every moment the on-board computer thinks they might be necessary?

2019 Toyota LandCruiser GXL: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The big, boofy, brawny, LandCruiser GXL. It’s one of a four model range, however at the time of writing (April 2020) there are five. The GX starts things off, then the GXL tested, VX, Sahara and Sahara Horizon, a special edition model. That last is a cosmetic item and commemorates the vehicle’s 60 years of production.

The GXL, although the second of the range, still packs enough equipment to ensure it’s user and family friendly. And there is that legendary off-road ability that is standard fitment and has been for sixty years. the vehicle tested is a seven seater, with the same fold sideways third row seats as seen in the Fortuner albeit with a different method of releasing.How Much Does It Cost?: It’s a solid hit to the wallet for the unprepared. Toyota lists the GXL at $99,352 drive-away as of April 2020. That’s with Glacier White; select a metallic and it’s $18 shy of $100,000 even. $91,980 is the recommended retail price, before on-roads.

Under The Bonnet Is: Toyota’s hairy chested 4.5L V8 diesel. 200kW is the peak power, but it’s the near Supercar 650Nm of torque (split 49;51 front to rear) that makes the LandCruiser a great on- and off-road performer. It’s a low-stress, easy delivery of torque too, with that 650Nm on tap between 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm. Drive goes to all four corners via a six speed auto, an area sure to be addressed when the 300 Series gets its release. There is a transfer case, operated through an electrically activated system and switched through a dial in the console. Towing is rated as 3.5 tonnes.Economy, not surprisingly, is not strong point around town. Toyota quotes only a combined figure and that’s 9.5L/100km. Out city cycle was 12.3L/100km at its best and over 15.0L/100km at its worst. A tank size of 138L, a 93L main and 45L secondary, helps dull that pain somewhat. The VX we tested late least year (A Wheel Thing VX LandCruiser) saw an overall average of 11.5L/100km.

On the Outside It’s: Big. A Kerb weight of 2,740kg equates to 4,990mm length, 1,945mm to 1,970mm (model dependent) in height, and 1,980mm in width. There is 2,850mm in wheelbase and a track of 1,640mm and 1,650mm, meaning a huge footprint and presence. The review vehicle had an air intake snorkel fitted, adding a little more to height. This is standard on GX, optional on GXL.

The GXL has self leveling headlights, with LED low beams, and LED fog lamps wrapped in a chrome surround. The rear has LED lamps. Up top, roof rails are standard on the GXL onwards. Side steps are a standard fit. Wheels are simple five spoke alloys with a semi-matte sheen, with rubber from Dunlop. They’re from the Grand Trek range and are 285/65/17 in overall size.On The Inside It’s: As roomy as expected. Front and centre leg room is capacious, and the third row is decent enough also. Head and shoulder room shouldn’t be a problem for anyone up to six feet in height. It’s less luxury oriented than the VX we drove six months ago, but it also doesn’t lack for comfort. The seats are cloth covered, they’re comfortable enough, and because of the velour covering, don’t need heating or cooling. The front seats are manually operated however the lumbar support has powered adjustment.The dash is blocky, segmented, yet functional because of it. There is no sense of haphazardness, everything is in its place and for a reason. The dash is dominated by the central section, itself a blocky look and this houses the 6.1 inch touchscreen and aircon controls. The radio screen is perhaps the weakest link, specifically ion accessing DAB stations. The look is something that Toyota should look to Hyundai and Kia for in the ease of use stakes.The car came to the garage with DAB stations not based in Sydney. A reset of the stations failed to provide local access and it took some research to find that the way Toyota has programmed this head unit required some fiddling in order to access Sydney’s DAB network.

The aircon controls are dual zone and rocker switch in operation. They’re simple to operate and effective in usage. That’s the same for the driver’s information screen and it’s also easy to read. As expected, the steering wheel controls for accessing info and for using the audio are easy to use.What’s baffling is that the headlight switch isn’t Auto sensing; rather, it’s an Off (never a good thing, all headlights should be Auto and NOT offer an Off setting) or On. This is a safety factor and ably demonstrated by any drive through a traffic tunnel.

On The Road It’s: Solid, massive, even ponderous at times. But it’s also nimble, easy to move around, and thanks to that diesel V8’s torque, quick enough when required. Thanks to the snorkel, there’s a raspy snarl near the driver’s right ear, a muted V8 growl up front, and a muted grumble from the exhaust. A standing start and hard press has the LandCruiser GXL launch hard and confidently. And quickly. Straight line performance is indecent for such a large machine, and many who haven’t experienced its prowess come away with ear-to-ear grins.

It’s ponderous because physics. 2.7 tonnes is a goodly amount of mass for a passenger vehicle and even with that straight line oomph, 2.7 tonnes isn’t easy to get moving at low velocities, and it’s also not easy to stop suddenly. It’s our thinking that the 300 Series should address what we feel is the 200’s weak spot: braking. The bit is there but it’s not a hard one, it doesn’t feel as if it’s holding on tight enough to pull up the LandCruiser GXL. There’s not enough overall confidence even with 340mm and 345mm discs.Underneath is independent double wishbones up front, with a coil spring, gas dampers and anti-roll bar. The rear is a 4-link coil rear suspension with Panhard rod, coil springs, gas dampers and anti-roll bar. The Kinetic Suspension system that allows even more flexibility for getting dirty is available as an option. In the Drive system is Crawl Control with steering assist.

The sheer size of the LandCruiser can count against it as forward corner vision is…well, it’s kind of hard to completely accurately judge where the corners are. BUT it’s also the kind of vehicle that familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, it breeds an innate understanding of how to muscle the big machine around. That’s something which comes in handy in off-roading and car parks.

We gave the GXL some space to stretch its legs and it’s as easy to drive off-road as it is on a straight lined open highway. Handbrake on, select Neutral, rotate the drive selector dial to 4WD Low Range, and a second or so later select Drive. That rev range then makes crawling up and down and around as second nature as it comes for the LandCruiser. Having a well weighted steering that allows fine control off-road as easily as on tarmac certainly helps in piloting the GXL in close quarters.What About Safety?: Toyota says it comes with the Toyota Safety Sense, made up of Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision Safety System with pedestrian detection, Automatic High Beam (AHB) and Active Cruise Control if you buy the Sahara. The GXL doesn’t have these. There is a Reverse Camera, front and rear park sensors, Hill Start Assist Control, driver’s knee bag, first row and second row curtain airbags.

What About Warranty And Service?: All Toyotas bought from January 2019 have five years warranty. Service costs for the first four services, at every six months or 10,000 km, is $300.00.

At The End Of The Drive. Toyota’s LandCruiser range is in a huge need of a ground up update. And we know that it is on the way, complete with a hybrid drive-train option. It needs a rethink of the interior and that’s coming. We know the exterior will be sleeker but it’s fair to assume to it won’t weigh much less. A refinement of the suspension will help handling and we’d hope the feature and safety list will improve.For now, what we have is big. It’s boofy. It’s fun. And that still counts for something.

Pay Just a Tad More!

It’s funny what we can forget to do or check sometimes.  There was one couple who forgot to put the drain plugs back into their boat when they re-launched it at a new mooring site – oops – next morning boat submerged.  I had a friend who got ready for duck shooting and travelled for hours out to the hunting lake – oops – forgot the gun.

So take a tip here, and when it does come time to trade up the old car for a new one, don’t forget to check out all the cars that sit in your price range because there are so many options available these days.  One bracket of cars that can get overlooked is the mid-range price.  You can get some pretty nice, stylish drives around the $50k–to-$80k mark.  If you can run to this many “jolly green giants”, then you’re going to go passed most Hyundai, Ssangyong, Ford, Nissan, Toyota, and Honda cars in search of something a little more exotic.  Yes, there are even a few BMWs and the odd Audi cars you can buy for this sort of money, but what about something a little rarer and interesting?

Here is a list of cars worth a look, and believe-you-me some of these cars are very nice, high-end luxury cars with plenty of performance, comfort and safety:

Genesis G70

Genesis G80

Genesis G70 and G80 luxury sedans can be had from around $59k and $68k, respectively.  These are competing with equivalent BMW and Mercedes cars now that are fetching much higher prices than these exciting Hyundai Genesis cars.  Hyundai is the maker of the premium Genesis brand.

Infiniti Q70

Infiniti Q70 sedans are hugely entertaining drives with superb quality, looks and performance.  And at around $68k these quick, stylish RWD or AWD cars are a steal but too often overlooked.

Jaguar XE

Jaguar XF

A new Jaguar XE and XF sedan can be had for around $65 and $82k respectively.  Offering awesome handling and great engines these are eye-catching, awesome drives.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Did you know you can own a new Jeep Grand Cherokee for around $59k!  Loads of kit, very luxurious, big on safety, and an on-road/off-road king!

Kia Stinger

Kia Stinger for around $47k!  Yes, you heard that right.  A genuinely quick car with hot looks like this could be yours.

Lexus 300h

Buy a luxury Toyota for around $60k, known as the Lexus ES 300h.  Yes, it’s a hybrid with all the very best comfort, safety, build quality and luxury that cars double the price offer you.  Oh, and it has Toyota’s premium reliability.

Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Discovery

Need a premium off-road king?  Get yourself a new Land Rover Defender for around $60k or a Land Rover Discovery for just a little bit more.

Mercedes Benz AMG A35

Mercedes Benz GLC SUV

The three point star makes an appearance even.  For around $69k a new Mercedes Benz AMG A35 can be had.  That’s “AMG” performance and hot A-Class Hatch looks with all the mod cons including the gigantic and gorgeous touchscreen dash, AWD and serious handling for less than $75k.  Wow!  Another Merc worth a look for similar poundage and kit is the Mercedes Benz GLC from around $67k.  This is an SUV with plenty of equipment that includes the glorious touchscreens.

Peugeot 508

A special and very eye-catching Peugeot 508 can be had for just $53k or thereabouts.  This special French look, special luxury and special performance is a steal at this special price.

RAM 1500

Coming in at less than $80k is a new RAM 1500.  You can’t drive by un-noticed in a vehicle as big and as mean as this.  Off-road: no problem; towing: no problem.  This vehicle means business!

Range Rover Velar

A new Range Rover Velar for less than $70k would be a stylish look.  All the 4×4 power, style and luxury is on-board this Land Rover flagship.

Tesla Model 3

Yes, you can buy a quick Tesla for this sort of dosh!  A new Tesla Model 3 can be bought in Australia for around $67k.  Oh, wouldn’t that be classy!

VW Arteon

Volkswagen makes some very nice cars, and one of these which is super stylish is called the VW Arteon.  You can own this hot looking Coupe for around $67k.  Peugeot 508 or VW Arteon for best looks?  Your choice…

VW Touareg

A new VW Touareg can be bought for around $80k.  That’s starting to get up there for money handed over, but what you get is a premium luxury SUV with loads of space, style and safety.  Off-roading and towing is no problem for one of these amazing machines.

Volvo v60

Volvo V90

Volvo XC60

Don’t forget the sexy new Volvo V60 (from $56k) and V90 (from $80k) station wagons.  So nice and so comfortable to drive, these are great machines for the family.  A new Volvo XC60 is available for around $62k, and with this model you get the Volvo comfort and style along with off-road capability.  Did I mention Volvos were safe?

The FCAI Releases March 2020 Car Sales Numbers

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has today announced new vehicle sales figures for the month of March 2020 and not unexpectedly, it’s a story of sliding numbers. 81,690 vehicles were sold in the 31 days of March, with a breakdown of: 21,777 passenger vehicles, 39,171 SUVs, and 18,162 LCV (Light Commercial vehicles). That’s a respective market share of 26.7%, 48.0%, and 22.2%

What these numbers also showcase is a negative growth of 17.9% compared to March 2019 and the 24th consecutive month of falling sales. On a direct comparison of days available to sell, March 2020 sees a decrease of 17,752 vehicles compared to last year, and a daily decrease of 692 per day.

Toyota takes the top spot, with the Hi-Lux notching 3,556 sales and the brand itself selling 17,583. Mazda clocked second overall at 6,002, whilst Kia overtook its Korean relation, Hyundai, with 5,654 against 5,306.

Ford’s Ranger notched 3,108 sales for the second most popular vehicle bought, followed by the RAV4 from Toyota at 2,991. The Corolla wasn’t far behind at 2,812, whilst Holden finally had some sunshine, with Colorado finding 2,391 driveways to park in.

The Chief Executive of the FCAI, Tony Weber, said: “Many dealerships have opted to remain open to maintain support for customers, particularly from a service perspective, during this difficult period. Of particular importance are first responder and essential services vehicles. We must keep these vehicles on the road to ensure our communities continue to function and remain safe. In addition, we need to ensure those who physically attend their workplace can travel safely.

The motor vehicle is a safe form of transport during the pandemic, allowing occupants to preserve their personal distance from other commuters. Within dealerships, customer safety is of the highest priority, and automotive brands have initiated a variety of enhanced hygiene protocols and contactless consultations to maintain personal distance.”

The Passenger Vehicle Market is down by 7,222 vehicle sales (-24.9%) over the same month last year; the Sports Utility Market is down by 6,489 vehicle sales (-14.2%); the Light Commercial Market is down by 3,326 vehicle sales (-15.5%); and the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Market is down by 715 vehicle sales (-21.7%) versus March 2019.

Environmental, political, and economic factors are said to be behind the continued fall in sales.

(Information supplied by the FCAI)

A Star On The Horizon: Hugh Barter.

Karting is one of the avenues that aspiring motorsport drivers utilise in order to potentially further a racing career. In Australia many of the top tier Supercars drivers came from the karting ranks. For Formula 1, it’s a similar progression, and of course there are the feeder categories such as Formula 4.

Melbourne based teenager and kart racer Hugh Barter is one of those with the dream, and with the aspiration to move into Formula 4. The end game here is Formula 1.
Like many, Hugh isn’t a single category driver. He’s competing in two championships in an effort to both broaden the racing experience and to gain insight into how different organisations work.
Japanese born Hugh has been interested and racing in karts for over a decade. At the age of three Hugh attended a race event at Phillip Island and was captivated by the small yet rapid karts. A race simulator on site quickly had the youngster drawing a crowd as he battled both the just too far away pedals and a simulated Mount Panorama.Gaming simulators at home followed and helped Hugh develop his love and his racing techniques. On his fifth birthday a kart was a main present and at the age of seven, the minimum age requirement to obtain a kart driving license, he was able to properly get out on the tarmac and put those simulated hours to good use.

One of the aims for 2020 and one still possibly available depending on the global Covid-19 situation, is a trip to France to represent Australia in December. The event is the Richard Mille Shootout, and if that name looks familiar, it’s one found on the sides of the cockpits of F1 cars.The Swiss based watchmaking company is also responsible for the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy, and it’s the bridging point between karting and F4. What marks Hugh’s attendance here is something to consider: only one person from a country is selected and from Australia, Hugh is that person.

But to get there requires more than the occasional weekend blat on a kart track. Naturally there’s no chance of Hugh relying on a monthly run, instead he’s out every weekend and either practicing or competing in the Rotax Pro Tour and the Australian Karting Championship.It’s the Rotax Pro Tour that has opened the door to the international aspirations for Hugh. However, for 2020 the tour has been postponed, whereas he’s been able to get one Australian series event under the tyres.

That was at the karting circuit at Tailem Bend, the new and spectacular circuit near the capital of South Australia, Adelaide. Competing in the KA2 Junior category and racing a kart backed by Ricciardo Karts ( under the banner of Patrizicorse, run by Michael Patrizi, the weekend would prove to be a testing one due to inclement weather and a lack of trackside vegetation allowing dirt and sand to be blown across the tarmac.Hugh would claim his first overall round victory in this category. Hugh says the schedule for such a weekend is quite intense, especially with categories oversubscribed.
With four qualifying heats and with placings counting towards the final race grid positions, Hugh says the 12 laps in each before a final race count of 20 are crucial in ensuring a better finish.

Technical knowledge in motorsport is also crucial in assisting a team’s setup. In the case of karting, that team tends to consist of the driver and perhaps one or two others. Hugh describes the difference between racing in the Rotax Pro Tour and the Australian Championships in a mental preparation sense as not being that different.

What is different is the driving styles required as the Rotax series runs a different engine and tyre package to the karts in the Australian series. Grip levels, performance levels, and even a driver’s physical size make a difference in how a kart is set up and this is an area that Hugh has nailed down.What happens for Hugh for the rest of 2020 will now depend on the world’s Covid-19 situation. The goal, still, is to travel to France and have a tilt at the Richard Mille Shootout.
Backed by father Chris, and mother Natsuki, Hugh Barter has his sights firmly set on one goal, and that is to be a Formula 1 championship winner. (Pictures courtesy of Pace Images and Chris Barter).

2020 Toyota Fortuner Crusade: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s forgotten SUV. The Fortuner is a seven seater based on the HiLux, much like the Pajero Sport is a derivative of the Triton. There are three trim levels being GX, GXL, and the range topping Crusade. It’s exclusively diesel and auto, going up against the Kluger to provide the oiler option in the mid-sized SUV segment for the brand. First released in Australia in 2015 a manual was available in the GX and has since been dropped. The vehicle’s history goes back further, with an initial release of 2005 and for the South African market to start.

How Much Does It Cost?: $50, 322, $55,387, and $63,262 are the prices listed on Toyota Australia’s website. These are drive-away prices as of March 30, 2020. Add metallic paint over the standard white and the GX goes to $50,952, whilst the GXL is $56,017. $63,892 is the metallic paint price for the Crusade, which was in Crystal Pearl for our review vehicle. The tow bar, tow ball, and 7 pin wiring harness are a $751.43 option. A third party supplied the electric brake controller system.Under The Bonnet Is: Toyota’s well proven 2.8L diesel, with 130kW and 450Nm. The latter comes in from 1,600rpm and rolls of at 2,400rpm. The auto has just six ratios, leaving the Fortuner somewhat off the pace in this respect. It also means economy is off the pace, with an urban figure (rarely quoted by companies lately) of 11.0L/100km. Combined is 8.6L/100km and on the highway Toyota says 7.3L/100km. On our 80/20 urban/highway cycle, we saw a best of 9.2L/100km. Towing is rated as 2,800 kilos braked. Starting weight is 2,135kg for the Crusade.

On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged since the initial release. It’s an awkwardly shaped profile; there’s a sharp, angular front, an odd kickline to the darkened privacy glass rear windows that starts in the second half of the rear doors, and blacked out C and D pillars. An insert to the rear bumper has a placing for the towbar. From the front it’s a narrow headlight structure with LED driving lights incorporated but only in the Crusade.

The Crusade has splashes of chrome for that upmarket look. The broad face is mirrored by the tail lights and feature a similarly angular shaped design. Underneath, the Fortuner Crusade has Michelin Latitude rubber, and are 265/60/18 on 12 spoke alloys. Sidesteps were also fitted and are standard across the three tiers.Overall length puts in firmly in the same ballpark as its competitors. It’s 4,795mm and rolls on a 2,750mm wheelbase. Width in total is 1,855mm whilst height is 1,835mm. The rear track is slightly wider than the front, at 1,555m compared to 1,540mm. It’s pretty much the same size as its stablemate, Prado.

On the Inside It’s: A not unpleasant place to be if you’re in the front row. The vehicle supplied had a dark brown leather trim, a shade not far off a cocoa or chocolate. As is the norm, the front seats were powered and heated. The tabs for the heating are almost invisible, being placed at the bottom of the centre stack. The steering column has paddle shifts for changing and are largely unused.What’s noticeable about the whole design of the dash and console is the replication of the Toyota logo. From either side horizontally is an elongated oval shape, whilst the centre stack has a pair of vertical pillars to mimic the vertical bar in a T. Inside is a four layer design, being a pair of air vents, touchscreen, aircon, and drive mode dial next to the heat switches and auxiliary sockets. These sit ahead of a pair of cup holders and these are somewhat awkwardly placed for usage.

There is no HUD for the driver and the driver’s display screen, save for the now standard centre section, is fully analogue. Backlighting is a deep electric blue. The tiller is standard Toyota with the tabs for information access on the right, audio on the left. Trim material in the Crusade are soft touch, well stitched, and of a high quality to look at and feel. The sound system has JBL speakers and added in on the upper surface of the dash. The tuning system Toyota uses in their touchscreens is not as user friendly as others, and demonstrably so in the Crusade. The preset stations in the DAB tuner were not Sydney based, and to re-initialise them took some time. There are also no apps for extra connectivity.The key interior feature of the Fortuner is the fitment of a pair of third row seats. The HiLux chassis underneath doesn’t appear to allow a proper floor mount, with the pair side mounted and designed to fold down. The actual strap to release is easy enough to undo but the weight of the seats can make them difficult for some to use. These are accessed via a powered tailgate door. There’s 200 litres of cargo room with the third row seats in place, and when the third row is folded there is 716L. All seats folded yields 1080L. This also corresponds to head and leg space, where they’re adequate but just adequate.The rear seats get a separate climate control set of switches and a 220V socket as well. Spread throughout the cabin are three 12V sockets. In the vehicle supplied, rubber floor mats were supplied.

On The Road It’s: Decently quick, a very good handler, and nicely weighted in the steering. Standing start acceleration should please anyone seeking almost petrol like performance from a diesel. This applies to overtaking however anything from around 2,500rpm has the Fortuner Cascade easily running out of breath. It’s perhaps here that an extra pair or trio of cogs wouldn’t go astray for better driveability.

For a diesel it’s comparatively quiet too. Even at revs between 3,000rpm to 3,500rpm is there much noise, rather, it’s a semi-muted chatter and not excessively intrusive. Underway the transmission backs the engine up nicely, with mostly smooth shifts. There’s more than the occasional jolt as ratios change, and there’s also some backlash in the rear diff every now and there. Downhill and the engine braking system comes into play, and holds the gear just that little bit too long. A flick of the paddle shift is needed to go down a gear.Going off-road in the Fortuner is as easy as twirling the centre stack dial. 4WD high range can be done of the fly, whereas for low range the gear selector must be Neutral to engage the transfer case. There is also a rear diff lock switch. Going back to 4WD high and 2WD needs a little more patience, otherwise the system effectively locks in low range. Select Neutral, go to 4WD high, and there’s a few clunks before the transfer case disengages. This then allows the next move to 2WD. If getting dirty then decent approach and departure angles are required, and here Toyota’s Fortuner offers 30 degrees and departure angle of 25deg. Breakover is 23.5deg and ground clearance is 225mm. It’ll get wet at up to 700mm.

The brakes, for our tastes, need a little more bite, but they will haul up the Fortuner well enough for most drivers. There’s also a little steering rack shake, and again it’s fine enough for most drivers. Bump-steer was noticeable on occasion as well. On road manners have good response from the steering under normal driving.What About Safety?: Toyota’s Safety Sense package, which features their Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian and daytime cyclist detection, Lane Departure Alert, High-Speed Active Cruise Control and Road Sign Assistance, is standard across all three. Downhill Assist Control and Trailer Sway Control are also standard, as are seven airbags. However Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot Alerts aren’t fitted, nor is Lane Change Assist.

What About Service And Warranty?: Five years is the warranty, and for service costs it’s capped at $250 for the first four on a six month or 10,000 kilometre cycle.

At the End Of the Drive. In comparison to the competing product driven the week before, the Fortuner Crusade has more pepp, more zip, more dynamically usable driving. It’s an unusually styled vehicle but it suffers most from invisibility. It’s overlooked in the overall scheme of things, especially within the own family situation. One has to wonder if a solid refresh wouldn’t be a bad thing…

We liked it however there’s just something holding it back, so check it out here.