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Archive for May, 2020

New Protocols for Euro NCAP Crash Testing

Moving Barrier in new Euro NCAP tests.

‘Euro NCAP’; so what do all these letters mean?  Euro, obviously, means ‘European’, and NCAP means ‘New Car Assessment Programme’.  So what this team at Euro NCAP does is test out new cars by putting put them through a stringent crash test to see how they perform.  New cars need to meet a set of standards in order to get marked as having a certain level of crash safety.  This is really handy for the likes of you and me because it provides new car, and second-hand car, buyers a good informative test standard whereby we can satisfy ourselves that a car we’re about to buy meets levels of crash-test safety that we’re happy with.

This crash test safety rating, given by authorities like Euro NCAP and ANCAP (but not restricted to), stands up well in the real world, where cars involved in a crash keep the occupants safe according to the rating given in tests.  When a car is involved in a severe crash, the higher the car’s safety rating (approved through testing) is seen to offer a better chance of survival for its occupants.  The opposite is also true, where the lower the safety rating the higher the chance of severe injury to the car’s occupants.

Every two years, Euro NCAP updates and toughens its test protocols.  Recently, the crash testing bar at Euro NCAP headquarters has been raised for any new cars that get tested.  This is always a good thing because it drives new car manufacturers to improve their cars safety capability.  This year sees Euro NCAP  addressing some issues in occupant protection, providing an improved post-crash protection test and delivering a push for the new cars to have the latest advanced driver assistance technology.

Leading the new protocols is one major change in the offset crash test; and that is the introduction of a new moving barrier to moving car frontal crash test.  This replaces the current moderate offset-deformable barrier test, which has been used by Euro NCAP for the last twenty three years. The barrier will now move at around 50 km/h toward the car to better replicate what happens in the real world.  Even the thought of it suggests that manufacturers will have to strengthen their car’s safety cell to score highly!

This new crash test will evaluate the protection of the car’s occupants in the crash, as well as assessing how the cars’ front-end structures contribute, or not, to occupant injury in the collision. The new regulations also include the world’s most advanced mid-sized male crash test dummy called “THOR”.  Thor will provide lots of extra information on how well ‘he’ has been protected during the new crash testing regime.

Side impacts are never pretty, and they account for the second highest frequency of death or serious injuries. New adjustments to the near-side barrier test’s speed and mass has resulted in an increase in the severity of the test. Strengthening protection down the sides of new cars will have to be on the agenda if manufacturers want to score well in this side impact test.

Also, Euro NCAP will begin evaluating far-side impact protection that focuses on driver protection and the potential interaction between the driver and front-seat passenger during the collision. New protection offered by new-to-market countermeasures such as centre airbags between driver and passenger will be adequately scrutinised.

New driver-assist technologies will be looked at, and to score highly new cars will need to use competent accident emergency braking technology in the cars to protect vulnerable road users.  These would include road users behind the car in a reversing-back-over situation, as well as road users in the path of the car turning at a crossing. Also, evaluations on Driver Status Monitoring systems, designed to detect driver fatigue and distraction, will be part of the Safety Assist assessment run by Euro NCAP.

Manufacturers will be rewarded when any rescue information is accurate after a crash which has happened in the real world becomes easily available for scrutiny. Euro NCAP also checks ease of rescue after an accident has occurred, electric door handles, softness of materials in the cabin etc. and will endorse any technology that calls for help in an emergency situation.

These are some of the major changes we’ll see employed by Euro NCAP’s new 2020 protocols. Our local ANCAP testing will be sure to follow similar protocols so as to give the best information for us lot – the car buyers.

Looking Smart: 2021 BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo.

BMW has the wherewithal to build a car for all segments, potentially even a segment or two that don’t exist. The 6 Series Gran Tourismo could be considered to be a segment creator. An update has just been released and here’s what we know.

Outside there has been a redesign of each end. BMW’s fixation on enlarging the kidney grille, its signature part of the frontal view, has been applied here. Slimmer headlights accentuate these, making them look even larger. On either side are new Adaptive LED Headlights with matrix technology fitted as standard, and latest version of BMW Laserlight can be ordered as an option.There are new exterior colours and additional BMW Individual paint finishes to allow personalisation. There is a M Sport package with new parts, particularly a striking front apron and large diffuser element at the rear. Optional M Sport brakes now with a choice of blue or red-painted callipers. These will sit inside 18-inch light-alloy wheels fitted as standard on the most powerful petrol and diesel engines, and there are new light-alloy wheels in 19- and 20-inch formats available as an option.

BMW offer their optional Integral Active Steering which now offers greater assistance in low-speed manoeuvring. There is rear-axle air suspension with automatic self-levelling fitted as standard. Also available as an option: adaptive two-axle air suspension, adaptive suspension, and BMW’s Executive Drive with active roll stabilisation.

Two petrol and three diesel engines will be available. All engine variants now come with 48V mild hybrid technology and there is more rapid response and greater efficiency thanks to 48V starter-generator that provides up to an extra 8 kW/11 hp to boost the combustion engine’s power and ease its workload. All diesel engines now arrive with two-stage turbocharging. All four- and six-cylinder petrol engines now comply with the Euro 6d emissions standard. Power hits the ground via an eight-speed Steptronic transmission which is standard for all model variants. BMW’s xDrive intelligent all-wheel drive system is either standard or optional for three engine variants.BMW’s excellent Live Cockpit Professional is fitted in the new BMW 6 Series Gran Turismo as standard. The BMW Operating System 7 optimises intuitive operation, and opens up a wealth of new application and connectivity possibilities. BMW also fits their Intelligent Personal Assistant digital companion and now has extended functions with optimised interaction that uses new graphics in the Control Display. There is also now the premiere for BMW Maps. This cloud-based navigation system enables extremely fast and precise calculation of routes and arrival times whilst updating real-time traffic data at short intervals. The human touch comes from a free choice of words to select navigation destinations. A vivid 3D visualisation of the surrounding area shows traffic situations and possible inputs from driver assistance systems in the instrument cluster. BMW’s Optional Parking Assistant with additional reversing assistant is available and the BMW Drive Recorder shoots up to 40 seconds of video of the area around the vehicle.
Model variants at launch are: BMW 630i Gran Turismo with 2.0L four cylinder petrol engine. There are 190kW and 400Nm with a 0-100 time of 6.5 seconds. Consumption will be around 6.0L/100km.
BMW 640i Gran Turismo with 3.0L six cylinder petrol. Peak power is 245kW, peak torque is 450Nm between 1,600 to 4,800 rpm. 0 to 100 is 5.5 seconds and consumption is around 6.9L/100km.
BMW 620d Gran Turismo packs a four cylinder diesel with 140kW and 400Nm between 1,750 to 2,500rpm. 7.9 seconds is the time to 100kph from zero and will average around 4.5L/100km.
BMW 630d Gran Turismo runs with a six-cylinder in-line diesel engine, mild hybrid technology,and has 210kW plus 650Nm of torque between 1,500 to 2,500rpm. Economy is 5.0L/100km.
BMW 640d xDrive Gran Turismo goes up a notch with 250kW and 700Nm. That’s between 1,750 to 2,250rpm and sees a 0-100 time of 5.3 seconds. Consumption is 5.5L/100km.

Pricing for the Australian market is yet to be confirmed.

Should I Apply for Car Loan Pre-Approval?

As part of the car buying process, you’ll typically hone your new car search to a specific model before then applying for finance. All the while, you’ll be left in an uncertain state wondering if the car will still be available by the time you secure finance. Fortunately, however, car loan pre-approvals can help you overcome this uncertainty.

Car loan pre-approval relies on the financier providing its conditional approval for you to buy a car within a certain budget. The lender will take into account your financial position based on the information you supply them. On top of that, as a buyer you are under no obligation to go ahead with the purchase or the loan itself, which is only a pre-emptive step.

It is possible to extend a car loan pre-approval by a month if you need additional time. Just make sure that the vehicle you are considering fits within the conditions set down by the financier as part of their pre-approval.



Extra power to negotiate

Car loan pre-approval gives you extra scope to negotiate the purchase of a new car. At the dealership you will give the impression that you are a ready and willing buyer. In addition to this, your fixed budget also removes much of the tip-toeing around offers and bartering. Seeking finance would generally be a hurdle in any major purchase, so securing this in advance also relieves some of the concerns on the dealer’s part that the deal might collapse.


Scope for a budget

One of the difficult aspects of searching for a new car is not knowing how much you’ll be willing to spend. This might be due to uncertainty over your credit rating, ability to repay the loan or other considerations. However, with car loan pre-approval, buyers establish a set budget they can work with while concluding their negotiations with the dealer.


Simplicity and convenience

The convenience with which a pre-approved car loan helps buyers during the search for a new car cannot be measured. Not only does car loan pre-approval save you time on calculating your budget and conducting negotiations, but you can also rest assured that you are giving yourself the best possible chance to secure the exact car that you wan’t before it’s too late.

Why You Should Think Twice About Buying a Car with Hail Damage

In the ACT, new car sales have remained remarkably resilient amid the COVID-19 lockdown. One of the driving forces behind the steady showing has been the significant hail storms that damaged a large amount of cars earlier in the year.

Since then, new car sales have been up year-on-year throughout February, March and April in the nation’s capital. Such an event raises an interesting consideration for many – that is, whether it is a wise decision to buy a car with hail damage. While the prospect of saving thousands in dollars can be appealing, there are definitely troubles that you can run into.


What issues come with hail-damaged cars?

In the event that an insured vehicle costs more to repair than the value of the car itself, it will be written off by the insurer. The reality is, if the economics don’t stack up, then the car, even if in otherwise functional state, will face obstacles making it back onto the road.

This is because the car will be added to the government’s list of vehicles deemed repairable. While this is better than it being declared a statutory write-off, the process still requires a myriad of inspections, certifications, paperwork and hoops to jump through. Importantly, some lenders won’t provide money for a hail-damaged car.

Assuming you are fortunate to receive loan approval, in terms of insurance coverage thereafter, you will also need to declare the damage as part of the vehicle’s existing condition. In some instances, insurers won’t provide coverage for cars with pre-existing damage, or will extend limited coverage such as third-party, fire and theft.

Arguably the biggest hurdle you’ll likely face in terms of buying a car with hail damage is down the line when it comes time to part ways with the car. If it hasn’t been repaired, you are going to face an almighty struggle to find a buyer who is prepared to purchase the car.

On the other hand, fork out money for repairs and you probably won’t see any return at all. This of course will depend on which route you pursue in terms of repairing the damage, be it panel replacement, panel beating or paintless dent removal. This sort of work is also highly technical, so not only is it costly but you need to find the ‘right’ person for the job.


Final thoughts

At the end of all this, it’s worth asking yourself – do the up-front savings justify the inconvenience and burden later on? With a wide range of dealers currently trying to clear brand new stock in perfect condition at large discounts, don’t be fooled by the promise of additional savings from hail-damaged cars in the second-hand market.

A Legacy Of Luxury: Bentley Digital Design.

With a brand such as Bentley, and the history and heritage the brand has, embracing the digital age can be fraught with conflict. Just how does a design for something to go inside be compatible, will it suit the look and “feel” of a particular vehicle, will its intended purpose grow old gracefully or be out of date in a few years?

Design teams aim for a particular look and in the case of such a brand as Bentley, that look must tie in with what has come before. One key area is that of what the driver will look at every time they slide onto the sumptuously appointed seats of a Flying Spur. The dashboard dials and multimedia interfaces are an area that Graeme Smith and his team of Human Machine Interface (HMI) designers at Bentley have taken on with great success.Utilising what is called a “mood board”, Smith and the team lay out the images of what will appear on the digital screen for the Flying Spur. The colors, the icons, that will be seen are reviewed in conjunction with the main designers at Crewe, the home of Bentley. Critical to the look, says Smith, is choosing to go 2D or use what is called skeuomorphic design. “A Bentley isn’t a smartphone; it’s going to be used and cherished for generations. So we chose a skeuomorphic approach that will age with the car. Look at pure digital instrument graphics from ten years ago – they’ve dated faster than the car they were part of.”

It’s a tricky ethos to deal with, he says, as going to a clean, ultra-modern, look, would be at odds with the history of Bentley, and by using skeumorphic design, they can be in the digital age and still convey the message that fits with the Bentley presentation. There is also a requirement, says Smith, to provide a family relationship between the vehicles yet provide a difference. For example, the speedometer and rev counter dials in the Flying Spur have bronze rings, a different hue to those in the Continental GT.Then there’s the end purpose of the vehicle a design goes into. The dials in the Continental GT have a 3D look to the knurled appearance, echoing the look of that cars gear selector. the Flying Spur has the outer edges looking akin to a machined appearance, reflecting the Spur’s more luxury oriented drive, as opposed to the overtly sporting nature of the GT.

Road time is also considered, as in when the car is on the road and the driver’s interest is in simply driving. A reduction in potentially distracting information is provided, says Smith. In a form of digital detox, the driver can see dials that provide the sheer essentials; fuel gauge levels, the temperature of the engine, local time, the vehicle’s velocity, and the ambient outside temperature. Bentley refers to its own history here, by dimming the dials to the point only the needles are visible, and allowing a driver to consider the night time drives at Le Mans, or Woolf Barnato’s legendary night drive through France to beat the Blue Train.

However, the story doesn’t finish there. The final part of the journey in the digital design of the dials is where the Flying Spur will live its life. Will it be in the United States? How about Dubai? Will it be used to chauffeur a Sheikh in Saudi Arabia? The central screen is also part of this equation, meaning that the team must consider something like 600 different icons and over 1,500 varying menu screens. The different languages (up to 27!) and idioms for the markets are considered, plus the varying market specific services such as satellite radio, apps such as Android Auto (with final sign-ff to be granted by the owners of the systems themselves), even the three different audio systems from Naim, Bang and Olufsen, and the brand’s own bespoke setup.It’s here that the HMI team divide the load. There are function owners, nine in total, that work with three graphic designers and focus on a specific area. This can be the climate control, audio settings, the interface that shows fuel consumption.To say Bentley says luxury, it says history, it says motorsport. It takes love and dedication to ensure that the history of Bentley is continued with eyes on the past, and eyes on the future. Graeme Smith and the Human Machine Interface team have those in mind and their eyes look forward with the past firmly in focus.

2020 Toyota Granvia VX: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A big box on wheels that has luxury inside. Toyota has taken the HiAce LCV that was updated in 2019, and given it a makeover on the inside, and a light tickle outside. In Granvia or Granvia VX specification, it can be fitted with either a six or eight seater configuration. We drove the VX with the six seats.

How Much Does It Cost?: Toyota’s website gives an area dependent costing. The Granvia in Ebony Pearl is circa $68,360, and with Crystal Pearl, Silver pearl, or Graphite is circa $68,990. Bump to VX spec and there’s $81,560 to $82,200.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L diesel, packing 130kW and a torque figure of 450Nm. That’s a peak available across a very narrow band of revs; 1,600rpm to 2,400rpm, to be precise. Powering the rear wheels via a six speed auto, economy is rated as 8.0L/100km on the combined cycle. Our final figure was 8.6L/100km. Given a dry mass of 2.6 tonnes, that’s an agreeable figure, and one that could be shaving a few bits here and there with a more modern eight or nine speed.On The Outside It’s: A box on wheels and there’s no disguising that fact. There are 5,300mm of length, 1,990mm, and 1,940mm of height and width that come into play, and with around 1,750mm from the leading edge to the beginning of the flat roof…well…it’s a box on wheels.

Up front there is a broad grin of chrome that replaces yet follows the lines of what is seen on the HiAce. Four horizontal chrome strips replace the two on the donor vehicle. The rear has a similar styling and broader taillights. In profile the Granvia has centre and rear glass, no panels as seen on the HiAce, and each side has a powered sliding door. The rear door is manually operated. Initially this seemed like an oversight however given the layout for the six seats….but, still…..Wheels are multi-spoked alloys and have Bridgestone Duravis rubber at 235/60/17.

On The Inside It’s: A curious mix of luxury and the basic structure of the donor van. There is gorgeous wood paneling in the door trims, passenger dash, and on the top of a truly dowdy looking centre console section, with plastic of that really basic look and feel. Yet it sits between and ahead of a total of six leather seats, with heating all round, and powered recliners in the middle. The second and third row seats slide, and this again raises a query about the non powered rear door, as it could allow entry and exit from that third row.The driver’s section has a seven inch touchscreen, piano black trim, and analogue dials in the VX. Again, it’s a missed opportunity where a LCD insert would have added just that little bit more of extra class. There are a few tabs for items such as the parking sensors and night light adjustment for the screen, and four that have no apparent use. The Drive selector is console mounted and there is manual shifting.The side powered doors have roll up/down window shades, and to activate the sliding mechanism it’s a soft touch push/pull on the door handles inside and out. Or there’s remote opening and closing from the key fob. Safety is covered with very audible beeping as the doors open or close.

Convenience is looked after by having USB ports for the rear rows, a separate air-conditioning system with controls on the roof behind the front seats, and cup holders for each seat. Each rear row seat also has its own map-light.On The Road It’s: Nice to drive up to freeway speeds. Above the legal limit it’s missing a key factor: confidence. There’s something about the way the Granvia VX is set up that has it feeling just fine until freeway velocities are called for. It’s simply doesn’t feel….right… it was the oddest sensation and one that couldn’t put our finger on. The speedo would indicate 110, 115, and it effectively then communicated “don’t go faster”. It was impossible to tell if it was a stability issue, the sensation of being seated at the height the driver is, the steering ratio that was fine at suburban velocities but not faster…..annoying? Mightily.

The steering is nicely weighted, and allows for easy three point turns. Navigating suburban roads, even with the near two metre width and 5.3 metre length, was also easy. helping matters was the relaxed attitude of the diesel, with that 450Nm peak torque barely above idle. The auto is typical Toyota with a swift and slick change, and holds gear for downhill runs. Manual changing makes no real difference in this part of the drive experience. The brakes are a touch grabby at times, meaning a gentler foot was required, and a softer press meant earlier braking. And here too a minor hiccup; retardation feedback wasn’t entirely forthcoming, with judgement of where the pedal needed to be pull the Granvia up not always corresponding to the rate the Granvia would pull up. Compounding the drive was the engine power reduction from the Active Yaw Control. This comes in when the Granvia VX would move across the road and cross white lines. This quickly became, in our eyes, a safety issue as the sudden power loss would slow the Granvia and gave rise to a potential impact from the rear. the other is that although thes eats would recline, in upright positions the rear view mirror was full of seats, not a clear rear glass.

What About Safety?: Safety is comprehensive. 9 airbags including both front seats, driver’s knee, front curtain shield x 2, rear curtain shield x 2, side airbag x 2. Blind Spot Alert, Lane Departure Alert, and Pre-collision alert with cyclist and pedestrian sensing make for a very good package.

What About Warranty And Service?: five years warranty and capped price servicing for the Granvia VX. Follow the service schedule and warranty goes out to seven years. Service intervals are six months or 10,000 kilometres with a cost (as of May, 2020) of $245.
At The End Of The Drive. It’s an absolutely ideal vehicle to be used as a courier of the well heeled from hotel to airport, from rock concert to hotel. The seats really are beautifully comfortable, and with a six seater configuration there’s room and flexibility aplenty. Around town it’s a doddle to drive. The downsides of the centre console and dash look and feel, plus the nervousness above 100kph hold the Granvia VX firmly in place as a suburban utility and a lovely one to be in. Check it out for yourself here.

Even More Motoring Matchmaking…

Matchmaking is addictive, so we’re going to keep going with our series where we match people up to the vehicles that suit them and their lifestyles best. This week’s theme is… well, see if you can figure it out!

Kia Carnival

The Modern-Day Clan: When Xavier and Elizabeth are asked about the number of children they have, the eyebrows inevitably go up and the question “Are you Catholic or something?” turns up – to which the answer is “Yes.” This is because there are at least five children in the family last time we counted. Or maybe six. Elizabeth was considering homeschooling the clan like some of their friends with equally large families but not always the same religious preferences do. However, St Patrick’s school ten minutes’ drive away (on a good day) does a good job. It may take ten minutes to drive there, but it takes at least an equal amount of time to round everybody up, make a general issue of schoolbags and lunches, make sure that they’re all strapped in properly and defuse any fights about who’s got the best seat in the vehicle. Needless to say, people-carrying capacity is the first concern of Xavier and Elizabeth when they go down to the nearest car sales yard (hang on a minute, I think Francis has headed over to drool at the sports cars – he’d better not scratch anything – and I’ll give you something to eat in a minute, Veronica; Bernadette, can you hold her for a bit while Mummy talks to the nice car salesman?).

Suggested vehicle for Xavier and Elizabeth (and the clan!): Mercedes Benz V-Class, Kia Carnival, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai iMax, Renault Trafic Passenger, Toyota Granvia, VW Transporter, LDV G10 People Mover

Fiat Ducato

Mr Fix It Professionally: Doug finished his apprenticeship way back. When and what he doesn’t know about plumbing could be written on the head of a plunger. He’s been in the plumbing business for many years now and it’s getting a bit harder to squeeze under a house to deal with a leaky pipe now that he’s traded his six-pack for a keg, but he manages. Doug is anything but squeamish and has seen the weirdest things flushed down toilets. He knows all too well that what sounds like a simple blocked pipe or burst water main may turn into a long and complicated job. This means that his everyday vehicle has to be able to take it all, from a selection of washers and screws through to lengths of pipe in all sorts of widths – and don’t forget the overalls, rubber gloves, gumboots and copious amounts of hand sanitiser and soap.  Doug knows the value of word of mouth advertising and being seen to do a good job, so he has to have a vehicle that has room to slap on some signage with his business name (Dirty Doug’s Drains & Plumbing) and contact details in nice clear lettering.

Suggested vehicle for Doug: LDV G10, Ford Transit, Mercedes Benz Sprinter, Toyota Hiace, VW Transporter, Renault Trafic, Hyundai iLoad, Renault Master, LDV V80, Fiat Ducato, VW Crafter

Suzuki APV

Miss Daisy Drives: Jessica is a romantic at heart. This is why she started her floristry business. She’s doing quite well and the delivery service is always much appreciated, especially now that she has added soaps and chocolates and other gifts into the mix of things she offers. Jessica may have started out with just a little hatchback but now that she has managed to land a few bigger clients and is building something of a name for herself, she needs something larger – something that can deliver the more extensive arrangements for weddings and big dos with ease. However, a big lumbering thing just won’t look right and anyway, some of those flowers are fragile and delicate when they come from the market first thing in the morning, so her vehicle has to be fairly agile as well as having good load space… and it has to be easy to park in a residential street for when she does door to door deliveries (that’s her favourite sort of delivery job).  It’s got to have good air conditioning as well. Jessica would adore it if she could find a suitable vehicle in her company’s signature colour of sparkly lilac but anything that looks cute, does the job and can fit a nice picture of flowers along with the contact details will do.

Suggested vehicle for Jessica: Fiat Ducato, Renault Kangoo, VW Caddy, VW Multivan, Toyota Hiace, VW Transporter, Ford Transit, Fiat Doblo, Citroen Berlingo, Suzuki APV

2020 Hyundai i30N Hatch: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Hyundai’s foray into the hot (warm?) hatch arena. It’s the i30, but not as we know it as it’s the N badge that sets it apart from its lesser brethren.How Much Does It Cost?: Hyundai’s list price is $41,500 plus on roads. The website lists it as $46,133 to $49,781 drive-away, depending on seeing the Luxury Pack (as tested) inside or not.

Under The Bonnet Is: A potent 2.0L petrol fed and turbocharged four cylinder, mated to a super slick six speed manual. In N spec it’s good for 202kW and a hefty 353 torques. There is an overboost facility that provides 378Nm. “Normal” torque is available from 1,450rpm to 4,700rpm. Overboost is 1,750rpm to 4,200rpm. They’re delivered in a very linear fashion, rather than a lightning bolt kapow. It makes for an extremely flexible drivetrain.Economy around town reflects the performance aspect though, with urban assaults seeing numbers north of 10.6/100km. That’s pretty much on the money for our drive. Hyundai quotes 8.0L/100km for the combined cycle. Our lowest figure was on the highway, not unsurprisingly, and clocked 7.0L/100km. That’s still above the 6.4L/100km from Hyundai’s official figures. Final overall was 8.7L/100km. Tank size is 50L and recommended fuel is 95RON. There are drive modes and these will be covered later.

On The Outside It’s: Well….it’s an i30. There’s some nice alloys and a discrete N badge, plus some bright red brake calipers with the N logo….but that’s it. That’s if you don’t include the twin exhausts inside a nicely styled diffuser and the black chin guard that balances the rear of roof deck lid spoiler. Wheels are 19 inches in diameter and have a distinctive spoke design. Rubber is from Pirelli, they’re P-Zero and 235/35 are in size.

Paint on our review vehicle was the luscious Engine Red and is one of six colours including the signature Performance Blue hero colour. The hatch is 4,335mm in length, just a tick shorter than the i30N Fastback at 4,455mm.

On The Inside It’s: An opportunity missed to stamp the N as a sports oriented vehicle, but that’s a first glance situation. The air vents have red piping to the surrounds and that’s largely it in comparison to the largely otherwise unremarkable interior. The steering wheel has red stitching, and there is subtle red stitching in the seats. The look is subdued and dare we say, generic with unremarkable plastics, the standard looking touchscreen interface bar the N tab, and analogue dials where a full width LCD screen would have been better optioned. Ignition in the hatch is a standard key insert, the fastback is a push-button.The tiller has the drive mode switches; one for Sport/Normal/Eco, and one for the N performance package. The Sport engages the throaty rumble mode for the exhaust whereas the N selection firms up the steering and suspension, and offers a preset or customisable set of settings for exhaust, steering, engine and more via the touchscreen. Standard look is showing power, torque, turbo boost, and g-force readings, plus lap timings for track days. Inside the 381L cargo area is a brace bar to provide extra torsional rigidity. The cargo section itself opens up to 1,287L with the rear seats folded. A cargo net is standard in the Fastback but not the hatch, a curious decision. Head room front and rear is 994mm and 977mm, with 1,073mm and 883mm for leg room. Shoulder room is over 1,400mm front and rear. On The Road It’s: A sleeper. Left in Eco and Normal mode it’s…normal. There’s a typical feel to the whole package in acceleration, noise, handling. The clutch is curiously heavier than expected and resulted in more than a few stalls. Hit the Sport mode and there’s a change of attitude. The exhaust suddenly gets more snarl, there’s an extra sense of weight to the steering, and sharper handling.

N mode lights the candle. There’s an extra depth to the anger of the exhaust and especially on up and downshifts. There’s a crackle, a sharp and hard edged note that’s evident on even light throttle. Go hard and the length and volume of the growl becomes longer thanks to some electronic assistance. Launch Control is standard and that’s activated via the disabling of the traction control system. Hold that button down, wait until a couple of lights flash to say things are happening, and then push down the clutch. Floor the throttle and somewhere around six seconds later it’s freeways speeds. There is torque steer but the electronic or “e-diff” makes a great fist of smoothing that out. Although hydraulic in nature, the electron brains behind the scenes distribute torque as per where the sensors say it should. It makes for a pretty much arrow straight line on a hard launch, and keeps both front wheels in contact with the ground. Steering is super precise and is just two turns lock to lock. This means input results in instant response. Rev-matching works on getting the engine to be in a rev range suitable for the cog selected on downshifts.

It’s slick and smooth, and gets the rumble and snarl from the rear happening. The selector itself is light, with Hyundai saying the actual feel was built in for “enthusiastic drivers”. For us, it felt accurate in throw, perhaps a little long, but also disconnected and remote from the driving experience. Braking is the complete opposite, with one of the best sensory experiences available. Think about where the pedal needed to be and it was, with instant response from the lightest of touches.The N mode makes, as mentioned, for harder suspension. It’s noticeably different in quality and brings forth a benefit. That’s every corner, as firm as they become, being able to provide to the driver a picture of every ripple, every dent and ridge on a 20c coin without a feeling of being overly tight and taut. It’s a superbly tuned package and one honed by 500 laps of The Nurburgring. The torque spread makes for easy freeway driving, and overtaking is as simple as either squeeze and go, or drop a cog or two. There are shift lights and a shift indicator notification in the LCD screen in the driver’s binnacle. On a run along some pretty average roads in the nor-west of Sydney the N setting was barely adequate for the car to stay on the road without being bounced off into the greenery. The Sport mode was better in compliance, with a subtle shift in comfort, yet still providing a taut and sporty ride.

What About Safety?: There is no stinting here. The full Hyundai SafetySense package is available, with Forward Collision Avoidance, Driver Attention Warning, and Lane Keep Assist. The DAW in the liftback was overly enthusiastic, saying a break should be taken after just a few minutes worth of travel time. Quad sensors front and rear provide accurate parking measurements as does the clear view from the reverse camera which includes guideline assist. On the passive safety front there are seven airbags including the driver’s kneebag. Hill Start Assist was welcomed due to the vagaries of the clutch point.

What About Warranty And Service?: Hyundai have done track day drivers a huge service here. Under most warranty guidelines, issues found to be as a result of track days aren’t covered. Hyundai disagree with that and do offer that coverage. Also it’s a seven years warranty, instead of five. Service costs are capped (check with your Hyundai dealer) and items such as satnav updates can be done when a car is booked in for a service.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s an excellent all-rounder, family and enthusiast friendly, and bar the downmarket look and surprising lack of low end in the sound system, provides a wonderful environment in which to spend time in. Outside the hatch looked resplendent in red but didn’t visually yell it was an N spec. A matter of personal taste, one would suggest. This is your source for more info.

Will Car Ownership Rise in the Post-COVID Era?

New car sales have slumped all across the world due to the impact of COVID-19. Australia’s result last month, showing a near 50% drop in new car registrations, paled in comparison with some of those seen overseas, where the dive in sales was upwards of 95%.

With lockdowns keeping motorists at home, as well as the economic repercussions associated with job losses also weighing on sentiment, there has been an abrupt halt in sales across the industry. That’s not to say the local market was showing signs of growth beforehand, with two years of month-on-month declines setting the backdrop.

However, while it’s not yet being translated into sales at showrooms across the country, there is a growing sense of interest and buying intent being recorded among potential new car buyers.


Interest returning to the market

Just a few weeks ago, between April 18 and April 27, Carsales surveyed more than 3000 Australians. The company noted that 45% of non-car owners have changed their views regarding primary transport preferences.

In addition, the company’s findings suggested that 58.5% of respondents were more likely to consider buying a car, including 38% of all participants who are keen to buy a car right now. On the other side of the equation, just 21.9% of non-car owners were less likely to consider buying a car.

Rounding out the results, a significant 36.8% of non-car owners signalled they will probably use public transport less, with another 17.8% more likely to avoid using ride share services.



What’s driving demand?

From a position of financial standing, those who can still afford a car in this current financial climate have greater scope to negotiate a bargain due to excess stock. Add in record-low interest rates and those who have been holding off for a while are now in a good position to start shopping around.

More prominently, however, amid the pandemic it’s no surprise that people’s habits and perceptions of safe behaviour are changing. With social distancing being instilled into communities everywhere, it’s all but set to stay for the foreseeable future. This comes even with evidence that Australia has handled the health crisis far better than most other countries around the world.

There are two driving forces here. On the one hand, there will likely remain underlying health and hygiene anxieties among many, particularly those with existing health conditions that they may wish to manage. Convenience is also sure to prove a driving factor, with public transport set to come with hurdles in terms of limited supply and reduced capacity.

What does it all mean for the market? It certainly looks like Australians could shift back towards car ownership, despite slipping in recent times.

How do you feel about the near and mid-term outlook for commuting to work? Do you have concerns around sharing public transport and are you more likely to consider looking for a new car?

2020 SsangYong Korando ELX And Ultimate: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The mid and top level 2020 SsangYong Korando. The car has been given a complete makeover inside and out. No longer does it look like a poor cousin to the curvy Korean sourced and no longer available Captiva. Rather it’s now a vehicle of its own styling, and yet there’s a whiff of familiarity as well.How Much Does It Cost?: The three model range starts at $26,990 with the EX, $30,990 for the petrol ELX and $36,990 for the petrol Ultimate. All prices are driveaway. There is a diesel available for the ELX and Ultimate for a $3,000 extra cost.Under The Bonnet Is: A rorty and exuberant 1.5L turbo petrol engine. Power and torque are rated at 120kW and 280Nm from 1,500rpm through to 4,000rpm. It’s got a nature very much like an excited puppy, with a free revving nature, plenty of pull when it’s up and running, and will have the front wheels scrabbling for grip from a hard launch. But there’s a price to pay and that’s at the petrol pump. We didn’t see anything under 9.0L/100km at any time. Ssangyong quotes only a combined figure and that’s 7.7L/100km, an indicator the suburban drive is over 9.0L/100km. The fuel tank is just 47L,

The transmission is a six speed auto and drives the front wheels. There is a transmission tunnel visible in the rear seat section, suggesting the Korando has been engineered for AWD later. And being a six-speeder also means it’s starting to be left behind considering the now virtually standard eight speeds found elsewhere.

On The Outside It’s: Squarer, boxier, and more assertive looking than the original. There’s a hint of Suzuki Swift and Volvo XC40 at the rear with the fin-shaped pillar insert, a touch of Volkswagen at the front with the layered horizontal lines in the centre.A chromed strip runs across in a line just under the leading edge of the bonnet, dipping down under each self-leveling headlight. The Ultimate sports a triple-tiered driving light cluster underneath; the ELX has blacked out inserts. Both have a triple layered set of lines in the main air-intake which echoes the driving lights in the Ultimate.

The rear lights mirror the front, with three chevrons either side and another chromed strip that runs under each cluster. Solid looking black polycarbonate finishes off each end whilst the sides and flanks have heavily sculpted lines to ease a slightly slabby look. The wing mirrors are folding and heated, a nice touch on those coolish, foggy days.

Good looking tuning fork style 18 inch alloys on the ELX have Kumho Crugen 235/55 rubber. The Ultimate has double spiral alloys at 19 inches in diameter and rubber from Hankook at 235/50.Overall it’s compact in size; 4,450mm in total length is shorter than it appears. A wheelbase of 2,675mm sits inside that. It’s tall at 1,620mm and broad at 1,870mm. It’s not excessively heavy at 1,435kg dry.

On The Inside It’s: Classy in the Ultimate, only a little less so in the ELX. The Ultimate has a full LCD display for the driver; on startup two spinning discs become the speed and rev counter displays. The look can morph into a couple of other looks depending on information required.For The ELX it’s traditional analogue yet still good looking. There are options to change the dial lighting and for both daytime and night time running in choice. Sadly the centre dash touchscreen is severely lacking in comparison. No DAB, no satnav, no real menu structure…It’s worse than basic, looks as dull as dishwater, and frankly detracts strongly from the Korando’s otherwise quite enjoyable ambience. The centre stack is piano black, the aircon controls are laid out cleanly, and in the case of the Ultimate are soft touch rocker-switch style tabs. A slightly odd touch is the size of the door handles inside. Very slimline and the kind a slippery finger would easily slide over and off.The manually adjusted for reach and rake steering wheel is on the larger side to hold. That’s not entirely a bad thing as it makes for easier push-pull driving. The Ultimate has it as heated as well, along with the leather seats being heated and vented. For the ELX the cloth clad seats do the job, and nicely thank you, with perhaps both needing a little more under thigh support.Both have a drive mode selector dial in the centre console, with Sport and Winter modes available. The buttons around the gear selector for the Ultimate look burrowed from the brand’s Korean cousins. The tiller is also familiar in look, if not heft.Room isn’t a major issue all round. The boot is 551L and grows to 1,248L. Headroom is 1,011mm and 987mm.On The Road It’s: A bit of fun. The steering and ride quality are twitchy; the steering requires constant input, the Lane Keeping Assist is, like its Korean counterparts, over-eager, and the ride is a little on the firm side. The front suspension crashes through at times, rather than providing initial compliance before dialing out impacts. But the steering is just light enough that you can feel a little bit sporty hustling the Korando through switchbacks and adjust for the slight oversteer and medium range velocities.

Actual engine engagement is solid. As mentioned it’s an eager thing and will happily chirp the front rubber. Once hooked up, there’s decent acceleration from a smallish turbo engine in a decent small-mid sized SUV. The auto, for “all” of its a six-speeder, is slick, changes well up and down through the cogs, and only occasionally felt as if it was in the wrong place. It also engine brakes downhills nicely, and a gentle tap of the paddle shifters at the bottom brings everything back into line.

The brakes are a touch on the soft side. There’s some space between the touch and push before engagement is felt and it’s a soft press still from there. But they do grab and haul up the Korando well enough, and stopping distance can be judged once some time with the car has been taken. Suspension wise, the Ultimate had a “feel” that it was more aligned with the sporting driver.

What About Safety?: AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking is standard across the range, along with Forward Collision Warning. Lane Keep Assist is standard for all three, whereas Lane Change Assist isn’t for the EX. The Ultimate is the one to receive Adaptive Cruise Control, all three also get Lane Departure Warning, Driver Alert Warning, and seven airbags including driver’s knee. The EX dips out on Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. Ultimate also gets Tyre Pressure Monitoring.

What About Warranty and Service?: Warranty is class equaling; seven years and unlimited kilometres. Service intervals are 12 months or 15,000 kilometres and are capped at $295 per service across the seven years for the Korando petrol. Roadside assistance is available for those seven years.

At The End Of The Drive. SsangYong have delivered a pretty decent vehicle in the form of the Korando ELX and Ultimate with petrol power. Sure, there’s some utterly unnecessary quirks but the lack of DAB and satnav is bordering on unforgivable. The poor user interface for the touchscreen makes accessing the apps on smart phones virtually impossible. The upside is the really cool driver’s display in the Ultimate, a ride quality and handling package that isn’t terribly unenjoyable, decent room, and good looks outside.

Some dollars by their marketing arm wouldn’t go astray as the car, and the brand, are invisible to the daily driver. That’s a shame as, aside from the quirks, the vehicles in the range are viable alternatives….or is it the quirks that stop the sale?

Dive into the Korando here.