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Archive for October, 2020

Robert Opron and the Simca Fulgur: Better Than Nostradamus?

The question as to where all the flying cars are now that we’re in 2020 has become a bit of a cliché.  It’s been a bit of a cliché ever since we hit the new millennium. This is a reference to the way that popular culture envisioned what family cars would look like in the 21st century.

However, at least one car designer had ideas that were a bit more down to earth – literally.  The year was 1958 and the designer was Robert Opron. This designer had accepted a challenge to produce a concept car for the 1959 Geneva Motor Show for his parent company Simca. Never heard of Simca? This was a French company owned by Fiat that rivalled Citroen for the title of “France’s answer to the VW Beetle”. I owned one back in my student days – possibly a Simca 1300; it had a front engine like a normal car rather than a rear engine and it’s probably worth a mint now, so I’m rather regretting selling it. Its only quirk was a flaw in the speedo: after it hit 50 mph, the needle went back down even when I accelerated.

Anyway, enough memories of student cars and back to Robert Opron.  Opron later took his genius to Citroën, then Renault, then Alfa Romeo. He has been recognised as one of the top 25 designers of the 20th century, although he wasn’t the chap responsible for the very distinctive Citroen 2CV. The Renault Alpine was his, though, as were a number of 1980s Renaults.

Opron had come across a challenge issued by the Journal de Tintin.  Yes, that’s Tintin as in the intrepid red-haired reporter who has a dog called Snowy and a best friend called Captain Haddock.  The challenge was to design a “typical” car for the 1980s or for the year 2000. The challenge included a list of specifications that had to be included in the design, including the following:

  • fuelled by a nuclear-powered battery or a hydrogen fuel cell with a range of 5000 km
  • running on two wheels, balanced gyroscopically, at speeds over 150 km/h,
  • voice controlled
  • radar guidance for navigation and for detecting hazards
  • top speed of over 300 km/h
  • automatic braking if it detected a hazard
  • headlights that adjust automatically with speed

Although Opron didn’t produce a full working prototype, he did show a shell of the concept at the 1959 motor show and the full details of the concept car, known as the Simca Fulgur, were published in the Journal de Tintin (this suggests that it would have appeared alongside The Red Sea Sharks and/or Tintin in Tibet – just in case you were curious, like I was).

The Simca Fulgur – which takes its name from the Latin word meaning “lightning” – looked like the classic Jetsons flying car, except it didn’t fly. It captured the public imagination somewhat and became the basis for what people thought futuristic cars would look like. Or what UFOs would look like – take your pick.

Anyway, from the perspective of late October in 2020, 61 years later, it’s amusing to take a look at the cars of today and see how close we’ve actually come to getting some of these features. How well did the Fulgur predict what we’d have on our roads?

  • Voice control: Yes, we’ve got this, although it’s not quite a case of telling the car your destination and letting it get there (they’re working on that). But you can use voice control on quite a few things, including the navigation system.
  • Top speed of over 300 km/h: Yes, but most cars that are capable of this have their speeds limited for safety purposes.
  • Autonomous braking and hazard detection: Yes. However, human input is still needed.
  • Automatically adjusting headlights: Yes, although they adjust for the ambient light levels rather than how fast you’re going.
  • Electric motor with hydrogen fuel cell technology: Yes, although the range isn’t anywhere near what was predicted. We’d all love a range of 5000 km in an EV (electric vehicle) or HFCV (hydrogen fuel cell vehicle).
  • Electrical motor with nuclear power: Are you kidding me? Since Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear power isn’t quite the sexy answer to our energy problems that it was back in the 1950s.
  • Balancing on two wheels with gyroscopic stabilisers at speeds over 150 km/h: No. Just no. If you want that sort of thing, get a motorbike, not a family saloon.

All in all, not too bad a job of predicting the future, Monsieur Opron – you did a better job than your compatriot Nostradamus.

Novated Lease: Is It Worth It?

The short answer is Absolutely !!!

A novated lease is an agreement between your employer, a finance company and yourself.

When you choose the car you want, you then enter into a finance agreement in your own name. Then you, your employer and the finance company all sign a novation agreement. A key item here is that some lease companies will allow an employee to “finance” their existing vehicle or a pre-owned vehicle. You choose the car you want.

Your employer will make the monthly lease payments to the finance company, and you can use the vehicle as part of a salary packaging arrangement. With that agreement, most of the lease, running costs of the vehicle and fringe benefits tax (FBT) are deducted from your pre-tax salary. Your income tax is then calculated on your reduced salary, which will usually  increase your net disposable income.

Benefits to you, the Driver.

 Tax free running costs.

Unlimited personal use.

Up front budgeted motoring

Fully managed car ownership

Fuel Card

Income maximisation.

Your company makes your monthly payment for you

Benefits to Employer.

Payroll Tax savings on every dollar spent.

Employee is in a safe late model insured roadworthy car.

Employee has no bills to pay

One touch payroll activation

Helps build Employee Morale.

No cost implementation

Fully Managed Novated Leasing is the last employee personal use tax saving options currently offered from the ATO.  

Effectively this means that a purchaser doesn’t actually buy a car, it’s financed and done so by packaging a salary in a way that payments to cover the costs of the lease come out of the salary before the taxation office get their slice. And by effectively lowering the amount of salary received, the tax bracket the salary slots into can be lower and/or have a lower rate of tax applied, which can mean the after tax pay is better.

There are some immediate benefits to the driver

The car can be for private use only, or a combination of work and play. A payment structure for the lease can be worked out so running costs such as fuel, insurance, new tyres, are all a 100% pre-tax payment.

GST is saved too, as having a novated lease means motoring costs are GST free for employees.

A company such as Fincar can assist in helping you with an obligation free quote for you and your company. Call 1300 346227

2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s Navara and its partnership with Premcar. This joint partnership has given Premcar the opportunity to work with Nissan and provide an Australian engineered alternative to Ford’s Ranger Raptor and the former contender from Holden and HSV, the Sportscat.

What Does It Cost?: A not inconsiderable $67,290 on a drive-away basis. However it’s close to $9K cheaper than a Raptor and around $2K cheaper than a Wildtrak X with 2.0L bi-turbo diesel.Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.3L twin turbo diesel. Power is 140kW at a high, for a diesel, 3,750rpm. Peak torque is the critical figure and that’s 450Nm between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm. In comparison, the Raptor’s 2.0L diesel has 157kW and 500Nm (1,750rpm to 2,000rpm). There is a choice of a six speed manual or a seven speed auto, driving two or four wheels via an electronic selector and a switch to lock the rear diff. Nissan quotes 7.0L per 100km on the combined cycle. We finished at 9.4L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway cycle. Tank size is 80.0L.On The Outside It’s: Clad in White Diamond (choices are Slate Grey and Cosmic Black), our test car, which highlights the orange hued pieces of trim spread around the outside edges of the steps, mirrors, and front driving lights. There is a blacked-out decal along the flanks that declares the car to be an N-Trek Warrior, and sits nicely between the big tyres fitted. They’re from renowned off-road tyre supplier, Cooper, and are 275/70/17s from the Discoverer AT3 range.For the tray, there is a tub liner, a blacked out roll-bar, a Navara decal on the tailgate, a black rear step-bumper, and a towbar attachment. Heavy duty flared guard attachments add a muscular, no-nonsense, look, with that same take-everything-on ideal up front with a heavier looking front bar complete with LED light strip, and blacked out trim for the grille.

Underneath is increased ride height for the body, and plenty of sheetmetal (3mm thick 302 standard stainless steel) for protecting the engine’s sump, transmission, and vital cables. This is necessary given the angles the N-Trek Warrior can find itself at: approach is up to 35 degrees and break-over of 27.5 degrees. Departure angle isn’t great at just 19 degrees.Overall, the N-Trek Warrior stands 1,895mm tall, rolls on a wheelbase of 3,150mm inside a total length of 5,385mm, and the total width of 1,920 (sans mirrors) adds to the shoulder room inside. Inside the tub is a 1,503mm floor length, and between the rear wheel arches is 1,130mm with extra space either side at 1,560mm on the floor. Depth is 474mm. Payload is 724kg and braked towing is 3.5 tonnes.On The Inside It’s: Aging. Gracefully, but aging. Nissan says a new Navara is on the way for 2021. What it has for now is a dash with an elegant sweep in the style, a bad reflection into the windscreen, a non-DAB tuner (disappointing), fine grains to the plastic on the dash, and a dated use of alloy hued plastics on the tiller, console, and touchscreen surrounds. The seats could use more side bolstering in supporting the body, with a sensation of sitting on but not in them. However the look and trim is high in quality for a mixed material pew.The headrests are embossed with the orange stitched N-Trek Warrior logo that complements the same colour stitching in the floor mats, the rear vision mirror has a simple N/S/E/W style compass, and the upper centre console has a small storage locker with a 12V socket. Down near the gear selector is a solitary USB port. There is no port for the rear seat passengers but there are a pair of vents. On The Road It’s: Surprisingly…heavy. In our drive it felt leaden, weighed down, lacklustre even. Surprising given the amount of torque available as acceleration was ok without being outstanding, both from a standing start and in rolling acceleration. Steering was rubbery in feel on centre but tightened up to be communicative, partly due to the thick off-road tyres, but there is effort needed at low speeds. Body movement in comparison demonstrated the work put in, with a taut ride on tarmac, that “just right” amount of suspension give, even allowing for sidewall flex. The brakes are spot on, in comparison, with an intuitive travel. The auto itself is a solid worker, putting in a performance that was competent if unspectacular.Off-road, it’s a different beast and performed admirably. There is a rear diff lock, a rotary dial for 4WD high and low range, and the fettled suspension has plenty of articulation. The Cooper tyres display why they’re the chosen brand for getting dirty grip, clambering over and through the various surfaces on our test track without a niggle. It’s this environment where the engine’s torque range really works, and the increased ride height (40mm over standard) provided secure and safe driving. Nissan’s paperwork says the N-Trek Warrior’s suspension team spent several months testing various combinations of springs, dampers, and bump stops, and off-road it shows. What About Safety?: Reverse camera is standard and in high definition on the touchscreen. Seven airbags, including driver’s kneebag, are standard, however Nissan’s spec sheet don’t list AEB, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and the like.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres plus five years roadside assist. Capped price servicing is also available and pricing is model dependent.

At The End Of the Drive. It was with mixed feelings that the Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior was handed back to the office. It’s undoubtedly good as an off-roader, but for our tastes it was not entirely suitable for every day tarmac use. And that’s the perplexing part given the background it’s come from and the partnership formed to build it. It leaves the N-Trek Warrior in a peculiar place, and that’s where expectations weren’t met yet should have been.

Info on the 2020 Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior can be found here.

Gifts for Car Owners

As the end of October fast approaches, that means retailers will soon start to take centre stage amid the Black Friday sales period and the subsequent Christmas holiday rush. It’s that time of the year where we spoil loved ones with gifts and affection, and that includes car owners too! Here’s a few gift ideas heading into peak season for retail shopping.

 

 

Car Vacuum Cleaner

Which new car owner doesn’t take pride in their joy? That means, both inside and out, because a car should be spotless. After all, first impressions count, right? And who wants to show off their brand new ride only for a messy interior to let it down. Dust and dirt naturally make their way into a car, so what better gift to help a new car owner keep on top of maintenance than a car vacuum cleaner. Small, portable and highly effective – a great choice!

 

Sat-nav

Although many new cars now offer integrated navigation systems, there are still many cars where this has yet to become a standardised feature. With today’s satellite navigation systems more advanced than ever before, this could be the perfect gift for someone who spends a lot of time on the road. Heck, the next-generation projection navigation systems are another idea altogether, offering augmentation and navigation in one.

 

Transportation Accessories

If you’re looking to find a tailored gift, you may wish to take into consideration the specifics of the person you are purchasing a gift for. Do they have a child? If so, they may appreciate a baby seat for their car. Do they have pets instead? Perhaps a cradle for their pet would be better suited. Or do they enjoy an active lifestyle? In which case, a roof rack for their bicycle or surfboard might not go astray.

 

Took kit

Many motorists are happy to entrust their mechanic to look after all their car’s automotive needs. However, for the motoring enthusiast, or the DIY-er, a took kit could be the best companion. Not only will it help them tackle some of the nitty gritty maintenance jobs under the bonnet, but it’s the sort of gift that pays for itself really, saving money on simple oil changes or the like.

 

Other Ideas

Keep in mind, you don’t always have to appeal to a specific piece of technology or the like. Everyday items are just as likely to deliver the most bang for their buck, which means things like windshield protectors, car seat covers, car-care cleaning kits, phone cradles and emergency accessories could be a welcome addition for a loved one’s new car. And of course, if it’s technology you revert back to, dash cams and wireless phone chargers are becoming all the rage in this day and age!

2020 Peugeot 5008 GT Line: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s quite sexy 5008 mid-sized SUV. Effectively a stretched 3008, and sharing the front cabin, the 5008 grows to a seven seater.

How Much Does It Cost?: As of October 2020 its on a drive away price of $55,990 including premium paint, Nappa leather seats, and glass roof.

Under The Bonnet Is: A detuned version of the 1.6L engine found in the 508, or the same engine in the 3008. That’s 121kW and 240Nm plus the six speed, not eight speed auto. Its a frugal thing with our economy result an overall 6.7L/100km. However, freeway driving did see an on-the-fly figure of just 2.4L/100km. Tank size is a smaller than class average 56.0L.On The Outside It’s: A mid-sizer at 4,641mm in length and sits on a wheelbase of 2,840mm. That’s up from the 3008’s 4,447mm and 2,675mm. That extension is from underneath the second row seats and allows for the third row of two seats which are removable. Wheels are 19 inches in diameter and rubber is 205/55 Michelin Premacy. The spare is an 80 profile space-saver on a 18 inch wheel.Up front are the sequential indicators and the shark fin headlights. The rear has a powered tailgate with set opening level button. The rear is also more upright and boxy in comparison to the 3008 to allow for the third row seating.On The Inside It’s: The same gloriously pretty interior as seen in the 3008 and 508 with the diamond stitched and quilted black leather heated seats. Both fronts have two position memory. The second row seats are three individual units which separately slide and fold. The third are, at best, emergency seats as they don’t really offer a lot of room. Operated via the ubiquitous and simple pull strap system, both lay under a cargo floor cover of two parts, with each also moved via a small string strap.The 5008’s architecture is showing its age with no USB socket for the second row. The front seats have one only and that’s awkwardly tucked away under the lower centre section of the otherwise ergonomically spot on dash, complete with those wonderfully simple alloy look tabs for navigation, aircon, audio (including DAB) and more. That same nook houses a smartphone charge pad. As luscious to look at those tabs are, along with the wrap-around forward centre console, they’re also sun catching and tend to reflect directly into a driver’s eyes.The driver has the Peugeot family’s i-cockpit digital display with varying looks (via that same roller dial on the steering wheel’s left spoke), and the trip meter info activated, as is the Peugeot norm, via a press button on the end of the right hand, wiper activating, column stalk. Those wipers feature Peugeot’s water-saving “Magic Wash” which mists from the arms themselves and not via wasteful jets in the bonnet’s trailing edge. Auto dipping high beam is also standard as is the blue-hued mood lighting. Above the passengers is a black cloth sheet that rolls back to unveil a full glass roof.On The Road It’s: Lacking those extra two cogs and 60Nm from the 508’s 1.6L specification. The extra mass the 5008 has over the smaller and lighter 3008 also affects performance with a plus nine second run to 100kph from a standing start. However, that isn’t noticeable in the ride, with a virtually perfect mix of compliance, suppleness, and chassis control. Body roll is almost non-existent, tightening radius cornering has the nose pushing on gently and that’s controlled by a slow easing off from the accelerator.

Rolling acceleration is decent but not rapid, and when used in anger there’s little to be said aurally too, as the engine emits a restrained growl, a muted note from the exhaust, and a whole lot of otherwise, “sigh, let’s get this done”.Peugeot’s cabin design has the steering wheel sat below the driver’s display, and the size of the flat-bottomed unit brings a sense of sportiness, of engagement with the drive. Brake pedal feedback is the same high level of tactility we’ve come to expect from this underrated brand.

What About Safety?: Six airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, front and rear parking sensors and park assistance are standard fit. City Park (a 90 degree parallel parking system) and a 360 degree camera are standard. The Active Lane Keeping Assistance function is standard and is only mildly intrusive, as it tugs gently rather than firmly, to straighten the 5008 up. Adaptive Cruise is standard along with AEB with camera and radar assistance.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, plus Peugeot’s capped price serving scheme. Booking services is performed online.

At The End Of The Drive. Peugeot is a brand that has an extensive history, is one of the older brands in Australia’s automotive landscape, and remains peculiarly invisible. Yes, our market is a strange one and there are plenty of choices available, yet against that Peugeot’s offerings are overlooked in comparison to the South East Asian based competitors. In our blunt opinion that’s a shame as there is class, good looks, high standard levels of safety and equipment, and at fair prices.That’s our opinion.

The 5008 is a great example of that classy film that lasted a week at the cinemas and yet those in the know, know how good it is. And with the baby of the “008” range, the 2008 due for imminent release at the time of writing, that superb choice expands. Check out the 5008 here.

Facelifts For Favourites. Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross And Hyundai i30

Mitsubishi’s oddly styled and oddly named Eclipse Cross has been given its first facelift. There’s is still the sharp kink to the rear window line but here the lights have been given a deeper silhouette with extensions upwards and inwards. The rear glass is larger for better visibility and the lower door now has a sculpted hexagonal look which Mitsubishi says evokes its historic spare tyre cover logo. The front is updated to the Dynamic Shield design with a new bumper plus enhanced headlight design.The updated Eclipse Cross will also pack a hybrid drivetrain however this not yet confirmed for Australia. It will use the same twin-motor 4WD PHEV system as the Outlander PHEV but with modifications specific to the size and weight of the Eclipse Cross chassis. Front and rear mounted electric motors pair with a high capacity battery and a 2.4L MIVEC engine driving a single-speed planetary gearbox. Drive selection can be automatically switched between three modes: fully EV, Series Hybrid, or Parallel Hybrid.

In a move that is becoming more widespread, the traction battery can also be used as a reliable source of electricity for outdoor leisure or in an emergency as it supplies up to 1,500 watts of power from an on-board outlets. When the vehicle is fully charged and fuelled, it can supply power to a general household for up to 10 days via the Vehicle-to-Home system. The Eclipse Cross will also bring the previous 1.5L turbo four and Constant Variable Transmission.For the interior, there is a new 8.0inch touchscreen with Mitsubishi’s Smartphone-Link Display Audio system. This is designed to make a safer situation for the driver to use. The screen has been moved rearwards down the centreline of the Eclipse Cross, making access easier and has moved away from a strictly touchscreen use for volume and tuning.

For the chassis the Eclipse Cross continues with the Mitsubishi S-AWC system. There has been subtle tweaks to the MacPherson struts and multi-link rear for better ride and handling, with larger shock absorbers increasing comfort and stability. Pricing will be confirmed in November 2020.Hyundai’s popular 130 also has gone under the knife for a mild facelift. The company’s “Sensuous Sportiness” highlights a new grille, restyled headlights, and bumper. Part of the Sunsuous Sportiness ideal is a “parametric pattern” design for the grille with dark chrome geometric shapes. These complement the black bezels inside the headlights and the redesigned LED running and indicator lights inside the broader wheel curtain.

The rear bumper hasn’t been left untouched. either. The reflectors have been repositioned and join with an insert that is full width and of a mesh look. Rolling stock will be 16 and 17 inch alloys as standard, with a dark grey paint that has been machined down to showcase the alloy. All i30s have a solid safety package; Collision Avoidance Assist, Lane Following Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist will be standard from the entry level model upwards. Depending on grade, Blind-Spot Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Traffic Collision Warning and Smart Cruise Control (automatic and DCT variants) will be featured as standard equipment. Lane Following Assist or LFA works thus: it uses the front windshield-mounted camera to detect lane markers as well as vehicles ahead, and provides steering assistance to ensure the vehicle stays in the centre of the lane. It will work at velocities of up to 180kph.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity will also be standard, along with an 8.0 inch touchscreen (i30 entry, Active, and N-Line level) and 7.0 inch main screen for the driver. This display will change in look depending on the chosen drive mode.Also standard across the range are a leather steering wheel and gear knob, an electronic parking brake and air-conditioning vents for rear occupants. The i30 Elite and N-Line Premium increases the touchscreen to 10.25 inches. Infinity will supply the audio system, and a smart keyfob enables push button Stop/Start.

The growing N-Line range now has LED headlights as standard, plus the 150kW 1.6L turbo petrol four and a sports oriented suspension.There will be seven colour choices. Polar White, Phantom Black, Fluidic Metal and Amazon Grey, as well as the vivid Intense Blue and Fiery Red, and an eyecatching vibrant N Line-specific Lava Orange.

“With range-standard SmartSenseTM safety, refreshed styling and extra equipment, our ever-popular i30 hatchback is now an even more compelling proposition in the small car segment,” Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Executive Officer, Jun Heo said.

“The stylish 2021 i30 hatchback complements the progressive all-new i30 Sedan as well as performance N Line variants to provide the perfect small car package for a wide variety of customers,” he said.

Metallic paint will be a $495 option. The range starts at $23,420 (plus ORC) for the i30 entry level 2.0L manual, with the auto a $2,000 impost. The Active and Elite start from $26,920 and $30,220. The N-Line range kicks off from $29,420 for the manual and 1.6L turbo, $31,420 for the auto, and the Premium manual and auto at $34,2320 and $36,220.

Automobile Servicing: Dealership V Mobile.

Very few would disagree that the days of hauling out the toolbox on a Sunday morning to tune the Kingswood are long gone. With the advent of Electronic Fuel Injection or EFI, longer lasting oils, engine covers that look too tricky to remove, plus more specific guidelines from car makers, servicing a car at home has become something of the past.

Or has it?

Mobile servicing has become a huge business over the last couple of decades or so and it has provided some genuine benefits. To find out more, we spoke to David Endres from APR Mobile Servicing. He has over twenty years of experience in the automotive servicing field including fifteen as a mobile servicer.We started with what appears to be an obvious benefit: that one on one contact. Straight away there is that personal service, that personal touch, by having your car serviced at home or at work, says David. You get to meet the person that will be performing the service, and feedback is virtually instant is something needs to be discussed. David says it’s an instantly more usable system as any issues or changes that may have arisen can be discussed face to face and clarifications are conveyed in a far more understandable sense, rather than by a phone call, or worse, by email or text. Also the client can see for themselves what might be the problem, right on the spot.

This brought us to the convenience factor. It’s a big one, says David. “We come to you at a time that suits you, and with more people working from home, your life continues whilst we look after your car.” If a service is done at an office workplace, there is less downtime, says David, and this is one way to keep the boss on your side. Plus, it means there is little to no extra travel time required, such as if a dealership is some distance away from home or work.One unexpected benefit of a mobile service, says David, is for the elderly and infirm benefit plus stay at home parents. This absolutely minimises intrusions into their lives, and as David pointed out, imagine having to wrangle small children back and forth on public transport on a hot summer’s day. Trade services such as sparkies or plumbers gain the benefit of a mobile service, as their own light commercial vehicle can be looked after whilst they themselves are on the job. This applies to company “reps”, who can meet David at a specified location and time, leave him to service their vehicle and they continue their representative role.

Given the question of timeframe, David says he aims to have around two hours from start to finish. What this means for the work from home Mum, or the look after the grandkids grandparents, is downtime is as short as possible, rather than the traditional method of a dealership’s “drop off in the morning, pickup in the afternoon”. However, there is a benefit in the dealership approach. Should a part be required and it’s not immediately in stock at that dealership, a turnaround time to have a courier bring the part from a warehouse or another dealership can virtually ensure it’s done during the day and ready for a client to pickup at day’s end.

This, says David, is where a mobile service callout will require a re-booking whilst an ordered part is on its way. He’s at pains to caution that if the work required has the vehicle in a condition that it shouldn’t be driven, that the client is immediately fully briefed. he also highlights that a second visit to fit the required part is at no extra cost to the client. This took us to the cost factor. David believes that mobile servicers are very cost effective, as their only overheads are the costs of running the service vehicles, rather than paying for a building’s electrical costs, management costs, and the like. And, as a rule, the actual hourly rates are competitive, saving a client money.

The experience factor was a key point here. Acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere, David opines that having the experience to provide a mobile service provides a true peace of mind for a client, with the ability to deal with questions and any potential issues on the spot because of it. In a dealership situation, that experience starts with an apprentice, a position where the basics of servicing a vehicle, especially in a first service, leads to the experience required in providing a mobile service.

Inclusive of this point is the process of assisting a client to diagnose a problem if the booking isn’t for a straight service. By working one on one with the owner, and asking open ended questions, it minimises the time needed to diagnose and identify the problem. This includes possibly driving the vehicle before commencing any work. At a dealership, a similar process can be undertaken, and the benefit comes back to the timeframe and possibly having a required part in stock.

Serviceman

Location wise, a mobile service can cover a lot of ground, and it’s here that the benefit of being largely city wide in coverage helps. APR’s homebase in in Parramatta, west of the Sydney CBD, however the coverage is across most of the majority of the Sydney basin. The timeframe to work with is critical here, says David. With an average lead-in time of a week, this allows APR Mobile Services to arrange a schedule that suits the client first and reduces drastically unnecessary travel from the business end.

It also allows David to ensure that, where possible, the right parts to start with are available, and it also provides him with the opportunity to fit parts that aim for a longevity situation. By that, David says it brings to a client, the right parts to ensure that downtime is minimised but also that the gaps between visits for unnecessary work is reduced as much as possible.

Another benefit, says David, is purely personal. By being hands-on with a client’s car, a relationship is built, and a number of clients like to reward the efforts provided. Although dealership staff can be on the receiving end of a gift from a grateful client, it’s not as personal as dealing with someone one-on-one. There’s a more rewarding situation for many clients, especially for those that may have been under stress or are not automobile savvy, and they like to express their gratitude with a small gift personally. What this does for a mobile servicer is up the level of satisfaction for a job well done, something David at APR Mobile Services takes a lot of quiet pride in knowing has been provided.

David and APR in Sydney can be reached at 0410 323 856. Check your search engine for local mobile servicers.

Era’s End: 2020 B1000 Says Goodbye To The Lion

Motorsport at Bathurst will see the end of an era for the “long” weekend of October 15 to 18. Covering four days, with practice, qualifying, and racing for the main game of Supercars and the supporting categories, it’s a tradition that sees an end to an era in 2020.

Starting in the 1960s as the Armstrong 500, and undergoing several sponsorship name changes, such as the Hardie-Ferodo, Tooheys, and more recently Supercheap, Australia’s “Great Race” says goodbye to Holden as a brand and competitor this weekend.

With the closure of the manufacturing side of the brand in 2018 and the subsequent decision by General Motors to retire the century-plus old name of Holden, a name that has been a constant at the mountain for over two decades, and a history that goes back another three,  to think that the name will finally disappear from showrooms and timing sheets for ever is almost impossible to consider.

Holden itself began as a saddlery in 1856 by James A. Holden. He had emigrated to Australia from England in 1852. 1905 and James’ son, Edward, who had been dabbling in the still new field of automobiles, joined the company. This lead to the firm becoming involved in providing minor repairs to the upholstery in vehicles of the day. After some years of build bodies to be mounted on chassis, Holden’s Motor Body Builders was founded in 1917. General Motors bought the firm in 1931 after The Great Depression took its toll and General Motors-Holden was born.

Holden gave us the 48-215 and FJ, the EH 179 Special, the brutal 350ci Monaro and nimble XU-1, the downright sexy LX A9X Torana hatchback, and of course, the Bullpitt favourite. The Kingswood. There was the 186ci, the 253ci, and our own homegrown power hero, the 308ci. Then came 1978 and the birth of a nameplate that would underpin Holden until 2018. First up was an Aussie icon designation, the VB. 1984 and the world car VK, followed by the Nissan powered VL, the restyled VR and the billion dollar baby VE before the final V series car, the VF. The ZB Commodore would be the nail in the coffin as far as many were concerned as it was front, not rear, wheel drive. Gone was the V8 and a “proper” four door as the ZB was a fastback design.

The Red Lion brought to public prominence Brock. Peter Geoffrey Brock, if you don’t mind. There is Bruce McPhee and Barry Mulholland, Colin Bond and Tony Roberts, Larry Perkins, John Harvey, Russell Ingall, Craig Lowndes, Mark Skaife, Steven Richards that all have red lion blood in the veins.

It’s not all beer and skittles though. Viva, Epica, Malibu are names that will remain associated with the brand and did little to help the public perception of a brand that had lost its way. Stories of indifferent dealership service practices and a slowness to move with the market also blurred the once untarnished badge’s line between want and want not.

Holden had a proud history in Australia, in both the automotive retail sector and in motorsport. In that sense it officially reaches the end of the line late in the afternoon of Sunday October 18 2020.

Vale, Holden.

 

Mercedes-Benz Flags the End of the Manual Transmission

In news that will send a shiver down the spine of motoring purists, Mercedes-Benz has signalled the end is nigh for the beloved manual transmission.

That’s according to Mercedes-Benz’s head of innovative work, Markus Schaefer, who made the comments suggesting curtains were drawing near as the brand shifts its attention to electrifying its vehicle line-up.

The German manufacturer will produce six models under the EQ badge, furthering its focus on a format that has yet to gain traction, but is seen as the ‘future’. Among its combustion line-up, plug-in hybrids are set to fill the void as combustion engines are consolidated across a series of Mercedes-Benz platforms.

At the heart of the decision is a drive by the company to reduce costs by standardising architecture across the company. In effect, Mercedes-Benz is promoting a modular strategy, which will limit variations between models, but help to keep manufacturing costs in check to support funding elsewhere.

 

 

Were the clues already in place?

The move away from manual has arguably been in the works for some time now. Among Mercedes-Benz’s current international line-up, larger variants have long been confined to automatic transmissions. Only a few cars have been fitted with a manual transmission, mostly entry-level variants in the A and C Class ranges. Closer to home, and the entire breadth of Mercedes-Benz’s passenger vehicle series is fitted with an automatic transmission.

You certainly can’t say the writing hasn’t been on the wall for a while now.

The bigger question from here on in, however, will be what impact this move has on the broader new car industry. Are we set to see an increasing number of manufacturers abandon the manual format in favour of a simpler set-up, thereby standardising combustion vehicle architecture in order to focus on electric vehicle research and development.

Only time will tell, but this may just be the beginning of an industry-wide trend.

 

2020 Peugeot 508 GT: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s super slinky, super sexy, super underrated 508 sedan/fastback/hatchback. It gets the three names because it has a powered rear hatch and has a profile that blends a sedan and fastback style. Any way you look at it, the 508 is a truly stunning vehicle to clap the optics on. There is a Sportswagon variant as well for those needing that extra cargo space.

How Much Does It Cost?: At the time of review it’s $56,990 driveaway. Peugeot’s website, at the time of writing, indicated a price of over $62K normally.Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.6L petrol engine with turbo oomph. There is 165kW and 300Nm @2,750rpm available, and drive gets through to the front wheels via a smooth-as-silk eight speed auto. Our time with the 508 coincided with a drive to Bega on the New South Wales south coast. Economy is excellent at 6.4L/100km from the 62L tank and this was with four aboard, luggage, and a pooch. Peugeot is one of the rare companies that provides a 0-100 time and for the fastback it’s 8.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 250kph.

On The Outside It’s: An eyecatcher, especially in the glorious Ultimate Red metallic which is one of nine external colours available as a current no-cost option. The front features blade style LED driving lights and indicators, self-leveling LED headlights, and starts the flowing look that embodies French chic. Subtle crease lines roll back from the bonnet to the windscreen base, and from the forward flanks along the frameless doors. A three claw rear light is joined to the body via a sharp crease that brings the roofline to the powered hatch.

Michelin supply the 235/45 ZR Pilot Sport4 rubber on black painted and machined 18 inch alloys. The design is based around five triangles and the combination of machined metal that stops short of the centre hubs looks fantastic against the red. The roof looks all black however it hides a sunroof.The hatch opens via a hold-and-press tab on the keyfob, a double-tap button inside, a press of the Peugeot lion emblem, or a somewhat fussy kick under the left rear section of the bumper. It’s not always successful and repeated tests saw the shin barked on the bumper more than the procedure worked.

Up front and “magic wash” wipers ooze rather than spray the cleaning fluid; it takes a moment for the nozzles to flow but they’re far more quiet and efficient. Just as efficient is the auto high-beam feature, dipping and raising the stronger light as a sensor dictates from the outside readings.

On The Inside It’s: A truly beautiful place. Pliant Nappa leather with diamond shaped stitched shaping, a floating centre console with smartphone charge pad and two USBs, and Peugeot’s cool looking 12.3 inch i-cockpit greet passengers with a warm ambience. There is two position memory seating for the driver plus eight-way adjustment and massage for both front seats, heating is standard, and the support underneath and for the sides is sportscar-like. There’s a nice touch from the frameless windows that drop slightly and raise automatically as the doors are opened and closed.Basic controls such as satnav, aircon, audio etc are activated via soft touch and classy looking alloy look tabs below the touchscreen. Under these and wrapped in piano black are the supplementary aircon controls. On top of the floating console is a rocker switch to engage different drive modes. At the end facing the rear seat passengers are another pair of USBs and airvents.There are a couple of hidden tricks for the cabin too. The child locks are disengaged via a tab on the driver’s door’s armrest, not via the setup in the 10.0 inch touchscreen. As our time with the 508 coincided with a swap to daylight saving, a change to the clock was needed. This is done not by tapping the time display itself, but using an options screen via a Settings icon.

Subtle mood lighting is seen in the dash and centre console drinks holders for a classy touch, and the classy look extends to the choice of display on the i-cockpit screen. There are Dials, Minimalist, Navigation and more to choose from, and activated via a press and roll of the selector on the left side of the steering wheel’s arm. here is also the volume control for the DAB equipped audio system, with legendary French speaker manufacturer Focal providing the outlets.It’s not all beer and skittles though. That sloping rear roofline does make it a little tight for taller passengers, with anyone knocking on six feet probably close to nudging the noggin. Rear leg room is also adequate but again verging on tight for the taller. The cargo space too feels somewhat compromised thanks to the slope of the hatch and a high floor yet offers 487L to 1,537L.On The Road It’s: An absolute delight and performance utterly belies the 1.6L’s 300Nm. Around town it’s as easy to drive as expected, with the eight speed DCT on tap at all times and mostly lacking the yawning gaps found in other similar transmissions. The gear selector is as pistol grip style with a button on the right side being pressed and a rocker forward or backwards to engage Reverse or Drive. Cog engagement is far better than that seen in other vehicles and allows forward motion to be both quick, and importantly, safer.

It’s a real cruise mobile, helped by utterly sublime suspension that has each corner rolling over its own section of road without interfering with the other three. Magic carpet in feeling, it dealt with the suburban roads just as easily as the highways, especially those south of Canberra. It’s the ideal mix of quietly wafting whilst being ready to attack like a sports machine. The steering was better when the Lane Keep Assist was disengaged, as this was a little too aggressive in re-centreing the 508 GT. Weight was virtually perfect and torque steer negligible. Braking was instinctive in feedback too.

It’s in its highway prowess that the 508 GT really sang, with that fuel economy a great starting point. However it’s the unexpected flexibility of that seemingly too small 1.6L that sold its potential and won us over. It’s unstressed as a highway goer, with the rev counter just under 2,000rpm. When needed to get angry, it launches the 508 forward with unexpected and wholly welcomed verve and vigour, allowing legal and safe passing to be safer than expected.On one long, straight, and vision perfect for overtaking road, in a line of traffic behind a few caravan-toting 4WDs, the right moment was selected to indicate after checking for rear traffic, and suddenly seeing the front of the line before indicating again and pulling in. For a car of its overall size and with the payload aboard, it’s far, far better than expected and makes long drives a safer proposition.

Easing off and going uphill, the numbers on the digital face roll back rapidly, and there’s only the gentlest of squeezes of the accelerator to settle the vehicle and have it back on the pace. Through all of this, the suspension is supple enough to be luxury when required, and can be punted with sporting intent just as easily too. Peugeot have hit the sweet spot with the 508’s ride and handling.

What About Safety?: Nothing is missing here. Active Blind Spot Detection Alert, Video Camera and Radar autonomous emergency braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control heads the list. Six airbags, ISOFIX, Highway Keeping Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are also included.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, plus capped price servicing for five years and five years roadside assist.

At The End Of The Drive: The Peugeot 508 GT fastback is a truly underrated car. It will cosset you in silent comfort and take you to within sight of dedicated, and pricier, sports oriented vehicles. There is plenty of space, plenty of tech and safety, and plenty of that underlying, restrained performance, to not just delight, but surprise in the best way possible.

It’s the car that surprised us with its all round ability, and in a shrinking sedan market, deserves better consideration. The Peugeot 508 GT is that virtually perfect blend of a luxury car that eats up highway miles whilst offering the iron glove performance of a dedicated sports hatch. Yes please, sign me up. Get yourself into one here.