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Archive for March, 2021

Honda’s Fixed Prices Set to Cause a Stir

After a long time coming, Honda is almost ready to pull the trigger on its plans to move towards an agency model in the Australian new car market from July. For a long time, the brand’s future was subject to speculation as some wondered whether it might follow in the footsteps of Holden and exit the local car market.

Nonetheless, despite its commitment to Australian motorists, not everyone is particularly pleased about how things are about to unfold. Let’s take a look at some of the changes that motorists can expect when the new model comes into effect from mid-year.

 

 

What can new car buyers expect?

As of July 1st, 2021, Honda is slashing dealership numbers and adopting an agency model. To many, this may not mean anything, however, for the dealers involved, the first thing is an expected hit to jobs, particularly given the lower number of showrooms and staffing requirements that ensue.

When you enter a showroom from July 1, you will be dealing with an agent of the Honda company’s head office. So whereas showrooms and dealerships were often operated by separate groups, now you’ll effectively be liaising directly with the parent company, although stock will be held by Honda Australia. Dealer agents will no longer be commission-based, rather, they will earn a fee from the parent company.

Because of these changes, however, prices are set to be fixed. That’s right, you heard it correctly. The days of haggling in a Honda showroom are set to be over, with the brand’s representatives recently even going so far as to say that negotiating the price of a Honda vehicle would no longer be a thing under any circumstances whatsoever.

If that wasn’t enough, new car buyers are also staring at reduced choice when it comes to the number of models available from Honda. The brand has cut its entry-level numbers and is prioritising SUVs, which is in line with the trend favouring SUVs of late.

What is the impact of this move?

Aside from the obvious, higher prices and less choice, the story isn’t over for new car buyers. There is also going to be more restricted levels of accessibility when it comes to servicing your Honda, which comes from the fact that a large number of Honda dealerships are set to fall by the wayside.

For Honda, naturally, its margins are expected to increase – and we’re tipping, quite handsomely. However, the brand has also gone on record to say that it not only expects but is ultimately pleased about the prospect that it will sell fewer vehicles across the Australian new car market.

A long-time favourite down under, and with many great names behind it over the years, it’s a shame that motorists now face an outcome where their choice, negotiating power and after-market support are set to be constrained.

Best People Movers for 2021

There are those of us who would rather avoid being seen in what are technically called ‘People Movers’.  By choice, they’re not a car that many would prefer over a roadster or GT.  However, they do have their place and the current new people movers are stacked with the latest goodies, are comfortable and work hard to make their cabins a pleasant, safe space for plenty of people to spend time journeying in.  Of course, the space and comfort throughout a people mover cabin is, generally, superb, making them ideal at doing what they say they will on the tin.  So, if you have been particularly virile and require a decent vehicle for moving your large family about, or you just need those extra seats and space, then here are the newest people movers available on the market in 2021:

Honda Odyssey

Available in a 2.4-litre ULP, 129 kW, 225 Nm, 7-speed CVT, FWD, combined fuel consumption of around 8-9 litres/100 km, towing 450 kg un-braked and 1000 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, Honda Odyssey ViL7 (around $49k) and Honda Odyssey ViLX7 (around $56k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty.

Hyundai iMax

Available in a 2.5-litre Turbo Diesel, 125 kW, 441 Nm, 5-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 9 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 1500 kg braked, 4-star ANCAP rating, eight seats, Hyundai iMax Active (around $49k) and Hyundai iMax Elite (around $54k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty with 1yr Roadside assistance.

Kia Carnival

Available in a 3.5-litre ULP, 216 kW, 355 Nm, 8-speed automatic, FWD, combined fuel consumption of around 10 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2000 kg braked, ANCAP rating untested but previous model was 5-star, eight seats, Kia Carnival S (around $51k), Kia Carnival Si (around $56k), Kia Carnival SLi (around $61k), Kia Carnival Platinum (around $68k), 7 yr/unlimited km warranty with 1yr Roadside assistance.

LDV G10

Available in a 1.9-litre Turbo Diesel with 110 kW and 350 Nm or a 2.0-litre ULP with 165 kW and 330 Nm. 6-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 9 litres/100 km for the Turbo Diesel and 12 litres/100 km for the ULP. Towing 750 kg un-braked and 1750 kg braked for the Turbo Diesel and 750 kg un-braked and 1500 braked for the ULP. 3-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, LDV G10 Turbo Diesel (around $35k) and LDV G10 Executive (around $38k), 3 yr/100,000 km warranty.

Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY 220d

Available in a 2.1 Turbo Diesel, 120 kW, 380 Nm, 7-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY 220d (around $86k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty and 5 yr roadside assist.

Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 d

Available in a 2.1 Turbo Diesel, 120 kW, 380 Nm, 7-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, seven seats, Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 d (around $94k), Mercedes-Benz V-Class V220 d Avantgarde (around $111k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty and 5 yr roadside assist.

Mercedes-Benz Valente 116CDI

Available in a 2.1 Turbo Diesel, 120 kW, 380 Nm, 7-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, eight seats, Mercedes-Benz Valente 116CDI (around $72k), 5 yr/250,000 km warranty and 5 yr roadside assist.

Toyota Granvia

Available in a 2.8-litre Turbo Diesel, 130 kW, 450 Nm, 6-speed automatic, RWD, combined fuel consumption of around 8 litres/100 km, towing 400 kg un-braked and 1500 kg braked, 5-star ANCAP rating, six seats, Toyota Granvia (around $65k) and Toyota Granvia VX (around $76k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty.

Volkswagen Caddy

Available in a 1.4-litre Premium ULP, 92 kW, 220 Nm, 7-speed automatic, FWD, combined fuel consumption of around 6.5 litres/100 km, towing 630 kg un-braked and 1300 kg braked, 4-star ANCAP rating, 5 or 7 seats, Volkswagen Caddy Trendline 5 seats (around $35k) and Volkswagen Caddy Comfortline 7 seats (around $41k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

Volkswagen California Beach

Available in a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel RWD with 110 kW and 340 Nm or a 2.0-litre Twin Turbo Diesel 4WD with 146 kW and 450 Nm. 7-speed automatic, combined fuel consumption of around 7 to 8 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 4-star Euro NCAP rating, 5 or 7 seats, Volkswagen California Beach TDI340 7 seats (around $83k) and Volkswagen California Beach TDI450 4×4 5 seats (around $93k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

Volkswagen Caravelle TDI340 Trendline

Available in a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel FWD, 110 kW, 340 Nm, 7-speed automatic, combined fuel consumption of around 7 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 4-star Euro NCAP rating, 9 seats, Volkswagen Caravelle TDI340 Trendline (around $65k) 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

Volkswagen Multivan

Available in a 2.0-litre Turbo Diesel FWD with 110 kW and 340 Nm or a 2.0-litre Twin Turbo Diesel 4WD with 146 kW and 450 Nm. 7-speed automatic, combined fuel consumption of around 7 to 8 litres/100 km, towing 750 kg un-braked and 2500 kg braked, 4-star Euro NCAP rating, 7 seats, Volkswagen Multivan TDI 340 Comfortline (around $62k), Volkswagen Multivan TDI450 Highline (around $85k), Volkswagen Multivan TDI450 Comfortline (around $88k), 5 yr/unlimited km warranty, 1 yr roadside assist.

The Modern-Day Guide to Servicing Your New Car

Even for experienced car owners, or motorheads, car servicing can be an uncertain and difficult minefield to navigate. From capped-price servicing, to decisions on what parts to use and where to take the vehicle, or even the frequency with which your vehicle enters the garage – there are no shortage of decisions to consider.

First things first, servicing should be considered for what it really is – preventative maintenance. The purpose is to keep your car in good shape and identify any potential issues before they become a concern. As such, the key is to keep on top of your service schedule and book your car in regularly as per its recommended service intervals.

 

 

How often should I service my car?

An unfortunate habit that many motorists have gotten used to is waiting for a problem to arise and then taking their vehicle in for repairs as well as general servicing.

The problem with this approach is, not only does preventative maintenance potentially help prevent an issue in the first place, but it can save you considerable money.

With that said, the latest cars are beginning to incorporate a slightly different approach to servicing. Whereas it was once necessary to take your car in for service every 6 months or 10,000 km, an increasing number of manufacturers are drawing service intervals out to as much as 12 months or 15-20,000km. In fact, some car-makers like Renault are quoting a service interval as high as 30,000km!

Of course, not every manufacturer feels the same way, with Mazda sticking to its recommendation of 10,000km based on the mileage its customer base clocks up each year, which certainly seems a little on the lower side of distances covered.

In the meantime, if you’re driving one of the latest cars on the market, you can probably rest easy knowing that your service probably isn’t required as often as some of your past vehicles, even if certain manufacturers are pushing otherwise.

 

 

Should I go to a dealer for servicing?

Another thing you may want to consider is servicing your vehicle through an independent mechanic.

Motorists often feel as though they are obliged to take their vehicle to a dealership for servicing, or they will void their warranty. This is not quite true. If your car is affected by a warranty issue, the independent mechanic will refer you back to your dealer for the manufacturer to subsidise the work.

Outside of the above, independent mechanics can offer very competitive prices, particularly if they utilise aftermarket, rebuilt or reconditioned parts. They also now have access to greater data from manufacturers, making their jobs easier and repair costs more affordable.

Transparency into the servicing process has also become a growing theme.

Whereas previously a motorist would be flying blind with regards to the prices they would receive, servicing has become a little more structured. Drivers now have access to dealers who offer fixed or capped-price servicing programs, where motorists are provided with a price ceiling for their service, usually for a certain amount of years.

As always, however, motorists need to pay attention to inclusions and exclusions, the eligible timeframe, the frequency of the service, as well as any other terms and conditions. It is an option mostly worth considering for owners of up-marker or premium brands where servicing costs can add up pretty quickly.

Finally, the other matter that has become more prominent is menu-based servicing. This details the specific components and labour included in your vehicle’s service and their respective cost(s). Effectively, it is an itemised breakdown. When referenced with prices for individual parts, this type of summation provides some insight to understand the margins your mechanic is charging.

It goes without saying that motorists have considerably greater scope to shop around and compare their service costs between service providers, or for varying makes of cars.

With that said, motorists shouldn’t confuse price differences between different car manufacturers as being attributable to the mechanic or dealership. After all, there are a multitude of vehicle-related factors which play their part, not least of which concerns things like availability of parts and the frequency of servicing.

Korean Teasers: Kia EV6 And Hyundai Kona N

Kia Corporation has revealed the first official images of the EV6 – its first dedicated battery electric vehicle (BEV) built on the company’s new EV platform (Electric-Global Modular Platform or E-GMP). EV6 is also the first of Kia’s next-generation BEVs to be developed under a new design philosophy that embodies Kia’s shifting focus towards electrification.“EV6 is the embodiment of both our brand purpose, ‘Movement that inspires’, and our new design philosophy. It has been designed to inspire every journey by offering an instinctive and natural experience that improves the daily lives of our customers and provide user ownership that is simple, intuitive and integrated,” said Karim Habib, Senior Vice President and Head of Kia Global Design Center. “Our aim is to design the physical experience of our brand and to create bold, original and inventive electric vehicles.”As part of the company’s brand transition, Kia’s new dedicated battery electric vehicles will be named according to a new naming strategy. The new approach brings simplicity and consistency to Kia’s EV nomenclature across all global markets.All of Kia’s new dedicated BEVs will start with the prefix ‘EV’ which makes it easy for consumers to understand which of Kia’s products are fully electric. This is followed by a number which corresponds to the car’s position in the line-up.

Designed and engineered to embody Kia’s new brand slogan, ‘Movement that inspires’, EV6 will make its world premiere during the first quarter of 2021.Hyundai Motor has revealed a glimpse of the all-new KONA N without its camouflage disguise. In a series of teaser images, fans and enthusiasts can enjoy a first look at the latest member of the brand’s high-performance N range.

The all-new KONA N will be the latest addition to the Hyundai N brand line-up, and the first N model with an SUV body type.As the first images reveal, the ‘hot SUV’ boasts a sporty appearance, further emphasised by its wide, low stance. For the very first time, the Hyundai N division and Hyundai Design Centre worked together to develop on an SUV body type, creating a product that clearly represents a powerful presence and driving fun. The all-new KONA N combines the modern design of the recently launched new KONA with the bold and dynamic language of the company’s N models.The front view is dominated by large, sporty and iconic air intakes, and the new light signature gives Hyundai’s latest high-performance model an aggressive, powerful appearance. The lower grille defines the character of the bumper fascia: its shape is inspired by an aeronautic fuselage and extends to the side of the car, emphasising its aerodynamic efficiency and speed. An N logo on the unique upper grille completes the look.

At the rear, a large double-wing roof spoiler for enhanced downforce gives spice to the rear view. It also incorporates a third, triangular brake light, as is customary with N models.Large N dual exhaust mufflers fully express the model’s high-performance spirit. Lower down on the rear bumper, a large diffuser enhances the airflow departure. The sporty appearance is further emphasised through body-coloured fenders, bringing KONA N visually closer to the ground.

The all-new KONA N is equipped with the eye-catching features reserved for N models, such as exclusive alloy wheels and red accents that embellish the side sills. (Information supplied courtesy of Kia and Hyundai.)

2021 Toyota Yaris Cross GXL 2WD Hybrid: Private Fleet Car Review.

Toyota started the SUV phenomenon with the original RAV4. Surprisingly, it’s a bit late to a party it helped plan, with the city SUV Yaris Cross coming after other brands have released similar vehicles. There’s a three model range with GX, GXL, and Urban, and a 2WD, 2WD Hybrid, and AWD Hybrid, the same as found in the newest RAV4. Each have a 3 cylinder, 1.5L petrol engine, the same as now found in the Yaris hatches.Pricing for the GX starts from $30,447 in Ink Black, 2WD and non-hybrid, with metallics, including the Mineral Blue found on the review vehicle, to $30,962. The pricing matrix can be slightly confusing so follow this link to find a price for your location and specification. Our Mineral Blue GXL Hybrid 2WD starts from $36,168 drive-away for our location.

The important parts of the Yaris Cross are the engine package and the size of the body. On the first point, we’ll admit to being somewhat baffled by the numbers. In non-hybrid trim, the 1.5L triple cylinder is rated, says Toyota, at 88kW and 145Nm. The hybrid package is 85kW and 120Nm……Economy isn’t hugely different at 5.4L/100km to 3.8L/100km on the combined cycle, with 91RON and a tank of 42L or 36L in the Hybrid. Transmission is a CVT with ten preprogrammed ratios and includes a mechanical first gear for better off the line acceleration. The AWD version has a separate rear axle electric motor and can take up to 60% of the torque when the drive sensors says so.Sizewise, the Yaris Cross sits on a 2,560mm wheelbase, with a total length of 4,180mm. There’s a height of 1,590mm, and width of 1,765mm. In comparison the Hyundai Kona in 2020 spec is 4,205mm and 1,550mm long and high on a 2,600mm wheelbase. Wheels for the GX and GXL are 16 inch diameter alloys, with rubber at 205/65 and from Bridgestone’s Turanza range.

That SUV body gives it an extra 30mm ground clearance than its hatchback sibling and stands taller by 90mm, spreads wider by 20mm and is longer by 240mm..

In profile, the Yaris Cross bears an unsurprisingly striking resemblance to bigger sibling RAV4, complete with bulldog blunt nose, a kicked up rear, and steeply angled tailgate line. The cargo door opens to a 390L space (314L in Urban) which houses a spacesaver spare. The Urban gets the goo kit.

The front is perhaps the blandest part of the Yaris Cross, and one of the blandest seen on a car in recent times. It looks nothing like the standard Yaris hatch nor the GR versions; they, at least, still have a family resemblance. Here we see a pair of intakes split by a body coloured strip, a pair of vertical LED strips, and darkened headlight covers. Body moldings for the wheel arches are joined by a thick slab on the sills which has the car’s name embossed in.Inside it’s not quite as bland. The dash is the same as the hatch, with a pair of smaller dials set ahead of an information screen. The left dial shows the energy status of the drive on the go, from charge to Eco, to Power. Speed and fuel tank info are on the right. The centre screen shows battery and drive flow information, audio, economy (3.9L/100km) was our final average). satnav and DAB are included in the main 7.0 inch touchscreen.In the console are the switches for the drive modes (Normal, Eco, Sport), traction control, and EV mode. As is the norm for Toyota, the petrol engine kicks in on anything other than a light throttle. The drive selector has a B for Brake, which harvests energy from the braking. There is only one USB port and no offering of a wireless charge pad. Plastics are of an average look and the steering wheel insert was slightly loose and squeaky.

Rear seat leg room is tight, quite tight. Adults would struggle to be comfortable and lanky teenagers don’t quite fit. A centre portion of the 60% part of the 60/40 seats has a pair of cupholders and that’s as much in the way of extra convenience items the rear seat passengers in the GXL will have. Having said that, the actual comfort level of sitting in the cloth covered seats is good, with plenty of support and the fronts eats have good lumbar support too.As a driving package the Yaris Cross demonstrates that even Toyota can get it wrong. The driveline exhibits the same bang and shunt as experienced in the Yaris ZR Hybrid as the throttle is applied or lifted. At times, in opposition, it’s smooth and seamless as the petrol engine kicks in and out, and noticable more on light throttle applications.. The 1.5L is raucous at times, and the insulation under the bonnet is thin, allowing plenty of noise through. Toyota have also located the bonnet strut directly above the engine. The doors aren’t well insulated either, which means external noises filter through easily, and the lack is noticeable when closing the doors. There’s a tinny “thunk”, not a satisfyingly weighted thump.

Steering is light, and the chassis is easily upset over bumps, but minimally changes the direction of the nose. It’s twitchy at times, and light cross winds had the Yaris Cross move around. It’s less composed than expected, all around, with an unsettled ride more often than not the sensation, rather than a well mannered experience. In small spaces, such as roads for a three point turn, underground carparks in shopping centres, and general daily driving, the fidgety handling becomes a benefit, as the short body and the light steering make moving the Yaris Cross around in these environments easy. On both sides of the drive, the Bridgestone rubber squealed…The same applies to the drive; it’s by no means a rocketship, even allowing for the CVT and the battery. Sink the slipper and the 1.5L yells its three cylinder noise, the CVT sees the rev count climb, and forward pace is …leisurely. It’s been timed elsewhere as something around the 11 to 12 second mark to reach 100kph. Again, the Yaris Cross points towards being better suited for the urban environment rather than the outer ‘burbs.

There is a good safety package as standard across the range. A pedestrian and cyclist calibrated anti-collision system is standard, as is Lane Trace Assist, Intersection Turn Assistance, and Traffic Sign recognition for speed signs. The GX misses out on Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. There are eight airbags, including two between the front passengers and, in a first for Toyota in Australia, an SOS function which can call an emergency centre at the press of a button or automatically in the event of airbag deployment.Warranty is a five year/unlimited kilometre mix, with servicing capped at $205 for a cycle of 15,000 kilometres. Battery warranty is ten years.

At The End Of The Drive.
City SUVs appear to be “the next big thing” in a crowded marketplace and although Toyota hasn’t lead the charge in this segment, it lobs a solid, if uninspiring, entry. It’s clearly marketed (and engineered, we think too) at a couple with no or one small child, making it an ideal second car too. The ride quality deters from really exploring its envelope as it’s dynamically off-par. But punt it at city velocities and it’s at home.

But, and yes, there has to be another but, it’s the price. Consider the Mazda CX-3 which ranges from $22,710 to $38,450, Ford’s new Puma ($29,990 to $35,540), Subaru’s XV, ($29,240 – $35,580), and the VW T-Cross ($27,990 – $30,990). Hybrid tech does factor but for some the drive quality will turn them away.

 

Ford Transit 12 Seater Bus: An Icon Returns.

Ford Australia has added the 12-seater Ford Transit Bus to the popular Transit line-up. The 410L RWD 12 Seat Bus comes with a 2.0.L EcoBlue diesel with 125kW of power and 390Nm of torque from 1,600-2,300 rpm, driving a ten speed auto and starts from $63,690 (Manufacturer’s Recommended List Price). Options include High Roof with Overhead Stowage Shelves is $2,500, Prestige Paint is $650 and Satellite Navigation with TMC & Enhanced Voice Control is $600.The engine is EURO 6.2 compliant and standard across the range. It features high-pressure direct fuel injection, an advanced aluminium cylinder head, a high-performance variable geometry turbo plus auto stop-start for maximum fuel efficiency and lower running costs. Service intervals are 30,000km or 12 months.

The Ford Transit Bus along with all Transit vehicles, comes with AEB with Pedestrian Detection as standard. There is also Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning with Driver Alert, plus Traffic Sign Recognition. There is also Automatic High-beam, Automatic headlamps, Automatic front windscreen wipers and a heated windscreen. Front and rear park sensors and a rear camera round out the safety package.

A programmable MyKey and FordPass Connect provide a range of services, along with smartphone access, including remote start and stop, allowing drivers to start their vehicle’s engine with a tap of their smartphone in order to heat or cool the cabin before driving. Info and technology are accessed via the 8.0 inch touchscreen which operates Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment system with Apple and Android apps as standard and optional voice activated satnav. It also gives access to FordPass Connect, which offers convenient ‘connected car’ technology, pairing with the available FordPass App to simplify customers’ ownership experience and unlock a range of new services including Remote Start and Stop, Remote Lock and Unlock, Live Traffic Updates, Location Services, Vehicle Status and Health Alerts.

Access to the interior for the nine passenger capacity Transit Bus is via a powered left side door. It’s key fob operated or via a dashboard switch. Opt for the high roof version and there is extra storage and LED lighting.

Andrew Birkic, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand, says: “We know our customers have always loved the Transit Bus, but there’s been a strong demand for it to come with an automatic transmission. We can now deliver on that wish and help groups of Aussies travel in comfort and style, whether that be sports teams off to their big game, a shuttle to the airport, or colleagues heading to a conference.”

Along with the five-year, unlimited kilometre full factory warranty, the Transit Bus is eligible for the Ford Service Benefits program at participating Ford dealerships, which means for items listed in an A or B standard logbook service for the first 4 years or up to 120,000km, whichever comes first, the most you will pay is $399 (incl GST).

Further adding to the ownership experience, Ford Service Benefits also bring Transit Bus owners Auto Club Membership including Roadside Assistance as well as a Service Loan Car and sat-nav mapping updates where available.

EV Supercars

Porsche Taycan Turbo S

Porsche has already built their fully electric supercar and it’s called the Taycan.  Currently, the quickest Taycan is the Taycan Turbo S, which boasts 560 kW of power, 1,050 N⋅m of torque, a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 260 km/h.  We knew it would be fast, but it will also manage around 400 km of travel before a recharge is needed.  Of course, that range will be affected by factors like the weather, number of hills in your commute, how heavy your right foot is, how many on-board features you’re running and how much extra weight is on board – all much the same traits that affect combustion consumption…

Tesla is the biggest name in electric vehicles, and their new Roadster sets the supercar performance benchmark.  Revealed back in 2017, the second-generation Tesla Roadster  will be capable of skipping through the 0-100 km/h in around 2 seconds, the 0-160 km/h dash in 4.2 seconds, the quarter mile in 8.8 seconds and boast a top speed of around 400 km/h.  These records are aided by a phenomenal 10,000 Nm combined torque output for the AWD system and a drivable range before recharging of even over 900 km.  The new Tesla Roadster sales will likely begin 2022.

Tesla Roadster

Porsche and Tesla are, perhaps, the more well-known leaders in EV supercar technology.

Ferrari has yet to build a fully electric car.  Ferrari is concentrating on their hybrid supercars; the new Ferrari SF90 Stradale being the latest model that incorporates electric motors with the combustion engine layout.  Ferrari claims the SF90 Stradale can clean out the 0-100 km/h sprint in well under 3 seconds, the 0-200 km/h dash in less than 7 seconds, while reaching a top speed in excess of 330 km/h.  The SF90 Stradale can also travel 12-to-24 km on battery power alone.  John Elkann, from Ferrari, says the company will offer its first electric supercar at some stage this decade, but the hybrid models would still form part of its line-up even in 2030.  However, that said, Ferrari is looking to sell the Ferrari Purosangue as their first SUV with hybrid engines, along with a fully-electric powertrain for the two following Purosangue models.  From the word go, the Purosangue will be designed with the chassis structured to take full electric power.  The first hybrid Purosangue should be on sale between 2024 and 2026.

You can’t talk about Ferrari’s electric future without considering Lamborghini’s.  Lamborghini has yet to develop an all-electric supercar.  Come 2021/2022, Lamborghini is offering a production hybrid supercar called the Lamborghini Sian FKP 37.  That sounds like a similar direction to Ferrari; however, Lamborghini did unveil the Terzo Millennio concept car back in 2017.

So, who else is offering fully electric supercars?  The following EV supercars have been built up by various entrepreneurs and joint ventures and are, therefore, very rare.  Here are some of them to whet your appetite:

Rimac C_Two

The Rimac C_Two has a 412 km/h top speed backed up with approximately 500 km of electric range.

Pininfarina Battista

Lotus Evija

The Lotus Evija has a claimed 1,680 kg weight – pretty light for an EV supercar.

Aspark Owl

Aspark Owl with its 0-100 km/h sprint done and dusted in less than 2 seconds. Top speed over 400 km/h.

Drako-GTE

The Drako GTE  is the brainchild of two Californian-based engineers and entrepreneurs.  The car should deliver around 8,880 Nm of torque and a 400 km/h-plus top speed.

 

Nio-ep9

The Nio EP9 has actually delivered a 6 m 45.9 sec Nürburgring lap in the hands of Scottish driver Peter Dumbreck. The EV supercar boasts around 6334 Nm of torque and a down-force claimed to be twice that of an F1 car.

Dendrobium D-1

The Dendrobium has money and inspiration provided to it from Singapore; however it is being engineered and developed in the UK by Williams Advanced Engineering, and with people who were involved in the McLaren F1 design.

2021 Hyundai Santa Fe Elite Diesel: Private Fleet Car Review.

Hyundai’s waved the makeover wand over its longest serving SUV nameplate and it’s a mix of quiet revolution. There’s been a nose job and a refresh of the interior, bringing the Santa Fe up fair and square into the gunsights of its sibling, the Sorento, and into a sharper focus against competition from Japan and Germany. There are four models; Santa Fe, Active, Elite, and Highlander.Pricing starts from $48,933 for the entry level petrol version, $52,134 for the same and with a diesel. The Elite starts from $59,000 and moves to $62,214 with white paint. Metallics, such as the Magnetic Force on our review vehicle, bump the diesel to $62,944. These are driveaway prices for our location. The top of the range Highlander is $66,783 and $69,984 in white.

Slightly changed are the engine and transmission. It’s the “familiar” 2.2L (whereas it’s slightly smaller than before at 2,151cc) capacity diesel, with oodles of torques, all 440 of them from 1,750 to 2,750rpm and 148 kW (up one kW) with a weight reduction of 19kg thanks to the use of alloys. It drives the four corners via a torque-split all wheel drive system. Connecting the two is a slick eight speed “wet” (thanks to oil-submerged clutch packs) dual-clutch auto.

Except, in this case, our Elite spec had an urge to creep forward at a stop sign or red lights, with a surge and back off, a surge and then back off. It’s not a phenomenon we’ve experienced in either of the Korean brand’s SUVs. What we did see was 5.4L/100km on the freeway with a final overall average of 7.4L/100km. Hyundai says there is a fuel economy change of up to 19% compared to the previous package.Changed though is the front and noticeably. It’s a change that brings it closer to the recent addition to the Hyundai stable, Palisade, and strengthens the imaging with coming models, we suspect. Hyundai are using LED technology to define a look, and in the Santa Fe there is a line that runs vertically in a T shape from the eyebrow driving lights down into the restyled and slightly repositioned headlights.The grille is a mix of bigger plates laid horizontally and meshed in a hexagonal pattern. The upper sections loses the dressing the previous model has and the whole design sees the grille compressed vertically to join the new headlights. Underneath there is a redesigned intake and alloy-look strip that runs into a fairing which funnels air into the leading edge of the front wheel-well. This varies in colour depending on trim level.Hyundai have minimised the body cladding around the wheelarches for a cleaner look. The wheels themselves are a funk black and alloy design at 20 inches of diameter, with 255/45 Continental Premium Contact 6 rubber. The rear has a powered tailgate which opens to the familiar pull-strap third row seats and capacious cargo section, complete with rear section aircon controls, USB and 12V. The rear lights have the same external design and appear to have been only lightly restyled inside.Inside there is the floating centre console with a USB and 12V socket in the nook, push button Drive/Neutral/Reverse/Park selectors (seen in Active, one level blow, and rotary/push dial for tarmac and off-road modes. The lower section has two cup holders, a USB port, and an interesting twist on the wireless charge pad. Initially, after noting the Qi sign indicating such, a phone was placed vertically. Yes, vertically, into the marked space. It wasn’t until a slight push had a flap underneath open that the phone could be pushed down to sit safely and engage the wireless charging. Cool, space-saving, effective. There are a pair of USBs for the second row seats.For the driver, the Elite stays with a separate binnacle and 10.25 inch touchscreen in a double arch upper dash design. The binnacle has the two analogue dials still and the font is of a different, almost Star Trek, style. The touchscreen is a widescreen style and houses plenty of sub-menus including the lifestyle sounds such as walking on snow or a fireplace crackling. OK then…Sounds came from a Harman Kardon system with very good depth clarity all round.

Passengers sit in leather clad seats however the Elite dips out on heating and venting for the front. The centre row are manually flipped and when they do they go flat to provide a surface from the tailgate through to the front seats. Close to 1,650L is the total capacity when in this configuration. The centre row passengers also have window shades for extra comfort that slide up from their own nook.Elite doesn’t want for safety either, missing out on a very short list of items seen only in Highlander. It misses out on the Blind Spot View Monitor in a digital dash display plus the Surround View Monitor, Parking Collision Avoidance Assist-Rear, Remote Smart Park Assist, and has a four sensor, not six, Park Distance Warning system. There’s airbags everywhere except in the centre console and a driver’s kneebag.On-road performance is “typical Hyundai diesel”. In layman’s terms that means the torque makes it very drivable, the suspension makes it fun and comfortable to be in, the grip is solid and tenacious, and rolling acceleration makes it safer on the highways. Insulation levels and a refined engine just work so well in keeping noise levels down, the steering is beautifully weighted and calibrated with 2.53 turns lock to lock, meaning quick response when required in turning and changing lanes.

The final drive ratio has the engine turning over, at freeway speeds, just below 1,750rpm, allowing a cog or two to change the revs up into that band where maximum torque is on tap. When dropping into Sport mode, selected via the dial, the electronics hold those gears longer and transfer more control over the engine to the driver’s right foot. Smart mode seemed, unusually, less sure of itself that normal, with the dual-clutch delay in engaging gear more readily apparent.

Bump absorption is stellar, with the big 20 inch wheels and relatively thin sidewalls unaffected by most road imperfections, as was the steering. It was only the larger and sometimes unavoidable ruts that had a minor bang-crash feel, yet the steering was again unaffected in bump-steer. In normal road situations then, the Santa Fe “wafts” and the ups and downs are briefly noticed and just as quickly forgotten by the suspension’s tune.Ease up to a stop sign, a red light, and the brake pedal has immediate feel. Intuitive for the driver is how any brake system should feel and the Santa Fe Elite has this well sorted. Travel is perfectly modulated and at any point the foot knows exactly what pressure is needed for the appropriate stopping distance.

Warranty is the standard five years and unlimited kilometres, with online servicing costs provided for each vehicle.

At The End Of The Drive. The Santa Fe in Elite trim wants for little in comparison to the Highlander and for those that don’t need those features such as heated/vented seats, a couple of extra parking sensors, and the like, it’s a relatively bargain. A starting point for info is here.

We thank Hyundai Australia for the review vehicle.

FCAI Sees Tunnel’s Light As Sales Increase

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the FCAI, has released the new vehicle sales figures for February 2021. 83,977 vehicles were sold in February 2021, which is up 5.1 per cent on February 2020. Sales for that month saw 79,940 vehicles sold.

This positive result was reflected in the increases seen for N.S.W., W.A., S.A., QLD, and the N.T. Victoria was down by 8.7%, Tasmania by 3.9%, and the ACT by 38.3% compared to February 2020. Year to date sales of 163,643 vehicles is up 7.9 per cent on the same period in 2020.

SUV sales continued to dominate the market with sales of 42,651 vehicles and representing 50.8 per cent of the total market for February 2021. Light commercial vehicle sales represented 23 per cent (19,326) and passenger vehicles 22.9% (19,194).

On a marque basis, Toyota had a 21.9% market share, Mazda 9.9%, Hyundai 7.4%, equal with Mitsubishi and just ahead of Kia, and Ford on 7.0%, and 5.6%. Nissan clocked 4.6% with fellow Japanese maker Subaru on 3.1%. VW had 3.6 whilst Chinese owned and built MG also saw 3.6%.February sales saw a continued shift in preference by buyers to move away from passenger vehicles. Sales fell 15.3% in February 2021 compared to sales in February 2020. Sales of SUVs were up 8.6 per cent and sales of light commercials were up 24.3 per cent. Hybrid SUVs continue their inexorable climb, with 2,713 sold in February 2021, against 2,546 for the same period last year, and 5,456 from January 1st compared to 4,018 last year. PHEV sales were also up, with 149 and 275 against 92 and 149 on a month and year to date basis.

Toyota’s RAV4 lead the way in the category, with 2,750 against the Mazda CX-5’s 2,048. It was a scrap for third place with Mitsubishi’s Outlander (1,178), Nissan’s X-Trail (1,151), Hyundai’s Tucson (1,062) and Subaru’s Forester (1,009) duking it out. In the large SUV category and at sub-$70K, Toyota’s Prado won comprehensively with 1,407. Isuzu’s MU-X saw 745 sales for 2nd place, edging the outgoing Subaru Outback on 608.FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said the result showed that confidence was continuing to grow in the market. “During the past four months we have seen an increase of 10.6% in new vehicles and this has been reflected with strong growth in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory in February 2021. The sales reduction in Victoria can be attributed to the COVID 19 restrictions that were put in place during the month.“We remain confident that this trend of growth will continue in an environment where business operating conditions continue to normalise.”

Toyota was the leading brand in February with sales of 18,375 vehicles (21.9 per cent of the market), followed by Mazda with 8,322 (9.9 per cent), Hyundai with 6,252 (7.4 per cent), Mitsubishi with 6,202 (7.4 per cent) and Kia with 5,871 (7 per cent).

The Toyota Hilux was the best-selling vehicle in February 2021 with sales of 4,808 vehicles, followed by the Ford Ranger (2,900), the Toyota RAV4 (2,750), the Toyota Landcruiser (2,521) and the Toyota Corolla (2,427).

Kia’s revamped Carnival continued to dominate the People Mover sub-$60K segment, with 606 sales for a massive 62.5% market share, with Honda’s Odyssey on just 127. Mercedes-Benz listed 28 in the plus-$60K market for the V-Class.Purely electric passenger vehicles have seen a mild increase, with 119 for February 2021 against 86 for the same time in 2020. It’s the same on a YTD basis with 197 to 165 for 2020. For the electric SUV segment, it was a better result, with 139 to 60 for a month comparison, and 352 to 97 on a YTD basis.Key Points:
• The February 2021 market of 83,977 new vehicle sales is an increase of 4,037 vehicle sales or 5.1% on February 2020 (79,940) vehicle sales. February 2020 and February 2021 each had 24 selling days and this resulted in an increase of 168.2 vehicle sales per day.
• The Passenger Vehicle Market is down by 3,466 vehicle sales (-15.3%) over the same month last year; the Sports Utility Market is up by 3,378 vehicle sales
(8.6%); the Light Commercial Market is up by 3,784 vehicle sales (24.3%); and the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Market is up by 341 vehicle sales (13.8%) versus
February 2020.
• Toyota was market leader in February, followed by Mazda and Hyundai. Toyota led Mazda with a margin of 10,053 vehicle sales and 12.0 market share points.

(Information courtesy of FCAI)

2021 Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

Hybrid technology is becoming a way of life in the automotive world and ranges from the everyday car to the ultra luxury. Somewhere in between is Volvo and their hybrid SUV “Recharge” offerings. The big ‘un, the XC90, is now partially electrified and available as a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle or PHEV.Complete with a solid list of standard equipment and extras, their is a Manufacturer’s recommended list price and as driven price of $114,990 and $120,715.

The key to what turned out to be a surprisingly rapid and agile big SUV is a 2.0L petrol fed engine that is both supercharged and turbocharged. The EV part comes from a battery that assists and electric motor that produces, says Volvo, 65kW and 240Nm to work with the petrol powerplant’s 246kW and 440Nm. That torque figure comes in at 2,200rpm and runs to 4,400rpm.

This endows the hefty, at 2,315kg, XC90, with ferocious speed, albeit limited to 180kph as a top speed. It will easily see the freeway limit in 5.5 seconds, and overtake others at a rate that would have Superman blink in astonishment. Along the way, Volvo says economy is rated at 2.1L/100km from a 70L tank.Herein lies the rub. The battery, when fully charged, offers just 35km of range on battery power alone. In conjunction with the drive modes, such as (mild) off-road, and the Polestar engineering mode, this is possible but in the real world mostly not. To extract the best out of the combination, it’s highway cruising that needs to be employed as the battery runs down to a point that it no longer really assists but will supplement in a reduced capacity. To that end we saw a final overall figure of 6.4L/100km, in itself a better than respectable figure for the mass of the XC90 Recharge.The Four-C Active Chassis suspension is height adjustable thanks to electronically controlled airbags being employed and does so with the drive modes programming. It’ll also lower in height when the XC90 Recharge is switched off via the centre console located rotary dial. Here one would think that the ride quality is not that good. It’s the opposite, and although not quite completely dialing out the artificial feel airbag suspension setups have, it’s never anything less than comfortable.

Up front is a double wishbone transverse link setup, with the rear a integral axle transverse leaf spring composition. Together they bring a wholly adept ride and handling package to the XC90 Recharge, along with the grip levels thanks to the 22 inch double spoke black painted and diamond cut alloys. Pirelli supply the rubber and they’re 275/35s from the famous P-Zero range.Although a thin sidewall, the suspension is clearly tuned with that in mind, such is the poise and lack of bump-thump displayed. And those wide tyres add so much tenacity in being able to corner harder and longer when enjoying that flexibility from underneath the bonnet.

Steering is precise, and mayhaps too precise for some used to oodles of understeer or numbness. It’s perfectly weighted and for the size of the wheels and rubber, there’s a pleasing lack of “ponderous”. It’s more a delight than it has the right to be, and nimble enough in the feel to make it a small to mid-sized hatch rather than the large SUV it really is.

Rolling acceleration delivers in that “pin you back in the seat” manner, especially when the battery is charged. Although untimed, that quoted 5.5 seconds, too, is on the mark from a seat of the pants point of view.Recharge of the battery from the brakes is on a graduated level. Drive, once the ignition dial is switched, is engaged by a simple tap forward or backwards lever just ahead of the switch, and a tap back from Drive changes the amount of braking regenerative force that feeds the battery. Although needing a very long hill to make any appreciable impact, there is enough noticeable retardation and a small increase in range seen in the dash display.

Volvo have kept the fact that it’s a PHEV quiet. Apart from the numberplate fitted, there is the charge port on the front left fender and a badge on the powered tailgate with “Recharge”. Aside from the hole for that charge port, which opens at the press of a hand to reveal a weatherproofed, covered, port, it’s an invisible PHEV presence.The exterior is otherwise unchanged, from the Thor’s hammer driving lights and indicators to the LED rear lights, it’s a curvaceously boxy body. Inside there’s luxury in the form of the Bowers and Wilkins audio, leather seats, the integrated tablet-style infotainment screen, and LCD dash display. Run a drive destination into the navigation and the centre of the LCD driver’s screen shows the map. There is also a subtle, and almost lost, HUD display.Rear seats have their own climate control and the capacious cargo area (651L to 1,950L) has plenty of high quality carpeting and switches for the powered tailgate. There is a bag for the charge cable and a hook to hang it from. There is also a cargo blind which was in the way when it comes to moving the third row seats and no obviously apparent storage locker for it too.Controls for the car are embedded in the touchscreen, with climate control including venting/heating for the front seats, safety features, and smartapps such as Spotify and TuneIn included. The tablet style screen works on swiping left and right for the main info, and a pulldown from the top for settings and an electronic instruction manual.

Our review car came with options fitted; Climate pack which has heating for the windscreen washers, rear seat, and tiller at $600. The centre row seats has powered folding headrests at $275, whilst metallic paint is a hefty $1,950. The Nappa leather covered seats in charcoal to match the trim is $2,950.It’s a Volvo so those letters can be pronounced “safety”. Volvo has their CitySafe package, with Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animal, Cyclist Detection, and Intersection Collision Mitigation. Intellisafe Assist has Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist, Collision Warning with Auto Brake (which picks up parked cars on corners…), and Intellisafe Surround that includes Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Collision warning (which stops the car from moving if sensors pick up an obstacle), and airbags throughout the cabin.At The End Of The Drive. There is something to be said for the brands, in the automotive sense, that are leading the charge (no pun intended) towards hybrid and fully EV availabililty. Brands such as Jaguar have announced they’ll be fully EV by 2025, for example. Volvo, under the chequebook auspices of Geely, continue to produce the classy and safety-oriented vehicles they’re renowned for, and push towards a more expansive hybrid range.As potent as the petrol engine is on its own, the short distance available from battery power alone and as a backup for hybrid driving detracts somewhat from the intent, especially for our wide brown land. In Europe where you can drive through seventeen towns in the time it takes to sneeze four times, it’s a different story.

For the driver, it’s a sports car in a big car body, and just happens to be able to carry up to seven people in comfort and knowledge of safety thanks to the famous Volvo safety heritage. In the competition area there are the three German brands against it, and in a purely EV sense, Tesla’s Model X, complete with its lights and door dance routine for entertainment value. In a tough market segment, sometimes the difference can be small to see in value but Volvo assures that the extra range capability is coming. That will help the XC90 increase its appeal.

Thanks to Volvo Australia for the provision of the 2021 XC90 T8 Recharge.