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Value Up With Mitsubishi For Best Running Costs.

Mitsubishi has come out on top in a best value study looking at running costs.

According to data issued by the RACV, the Triton GLX in two and four wheel drive configuration, the big Pajero Sport GLX,  the smart-tech Outlander PHEV LS and Mirage ES all recorded the lowest running costs per week in their respective segments. This ensures that the Mitsubishi range extends its value-for-money appeal long after a customer leaves the dealership.

In the All-Terrain SUV category, the Pajero Sport GLX achieved the best-in-class result. Running costs averaged $237 per week, with the Triton GLX suggesting owners can enjoy less work and more play. It averaged running costs at just $210.99 per week for the 4×2 and $225.95 for the 4×4 drive-train.Mitsubishi’s small car, the Mirage ES, offering the lowest average running cost of just $108.78 per week. Sitting nicely in the mid-sizer SUV segment is the Outlander PHEV LS. This comfortably led the running costs charge in the EV segment at $259.22 per week.The annual running costs study assesses the cost of ownership of more than 100 vehicles in all segments over the first five years including list price, on road costs, depreciation, fuel and servicing. Costs may vary from state-to-state. Check with your local dealership for their prices then have a chat to us here at Private Fleet.

Greeted With Raptorous Applause: Ford Ranger Raptor

Anticipation can lead to either joy or disappointment. When it comes to the long anticipated Ford Performance Vehicles Ranger Raptor, so far it’s looking more of the former. Here’s what we know.

Engine: a 2.0L diesel provides peak power of 157kW and 500Nm (1750 – 2000 rpm)and means the Raptor will have plenty of bite, thanks to a bi-turbo system that will drink from a 80L tank. It’s EURO V compliant at 212 gr/km, will be offering a 8.2L/100 km fuel economy for the combined cycle, and see a top speed of 170 km/h. with a 0-100 km/h time of just over ten seconds. Good figures from a 2.3 tonne machine before fuel and passengers. The transmission is a ten speed (yes, ten speed) automatic with ratios picked to ensure quicker shifts and to be as close as possible to the right gear for the throttle setting. It’s good enough for a 2500 kilo towing (braked) figure.Chassis: 283mm of ground clearance, a broader track than the standard Ranger at 1710mm front and rear, and 285/70/17 wheels & BF Goodrich All Terrain rubber, specially made for Raptor, combine with composite material front fenders and a bumper with integrated LED fog lamps to provide an assertive on and off road presence. Turning circle is a tight 12.9 metres. The load tray is 1743mm in length and 1560mm in width on a 5398mm long body. Maximum width is2180mm with the mirrors out.Inside: a bespoke interior with blue stitching, leather highlights and “technical suede” for extra lateral grip, a rejigged look to the instrument bezel, and perforated leather sections on the steering wheel make for a classy cabin environment.Ride and Drive: There’s a Terrain Management System, TMS, which includes a Baja mode. This sharpens up the engine and transmission and blunts the intrusion of the traction control to give a driver a real off-road experience. It’s a pair of Macpherson struts up front and Ford’s tried and true Watts linkage at the rear.Brakes: Plenty of swept area on the discs means plenty of stopping power.332mm x 32mm up front and 332mm x 24mm at the rear meet a 54mm caliper. They’re bolted to Position Sensitive Dampers that provide, at full extension and compression, a higher level of rebound force. Mid range damping force is specifically tuned for comfort during normal driving.

Extras: A “breadcrumb” feature in the satnav allows drivers to backtrack the way they came when in areas that may not be included in the mapping system. There’s a Rollover Mitigation System to deal with the 32 degree approach, 24 degree departure, and 24 degree break over angles.

DRIVER ASSISTANCE AND CONVENIENCE TECHNOLOGIES
Adjustable speed limiter, Auto lighting, 25W HID headlights with LED Daytime Running Lamps, LED Fog Lamps, cruise control, Electronic Automatic Temperature Control, Electronic Stability Control, Passive Entry Passive Start (PEPS), Rear Parking Sensors, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keep Assist, Hill Start Assist (HAS), Hill Descent Control (HDC), ESC system with Trailer Sway Control (TSC), Load Adaptive Control (LAC), Roll Over Mitigation (ROM), Traffic Sign Recognition, Steering Wheel Paddle Shifters, Part time 4×4 with Terrain Management System, Unique Transmission Calibration and “Live in Drive” Functionality, rain sensing wipers, rear view camera, Roll Stability Control
SYNC 3 with touchscreen navigation, Auto Start/Stop.

EVs, Power Bills and Emissions

How do we change a system employed by government?  If we went cold turkey on many of our traditional national policies the flow on effects throughout the public and business sectors would be ruinous.  If you believe the headlines which state that traditional motor vehicles are heading for a cliff edge where there will be no more fossil fuels available to power them, and that the environment will be so much the better without vehicles that are powered by conventional fossil fuels, then things look pretty dismal.  But is this actually so?

There are numerous countries around the world that have their special governmental team of policymakers pushing for electric vehicles (EVs) to be subsidised and made easier for those who can afford an expensive EV to buy one.  Across the ditch the New Zealand Labour/Green government are creating a fast track for EV purchase in the hopes to lessen greenhouse emissions and keep NZ green.  And in America they have recently brought in policy that reduces the initial purchase price of an EV by up to $7500 USD.  Of course, the subsidizing is paid for by the tax payer.  Those who cannot afford to buy a new electric vehicle pay for the privileges that the wealthier EV owners enjoy – like free use of public charging stations and preferential access to carpool lanes.  What about the grand schemes and plans of making some American States totally EV and thus pronouncing the ban of all internal combustion vehicles by 2040 (California).  Is this really fair?

Could this thinking and ideology be the motivation behind EVs in Australia?  How could the typical Australian on an average wage manage a law that states that you must drive a new and expensive EV by 2040?  By the way, we’ll also use your current taxes to help the wealthy buy an EV quickly (and enjoy its benefits) while you struggle to put the food on the table, let alone by an EV!

Let’s also remember that most of Australia’s electricity is made by coal and other natural resource plants.  A large fleet of EVs across Australia will draw down on the current available power supplies very heavily.  But wait, I know, we could use people’s current taxes to build more expensive cleaner power plants and provide bigger, better power networks!  That will make Australia a better place.  Power companies will enjoy the profits and will be sure to put the price of power up once electricity comes in short supply.

Hang on!  Are electric vehicles really as great as they claim to be?  Supporters of the EV suggest that EVs will reduce air pollution and tackle climate change.  But will they?  (Climate change is another issue – and one that many can make plenty of money, too)  It’s evident that a new vehicle powered by the modern conventional internal combustion engine is, in fact, way more pollutant-free than one might tend to think.  Extracting Lithium and other materials for batteries has an environmental impact of its own.

The appropriate comparison at governmental levels for evaluating the benefits of all those new electric vehicle subsidies, mandates and ideologies should be the difference between an electric car and a new petrol-or-diesel-car.  New internal combustion engines are very clean and emit only about 1 percent of the pollution that older vehicles did back in the 1960s.  New innovations on internal combustion engines continue to improve these engines and their efficiency and cleanliness.

When we consider EVs, and their large appetite for electricity, the energy to power them has to come from somewhere.  Cars are charged from the nation’s electrical grid, which will mean that they’re only as “clean” as Australia’s mix of power sources.  An environmental impact in the mining of the lithium, cobalt, and nickel that go into car batteries is evident.  Extracting Lithium is actually not so bad; most of it is extracted from brines that are evaporated by the sun, but it has a sizeable carbon and physical footprint.  We have a long, long way to go before the production of electricity for the main grid looks as green and as clean as an EV appears.

What’s the inexpensive answer?

Mercedes-Benz X-Class For The Tradies Is Here.

Along with German sibling Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz now offers a four door utility vehicle. Called the X-Class it’s got a starting price of $45,490 plus on roads. With an effective trickle style media campaign underway there’s already over 8000 registrations of interest in their new vehicle. As is to be expected, M-B will offer an almost bewildering range of variants. There’s will be a choice of two models called the X 220d and X250d, two diesel engines offering either 120kW or 140kW, a six speed manual for each or a seven speed auto for the 250d.
The 220d will be given either a rear wheel or all wheel drive system, with the 250d coming in AWD only. A high output V6 will be available by the end of 2018, with 190kW and 550Nm of torque.
There will be three trim levels: Pure, Progressive, and Power, designed to appeal to three distinct lifestyles and working groups. Underneath will be the tried and true, and fettled for Australian roads, double wishbone front and multi-link rears, with both ends riding on coil springs. This aims to provide a harmonious balance of safety with any load and a comfortable ride.

Safety won’t be an issue with the X-Class receiving a five star ANCAP rating thanks to seven airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, plus a 360 degree camera in the Power and optionable on the Progressive.It’ll have a significant on-road presence with a 5340mm length, 1920mm width and 1829mm height. The front end features a stand-out Mercedes-Benz emblem inside a twin louvre grille, a M-B family look to the lower front bar, and a powerful stance at the rear.The tray will hold a standard Australian spec pallet and towing of up to 3500 kilograms is factored in. Whilst working hard it’ll cosset driver and passengers in three trim levels inside including two leather and two roof lining colours.The Pure will be aimed at the working driver and will roll on 17 inch steel wheels. They’ll be able to access media via a seven inch touchscreen. The Progressive driver has 17 inch alloys, colour coded bumpers, heat insulating glass in the windscreen, and Garmin integrated navigation through the seven inch touchscreen.Power drivers will have their new ute fitted with 18 inch alloys, man made leather interior, parking assist via M-B’s PARKTRONIC system, and an eight speaker digital audio system.
A range of option packs will be available across the range for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

https://www.facebook.com/MercedesBenzVansAustralia/ and @mercedesbenzvans_au on Instagram can be followed for more information as well as contact Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

The Focus Is On The New From Ford.

Ford Australia will bring the most advanced, highly equipped and freshly styled Ford Focus to Australian customers in late 2018. The new German-made Ford Focus will bring the latest safety, technology, and European sophistication to more Australians looking for a dynamic and practical passenger car.Ford Australia CEO and President, Graeme Whickman said: “We already enjoy highly-sophisticated and praised Fords from Europe, which include the current Focus ST and Focus RS models – now, our state of the art plant in Germany will be the single-source for the entire Focus range.”

The first vehicle to be built on Ford’s clean-sheet C2 global platform, the new Ford Focus sports a sophisticated new chassis with advanced driving technologies with the goal of providing an energetic, engaging and rewarding fun-to-drive experience with increased cabin and powertrain refinement.The all-new Ford Focus continues the tradition of being a groundbreaking, standard setting vehicle in terms of safety, technology and value for money by offering a host of advanced features in an stylish package. Focus will have Autonomous Emergency Braking with Night-time Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection as standard across the range. This technology is designed to detect people in or near the road ahead, or who may cross the vehicle’s path. The system automatically applies the brakes if it detects a potential collision and the driver does not respond to warnings; is now also designed to detect cyclists and functions in the dark using light from the headlamps.

Focus will also come standard with a Rear wide-view camera, offering a near-180 degree view to the vehicle’s rear for improved visibility when reversing from parking spaces or driveways. Focus also introduces optional features previously only seen on high-end offerings, such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) now enhanced with Stop & Go for effortlessly negotiating stop-start traffic. ACC with Stop & Go helps the Focus maintain a comfortable driving distance from vehicles ahead and adjusts the vehicle speed using information from the on-board navigation system or as it senses changes in traffic conditions. ACC works at speeds up to 200km/h.The new optional Stop & Go feature is designed to bring the vehicle to a complete halt when it detects stopped traffic using up to 50 per cent of total braking force, and automatically pull away if the stopping duration is less than three seconds. For stopping durations greater than this, the driver can push a steering wheel button or gently apply the accelerator to pull away.The Ford Focus will offer a choice of fuel efficient and advanced engines, as well as a new quick-shifting eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. Two engines will be the core of the Focus range; an entry-level 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine and a new 1.5-litre EcoBoost. The EcoBoost 1.5-litre is a turbocharged three-cylinder that develops high torque at low rpm for greater drivability, with advanced construction for improved efficiency. A combination of port fuel injection and direct fuel injection helps deliver high power and responsiveness alongside enhanced fuel-efficiency, with a particular increase in fuel-efficiency under light engine loads. This is further enhanced by Ford’s industry-first cylinder deactivation application for a three-cylinder powerplant.Mated to this engine is an intelligent eight-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission. This quick shifting and intuitive transmission features Adaptive Shift Scheduling (ASS). ASS identifies hard cornering, uphill and downhill gradients and adjusts the gearshifts accordingly, resulting in a more stable, engaging and refined driving experience.

More details about the forthcoming Ford Focus including pricing will be released closer to the expected launch date.

With thanks to Ford Australia.

Race Weekend

Australian GT Racing

It’s a grand weekend of motorsport in Australia this weekend when the 2018 Formula 1 season kicks off at Albert Park’s Rolex Australian Grand Prix.  There will be loads to see and enjoy, with new racing machinery to get the heart rate up.

The Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Asia Pacific Series starts off at Albert Park this weekend.  Thirty-three beautiful Ferrari 488 racing cars will be battling it out in an international series that spans three continents: Europe, North America, Asia Pacific.  These Ferraris are powered by a 3.9-litre turbo-charged V8 and quicker times are promised with this new fleet of race cars which replace the outgoing Ferrari 458 models.

Ferrari 488 Challenge Race Car

Also at Albert Park this weekend the Porsche Wilson Security Carrera Cup Australia returns to Melbourne.  A new generation of Porsche 911s will be racing with the new rear-mounted 4.0-litre naturally aspirated engines packing 375 kW of power and 480 Nm of torque.  This is always a great series to watch with super competitive racing always on the cards.

The Coates Hire Supercars Melbourne 400 starts its races as well, where a 13-lap, 30-minute Supercar battle commences.  It’s going to be anybody’s guess as to who will take the race, but Shane van Gisbergen has to be front runner.

One race series that has plenty of exciting race cars to watch will be the new Australian GT series, boasting a festivity of expensive exotic flavour, with the likes of Mercedes-AMG, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, McLaren, Audi and more fighting for that coveted spot on the podium.  With a group value of around $30-million this race will be automotive toffee for those lucky enough to see the race unfold.

The final day of the four-day Rolex F1 festival starts with a historic parade featuring classic racers from Brabham, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Austin Healey, Allard, McLaren and several other Australian specialist vehicles.   There will be a Legends Lane area located behind the main straight Fangio stand where you can look at them close-up and personal.

Other amazing stuff to experience at the weekend will be Lamborghini and Ferrari parades, an Ultimate Speed Comparison test, Aston Martin hot laps, an RAAF Roulettes show and the stunning F/A18 jet display.  Albert Park will be the place to be this weekend – just giving you the heads-up!

F/A18 Jet

Chrysler, BMW and Kia Join The Police Fleet

BMW 530d – confirmed as part of the Victoria Police fleet.

I don’t know if they were actually putting bets on it anywhere (although I wouldn’t be surprised) but when Holden and Ford Australia closed their factory doors, the big question for a lot of us who are interested in motoring and car news was what the cops were going to drive for their regular patrol and pursuit cars.  You see, up until the closure of Ford and Holden’s factories on these shores, the cops, being a wing of the government and hence keen on supporting local industry, drove Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores, to the point that wary drivers who like to push the limits a wee bit went on high alert at the mere sight of a white Dunny-Door (aka Commodore) in the distance.  As a matter of fact, the boys and girls in blue were required to drive locally built vehicles.

But the rule that says the cops had to drive locally built vehicles was scrapped.  Then the fun of the guessing game started.  There were all sorts of speculations going on.  Would we get the hot-looking new Kia Stinger on the roads in police livery?  The more obscure Genesis G8 from Korea?  Or something else?

The speculations have now ended, and the police departments of various states have made their choices.  Here’s the list of vehicles that will be a welcome sight if you’ve picked up the phone to report a burglary… or an unwelcome sight in the rear view mirror if it’s got the disco lights going and you know you’ve been driving naughtily.

Chrysler 300 SRT: OK, one of the reasons why they picked this one is possibly because it’s made by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia, which still has a humming factory.  The other reasons are because it’s got a feisty 6.4-L naturally aspirated V8 engine (350 kW and 637 Nm) with a very snappy 0–100 sprint time (4.5 seconds).  It’s also a nice, big sedan with lots of room for all the gear that cops need (and space for arrested suspects in the rear where they can’t kick the driver through the back of the seat).  The NSW Police announced in December 2017 that they’d be kitting out a bunch of these (the exact number is unknown but it’s probably got three digits) as patrol and pursuit vehicles.  The downside is that it’s a thirsty brute.

BMW 530d: The Victorian Police confirmed that they’d be getting at least some examples of the diesel-powered German mid-sized sedans for the highway patrol fleet, with 80 confirmed for about now.  While the Beemer is a shade less powerful than the Chrysler (we need a nickname for Chrysler – any suggestions?), it’s possible to get these straight from the factory with the police pack ready installed.  Cops all through Europe drive the 5-series sedan so it’s proved its worth in fighting crime.  In fact, BMW is one of the few manufacturers that actually have vehicles rolling off the factory lines ready to go on patrol duty.  Apparently, they take out some of the luxurious bells and whistles that you get in the everyday civilian versions and replace them with the gadgets that a modern police force needs.  The BMW 530d – at least the civilian version – is powered by a 3-litre V6 turbodiesel delivering 195 kW of power and 620 Nm.

Kia Sorento: South Australia Police confirmed in January that they’d be getting some of these popular Korean SUVs and giving them a try-out.  Apparently, the safety record of the Sorento was one of the more appealing features motivating this choice, as the Sorento came through crash testing with very high marks.  The seven-seater’s got lots of room (great for K-9 teams) although it’s not as peppy as the Chrysler and the Beemer, with the 2.2-litre 4 cylinder turbodiesel delivering 147 kW and 441 Nm.  They say that the brakes are going to get an upgrade for patrol purposes because the cops are pretty hard on the old braking systems.

Kia Stinger: The very hot-looking new sedan has been spotted in the livery of the Queensland Police force.  Apparently, it wasn’t just the nippy 2-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine (182 kW and 353 Nm) that made it attractive: it’s also great braking and cooling systems that passed the rather punishing tests that the Powers That Be put them through (a Ford Mustang from overseas failed these tests and was bumped off the shortlist).  The fact that the Stinger looks great and is a newly unveiled model is also likely to help with police liaison activities with schools and the like.

It’s still early days and some of the vehicles are just being trialled for active duty in various states, and there are a few others that might be used, such as overseas-built Commodores.  However, out of the list of what’s been confirmed, which of these vehicles would be the one that gets your heart racing the most, whether it’s the vehicle that appeals most to your inner small kid who hero-worships the cops, or the one you’d least like to see bearing down on you with the disco lights going?

Auto Industry News – Q4 2017

We review some of the major news events in the automotive industry from the fourth quarter of 2017.

 

Sales and Manufacturing

The war of words in the autonomous vehicle sector began to heat up, with General Motors singling out Tesla. A director for the long established auto manufacturer suggested that Tesla’s claim it has already developed ‘Level Five’ self-driving technology is “full of crap” and “irresponsible”.

Locally, Holden drew the curtains on its local manufacturing operations, with doors closing at the Elizabeth plant in South Australia.

Drive announced their ‘Car of the Year’ for 2017, with the Hyundai i30 SR taking out the top spot.

 

Safety and Environment

As the Takata airbag saga continues to drag on, and with a recall in effect following a local death, industry stakeholders have raised the possibility of cancelling vehicle registrations of motorists who have ignored recall notices. The ACCC will provide the Federal Government with a recommendation, although the consumer watchdog is still engaging with manufacturers to work on the issue.

Elsewhere, counterfeit oil filters have been discovered by Toyota and Hyundai after months of investigating. The incident continues a persistent and worrying trend, as unscrupulous rackets take advantage of independent workshops and motorists.

In Europe, the EU has sought to tackle emissions, unveiling proposals which would cut the 95g/km fleet average in 2021, to 66g/km by 2030. At the same time, governments in Holland and France (Paris) are looking at different measures to ban petrol and diesel sales by 2030 and 2040 respectively.

 

Technology

The NRMA and Electric Vehicle Council have been calling on the government to push the adoption of electric vehicles. Together, the bodies have prepared an action plan, highlighting the fact there are currently no incentives on electric vehicles.

Uniform standards for EV charging are also in focus within Australia, which could pave the way for a national approach. The measures have been proposed by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

At a global level, Toyota has wider plans to transform its vehicle lineup to an all-electric offering by 2025. The company will partner with Mazda and Denso to work on structural technology for electric cars. The move comes as competing auto makers in China receive the hurry up from their government to boost EV production in 2019 – and as China also plans to invest heavily into autonomous driving infrastructure.

While several companies shift away from diesel engines, Mazda reaffirmed its support for the fuel technology despite governments around the world setting plans to phase out diesel powered vehicles.

Looking at the issue of emerging fuels, and Toyota is tipped to release a hydrogen fuel cell car in Australia during 2019. The news comes as tech developments leave the door open to the possibility that hydrogen powered vehicles may one day source energy from the sea.

In separate news, Mercedes has been testing autonomous tech within Australia between Sydney and Melbourne. Overseas, and the UK is aiming to have driverless cars on the road by 2021.

 

Legal and Regulatory Issues

The Australian National Transport Commission opened a can of worms, suggesting occupants of fully autonomous vehicles shouldn’t be subject to existing alcohol and drug laws. Any mooted amendments would require a change in current legislation to account for the arrival of self-driving cars within 2 years.

Following the Takata airbag saga referenced earlier, Toyota and Lexus have been nominated in a local class action among other potential defendants alleging the companies breached their consumer law obligations.

The ACCC’s final report into the new car industry has called for better protection of buyers, nominating multiple reforms and taking aim at dealers.

Finally, legislative changes led by the government include a suite of draft amendments which would see an impact on ‘grey’ and low volume import cars.

The Rise of the Online Car Buyer

As society has grown to depend on the vital role that online marketplaces play in our lives, they’ve also shifted the landscape in which such transactions take place. In the car industry, motorists have increasingly voted with their feet – or perhaps more appropriately, voted with the click of a mouse. New car salespeople, who often have a reputation that precedes them, have turned buyers away from the caryards. Instead, many motorists now conduct at least their first line of research and enquiries online.

Whether it is P2P websites or online classifieds, car buyers now have a range of outlets available to them at the tip of their finger – all without needing to leave their very lounge room. At the same time, consumers also have access to more information than ever before, meaning they are better informed than the shoppers of years prior. In turn, this has meant that motorists have equal footing when it comes to dealing with salespeople.

As a result, the dynamics of the engagement between a buyer and seller have required a shift. Salespeople are now more attuned to the stereotypes that hang over their head and have largely modified their behaviour accordingly. While pushiness and shrewd tactics still exist, by and large things have evolved more towards an effort based approach to sales. That is, a salesperson needs to put in the effort required to quickly build trust and rapport with their prospective customer on the first visit, or said motorist will simply continue their search elsewhere. But has this necessary change come about too late?

The simple answer, is yes. The fact that technology has been the crucial point in redefining the market speaks to the extent of the shortcomings that were prevalent beforehand. On the part of the consumer, these issues while ‘patched over’, are not easily forgotten. There are still trust issues there and many motorists will narrow their search before they meet a salesperson. They will use this as the basis of their ‘targeted’ shopping experience, intending to optimise the transaction.

What’s more, the online car buyer now has added flexibility in the form of customisation. Of course motorists always had the option to include extras or upgrades as part of their purchase, but the integrated and streamlined process now details a level of convenience where all options are clearly presented, including a visual perspective, as separate and detailed offerings.

All said and done, the rise of online marketplaces have not been without issue. In some instances, unlicensed second hand car dealers have been operating from the anonymity of their online username. And when a market opens to participants who have not been vetted, consumers are forgoing many of the protective measures that have been mandated in the industry by regulatory authorities. Therefore, as always, buyers must be prepared to do the necessary research and consider the risks that accompany engaging with those they have not met, and/or cannot verify.

Car Of The Year Awards Surprise From News Corp.

As we head towards the end of 2017 the awards season for cars gets under way and some of Australia’s biggest media groups roll out their list of contenders for the gongs in various categories. News Corporation, the company behind CarsGuide, has released their list of finalists for their COTY awards and there’s no surprises in that the two Korean brands feature two of the more newsworthy cars of recent weeks. It’s no surprise that no Australian built cars feature but it is a surprise that there’s just two European brands in the mix…bear in mind that this is the view of this news group and it’s worth looking out for the lists from the other news groups.From Korea comes the monster killing Hyundai i30 with the comments of: Loads of standard equipment, confident roadholding and a five-year warranty. There’s also the Kia Picanto, the good looking small hatch with: value-for-money hatchback that’s well equipped and suited to city living. Kia also lobs out the polarising (to Holden and Ford fans) Stinger: Old-school, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan with room for five and a twin-turbo V6.

Audi is one of the two European entries, with News Corp choosing the new Q5: German precision engineering matched to a frugal diesel engine and cutting edge safety. Japan is the country of  origin for the rest of the finalists and it’s an eclectic mix, starting with Suzuki‘s Swift, a fun and funky and frugal little car with New Corp saying: Fun to drive turbo three-cylinder with strong safety package. Next up is Subaru‘s resurgent Impreza, recently tested by Private Fleet’s Dave: Quality cabin and crash-avoidance tech usually reserved for luxury cars.The Japanese onslaught continues with Honda‘s completely revamped Integra range including the fire snorting Type R: Explosive hot hatch with in-your-face styling and a punchy turbo engine. Mazda is in there as well with their mid range CX5: Well priced, stylish cabin design and surprisingly agile for a softroader. Honda throws in another SUV with the CR-V: Spacious, versatile interior, quality finishes and hi-tech feel. Skoda‘s brilliant new Kodiaq is the other European sourced finalist with: clever touches in the cabin, zippy turbo engine and a generous warranty.

The final word goes to Richard Blackburn, motoring editor: “Every year, it’s getting more difficult to separate the best from the rest. Brands that buyers once turned their backs on are now every bit as good as the established players, while safety technology usually reserved for expensive luxury cars is increasingly available on cheap hatchbacks.”