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Low Voltage: The Charge To EV Vehicles

With world governments declaring a transition to electric vehicles over the next three decades or earlier, such as the U.K. by 2030 or 2035, it would be reasonable to presume that Australian governments would also back any push, without extra roadblocks, to have EVs the primary vehicle for passenger transportation.

The Australian Capital Territory has gone to that length, as has the state government of Tasmania, with the Apple Isle declaring the government’s fleet will be 100% electric by 2030. the A.C.T. began their transition process in 2018 . Neither the A.C.T. or the Tasmanian government have currently declared that any form of EV tax will be implemented.

However, South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria have all announced that the users of an EV will be subjected to a user tax. Victoria has declared that as soon as July 1, 2021, a road user tax on EVs will be implemented. Tony Weber, from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, isn’t impressed:

“Australian state governments want to kill the technology at its infancy. Is this because some states want to substitute the Commonwealth excise tax with their own tax? Are motorists being caught in a petty game in which the states want to establish a new revenue base at the expense of the Commonwealth?”

Weber also points out the disassociation of the governments here in regards to what other nations are doing in respect to development alternatives for public vehicle transport.

“All around the world, global automotive companies have invested billions of dollars to develop environmentally friendly vehicles. And all around the world, progressive governments have supported the introduction of these vehicles. But here in Australia, we inhibit their introduction by levying extra charges on them. It simply beggars belief at this early stage of electric vehicle introduction.”

Mr Weber’s points take aim at the short-sighted attitude of the Australian states that appear to prefer revenue over doing something that reduces exhaust emissions and going some way to reduce the effects of climate change. “With its proposal to tax LZEVs through a road-user charging tariff, South Australia is discouraging the uptake of environmentally friendly motoring and is turning its back on the topic of Climate Change.”

The argument for the taxes comes from those that see that by using no petrol or diesel, which have excises attached, by using the same roads without those excise contributions, EVs are effectively getting a free ride. This overlooks the charges by electricity suppliers to any location providing an outlet for an EV to be charged, however then it’s pointed out those EV charges don’t go back into the roads.

This is something the Australian Automobile Association has in mind when it comes to a fairer apportioning of charges: “As people move towards electric vehicles and other low emission technologies, revenue from fuel excise is declining, which not only risks road funding, but also means some drivers are paying for roads while others are not, which is neither a fair nor a sustainable model. A nationally consistent approach will be important to drivers, who won’t want a patchwork of unique state charging systems, technologies, or rates.”

Regardless of which, it would appear to be a prudent move by the governments to look at what the A.C.T. is doing: Zero stamp duty on new zero emissions vehicles; 20% discount on registration fees; Annual savings from reduced running costs; Help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep our environment clean and healthy; Quieter driving and reduced noise pollution.

And perhaps: In 2017 the United Kingdom and France announced their intention to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, with all cars to be fully electric. Since this time, other countries have also committed to phasing out new petrol and diesel car sales including Scotland, India, China, Norway and the Netherlands.

Then there is the announcement in mid November, 2020, by General Motors, here.

As Bob Dylan once sang: the times, they are a-changing…but it seems some governments are stuck in time.

Raw Materials and Sustainability in an Automotive World

Car interiors are looking very stylish with many colours available, many textures and, of course, technologies.  Even the exterior and structure of new cars utilise some pretty sensational materials that are lightweight, strong and malleable.  So what are the main raw materials that make up the structure, style and flair that we love in our vehicles?

Inside each new car are different materials that require a number of raw materials for their production.  Aluminium, glass, coking coal, and iron ore are used in the process of making steel.  Kia and Mazda use very high-grade, high-strength steel in the production of their cars.  Mazda even states that they use very thin and strong steel.  There is a cost, though; the more high-grade, lightweight and high-strength the steel, the costlier it is to produce.  High-strength steel alloys cost more to manufacture.  Not only is the high-grade alloy harder to create in its raw form; it is also harder to work with.  Stamping it and forming it becomes harder, and so more energy and stronger tools are needed to press, form and cut it.

The automotive industry also relies on oil and petroleum products, not just for the gasoline and fuel to power the vehicles, but for the synthesis of plastics and in the production of other synthetic materials.  Petroleum products are needed to make huge amounts of plastics, rubber and special fibres.  After the raw materials are extracted from the earth, they are transformed into products that automakers or auto parts companies use in the car assembly process.

But wait; there is more – but only if you are into driving an electric vehicle (EV).  An EV is made up of all the raw materials described above, as the only thing that’s different about an EV from a vehicle that is powered by a combustion engine is that an EV uses a battery pack to get its power.  In every EV battery, there’s a complex chemistry of metals – cobalt, lithium, nickel and more.  These are all raw materials that need to be mined from somewhere around the globe.  Some researchers are expecting to see double-digit growth for batteries’ special raw materials over the next decade, and this sort of growth will increase the pressure on the raw material supply chain for EVs.

Hydrogen vehicles are powered by hydrogen.  The power plants of such vehicles convert the chemical energy of hydrogen into mechanical energy by either burning hydrogen in an internal combustion engine, or by reacting hydrogen with oxygen in a fuel cell to power electric motors.  The fuel cell is more common.  A hydrogen powered vehicle is made up of the same core raw materials as the contemporary combustion powered cars and the EVs; however, like the EV, the hydrogen vehicle gets it power from a different source (hydrogen).  As of 2019, 98% of the hydrogen was produced by steam methane reforming, and this emits carbon dioxide.  Hydrogen can be produced by thermochemical or pyrolytic means using renewable feedstocks, but the processes are currently expensive.  So, you can run a hydrogen vehicle with an internal combustion engine that uses hydrogen as the fuel.  However, you can also run a hydrogen vehicle that uses a hydrogen fuel cell.  The hydrogen fuel cell is more complex, relying on special raw materials (one raw material being platinum as a catalyst) to deliver the hydrogen for powering the vehicle.

Biofuel is another fuel which can be used for powering combustion engine vehicles.  Biofuel can be produced sustainably from renewable resources.  The hitch with this one is ensuring there are large enough areas and methods dedicated to growing and producing biofuel for the masses.  Biofuel is considered to be a fuel that is derived from biomass, which can be from plant or algae material or animal waste. Since such plant, algae or animal waste material can be replenished readily, biofuel is considered to be a source of renewable energy, unlike fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas and even EVs.

Without a doubt, the automobile industry is one of the largest consumers of the world’s raw materials, and it’s important we get informed as to just how green a heralded new technology is said to be.  Science and sustainability need to continue to power our much needed vehicles about the globe and not fossil fuel giants, electric companies or blinded government bureaucrats.

2021 Isuzu D-Max SX 4×2 Cab Chassis: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The starting point to the revamped (finally) Isuzu D-Max range. There is a bewildering choice: five two wheel drive vehicles in two or four door versions, and eight 4WD including the top of the ladder X-Terrain (coming to AWT very soon).

How Much Does It Cost?: As of November 2020, Isuzu had the SX 4×2 cab chassis on a stunning drive-away deal of $29,990. A quote built on the Isuzu sire has a retail price of around $8,400 more, representing a huge saving for new buyers. The colour on our review was basic Mineral White as a no cost option. There are, of course, plenty of additions such as a nudge or bull bar at $1,000 or $2,999, a slide out step at $370.70, or, as fitted, an under tray water tank ($360.80) or lockable undertray tool box at $437.80. A welded wire mesh window protector was fitted and that’s $193.60.Under The Bonnet Is: A six speed manual gearbox and a 3.0L diesel. A six speed auto is optionable for the SX, standard in the 4x2s after the SX, and in the 4x4s only the LS-U and X-Terrain have auto only. The donk is common for all variants and produces 140kW and 450Nm. A worrying number though is what comes next. Urban economy is quoted as 10.2L/100km (9.8L/100km for the auto) for the SX 4×2 cab chassis. Then there is the weight: 1,695kg (dry) is a substantial figure for a vehicle that doesn’t look as half as heavy. Payload is listed as 1,305kg or 1,300kg depending on manual or auto fitted.Combined economy is listed as 8.0L/100km with the highway figure 6.7L or 6.9L/100km. We saw a best of 8.8L/100km and a worst of 10.1L/100km, with a final average of 9.7L/100km. Frankly, we expected a better return. Tank size, by the way, is 76L.

On The Outside It’s: Got some big numbers. Length overall: 5,325mm. Wheelbase: 3,125mm. 1,310mm for the rear overhang depending on the body fitted. 235mm for the body ground clearance. Inside the tray is 1,777mm of space, with a length of 2,550mm.

The main visible changes from the outgoing models are in the headlight design, the grille, and the bumper. The SX misses out on the LED driving lights, staying with a full halogen setup. The nose is a more upright style, the strakes in the grille have been turned upside down so the end points point downwards. It’s also bigger than before, extending downward to include, as a one piece item, a separate air intake. The surrounds for the driving lights in the far ends of the bumper has also been restyled.As mentioned, our review vehicle had some options fitted and these add some genuine flexibility to the overall usage. What was noticed though, was the somewhat ridiculous placing of the rear bumper, complete with step, underneath and inside the length of the tray. In essence, one could place a foot on the step but would have their leg at a 45 degree angle away from the step, rendering that particular feature unusable.We also noticed that the inside of the tray had a pair of ridges, one each side and a few centimetres from the outer wall. These have a series of holes drilled through from front to back, presumably to be used as tie down points.On The Inside It’s: Pretty good considering it’s the entry level model. Good looking plastics, comfortable and supportive cloth-trimmed pews, a dash display that’s slightly manga for our tastes, and simple to use & operate dials for the aircon. However, when the AC button is on, it’s only a too faint white light to show, rather than the more logical and visible blue light as seen virtually everywhere else.

A nice surprise was digital audio however the Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible 7.0 inch touchscreen has a home screen that is frankly terrible. There is a compass and a clock; the compass shows, when tapped, GPS coordinates only, rather than a far more usable navigation system. Once through to the audio screen (a tap of the piano black music symbol at bottom right) it brings up a screen that is mostly ok but not intuitive for scrolling through or setting stations as a favourite. As updated compared to the previous model, at this level, it may be it needs more polish.

It’s a key start and we found that on nearly every twist, it would act as if the battery was dead. A second twist and the engine fired up with no indication anything was amiss.Convenience features come in the form of a 12V socket, a USB port, a pair of cup holders and a small console bin. The tiller is reach and rake adjustable, and there is voice recognition software for the audio system. Headlights are auto-on and thick, easy to clean, rubber mates were fitted.

On The Road It’s: A typical light commercial in being a very bouncy ride without a load. We did get a chance to put in around 100kg of load and there was a small but noticeable improvement in the ride quality. The front suspension is coil springs on double wishbones, the rear is semi-elliptic leaf springs with gas shockers.

The redline on the 3.0 diesel is around 4,200rpm, but it runs out of puff well before that. Call it 3,000rpm and you’d be on the money. That peak torque, mind, is from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm, so it’s entirely a bad think. Peak power is reached at 3,600rpm.It pulls nicely, and as expected, through to that 3,000rpm and this makes general driving a fair proposition. The gearing, however, is commercial (natch!) so 1st gets to maybe 25kph before a change up. 2nd runs to 40, 45kph. 6th sees around 2,000rpm at freeway velocities.Steering is heavy but not excessively so, and lightens up gradually as the numbers look north to 110kph. On the freeway it’s weighted just heavily enough to get the driver thinking, and light enough so extra effort to haul the SX 4×2 from lane to lane isn’t required. Changing down the gears is good enough too, with a heavy-ish clutch and notchy selector ensuring that driver involvement is a little less intuitive, a little more think about where things are.

The weighting of the selector is just about right though, and the lever height has the top fall to hand perfectly. This make the actual gear change on the go spot on, and combined with the notchy change, makes this manual transmission the right choice for the Isuzu SX 4×2.What About Safety?: Blind Spot Monitoring is standard, as is Rear Cross Traffic Alert and AEB. That’s across the range. Lane Departure Warning and Emergency Lane Assist are standard. A somewhat touchy Forward Collision Warning threw a few falsies our way but it too is standard across the range. Airbags? Eight, thank you very much, making the SX 4×2 better equipped in this respect that many passenger oriented vehicles. There are dual front, curtain, side, driver’s knee and far side airbags.

What About Warranty And Service?: It’s impressive. There is a six year warranty, seven years capped price servicing and roadside assist. First service is $389, fourth is $509, and seventh is $409. Intervals are 12 monthly or 15,000 kilometres.

At The End Of The Drive. As an entry level machine, the Isuzu D-Max SX 4×2 stacks up well. Pricing is sharp, engineering is sorted bar the surprisingly breathless engine, safety levels are high, and the cabin is decent enough. The touchscreen interface is a bit “how’s yer father” though and lowers the otherwise welcoming ambience of the cabin. The reskin has given the D-Max a more purposeful look and for the tradie, a huge range of options bring massive flexibility.

An overview of the D-Max range is available online.

2021 Jeep Compass Night Eagle: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The new, to the Compass range, Night Eagle. It’s now the entry level to the Compass family, and perhaps even the Jeep range, with a couple of compromises.

How Much Does It Cost?: It has a list price of $36,950, plus ORC, which in context is quite a competitive ask.

Under The Bonnet Is: Where we’ll find the compromises. First up, it’s front wheel drive only. No transfer case or even an all-wheel-drive option. Secondly, the transmission is a six speed auto. No eight, no nine.

The engine is the brand’s Tigershark naturally aspirated 2.4L four cylinder petrol. 129kW (6,400rpm) and 229Nm (3,900rpm) are the numbers, along with a plus-nine fuel economy.Our best was 8.8L/100km but overall it hovered between 9.5 to 9.8 from the 66L tank. Jeep says the urban figure is a somewhat frightening 11.2L/100km. Frightening because the Compass Night eagle is no heavyweight at 1,446kg.

On The Outside It’s: More like a Cherokee, even the Grand Cherokee, then ever. A brash, bluff, profile, it starts with a deep chin, the familiar seven slot grille, and the LED indicators below the main lights. The Night Eagle dips out on adaptive cruise control, auto high beam, and front parking sensors.

The lower air intake has the forward facing anti-collision sensor. Although ostensibly not aimed at off-roading Jeep advises there is a 15.8 and 30.8 degree approach and departure angle from the Compass’ 4,394mm overall length. Wheelbase is 2,636mm.A new shade, a metallic ($645 option) called Grey Magnesio, coated the body and highlighted the black painted alloys perfectly. There are Bridgestone Turanz rubber and the package is 225/55/18 in size. The rear window line kinks towards the top of the manual tailgate, and the rear door opens easily and effortlessly. There is a security cover here, and the clips that attach to the upwards folding door made a habit of coming loose.On The Inside It’s: A surprise in that it doesn’t feel an entry level machine. Leather appointed seats, steering wheel, and drive selector surrounds add a luxury touch. There is a 230V power socket and USB port for the rear seat passengers, a 12V and USB plus 3.5mm Auxiliary in the leading edge of the centre console.

The touchscreen is Jeep’s 8.4 inch unit with u-Connect, digital audio, Apple and Android compatibility, and 18 themes for the display. Although in reality there are only four or five as choices of numbers showed the same display. The double-up of climate controls via the touchscreen and the rotary/push tabs works a treat. Noticed was the hexagonal seat trim motif that was mirrored in the touchscreen’s backgrounds.

Our test vehicle was fitted with a full glass, dual pane, sunroof ($1,950 option) that works quickly. This is easily opened and closed via overhead tabs just above the driver & front passenger seats. Being entry level, it’s a key start, not push button. The key itself would feel stuck after switching off and requiring a bit of coaxing to slide out. Also, being an American design (but built in India) it’s a left hand indicator stalk and there is a quite plasticky feel in engaging it. There’s a bit of finger effort required to move it and a solid plastic sounding click when it does.

For the driver there are a pair of analogue dials with the jewelled look inserts. In between is the multifunction LCD display with nine submenus for info on economy, tyre pressures, trip meters, etc. Cabin ambience is closer to the upper end of luxury, with high quality look and feel for the plastics. Cargo space is good too at 438L.However, there is a small hiccup, and it’s when the driver’s door is opened, a slight misalignment of the trim outside leads to a scraping noise.It’s short, sharp, and annoying because this kind of quality control issue should not still be happening in a modern, robot controlled, production line.

On The Road It’s: Where we find another hiccup and it’s more troubling. The transmission, as mentioned, is a six speed auto only, and the ratios don’t quite work.

Drive around the ‘burbs’ and it sits in 4th gear, rarely moving to 5th by itself, and requires manual intervention more often to get it to drop down. 1st and 2nd, in comparison, are long, holding on and especially under a harder pedal, rather than intuitively shifting down. Climb up a slope and either 1st or 2nd, never both, will go quickly before holding onto the next. It’s not always the smoothest of shifters either, with noticeable thumps and clunks at low to suburban speeds.

Yet, on the freeway, it easily slipped to 6th and has the engine rotating at a lazy 2,000rpm. Remember, there is no turbo here, nor currently a hybrid option. It can get thrashy when pushed, as a result, with a metallic whine rising in timbre as the revs climbed.

Driveline worries aside, it’s a good steer, with perhaps just a little too much understeer as moderate cornering speeds have the Night Eagle’s nose constantly running wide. Suspension tune is adequate, with reasonable if not tightly controlled rebound and absorption on most tarmac surfaces. It did deal with shopping centre comparison speed restrictions nicely.What About Safety?: It’s well equipped with Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, Reverse Camera, Blind Spot Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert fitted. Seven airbags are also standard as are rear parking sensors.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and 100,000 kilometres; here it falls short as pretty much everyone else offers unlimited kilometres. However, roadside assistance is for the lifetime of the vehicle. Capped price servicing applies and it’s a good’un. $399 per service for the first five years on a 12 monthly or 12,000 kilometre cycle.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s a very good overall change to a new entry level vehicle, but falls down inches one area any car is judged on: how it drives. It’s almost unheard of nowadays for an auto to not fully utilise all of its cogs, and for this six speeder to be quite reluctant to move from 4th, it diminishes the driving ability and results in the user-unfriendly fuel economy as seen.It’s fair to expect the Night Eagle to be a suburban prowler, in competition with vehicles such as the Tucson, Qashqai or perhaps X-Trail, perhaps the Kia Seltos, and the all-conquering RAV4.

The cabin is a nice place to be, its handling characteristics will suit some buyers, but the issue with the transmission, in our opinion, will quickly become tiresome and become the Night Eagle’s millstone. Click here for more info.

MG Powers Up With Australian Release of ZS EV.

Historic nameplate MG joins the EV revolution with the all-new, full-electric MG ZS EV compact SUV. Now available to customers in Australia and New Zealand in one trim level only, it’s the cheapest EV available with a drive-away price of $43,990. That price includes an eight year, 160,000 kilometre battery warranty, and a five year, unlimited kilometre, car warranty. Roadside assistance is included for five years.It’s a price that is sure to attract keen interest. The CEO of MG Australia and New Zealand, Peter Ciao, said: “Until now, buyers have had to pay a premium price for an EV. This has meant that only a small portion of the public can afford to buy an EV. Our vision at MG Motor is to change this situation by making electric vehicles available and accessible to everyone. By removing the affordability barrier, we are seeking to fast track EV adoption in Australia and New Zealand.” MG have located the charge port for the front electric motor rated at 105kW and 353Nm at a central point. Charging is provided via a standard CCS2 socket located conveniently behind the grille. The flexibility comes from plugging in a standard household socket or a DC charge cable up to 350kW. This will bring the battery to 80 percent charge from zero in just 45 minutes. At home, it’s a standard overnight charge time for the 44.5kW battery, itself an in-house development by MG. The company is just one of three to have their own battery building facility.That battery size allows for the MG ZS EV to look at a range of just over 260 kilometres. It also endows the MG ZS EV with a 0-100kph time of a scintillating 3.1 seconds from a 1,532kg body, just 50kg heavier than a standard ZS. There are three drive modes to take advantage of, being Eco, Normal, and Sport.

The sole trim level doesn’t skimp on the niceties. Above the passengers is a Panoramic Stargazer glass roof, and at a surface coverage area of 90%, it’s one of the largest of its type. The fronts eat passengers have an 8.0 inch touchscreen complete with Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, satnav, and six speaker audio. drive selection is via a rotary gear selector and there are three regenerative modes.

The dimensions (4,314mm length, 1,809mm wide, 1,644mm tall on a 2,585mm wheelbase) provide plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room as well, along with a flat rear floor that provides up to 1,166L worth of cargo space when the 60/40 splitfold rears are folded. The leather seats have tight stitching and are well padded for comfort. Outside is the familiar “London Eye” headlight design and dual-tone alloys at 17 inches in diameter. Exterior colour choices will include one that is exclusive to the ZS EV, Clipper Blue. Buyers can also choose from Diamond Red metallic paint, Regal Blue,, metallic paint, and Dover White or Pebble Black.MG Pilot is the main safety system including Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Collision and Lane Departure Warning, plus Emergency Braking, and Speed Assist. It’s a five star safety rating for the MG ZS EV, with a high torsional strength cabin and rigidity factor. The battery has been certified independently to be fire, submersion, dust, pressure, impact, and salt spray resistant.

Our friends over at Exhaust Notes Australia attended the launch, and have provided this initial review

‘Electric for everyone’
MG Motor’s parent company, SAIC Motor, has invested heavily in electric as well as other new energy vehicle technologies, processes and battery production, making it one of only a handful of auto manufacturers to own its EV supply chain. In 2019, that expertise resulted in the production of more than 185,000 electric vehicles, making it one of the top five EV producers globally by volume. MG Motor now brings this experience to the local market, enabling it to deliver state-of-the-art EV technology at the best value and packed with features.

Mini’s Hot Secret!

MINI JCW GP

There is one other Mini that might have flown in under your radar.  It is the wildest Mini hot hatch yet, and it’s called the Mini John Cooper Works GP.  The car looks really cool and boasts the highest price tag of any Mini yet – but for good reason.

It was built as a JCW GP 60th year birthday present for Mini, and it sits low down on a 40 mm wider track.  The massive grille, bold GP badge, massive front spoiler and two large air foiling scoops just give the car a special presence that is brutal and focused.  The air intake slot in the bonnet is large and ready to suck in gallons of air to help spool the turbo.

Look at the Mini JCW GP hot-hatch side on, and the chunky styling looks awesome, mean and racy.  It features huge wheel arches, massive side skirts and an enormous spoiler.  The car is also lower than standard JCW cars.

Head around the back, and you note that the spoiler has also been skilfully incorporated into the roof guttering showing a nice level of attention to detail.  The taillights have been darkened and the twin exhaust outlets poke aggressively out from the centre of the rear skirt.  These crackle and pop with full throttle and under serious braking.  What a car!

Inside, the racy Mini JCW GP is fairly simple.  It boasts nice leather bucket seats, a digital dash, 3-D printed panels with an array of options for logos and displays.  A special ‘GP pack’ adds all the comfort and bells and whistles like heated seats and dual zone climate control, but remember this is a stripped out limited edition racer that comes standard with just the two seats.  A horizontal strut brace takes up where the rear seats would normally sit.

So just 3000 units will be made worldwide, and 65 of those will make the journey to Australia – and they have almost certainly already been sold to their lucky owners.  They are around $12,500 more expensive than a ‘regular’ John Cooper Works, so I’d imagine if you did own one and tried to sell it now, you could fetch even more than the original price.

The Mini JCW GP is significantly more expensive than more generously equipped hot hatch rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf R ($56,990); but who cares – the car is a phenomenal performer and it is a limited edition.  The new John Cooper Works GP is driven by a special version of BMW’s 2.0-litre turbo engine with an output of 225 kW of power and 450 Nm of torque available.  Just the eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters is available, however this set-up ensures that the power is delivered precisely on time – every time.  Mini has developed a unique suspension for the GP, designed to make it even faster around a racetrack than the standard JCW Hatch.  Mini claims the FWD JCW GP hot-hatch will do the 0-100 km/h dash in just 5.2 seconds.  This is just the start of the rush of power and acceleration that goes on to a governed top speed of 265 km/h.  This is very quick indeed!  The FWD power is controlled with a limited slip-diff.

You’ll want to keep your ear to the ground and see if you can find a seller of the wonderful little Mini JCW GP ‘hottie’.  It’s distinctively different and extremely aggressive, and you’re in for a thrilling and wild ride.

Mini’s Hottest Hatch

2020 Toyota LC76 LandCruiser GXL: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A genuine living dinosaur. Toyota’s LC76 LandCruiser is as basic as they come in a modern world. It’s a square and blocky exterior, features old-school drivetrain tech when it comes to off-road driving, and the interior is a real throw back. We loved it.How Much Does It Cost?: This is the part where a nip of a good 12yo single malt comes in handy. $77,116 drive-away. That’s a fair bit of coin for a vehicle that has not a lot, yet, for some, offers plenty.

Under The Bonnet Is: A very grunty 4.5L V8 fed by diesel. The big thing is paired with a five speed manual transmission, internally operated lever for 4WD low range, and front locking wheel hubs. Yes, you read that right. Peak power is 151kW and peak torque is 430Nm at a lazy 1,200rpm to 3,200rpm, just under the 3,400rpm where peak power lies. Economy is quoted as 10.7L/100km from the combined cycle, and would be better with a six speeder as at highway speeds it’s cruisy but just on the cusp of feeling breathless. Just. The real feeling of running out of steam really kicks in at around 3,000rpm, not that there is much time spent here anyway. That economy figure is not unreasonable in being achieved as we averaged 11.0L/100km. Kerb weight is a hefty 2,265kg. The fuel tank size depends on the model of the LC chosen, ranging from 130L to 180L.

On The Outside It’s: What’s called a two-box design. Big box for the cabin, a smaller one for the engine compartment. It makes for an easy design, and allows for simple interior packaging. The rear doors are a 40/60 split, with the smaller opening first, and a separate lever for the bigger. These open to a substantial cargo space. Front wheels are, as mentioned, lockable via a centre-hub mounted dial. Nowhere to be found is an electronic system to do however there is a button inside for locking the rear diff. In front is a BIG bumper, almost something that own its own could smash an iceberg. Our review vehicle had a large snorkel intake fitted as well, and audible was the intake and breathing on gear change as the actual intake is just above and in front of the drivers head. A massive intercooler gets fresh air via something rarely seen on a car nowadays: an intake scoop.The glasshouse is huge, with plenty of airiness courtesy of the big windows. the front passenger windows look out at wing mirrors that are also old school. No internal operating mechanism, either powered or via a lever, for adjustment. Underneath is a set of big rubber from Dunlop. The Grandtrek tyres are proper off-road capable in tread pattern and the 265/70 grippers wrap 16 inch alloys.Overall dimensions make for a big machine. Length is 4,910, height is 1,940mm, and width is 1,870mm. Dimensions are big underneath too, with 2,730mm for the wheelbase, 1,555mm front track and a narrower 1,430mm for the rear.

On The Inside It’s: As sparse and as bare as you can get in a modern car. We say modern car as this one has a build date of March, 2020, belying the look and feel of the 1980s. There are no steering wheel controls. Aircon is operated via slide levers, and separate ones for fresh or recirculate, cold to hot, and direction. A pair of dials operate the fan speeds. There is a proper cigarette lighter and ashtrays in the rear doors…A basic looking radio head unit provides AM, FM, and digital tunes via a CD player, There is a nod towards modernity thanks to a USB port. A hark back to the past is found with a rocker switch to raise or lower the electric powered aerial.Seat material and plastics are a blue grey hue everywhere and the dash itself is a solid, square, blocky design mimicking the exterior. The cargo section is huge, with a guesstimate (as Toyota doesn’t quote any) at well over 600L and that’s before the folding of the heavy second row seats. These are lever operated both for lift and fold, no electronics here.From the driver’s seat, the view is of a gear selector that is around three feet in length. That’s somewhat exaggerated but not by a lot. To the right is the range (as in high and low range) selector, and to the left, a solitary cupholder…

On The Road It’s: Less nimble than a sinking Titanic, as slow to get going as a sloth on a cold day, and feels as heavy as carrying an elephant. But somehow it overcomes any negative to form, in our very humble opinion, a huge positive.

It’s actually fun to drive.

In a way, those perceived negatives are why. For starters, it’s a manual, a rarity, and a manual that requires experience with how one works. The selector is long, and synchronising the shifts is fairly important as the cogs are a bit agricultural in meshing. The shift is on the heavy side, and it’s a lonnnnnnnng throw between the five forward gears and engaging Reverse takes some patience and muscle.The turning circle is bigger than the orbit of Venus around the sun, the steering is something like five turns left and right from centre, and it’s heavy. It means a driver has to plan, get involved, be part of the driving process. The thought process to engage a gear whilst swinging hard on a weighty steering, judging the not-so-talkative brakes, whilst considering the mass of the big thing, brings a proper sense of what it is to DRIVE a car to the soul.

Highway cruising showcases the fact a six speed would be a better option here. Although final gearing has highway speeds somewhere around 2,000rpm or so, a sixth gear could drop that to 1,500rpm, add a bit more economy, and add just a little more drivability.

What About Safety?: Simple. There is, apart from the front, curtain, and driver’s kneebag, and electronic basics like traction control and HillStart Assist, sweet F.A. And no, this is not a bad thing. by being as basic as it is, it forces a driver to far more engaged in the driving that merely piloting a car, waiting for the beeps and tones as the car goes over roadside whitelines, judging the steering and manual mirrors to check for vehicles before changing lanes, and understanding the limitations in order to be a safer driver.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years, and seven years for the engine IF the car is serviced at a Toyota dealership. Conditions apply. Capped price servicing applies via a VIN identification.

At The End Of The Drive. As lumbering and specification-bare the LC76 is, it remains on sale for a select market. People that understand it. Toyota isn’t in the business of ditching models that sell to a hardcore audience and know both its abilities and its limitations instinctively. As a driver’s car, it is. It embodies what driving is all about. That’s why we loved it.

2020 Citroen C3 Shine: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A car from a brand with a reputation for being innovative and quirky, but not necessarily at the same time.

Citroen’s C3 has been part of the legendary French brand for some time and has morphed from a rounded hatch to a flatter looking mini-SUV. A variation on the theme is the Aircross which once had plastic panels fitted with air-filled pockets, yet no longer does. The C3 itself, though, has a set of four small panels called AirBump, one for each door. The front has five pockets, the rear just two.

The idea is to provide some sort of very low speed impact protection from marauding shopping trolleys, however if this seemingly otherwise good idea were actually that good, we would see it on every car. It’s worth noting that Citroen themselves once had these panels covering all of the door, not just a small section…How Much Does It Cost?: In real terms, it’s a bit ouchy. Call it $28,990 drive-away for a car the size of a Mini, however there is the currency exchange rate to consider. This price was, at the time of writing, available for cars delivered by November 30, 2020. In comparison, Kia’s Cerato hatch and sedan were on a drive-away offer (October 30, 2020 end date) of $23,990.
Metallic paint, such as the Platinum Grey and white roof combo fitted to our test car, is an optional cost of $590. The C3 comes with a body and roof combination range of Opal White and Red, Almond Green and Black, Perla Nera Black and Red, Ruby red and Black, and Cobalt Blue and White.

Under The Bonnet Is: Another of the back pocket sized 1.2L turbo three cylinders proliferating in smaller cars. The addition of a turbo has breathed new life into these, adding much needed torque. There is 81kW and 205Nm. The auto is the EAT6 and matches the thrummy 3 cylinder perfectly. It’s a sipper, too, with 6.1L/100km seen on our 70/30 urban/highway cycle. The official combined cycle figure is 4.9L/100km.On The Outside It’s: Soft and round, with nary a sharp crease to be found. Ovoid is the term, with the body, roof, front and rear lights, all curvy. The straightest lines, somewhat ironically, are the plastic panels containing the air pockets…unless you count the delineation in colour between roof and body. It’s designed so the LED driving lights look like the headlights, the headlights sit slap bang in the middle of the bumper, and above the halogen driving lights. The roofline slopes gently downwards from the A-pillar and slightly protuberant tail lights. 205/55/16 Michelin Premacy 3 rubber and simple eight spoke alloys finish the package. It’s compact at 3,990mm in total length but packs a very decent 2,540mm wheelbase, meaning minimal overhangs for the front and rear. Height is petite too, at just 1,470mm.

On The Inside It’s: A mirror, on the door trims and door handles, of the exterior airbumps. The dash is a flat and slabby affair, with the dash standing out from the door joins rather than flowing into them. Plastics lack that sense of tactile appeal, unfortunately. The airvents also mirror the ovoid motif. Audio is AM/FM, with no DAB. The touchscreen is a 7.0 inch affair and has both Apple and Android connectivity.For the driver’s it’s a standard dual dial design in the binnacle with a separate monochrome info screen. The tiller has the slightly squared off bottom end and is leather clad. The seats are comfy, and clad in a black, grey and orange stitched mix. Gears are selected by a “J gate” style lever with leather surrounds. The cargo section has a low floor but isn’t especially capacious at 300L. 922L is the figure with the 60/40 rear seats folded. Supplementary storage and equipment is minimal with small cup holders, slightly oversized bins for the doors, along with auto headlights and wipers but manual seat adjustment.On the Road It’s: Always fun to drive. Three cylinder engines have a massive appeal due to their aural presence. There’s an off-kilter rumble, one that never sounds rough or wrong as revs climb, rather it becomes a more sonorous sonic hello to the eardrums. Suspension tune is erring to the soft side but stopping short of bouncing the body off the bump stops. Steering feel is also slightly woolly, with no real conversation to the driver’s hands but weighted so three point turns are an easy trick.

Torque deliver brings a patient rise in speed, but also one that isn’t overly lax in performance. It’s no rocketship, true, yet there is enough verve and oomph in the engine’s mid-range delivery to provide that just-right go around town.

Stop-Start is fitted and confuses the engine sometimes coming up to a stop sign; the brake pedal has that borderline pressure required to engage it or not, and occasionally it would shut down the engine just as the foot would lift from the pedal. This leads to that hesitation that interrupts acceleration just as it’s needed. the auto also had the occasional dose of indecision, mostly at light throttle, banging between lower gears before settling on one as the speed rose.

What about Service And Warranty?: 5 Year Free Scheduled Service, 5 Year Unlimited KM Warranty & 5 Year 24/7 Roadside Assistance.

What About Safety?: Minimal, in relation to others. AEB is fitted as are six airbags, rear sensors, lane departure warning, and reverse camera, but that’s about it.

At The End Of The Drive: Citroen is up against with the C3 Shine. Price is one thing, perceived value is another. It’s a fun little car to drive, a cute little car to look at, but when put against cars such as the Picanto, Mazda’s 2, or the VW Polo, the Shine fades. The stylish quirks of the airbumps have disappeared from the C3 and C5 Aircross, and the forthcoming C3 loses four bumps, offset by a small increase in size.

If slightly oddball French chic is your thing, find out more here.

Peugeot 2008 Ready To Roll For Australia

Peugeot has released details of the soon to be released, for the Australian market, 2008. It’s the baby SUV the company has had overseas for a few months, and for Australia it will come in a two tier range, Allure and GT. A third model, presumably called GT-Line, is due in early 2021.

Engine. The Allure and GT will share a 1.2L three cylinder petrol engine with turbo. The Allure has a six speed auto to match the 96kW/230Nm spec, with the GT getting an eight speed auto and 115kW/240Nm powerplant. Economy for each will be similar, with 6.5L/100km for the Allure, and 6.1L/100km for the slightly more torquier GT. That’s important as the Allure, at 1,247kg, is 40kg lighter than the GT. Tank size is 44L. The drivetrain for the Allure is intended more for those of the “let’s have fun” group”, with the Advanced Grip Control programmed for Mud, Sand, and Snow.Body. The grilles give away which model is which. The Allure has horizontal strips, the GT has verticals. The front end has a sharper look that the previous 2008, and features redesigned headlights, with the GT notable for the three vertical strips that match the blade LED driving light as seen on the gorgeous 508. The lower air intake will house the forward facing sensor for the adaptive cruise control and AEB. Active Blind Spot Monitoring for the GT is standard, as is Adaptive Cruise. The GT also has an advantage over the Allure with the AEB being low-light capable for both pedestrian and cyclist. Eco/Normal/Sport driving modes are also GT specific.Wheel size is 215/60/17 and 215/55/18 for the Allure and GT, with inserts to provide different looks. Both cars will have a 16 inch space saver. For the sides, a pair of triangular creases joing the front and rear, and the rear lights have the familiar triple claw look now housed in a slimmer casing. Both are 4,300mm in length, and share a 2,605mm wheelbase. They stand 1,550mm tall and are 1,770mm in width.Above the rear window is a black spoiler for the GT, a body coloured unit for the Allure. the wing mirrors will be the same. For the GT, a full glass sunroof can be optioned. A small and interesting note: the 2008 badge has the 00 linked together in an infinity sign, a symbol that Peugeot embodies as never-ending development.

Equipment. 180 degree parking cameras, climate control, and heated mirrors are common to both, as are electric parking brakes. Over the Allure, the GT has front and rear sensors, semi-auto aprk assist, a different gear selector, and paddle shifters. The GT also has alloy pedals and 8 colours for the LED ambient lighting. Luxury gets a bump with full grain, perforrated, leather for the steering wheel and gear selector.

For the fronts eats the Allure has a 7.0 inch touchscreen, the GT gets a 10.0 inch unit. Wireless charging is standard for the GT and there are a pair of USB ports up front; one is the USB-A and the other the smaller USB-C. There are two USBs for the rear seats. In between the front ports is a folding cover that reveals the nook for the charge plate, with the door having a small ridge to rest the phone on for a widescreen orientation. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard for both. For the driver both have a 3D look display screen, with a unique design bringing information “forward” in the way it looks. The GT has a full Nappa leather interior.On The Road. The GT has the better feel on road, with a sense of more energy, and just that little bit more grip. That’s a seat of the pants feedback, as the footprint for both is identical, so put it down to the slightly smaller sidewall on the GT’s rubber. The steering in both is well weighted, as you’d expect. The eight speeder in the GT makes for a better overall response to the throttle, with a Sport mode adding extra pep. And of course, the brake feel is spot on.Our time with the Allure and GT was part of the media launch held in the northern area of Sydney, with drive time in each just over an hour. Depending on availability, AWT hopes to be able to spend a week with one or the other in early 2021.Pricing is currently set as $34,990 MLP for the Allure and $43,990 MLP for the GT. That price disparity accounts for the GT being fully loaded and with essentially only a glass roof and a choice of seven exterior colours including three pearlescent paints as options.

2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Volvo’s SUV entry into the hybrid world and specifically the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle world. The R-Spec sits at the top of the mid-range for the XC40 and looks an ideal way to get the Swedish brand into the market for hybrid SUVs.

How Much Does It Cost?: Volvo provided, as always, an extensive information sheet. The manufacturer’s list price is $64,990. As tested, the vehicle supplied was $69,760. Metallic paint is a premium price here and double the asking cost of nearly everyone else in the segment at $1,150. A powered folding rear seat headrest and cargo protection net is $230. A Climate Pack which consists of heated wipers, heated front seats, and heated tiller is $700. A big tech item is the 360 degree camera is $990, with tinted rear windows at $700. For the heated rear seat that’s $350 with Park Assist Pilot at $650.What’s Under The Bonnet?: A combination of a three cylinder 1.5L petrol motor and battery powered engine. The petrol motor is 1.5L in capacity, and generates 132kW of peak power and 265Nm of peak torque. This is backed up by the 60kW and 160Nm from the electric motor. Consumption is quoted as 2.2L/100km for the combined cycle and that is eminently achievable. We saw nothing worse than 4.6L/100km, meaning a theoretical range of around 1,000km. It also reduces emissions, with 50g/km the quoted figure. Tank size is 48.0L. 0-100kph time is quoted as 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 205kph.On the Outside It’s: Unchanged from the “normal XC40” bar the addition of a port fitted for the battery pack on the left forward flank. To see our original review, click here for more.

On The Inside It’s: Also largely the same. The virtual dash has the addition of Hybrid in the right hand dial, and the main touchscreen, which swipes left or right for submenus, now has the addition of a “Charge” tab, to engage the engine whilst driving to add charge to the battery pack. A zipper bag is included that houses the charge cable. A simple clip ensures the bag stays in place whilst driving. The airvents have a whiff of 1950s elegance and an alloy trim plate brings class to the dash ahead of the passenger. The cargo area is of a very good size but has a flat floor, losing the more effective folding floor that opened to storage pockets underneath.On The Road It’s: An interesting drive. In our experience, hybrids start off quietly, get to around 20kph, and then, regardless if a EV Mode is selected, overrides that and kicks in the petrol engine. Here it’s the opposite, with silent electric driving UNLESS the accelerator is mashed to the floor. The three cylinder engine is isolated to the point of invisibility aurally, and is so well integrated in the drivetrain that any physical sensation is virtually free of being felt.Range on battery alone is estimated at 40 kilometres, and the dash display shows this along with the consumption. There is a regenerative change that collects kinetic energy and feeds it back to the battery. And when engaging the petrol engine to recharge that battery it’s that same seamless switch from a silky smooth electric run to a barely perceptible thrum from the three cylinder. However, it’s a two mode system and cannot be adjusted. There are drive modes, one of which is Pure. This locks the drive into only battery powered motion and when the battery runs dry, automatically switches to petrol power. Power mode hitches both electric and petrol to the drivetrain, and emulates the heavy right foot drive style needed when that just right break in the traffic comes along.It’s an ideal cruiser too, with the combined torque propelling the 1,760kg XC40 along the freeways and highways effortlessly. It’s a serene experience, with only hints of tyre and noise getting through to the cabin. That’s an impressive feat considering the 245/45/20 Pirelli P-Zero rubber. With such a sizeable footprint, more noise would be reasonably expected. They also provide, not unexpectedly, more than ample grip, with cornering a confidence-building event and with virtually zero body roll from the MacPherson strut/multi-link rear. The ride is perfect, with compliance and a sporty tautness exactly where they should be. The same applies to the steering; it’s light but not overly so. There is weight when needed but nor is it excessive or applied at the wrong time.

Braking is the area that needs work; that beautifully tactile feel has changed to a grabby and non-intuitive bite. There’s a lack now of gentle and smooth progression, it’s now a situation where it’s semi-soft before grabbing the discs and lurching the XC40 to a halt. It’s more than a niggle especially at traffic lights and stop signs where there may be a vehicle ahead, and that lurch is enough to raise the eyebrows and push the pedal harder to avoid contact.

What About Safety?: Plenty, of course. It’s what Volvo is built on. Here’s the list: City Safety: Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection, Intersection Collision and Oncoming Mitigation with Brake Support; Steering Support; Intellisafe Assist: Driver Alert; Lane Keeping Aid; Adjustable Speed Limiter function; Oncoming Lane Mitigation; Intellisafe Surround: Blind Spot Information (BLIS) with Cross TrafficAlert (CTA), Front and Rear Collision Warning with mitigation support; and Run-off road Mitigation. Hill start assist; Hill Descent Control; Park-assist Front and Rear; Rain Sensor; Drive mode with personal powersteering settings; Emergency Brake Assist (EBA); Emergency BrakeLight (EBL); Frontal Airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS)with airbags in front seats, Inflatable Curtains and Whiplash ProtectionSystem; Driver’s knee airbag; Belt Reminder all seats; ISO-FIX outerposition rear seat; Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS) complete what is an obviously extensive list.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres. The battery has an eight year warranty excluding expected efficiency losses. Volvo has a three year capped price service plan and for the XC40 it’s $1,595.

At The End Of the Drive. Hybrid technology for the automotive world is increasingly seen as a better option than purely electric and hydrogen. The bigger the charge from the battery the more assistance it provides to the petrol engine, and the better the range. And then the range anxiety that still worries people with a purely battery only vehicle is largely alleviated, and petrol running costs are reduced significantly.

In XC40 R-Design form, hybrid tech provides an ideal opportunity to sample it and in a car that is an award winning vehicle. There is plenty to like here, and it’s a car worthy of investigating to place in the driveway. Here is some information from Volvo.