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Buying a New Car with a Colour In Mind

We’re all different in many ways, and each of us has a list of favourite colours we draw upon in preference to others.  That’s why when we redecorate our house, we’ll often choose the colours that suit our own tastes, or we’ll opt for a set of colours we like to dress ourselves in when it comes to buying and wearing clothes.  While a car’s colour doesn’t actually affect its performance (“red cars go faster!”) or its handling, colour can certainly have a psychological effect on the car-buyer and the beholder.

Colours in the Rainbow

A car’s colour can also affect safety out on the road, and it might even affect the price of the car – in the case of second-hand vehicles, especially.  And if you’re buying a new car, you often get a choice of colour, so it pays to be informed on car colour and why some colours are more popular than others!

Ready to buy a car?  Research has shown that opting for a neutral colour like white, black, grey, and silver are your safest bets if you intend to sell the car to someone else later.  In addition to the rising popularity of grey and silvery tones, other colours from greens to blues, reds and even violet colours currently seem to hit a chord with new car buyers.

However, if you want to expand your car colour palette, you may also appreciate learning that egg-yolk yellows, bright yellows, brown, bright orange, or even a vibrant purple colour for your new car could put you at a disadvantage when it comes time to selling or trading in for another vehicle.  Naturally, these colours will appeal to a small niche of car buyers buying second-hand.  Strike one of these limited buyers and I guess you could say it could also work in your favour.  That said, younger drivers are making a move toward bright neon colours and bolder primary colours.

Some cars do look amazing, even quite spectacular in certain colours.  Nevertheless, here is the list of car colours you should get the lowdown on, which will offer a heads-up before handing any money over and some handy hints and advice.

White: Here is the most popular car colour on the road.  White is in the easy-to-care-for group and tends to look newer for longer, but white also tends to show mud and splashes easier than grey or silver.  White is the safest colour for driving, thus making it one of the most common car colours we see out on the road.  As our roads tend to be black or dark-grey, a white car stands out more readily and can be seen more easily by other road users.  White cars are better noticed even during poor light conditions (e.g., during dusk or dawn).  Still, because white is such a common car colour, white cars can be seen as a little bit bland and boring.

Black: A sleek black is always popular and looks amazing on almost any car.  It is a prestige colour, being the colour of business suits and briefcases.  Black is also a dark, sleek, and mysterious colour – think sunglasses, a black leather jacket, and boots.  From an image perspective, black is sexy and savvy, and it is seen as being suave, a colour appealing to both the masculine and feminine.  Black also makes a great canvas for a company logo.

From a safety perspective, black isn’t a terrific colour to be driving in because black cars are harder to see in conditions of poor light.  Black also looks best when it’s fresh out of the car wash. Just give it a few minutes on a windy day and it will likely be covered with pollen, dirt, and dust all over again.

Silver and Grey: According to various studies, grey and silvery coloured cars are the easiest to clean, and they remain looking cleaner for longer.  Dirt and dust can hide a little easier on grey surfaces, so your grey/silver car can look cleaner for longer.  Silver looks a little brighter and shinier than your standard grey tones, adding a bit more class and elegance to the look in much the same way black can do.  Silver, like black, might be worth considering then if you happen to regularly attend executive boardroom meets in the business world.

Red: Red is quite a popular car colour once you steer clear of the top three.  Psychologists tell us that red is stimulating and alerting.  Red cars are also cheerful and friendly, attracting the kids.  Red is a flashy car colour and tends to hide mud easier than some of the other more vibrant colours.  Nonetheless, red does become dull when dirty.  Red colours are also more vulnerable to sunlight fade, requiring the need to head to the paint shop for a spruce up much sooner than many other colour types.

Blue:  Blue is a colour on the rise and with the latest paint technology you can get all sport sorts of different shades from ocean blue to summer blue skies.  Blue car colours are often associated with the environment and sustainability.  There are many bright and bold blues that are quite eye-catching and attractive.  This colour isn’t an easy colour to keep clean.  Blues tend to show water spots easily. Scratches and swirl marks, and body bumps and bruises are more readily noticed on blue cars.

Brown:  This colour is quite rarely seen on cars, as are golds and bronzes, however it is making a comeback in some of the more luxurious brands of car.  Brown is a warm, eco-friendly colour that doesn’t show the dirt too badly.  Browns are harder to see out on the road and are frowned upon from a safety perspective, but that’s where your DRLs come in handy!

Green: Green is also associated with the environment, so you would think that it would be the top choice for hybrids and bio-fuel vehicles.  Oddly enough it isn’t particularly, unless of course you want to make more of a point about being a really green and sustainable person.  Green colours come in two types: a) bright apple and lime tones, which tend to be associated with small, fun hatchbacks like a Toyota Yaris or b) dark greens, which are more sophisticated and often found on Jaguars, BMWs, and Audis.  Green makes a reasonable canvas for a company logo and is often the choice for gardening contractors or conservationists.

From a safety perspective, the brighter shades of green tend to be quite eye-catching in daylight, mostly because it’s not a common colour out on the road.  A darker green colour combines quite honourably with the dirt of an off-road 4×4.  Generally, green coloured cars are easier to keep cleaner for longer than many other colours you can choose from. But green also shows paint and surface imperfections easier than grey, silver, and white cars do.

Orange: This lovely bright colour not only commands the beholder’s attention but it’s easy to clean.  Orange isn’t always everybody’s cup of tea, so selling on might be harder than you might think.  It tends to be good for road safety because there are only a few orange cars on the road, so they stand out.

Yellow: Yellow definitely stands out on highways.  Yellows also easily hide dust and pollen. Nevertheless, yellows do emphasize mud splashes when you find yourself driving in wet and muddy conditions.  Not everyone is a fan of yellow cars.

Purple:  purple is another rarely seen colour.  Violet and lavender purples tend to be associated with creativity and quirkiness, and the dark eggplant tones associated more with royalty.  Purple cars are very noticeable and can look very striking, but this is also because they are rarer.

Pink:  Traditionally, pink has been a colour that is considered to be sweet, soft, and feminine.  Bright pinks tend to be rather visible – probably on a level with yellow from a safety perspective – but is also a rather fun colour for a car.

People who like to drive sports cars or who want to simply stand out from the crowd will be the car buyers who opt for a brighter, bolder colour – and why not!?

Let’s Torque ICE and EV Physics

As technology improves with each passing year, the inside mechanicals of an internal combustion engine (ICE) have become more refined, stronger, lighter, and more efficient at harnessing power from the combustion process and feeding it out to the wheels.  Adding Hybrid technology to the ICE has also enabled car manufacturers to make greater gains in power and efficiency.  Hybrid engines are designed to try and use electric power from the electric motor(s) instead of fossil fuel power from the ICE for as much of the commute as possible.  When required, the ICE takes over the power delivery when electric power has been drained, or electric and ICE can work together for enhanced power on acceleration.  Purely electric vehicles (EVs) don’t have combustion energy but can still produce phenomenal levels of power and torque.

If you’ve ever taken the slightest look at any car review in a magazine or online, or even browsed through a car brochure, somewhere in the read you’ll come across some of the main bits on the engine stats and specs. Some of the specs are easy enough to understand – like the 0–100 km/h time measured in seconds, which is a measurement of the quickest time it takes the car to go from a standstill to 100 km/h.  100 km/h is equivalent to 62.14 mph, so if you are presented with an Imperial measurement looking at the 0–60 mph sprint (USA reviewers use this), it’s roughly the same as the usual nought-to-the-ton metric figure.

However, some specs are a bit harder to get a handle on – like power output.  Power is described as the rate at which work is done, or else the rate at which energy is converted into motion.  In cars and vehicles of all types, the formula for calculating power is relatively complicated (or kind of).  The power output of an engine is measured in kW (kilowatts) using metrics, which is the force times the velocity: power = work/time = (force x distance)/time.

All sorts of things go into delivering the power and torque created from an ICE out to the road, such as the number of cams (pistons) in the engine, the number of combustion chambers in the engine, the flywheels, the gear set, the tyres, and even the size of the combustion chambers.  The reason why EVs can make power and torque quickly and efficiently is that they do away with all the internal mechanical workings of an ICE (the ICE motor) and use magnetism instead of combustion for making power and torque available to the driveline.

Yes, power actually used to be measured in horsepower, which was originally used to compare how well a steam engine or traction engine could work in comparison to a big Clydesdale horse (hp).  Here’s some stats for you:

1 kW equals 1.34 hp

1 kW equals 737.56 foot pounds per second

1 hp = 550 foot-pounds per second (ft lb/s)

1 hp = 0.75 kW

As you may already know, power is closely related to torque.  Torque is a measure of the force that can cause an object to rotate about its axis point.  The whole set-up with a vehicle’s engine, transmission, and drivetrain involves rotational motion, so where the rubber finally hits the road is where the final delivery of the torque from the vehicle’s engine and mechanical components are then converted back to straight-line motion, where and when the rubber applies a force to the road.

Torque is measured in Newton meters (Nm).  Newton metres are the metric units used for torque.  The non-metric unit used for American cars is in pound-force per feet, also known as pound-feet. Just to be confusing, pound-feet is also used for torque, while foot-pounds are used for power, something that’s likely to drive you half dotty. However, the formula for conversion is 1 pound-foot = 1.356 Nm.

An ICE engine loses a lot of its initial combustion power and torque as this gets delivered mechanically to the rubber on the road, where all the action happens.  All the weight and friction of the moving ICE powerplant components drain the power and torque levels before what’s left of it is delivered to the wheels, the rubber on the road used for motion.

Hybrid vehicles (those that combine electric and ICE motors) can use electric motors to boost ICE power and torque output, thus improving fuel efficiency and power and torque delivery.  EVs can deliver so much more power and torque to the rubber on the road because they haven’t got all the extra weight and friction of the ICE’s mechanical componentry.  EV motors don’t need all of this to create a big enough force for motion.

Fuel Miser Comparison (2010/2022) Ford-Peugeot

I thought I’d look at a list of cars that featured in an article written back in 2010, where I compared some of the thriftiest cars at that time.  These were cars which had been designed to function as some of the world’s best fuel sippers.  These vehicles were sold new in Australia, but I thought I’d add a new twist this time by adding what we can consider as the brand new version of these old models with their statistics for fuel consumption as a comparison – you know, a bit of nostalgia along with the new, and what’s changed – or not.

Note that the fuel consumption figures are based on the number of litres of fuel consumed every 100 km travelled.  Often real world situations can play havoc with Lab tested fuel consumption figures, but this definitely gives you an interesting picture. And, here is the list that is in alphabetical order – just to be helpful:

Ford

Ford Fiesta Econetic 2010

Back in 2010, the benchmark for fuel-misers belonged to the stylish Ford Fiesta Econetic.  Nothing was able to beat the claimed 3.7 litres/100 km fuel economy figure that this car offered.  It is a nicely designed car that looks good even today, and is also a great handling FWD Hatch.

Ford Puma 2022

I’m not quite sure why, but Ford no longer sell us a new Fiesta Hatchback.  However, you can buy a brand new Ford Fiesta-based Puma in 2022, which is a small SUV (Hatchback on steroids) that comes with a 92kW/170Nm 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine.  Cabin space is claimed to be class-leading, and the boot expands from 456 litres to 1161 litres.  You can also enjoy a fuel consumption figure of around 5.3 litres/100 km.

 

Honda

Honda’s ever reliable Civic is still a nice drive today.  In 2010 Honda offered it in a Hybrid Sedan shape that employed a little 1.3 litre Hybrid Honda engine, delivering a combined economy of around 4.5 – 5.0 litres/100 km.

Honda Civic 2010

2022 sees the Civic come alive with a very classy exterior and a powerful 1.5-litre Turbo petrol engine with 131 kW of power and 240Nm of torque.  Somewhere around 6.3 litres/100 km is attainable, and with a ride that is comfortable and athletic.

Honda Civic 2022

To find Honda’s current fuel miser, the brand new HR-V is an eco-friendly rewarding drive.  Honda’s e:HEV technology in the HR-V utilises an intelligent 2-Motor i-MMD hybrid system that seamlessly switches between three modes to give you optimal performance, and a smoother, greener, and more fun driving experience.  A claimed 4.3 litres/100 km for the e:HEV-L hybrid and 5.8 litres/100 km for the Vi X 1.6-litre petrol motor is on offer.

Honda Accord Hybrid Sedan 2022

2022 Honda HR-V

All class, you can also get yourself into one of the best Hybrid Sedans you can buy: the 2022 Honda Accord Hybrid.  It boasts a claimed 4.3 litres/100 km combined fuel economy – a very good figure for what is a sporty, comfortable family sedan, with striking looks and all the modern goodies.

 

 

 

 

Hyundai

Hyundai i30 CRDI 2010

Back in 2010, Hyundai had come to the economy party with its 1.6 litre turbo-diesel Hyundai i30, known as the SX CRDi.  Back then, it was Australia’s cheapest diesel car to buy new.  The car was pleasant to look at, and it had a nicely finished interior and plenty of zip.  With 255 Nm of torque, and a fuel economy figure of 4.7 litres/100 km, it’s still an economic little car to drive around in today.

2022 has seen Hyundai exploding with all sorts of new and exciting models that are economical, practical, and full of all the best safety and technology as standard!  Hyundai’s 2022 i30 Sedan and Hatch can come with a 120kW/203Nm 2.0-litre aspirated petrol engine, a 150kW/265Nm 1.6-litre turbo-petrol and, in hot N variants, a storming 206kW/392Nm 2.0-litre petrol turbo.  The 1.6-litre Turbo is the most frugal, offering around 6.8-7.0 litres/100 km combined.

But wait, there’s more!  Hyundai’s 2022 IONIC and KONA models have skipped the Hybrid tech and gone straight to EV power.

2022 Hyundai IONIQ

2022 Hyundai KONA

 

MINI

2010 Mini Cooper D

Mini, or BMW more correctly, offered the little Mini Cooper D in 2010 with a small 1.6 litre turbo-diesel engine, excellent fuel economy, and plenty of punch.  As the frugal engine is linked to a six-speed manual gearbox, the claimed 3.9 litres/100 km was doable in a number of conditions.

2022 Mini Cooper Classic

Fast forward to 2022, and a new Mini still has one of the catchiest hatchback designs you can buy, along with, perhaps, the best handling characteristics in a FWD small hatchback.  They are definitely worth a look and loads of fun.  You have many different models to choose from, however the base model Mini Cooper Classic is the most efficient now, with no diesel engine offered anymore.  The 3-cylinder 1.5-litre Turbo petrol engine uses DOHC with VVT and VV-Lift technology, and can return a BMW claimed 4.9 (Highway), 6.9 (City), and 5.7 (combined) litres/100 km, respectively.

Peugeot

2010 Peugeot 207

Small French Pugs have always been a favourite hatchback of mine.  For all their quirks, they are comfortable, practical, efficient, and generally classy all-round.  In 2010, the little Peugeot 207 offered a fine economy package in the XT HDi, boasting just 4.8 litres/100 km combined.

2022 sees Peugeot offering us the 2008 GT with a ULP 1.2-litre Turbo 3-Cylinder motor capable of 114 kW, 240 Nm and a claimed economy figure of 6.1 litres/100 km.  With this one, you get a very comfortable, practical little SUV with premium safety features.

2022 Peugeot 2008 GT

Hybrids have taken off, and so the best and most impressive Peugeot of the lot is the new Peugeot 508 GT Plug-in Hybrid.  The 508 range has stunning lines and is an exciting car.  The 508 Sedan or 508 Wagon are roomy, very comfortable, and loaded with excellent technology and safety.  You fork out around $77k for one of these new, however, it costs way less than a German equivalent.  Peugeot reckon you can obtain 1.8 litres/100 km of ULP fuel use if your commute’s stars align. Regardless of whether you quite get down to this, this sort of hybrid travel is impressive in its own right!

2022 Peugeot 508 GT Wagon

Fuel Miser Comparison (2010/2022) Audi-Fiat

One of the easiest ways to counter any rises in the fuel prices is to look at downsizing to a more economical car.  If this sounds something you’d be into, then you certainly won’t be the first person to do so.  We’ve just purchased a smaller Honda Jazz as a run around.  Just think back to the fuel crisis in the seventies.

Anyway, it’s always an interesting topic, and who wouldn’t mind driving a new- to late-model car that spends less time at the gas pump.  If you are a commuter, then you’ll appreciate owning a car that doesn’t cost the earth to run.

I thought I’d look at a list of cars that featured in an article written back in 2010, where I compared some of the thriftiest cars at that time.  These were cars which had been designed to function as some of the world’s best fuel sippers.  These vehicles were sold new in Australia, but I thought I’d add a new twist this time by adding what we can consider as the brand new version of these old models with their statistics for fuel consumption as a comparison – you know, a bit of nostalgia along with the new, and what’s changed – or not.

Note that the fuel consumption figures are based on the number of litres of fuel consumed every 100 km travelled.  Often real world situations can play havoc with Lab tested fuel consumption figures, but this definitely gives you an interesting picture  And, here is the list that is in alphabetical order – just to be helpful:

Audi

Audi A3 TDI 2010

The 2010 Audi A3 TDI offered a tidy package with practicality and comfort on its side.  It uses the 1.9-litre TDI engine linked to a 5-speed manual gearbox that has plenty of useful torque and manages a fuel economy figure of around 4.5 litres/100 km.  It was probably one of the roomiest economy cars on this list at the time.

Audi’s 2022 A3 is available in three model grades and two body styles ” Sportback (hatchback) and Sedan.  Two powerplants are available for the stylish new A3.  The most fuel efficient is the 35 TFSI 1.5-litre turbo-petrol with mild-hybrid technology producing 110kW/250Nm with a claimed 5 litres/100 km combined economy.

Audi A3 2022

Audi also has the smaller A1 model to add to your shopping list, which you can now buy new.  It has a 1.0-litre 3-cylinder ULP engine with 85kW/200Nm and a 5.4 litres/100 km combined economy, or a 1.5-litre four-cylinder 110kW/250Nm option with a 5.8 litres/100 km combined economy.

Audi A1 2022

BMW

BMW 118d 2010

At the time, another small German car, the 2010 BMW 118d, offered a fun drive and used an automatic gearbox with a stop/start function for the engine.  It also offers a slick 6-speed manual gearbox option and achieved an impressive 4.5 litres/100 km for its combined fuel economy.  You have 300 Nm of torque, and it feels a punchy little powerhouse, and it’s also RWD!

BMW 118i M Sport

In 2022, the 1-Series is available in a 118i M Sport version, which uses a 103kW/220Nm three-cylinder turbo ULP (unleaded petrol) motor  with a claimed 5.9 litres/100km combined.

 

 

Citroen

The French loved to rival the Germans, and still do, so it was no surprise to see that the Citroen C3 and C4 featured in 2010.  They are still nice-looking and comfortable cars.  The Citroen C3 HDi offers the driver a tidy fuel consumption figure of 4.4 litres/100 km, while the bigger and roomier C4 HDi could deliver 4.5 litres/100 km in combined fuel economy runs.

Citroen C3 2010

2022 sees Citroen’s C3 with much more grown-up styling, and a 1.2-litre three-cylinder 82kW/205NmTurbo petrol engine that delivers the power through a 6-speed automatic FWD driveline.  Fuel consumption should see around 5.7–6.4 litres for a Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) combined cycle, which is the current testing process for measuring a new car’s fuel economy, electric driving range, and emissions.

Citroen C3 2022

 

 

 

 

Fiat

Fiat 500 2022

One of the 2010 super cuties, and still with endless loads of flair, is the nicely packaged turbo-diesel Fiat 500 that captures your attention.  Whether it is the 1.3 JTD engine mated to a 5-speed or 6-speed manual gearbox, both options provided a thrifty 4.0–4.5 litres/100 km fuel consumption.

2022 Fiat 500 cars are still available new, of course with all their modern updates and new technology like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, and updated safety technology.  The current 500 and 500 Convertible offer a manual or single-clutch automated manual five-speed gearbox that underpins the driving force behind the 1.2-litre 4-cylinder engine producing 51kW and 102Nm.  Fiat rate it good for around 4.9 litres/100 km on a combined run, making this a great modern car to drive in an urban setting.

Fiat Punto 2010

In 2010, the Italian flamboyance continued with the Punto 1.3 and 1.4 JTD models.  The Punto handles the road well, making it rewarding to drive, while returning a combined 4.6 litres/100 km.  Currently, Fiat no longer sells a New Punto model, so, if you’re into Fiats, then the 500 is the one for you.

Are You Being Misgendered By A Crash Test Dummy?

It may have come to your notice that not all car drivers are men. For most of us, this isn’t much of a staggering revelation, especially if you are a woman. Or if you were ever driven places by your mother. Or taught your daughter to drive. Or asked your wife or girlfriend to share the driving with you on a long-haul trip interstate. Or if… well, you get the picture. However, it seems as if car manufacturers, especially those responsible for the passive safety features, haven’t quite cottoned onto this yet, as a whole.  You’d think that Bertha Benz had never taken her husband’s prototype horseless carriage out for a long drive to demonstrate to the world that this new invention was easy to use.

The road safety analysts who collect facts on these sorts of things found, when they separated out the data for men and the data for women, found out that women are 73% more likely to be injured in a vehicle crash than men and 17% more likely to die in one. This isn’t because they’re crashing at a higher rate, either. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US, men still crash more and are more likely to do silly things like not wear seatbelts, drive too fast and drive drunk. However, if they do get into identical crashes, a man is more likely to survive it than a woman.

One has to ask why, given that most car manufacturers pride themselves on how good their safety features are. After all, they do all those crash tests with dummies, don’t they? Surely these should make cars safer for both men and women?

Well, yes. Lots of passive safety features such as airbags have become standard on just about every new vehicle thanks to these tests. But there’s a wee problem with these tests, as pointed out by investigator and social commentator Caroline Criado-Perez in her book Invisible Women. Ms Criado-Perez dug around a bit and found out a few things about the standard crash test dummies used in most tests by most manufacturers. In these tests, they tend to use three main ones for the frontal crash tests: one 95th percentile male (in other words, a dummy representing a really big dude who’s bigger than 95% of other guys), a 50th percentile male (an average guy) and a 5th percentile female dummy (a teeny lady who’s shorter than 95% of the population). In other words, tests are carried out on twice as many male dummies as they are on female dummies. That’s a wee bit of a problem to begin with.

However, it gets worse. According to Ms Criado-Perez, during those frontal crash tests, the female dummy isn’t even tested in the driver’s seat – she goes into the front passenger seat. This makes you wonder what century these designers are living in. Surely, given that they’re putting all these electronic assistance gadgets, they know that this is the 21st century and that women drive cars, don’t they? The good news here is that in Australia, the ANCAP tests do put that 5th percentile female dummy in the driver’s seat during the frontal tests – good for them.

However, there’s one wee problem with that female dummy. OK, she’s smaller than the male ones and she’s got boobs, but when it comes to actual anatomy, that dummy doesn’t actually represent real female biology. What the designers did was to simply take the male dummy, scale it down and put boobs on it. The trouble is that nature doesn’t work like that. There are differences between male and female skeletons – that’s forensics 101 (yes, literally; it’s part of the basic undergraduate anatomy course). Take necks for example.  If a man and a woman have the same sized head, the woman will have thinner neck vertebrae and a thinner neck.  Now look down a bit to the other end of the spine, and look at the pelvis. The male pelvis is narrower and has a heap of different angles, which means that a guy’s legs are also straighter – and that’s just the start. The differences between male and female pelvises are as different as the soft bits found in and on the pelvis (yes, the bits you’re thinking of). And the list goes on: men have longer ribcages and denser long bones as well.

In short, using a smaller version of a male dummy doesn’t actually represent a female body. Women are being misgendered by crash test dummies, in effect.

Would you be surprised to learn that in one recent study on sex differences between injuries from car crashes, women were more likely to have injuries to their pelvises and spines – the places where female bodies are most different from male bodies? Those whiplash-protecting headrests do something, but they’re better at protecting male necks than female necks – because they’ve been tested on what are essentially male dummies.

However, this isn’t an excuse for men to hog the driver’s seat.  Volvo is one car manufacturer who has cottoned onto the fact that women have been driving since Bertha Benz took a road trip through the Schwartzwald, and they’re starting to work out how they can make cars safer for 100% of drivers.  What’s more, a more anthropomorphically correct female dummy has been invented, known as the THOR-5F.  The THOR-5F isn’t just a scaled-down male dummy but has been built to actually represent that dainty 5th percentile female, pelvis, neck and all. This dummy even has a whole heap of sensors in the abdomen and the dummy looks like she’s in the second trimester of pregnancy.  A crash test mummy, if you like. Here’s hoping that ANCAP and the other safety testing authorities will insist that this dummy or other dummies based on real women must be used in crash tests.

In the meantime, keep on driving safely and always wear your seatbelt (even if arranging it around your boobs is awkward).

New Cars and Software Updates

How would you react if you had to pay for the apps that appear on the touchscreen of your new car?  Various auto manufacturers are looking at new ways to charge owners money for features that were previously sold as an option for the car when you bought it new.  One idea that has shown up in their brainstorming sessions was to charge car owners subscription fees for features like Apple CarPlay and its phone-pairing connectivity – as BMW is already doing.  Of course, this has been a feature that has been included for free on many mainstream cars.

Perhaps not so surprising to many would be the results that Cox Automotive collected, which were collected from a survey that asked a relatively small group of a little over 200 people about their thoughts and attitudes towards having to pay over and over again for features that used to be included at the point of sale.  Around 75% of the survey respondents would refuse to pay for features on an ongoing basis.

When asked about having to pay for any safety features on an ongoing basis, the survey showed that around 80% would not want to pay for these safety items again and again.  However, if forced to, these same respondents would be prepared to pay up to $35 per month.  I’m not sure whether the people surveyed were by enlarge high-flyers or a decent cross-section of society that included your average wage earner.  This cost per month was the highest level that these respondents would be prepared to pay for them if they were forced to.

A full 92% of respondents said that the physical items like heated and cooled seats, massage functions, or a refrigerated drinks box should be purchased as a one-off-at-the-point-of-sale option, just like anyone does now when they buy a new car with extra options.

A new car these days is full of computerised technology, so any software updates or subscription fees for software enhancements, EV power upgrades, satellite or vehicle locator enhancements need to be paid for somewhere along the line.  The funny thing is that, even as with a standard Office update on a desktop, the real-life software updates rarely have any significant practical benefits in real-life usage for the user.  Sometimes a new desktop Office update can even complicate things with the user having to relearn the fifth new visual format and appearance update in two years – I know, I was probably exaggerating.

I guess I would be prepared to pay for a driving range enhancement or a better battery capacity after purchasing a new EV, though I guess this could be a bargaining carrot for keeping a customer longer and loyal to a brand, or even enticing them to buy a certain car in the first place.

Interestingly, around 50% of the survey respondents weren’t even aware that subscription fees for car features were a prerequisite.  Rising costs that grow quicker than someone’s usable income is never a welcome scenario, so these sorts of surveys and results will hopefully provide auto manufacturers with the necessary feedback from their customers, and on the customers’ tolerance for any new additional fees in general.

Reasonably Priced Hybrid Vehicles (MG to Z)

In-between stages can sometimes get tricky.  The next set of sit-ups before truly hitting your peak fitness regime.  That gap year before study, or the six months prior to the new job contract starting.  What about the EV world?  We’re not capable of running a full fleet of EV cars yet, but maybe there’s an in-between vehicle that ticks all the right boxes before we go fully electric.

The truth is that the new hybrid vehicles are the best cars for this moment in time.  They deliver the very best low fuel consumption figures and will also try to run pure electric as much of the time as is practical or possible.

Hybrids are great vehicles, usually well-priced, thus perfect for softening the blow to the wallet – there are some hideously expensive EVs available.  Most desirable new EVs have price tags that, for most of us, will be well beyond our budget.  So what hybrid vehicles are on the market for reasonable money?  How much will they set you back when you buy new?  And what sort of fuel consumption can you expect?  Let’s have a look and see (MG to Toyota)…

MG HS Plus EV SUV

Yes, a new and very fuel efficient Hybrid for less than $50k is possible, thanks to the snazzy MG HS Plus EV SUV.  Nice to drive, comfortable, and with roomy interiors, loaded with technology, and five-star safe, these are a great hybrid buy.  The MG HS Essence-spec plug-in hybrid joined the range in 2021 and uses a 119 kW/250 Nm 1.5-litre Turbo four driving the front wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.  It boasts a strong presence among class leaders that include the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail.  It comes with 5-star safety technology that includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian avoidance and satellite navigation as standard.  MG says it takes about 7 seconds for the 0-100 dash, while returning a fuel efficiency that can be as low as 1.7 litres/100 km or more commonly up to 5.7 litres/100 km.

MINI Countryman Cooper SE Classic SUV

The Countryman Cooper SE Classic is a cute three-cylinder plug-in hybrid with electrically-assisted AWD.  BMW indicates a combined cycle as low as 2.4 litres/100 km but may look more like 4.5 litres/100 km for most of the time.  Combining a 1.5-litre Turbo 3-cylinder ULP petrol (100 kW/220 Nm) and a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion plug-in battery, this combined system equates to an output of 165 kW of power and 385 Nm of torque.  The small MINI sees off the 0-100kmh sprint in 6.8 seconds and is a lot of fun to drive.  The MINI Countryman’s roomy interior is backed up by 450 litres of luggage space behind the back seats, growing to 1275 litres if the seats are folded down.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV ES

From around $51k you can get one of these new.  The 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV ES is a very stylish small SUV with very low running costs.  Aspire and Exceed models are also available.  Comfortable and loaded with tech and safety, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV makes a lot of sense.  Even the top of the range Exceed with all of the bells and whistles can be bought for under $60k.  Mitsubishi indicates as low as 1.9 litres/100 km is possible, though real world figure of 3.7–4.0 litres/ 100 km is still impressively low in the real world.  Boot space is around 350 litres, and 0-100 km/h takes about 10.5 seconds.

Peugeot 3008 GT Sport Plug-in Hybrid AWD SUV

For less than $90k you can have one of these very stylish hybrids.  Boasting a 1.6-litre Turbo ULP engine and electric power that combines to a maximum of 222 kW, this sporty SUV uses an 8-speed automatic.  Thanks to twin electric motors driven by a 13.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Peugeot 3008 PHEV enables zero-emissions driving for up to 60km.  Its 222 kW power output and a 6.5-second 0-100 km/h acceleration time makes this one of the fastest SUVs in its class.  It is also 4×4 capable, making it a highly desirable vehicle for undertaking light off-road terrain.  Gorgeous full-grain Nappa leather-appointed seats with grey stitching, nicely-integrated twin digital screens (a 10.0-inch central touch-screen with satellite navigation and a 12.3-inch driver display), real world fuel efficiency likely be around 5–5.5 litres/100 km (but much less than this is possible), and you have yourself quite a vehicle.  Peugeot reckons the 3008 PHEV can achieve a combined fuel consumption figure of 1.6 litres/100 km with CO2 emissions of 36.4g/km.  Boot space is 395 litres.

Peugeot 508 GT Plug-in Hybrid

From around $84k one of these extremely stylish cars can be yours.  Its petrol-electric hybrid powertrain allows the svelte sedan to drive up to 55 km (WLTP) in silence, by switching off the combustion engine and using only its electric motor.  It’s hard not to be impressed with the car’s looks and style.  Inside, the leather seats, the dashboard design, the sporty cockpit layout, and the sheer attention to detail is very impressive.  A 12.3-inch iCockpit digital driver’s display, a 10.0-inch central touch-screen, a 10-speaker sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, five-star safety, it’s all there!  0-100 km/h takes around 8.2 seconds, while the Plug-in Hybrid system uses a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine developing 133 kW at 6000 rpm and 300 Nm at 3000 rpm to get the job done.  The official combined-cycle fuel consumption figure is 1.8 litres/ 100 km, but to achieve that would require frequent charging – something that’s not always possible in the real world.  Expect around 5.0 to 6.5 litres/100 km combined.  Boot space is 487 litres.

Subaru Forester Hybrid

Subaru XV Hybrid

The fifth generation of Subaru’s mid-size, all-AWD Forester SUV was updated in late 2021 with a new look, plus refinements to steering and suspension and a revised instrument panel.  The smaller XV Hatch also uses similar tech.  Expect around 6-7 litres/100 km for the 2.0-litre boxer-based mild hybrid powerplants.  Off-road is no problems at all for the Forester or XV and safety is off the top shelf.  All Foresters and XV Hybrids get active cruise control, blind-spot monitors, lane-change assist, “active” LED headlights and rear cross traffic alert. The Forester offers truly generous passenger space and luggage capacity (422 litres expanding to 1768 litres with rear seats folded).  The XV has 340 litres behind the rear seats.  Both are nice to drive adventure seekers.

Toyota Hybrids

Almost every model on the Toyota showroom floor can be a hybrid.  There are so many that I’ll list them all here in picture form.

Toyota C-HR Hybrid SUV from $42k.

 

 

 

 

 

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan between $38-52k.

Toyota Corolla Hatch and Sedan between $32-40k.

 

Toyota Kluger SUV between $60-83k.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

 

 

Toyota Prius between $43-51k.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid

These are truly excellent hybrid vehicles, and, if you don’t know where to start, Toyota is a great place.  Reliability, practicality, some of the best hybrid economy figures (usually very achievable: 3.5 to 5.5 litres/100 km), and excellent 5-star safety are all reasons why Toyota Hybrids are so good.  They are also very competitively priced right across the board from the little Yaris Hatch to the larger Camry Sedan or Kluger SUV.  Get ready to be impressed.

Be an in-betweener and gain some of the Hybrid benefits.

Reasonably Priced Hybrid Vehicles (Kia-Merc)

In-between stages can sometimes get tricky.  The next set of sit-ups before truly hitting your peak fitness regime.  That gap year before study, or the six months prior to the new job contract starting.  What about the EV world?  We’re not capable of running a full fleet of EV cars yet, but maybe there’s an in-between vehicle that ticks all the right boxes before we go fully electric.

The truth is that the new hybrid vehicles are the best cars for this moment in time.  They deliver the very best low fuel consumption figures and will also try to run pure electric as much of the time as is practical or possible.

Hybrids are great vehicles, usually well-priced, thus perfect for softening the blow to the wallet – there are some hideously expensive EVs available.  Most desirable new EVs have price tags that, for most of us, will be well beyond our budget.  So what hybrid vehicles are on the market for reasonable money?  How much will they set you back when you buy new?  And what sort of fuel consumption can you expect?  Let’s have a look and see (Kia-Merc)…

 

Kia Niro Hybrid S

The Kia Niro comes in regular hybrid, plug-in PHEV hybrid, and also pure electric (EV) form. Hybrid variants of this small SUV use a 77 kW/147 Nm 1.6-litre ULP engine that is mated to a 44.5 kW electric motor.  The PHEV version can run in EV mode for around 58 km, while the pure EV model has a 150 kW/395 Nm motor and a 455 km WLTP (World harmonised Light vehicle Testing Procedure) range.  All variants are available in regular or Sport form – the Sport model adding more technology and luxury such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, climate control and part-leather seat trim, as well as extra safety in the form of blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert.  Drive away in one of these from around $45k.  Boot space is 382 litres for the regular hybrid, while the PHEV drops to 324 litres.

Kia Sorento HEV GT-Line and PHEV GT-Line

Drive away from in a HEV Sorento for around $73k or a PHEV Sorento for around $88k.  Being a spacious SUV, the Sorento is a very practical companion for the family.  The HEV model runs with a 1.6 litre Turbo engine and an electric motor that puts out a healthy combine output of 169kW.  The 6-speed auto is smooth and well-mapped.  Expect a combined fuel consumption of around 5.5 litres/100 km.  In PHEV form, the Sorento has 195 kW, Kia indicating a combined fuel consumption of 1.6 litres/100 km is possible, though it will likely be more than this in a real world commute.  The 7-seat Kia Sorento SUV won the 2021 car sales Best Family SUV award. Festooned with sensors, cameras and digital screens, it can even park itself without anyone inside.  Autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance are all standard. The roomy cabin is enhanced by a boot that has over 600 litres, and when all-seats are folded, a whopping 2000 litres is possible.

Lexus ES 300h

One of the most luxurious hybrid sedans you can buy – let alone hybrid vehicles on the market – for under $70k new for the Luxury version or $90k new for the Sports Luxury version, this stylish car can be yours.  Toyota indicate that a combined city/highway run can be as low as 4.8 litres/100 km.  A combined 160 kW of power and five-star safety, what more could you want?  Boot space is 454 litres, and the 0-100 km/h takes around 8.5 seconds.

Lexus UX 250h SUV

The company’s first EV, the UX 300e has a 150 kW/300 Nm FWD electric powertrain and a 54.3 kW/h battery pack, the Lexus UX 300e claims a 360 km range.  But it is the Lexus UX 250h SUV Hybrid with the 2.0-litre 131 kW ULP regular hybrid engine that we’re particularly interested in here, which is available in Luxury, Crafted Edition, Sports Luxury and F Sport guise.  The Luxury Lexus UX 250h version can be had for well under $60k, a very reasonably-priced luxury machine all things considered.  These are five-star safe, FWD, extremely reliable, and very comfortable to drive.  Toyota indicate around 4.5 litres/100 km for a combined highway/city cycle for hybrid versions.  Boot space is 438 litres.

Mercedes Benz A250e Sedan and Hatch

Immensely low running costs can be had for this plug-in hybrid.  If everything suits the PHEV commute, then Mercedes Benz indicates you could see as low as 1.6 litres/100 km on a combined cycle.  Luxurious, safe, and fun to drive, these can be had for under $80k.  A 1.3-litre Turbo ULP engine with a plug-in hybrid combo that produces 160 kW max through its smooth 8-speed automatic FWD system.  The 2022 A-Class A250e runs the 0-100 km/h dash in less than 7 seconds, providing well for passengers and their luggage, driving with the poise and comfort that are hallmarks of the brand.  Safety, quality, comfort, and premium equipment levels are all up to expected Mercedes Benz standards.  Boot space is 315 litres for the Sedan and 310 litres for the Hatch.

Be an in-betweener and gain some of the benefits.

Reasonably Priced Hybrid Vehicles (A-H)

In-between stages can sometimes get tricky.  The next set of sit-ups before truly hitting your peak fitness regime.  That gap year before study, or the six months prior to the new job contract starting.  What about the EV world?  We’re not capable of running a full fleet of EV cars yet, but maybe there’s an in-between vehicle that ticks all the right boxes before we go fully electric.

The truth is that the new hybrid vehicles are the best cars for this moment in time.  They deliver the very best low fuel consumption figures and will also try to run pure electric as much of the time as is practical or possible.

Hybrids are great vehicles, usually well-priced, thus perfect for softening the blow to the wallet – there are some hideously expensive EVs available.  Most desirable new EVs have price tags that, for most of us, will be well beyond our budget.  So what hybrid vehicles are on the market for reasonable money?  How much will they set you back when you buy new?  And what sort of fuel consumption can you expect?  Let’s have a look and see…

 

BMW 330e Sedan Hybrid Sedan

Drive away from around $85k in your new BMW 330e Hybrid sedan, where a claimed combined fuel consumption of around 5.6 litres/100 km combined with 215 kW provides plenty of spirited driving (0-100 km/h in around 6 seconds).  Comfort, safety and all the new technology is on-board this neat 3 Series Hybrid Sedan package.  375 litres of boot space is present.

Honda Accord VTi-LX Hybrid Sedan

Drive away in a new Honda Accord Hybrid for around $61k, and you get a wonderful 2.0-litre petrol and electronic combo that serves up 158 kW of power running through a 1-speed CVT FWD set-up.  This is a very comfortable car with plenty of space in the cabin, and you get all the latest technology and safety.  It is fun to drive, with the 0-100 km/h sprint taking around 8 seconds.  Honda indicates that you can expect around 5.0 litres/100 km for a combined fuel consumption figure.  473 litres of boot space is present.

Honda HR-V e:HEV L

Wanting a new small SUV with Hybrid technology?  Then Honda’s little HR-V is a beauty.  Drive away in a new Honda HR-V e from around $45k, and it will boast a smooth 1.5-litre petrol and electronic combo that serves up 96 kW of power running through a 1-speed CVT FWD set-up.  Honda suggests we can expect a combined fuel consumption of around 4.3 litres/100 km.  319 litres of boot space is present.

Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid Premium Fastback

Drive away from around $46k.  With its neat little Fastback design, the 1.6-litre ULP engine combines with a small electric motor to put out a sprightly 104 kW of power.  This Hybrid set-up runs a more conventional 6-speed automatic FWD, and it is a smooth, comfortable vehicle to drive.  Undercutting competitors such as the Toyota Prius and Renault Zoe, Hyundai’s IONIQ comes with plenty of premium features like autonomous emergency braking, an 8-year battery warranty and an attractive capped-price servicing deal.  The regular hybrid version is quoted at having a fuel consumption figure as low as 3.4 litres/100 km, while the plug-in version was quoted at an astonishing 1.1 litres/100 km.  Real world figures will be a bit more, I’m sure, but.  Boot space is 443 litres.

Be an in-betweener and gain some of the benefits.  Take a look at the next blog list of Hybrid vehicles available (Kia-Merc).

Solid-State Batteries for EVs

The flourish of new electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids on the auto markets hint towards the diminishing of fossil fuel use.  EV sales have a long, long way to go before outselling vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs), but the goals have been set by international emission standard agreements.  Certainly, doing away with EV range anxiety, the liquid lithium-ion batteries proneness to catching fire, having EVs with brief recharging times that are in line with current ICE refuelling times, and have pricing parity between a new EV and an equivalent new ICE vehicle would make a world of difference in the minds of people on the lookout for a new car.  Once these EV problems have been solved, perhaps consumers will genuinely buy into an all-EV future.

The good news for EV enthusiasts is that essentially every big automotive manufacturer in the world has unveiled its fleet’s electrification plans and zero-emission target dates. Some manufacturers have even gone further, declaring that gasoline and diesel engines would no longer be available in their model line-ups by 2050.  And, in order for these claims to become reality, some big landmark advancements in the EV future are being made right now, with huge money currently being pumped into various manufacturer’s kitties to research and create the perfect solid-state battery – especially designed for use in EVs.

One automotive manufacturer with a big sway in what goes down in the automotive world is Toyota, and they have pumped billions into creating a solid-state battery for use in their future hybrid vehicles and EVs.  A version of Toyota’s LQ Concept, which first debuted at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, is now using working solid-state batteries, and has been doing so since June 2020.  Toyota has been collecting all the performance data from the solid state batteries in the LQ for research, development, and better solid-state battery designs.  The LQ Concept car is unlikely to end up as a production vehicle, however the solid-state batteries inside the car, and their development, will be used as a blueprint in Toyota’s new hybrid vehicles and EVs soon to make an appearance on the market for buyers to purchase.

Toyota LQ Concept Solid-State

Toyota’s quick development of solid-state batteries for use in all their hybrid and electric vehicles by 2030 is a sign of the ramping up in EV production that is happening not only at Toyota but in all other big global automotive brands who are boosting investments in the anticipation of greater EV and hybrid vehicle consumerism.

What battery type does Tesla use?  Currently, Tesla has been using heavy liquid lithium-ion battery technology.  However solid-state batteries are really the next step in clever battery technology, especially for EVs.  Why?  Solid-state batteries offer much better energy density, which leads to smaller, lighter batteries for cars but with a vastly improved range before recharging is necessary.  Solid-state batteries will also be able to recharge from empty (flat) to 80 % in just 15 min – not anywhere between 2 to 10 hours that is currently the norm, if you can find a spare fast charger to park up at.

The good news for solid-state batteries doesn’t stop here either, because solid-state batteries are inherently safer due to the lack of flammable liquid electrolytes that you’ll find in liquid lithium-ion batteries.  You may have heard of various electronic devices bursting into flame?  Well, liquid lithium-ion batteries bursting into flame and causing fires in various EVs over the last couple of decades has been an issue.  This in itself has deterred many people away from buying into EVs altogether.

So, big dollars are being spent in the design of solid electrolyte batteries (solid-state batteries) that are stable, chemically inert, and still a good conductor of ions between the electrodes.  In essence solid-state batteries will be doing away with the slopping, flammable liquid lithium-ion electrolyte battery designs.

By default, solid-state batteries are more stable, but they are also more compact in design, and therefore lighter.  Solid state batteries thus pack more energy output into the same amount of storage space that heavier and lower-output liquid lithium-ion batteries require.  Because solid-state batteries are lighter, they have more energy density, offer more range, and deliver a better power to weight ratio, and they also recharge faster.

Solid-state batteries have been used in small electronic devices like pacemakers (an amazing bit of life-changing tech) as well as radio frequency identification (RFID), and wearable devices for years.  Having fewer bits and pieces involved in the solid-state battery design means fewer things are present to go wrong.  In addition to their improved safety, size, and stability, solid-state batteries in EVs would also offer faster charging times, more travel range, and even greater energy density.

Solid electrolytes in solid-state batteries can even be composed from a number of everyday materials – even ceramics and glass.  The challenge to making solid-state batteries viable, however, is developing the technology that is commonly used in small devices and applying it to large-scale applications like in an EV.  Currently, solid state batteries are expensive to fabricate because they have been prone to cracking, which has been a result of the brittleness of the electrolytes inside the battery expanding and contracting during continual use.  The new research and development is setting out to change this.

Toyota is cracking the problem and will be using their solid-state batteries in their new range of hybrid vehicles first, which is an ideal testing ground for their fully-kitted EVs soon.  Volkswagen is also promising that they will have solid-state batteries in use and in their cars by 2024.  Like Toyota and Volkswagen, BMW anticipates that solid-state batteries could make it into production cars by 2025.  Tech giants Samsung and Panasonic are working away at creating a range of solid state batteries that automakers will be able to use.  Toyota has partnered with Panasonic to pave the way to an EV future.