As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Buy A New Car

HiAce Goes Out Of The Box.

Toyota’s venerable HiAce light commercial van has gone from a smooth, ovoid, mid sized van to a boxy and bigger version. Although not in the same capacity range as a Sprinter from Mercedes-Benz of a Trafic from Renault, its more compact size has allowed thousands of people to become a courier delivery driver, a taxi, or a people mover.Due for a mid 2019 release, the latest version has had one very noticeable design change. Gone is the long standing blunt nose, finally replaced with a semi-bonneted design. This has the end effect of engineers providing a stiffer chassis that offers an improvement in straight line performance and stability. Manoeuvrability from a range of more pliant suspensions is an extra bonus with new MacPherson struts being part of the uprated suspension system. The rear has newly designed leaf springs, with an increase of length of 200 mm adding an extra 30 mm of travel for a more compliant ride.Seating will range from a two seater version on a long wheelbase (LWB) and super long wheel base (SLWB), a five seater LWB van, and a super long wheelbase (SLWB) 12 seater commuter van.

Motorvation has changed as well. There will be two new engines – a 2.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel or a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated petrol poweplant, both available with six-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Confirmation of power, torque, and consumption will be made available closer to the release date.A hallmark of the HiAce has been its cargo carrying ability and has been maintained at a maximum of 6.2 cubic metres for the lLWB wheel base and 9.3 cubic metres for the SLWB thanks to the redesign that offers clever packaging which increases internal width by 215mm and height by 5mm without altering overall exterior width. The SLWB two-seat van is capable of accommodating Australian standard pallets (1165mm x 1165mm) through its wider sliding side doors. Inside will be a range of mounting points to help secure cargo.

Sean Hanley, Toyota Australia’s vice president of sales & marketing, says: “Importantly, we anticipate even better whole-of-life costs with excellent reliability and resale value along with minimal downtime and affordable maintenance. The semi-bonnet design makes it significantly easier and quicker to replace parts such as the oil and air filters, battery, and coolant. In addition to being highly capable right off the showroom floor, all-new HiAce has been designed to offer immense flexibility through conversions and customisation to meet varied business and personal needs.”

The expected safety rating is five stars, thanks again to the redesigned chassis, and with up to nine airbags being fitted depending on version. Pre-collision warning with cyclist and pedestrian detection, autonomous emergency braking, and reversing camera are complemented by a digital rear view camera that can be fitted as an option.

Extra design features make the new HiAce just that little bit more human friendly too. The doors have a lower edge and sit over a wider step for easier access. The window glass is larger for better vision and a lower beltline means better side vision.Pricing for the 2019 Toyota HiAce is yet to be confirmed.

Fiat Goes Rare With 500C Spiaggina ’58 Edition.

Rare indeed will be the Fiat 500C Spiaggina ’58 Edition, as just 30 units will be be released. Priced from $25,990 (manufacturers list price) the car pays tribute to the 500 Jolly Spiaggina, the first special series of the Fiat 500 which was on sale in the late 1950s through to the mid 1960s. It was the embodiment of ” La Dolce Vita”, with its quirky styling, 22 horsepower engine, and doorless body.The 2019 version will feature both manual and auto transmissions, and will come with $3000 worth of extras at no cost. Outside will be the brilliant Volare Blue body colour, 16 inch white painted wheels in a classic and vintage look, and a white “beauty line”.Splashes of chrome add extra “bling” on the bonnet, mirror covers, and inserts in the bumpers. Bespoke Spiaggina branding is part of the look, with a rear quarter badge, plus “500” logos shown inside the compact yet comfortable cabin. Extra airiness comes courtesy of the beige fabric folding roof.The design itself is based on a concept car which featured no roof, a roll bar, and no rear seat.Power for the 2019 version is rated as 51kW from Fiat’s peppy 1.2L engine. The manual is a five speed, with the auto also a five speed. That option will be priced at $27, 490 (manufacturer’s list price). A seven inch Uconnect touchscreen will be standard, as will Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, climate control, and rear parking sensors.

Fiat Australia has the car on sale as of February 12, 2019. Contact them here.

2019 Jeep Wrangler Hits The Dirt!

The 2019 Jeep Wrangler range is on its way to Australia, with a current expected date of early April being when showrooms will have them on the floor. Starting price is set as $48,950 with on road costs to be added.The range starts with the Jeep Wrangler Sport S, followed by the Overland, and Rubicon. The Sport S and Overland will have a choice of two or four doors, and Rubicon a choice of two engines in four door configuration only.4×4 capability will be standard on all models, with the Rock-Trac 4×4 System fitted to the Rubicon, and Selec-Trac 4×4 System available on all other models. Power will come from Jeep’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 Petrol Engine which will be bolted to the new TorqueFlite 8 cogger automatic transmission. Stop-Start (ESS) technology is standard also. A diesel will be available for the Wrangler Rubicon, with the option to specify a 2.2L MultiJet II Turbo Diesel engine. It’ll pump 146kW of power and 347Nm of torque.

Safety features are extensive: Auto Emergency Braking (AEB) kicks off the list, with Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Blind-Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection complementing ParkView Rear Backup Camera with Dynamic Grid Lines. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM) add to the well specified package.Inside the Jeep Wrangler has a 7.0” Uconnect touch screen display housing the fourth-generation Uconnect system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will be available as standard in the Sport S, and an 8.4-inch display standard on all other variants.

Outside, LED headlamps and tail lamps also feature as standard on the Overland and Rubicon. The grille and windscreen have been given a slight tilt, the bonnet has venting, and the C-pillar has been reprofiled. Wind noise has been reduced and a whopping 13% increase in fuel efficiency has been provided as a result.Sport S will roll on 17 inch wheels, and passengers will enjoy an eight speaker sound system. Towing capacity varies between the two and foor door chassis for all models, with 1,497kg and 2,495kg capabilities. The Overland goes to 18 inch wheels and will feature bespoke interior trim. The hard top roof is removable and features Jeep’s “Freedom Panels”. Alpine provide the sounds via a 9 speaker audio system and 8.4 inch touchscreen. Rubicon goes further with a Front Stabiliser Bar Disconnect system for when down and dirty driving is the go, and will roll on 17 inch alloys with dedicated off-road spec rubber from BF Goodrich. The steel front bar is designed to allow a winch to be fitted without issue. To complement all of the range, over 130 MOPAR accessories can be optioned.Guillaume Drelon, Head of Jeep Brand at FCA Australia, said: “The all-new Wrangler may have evolved, but its core DNA remains unchanged, making this the most capable production SUV on the planet. The Jeep Wrangler sets a precedence by offering renewed levels of style, advanced technology and safety features while remaining true to its rich heritage.”

Contact your local Jeep dealer to organise a test drive.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Renault Megane RS 280 Cup Chassis

This Car Review Is About:
A vehicle with good looks, a fluid drivetrain, and a manual gearbox, a real rarity in cars nowadays. The 2019 Renault Megane RS 280 is a potent weapon, and with some extras becomes the Cup Chassis spec. It’s classified as a small car yet should be listed in the sports car category. And it’s well priced too, at $44,990 plus on roads and the Cup Chassis package of $1490. The dual clutch transmission doesn’t offer the Cup Chassis and is priced from $47,490 plus on roads.Under The Bonnet Is:
A free-spinning 1.8L petrol engine complete with a silent turbo. Silent, as in there is no waste-gate noise. What there is aurally is a muted thrum from the twin pipes located centrally at the rear. Peak power is 205kW or, 280 horsepower, hence the name. Peak torque of 390Nm is available from 2400rpm and is available through to 4800 rpm. An easy 80% of that peak is available from 1500rpm. Consumption of 95RON, the minimum RON requirement, is rated as 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle. Around town it’s 9.5L/100km and a wonderful 6.2L/100km on the highway. These figures are for the slick shifting, short throw, manual transmission.On The Inside Is:
Reasonable leg space for most people with a 2669mm wheelbase, but the limited shoulder room of 1418mm can result in the occasional arm bump. There’s black cloth covered, manually operated, seats front and rear, with the RS logo boldly sewn into the front seat head rests. Leather and alcantara coverings are an $1100 option. All windows are one touch up or down, and boot space is decent for the size of the car at 434L. There’s faux carbon fibre trim on the doors and fairly average looking plastics on the upper and centre dash. To add a splash of sports and colour, the pedals are aluminuim plates. There is a pair of USB ports, an SD slot, and a 12V socket for the front seats, a solitary 12V in the rear.There is plenty to like on a tech level, and certainly for anyone that is technically minded. The experience starts with having the credit card sized key fob on the body. Walk up to the car and the wing mirrors fold out. A slight touch of the door handle unlocks the car, and then there’s the pounding heartbeat and graphics to welcome the driver inside.Hands free park assist is on board, as is blind spot monitoring, and adaptive cruise control. AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking is standard as well. The car’s electronics system holds some true delights that are accessible via the vertically aligned 8.7 inch touchscreen. Apart from the standard look of audio and navigation, swiping left or right brings up extra information. There are graphs that show the travel of torque, and power, with a line showing the actual rev point relative to the production of both. There are readings for turbo pressure, throttle position, torque, and the angle of the rear steering. Yep, the Megane RS 280 has adjustable rear steering, which will pivot against or in unison with the front wheels at up to six degrees depending on velocity. At speeds up to 60 kmh it’s 2.7 degrees against and above that will parallel the front wheels.There are five drive modes, accessed via the RS button on the centre dash. This brings up Neutral, Comfort, Race, Sport, and Personal. Selecting these imbues the RS with different personalities, such as changing the exhaust note, the ride quality, and the interior lighting. Naturally the LCD screen for the driver changes as well.But for all of its techno nous, the audio system is a weak link, a very weak link. The speakers themselves which includes a nifty bass tube, are from Bose and they’re brilliant but are paired with a digital tuner that is simply the worst for sensitivity AWT has encountered. In areas where signal strength is known to be strong, the tuner would flip between on and off like a faulty light switch, making listening to DAB a more than frustrating experience. It makes the $500 ask for the system somewhat questionable until the sensitivity issue can be remedied.The Outside Has:
A delightfully curvy shape. In truth, finding a hard line is near impossible. From the front, from the side, from the rear, the Megane’s body style is pert, rounded, and puts a field of circles to shame. The rear especially can be singled out for a strong resemblance to a certain soldier’s helmet from a famous sci-fi film franchise. Up front there’s Pure Vision LED lighting. That’s in both the triple set driving lights and the headlights that sit above and beside an F1 inspired blade. The iridescent amber indicators are set vertically and could illuminate the moon’s surface. Black painted “Interlagos” alloys look fantastic against the Orange Tonic paint ($800 option) as found on the test vehicle, and have super grippy 245/35 rubber from Michelin. Brembo provide the superb stoppers, and wheel arch vents bookend the thin black plastic strips that contrast and add a little extra aero.Exhaust noise, as muted as it is, emanates from a pair of pipes that are centrally located inside an impressive looking rear diffuser, and have a decent measure of heat shielding. The manually operated tail gate opens up to provide access to no spare tyre at all. There is a compressor, some goop, and that’s it. They sit in a niche alongside the bass tube that adds some seriously enjoyable bottom end to the audio system.On The Road It’s:
A suitably impressive piece of engineering. The powerplant is tractable to a fault, with performance across the rev range that combines with the genuinely excellent manual gear selector and clutch. Out test period coincided with a drive to Dubbo and perhaps an out of the comfort zone test for a vehicle more suited to the suburbs and track days.

The Cup Chassis pack adds the aforementioned wheels and brakes, plus a Torsen front diff, and revised suspension. Inside the dampers are extra dampers, effectively an absorber for the absorber. And along with the noticeable change in ride quality when Sport or Race are selected, the rough tarmac heading west made for an interesting test track.

To utilise the Megane RS 280 properly is to understand what synergy means. From a standing start and banging the gears upwards to sixth, or to press down on the go pedal at highway speeds and see the old ton appear (allegedly) in a few breaths is to feel what a truly well sorted engine package can deliver. Crack on, and the metric ton appears in 5.8 seconds. It all happens because everything works so well together. The steering is instinctive, as is the ride and handling. And using the drive modes makes a real difference in an unexpected way.Unusually but not unexpectedly, there is torque steer if booting hard from a standing start. However that Torsen front diff quickly dials that out, keeping the sweet looking front end on the straight and narrow. The clutch and gear selector are perfectly paired to complement the engine’s free revving nature. The clutch is smooth, well pressured, and the actual gear pick up point is ideally placed towards the top of the pedal’s travel. Selecting the six forward gears is via a beautifully weighted and sprung lever, with a lift up lock-out to engage reverse.

Normal driving conditions have the Megane RS 280 quietly doing its thing. Light the candle, engage Sport or Race, and the rough, pockmarked, tarmac past Bathurst changes from a minor annoyance in Neutral to a flatter, more enjoyable ride quality. Think of corrugations spaced apart enough for the wheels to rise and fall over them, then suddenly close up to the point that the car feels as if it’s riding over the peaks alone. Throttle response is sharper as well, and is perhaps more noticeable from a standing start.

With the final drive seeing peak torque at highway rated velocities, it also means that a simple flex of the right ankle has the Megane breathe in and hustle on with alacrity. The already communicative steering gains an extra level of vocabulary when changed to Sport and Race. There’s a weightier feel in the turns, imbuing the driver with a sense of real connectivity to the front end. Combined with the 4Control rear steering adjustment, corners become flatter and straighter.

One extra nifty piece of tech came from the GPS and satnav system. Between the towns of Wellington and Orange is a set of average speed speed cameras, and the GPS flashes up on the screen to advise what the average speed of the car is. Some judicious driving and watching the indicated average speed change, and that’s a good thing.

The Warranty Is:
Three years for any sports oriented model down from the standard five. Service the Megane RS 280 Cup Chassis at a Renault dealership and there’s up to four years of roadside assist plus up to three years capped priced servicing.

At The End Of The Drive.
Renault has competition on both sides of the price point. But having a six speed manual nowadays makes the Megane RS 280 a standout for those that like to be engaged and involved in the driving experience. The Orange Tonic paint is an eyecatcher, and unfortunately attracts tryhards like pollen to a bee.As a driving experience, it’s not unlike slipping into a tailor made suit and shoes, as everything just feels….right. But the lack of aural caressing, and the lousy DAB tuner, as part of the overall experience, dull the sparkle. But not enough to get out of the 2019 Renault Megane RS 280 Cup Chassis without a grin of pure pleasure.

A good start in finding out more is to click here.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Lexus GS F 10 Anniversary

This Car Review Is About:
An absolute pearler of a car. The 2019 Lexus GS F is a pocket rocket and in 10th anniversary guise looks the part even more. Clad in one colour only, a matte-satin finish grey, and packing a set of blue painted brake callipers outside, backed by patches of blue suede inside, The GS F 10th Anniversary Edition has plenty of brawn to back up the looks. Price for the sleek four door starts at $155,940 plus on roads. GS stands for Grand Sedan or Grand Sport.Under The Bonnet Is:
Some serious numbers. 32 valves, four camshafts, 7100 rpm for the peak power of 351kW, and 530Nm between 4800rpm and 5600rpm. This sits inside a front track of 1555mm, with the rear almost the same at 1560mm. The overall length is hidden by the styling, with 4915mm looking less than the numbers suggest, with the wheelbase of 2850mm leaving some decent overhang.Fuel capacity is about average at 66L, with a rated combined fuel consumption figure of 11.3L for every one hundred kilometres driven. For a kerb weight of around 1865 kilograms, that’s a set of figures than can be lived with. Our real world testing in an urban environment saw figures closer to 10.0L/100km. And before you ask, no, there are no official figures for towing…

However, for a driver, and that’s exactly where this car is aimed, a DRIVER, the allure of those numbers, from a free spinning V8, with an exhaust note to die for, plus a simply stunning eight speed auto with two sports modes, means the wallet could take a thumping. Not just from the distinct possibility of a set of blue lights in the rear vision mirror, but in visiting the bowser.

On The Inside Is:
A mix of “standard” GS trim and a 10th Anniversary specific splash of blue. It contrasts vibrantly and perhaps not entirely harmoniously with the black. There’s blue suede on the upper dash and enough of it to make Elvis envious. There are blue hues on the powered, vented and heated, front seats with a white strip at the 12 o-clock, matching a similar strip in the driver’s pew. The rear seats and tiller also get swathes of blue. The engine bay doesn’t miss out, with the intake runners also copping the blues. The front seats have vents at the top, allowing a driver to fit proper race harnesses should track days be the choice.The dash is, finally, a normal looking design, not the multiple “mountain fold” look that Lexus has favoured. As a result there looks like more space, a clearer ergonomic layout, and a balanced look with the dials and analogue clock. The upper dash is dominated by the non-touch info screen, and controller aside, the depth of colour and clarity make it an excellent unit. That’s the same description that can be applied to the HUD, or Head Up Display. When properly positioned it becomes subliminally useful, there and knowing about it without consciously thinking of it.The steering wheel has the traditional Lexus layout for buttons to access info on the mostly full colour LCD screen and again the ergonomics is spot on. Said screen changes look and colour depending on which driving mode you select, however there’s a slight oddity. Semi-tucked away to the bottom right is the speedo. It’s an analogue dial, not digital. At the bottom left is a LCD display that shows lap times, torque split, and G-Force readings. As usual there is apps aplenty for the front seats, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Audio is courtesy of Mark Levinson and it’s beautiful to listen to. The DAB tuner is better than some, but still suffers from the same drop-out points. When tuned in, the system provides plenty of low end punch without distortion, and staging is quite impressive.On The Road It’s:
Every rude word kind of fun.

The GS F is an absolute delight to drive. It is a mechanical metaphor for strapping on your favourite gloves or boots, and knowing that a mere thought will yield a result. Throttle response is instant, a change of forward motion is instant, and at any speed. The brakes are divine too. Brush the pedal with the lightest caress and there’s feedback straight away. That goes for the steering. It’s brain quick in how it responds with even the barest touch seeing the nose track left or right. Uprated dampers add extra stiffness and improve the already excellent handling.

For lovers of sound there’s little better than the beautiful noise from front and rear of the GS F. On a push of the starter, there’s a momentary whirr before a basso profundo grumble from the four rear exhaust tips. Slot the gear selector into drive and the rumble drops in tone. Gently squeeze the accelerator and the GS F moves away with the docility of a sleepy kitten. Belt the living daylights out of the same pedal and you unleash a sleep deprived, very hungry, and very angry big cat.

The exhaust note will vary from a gentle burble to a vicious, snarling, ear ripping roar.The superbly sorted eight speed is a gem and helps with the exhaust note. Run up through the rev range and there’s a change in snarl as the ratios go up the ladder. Changes are invisible, and the eight ratios shake hands with the engine’s revs across the numbers. Manual shifting is on offer via the steering column mounted paddle shift, but they’re effectively pointless, such is the crispness of the transmission naturally. Flip the centre console mounted mode selector to Sports or Sports + and the response is incrementally even more rapid. Sports was the best compromise with defineably better off the line, and rolling gear, acceleration, with down-changes on Sports+ too long for true usability in a normal urban drive.

The centre console houses a button to adjust the torque at the driven end. Torque Vectoring Differential is the fancy name for it. It gives Standard, Slalom, and Track, with the second two best used in a race track driving day environment. And with the 50/50 weight distribution, land changes are instant.Naturally there is plenty of safety equipment. Packaged under the name of Lexus Safety System+, it incorporates rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitor among its suite of technologies.

The Outside Is:
Pretty damned good to look at. That aforementioned grey coats the slinky and sinuous curves of the GS sedan perfectly. There is a carbon-fibre rear lip spoiler sitting atop a 520L boot, some subtle plastic add-ons for extra aero streamlining. The pernicious grip levels of the GS F comes from the Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber at 275/35/19 that wrap black painted alloys, slotted discs, and those blue painted callipers.The “spindle grille” seems restrained on the GS F 10th Anniversary, blending nicely with the dark grey matte paint. It splits LED gead- and running-lights, and huge air intakes big enough to swallow a small car. A restrained use of chrome adds some visual contrasts.The Warranty Is:
Four years or 100,000 kilometres, with the additional benefit of Lexus Drive Care. That covers items such as a up to $150 one way taxi fares, a courier service for small parcels, even personal and clothing costs up to $250. Contact Lexus for servicing costs, though.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary is an absolute weapon. It’s tractable enough to be gently driven to the proverbial corner shop, and brutal enough to pick a fight with a great white shark, armed with a .50 cal, and win.

And why a 10th anniversary edition? Simple. Lexus has ten years of the F Sport range under its belt, and this is one excellent way to celebrate.

Info on the 2019 Lexus GS F is here.

 

Wheels Car Of The Year Winner Is…..

2019 Volvo XC40 R-Design Launch Edition.

Honda Goes Seven Up For CR-V

It’s a segment that continues to grow and is becoming hotly contested. Car makers aren’t satisfied with just five seats any more, and the seven seater SUV is taking the people mover segment head on. Honda has joined the fray and now has a seven seater. It’s a somewhat clumsy name but the 2019 Honda CR-V VTi-E7 is reasonably priced at $34, 490 plus on roads. There is a more upmarket version, called CR-V VTi-L7. That empties the bank balance to the tune of $38, 990.Motorvation is from a 1.5L turbocharged petrol fed powerplant. Peak power is 140kW, and peak torque is 240Nm, on tap from 2000rpm through to 5000rpm. That’s a crucial figure considering both the transmission is a CVT driving the front wheels only, and lugging seven people requires a hefty torque figure. Fuel economy is quoted as 7.3L/100km for the combined cycle, and 9.2L/100km for the urban cycle, its most likely home on road. However, there is an extensive features list to sweeten the appeal.There is: leather appointed seating, 2nd and 3rd row aircon outlets, and dual zone climate control to suit. Rear seat passengers get dual USB ports, and audio & apps have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The driver has an eight way powered seat and gets to check out the outside via a three mode reversing camera on a seven inch display screen. The CR-V seven seater rolls on 18 inch alloys and has, thankfully, a full sized alloy spare. Just in case, Honda have opted for a tyre pressure monitoring system.Honda has an extensive range of vehicles, including the re-release of the legendary NSX, and all can be found here.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Lexus LX 570s

This Car Review Is About:
The 2019 model year Lexus LX 570s. The LX (Luxury Crossover) has either a diesel V8 or, in this test car, a 5.7L V8 that drinks petrol. Drinks being the operative word. The price is just over $168,000 plus on roads.Under The Bonnet Is:
A thumping 5.7L V8 with 270kW and 530Nm, with these requiring 5600rpm and 3200rpm. In anything smaller those numbers would suggest something pretty hot. However, with the LX 570s weighing in at close to 3000kg (Gross Vehicle Mass is 3350 kilograms, by the way), it means leisurely progress. It’s not sluggish, but it’s not quick. Consumption is quoted by Lexus as being 14.4L per 100 kilometres, with our test run seeing a final figure of 14.8L/100km. That’s reasonable as most of the time was in suburbia. Mind you, that’s why there are a pair of tanks fitted, at 93Lin the main and 45L for the reserve. Towing is rated at 3500kg (braked) but with the engine’s best performance at 3500rpm and over, fuel consumption would skyrocket in any case.The transmission is an eight speed auto, fitted with drive modes and a crawler mode for any off-roading. Being based on one of the world’s best four wheel drive vehicles isn’t a bad thing, but there’s a hiccup outside. We’ll cover that separately. The auto is a pearler, and was very rarely found wanting in regards to slickness and ability. It was sometimes confused as to what to do, and typically that was stopping and getting underway quickly.

On The Inside Is:
Useable amounts of space, as one can imagine inside a big machine. That’s the start. There there is a single sunroof, 11.6 inch screens on the back of the driver and passenger seats for the mid row passengers, and they have a remote control that’s found in a centre fold out that also holds the rear section aircon controls. Input via HDMI is available and that’s located at the bottom of the centre console facing the middle row passengers. Wireless headphones are included. No USB ports, a strange and oddly disquieting oversight. But, in compensation almost, the middle row seats are heated and cooled too.The rear ‘gate is a split fold affair, with the top half powered and can be switched off for manual operation. This allows access to the third row seats that are powered. In normal position they’re folded up against the sides and buttons for lowering or raising are easily accessed.The front row is a pair of powered seats, heated and vented, and as comfortable as they come. It’s almost a gentleman’s club feel, as the seats are supple, supportive, and the dash’s look is classy and up-market. The LX 570s has the mouse control for the screen and again it’s frustratingly close to being good enough. Far too often that extra one percent of pressure required had the on-screen marker go one notch too far. Other than that, the interface is typical Lexus in that it’s easy to read and follow, especially with the sub-menu system. the sound system is from Mark Levinson, with a digital tuner sounding superb. The system is well balanced and provides a clarity equal to home theatre systems.The driver has a non digital dash screen, at odds with the rest of the tech the LX 570s has. Analogue dials bracket the traditional digital screen. That’s accessed via the standard steering wheel mounted tabs and buttons. As always, that part is easy to use.A nice touch is the large centre console mounted cool box. Fed by the aircon’s cooling section, it’s big enough to hold a six pack of cans and works tremendously well in cooling items to a cold temperature. An extra touch is the wireless charging pad that is somewhat inconveniently located in a niche at the bottom of the centre stack. Although it’s big enough to hold a ‘phone with a six inch screen size it’s not quite ergonomically on song.Storage for bottles and cups is appropriate for the passenger count, with all doors and centre consoles front and rear able to provide a spot. And should passengers in the middle row feel as if they’re too close or too far away from the front seats, they too are electrically adjustable. Nor is it light on for safety. Dual front kneebags, for example, plus the front/side/curtain bags. Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Keep Assist, Autonomous Emergency Braking with flashing tail lights are all here. Auto LED headlights, LED tail lights (they look great at night, too), and Rear Cross Traffic Alert add to the overall package nicely. Two ISOFIX mounts are there for the middle row.The Outside Has:
Lexus’ distinctive “spindle” grille up front. It’s….eye catching enough on the smaller cars, but in a redesigned pattern in gloss black on a Land Cruiser sized vehicle it’s enough to frighten small children and challenge a blue whale for sifting plankton. The LX 570s gets some additional plastics up front and rear, too, and as good an off-roader it could be, they’re positioned just where a rock or tree stump would rip them off. Even a water crossing has the potential to do some decent cosmetic damage. That goes for the side skirts as well. But one suspects that the main base for this would be in suburbia anyways. However, should a person in a rural area have one, there is no doubt that it would be more than able to cope as long as there is a reasonably clear path.

It’s boxy when seen from the front or rear directly. Width is 1980mm, and height at 1865mm means it’s almost a 1:1 ratio in profile. Rolling stock is huge. Black painted alloys are 21 inches in diameter, and rubber is from Dunlop, at 275/55. That’s plenty of rubber for a footprint, and it also means the front end would “tramline”, following road imperfections momentarily.On The Road It’s:
Clear that it has a lot of mass. Punch it off the line and there’s a muted but distinct V8 rumble from each end. It slurs up through the gears just fine and the changes are largely seamless. Downhill runs have the ‘box holding gears nicely. Due to its mass the LX 570s is best driven with a judicious hand; even with the foot buried it’s not rapid from a standing start, and a more normal approach to moving forward yields better results. Rolling acceleration is adequate but, again, hampered by the mass of the LX 570s. Lexus quotes a kerb weight of 2510kg as a minimum, you see.

Handling is predictable and easily controlled. The steering is superbly weighted for the size of the machine and the wheels & tyres. It’s almost light enough for two fingered driving; on the wheel, not at cars outside. But the weight of the steering means both hands are better employed as that way the feedback is better communicated.

Sitting on height adjustable airbags with double wishbone suspension, the LX 570s does move about on the tops of the setup but never to a point that has the driver feeling out of sorts. Lexus have fitted higher performance dampers and the result is obvious to a seat of the pants driver. Initial compression on the damnable speed restrictors in shopping centres is brilliant, with virtually no wayward vertical movement in the cabin. In normal freeway driving it’s as composed as you’d want but that niggle at the back of the brain, knowing that it’s over two and a half tonnes, keeps you from thinking any sporty thoughts. And the brakes? They could do with some more initial feel. And when they do bite, they bite hard, pitching the five metre long machine forward on its somewhat shortish 2850mm wheelbase.The Warranty Is:
Four years or 100,000 kilometres, with the additional benefit of Lexus Drive Care. That covers items such as a up to $150 one way taxi fares, a courier service for small parcels, even personal and clothing costs up to $250. Contact Lexus for servicing costs, though.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Lexus LX 570s is a lot of car, with a lot of money for a buyer to invest in it. It’s comfortable to be in, reasonably easy to drive, has plenty of fruit but, for the money, a better drive package can be had elsewhere. A measure of how could be the Mercedes-Benz GLS 500. At the time of writing its drive-away price was just over $177, 600. Audi’s forthcoming Q8 with a turbocharged 3.0L V6 is looking at under $130K plus on roads. True, that’s a five seater but you get the idea.

And with the inexorable shift towards more fuel efficient powertrains, the consumption figures in this vehicle speak against it too. Plus, although undoubtedly a very good off-roader, the likelihood of it seeing such is akin to Elvis recording a new album with John Lennon.

More information can be found here.

Return Of The Icon: Suzuki Jimny Is Back!

Suzuki Australia has released details of the hotly anticipated 2019 Suzuki Jimny. Packed with proper off-road cred, historic styling cues, and some good looking new cues, the fourth gen Jimny goes on sale in the final days of January.  Pricing is $23, 990 and $25, 990, with both the manual and auto on a drive-away price. Unveiled to members of the Australian motoring press at the Melbourne 4×4 training grounds, near Werribee, west of Melbourne, the Jimny was put through its paces alongside its more soft road oriented sibling, the Vitara. That car has also been given a freshen up.

Jimny will come with a five speed manual or (disappointingly, just a four speed) auto, but, pleasantly, comes with a low range transfer case. This was put to the test across a variety of surfaces, slopes, (which included a thirty degree incline), and river fording.

Power is courtesy of a single engine choice. A seemingly small 1.5L petrol engine, (there’s no diesel) proved more than adequate in motivating the Jimny through these test sections. Peak power of 75kW and peak torque of 130Nm propelled the 1435kg (GVM) machine without issue.

Driven initially on dried and compact mud, the Jimny immediately impressed with its neutral handling and ready willingness to absorb the variance in the dirt. Given a short run-up to the concrete ramp, with first gear and low range four wheel drive selected, around 3000 revs were dialed up before the ascent of the ten metre plus incline. Straight away a downhill run was proffered, and Hill Descent Control showed its mettle.A gentle nudge over the edge, the leap of faith by keeping the foot off the brake to let the Jimmy do its thing, and seconds later back to the horizontal. Jimny is helped in its dexterity thanks to a departure angle of a staggering 49 degrees, with an almost equally short overhang providing a nearly as staggering 37 up front. Ramp or breakover angle is also impressive at 28 degrees and this also was tested without fuss.

Driven through some river crossings, the 210mm wading depth and 195/80/15 rubber gave ample traction for the Jimny, with the the comparatively lightweight machine feeling planted and stable.

Jimny rides on a ladder chassis that’s had an extra “x-member” and two cross members fitted for superb lateral and linear strength. Coupled with rigid axles front and rear, coil springs, and eight rubber body mounts, overall car control and feedback is superb inside the 2250mm wheelbase. That’s mightily impressive considering the 3480mm bumper to bumper length. Left in two wheel drive for normal performance, the turning circle is 4.9m but in 4×4 mode that increases.The aforementioned external styling cues come with the low set rear tail lights, distinctively circular front lights, five slot front grille and shallow angled bonnet with flutes in the bottom of the “A-pillar”. The indicators are separate to the headlights as well, as per the heritage ethic. A few extra touches come from the drip rails over the doors, solid and assertive black polyurethane body guards, and those low set tail lights allow a wider rear door opening to the plastic coated backs of the rear seats.

Modernity hits the Jimny with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satnav, a touchscreen of seven inches, and Bluetooth. Autonomous Emergency Braking, Hill Hold Control, Hill Descent Control, Lane Departure Warning, and auto headlight dipping, along with six airbags round out a well rounded safety package. However, the doors don’t have bottle holders, the seatbelts are well behind the driver and passenger shoulder, and the passenger’s grab bar looks as if reinforcing is needed.Pricing for the spunky and funky 2019 Suzuki Jimny, with a range of six colours, will be released later this week.

(David was given the opportunity to drive the new Jimny courtesy of Suzuki Australia.)

BMW 3 Series Gets Makeover.

BMW‘s evergreen 3 Series has been given a substantial makeover for its impending release. The seventh generation of the car, first released in 1975, will come to Australia for a March 2019, on sale date. There’s a two model range on offer, with the 320d priced from $67,900 plus on roads (includes GST and LCT), and the 330i from $70,900. An xDrive M340i M performance model will hit our shores later in 2019.The 3 Series stays with a 50:50 weight distribution with the additional benefit of a weight loss of up to 55kg. Body rigidity has gone up by 25% to 50% which helps handling, along with the wider front and rear tracks for extra grip. A revamped suspension also comes into play, with a redesigned front end having more camber, and variable damper ratings allowing for 20% stiffer spring rates.

BMW’s Adaptive M suspension system is here, with electronically-controlled dampers. This system offers comfort- and sport-focused modes that are changeable in-cockpit. It combines the 10mm lower ride height and geometries of the M sport suspension standard in the 320d. M Sport brakes with blue callipers are standard on the 330i and have four pistons up front, and one piston rears. Handling can be further improved by opting for the M Sport differential with variable torque distribution.An exterior redesign has a one piece grille and the LED adaptive twin headlights up front, a redesigned and sharper look to the iconic Hofmeister kink, and reprofiled taillights with a smoky glaze. The diesel will have a choice of 18 inch diameter alloys, with the petrol fed version having 19s.BMW have bitten the bullet on the options list too. The M Sport Package is standard and the Luxury Line package is an option at zero cost. BMW says the M Sport Package brings the following elements to the 3 Series:  BMW Individual High-gloss Shadow Line, with black window frames and air breather surrounds, M Aerodynamics Package with aerodynamic front and rear bumper sections and side sills,  BMW Individual interior Headliner in Anthracite, M Leather steering wheel with multifunction buttons, Interior trim finishers in Aluminium Tetragon, 18-inch M light alloy wheels in bicolour, double-spoke design (320d), 19-inch M light alloy wheels in bicolour, double-spoke design (330i), and M Sport Brakes (330i).Choose the Luxury Line pack and there are: Leather Vernasca upholstery, Interior trim finishers in fine-wood, high-gloss ash grey, Sport leather steering wheel, Instrument panel in sensatec, Sport seat for driver and front passenger, 18-inch light alloy wheels in bicolour, multi-spoke design (320d), and 19-inch BMW Individual light alloy wheels in bicolour, double-spoke design (330i).

Interior space has been increased as well thanks to a 43mm wheelbase increase along with an increase of width of 16mm. Backed against an increased level of trim quality are improved support from the electrically adjustable sports seats, a choice of 3 wood and 2 aluminiom trims, and BMW’s Operating System 7.0. This incorporates a 12.3 inch hi-res display screen for the instrument cluster and a 10.25 inch centre console display screen. New for the 3 Series is Head Up Display, standard on the range. Naturally the safety standards are high with Lane Change and Lane Departure Warnings, amongst others, as standard.Contact Private Fleet to see what we can do for you on price, and contact BMW for more details.