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Value Up With Mitsubishi For Best Running Costs.

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

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

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

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Jeep Compass Limited

Jeep. It’s a name that’s synonymous with unbreakable cars, uncompromising off road ability, and being uniquely American. Well, once. Any Jeep labelled TrailHawk is still uncompromising in its ability to deal with mud, snow, sand, gravel, as easily as the tarmac, but not all Jeeps are unbreakable and not all Jeeps are American. I reviewed a Jeep a couple of years that refused to play ball. It was a time when quality control wasn’t part of the first sentence in how to build one. Thankfully it seems those times are well and truly past as our Indian built 2018 Jeep Compass Limited with 2.4L petrol fed “Tigershark” engine proved.The time the Compass Limited spent with us coincided with a trip that would ultimately cover 1150 kilometres. This would start at AWT’s Blue Mountains based HQ, south via Goulbourn and Queanbeyan, east of Canberra, to Cooma before overnighting at the Aalberg Chalet. Mine hosts were Ulla and Lindsay, an engaging and effervescent couple, providing an atmosphere of welcome and warmth. From there a few hours at Thredbo for ski lessons for my junior staffers, before a drive along the “Barry Way” via Dalgety, the Boco wind farm, and the parched depths of the NSW plains before our eastward bounds journey had us in Bega for one night. From there is was north through Narooma, Ulladulla, and Nowra, diverting through the gorgeous Kangaroo Valley and marveling at the once ocean floor cliffs before rejoining the Hume on our way home.The Compass sits above the Renegade and below the Cherokee in Jeep’s substantial range. A choice of four trim levels are available, with Sport, Longitude, Limited, and TrailHawk on offer. The Compass Liited has a 2.4L petrol engine named Tigershark, or the preferred for long distance haulage diesel. The petrol engine has 129kW, 229 Nm, and a nine speed CVT auto. Fuel consumption is quoted as 9.7L/100km on a combined cycle from the 60 litre tank and 7.4L/100 for the highway. AWT’s best figure was 8.6L/100km on a purely highway driven cycle. This was with four up and the cargo area filled with three bags/travel cases. The petrol Limited’s weight is 1503 kilograms dry.Our journey starts with an eastwards bound run from the lower Blue Mountains to one of Sydney’s orbital freeways, The M7 takes drivers south towards the city bound M5 or the Canberra and beyond Hume. What’s immediately noticeable is suspension tune. It leans towards the harder side of compliance, and there’s an initial feeling that tyres were at the wrong pressure. That didn’t turn out to be the situation. What was also becoming clear was the lack of torque at low revs. On the flatter country roads it would purr along in a quiet, unfussed, manner. Thew CVT changes smoothly, unobtrusively. Heading towards Goulbourn, around two hours drive south of Sydney. there’s some good long gradients that test cars and with that peak torque available at 3900 rpm it needs a hefty shove on the go pedal to get the engine and transmission to drop back enough to get close to that rev point. Forward motion slows appreciably and in order to keep safety up for traffic flow, more pedal is needed.Downhill runs have the CVT finding itself in a cog and holding that, using the engine as a braking device. This would be ideal in a hybrid to charge batteries but it’s disconcerting in the Compass as it holds revs in the upper range. There’s a little more effort than expected to move the gear selector left to engage manual shift mode and override the computer’s selection choice. The movement isn’t silky smooth either. The same applies to the indicator stalk, mounted on the left hand side of the steering column in this case. There’s a plasticky click to engage but there’s an upside. Just about every other car maker has a soft touch program that indicates just three times. the Compass Limited’s blinker count is five.As the journey progresses south what also becomes noticeable is the lack of real road safety shown by far too many other drivers. NSW and the ACT have a myopic focus on speed as to why people crash. By the time a stop at Lake George, twenty or so minutes north of Canberra is undertaken, the amount of vehicles successfully completing a safe lane change is one. That’s the Jeep.The all purpose rubber fitted, Bridgestone‘s Turanza, with a 225/55/18 profile isn’t a fan of the rougher road surfaces and transmits that to the cabin via the MacPherson strut front and Chapman front rear. Get onto the smooth blacktop and the noise level drops dramatically and the ride becomes far more enjoyable too. Queanbeyan and it’s an 80 kp/h limit. The Compass Limited exercises her brakes here more than anywhere, with traffic lights and roundabouts working together to not make a fluid traffic flow possible. Unexpectedly the initial feeling of the seats being hard and lacking in support is slowly being disproved, with no real sensation of seat cushion related fatigue. The storage nook based under the passenger seat cushion is handy too.

Outside temperatures vary along the way. Countering that is the Jeep’s electric seats (quick, thankfully) and dual controlled climate control. There’s dial or icons on the eight inch touchscreen which are well laid out, simple to use, and efficiently effective. Economy has stabilised at 8.6L/100 and a pitstop for a break and top up has been undertaken. Mid afternoon has Cooma through the front windscreen. We’re in a convoy that includes an Audi Q7 and Ford Territory, driven by people that have no sense of road manners or safety. One overtaking lane has a Range Rover and Corolla ahead of the Jeep, with the Corolla inexplicably moving right, forcing the Rangie to brake momentarily before scooting past the left side of the Toyota. This has allowed us to do the same as the Corolla is clearly struggling. However again that lack of low rev torque is appreciable but the cams come on song at around 3500, and there’s a noticeable in the Jeep’s behaviour. It’s needed as the Q7 ranges up behind the Corolla before a sudden non indicated dart left to take up position a foot shy of the Compass. The merge lane to one lane is here and all of a sudden the Territory is almost buried in the Corolla’s rear, with the driver having no apparent sense of when to brake appropriately. The Jeep’s overall drive and safety package have been tested and passed.

Jindabyne and the twisting downhill run to the picturesque town has the steering come alive. Electrically assisted it’s light enough to not feel it is out of touch with the road, and weighty enough to provide a real sense of communication between car and driver. The CVT appreciates this sort of road more, and works in concert with the accelerator to be where it should be gear wise. Being a vehicle that has a 4WD mode that splits drive front and rear on demand, the predominantly FWD bias has the Compass track wide only occasionally. This requires naught more that a tap of the brake or accelerator to bring the nose back on line.

Finally it’s time to exit the Compass Limited and it’s a chance to appreciate the cabin ambience. There’s the natural level of fatigue after six hours of travel and breaks, but none extra from the seats and ride. The dash dials have a slightly old fashioned style of font for the numbers, with small LED light points spread around the dials. In between is a colour LCD screen, as is standard in just about every car, offering trip info, average and on demand fuel usage, and more. The rear seat passengers have enough leg room even with the adults pushing their seats back. Rear seat passengers also get a USB point, handy for the older but not yet teenaged ones. There’s a ski-port fold out cupholder for them as well.The front seat passengers have an elegantly designed dash to look at and feel. Soft touch materials abound, the trim is subtle, tasteful, and there’s plenty of room for legs, heads, and shoulders. A centre console mounted drive selector dial gives the Compass Limited some off road prowess including Snow, Sand, and Mud. All round vision is excellent and ergonomics including a push button start where one would find a keyhole makes the process natural and intuitive. It complements the redesigned exterior, aligning the Compass range more with the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee appearance. Audio is superb and well balanced, with the DAB tuner more sensitive than others, thankfully. What was noticeable was a lack of height adjustment for the passenger seat. It’s clearly not a big vehicle, making the interior packaging all the more remarkable for its successful implementation. The Compass is just 4394mm long, 1819mm wide, and stands 1644mm tall. It packs in a 2636mm wheelbase and has a stable chassis thanks to the 1550mm and 1546 mm track font and rear. This gives the Compass excellent cross wind stability and helps the compact SUV in its high levels of agility both off and on road. A 212mm road clearance allows for some good running on those tracks well beaten, plus the approach and departure angles of 16.8 and 31.7 degrees, it’s able to handle a good coverage of terrain. Although Thredbo was cold, it wasn’t overly endowed with snow. This unfortunately didn’t give us a real chance to try the Snow mode for any length of time. However some drifts were found and a simple flick of the drive dial had the Compass Limited crawl its way out without issue. Where the Compass Limited shine came later. From Jindabyne and along the Barry Way the road and terrain is tight, testing the handling and ride. The vistas are incredible, with ridge high roads providing unparalleled views all around. Sadly this meant that the view provided evidence of the terrible drought the farmers are enduring and all too often the tragic signs in a paddock were evidence of this.

The flat runs were fine for the auto and engine, but any uphill runs tasked the combination time and again. Anything over four thousand rpm and the noise was thrashy, whiny, and the Compass Limited really struggled to maintain forward momentum, even with the torque coming on stream. However there’s no doubt that with a lighter load the effort would, naturally, be less evident. Evidence of power was seen on the horizon, with a wind farm coming into view and the road would take the Compass directly between the line of the Boco Wind Farm. Almost silent, the huge turbines swung lazily, majestically, with the ridge they’re mounted on hiding a sudden drop to the eastern plains.The Jeep’s off road ability was tested somewhat after crossing the Snowy River and heading towards Bega. A rutted, sandy, gravelly road east of Cathcart called the Tantawangalo Road is a long, mostly one laned affair. It was here that the Jeep Compass and its all wheel drive system gets a workout. Slip the dial onto Sand and the dash lights up with an icon saying so. However it also shows that the traction control is disengaged. To us it seems odd that on such a surface that traction control would be disengaged. Especially when farmers are lawfully allowed to range cows freely on the roads.What also happens is that the computer bumps the engine’s rev point to around three thousand, taking advantage of the rise of the torque curve. This endowed the Compass Limited with a frisky, energetic, attitude, and could be coaxed into gentle skids on turns where it could be done safely. The handling tightens up and becomes even more responsive, and there’s just enough freeplay in the steering to set up for a Scandinavian flick style turn. The taut suspension also magically dials out the rutted surfaces and worked the coil springs wonderfully. The car could be throttle controlled, easing off for the turns before getting back on the juice, powering out and settling the Compass.

Overnight in Bega and north along the Princes Highway. Again there were far too many examples of why the government’s myopic focus on speed is a failure. Should the highway patrol police vehicles without working indicators then an absolute motza would be made and basic driving standards would increase. Further north to Nowra and to Kangaroo Valley. Again the uphill runs tested the engine and transmission and still averaged a sub nine litre figure.

The final run from Mittagong and Bowral and along the Hume to home, and the Compass Limited is settling into a rhythm. It’s a rev point of under two thousand at cruising speed and the car is composed, relaxed, almost as if it knows the home base is near.

At The End Of The Drive.
Jeep quotes 7.4L per 100 kilometres for the highway run. To achieve a final figure of 8.6L/100 km with a load aboard was a welcome surprise. The diesel is quoted as 5.1L/100 km for the highway so that final figure is superb in context. The overall fit and finish is as it should be, the initial misgivings over the ride quality were dispatched quickly, and for a family of four for a weekend away it suffices. Off road manners show why the Jeep name is the one to go to. In essence the 2018 Jeep Compass Limited was better than expected. And that’s a winner in anyone’s book. Here’s where you can find your true north: 2018 Jeep Compass range

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Equinox LT Diesel.

This review is a little different in that the difference between the Holden Equinox LT petrol we’ve reviewed and the Holden Equinox LT diesel is….the engine. And gearbox. Apart from that, there literally is nothing different about the car inside or out. Same interior trim, same annoying Stop/Start tech that canNOT be switched off manually, same reasonably attractive exterior. The link to that review is here: 2018 Holden Equinox LS Plus and LT petrol
What the diesel offers is a 1.6L capacity engine, with a six speed auto transmission only. The current RRP is $39,990 and that’s a three thousand dollar difference over the equivalent petrol version. Standard warranty is five years but Holden were offering a seven year package.

Peak power is 100kW, with peak torque being a very good (for the size of the engine) 320Nm.  That’s a narrow maxium torque range, from 2000 to just 2250 rpm. Fuel consumption for the 1.6L in LT trim is a thrifty 5.6L/100 kilometres on the combined cycle. Go to the heavier LTZ & LTZ-V and that goes to 5.7L/100km or 5.9L/100 km. The six speed auto is also a standard auto, in that it’s a torque converter style, not a dual clutch or CVT. It’s an interesting drive setup; the traction control appears to have been formulated to allow some front wheel drive slip. Give the go pedal a good prod from stand still and there’s a noticeable scrabbling for grip for a second or two before the tyres hook up. Actual forward motion is deceptively quick. There’s a mild thrum from the front, which indicates there’s plenty of noise insulation and there is. There’s sheets fitted to the wheel arch and firewall, plus there’s a form of active noise cancellation too.The transmission selector is the same mechanism as found on the nine speed, with a rocker + and – switch for manual shifting. Like most well sorted electronic autos, there’s little to be gained in normal driving conditions by using the manual change. From a standing start and a low throttle application, the six speeder rarely disappointed. The diesel itself is throttle responsive, with a free spinning nature up to around 4000 rpm. Our real world drive, covering both urban and highway, saw a final fuel consumption figure of 6.1L/100 with a 75/25 urban leaning driving style.

Expect that figure to increase if you fit a towbar and utilise its 1500kg (braked) towing capacity. Bear in mind it’s a small diesel, not the bigger 2.0L or 2.2L (or even bigger) as seen in larger SUVs or utes. Other reviews seem to point out the relative lack of oomph from this engine but they’ve matched the 1.6L in the Equinox against 2.2L engines as found elsewhere. A fairer comparison would be against Suzuki’s excellent Vitara diesel. Although smallish, there’s still plenty of get up and go for when it’s needed. Roll off slowly and there’s quiet, unobtrusive changes and barely a hint of that traditional diesel rattle. Push a little harder and the changes are crisper, with the engine making itself known audibly but still quietly as mentioned. It’s really only when a heavy right foot is employed that the diesel really gets noisy and the six speeds seem to be lacking a cog or two or three.

Holden’s electronic engineers haven’t built in a feature to turn the Stop/Start mechanism off. The theory behind the feature is that it’s a fuel and emissions saver for when stopped at stop signs or red lights. the downside is that sometimes the car’s barely stopped before forward progress can be restarted. It can catch the car (and driver) unawares and sees the Equinox lurching forward, rather than moving smoothly. A little trick is that if the foot is lifted slightly off the brake pedal, it’ll re-engage the engine and still stop the car moving forward.

Ridewise it’s the same well sorted and compliant Australian tuned for Australian conditions ride as found in the petrol models. If there’s really anything that Holden should consider with the Equinox diesel, it’d be to evaluate having the nine speed fitted and calibrated to suit the specific torque delivery of the smaller oiler.

Another factor to consider is the forthcoming release of the Acadia, a larger SUV and a seven seater at that, helping Holden to re-target customers in the SUV market.

Contact Holden for more details on both and contact Private Fleet to see what we can do on a deal.

A Lotto Win Away: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.

Iconic British car maker Aston Martin has unveiled their hotly anticipated Ferrari 812 competitor. It’s called the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Priced at US$305,995 it packs a supercharged 5.2 litre V12, punching out 533kW and a tree-stump pulling 900 Nm of torque across a mesa flat rev range of 1800 to 5000 rpm. Based on the DB11 AMR, that’s 63kW and 200Nm more than the donor block.
The car has a dry weight of 1693 kilograms and rolls on gorgeous black paint alloys at 21 inches of diameter. Pirelli P-Zero tires are the chosen rubber. The drivetrain has been uprated and provides a 0-100kph time of 3.4 seconds and will see the ton three seconds later.
Aston Martin has delved into the books of history with the name. DBS hasn’t been used since 2012 and Superleggera, Italian for “light weight”, goes back to the 1960s. To that end, Aston Martin have eradicated  121 kilograms of mass. It also, until 2012, sidelines the evocative Vanquish nameplate.
One of the design briefs was to visually spread the gap between AM’s model range. To that end, the DBS Superleggera has a more assertive grille and angrier looking headlights complete with angular LED driving lights. The grille is in a nosecone designed to increase down-force before combining with an extensively modified floorpan and rear diffuser to add up to a total of 180 kilos of down-force. Drag wasn’t sacrificed, with the same drag coefficient as the lesser down-force endowed DB11. There’s just 70kg here.
The profile is low, sensual, and definably Aston Martin is some elements. What’s new are the airvents leading from behind the trailing edge of the front wheels and edging back into the leading edge of the doors. The bootlid no longer displays the iconic Aston Martin emblem, it now proudly says the company name and sits between super slimline LED tail lights. This sits above a retuned exhaust, said to offer an extra ten decibels of what chief engineer Matt Becker says is “quality noise”.
There’ll be plenty of that on demand, with the traction control system being reprogrammed to cope with the extra torque and its delivery to the tarmac. Becker says of the reprogramming: “If you slide the car and you know how to drive, it gives you all of the information you’ll need about when to put your foot on or lift from the throttle.”
Aston Martin is targeting both its own existing Vanquish customers, but more specifically owners of the Prancing Horse. This car is part of Aston Martin’s “Second Century” plan, where a new model per year for seven years is released. This includes a convertible version of the DBS Superleggera due for 2019. Aston Martin expects to start deliveries before Christmas of 2018.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Toyota HiLux Rugged-X and Rogue

It’s fair to say that sometimes a manufacturer will release a car that’s dressed up and sold as a limited edition in a cynically grinned cash-grab. Toyota‘s trio of body kitted HiLux four door utes, the Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue, are dressed up but Toyota says they won’t be limited editions. They’re actually a mid-life model addition to the range. The drivetrain remains the same as the three are, unsurprisingly, based on existing models. A 2.8L four cylinder diesel with 130kW and 430 or 450Nm (depending on whether a six speed manual or auto is bolted to it) is standard for the three. The boss tradie aimed Rogue is auto as standard whilst the let’s get weekend dirty Rugged and Rugged-X can be bought with either a three or two pedal setup. The entry level Rugged manual starts from $54,990 and there’s a $2K premium for the slushbox. Rugged-X starts from $61,690 and again has a $2K auto price jump. Rogue is the same price as the Rugged-X manual. Economy was worse in the Rogue than Rugged-X, finishing on 10.5L/100km and the Rugged-X finished at 9.7L/100km. These figures aren’t far off the combined cycle figures of 10.9L and 7.9L/100 respectively from the 80L tank, but as both were used only in urban environments, the dollars start adding up. Plus, Toyota quotes the Rugged-X as being heavier than the Rogue in a dry weight comparison, at 2252 kilos versus 2147 kilos. Hmmm…..Rogue comes with a restyled front plastic bumper with driving lights locked away in a niche in each corner. Said niche is angular in design and strongly resembles one from Kia’s Sorento from the early-mid 2010s. Both Rogue and Rugged-X have a roll-bar with bespoke nameplate, towbar, bash-plates under the nose, and sidesteps. Here’s there’s a slight difference, with the Rugged-X having narrower all metal steps called rock rails, and Rogue getting wider plastic shrouded steps. Both Rugged and Rugged-X have a snorkel but again a visual difference. The Rugged has a proper bullbar fitted with integrated LED driving lights, with the Rugged-X a smaller steel front bar, integrated centre mounted LED light bar, and sharply framed corners for easier off-road climbing. At the rear there’s matt black covers for the leading edge of the tail lights. Headlights in the Rugged-X are lined with LEDs but the Rugged dips out.There’s additional common features for the two; under-body tow hitch points front and rear, an open rear tun with urethane protection for the floor and sides, a blacked-out tailgate handle, and Rugged bonnet decals. The Rogue is more subtle in the decaling plus has a lockable hard cover for the marine carpet lined tub. Rogue has 18 inch black painted alloys, Rugged and -X have the same styled 17s. The Rogue came clad in a pearlescent white, the Rugged-X test vehicle in a complementary to the decaling grey.Inside the Rugged-X is an interior that’s almost a clone of what’s found in the Rogue. Bar a difference on the floor with rubber mats versus carpet, and slightly different sill trim, the pair are identical, through to the dash design, features, and somewhat near compromise in rear leg room. Even though the three are all over five metres long in total length and have a wheelbase of three, the actual cabin sizes aren’t great and hopefully this is something an update addresses. In essence, the rear cabin is tolerable for anyone hovering at six feet or so in height but if the front seats are occupied by those at the same height and by necessity push the seats back, then…The dash itself is heavily driver focused. The tiller feels broader than it probably is, a pair of dials bracket a small info screen that plays a GIF on startup and shows info via a tab on the right hand spoke of the steering wheel. The dash itself is a three fold shape and seems to fade off into the distance on the passenger’s side. Neither side wraps around, they simply end abruptly at each door.A centrally mounted touchscreen, a different design to that found in the Camry and looking more as if bolted in rather than designed in, houses a CD player, DAB tuner (which was fussy in both cars by only displaying a select set of DAB stations), Bluetooth, and via USB and Auxiliary located ahead of the gear selector. The all over look is black on black, with more black thrown in for good measure. This may suit the Rugged, the -X could do with a bit more lightness, and the Rogue needs a broader colour palette full stop.Seating in the -X and Rogue is leather with a one setting heat button next to the USB port. Driver’s seats were electrically powered and excellent in actual comfort levels. But the pair miss out on some now seen as essential safety equipment. Although a rear view camera is on board, there’s no parking sensors there, no Blind Spot Alert, no Autonomous Emergency Braking and that ;ast one is crucial given the lack of real stopping urge in the Rugged-X, and only slightly more inclined in the Rogue. ESC is standard though, as are seven airbags and trailer sway control. if you do wish to tow, there’s a 3200kg braked towing capacity. Cargo carrying, however, is well under a tonne for both, with Rogue 826 kilos and 748 kg for Rugged-X.On the road the pair display distinctly different characteristics. The Rogue is more inclined towards being car like, the Rugged-X is typical four wheel drive with a looser rear end and a ride quality tending towards wallowy and pogo. The steering in the Rugged-X was rubbery on centre but backed off from that through left and right. The Rogue again felt more like a car in its steering. Drivewise, being based on the same mechanicals meant they accelerated better in Power, were as equally more sluggish in Eco, and were reasonably quick in normal driving. Hard acceleration had the transmission move through the lower, more closely spaced gears, quickly although the engine became thrashy above 3500 rpm. Light acceleration is better for the transmission, as changes were far smoother, and less inclined to be physically felt. More than occasionally though, the transmission was caught out by slowing and then accelerating, as one does coming to a give way line or roundabout. The indecisiveness would have the six speed slip back from third or fourth a cog or two then suddenly drop down again. It was also prone, on longer yet more gentle declines, to drop back a cog too far in an effort to engine brake.Only the Rugged-X was taken off-road, as the tyres fitted to the Rogue were more of a tarmac spec, plus the Rigged-X was more specifically kitted for the purpose. It’s here that the departure and approach angles also differ between the two. Rogue has 30 degrees, Rugged-X 28. Departure angles are 21 and 20 degrees respectively. On our favoured test track for off roading, a fire trail with a great mix of gravel, rock, mud, mud puddles, and some good inclines, the Rugged-X ate these up without a noise. High range four wheel drive was selected and that was all that was needed even on the sections where low range, Hill Descent Control (which was tested and worked as expected) and diff-lock would have been suitable. Ride and handling immediately became obvious as being more suitable for the varying kind of terrain, as the spongy leaf sprung rear enabled the Rugged-X to roll over obstacles as easily as tarmac.Toyota’s standard three year warranty applies, as does their roadside assistance and fixed price servicing packages.

At The End Of The Drive.
After the failure of the Toyota Racing Division experiment, one could cast a cynical eye over the Toyota HiLux Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue. With a potential design update hint with the Rogue’s front bar, both should attract a bit of eyeball action. But like a well plated dinner that is eaten in two bites, there’s more to these two than looks. Absolutely there’s that proven off road credential and the Rugged-X will fit the bill for rural and dirt applications admirably.

The Rogue’s off road ability will be the same but it’s more for a “if it’s needed” rather than a stylish looking foreman type vehicle. If the Rogue is to be the trio’s leader then a cabin lift is needed. The seats need a step up from the Rugged-X, and the trim levels need a hint of greys below and a white to beige/bone roof lining. And an extension to the cabin’s rear for better leg room is almost essential, as is the addition of rear parking sensors as standard.

Here is where to find out more: 2018 HiLux range including Rugged, Rugged-X, and Rogue.

Aston Martin Rapide AMR

Aston Martin is perhaps best known for a glittering range of two door hard top and convertible cars. Under the radar is the four door contribution to the super saloon family. The Rapide is a subtle four door design and has recently been upgraded to AMR (Aston Martin Racing) specifications. Powered by a naturally aspirated V12 with 433kW and 630Nm and transmitting that to the tarmac via an eight speed auto, the AMR will come with three trim levels. Standard, Silhouette, and Signature will roll on 21 inch diameter wheels clad in Michelin Super Sport rubber, a first for the iconic brand. Tyre sizes are 245/35 up front and 295/ at the rear.
The five metre long Rapide AMR asserts itself with a large grille that evokes the track weapon Vantage AMR-Pro. Subtle aero hints come courtesy of the carbon fibre tail spoiler, front splitter, sill panels, and rear diffuser. Weight reduction is also further enhanced by fitting a carbon fibre bonnet, complete with engine bay exhaust vents.

The engine has been massaged by fitting larger inlet manifolds that pack tuned length intake runners, with the kilowatts breathing out via a new quad exhaust system. Stopping efficiency is enhanced by modified brake ducts, dust shields, and utilise the spoked design of the 21 inch alloys to funnel cooling air onto the 400mm six piston carbon ceramic front brakes. These are backed up by 360mm four piston rears.
Being based on a racing design, the AMR Rapide sits 10mm lower courtesy of reworked suspension components. Aston Martin have gone over the front and rear double wishbones, fitted with stage three adaptive dampers, with plenty of Nurburgring evaluative work. To make sure the AMR looks the goods there’s a choice of four colours for the Standard and Silhouette. Mariana Blue, Scintilla Silver, Lightning Silver, and Onyx Black are complemented by AMR Lime Green highlights on the Standard’s sills, splitter, and diffuser, with the other gaining a China Grey or Clubsport White stripe.

The Signature goes one step closer to a racing look with Stirling Green paint, Lime accents and stripe, backed by a combination of AMR Lime or Galena Silver stitching for all three versions. Driver, front passenger, and each rear seat passenger are cossetted in Alcantara seats which will have discrete AMR logos in Galena Silver stitched in, and there’s extra glamour with a full length carbon fibre centre console. Apart from visiting Aston Martin’s bespoke “Q Store” a buyer can specify the optional One-77 steering wheel as well. Digital radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto will be standard, as will 700 watts of audio power.

Deliveries are scheduled to start from October 2018 worldwide. Contact Aston Martin Australia for details including pricing.

Tips When Buying a New Car

When it comes to buying a new car it can potentially be one of the top financial decisions you will ever have to make.  For some, hunting for a new car can be a daunting prospect, but for others the process is fun.  Here are some tips for you to consider when you are on the hunt for a brand new car.

Size

Firstly you will need to think about what exactly you will be using your car for.  Are you going to be carrying passengers or travelling alone?  What about the luggage – will you carry lots of items and therefore require a large boot space?  If you’re going to be mostly travelling around the city then a small car like a VW Polo will be a great little car for you.  A Corolla will happily accommodate four people and some luggage.  You might consider a an SUV-type vehicle like a Volvo XC60 or an MPV like the Honda Odyssey if you want to carry elderly people about as there is plenty of space to climb in-and-out of the car.  If you will be touring with the family, then a large estate like the Holden Commodore Tourer is superbly comfortable and spacious over the long open-road haul.

Number of Doors

SUVs, hatchbacks and station wagons with four doors and a big opening tailgate are all classed as having five-doors because the rear gate is a massive door that opens wide to access the boot space.  There are three-door hatchbacks with two doors to access the seats and one big door at the rear to access the luggage space.  Then there is the saloon car like a Honda Accord which has a smaller boot opening at the rear and four doors for access to the seating area – so it’s known as a four-door.  A two-door car like a Mazda MX-5 has two doors to access the seats and a smaller boot opening at the rear.  I’m sure once you’ve checked out a few cars with hands-on experience then you’ll form a good picture of the style of car you’ll want to buy.

Space

You’re going to need to consider the amount of space that passengers are going to either enjoy or hate.  The freedom of occupant space and the number of doors – or lack thereof – will affect the enjoyment levels of the occupants while travelling.  Even some three-door cars like the Renault Megane can accommodate passengers quite happily in the rear seats, however getting in and out of the back seats does require having to move the front seats forward in order for the rear seat occupant to get out of the car.  And if you’re sitting nice and snug in the front seat when the rear seat passenger needs to get out for a leak, then I’m sorry but you’ll firstly need to get out of your front seat for them to be able to get out of their rear seat space.  Not much fun!  Accessibility into the seats of a five-door or four-door car is easy.  Some SUVs like a Holden Trailblazer and MPVs like a Citroen C4 Picasso have three rows of seats and can carry seven occupants with ease.  Those sitting in the third row will usually require a second row seat to be folded for them to get out – but the access and occupant space is usually quite good in one of these types of vehicles.

Luggage Capacity

Most cars have their luggage space at the rear of the vehicle and this area is known as the boot.  Boot space, volume or capacity is given in the car’s specifications and is usually given in litres for us “down under”.  If you talk American then then boot space will be given in cubic feet – just to be annoying!  If you’re going to be carrying occupants and luggage regularly then it would be wise that you check out how much boot space your potential new car can offer.  Most hatchbacks, SUVs, MPVs and station wagons have rear seats that can be folded down to provide more luggage space when required.  Generally, the bigger the car – the bigger the boot space.

Fuel efficiency

It’s worth considering how economical a new car will be before handing over the cash.  If you’re on a budget, then definitely check out the fuel efficiency of the particular vehicle you’re interested in.  Most vehicles under 2.0-litre engine capacity will be quite economical with all of the latest engine technology like stop/start and more gears being standard on most new cars.  Turbo diesels – particularly small ones – can be quite efficient, but do remember that fuel taxes are heavier for diesel vehicles.  Hybrids like the Honda Insight are very efficient around town when they usually require most of the travel to be done by the electric motor.  They get thirstier when performing open road driving because the car will require its petrol or diesel engine over the electric motor.  There are purely electric vehicles which you can buy like the Nissan LEAF, but these are suited for city environments.

Warranty

All new cars come with a warranty.  Most manufacturers offer a three year warranty and some offer five years like Mitsubishi, Hyundai and Toyota.  Kia vehicles offer seven year warranties.  Having a good warranty on the car you’re going to buy is ‘peace of mind’, really.

Outgoing models

When a manufacturer is about to release a brand new model, the outgoing model is often offered at a great price.  So do keep this in mind when buying new.  If having the very latest isn’t such a big deal, then buying an outgoing model is a great way of knocking a few thousand off the purchase price.

Mazda Goes Great, It’s The CX-8! And How About The Mazda6?

Mazda has added a new CX model to the range, with the CX-8 also being the sole diesel powered entry to the family. The seven seater will have a 2.2L oiler with 140kW and 450Nm of torque. Name plates will be Sport with front and all wheel drive, and Asaki AWD as the range leader.Pricing will naturally be competitive with a starting price of $42,490 (manufacturer’s list price) for the FWD Sport. The AWD Sport will start from $46,490, and the Asaki from $61,490.  The Asaki will feature heated front and rear seats, a Bose sound system, brown or white elather trim, and a woodgrain dash finish.Size-wise the CX-8 will be on the same 2930mm wheelbase as the petrol only CX-9, but is slightly smaller in length, width, and height. It’s based on the CX-5 platform but shares the same wheelbase as the larger CX-9.Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Lane Departure Warning are expected to be listed as standard equipment, along with a reversing camera and rear parking sensors for the Sport. Further details are expected closer to the launch date.CX-8 is due to be released for a July 2018 sales date.

The Mazda6 has also had the wand waved over it. There’s a refinement to the exterior including LED headlights with integrated fog lamps, a 170kW/420Nm turbocharged 2.5L petrol four, and upgrades to trim.
Standard equipment includes the i-ACTIVESENSE safety package which includes Mazda Radar Cruise Control, and the top end Atenza gains a 360 degree viewing monitor and vented front seats, a boon for Aussie drivers in warm climates. The seats themselves have been redesigned with better support and higher vibration absorption levels.There’s 14 variants for the 2018/2019 Mazda6, covering sedan and wagon, with Sport, Touring, GT, and Atenza trim levels. Pricing starts at $32,490 (plus on roads) for the Sport sedan with the 2.5L 140kW/252Nm petrol four, and tops out at $50,090 plus on roads for the Atenza diesel wagon. A 2.5L SkyActiv four cylinder petrol is also available with 170kW and 420Nm at 2000 rpm.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Toyota Camry SL V6 & Ascent Hybrid.

Car reviews are always a personal point of view. People have a love for a brand and that’s personal. Toyota has that brand loyalty and it’s won them millions of customers over decades. Toyota‘s Camry is a big part of that loyalty here in Australia and we first saw it as a five door hatch somewhere in the 1980s.The mid noughties saw the V6 Camry reborn as the Aurion and was sold side by side with the four cylinder and hybrid Camrys. Now, in 2018, we’re back to no Aurion and a V6 Camry. One of those, the top of the range 2018 Toyota Camry V6 SL trim spec, with barely two hundred kilometres on the clock, graced the driveway. There’s also a Hybrid version that sits above the Prius range and below the similarly styled Lexus offering.Exterior and interior styling are strongly reminiscent of Toyota’s luxury brand, Lexus. Tweaked for Toyota’s audience, there’s sharply angled headlights with LED lighting at both ends on the V6, standard globes for the Hybrid, a full length glass roof with sunroof offered for the full petrol car, and an almost coupe rear roofline. There’s aerodynamic strakes on the wing mirrors and embedded in the rear light plastics. The boot itself has a designed in extended lid that doubles as a spoiler. It’s perhaps the front end that brings a Spock like raised eyebrow, with a twin level V that stretches from each side to meet at the (blue hued on the Hybrid) Toyota logo.Inside it’s strongly Lexus, with multiple dash folds, a beige and black trim combination in the V6 car supplied, some buttons too easily hidden by the steering wheel, and a disturbingly cheap look plastic on the centre console compared to the rest of the interior. The dash design is an S shape line from the driver’s binnacle that winds down to finish near the passenger’s knee. Leg room isn’t an issue though, nor is cargo space. The Hybrid has moved the battery pack from the boot to under the rear seats, giving a full 524L of space. With a 2825mm wheelbase, an increase of 50mm over the outgoing version, front and rear leg room is more than adequate for intended passengers. What isn’t is no USB ports for them in the Ascent, that’s left for the SX and SL to deliver.Up front is a easily spun 3.5L V6. Peak power is 224 “killerwasps” at a almost stratospheric 6600rpm. Peak torque is 362Nm at a more typical petrol rev point of 4700rpm with quoted economy of 8.9L/100km for the combined. This is quite achievable in real world driving but utilise the spirited V6’s revving ability and that figure goes south and quickly. Power is put through to the ground via an eight speed auto connected to the front wheels. It’s not the most refined eight speeder around, with each change regardless of throttle position having the body rocking back and forth in sympathy. Compared to the super smooth nine speed in the ZB Commodore tested immediately before, it was almost harsh in its changes.The Hybrid counters this with a combined total of 160kW however this is less than the full capacities available from the petrol and battery system separately. The four is a 2.5L unit with 131kW and 88kW from the electrical side. Transmission here is a CVT and rarely does it feel out of step with the drive-train. It’s also a combination that equals the urge of the V6 when pushed, will quietly hum away on a (very) light throttle, and will pick up its side skirts and bootscoot away rapidly anywhere in between. Economy is quoted as 4.2L/100 km of 95RON or E10. AWT saw a best of 5.0L/100km and that was on a fuel sapping run to Canberra and back. The tank in the Camry seems to be of a V shape, meaning as the fuel level lowers the trips towards half, quarter, empty become quicker.Camrys have, somewhat fairly, been tagged as whitegoods on wheels. There’s little engagement, they’re designed to move human bodies from A to B and back again without issue. And these two do. If the word fun can be injected into these two, it’s the Hybrid more likely to do so but only just ahead of the V6, in a driver’s sense. A niggle with the Hybrid that AWT has had is the all too quick engagement of the petrol engine to supplement the battery system. On a flat road and with an eggshell’s pressure on the accelerator, the Hybrid will move away under battery only up to a point where the computer, regardless of whether EV has been selected via a button in the centre console, brings in the petrol engine.A dash screen on both allows varying info such as navigation, audio, and in the Hybrid, shows the power distribution and battery level. It shows the change between battery only, both, or when the petrol is driving and charging the battery. It’s here that faint thunks from the CVT as it deals with the changing drive inputs can be felt.

Road holding in a straight line shows that the Camry V6’s rear end is too soft. Every minor ripple set the Camry’s rear bouncing, and more often than not a good dip would have it on the bumpstops. The front was defineably tauter, with the same bumps that had the rear flustered consigned to a mere bump. Combined with a V6 and front driven wheels, a heavy foot will also induce a phenomenon rarely seen in cars nowadays. Torque steer. Some plough on understeer was noted as well with Bridgestone Turanza 235/45/18 rubber not seemingly up to the task. Another disconcerting suspension issue was the readiness of the rear end to skip sideways when on a turn and hitting even a small irregularity.Somehow, the Camry Hybrid felt better sorted at both front and rear. Float was reduced, turn in was crisper, there was a lesser feeling of understeer, a minimised lateral movement and compression at the rear. Ride felt more confident, perhaps thanks to the Michelin Primacy 215/55/17 tyres. Even in the rainy periods that struck Australia’s most populous city during the test week, the Hybrid gave a more composed and sedate performance on road, instilling a higher level of confidence.Features wise there’s plenty. DAB audio is in both and the model dependent varying sized touchscreens are easy to use although have a pre-programmed split screen look. Default mode has a map on two thirds and audio on the other third, however the soft touch Audio button then brings up the chosen source. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto aren’t installed but a connected smartphone allows music apps to be used. There’s a charging pad for compatible smartphones snuggled in under the lower dash fold, next to a 12V and USB/3.5mm socket connector. The tiller has tabs on the left spoke that allow access to the dash screen. Cupholders front and rear via the console and pull-down are in, as are door mounted bottle holders. LED lighting is featured and the glass roof in the V6 was simple to operate via the standard roof mounted toggles.Airbags (seven, including kneebag) and driving aids abound, with the Hybrid having the drive mode options in the console. The SL trim level has a Head Up Display which is discrete to the point it’s almost unnoticeable. Park Assist front and rear is fitted and it’s a doddle to use. Reverse parking comes with a camera and guidelines on the screen to help in tighter car park and roadside kerb parking. Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Traffic Alert is SL specific.

At The End Of The Drive.
Pricing for the 2018 Camry range starts from a manufacturers list price of $27,690 for the four cylinder Ascent. The Hybrid Ascent is $29,990. Go to the Hybrid SL and you’re looking at $40,990. The SL V6 is $43,990, bot of course check with your dealership and for special offers head to Toyota Australia’s website

The cars themselves will sell to the Toyota faithful and potentially steal a few from elsewhere. Pedaled hard the Hybrid edges ahead of the V6 purely on driveability, is definitely more economical, and in SL form they have a goodly range of kit. From a driver’s point of view however there still doesn’t seem to be a real level of engagement, that sense of momentary flutter when getting in. For AWT it’s perhaps the somewhat disjointed looking dash design and the V6 SL’s lack of real ride as opposed to what a free revving V6 engine offers. That’s possibly best left to the V6 SX for those that want a rorty and sporty V6 Camry.

 

Build Your Own Bentley.

Wander into a car dealership and you’re presented with a range of automobiles that are an example of what is available. Mostly they’ll cover colors, perhaps some seat trims, and some options like roof racks, or wheels.
Iconic British car maker, Bentley, are at the other end of the spectrum. Their large limousine, the Mulsanne, offers via their Car Configurator, an almost endless list of combinations to ensure that Sir and Madam have a car tailored to their own exquisite tastes. There’s three versions of the Mulsanne: the Extended Wheelbase, Mulsanne Speed, and the Mulsanne itself.
The exterior has a basic choice of five single colors and one two-tone black and aqua-marine known as Velvetine. Click the “Colors” tab and this opens up an eight further options covering Blacks, Greens, Golds/Oranges/Browns, Blues, Reds & Purples, Silvers, Yellows and Whites, and Duo-Tones. A click on Silvers alone brought up a choice of thirteen distinct shades. Bentley’s own “Mulliner” branding is applied here and through the other very comprehensive options list.The choice of wheels is somewhat more restrained, with five available. There’s one twenty inch, two twenty one inch, and two Mulliner Specification.
Heading inside, the Hide tab has Colour Split and then Main Hide and Secondary Hide. Sixteen Main Hide and fifteen Secondary Hide options are listed including Highland Hare and Fireglow. Naturally these coverings are sourced from the most pristine of donors, especially checked for markings and flaws before Bentley takes delivery, where they’re further rechecked.
A standout of any classic British brand has been the wood veneer fitted. Bentley has a list of ten utterly gorgeous real wood veneers, including the classic Dark Stained Burr Walnut. Naturally there’s a choice of location for these veneers. Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus for the Gear Lever? Of course, Sir.Which sort of stitching would Sir like to complement that? Contrast, Contrast Hand Stitching, or perhaps Contrast Piping? If a subtle look is being aimed for, there is non-contrast stitching and piping as well.
Of course the fabulous Bentley logo is included, with Blind and Contrast stitching. The steering wheel is given a choice of five coverings, and both the seat belts and carpets can be tailored to match the hides selected.
But of course Mulsanne owners like to let the world know that it’s their car they’re driving. Or more likely being chauffeured in. That’s why Bentley’s Car Configurator has grille options, glass tint options, and yes, even options for the famous “Flying Spur.”
Cost, as the saying goes, is “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”