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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Picanto GT

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 Kia Picanto GT. It’s the pert and perky little five door hatch, with minor and tastefully styled body add-ons, an energetic powerplant, and a fun factor that’s off the scale. It’s a screaming bargain at just $17,990 driveaway.Under The Bonnet Is: A zippy and free spinning three cylinder petrol engine with a real warble when it’s spinning up. There are 74kW available at 4,500rpm, and a very useful 172Nm from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm. Power heads to the front wheels via a five speed manual. Boost and bang for the milk-bottle sized engine comes from a turbocharger that adds plenty of sizzle. The dry weight of the Picanto GT is just 1,007kg, which means that the power and torque, plus the five speed, don’t need to work hard to provide the spark.

Tank size is just 35L for the standard unleaded fuel. Economy, says Kia, is 4.8L per 100km for the combined. In the urban cycle, its far more likely home, it’s 6.2L/100km. Get it onto the freeways and that drops to 4.0L/100km. We finished on 6.4L/100km on our mainly urban test cycle.On The Outside It’s: The same little block of Picanto that’s been available for a few years but now with extra grin. There are colour highlights from inserts outside and in, new wheels, front bar additions with driving lights and extra air intakes, whilst the rear gets the cool “neon” light look at night plus a twin exhaust and a diffuser style add-on. Nexen supplies the 195/45 N Blue Plus rubber to wrap the 16 inch eight spoke alloys. The review car came clad in Aurora Black, with the GT also having Clear White, Signal Red, and Titanium Silver.

On The Inside It’s: Comfortable and familiar, yet carries a bit more cachet. There are red leather highlights on the front seats, alloy pedals with rubber strips for extra foot grip, and red backlighting for the switchgear. There’s some brightwork on the tiller and piano black for the console stack. Seats are manually adjusted but with the not-quite-as user friendly levers rather than the dials which are MUCH more user friendly. Luggage space is 255L with the rear seats up, 1,055L with seats down. It’s JUST enough, if packed correctly, to carry a decent weekly family shop but if it’s a really decent shop, then the space behind the front seats will need to be used.Space itself is more than adequate for a couple, but go more than three then the Picanto’s 3,595mm length and 2,400mm wheelbase come into play. Thankfully the front seat room is enough for all but basketball players so pulled forward the rear leg room becomes tenable. Shoulder room is a bit cosy thanks to the 1,595mm and headroom is fine even with a 1,485mm height.Storage comes in the form of two cup holders in the centre console, bottle holders for the front doors, a coat hook and net hooks in the cargo area. Sounds are from a non-DAB equipped audio system but Bluetooth streaming is standard. Sound quality isn’t as good as it could be either, with depth and punch not on the same level as other systems found in Kias. Apple and Android apps are standard as well. That’s a good thing for those that use them as satnav is not standard.What About Safety?: Covered. Sort of…AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) with FCWS (Forward Collision Warning System) leads the party, backed up by a reverse camera and rear parking sensors. LED driving lights up front add visual safety and add to the visual presence and the headlights are Auto on. BUT, and it’s a big but, no Rear Cross Traffic Alert, no Blind Spot Alert, no Lane Keep Assist, no front sensors, hold back the Picanto GT in crucial areas.

On The Road It’s: An absolute bundle of fun. The engine is a cracker and the gearbox is well specced for cogs. The clutch is light and really could do with more feedback as to where the pedal is in travel and where the plates are in gripping. Once the driver has worked that out though, practice gets the pickup point and shifts to launch just right. However the spring loading for the gear selector is also light and a touch vague in where the lever goes. The gate is close so a slide from second to third feels like it’s in the same line, and there isn’t enough definition in the shifter’s movement to properly advise where the lever’s going.

ONCE everything is worked out, the little engine that could, does. It’s got a real warmth to the sound, yes, but the appeal is in how it pulls the Picanto GT , in how it allows tractability in gentle around town driving or getting serious on the freeway. It’s geared for easy going driving, but also some get up and go squirt as required. The turbo kicks in at just under 2,000 and on the freeway that gearing allows a push of the pedal to see the Picanto GT rocket forward. It’s accompanied by a thrum, a not unpleasant rumble from the three cylinder donk, which is muted when not being pressed.Off the line it’s easy to feel pressed back into the seat easily when driving in anger. There is some real urge in this tiny engine and it’s something a driver can exploit and enjoy. Bang the gear selector from first to second to third and the GT simply rolls on inexorably, seamless in its acceleration. Throw out the picks and the lightweight car slows quickly and confidently.And thanks to the slightly bigger footprint, and the grippier tyres, hard-arsed cornering can be exploited and enjoyed too. Under power the Picanto GT can be punted into turns that would see the speedo read 20, 30 km/h slower (depending on the corner’s radius and driving conditions) whilst taking advantage of the engine on boost.

Ride quality is good but not great. The rear end is prone to a little skipping around on the roads that have the expansion joints and the whole car will crash bang on missing road sections. It’s a suspension that is flat and taut but not supple enough to dial these out.

What About Warranty?:
There is Kia’s 7 years warranty as standard. That’s with unlimited kilometres. Roadside assist is for 12 months initially however if the Picanto GT is brought to Kia for servicing then that extends to 7 years coverage also. Servicing is capped price and for every 15,000 kilometres or annually, whichever occurs first.At The End Of The Drive. The Kia Picanto GT is an embodiment of the words “pocket rocket”. That 172Nm of torque is so useable in a small car, and somehow manages to stay engaging even when loaded with two adults, a ten year old, and shopping. It’s the gear selector and clutch that blunts the engine’s sharpness as these really could do with tightening up. Ride quality is also not quite en’ pointe as there’s a lack of the absorption needed in the upper end of the travel.

The lack of DAB isn’t crucial but FM sounded dull. If a GT designation is to indicate a top of the tree model, then add a top of the tree audio setup. Make up your own mind by going here.

 

CarReview: 2019 Genesis G70 2.0L Turbo

This Car Review Is About: The revamped and relaunched as a two car range, Genesis. No it’s not the Phil Collins version. It’s the rejig of the 3.8L V6 first seen a half decade ago, now called G80. And now there’s a BMW hunting smaller version, the G70. This comes in three trim levels and two engine choices, being 2.0T, 2.0T Sport, and 2.0T Ultimate or with the 3.3L V6 as found in the Stinger.How Much Will It Cost?: There’s a sticker price of $58K plus on roads for the entry level, $62K for the Sport, and a hefty $71K for the Ultimate in four cylinder guise. The Genesis website says $65,533 driveaway, or with sunroof $68,158. In Sport and Ultimate trim it’s $69,733/$72,760 and $76,978.

Under The Bonnet Is: The same potent turbo 2.0L as found elsewhere in the Hyundai and Kia families. It’s a 180kW/353Nm turbocharged 2.0L four cylinder. This is mounted “north-south” and drives the rear rubber via a slick eight speed auto. Otherwise there’s a 3.3L V6 effectively lifted from Kia’s underappreciated Stinger. Economy is rated as 9.0L per 100km for the combined cycle in the Sport, 8.7L in the standard 2.0L Our average around town barely moved from 8.7L/100km, and that was enjoying some of the fruits of the spirited engine.On The Inside It’s: Pretty nice in this entry level trim spec. Leather seats, heated, not vented (sigh) are comfortable, supportive underneath and around the abdomen and electrically powered for both sides. There isn’t memory seating though. The top level has a diamond quilted leather trim option for the seats. There’s a sunroof, of course ($2500 as an option), and mood lighting in the housing around the switches for the interior lights. If there’s an option to change the colour it wasn’t readily found. All models have a remote key for entry and exit, and it’s cleverly designed to fit in between the spring loaded supports inside the cup/bottle holders in the console.In the traditional styled centre console is a rocker gear selector, a drive mode dial, and a nook with wireless charging for smartphones, plus USB and 12V sockets. The charge pad is a tad fiddly and requires precise placement of the handset in order to initiate charging. The touchscreen is a 8.0 inch with a familiar look. As a result it’s super easy to use and to read. Satnav is standard and SUNA updates are included. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are embedded. Sound is via DAB and Bluetooth streaming. The 9 speaker output is beautifully balanced, crisp, and with plenty of balance in the bottom end.Paddle shifts are standard and work well with the smart transmission, which has rev matching technology when it comes to the cog swaps. There are five drive modes which are activated via a dial near the gear selector. Custom, Comfort, Eco, Sport, Smart, are the choices and each change the colour of backlight in the driver’s dash LCD screen. They also bring up a graphic on the main 8.0 inch centre screen which show a layout of the car and highlights areas with different colours. Embedded in the sub-menus here is the option to change the steering and transmission between Comfort and Sports.The rear seats are not excessively spacious in regards to leg room. Even with an average height driver the rear of the front seat is just a few inches from the squab of the rear seat, and they just don’t look as if there is real comfort for anyone of certain sizes. That’s due to a shortened wheelbase that, although it endows the G70 with great handling, then compromises for a proper 2+2 or 2+3. It also compromises boot space, with the BMW/M-B-esque end holding 330L. The spare is a space saver, not a full-sizer.What About Safety? There’s nothing left out in real terms. A console mounted tab for 360 degree camera was fitted in the review car, and the actual feature is standard in the Ultimate. Forward Collision Avoidance with pedestrian alert is standard, as is Lane Keep Assist with steering assist. The actual assist is aggressive and overly so in how it works to keep a car in between the lines. Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot Alert are also standard, as are a full suite of airbags including driver’s knee.On The Outside It’s: Low, slinky, full of sensual curves, and obvious who it’s looking to hunt down. It’s a long, long, bonnet on the 4,685mm G70, with lines and shapes that evoke BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and thanks to the badge, had a number of school yard car-spotters saying Aston Martin. It’s fair to say that the deep electric blue metallic paint is eye-catching, and on the school run had plenty of eyes on stalks swivelling to follow its progress. Even on the highway and residential roads the unfamiliar shape and badge had people stop or watching from inside their own car, eager to try and get a glimpse of the svelte lines. It’s a four coupe, almost, in profile, and the bootlid is a stubby, truncated affair with a built-in spoiler design. The grille on the Sport is a classy, black coated, diamond mesh design. On the front flanks is a chromed, boomerang shaped insert, and there is pressure relieving vents ahead and behind.The tail lights are LED and there’s even a hint of Mustang in the three vertical stripes when lit. There are puddle lamps in the wing mirrors that shine the Genesis logo, and the headlights and indicators are high intensity bi-LED and full LED respectively.Out On the Road It’s: Engaging. Wonderfully so. Dialing up any of the drive modes from another brings small but perceptible changes in the G70’s behaviour. In Sports mode for the steering it’s razor sharp, though process sharp in its reaction to steering wheel input, and adds a discernible heft to how it feels as it’s turned. Eco dulls the engine and transmission down to a smooth, slurry,easy going feel. Sport goes the other way, tightening up the responses for a crisper, sharper, experience.

But even Sport doesn’t completely dial out the unexpected. There is turbo lag, that gap between hitting the pedal and the engine lighting the candle. Once fired up via the push Start/Drop button, the motor settles into a ready for action mode. It’s sometimes too eager, like an energetic puppy, pulling at the transmission in its willingness to move. Get to a stop sign, the engine spins down. Go pedal pressed and there’s a hesitation as the electronics engage and the turbo finds boost once 2000rpm is seen on the tacho as the G70 gets underway.

On song, the 2.0L turbo pulls nicely in all driving areas. Having the eight speeds to choose from, along with the rev matching tech, means it’s hardly ever found wanting for response in throttle applications. Feather it into a twisting mountain road and the tacho blips and flickers as the engine and gearbox work side by side in keeping the revs where they need to be. Cruise on the highway and it’s inaudible. Plant the hoof and there’s a sharp intake of breath before a cog or two is swapped and it launches forward. In Sports mode there is a rumble fed through the audio system to add to the experience.Ride quality is never anything less than very good. The taut rear end will skip around, the steering in Sports mode is razor sharp in its response time. The suspension is a delight. Its compliant to a fault, dealing with the usual lumps and bumps without issue, even dialling out the dreaded shopping centre speed reducers without qualm. Road noise on harsher tarmac from the 265/45/18 tyres was surprisingly intrusive. Smoother roads were much quieter. There are 18s on the entry level, black painted alloys on the Sports, and bespoke Ultimates in 19 inch diameters for the top level. the Sport has Michelin Pilot Sport 225/40/19s and stopping power comes from renowned brake company, Brembo. These are super effective, hauling up the G70 time after time with pin point precision thanks to one of the best calibrated brake pedals going.

And The Warranty Is: For five years. There is free servicing for those five years too, along with the Genesis ownership experience, and 24/7 roadside assist. There is also a free service for drop-off/pickup when booking the car in for service if the owner is inside a 70km circle of a Genesis Studio. In Sydney, currently there is only one and it’s in the city itself.

At The End Of the Drive.
There are a couple of things holding the Genesis up from making its mark in the Aussie automotive landscape. Chief amongst the list is the brand recognition. When Genesis launched with the 3.8L V6 version, it was seen with a small measure of respect, a larger measure of disdain, and quickly fell into the hands of hire-car companies. Only Hyundai can explain why. Right now, with a presence that’s still virtually invisible, the marketing team needs to get behind it and let people know it exists.The next hump is the bias that Australians have when it comes to cars from Korea. Inexplicably, there is still a stigma attached to both brands, even with the superb quality and outright clout the cars have. Hyundai’s N class, for example, showcases real-world ability against class leaders like the Golf GTi. The Stinger has shown that a V6 powered rear wheel drive sedan has punch. The i30, the Highlander, the Santa Fe are plentiful on road, but still have that upturned nose and sniff of derision to cope with. And that’s unfair as Korea makes the best selling Samsung and LG TVs, phones, home appliances…

For a Genesis rebirth, there’s work to be done. Find out more, here.

SUV Favourites

SUVs are popular, and the reason for this is because they offer motorists increased safety, plenty of cargo area, and interior space is good for seating comfort.  There is plenty of SUV choice out there and, with diesel, petrol, electric and hybrid options available, a new SUV buyer has plenty to think about before making their final decision on which SUV to buy.  Ultimately, their choice will come down to their own individual preferences, their driving habits and on what they can afford to buy.  Here are some of the best SUVs you can buy new in Australia.  The list is not exhausted, but the following SUVs are popular for good reason.

Mazda is the favourite SUV for Australians.  Mazda’s popular CX series includes the small CX-3, mid-size CX-5, big CX-8 and largest CX-9 models.  They all boast nice clean design which always looks good, and their modern styling has given Mazda an edge.  Offering a wide range of SUV sizes in their line-up, Mazda has what you need when it comes to SUVs.  Mazda’s CX SUVs all drive very nicely, and are efficient, safe and reliable.  Buy one of the new Mazda CX Series vehicles and you can’t go far wrong.

We all know that Toyota is a very strong contender on all vehicle matters.  When it comes to a new Toyota SUV you know that you’re going to get a very well built vehicle that lasts the distance.  You can get yourself one of the larger well-known Land Cruiser and Prado models that boast very competent off-road ability.  However, Toyota’s SUV line-up also includes SUVs with light off-road capabilities in the form of the RAV4 and Kluger models which are surprisingly spacious and nice to drive.  For those who like the thought of owning a compact SUV, Toyota offers the chic C-HR which is beautifully stylish and funky.  The RAV4 Hybrid is going to be a hit for those who will appreciate its fuel economy and low emissions.  Again you can’t fault Toyota reliability, safety and overall value.

Mitsubishi offers the Outlander, ASX and Eclipse SUVs, and with their highly accomplished Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle).  This is definitely a brand worth looking into for your next SUV drive.  On all accounts Mitsubishi SUVs are stylish, well-equipped, safe and practical, remaining clockwork reliable for many km after purchase.

A new Subaru Forester or Outback SUV is always going to look great parked up your driveway, and they do look somewhat sleeker and even sportier than typically chunkier SUV drives.  Do check out the spunky little ‘XV’ which is sporty and characterful.  For driving satisfaction, safety and new car reliability, Subaru have for a long time been very strong.

Plenty more Kia SUVs are running on our roads, and this is for good reason.  Kia Sportage and Sorento SUVs are excellent medium-to-large SUV models that are rugged, reliable and stylish.  New Kia SUVs are very well equipped and safe SUVs to drive.  They are pleasant to drive, can tackle off-road excursions with AWD, and they remain reliable and practical SUVs throughout their ownership.

Honda give us their sleek HR-V and CR-V models which look good, remain ever-reliable, and on a practical note sing sweetly with good fuel efficiency to boot.  There are many loyal Honda fans out there, and the new SUV models are solid buys.  Buy a luxury CR-V and you’re in for a treat.  The car has plenty of smooth power, practical space, nice comfort levels and plenty of modern technology.

Nissan brings a good level of choice for new SUV buyers.  All Nissan SUV models (which include the: smaller Juke, medium-sized Qashqai and X-Trail, and the larger Pathfinder) are very stylish to drive.  Their top of the range varieties offer premium luxury and are very well-equipped.  Pathfinders and X-Trails do have some clever 4×4 drivetrains which can take you more off-road places than you might expect.

BMW appeals as a luxury SUV choice, and for good reason.  BMW ‘X’ SUVs are polished performers that do a whole lot of things very well.  Space is good, comfort good, economy can be good, and handling is very good along with performance.  With plenty of models available in the ‘X’ series the SUV buyer has loads of choice – large or small and anything in between.  And if the standard ‘X’ series variants aren’t exciting enough, you can always upgrade to the ‘M’ versions which are star performers in their field.  They boast sportier features, too.

Audi is another premium brand that is selling surprisingly well in the SUV market.  The SUV luxury brand offers an extensive range of vehicles that are known as Audi’s Q range.  Like BMW, Audi have SUVs that can be of any size – from the small Q2 right through to the big Q7 and Q8.  If you’re looking for something with more power, then Audi’s ‘S’ range may set your heart racing.  Audi tend to go out of their way to keep their buyers happy over long term ownership, too.  Stylish definitely, and if you can stretch to the bigger Audi Q7 or Q8 you’ll drive an SUV that has becoming quite a status symbol in it field.

Holden has a few interesting SUV options that are well worth a look, and the range is one of the larger line-ups currently available in Australia.  The Acadia, Equinox, Trailblazer and Trax are all available and well equipped vehicles.  Ongoing ease of servicing, a nice driving experience and overall satisfaction are what make owning a new Holden SUV a good choice.  If you can find yourself a top of the range Holden SUV then you’re going to be driving a very comfortable SUV.

Volvo has some very stylish SUV vehicles that are safe, efficient and easy to drive.  Their comfort levels and equipment are hard to beat, and they come in three flavours from the smallest sporty XC40, the mid-size XC60 and the awesome and large XC90.

Hyundai, another Korean brand, is doing really well on a global scale with an ever increasing fan base.  You’re sure to find a Hyundai SUV to suit your needs.  Three SUV models are available: the Kona, Tucson and Santa Fe.  A Hyundai SUV is stylish, easy to live with and rides and performs very well.  They are also pretty reliable machines, safe and relatively affordable considering the level of equipment offered.

Finally, Ford always has an SUV to suit your tastes.  Well made, practical performers, the Ford SUV range is comfortable and well-equipped with loads of goodies and great infotainment technology.  Small to large, the range of Ford SUVs is good.  The EcoSport, Escape, Endura and Everest will all make a fine companion that will reliably cart your family and gear around.

There are other SUVs out there that haven’t been mentioned, however, if you feel the need to put a good word in for a particular model, please feel free to do so.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Hyundai iLoad Crew Van Liftback.

This Car Review Is About: a vehicle that doubles nicely as a passenger and commercial transport vehicle. The Hyundai iLoad is the cargo transport version of the dedicated passenger van called iMax. It comes with or without the passenger configuration. Or, if you will, the iMax is the passenger version of the iLoad…What Does It Cost: At the time of writing, Hyundai were listing the iLoad Crew at just over $48K driveaway. That includes a five year warranty or 160,000 kilometres, free first service, and 12 months of roadside assist up front. There is a 15,000 kilometre/12 month service schedule.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L diesel and five speed auto for the iLoad Crew as tested. Peak torque is a whopping 441Nm however the PEAK figure is available through a very narrow rev band of 2,000 rpm through to 2,250rpm. There’s no lack of urge available under that 2,000rpm though. Economy is quoted as 8.8L per 100km for the combined cycle.On The Inside It’s: A comfortable place to be. The two rows of cloth covered seats are separated from the 2,215L of cargo space by a fairly rigid barrier but was still prone to a squeak or two. The front seats are a 2+1 configuration, with the centre section featuring a folding backrest that doubles as a tray and cup holder. The driver has a one touch powered window for Down only, and for up it needs to be held. The windows in the sliding doors for the rear passengers are fold out and not that far either.Instrumentation is basic but functional here. The driver has a fully analogue needle set of dials and a basic but again functional monochrome LCD screen in the centre. This shows trip, odometer, and expected range, but we didn’t see a litres per kilometre display though. Headlights have an Auto on switch, the tiller houses the basic audio and cruise controls, and the wiper controls on the left are just a fingertip away during the rainy season.The dash console itself has a split level storage on the passenger side, a small nook in the centre for USB and 3.5mm auxiliary, a small pull out drawer lower down and a 12V socket.

The centre dash touchscreen is the same in that it’s basic to look at, works exactly as designed, and offers little in the way of fripperies. Audio is “old school” AM and FM, lacks DAB, but does have app access for Android Auto and Apple Carplay.The cargo section came lined with protective sheeting and cargo tie-down hooks.On The Outside It’s: received a mild facelift at the front compared to the original, slightly goggle-eyed, front. The headlights top line blends sweetly into the bottom of teh bonnet/top of the blacked-out grille. The rear is largely unchanged and there are no rear parking sensors.

The front brings the iLoad more into line with Kia’s Carnival with a more traditional passenger car and bonneted look. Headlights are more horizontally aligned and squared off, and this particular vehicle came with a nudge bar and super bright LED light bar. A tow bar was fitted at the rear. The rear gate isn’t powered but is easy enough to lift.Wheels and rubber were steel (with the review car having black painted alloys actually, wrapped in Hankook tyres) and 215/70/16 in size for the standard set, plus the spare is a full sizer.

Out On The Road It’s: A very pleasant drive. 100kmh to 110kmh sees revs at just under 1800rpm to 2000rpm. The commercial vehicle style rubber didn’t cope excessively well with the damp and wet conditions experienced during the review period.
On a flat road they would break traction, and on an uphill oriented curve would spin rather easily and bring in the traction control. As a result, some of the driving had to be dialled down in one particular section of a mountainous and curvy road. Front end grip wasn’t confidence inspiring and the taut, cargo carrying, rear end would feel on the verge of breaking away.

The steering was responsive on the softer front end, with the merest twitch seeing the nose respond.

However, a quarter turn was needed to see any real broadening of the movement, and even at around 40kmh into a reasonably easy left or right hander, depending on direction of travel, would understeer and require a foot lift, a dab of the brakes, before hitting the go pedal.

Actual off the line response was wonderful, with virtually no discernable turbo lag from the torque 2.5L engine, meaning dry road hookup was swift and without fuss. There is manual shifting but the ‘box is good enough to not really need it. It’s also a little more sensitive than others in that the brake pedal had to be firmly held in order for the gear selector button to depress.
There was a real sense of refinement to the driveline too. A muted engine noise, super crisp changes in the five speed auto, and almost instant throttle response were dampened, at times, by the road noise from the tyres and body.

At The End Of The Drive.
Although it’s effectively a commercial vehicle that just happens to seat six, there’s just enough to make it a very enjoyable family car if the iMax is out of the budget range. Proper passenger tyres, usage of the smartphone apps, and perhaps some custom built container spaces for shopping in the rear, and there’s a people mover hiding in plain sight.

The engine and gearbox make for a great pairing, and it’s not thirsty by any measure. Check it out at the Hyundai website

Sales Are Down Again For The Aussie Market.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, or FCAI, has released the June 2019 vehicle sales figures for Australia’s once thriving market. What it reveals is a pointer to the rest of the economy, with sales down overall by 9.6 percent. Compared to the same time in 2018, it’s even more drastic, at 18.5 percent lower for the passenger car segment at 33,864 sales.

June 2019 saw 117,817 sales in total, with SUVs and Light Commercial vehicles down to 53,509 and 26,372 respectively. These two segments saw drops of 4.7 and 7.0 percent each. The market leader in June was Toyota with 21,200 sales, followed by Mazda on 10,806, Hyundai with 10,001, Mitsubishi at 8,891, and Kia with 7,200. However it’s good news for one particular brand, with four entries inside the top ten.

Toyota takes out the top of the ladder, with the HiLux moving 5,396 units, but still down on last year by 6.9%. Ford’s Ranger is position 2 and showed a slight increase of 1.7%, up to 4,871 units. Grid position 3 belongs to Hyundai’s i30 range with 3,340, down by 5.8%. Toyota’s evergreen Corolla went to 3137 unit’s and that’s the third biggest decrease in the top ten at 17.3%. Position five is Mazda’s CX-5, down by 7.2% to 2,911.

Kia’s new Cerato is the big mover, up by 14%, with 2,832 unit finding new homes for position 6. Position 7 was Mitsubishi’s Triton, and compared to June of 2018 it’s down by 31.2% but this is accounted for by the outgoing model being on runout some time ago. The Mazda3 goes into Position 8 with 2,533 units, but that’s down by 23.9% compared to June 2018. Toyota takes out positions 9 and 10 with the RAV4 and Landcruiser, with 2,449 and 2,360. Again, though, they’re down by 9.0 and 707% respectively.

In brand sales Toyota holds top spot ahead of Mazda and Hyundai. Mitsubishi heads Ford for 4th and 5th, whilst Kia, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, and Holden fill out the top ten. It’s worth noticing that some of the brands in the top ten overall don’t feature in the top ten vehicle types. Nor do some of the more supposedly popular brands such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

Private Fleet Car Review: Holden Trax LS Turbo

This Car Review Is About: the Holden Barina based SUV called the Trax. This review is on the LS spec with turbo engine. It’s part of a three trim level range (LS, LT, LTZ) with all but one the 1.4L turbo. The range starts with a LS and 1.8L and is priced at $23,990 plus on roads. At the time of writing the LS 1.4L was available at $24,490 driveaway.The Engine Produces: 103kW and 200Nm, plus a figure of 6.7L per 100 kilometres (combined) from a 53L tank filled with 91RON. Our final figure in an urban drive was 8.3L/100km. Drive is through the front wheels and a six speed auto.On The Inside It’s: a reasonably comfortable place to be. Cloth seats are snug and although fully manual are easy to adjust. The doors open wide enough to make getting onto the seats a doddle too. Because it’s a compact machine, at 4,264mm long and a 2,555mm wheelbase, leg room for the rear seat is adequate at 907mm, not startling and dependent on the front pews not being occupied by taller people. Front leg room is fine for all but the the giants, at 1037mm. Shoulder and hip room is also adequate and front seat head room is great at 1,005mm. The Trax helps the front seat passengers by not having a centre console storage bin, just a standard cup holder style.Barina origins mean the dash is the asymmetrical look found in that car. There’s a old-style looking LCD screen to the right, the speedometer dial in the centre, and the fuel and rev counter on the left. It’s a simple looking unit and as a result offers nothing more than what you see, except for the LCD’s switchable info screens operated from the right hand side of the tiller.The dash itself is Euro styled, with the current sweep around in an arch from door to door running at the base of the windscreen. It’s a finer looking plastic and visually more appealing than that found in the Arcadia. Faux alloy rims the air vents at each end, forms a U-loop for the centre display and vents, and highlights the steering wheel arms and centre stack verticals. The aircon controls in the LS are dials, meaning the temperature can be adjusted finitely but airflow isn’t as finely controlled. These sit above a small nook that has USB/3.5mm/12V sockets.

Audio is AM/FM only, with no DAB, which is increasingly seen in the Trax’s opposition. Smartphone mirroring in the form of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are here.On the Ouside: It’s a strong resemblance to the Barina, if more a breathe in and hold look. It’s ovoid in the overall design, with curves everywhere especially on the front and rear flanks. 215/60/17 tyres and wheels underpin those curves. Up front are integrated LED driving lights that curl nicely around the outsides of the clusters. Driving lights are in their own housings at each corner of the lower front bumper. Out back is a manual tail gate, with an opening to just enough room to get a week’s shopping into, with 387L expanding to 1270L with the 60/40 rear pews folded.

Tail lights are a triple layered affair and blend nicely with the bulbous rear guards. There’s also a resemblance, in a way, to the Trailblazer and Colorado up front, and nothing at all in respect to the Equinox and Acadia. There are eight colours to choose from, including the Absolute Red the test car was painted in.

On The Road It’s: Missing something. It’s not a big machine, and the 1.4L isn’t an outright powerhouse, but 200NMm comes on stream at 1,850Nm. Performance, what there is of it, is blunted, muted, initially First impressions were that the tyres were under-pressured, dragging back the LS Trax. It simply didn’t feel as lively, as exuberant, as it should have. It takes a while to feel as if there’s something living under the bonnet. Get to around 1/3rd travel of the go-pedal and once the revs are above 2,000 the hidden life of the engine is revealed.

Suspension is short travel and tight, to the point the Trax would cock a rear corner in certain situations. None of those were at anything more than 10kmh, thankfully. It’s an odd sensation but it pointed towards the ride and handling the Trax LS had. Smooth on smooth roads, jiggly and unsettled on unsettled roads, tracks straight and true otherwise. The front is a tad softer than the rear though and this helps in the front end’s tracking nicely. It’s a slightly numb steering feel, prone to understeer, but it’s predictable, controllable, telegraphing just where the pert nose will go with no chance of misinformation being sent to the driver.What also isn’t sent to the driver is the Acadia’s vibrating seat platform should the onboard sensors detect anything the system deems worthy of sending a signal to the vibrating seat. That’s a long way of saying that the driver is better equipped to deal with driving situations in front of them because they’re not momentarily distracted by a seat going crazy beneath them.

Steering is well weighted and the brakes are also well balanced, with extra bite over the 1.8L that comes with drum rears. the turbo four has discs.

What About Safety?: No AEB, and the LTZ is the only one that gets Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Alert. all three do get a lo-res reverse camera, six airbags, and the mandated driver aids and Hill Start Assist.

The Warranty Is: Five years/unlimited kilometres, with three years free scheduled servicing.At The End of the Drive.
The Holden Trax is apparently due for an update in 2020. It needs it and needs it badly. Not because it’s an unpleasant car, far from it. However when up against cars in the same sphere, it’s immediately dated. Holden’s Traxis available here.

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Holden Acadia LTZ 2WD

This Car Review Is About: The 2019 Holden Acadia in LTZ 2WD trim. It’s the big and American styled machine that replaces the Captiva. It has four doors, fat flanks, a dropped jaw front end, and a V6/auto combination that spins the front driven tyres at the slightest hint of provocation. It’s a seven seater, by the way.This Car Costs: $53,490 is the current sticker price according to the latest pricing guide. $57,490 is for the all wheel drive version. At the time of writing, Holden is moving the LTZ 2WD for a driveaway price of $54,990 for a Summit White body, or $55,565 for one in metallic. That includes free scheduled servicing for three years and a five year warranty.

The Engine Is: a 3.6L V6 with Stop/Start tech mated to an generally super smooth nine speed auto. It’s essentially the same pair to be found in the Commodore. Economy was average, with a final figure of 10.0L/100km. Peak power is 231 kilowatts, with peak twist of 367Nm coming in at 5000rpm.On the Inside It’s: One of the most mundane looking looking interiors currently going. A dull, slabby, semi-gloss, fine-grained black plastic with no visual appeal whatsoever dominates the front seat area and it’s little better heading rearward. The driver and front seat passenger stare at a dash that has a generic a look as can be found. There are silver coloured air vent surrounds at each end, a basic looking centre dash screen and vents with a silver surround sit above a generic looking aircon control cluster, and a pair of seat heater buttons are inserted in either side of a nook for a smartphone charging pad. Front seat passengers also get a different take on heated seats in that either the bottom or back and bottom of the seat can be selected.There are vents in the roof for the centre and rear seat passengers. The rear section gets its own controls and again, they’re GM generic. They do work and well enough for the centre seat passengers to make no negative noises. Said rear seat passengers have the wonderfully simple pull strap system to raise and lower the pews, and the rear gate is powered and comes with the same height adjustable feature found in the LTZ-V. There is also rear section aircon controls which, admittedly, is a rarity seen in this class of car.The touchscreen for the radio is, at least, well laid out in regards to usage. Although it’s a typical GM look, it is easy to read, easy on the eye, and relatively easy to use. However there was a glitch with the digital tuner. After powering up the car, there were times where the screen indicated it was searching for a signal yet would play the last station. At other times it would not play a digital station at all but would be fine when selecting FM. This is the same glitch as noted in the LTZ-V, which means either it’s a glitch that can’t be fixed or Holden is unaware of the problem which is unlikely.On The Outside It’s: Possibly why it seems to not have lit up the sales charts. Take a look at the offerings from Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi etc. None of them are as overtly apple pie as the Acadia. That’s made evident by simply driving around and keeping an eye out for them. A heavy front end, broadened flanks at the rear passenger doors, a perhaps too solid C pillar and a fussy design here too. Wheels are 6×2 spoke alloys, with Continental Cross Contact LX Sport rubber at 235/65/18.It’s a clear three box design with the bonnet, front and centre seats, then a separate section for the rear. It’s not an entirely cohesive look.

On The Road It’s: A weird mix. Off the line, from a standing start, the front driven rubber will easily chirp with no more than a gentle push of the go pedal. But thanks to its bulk, that’s about as exciting as it gets. That peak torque needs a lot of spin to really be effective in pulling the front wheel drive machine around, and as good as the gearbox is in utilising the torque, there simply needs to be either more of it, or have it come in lower. There is actually an easy fix for that, though, and it’s a one word answer. DIESEL. Yup, there is no oiler in the range and that’s thanks to the country of origin.

Underway it’s super quiet, refined, and smooth in its operation. Go for an overtake and again that dearth of torque become apparent. The same applies for anything remotely uphill, and soon the cogs are nine, eight, seven….. Although Holden’s own engineers have worked on the suspension tunes of the Acadia range, with “FlexRide” dampers on the LTZ, it’s more an American floaty, wafty, spongy ride, even with the big rubber. On the up side, it never bottomed out in the suspension travel, but the plastic strip on the chin did scrape too often on mediocre intrusions. Rebound is well controlled, it’s simply a matter of feeling the springs are too soft up and down.Handling is, well, like the interior. It’s ok. Response is not slow, and it’s not sports car rapid either. The latter isn’t surprising, of course, but the front end could do with a quicker how d’ye do when the tiller is twirled. Body roll is experienced but is also not as bad as expected.

Another weak spot is the way the brakes respond. Or, correctly, don’t respond. There’s dead air for the first inch or so, it seems, then a not spongy but not hard travel and retardation is simply too slow for a vehicle that weights around the two tonne plus mark.What About Safety? Autonomous Emergency Braking, bundled with pedestrian and cyclist detection, starts the list. The LTZ-V has a higher sensitivity when kit comes to reading the road ahead that the LT and LTZ. Blind Spot Alert is standard, Rear Cross Traffic Alert is standard, and Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning are also standard. A driver’s kneebag, along with front, side, and curtain airbags complement the five standard and two ISOFIX seat mounts. Pack in 360 degree camera views, semi assisted parking, and front sensors, and the Acadia LTZ wants for nothing in regards to keeping the internals safe.The Warranty Is: Five years or unlimited kilometres, with 5 years roadside assist if serviced at Holden dealerships. Website has a capped price quotation system.

At The End Of The Drive.
For a car that is intended to be Holden’s saviour, the Acadia range falls short. This is partly evidenced by the sheer lack of them on roads compared to their opposition from Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and Korea. There is little spark and it falls short of lighting the candle. Having an interior look that is outweighed by entry level cars half its price, no diesel, a lack of genuine tech appeal, a softish ride that may not be to the liking of potential buyers and a rear cargo that simply doesn’t look as wide as Holden’s other seven seater (which comes with a diesel and is therefore more suitable for purpose), plus an exterior unrelated to anything else in the family, means the 2019 Holden Acadia LTZ has a very sharp stick with which to push stuff uphill. It does nothing bad, but it simply does nothing special.

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 SsangYong Tivoli ELX

This Car Review Is About: SsangYong’s Tivoli. SsangYong is the quiet third of a three tier car making setup from Korea. Nestled well below Hyundai and Kia, SsangYong currently have a three model range, and the Tivoli is the entry level to the brand. The Tivoli itself is based on the Kia Soul and is badged as EX, ELX, and Ultimate.
The ELX is a solid mid-level competitor in a very crowded market. Being based on the quirky looking Soul isn’t a bad thing either. SsangYong’s designers have done a good job of hiding the relationship with a heavily reworked interior and exterior. There’s no hiding that steeply raked windscreen though.Power Comes From: Behind the bluff and upright schnozz that hides a diesel or petrol powerplant. Our test car had the 1.6L diesel, a slightly chattery but butter smooth item. There’s a huge 300Nm of torque on tap between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm. Peak power is just 85kW and is available from 3,400rpm to 4,000rpm. The diesel comes in 2WD or AWD for the Ultimate, and is a six speed auto only for the oiler. Economy is, unsurprisingly, pretty good for the pert little five door. Urban driving is quoted as 7.4L/100km for the 2WD version. We saw a best of 7.6L/100km in the urban cycle. Combined is 5.5L/100km and that’s without the realms of possibility. Tank size compromises range though, at just 47-L.What’s It Cost?: The range starts at a miserly $22,990 driveaway for the EX, without premium paint. It’s $27,990 driveaway for the ELX diesel auto, with premium paint an extra $495. Outside one can choose six colours, the test car was Space Black. Inside there are three choices with black overall, brown (mocha coffee shade), and beige. The trim is on the seats and the doors.

What Does It Look Like?: Overall, the presence is restrained from the outside, innocuous even. The front end is very SsangYong family in look, with LED eyebrow driving lights in a swept back cluster design. The lower air intake surround is a horizontal “double Y” with black urethane underneath joining the front and rear. The tail end itself is a look that evokes the MINI Countryman’s styling and a bold C pillar joins the top to the bottom.It’s compact in size to look at. Length is 4,202mm, height is 1,600mm with roof rails, and overall width is 1,798mm. What these numbers mean is good interior space for the 1,480kg (dry) Tivoli.
There’s some good looks inside too. The dash is the current Euro themed arch-type sweep from door top to door top and in the black-on-black it looks ok. The dash’s look is a mix of black textured plastics. There is a faux stitched look, a hood style binnacle, and piano black centre stack.This holds the aircon controls which are soft-touch buttons. An old-school amber backlit display screen sits above a dominant fan speed dial. Unlike most other manufacturers, SsangYong haven’t gone down the path of a standalone touchscreen for the audio/satnav, with the Korean make staying with an embedded look here. Again there is no DAB and that peculiar predilection to have one radio station sound like a skipping record.The driver faces a binnacle that has bright red backlit dials. These can be changed to five other backlights such as blue and yellow for that extra bit of personalisation. A monochrome centre screen shows wheel angle when parked. This is presumably to remind a driver which way they’re pointing when getting ready to move on.
Splashes of alloy look plastic add some colour to the black trimmed option. The seats are comfortable and not heated or vented in the ELX.
There’s the usual apps for the sound system, storage spaces front and rear, and a good amount of cargo space at the rear. There is a pair of 12V sockets, one up front and one for the rear.
Safety is high. AEB is standard, as are warning systems for forward collision and lane keeping. Australia doesn’t get the Euro spec traffic sign recognition system…yet.

What’s It Go Like?
It’s a hoot to punt around. There’s the barest hint of hesitation in the diesel from a standing start. The turbo very quickly spools up and there’s a rapid, smooth, but slightly noisy launch. The engine is a real old-school chatterer under load but there is no sense of vibration is any form. The gearbox is the same. It’s super quiet, super smooth, and rarely proved indecisive in its cog-swapping.

Off the throttle the engine is whisper quiet. There is a minimal amount of road and wind noise whilst coasting, and it’s again only when the go pedal gets the ask that the engine gets noticed. Mid range urge is sensational given the size of the engine. It’s relatively effortless in how it performs when compared to bigger cars with bigger engines. Ride is on the hard side however. The 205/60/16 from Kumho provide plenty of grip but that highish sidewall doesn’t do much in the way of aiding the suspension’s absorption. The spring and damper rates are almost adequate for smaller bumps but hit a traffic calmer at anything other than walking pace and it’s kapow.The rear corners will even “cock a leg” when in tight turns or at odd angles coming in and off some driveways. The upside is how it goes on the freeways. Undulating surfaces don’t exist, stability is high in windy conditions, and the steering, adjustable via a drive mode button, is well weighted. It’s responsive and ratioed so understeer is also kept to a minimum. As a driving package it’s far better than expected.
Warranty Is? Seven years. That’s also with unlimited kilometres, from front to rear. Srvices are 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.At The End Of the Drive: It’s a real shame that this quiet achiever is due to be discontinued. Although the forthcoming Korando promises to be just as good, the Tivoli could be kept as an alternative addition, much like many Euro makers seem to offer nowadays. And it’s at a price and trim point that would be a good alternative to quite a few others. And the Tivoli has just had an addition to the range in the form of the long wheelbase XLV.

Here is how you can find out more.

Car Review: 2019 SsangYong Musso Ultimate.

This Car Review Is About:
SsangYong continuing their Australian (and world wide) rebirth with the Musso. A four door ute, based on the Rexton SUV, the Musso is a two or four wheel drive machine. It’s reasonably well priced and reasonably well configured in the 4×4 Ultimate spec as tested at $39,990 driveaway. The range itself starts at $30,490 for the EX manual, $32,490 for the auto EX, and $35,990 for the ELX spec in auto.

Under The Bonnet Is:
A well mannered 2.2L diesel, and the aforementioned six speed auto. Peak torque is 400Nm and available from 1400rpm through to 2800rpm. Peak power is 133kW at a high for a diesel 4000rpm. Urban driving sees consumption hovering between 10.0 and 11.0 litres per 100km, and AWT finished on 10.7L/100km in a purely urban drive. Although the tank is 75-L, and dry weight is around 2060kg, that’s a hefty drink and needs work.Unlike the Rexton tested recently the Musso breathes better from a standing start, lacking the lag so woefully found in the Rexton. As a result the drive factor is immediately better, safer, more enjoyable. Transmission is a six speed auto and again, like the body and interior, pretty much what is found in the Rexton. This means mostly smooth changes, the occasional stutter depending on drive speed and throttle input, and the same on-the-fly drive modes as well, accessed via a cabin-mounted dial. It’s a package that will benefit from further development and refinement but is also pretty good straight out of the box.On The Outside It’s:
The nose and doors of the Musso before a somewhat truncated looking tray. Ostensibly it would be in competition with Ranger, HiLux, Colorado, D-Max, Triton, but also stands out as being the only ute from the three Korean car makers. The first and second sections of the Musso hint at the spaciousness outside, it’s the tray that “holds back” the Musso from really being in the same cargo space as the others. By no means though is it non-user friendly.

It’s fitted, in the test car, with a poly0urethane liner and also comes with tie down points. There also looks like a power point for something like a power generator. It’s certainly big enough for a pair of mountain bikes, and perhaps a couple of mini bikes. Full sized trail bikes make find it a squeeze though.Overall length is 5095mm. That puts it in the same size bracket (over five metres) as the rest but is still noticeable shorter. Although the wheelbase is huge at 3100mm, the rear wheels are closer to the cabin than the others, and the rear overhang of 1105mm is bigger than it looks in the flesh. That applies to the front overhang of 890mm, with reality making that figure look excessive.The wheels fitted to the review vehicle were 20 inch chromed alloys, with rubber of 255/50 from Nexen, Although good lookers and easy to clean, it raised the question of suitability for any dedicated off-road work. What does look good, although it does add to the look of a shortened tray, is the shroud at the forward end of the cargo space.

Headlights have LED running lights, and the front end has a design that SsangYong poetically says evokes a bird’s wings. It may do, but what it definitely is is inoffensive. Not unhandsome, and certainly a light-year away from the oddly styled model from some years ago.On The Inside Is:
A cabin that has largely dark grey to black overtones. The seats are dark grey/black leather (with the fronts heated), the dash is mostly black, the floor is black, most of the door trim is black. There is a splash of dull alloy chrome in the doors that spring from the dash-wide strip, and they house the tweeters in the non-DAB equipped, but very good sounding….sound system. It’s the same layout and look on this screen as seen in the Rexton and that’s a good thing. DAB would be nice as Hyundai has it fitted in their cars now…..There is also the same very handy 360 degree camera system too.However in this car the reverse parking sensors didn’t seem to be engaging correctly, and in the audio system one station, and one station only, seemed to be almost like a slightly dodgy CD, with a skip here and there. It wasn’t the station as confirmed by checking other audio sources simultaneously. It does have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto though, as per the spec found in Rexton.

Being a worker’s aimed ute, it’s not clad in the same gorgeous, diamond quilted, black upon black leather, which in a way is a disappointment. It would have given the Musso that extra stand-out point of difference. As it is that dark grey-black colour scheme looks ok, it just lacks the class that an ostensibly top tier vehicle could have.Instrumentation is as per Rexton. Cleanly laid out it makes for less time scanning for the right button to tip. It does lack the amount of buttons for operation of ancillary items as seen in the Rexton but it doesn’t lack for style or presence either.

Front and rear leg room, plus shoulder, hip, and head room are spot on for four adults, and possibly five at a pinch. There is certainly no issue in getting two children in there.

What About Safety?
No problems here. Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Alert, and Lane Change Assist are standard. Autonomous Emergency Braking, like nearly every company, isn’t here. The usual swag of driver aids such as Hill Descent Control, are here. Six airbags excluding driver’s knee are also standard.

On The Road It’s:
Mucho better in one key area than the Rexton. As stated, it’s better off the line, with a real lack of that inhale and go found in the Rexton. It’s more responsive, more willing, and it’s across the rev range too in comparison to the Rexton. It shares the same mechanical feel, the same lacking in damping steering column, which isn’t a good thing.

The Musso isn’t a lightweight but there is more spring in its step, a better sense of urgency and alacrity. Under steam, a gentle prod has the two tonne plus Musso reacting quickly, with a real sprightliness, and it makes overtaking much more safer. The whole driving experience in this area is appreciably more enjoyable, but it’s let down in return by the ride.

It’s stiff in comparison to the Rexton, which is understandable. However it’s stiff in comparison to its competition, and there’s a distinct sense of unhappiness as it hits unsettled surfaces, the road expansion joints, and it skips noticeably from these influences. Up front it’s more settled and composed, yet still more stiffly sprung than the Rexton. And that mechanical metal-on-metal steering takes some of the life out of the front end too. Brakes? Better than Rexton but still needing a good shove sometimes for a comfortable stoppage.

And The Warranty Is:
Again, it’s a good one. Seven years, unlimited kilometres, seven years roadside help, and a strong service structure. It matches Kia, its bigger Korean sibling in this respect.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 spec SsangYong Musso Limited is a curious machine. It’s roomy, grunty, not unattractive, but it’s lacking in presence and some needed road manners. It’s got a good feature set but in top whack misses out on a couple of niceties and refinement as found in its competition. And although the price is good enough to appeal, the brand still suffers heavily from its previous incarnation. That, in itself, is the biggest stumbling block for SsangYong. SsangYong car range is where you can find details on the reborn SsangYong brand.

 

Car Review: 2019 Tesla Model X 100D

This Car Review Is About:
One of the two vehicles currently available from Tesla. The Model S and Model X are very closely related and come with a choice of drive combinations. A new model, a smaller car called Model 3 is scheduled for Australian release from July 2019. The vehicle tested is the non-P 100D. P for Performance, 100 for the kiloWatt hour drive, D for Dual motor (or, if you will, all wheel drive). The Model X can be specified with different seating configurations and the test vehicle was fitted out as a six seater. What About The Dollars?
Cost for the car tested started at $129,500. Metallic paint is $2,100, with the big black wheels $7,800. The seating colour scheme was $2,100 with the dash trim, a dark ash wood look, a standard no-cost fitment. It’s the electronic bits that add on, with the full self driving option and auto-pilot $7,100 and $4,300 each. With options fitted, Luxury Car Tax, and GST, plus charges such as government taxes, the car as tested came to $186,305.

Under The Bonnet Is:
Empty space. Yup, the Tesla Model X has a “frunk”, a front trunk, or in Aussie speak, a front boot. It’s big enough for a travel case of hiding the home charge cable that Tesla supplies. The engines for the 100D are located underneath at the front and rear, and engage via a single speed transmission. It’s this combination that gives the Tesla Model X startling acceleration, and in Ludicrous mode, a drive option available in the “P” designated cars, it’s quicker again. Call it three seconds to 100kph and you’d be on the money.On The Inside Is:
A choice of seating options. The test car came fitted with a white leather covered set of six seats. The three pairs all have their own form of power adjustment. Up front the driver has fore and aft movement, seat back adjustment, and lumbar support. The middle row are also adjustable for fore and aft, allowing access to the rear seats. However they do not have seat back adjustment. The third row are powered in a slightly different way, with a button locking or releasing them for raising or lowering.

Tesla fit a massive, vertically oriented, 17 inch touchscreen that houses virtually all of the functions. Audio, navigation, music access, air-conditioning, doors, car features, settings, online user manual, and some special features are all here. The map system is from Google and rendered in superb high definition on the screen. Drive orientation is in the upper right corner and can be set to swivel in direction or North as a permanent upper orientation.The overall front section presence is clean, uncluttered, traditional even. The driver’s binnacle has a full colour LCD screen that shows information such as energy usage, map, radio, and more. The steering column is perhaps the weakest part ergonomically. A left hand side indicator sits above the cruise control lever and both can be easily confused for the other as they’re very close together. The drive engage lever is on the right and is simple in operation.The centre row seats move forward and as they close towards the front seats gradually nose downwards to allow access to the rear. The rears are not adjustable for anything other than folded or not. Behind them is another storage locker with a lift away cover that otherwise provides a flat floor.The touchscreen itself houses “easter eggs”. At the top centre of the screen is a “T” symbol. Hold that for a second or two and a graphic that describes the individual car shows. A second or two later a screen appears above that and has an Atari games symbol, a Mars map symbol, a reindeer, a Christmas tree ornament and others. The Atari symbol brings up five games including Asteroids and Missile Command. The reindeer has the car’s driver display show a Father Christmas and sleigh, and rings Christmas bells on the indicator stalk. There is also an “emissions testing” icon that brings a grin to every ten year old boy when a sub-menu of different farts comes up.

On The Outside Is:
The extended roof version of the Model S. Extended as in the Model S formed the basis for the Model X. A higher roof line houses the famous folding gull wing doors, and there’s another part of the delight. When the Christmas ornament is pressed from the easter egg list, it invites the passengers to exit, and close the doors. A few seconds later if it works, as it’s sometimes hit or miss, the front windows roll down, the superb sound system pumps up, and the exterior LED lights up front flash in synchronisation. The doors themselves open and flap in unison and it is one unbelievably entrancing sight to see.The rear view sees an embedded airfoil otherwise the same looking tail lights at Model S. The nose is slightly different but unmistakeably Model S. The footprint is huge, with fan shaped alloys painted in black spanning 22 inches in diameter. Rubber is Goodyear Eagle and are 285/35.

The doors are normally hinged at the front, gull winged for the rear, and the driver’s door can be set to open on the approach of a person carrying the Tesla key fob. Unlike the Model S the door handles don’t extend out from the body, and require a firm press on the handle or via the key fob individually. A tap or two on the top can open or close all doors.

On The Road It’s:
A mix of elation and mild levels of meh. The meh is the steering feel. Although there are three drive modes that change the weight of the steering, it feels artificial and isolated. That’s not unexpected in such a technologically oriented vehicle. But that’s the worst of the on-road feels.

The time with the Model X coincided with a trip from the Blue Mountains to Bega via Canberra. Door to door it’s just on 500 kilometres. The full charge range of the Model X is knocking on 480km. An app that can be installed into your smartphone shows, once the car is linked to your account, the range expected, and when charging, the charge rate and charge distance. The AMOUNT of charge can also be adjusted, from zero through to 100%, with 80% being the default.

All Tesla cars come with a charge cable to hook the car up to a home’s electric network and Tesla themselves provide a higher output charge station to their buyers. These charge at 7 to 8 kilometres of range per hour. The first stop was at the supercharger portal in Goulburn. That’s a two hour drive with a supercharger near Canberra airport approximately another hour away. Superchargers will add in somewhere between 350km to 400km of range in an hour according to the app.Cooma is the next supercharger stop, another hour or so from Canberra, and this one is in an off the main road and not entirely welcoming location. It’s a set of six in a carpark entrance for a shopping complex, and on our visit half of the supercharger bays were taken up by non electric cars. The drives gave us a chance to properly evaluate, in a real world, family usage situation, and although the range expectations were one thing, proper usage delivers another.

Cargo was two adults, two children, a small dog, and a few overnight bags. Then there is the weight of the car and the topography to consider. Autopilot and cruise control were engaged and a small point on the autopilot. The lever needs to be pulled toward the driver twice to engage, and the cameras strategically embedded around the car will then “read” the roadsides in order to keep the Model X as centred as possible. The autopilot function itself was in “Beta” testing mode and again accessed via the touchscreen.The biggest appeal of the the Model X, and Model S, for that matter, is the sheer driveability of the chassis and drivetrain. Electric motors deliver torque constantly, as per this and acceleration across any driving condition is stupendous. The “P” designation adds in “Ludicrous” mode, which amps up the “get up and go” even further. Engage the drive, and it’s a double pull to bring the car out of hibernation mode, and plant the foot. That mountain you could see on the horizon is suddenly there before you.

The braking system can be set for two energy harvest levels and on the ten kilometres worth of downhill running at Brown Mountain, some forty kilometres west of Bega, added an effective twenty kilometres of range. It’s the uphill runs that pull the range expectations downwards, and severely at that. The ever-growing network of destination chargers alleviate range anxiety and a visit to the beautiful coastal town of Merimbula found a destination charger at a bayside motel. The navigation system can provide locations of chargers and when a destination charger shows, a tap of the screen advises the usage, as in in this case, passing through holiday makers. A big thanks to the good people at the Albacore Apartments, by the way. There are two Tesla destination chargers and these add range at 75 to 80 kilometres per hour.

The return trip was via Cooma without stopping and heading to Canberra’s Madura Parkway charge stop. Handily located next to a major fast food store and a number of other shops, an hour’s break saw the Model X arrive back at its Blue Mountains lair with perhaps 70km worth of range left.

Actual ride quality is on the high side of decent considering the size of the wheels and low profile rubber. Ride height can be ajusted via the touchscreen but a high ride setting lowers the car back to its standard height once a preset speed is reached. The Model X is stiff but not bone-shakingly so, taut, but not uncomfortably so. It’s flat, exhibits minimal body roll, and is surprisingly compliant on unsettled and rough surfaces. And although the steering lacks “humanity” it also points the Model X exactly where the wheel tells it to. Naturally, brake feel is spot on too.

The Safety Systems Are:
A solid list of 360 degree cameras, parking sensors that measure in millimetres and show on the driver’s screen, distance sensing radar cruise control, AEB, overhead and knee airbags, plus the usual electronic driver aids. The cruise control can be set to one to seven seconds of distance between the Model X and the car ahead. It’s worth noting that the braking can be on the hard side so driver involvement is still required to watch the road ahead. The same goes with the autonomous steering. Hands on the tiller are recommended at all times.

And The Warranty Is:
Four years for the body and structure. The drive systems and battery get eight years. Extra information is here.

At The End Of The Drive.
The timing of the drive came just after the leader of the Australian Opposition party put forward a proposition that by 2030 fifty percent of cars to be made available for sale be electric. Naturally this sparked the conversation about costs, range, and the time taken to recharge versus refueling a petrol or diesel car.

There’s an undeniable time factor in regards to recharging. But there is a welcome upside. The Goulburn stop provided an opportunity to visit a street mall, the Cooma break a visit to a park with historic significance. The Merimbula stop provided a chance to sample the local lifestyle and the Canberra stop a welcome half way point, lunch, and a leg stretch. The Model X itself is not a tiring car to drive meaning driver fatigue is minimised.

Therein, as the saying goes, lies the rub. The return trip from Bega took as much time as a normal petrol/diesel powered trip, even allowing for the hour or so to recharge. The upside was the break allowing a safe, straight through, return drive and the lack of fatigue from driving a comfortable vehicle. The downside was the evidence that range expectations versus the real world have some way to go before the two meet with a lesser margin in between.

And yes, the cost is significant, especially with the extra Australian government charges involved. However there are plenty of cars that start at the same price and offer an extensive option list. And there is the fluctuating cost of fuel. Depending on location it is theoretically possible to not pay a cent in recharge costs with an electric car.

Tesla will be releasing a lower cost version, effectively, of the Model S, and a new, smaller, SUV called the Model Y is in development. With battery technology improving and the uptake of solar power and batteries for home usage also on the upswing, plus the promise of further electric cars as standard from makers, they all mean that for the Australian market our driving future is in for an undeniable change.

Model X information and more on the other cars from Tesla can be found here.