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Mercedes-Benz X-Class For The Tradies Is Here.

Along with German sibling Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz now offers a four door utility vehicle. Called the X-Class it’s got a starting price of $45,490 plus on roads. With an effective trickle style media campaign underway there’s already over 8000 registrations of interest in their new vehicle. As is to be expected, M-B will offer an almost bewildering range of variants. There’s will be a choice of two models called the X 220d and X250d, two diesel engines offering either 120kW or 140kW, a six speed manual for each or a seven speed auto for the 250d.
The 220d will be given either a rear wheel or all wheel drive system, with the 250d coming in AWD only. A high output V6 will be available by the end of 2018, with 190kW and 550Nm of torque.
There will be three trim levels: Pure, Progressive, and Power, designed to appeal to three distinct lifestyles and working groups. Underneath will be the tried and true, and fettled for Australian roads, double wishbone front and multi-link rears, with both ends riding on coil springs. This aims to provide a harmonious balance of safety with any load and a comfortable ride.

Safety won’t be an issue with the X-Class receiving a five star ANCAP rating thanks to seven airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Keeping Assist, plus a 360 degree camera in the Power and optionable on the Progressive.It’ll have a significant on-road presence with a 5340mm length, 1920mm width and 1829mm height. The front end features a stand-out Mercedes-Benz emblem inside a twin louvre grille, a M-B family look to the lower front bar, and a powerful stance at the rear.The tray will hold a standard Australian spec pallet and towing of up to 3500 kilograms is factored in. Whilst working hard it’ll cosset driver and passengers in three trim levels inside including two leather and two roof lining colours.The Pure will be aimed at the working driver and will roll on 17 inch steel wheels. They’ll be able to access media via a seven inch touchscreen. The Progressive driver has 17 inch alloys, colour coded bumpers, heat insulating glass in the windscreen, and Garmin integrated navigation through the seven inch touchscreen.Power drivers will have their new ute fitted with 18 inch alloys, man made leather interior, parking assist via M-B’s PARKTRONIC system, and an eight speaker digital audio system.
A range of option packs will be available across the range for the 2018 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

https://www.facebook.com/MercedesBenzVansAustralia/ and @mercedesbenzvans_au on Instagram can be followed for more information as well as contact Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

The Focus Is On The New From Ford.

Ford Australia will bring the most advanced, highly equipped and freshly styled Ford Focus to Australian customers in late 2018. The new German-made Ford Focus will bring the latest safety, technology, and European sophistication to more Australians looking for a dynamic and practical passenger car.Ford Australia CEO and President, Graeme Whickman said: “We already enjoy highly-sophisticated and praised Fords from Europe, which include the current Focus ST and Focus RS models – now, our state of the art plant in Germany will be the single-source for the entire Focus range.”

The first vehicle to be built on Ford’s clean-sheet C2 global platform, the new Ford Focus sports a sophisticated new chassis with advanced driving technologies with the goal of providing an energetic, engaging and rewarding fun-to-drive experience with increased cabin and powertrain refinement.The all-new Ford Focus continues the tradition of being a groundbreaking, standard setting vehicle in terms of safety, technology and value for money by offering a host of advanced features in an stylish package. Focus will have Autonomous Emergency Braking with Night-time Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection as standard across the range. This technology is designed to detect people in or near the road ahead, or who may cross the vehicle’s path. The system automatically applies the brakes if it detects a potential collision and the driver does not respond to warnings; is now also designed to detect cyclists and functions in the dark using light from the headlamps.

Focus will also come standard with a Rear wide-view camera, offering a near-180 degree view to the vehicle’s rear for improved visibility when reversing from parking spaces or driveways. Focus also introduces optional features previously only seen on high-end offerings, such as Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) now enhanced with Stop & Go for effortlessly negotiating stop-start traffic. ACC with Stop & Go helps the Focus maintain a comfortable driving distance from vehicles ahead and adjusts the vehicle speed using information from the on-board navigation system or as it senses changes in traffic conditions. ACC works at speeds up to 200km/h.The new optional Stop & Go feature is designed to bring the vehicle to a complete halt when it detects stopped traffic using up to 50 per cent of total braking force, and automatically pull away if the stopping duration is less than three seconds. For stopping durations greater than this, the driver can push a steering wheel button or gently apply the accelerator to pull away.The Ford Focus will offer a choice of fuel efficient and advanced engines, as well as a new quick-shifting eight-speed torque-converter automatic transmission. Two engines will be the core of the Focus range; an entry-level 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine and a new 1.5-litre EcoBoost. The EcoBoost 1.5-litre is a turbocharged three-cylinder that develops high torque at low rpm for greater drivability, with advanced construction for improved efficiency. A combination of port fuel injection and direct fuel injection helps deliver high power and responsiveness alongside enhanced fuel-efficiency, with a particular increase in fuel-efficiency under light engine loads. This is further enhanced by Ford’s industry-first cylinder deactivation application for a three-cylinder powerplant.Mated to this engine is an intelligent eight-speed torque-convertor automatic transmission. This quick shifting and intuitive transmission features Adaptive Shift Scheduling (ASS). ASS identifies hard cornering, uphill and downhill gradients and adjusts the gearshifts accordingly, resulting in a more stable, engaging and refined driving experience.

More details about the forthcoming Ford Focus including pricing will be released closer to the expected launch date.

With thanks to Ford Australia.

2018 Holden Equinox LT and LS+: Car Reviews.

Private Fleet Holden Equinox LTZ-V review
I was fortunate enough to back to back to back three distinct different yet obviously similar versions of the new Equinox. The above link is solely for the top of the range LTZ-V, with this addendum looking at the mid range LT and LS+.The interior and dash look of the LT isn’t far different from the LTZ-V, with a little less bling, cloth seats that are clad in a comfortable grey hued weave, and a distinct feeling of volume seller. The dash screens light up with the same flickering blue motifs, whereas the LS+ shares the same seats but has a more obvious price point feel in the plastics, screens (generic General Motors in look) and even the sill plates are simple plastic with no real appeal visually.

The LS and LS+ (Holden have changed this to LS Plus) share a turbocharged 1.5L petrol engine and six speed auto. Unfortunately they also share the same non switchable Stop/Start system. Peak power is 127kW and torque is 275Nm across 2000 to 4000. The 4652mm long machine weighs 1514 kilograms plus fuel and passengers and there’s a definable difference between the two powerplants. There’s naturally plenty of mid range squirt in the 2.0L, with the smaller engine dulled more both off the line and in overall driveability. Compared to the zippy off the line 2.0L the 1.5L needs a harder and heavier right foot, more planning for overtaking, but otherwise cruises along well enough once steam has built up.Ride and handling is on par with the LTZ-V, with both feeling tight in the suspension. The LS+ feels perhaps a little more floaty but that can be put down to the higher sidewalls in the Continental 225/65/17 rubber as opposed to the LT’s 225/60/18s. There’s a definite sensation of more absorption, more comfort and plushness but nor does it lose that slightly taut and always in contact with the ground feeling.

At The End Of The Drive.
From AWT’s point of view the LT should be the volume seller. It has pretty much everything the average driver needs, including a more useable driveline package. I raise this simply because people, and fairly, will buy the LS/LS+ on price and to load it up with Mum/Dad/three kids, however under that load the 1.5L will suffer further and economy will skyrocket.Go to 2018 Holden Equinox range to enquire, download a brochure, and book a test drive.

2018 Holden ZB Commodore RS: Private Fleet Car Review.

In November 1948 a car was unveiled in Australia by the then Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, in front of 400 guests. Called the 48-215, marketed simply as the “Holden”, and popularly known as the “FX” the car had a 45kW 2171cc straight six and had a design from America’s Chevrolet. Thirty years later, in October 1978, Holden showed off for the first time the Opel Rekord and Opel Senator based VB Commodore. It’s now a nameplate that’s firmly entrenched in the annals of Australian automotive manufacturing history. In late 2017 Holden ceased manufacturing and unveiled its Opel sourced new Commodore. With a nod to history, its designation is ZB.It’s fair to say that it’s a car that has divided followers of the Holden brand, primarily due to a change in platform. It’s no longer available in rear wheel drive, now being front and all wheel drive. There’s no ute, nor is there a V8. There’s a turbocharged four cylinder petrol and diesel engine, turbocharged V6 engine, nine speed automatic transmissions, a slightly smaller body, and it’s a hatchback. Yes, a wagon, known now as the Tourer, stays. And our familiar designations have largely disappeared. It’s also highly likely that the ZB will be, in effect, a stand alone model in the history of Commodore, as Opel was bought by Groupe PSA in 2017 and with a mooted change to the platforms used by that organisation.

I, with a decades long personal association with Holden going back to the early 1970s and a HT Kingswood, became possibly the first fully independent car reviewer to drive the ZB Commodore, in second level RS sedan/liftback trim. Priced at $37,290 RRP it’s available at a driveaway price on promotion at just $38,990 for the liftback. The V6 AWD platform and front suspension are also available as an option at $42,490 driveaway. It’s fitted with the turbo four cylinder petrol, with 191kW of peak power and 350Nm of peak torque between 3000 and 4000 rpm. The nine speed auto is the first time such a transmission has been seen for Commodore and it’s a pearler. Combined with a instantly responsive throttle, it switches between gears as cleanly and as smoothly as one could wish for. In fact it’s so smooth as to be forgotten that it’s there. Holden’s engineering team have spent a great deal of time calibrating the two and it shows. There’s no indecision, no dithering, it’s always in the right gear for the rev range.

The engine fires into life at the push of a button, and is also able to be remotely started via the key fob. It’s smooth, quiet from both inside and outside the cabin, and sips 95RON unleaded at a quoted figure of 7.9L/100 km for the combined figure. AWT matched that quoted figure. Although it’s now a front wheel drive vehicle, the car tested was only barely perceptible in most driving conditions to be feel as such. Seat of the pants 0-100 km/h times, without testing, feel sub eight seconds. And although peak torque starts at 3000rpm, there’s more than enough on tap below that to take advantage of the extra gear range.The ZB body shape is one familiar, in a way, to Aussie buyers thanks to other brands having similar profiles, but it’s not once seen in a Commodore until now. The RS in sedan form has a slightly more sporting look than the entry level LT. There’s a reprofiled front bumper, a grille that’s possibly overdone for Aussie tastes, 18 inch alloys (wrapped in grippy Continental rubber) instead of 17s, and of course, that liftback in a very coupe’ style. Coated in Mineral Black, with red metallic flecks that pick up the sun at certain angles, it highlights a slippery shape.Compared to the superceded VF11, the ZB is measurably smaller. Compared to the Vf it’s 74mm shorter at a still long 4899mm. The height is 1455mm, width is 1863mm (excluding mirrors) as opposed to 1899mm. The wheelbase is 86mm shorter at 2829mm however kneeroom stays the same and headroom is only 13mm less. Cargo room is also only slightly less, five litres down at 490L in total with the seats up. However the 60/40 folding seats do offer up extra space over the VF11 when flat.It’s identifiably corporate GM inside yet familiar at the same time. Climate control has the same light aqua hued LEDs inside dials that are inset in their own nook under the audio controls, the driver’s info screen is instantly recognisable in its monochrome presentation with ino accessed via dial and button on the indicator stalk. There’s a single USB port in there and a pair at the end of the centre console for rear seat passengers. The gear selector is framed in chrome whic catchs the sun and reflects directly into the driver’s eyes. Audio wise there’s Bluetooth streaming but you’ll need to go up to the VXR, RS-V, and Calais to get a DAB tuner and satnav. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard though. Features such as wireless smartphone charging for compatible smartphones and Head Up Display are found further up the chain. The touchscreen is a seven inch unit, down an inch available in the previously mentioned spec levels. But although the driver’s seat is electrically powered, the passenger seat gets only fore and aft, and seat back tilt, adjustment. Nope, no height adjustment, and as the seats are low anyway, passengers have already commented about how they’re not able to see clearly forward.Actual interior trim is pretty good, as is fit and finish, however the glovebox’s clasp on the left hand side doesn’t close as clean;y, requiring an extra push to seat it firmly. There’s no noticeable switch inside to release the hatch, with anyone wishing to open it needing the fob to press on the Holden logo at the rear. The Tourer (wagon) models have a foot operated opening process with a sensor embedded underneath with an added extra. A light shines the Holden logo downwards so there’s no mistaking where the foot should be waved.Where the 100,000 plus kilometres of testing have really paid off is in the ride quality. Knowing the ZB would be greeted with varying degrees of (lack of) enthusiam, it’s a hugely important part of the equation. Simply put, the ride is as good as you can get in competence, comfort, sporting, absorbption, feedback, dynamics. It’s a lighter steering feel, understandably, compared to the VF2 with the 3.6L V6 weighing more than new turbo four, but its so well calibrated that it’s almost instinctive.Throttle induced torque steer is virtually eradicated and it really needs a heavy foot from standstill to feel anything like it. Slow speed twirling has the nose follow as if laser tracked, freeway speeds (with 100 km/h turning the engine over at just 1250 or so) requires less steering input to move around. Damping from the McPherson strut/four link suspension is superb, especially over the more unsettled tarmac sections of Sydney’s road system. Float is non-existent nor will the ZB follow ruts or feel as if it’ll snap back. It’s possibly, in ZB four cylinder trim, as good a chassis for a off-shore developed but locally fettled car as we can get.In a technical sense there’s plenty to like. Stop/Start is standard, and unlike the recently tested Equinox, can be deactivated. Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist, Low Speed Autonomous Emergency Braking is standard, as are Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Front/Rear Parking Assist. Add in items like Pedestrian Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert, and Following Distance Indicator and it’s clear that the ZB Commodore is taking the name to a higher level.

With an introductory driveaway price (March 2018) of $38,990 Holden are also enticing new buyers with a seven year warranty and roadside assistance package.

At The End Of The Drive.
There’s absolutely no doubt that this is possibly the most important car in Australian motoring in decades. It needs to be right and here’s why. As part of an interview I did with Holden’s former head of PR, Sean Poppitt, one of the questions asked was, naturally, why stay with the Commodore nameplate. Poppitt’s response? “There wasn’t one single thing that drove that decision…there’s a number of different factors we considered…one of the first ones was this: we went out and talked to Commodore owners. We went and talked to non-Commodore owners, and we did a really extensive market research piece, sitting down with customers and non-customers and asking that question. The overwhelming response we got was to keep the name.”

And to some, therein lies the rub. Holden conducted exclusive and extensive product reviews, inviting those that were Commodore owners to drive sessions. Feedback was asked for, weighed, used. Many, many, many detractors of keeping the name would, ore than likely either not have driven the ZB nor, likely, would take up an offer to do so. Quite simply. More’s the pity, and more fool them. Admittedly, AWT’s exposure has been solely to the ZB RS four cylinder sedan, however if this as an entry level car can impress so well….Holden, you know where to find me to provide more review cars.

Here’s where you can go to find and more and, importantly, book a test drive: 2018 Holden ZB Commodore sedan information

2019 Lamborghini Urus Unveiled For Australia.

Lamborghini‘s long awaited SSUV or Super Sport Utility Vehicle, the Urus, was unveiled to media in Sydney’s Barangaroo district today (March 13, 2018). For the Australian market it will be priced from $390,000 (with GST and LCT included) plus on road costs. Weighing less than 2250kg, it will boast a V8 of 4.0L capacity, twin turbos which will give the engine 478kW and 850Nm of peak torque at 2250rpm, all wheel steer, and should see the ton in 3.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 305 km/h.Lamborghini video 1 Lamborghini video 2

As expected, it’s a technological showcase. The DOHC engine features cylinder deactivation, twin scroll turbos, and is bolted to an eight speed automatic transmission. A all wheel drive system is capable of splittling torque from up to 70% to the front wheels to 87% to the back wheels. In normal driving it’s 40/60 front to rear. Torque vectoring is built in and works with the selectable driving modes to apportion torque where and as needed. Operated via a smart looking “tamburo” selector switch, there’s Strada, Terra (off-road), Neve (snow), Sabbia (sand), Sport, and Corsa.Depending on which driving mode is selected, the vectoring system on the 3003mm wheelbase will reduce or add grip, provide more or less oversteer as required, and cpmbines with the rear wheel steering system to provide sporting or agile driving experiences. The rear itself will move at + or – three degrees and will have all four wheels pointing in the same or opposite directions (in-phase or counter-phase) depending on speed.Lamborghini’s DNA shines through in smaller uet as important details, such as the exhaust note. Again it’s speed and drive mode dependent. In Strada it’s quiet, almost a background thrum. In Corsa it’ll be a more sonorous and guttural note emitted through the bespoke outlet system.The “tamburo” (or drum) selector dial allows a progressive move through the various modes and cycles through top to bottom before returning to the top as the selector lever is moved. It’s joined with the air suspension system to have each mode lift or lower the ride height to suit. It’s an adjustable system that can be left in Anima or automatic mode. Or the driver can select Ego to adjust manually.Underneath its angular, aerodynamically tuned, exterior is a mix of steel and aluminuim for the chassis. The cross members are light weight, as are the door frames, plus the front axle is bolted to an aluminuim subframe. The rear is a mix of aluminuim and steel in a cell structure, with all four corners rolling on 21 to 23 inch forged aluminuim with a choice of season suiting tyres. Inside are Carbon Ceramic brakes at 440 x 40 mm at the front, and 370 x 30 mm at the rear.The interior is beautifully appointed and includes a pair of super clear touchscreens, a four channel eight speaker sound system, with a 1700 watt B&O system and 21 speakers an option, aluminuim framed seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth media streaming, and a DVD player. A DAB tuner and TV tuner are optional extras.Exterior design reflects the DNA of Lamborghini. It has short overhangs, a muscular stance, broad rear haunches, and a roof line that slides down into the LED tail lights. Up front is a deep set spoiler with air-inlets that almost but not quite dominate the view. Also up front is that powerplant, the first front engined Lamborghini for quite some time. From above, the lines draw the eye towards the somewhat piched waistline before spreading out to highlight the tail lights and and rear panels.Orders for the Lamborghini Urus are being taken now for deliveries in late 2018 or early 2019.

With thanks to Origin Agency and Lamborghini Australia.

2018 Haval H2: Private Fleet Car Review.

It’s fair to say that the Chinese company Haval doesn’t have a widely known presence in Australia. There’s some advertising on TV in early 2018 to let people know of the four model range, including the H2. It’s not unhandsome to look at, not bad to be in, and is well priced and equipped. But yes, there’s a but….In profile there’s little doubt that the H2 is aiming at BMW, with an X1 or X2 presence. And this comes as no surprise as the designer is one Pierre Leclercq, the former head of design at…BMW. Inside it’s Range Rover’s tidy lidy Evoque, with a slightly overdone silver-grey plastic trim that won’t be to everyone’s taste. It’s cloth on the seats, comfortable, but set perhaps a little too high, which also brings in the high roofed resemblance to the Beemers. It’s well proportioned, and in the test car’s pearlescent white, looks good in the drive. There’s low-set LED driving lights, LED indicators, and distinctive Haval badged four bar grill, and BMW-esque tail lights in the non-powered tailgate.Motorvation is courtesy of a 1.5L turbocharged petrol engine with a rated fuel economy for the auto of 9.0L per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle. We finished at 8.5L/100km on a mainly suburban run. It does feel like it needs a bigger tank as it was on 1/4 to go with just under 400km covered. Peak power is 110kW at a typical small four 5600rpm. Peak torque is 210Nm between 2200-4500rpm. In comparison, the Holden Equinox with the same tech and capacity pumps 275Nm between 2000-4000. The Equinox tested had a six speed auto, the H2 also had a six speed auto. However there’s more to the Haval’s engine and gearbox combo than simply a comparitive dearth of torque.

It’s indecisive in its power delivery; sometimes first and second saw moving from standstill quicker than other times, particularly in a straight line move as opposed to off the line from a corner. There’s significant turbo lag at best, and a lag of urge in third or fourth in the same rev range where you’d have some pull below or above those ratios. Mash the pedal and although well within the torque band, forward motion was slower than the Titanic where she is now. Yet, at other times, the slightest touch of the pedal would see the H2 respond appropriately.

There was a mix of silky smoothness and jerkiness where it was once smooth. Not once at anything other than freeway cruising did it feel as if it was cohesive and capable of not confusing the driver. The auto has Snow and Sports modes, with Snow activated by a button in the centre console. Otherwise it’s a stand, reasonably well ratioed, six speed that shifts smoothly enough when it’s behaving itself.Inside, as mentioned, it’s not a bad spot. The dash dials hint strongly at Evoque, with a crystal look insert at every second speed indicator and brackets a colour 3.5 inch LCD screen that didn’t show speed but showed tyre pressure, instand and average fuel consumption, a layout that anyone with the Evoque would recognise, meaning its well laid out and easy to spot where things are. But…the CD/Bluetooth streaming/infotainment/non-DAB system is easily the worst we’ve experienced.

1. It doesn’t power off for something between five to ten minutes after the car powers off. Result? Flat battery. 2. None of the touchscreen tabs on the otherwise nice enough looking screen responded to touch until again after five to ten minutes of power on. 3. EVERY time the head unit was powered up it would go through a boot cycle of over fifteen seconds. This was irrespective of whether starting from an overnight off or whether you had JUST powered it off.

As a result it made using the whole thing harder than what it should have been. Changing stations had to be done using the toggle switch in the tiller and any sound settings had to wait until, like an old tube style radio, it had “warmed up”. Navigation wasn’t bad to look at but was largely rendered useless and actual audio quality was pleasing and clear enough. The sunroof is operated via an aircraft style dial above the driver and passengers head, with presets to open and close.Switchgear and build quality stood out as being of high quality for the most part, with an odd squeak here and there for a vehicle that had around 9850km or so and handback. There’s plenty of headroom as you’d expect from a 1814mm tall vehicle, plenty of legroom from the shorter than it looks 4335mm length and 2560mm wheelbase, and enough shoulder room for two kids in the 1695mm width.The H2 itself comes with a choice of two or four (all) wheel drive in Premium and Lux level trim. There’s really only the difference in dashboard trim here that separates the four levels, as 12V sockets, cargo blind, stainless steek door sill scuff plates, keyless entry/start/stop, a nice to the touch leather tiller (which features a small Audi-esque badge at the bottom), six airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, and traction control in its various forms are standard across the range. Cargo space is just big enough for a family’s weekly shop. When it comes to safety, the Haval H2 does come with an ANCAP five star safety rating.Where the H2 shone was in ride and drive quality. The electrically assisted steering was slightly numb on centre otherwise was solid in communicationand heft, The McPherson strut front and multi-link independent rear were beautifully tuned for a balance of comfort and absorption against a sporting enough ride when trialled through a well know one way downhill run, and had plenty of grip from the Kumho 235/55/18 Solus rubber wrapping the (optionally available) red painted brake callipers. There’s confidence in chucking it around thanks to a front and rear track of 1525mm/1520mm and confidence in stopping as the brakes respond to a light touch and retard forward progress…..progressively. It’s also lovely and quiet inside, to the point where a junior staffer asked “Is it electric?”

Haval further sweeten the deal with a standard five year/100,000 km warranty and five years roadside assistance, plus a capped price service offering.

At The End Of The Drive.
Haval’s H2 suffers from the death of a thousand paper cuts. Individually the niggles are mildly aggravating. As a package, as beautifully set up as a handler it is, those papercuts are enough to potentially not overcome, depending on your own driving preferences, the attractive starting price of $24,990 driveaway for the 4×2 Premium with auto. There’s no doubt at all that the indecisive driveline won’t be seen by some as a deal breaker but it’s also without doubt it needs more work. The infotainment unit needs hauling out and throwing away, and there’s any number of cars out there with far superior units.

If you look past the driveline and infotainment hiccups, you’ll be rewarded with a good looking, well handling, roomy enough for four, well priced SUV. PF is due to test the new Haval H9 in early April, 2018.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V

As Holden transitions from a builder to an importer, an important part of the plan to do so successfully is to increase and improve its model range. The new Commodore is being rolled out, the new Astra sedan and hatch is in showrooms and the long serving Captiva is slowly being wound back as the new nameplate for the mid sized SUV takes over. Here is the 2018 Holden Equinox LTZ-V.The five model range starts with the LS. With the manual it kicks off the range at $27990 RRP (plus ORC). It’s $2000 for the auto. The LS+ is a $3000 premium over the LS and the first of the LT range at $36990. The LTZ/LTZ-V are $39990 and $46290 respectively. The AWD option on the LTZ is an extra $4300 however it’s standard on the LTZ-V and selected via a button in the front centre console.It’s a choice of two engines available. Both have a turbo and are a 1.5L or 2.0L capacity. A diesel is due later in 2018. The 1.5L will be found in the LS and LS+ with the 2.0L servicing the LT range. The LTs come with a nine speed auto as standard with the LS getting a six speed manual and auto.The auto has no paddle shifters nor side movement for manual changing. The selector in the LTZ-V has a + and – rocker switch on the top of the rather long throw selector. Holden say the Equinox should see the ton in around seven seconds. It’s slick and smooth under most driving situations however was caught out sometimes from start, with hesitant, jerking, unsure decisions initially.

The 2.0L produces 188kW and 353 torques with that peak torque on tap between 2500 – 4500 rpm. The 1.5L isn’t far off with 127kW and 275Nm. The preferred tipple of the 2.0L is 95RON. Combined fuel consumption is quoted as 8.4L/100km from the 59L tank in the LTZ-V. It’s 55L in the others. Economy finished at 9.0L/100 km.The LTZ-V gets plenty of high level tech and comes well loaded with standard equipment. However there’s really not that much to differentiate between it and the other LT models. A full length glass roof is one obvious difference. Driver friendly Advanced Park Assist in the LTZ and V is another. Auto levelling LED headlamps, LED tail lights, remote engine start (all LT models) and chrome roofrails complete that. The roof itself is moved via two tabs and they don’t have the same edge feel to know when you’ve got hold of them.The interior of the LTZ-V is a nice place with heating AND venting for both leather front seats. They look a little slabby but aren’t noticeable in lacking support. Surprisingly, gratefully, they’re there for the rear leather clad seats too with rear seat passengers getting a pair of USB ports, a 12V socket, rear air vents and a 230V socket. It’s of a different configuration than the Aussie 240V sockets so a converter for anything like a portable fridge will be needed.Full colour LCD screens greet the driver and passengers in the LTZ-V and light up in vivid blue. It’s a dash mounted eight inch touchscreen with Holden’s MyLink system on board for apps and entertainment, including a Bose speaker system to complement the DAB audio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. The layout is clean and usage is largely intuitive. The sound itself is as expected from Bose and the sensitivity of the DAB tuner is better than that found in Kia’s Stinger. The upper dash is also Euro influenced, with the sweeping arc that runs from door to door and stitched soft material look and feel. There’s even a notch in the front console for wireless smartphone charging for compatible handsets.

The smaller screen for the driver has info made available via the rubberised arrows on the right hand spoke of the heated steering well. It’s not as easy to navigate as the same found in say a Mitsubishi or Kia but does the job well enough.All four windows are auto down, however just the driver gets auto up, which in a top of the range vehicle is an odd decision. The tail gate is power operated and can be opened and closed from afar via the remote plus there’s a tailgate height dial in the driver’s door near the bottle holder. Foot operating openin is available however is intended for use when your hands are full. There’s 848L or cargo space, a hidden storage locker between the main floor and space saving spare, and increases to 1796L with the rear seats folded.

Safety levels are high across the range with Autonomous Braking from the LS+ upwards, Lane Keep Assist and Lane Departure Warning. Following Distance Indicator and Forward Collision Alert with Head Up Alert (flashing red lights) and a vibrating seat cushion that gets input from the parking sensors is there as well. There’s no driver’s kneebag however. It’s this level of tech and features that has a slightly confused feel for AWT about the range structure.Outside it’s a mix of corporate GM and hints at the Astra sedan as being the base sheetmetal, especially at the rear. The noticeable Vee shaped nose and grille structure leads to a bonnet with deep scallops either side, a crease line from the top of the front wheel arch which joins the door handles front and rear to the tail lights. There’s a difference at the rear windowline, much like Ford’s Territory, in that the thicker part of the rear window is the C pillar, where the rear door meets the end of the car, rather than above the tail lights.Ride and handling from the McPherson strut front and four link independent rear is on the slightly taut side. It was never harsh but noticeable in that smaller bumps transmitted more into the cabin. The steering has a weighty feel, with minimal understeer at speed, but somehow the steering translates into a wider than expected turning circle which makes parking and three point turns not as easy as expected. It’ll shift lanes well enough though and do so with minimal fuss.

Being a predominantly front wheel drive car there were also occasional chirps from the front tyres when launched. Corners at speed were despatched with indifference, straight line stability is spot on, and that taut suspension pays for itself when dealing with the varying surfaces of the roads travelled, with dips, wallows, undulations, almost unfelt.The rolling stock is a decent size, with 19 inch alloys wrapped in 235/50 Ventus Prime rubber from Hankook. Although city oriented they did a credible job getting through and over enough rock, sand, gravel, and mud to show some off road cred. With AWD selected, the gear selector moved into L, and Hill Descent mode engaged, the LTZ-V, although not a dedicated off roader, managed some parts of AWT’s test track with only a few moments of will it/won’t it.Warranty is starting to lag, with just three years or 100,000 kilometres on offer. There is however a choice of extended warranty, for 12/24/36 months. There’s also free roadside assist for the first year with another two for free if you get your car serviced by Holden.

At The End Of The Drive.
Holden is still in a period of shaking down what it will deliver to Australian car buyers. With the LT and LS+ to be reviewed separately, the Holden Equinox LTZ-V has made a solid enough impression. It’s the similarity of features in the LT level that may not though have many people opting for the V spec with the glass roof and AWD systems as standard. With over $7000 difference between the two these two features on their own may be seen as unnecessary enough for many to not spend that extra.

There’s no doubt though that the 2.0L engine, the transmission, and the general fit and finish is high enough to wipe away any lingering doubts. Certainly, compared to a Japanese brand that will be also reviewed separately, it’s far ahead of what that car has and in LT form will more than likely have both the features and price point that will meed customer expectations.
Here’s where to find more: 2018 Holden Equinox

Hyundai Santa Fe Unveiled For 2018

Hyundai have released some details of its new for 2018 Santa Fe. Notable changes include a restyled front end, linking the big SUV to its slightly newer and smaller brethren, the Kona. There’s the upper level LED driving lights, mid level headlights that are in a separate cluster and set deep into their own scalloped section on the extremeties of the bumper. A restyled “Cascading Grille” is also featured. At 4770mm in length, a breadth of 1890mm, and an increased wheelbase, the Santa fe stamps itself firmly as the leader of Hyundai cars.

Inside it’s a complete makeover, with a sweeping line to the upper dash section, air vent designs not unlike those found in upper level European luxury cars. The dash and console are broader in look, with a more concise and intense look to the centre touchscreen and climate control section.

Safety details in full haven’t yet been released, however it is known that Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist is on board. It will recognise oncoming traffic from the side and wil automatically apply brakes if required.

More details will be released by Hyundai closer to its expected launch in late February and is due in Australia in mid 2018.

Ford Ranger Raptor Ready To Strike.

Long talked about…well, since the new look Ranger was released a couple of years ago, a performance version has been released. Taking an already assertive machine and making it look even more angry is not always easy yet somehow the Ford designers and engineers have done so. Here’s a brief look at the 2018 Ford Ranger Raptor.Engine.
A 2.0L diesel has been massaged to produce an astonishing 500Nm of torque, with a peak power output of 157kW. The twin turbo beat was tested to its limits, with a non-stop run of 200 hours. A small HP (High Pressure) turbo kicks off before a larger LP (Low Pressure) turbo takes over. A new ten speed auto, designed and built by Ford in-house, along with revamped electronics, has quicker, crisper, shifts, and promises even better economy. There’s two on road modes, Normal and Sport, plus Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock, and Baja. It’s that last one that has eyebrows and corners of mouths raised. Ford says: Vehicle responsiveness is tuned for high-speed off-road performance, just like drivers need in the famous Baja Desert Rally. In this mode, vehicle systems like Traction Control are pared back in terms of intervention to allow spirited off-road driving without fighting the vehicle’s on-board systems. Gear selection is optimized for maximum performance, and the mapping will hold gears longer and downshift more aggressively.Looks.
A bespoke Ford logo grille now sits front and centre. It sits atop a frame mounted bumper, which houses new LED fog lamps and air-curtain ducts to help reduce aire resistance at speed. The front fenders are made of a composite material, and are oversized to deal with off road excursions and suspension travel. It’s an impressive size; it stands 1873mm high, spans 2180mm in width and is an impressive 5398mm in length. Ground clearance is 283 mm, with approach and departure angles of 32.5 and 24 degrees enabling superior off road accessibility.

There’s solid looking side steps, specially designed and engineered to help stop rocks being sprayed backwards from the front tyres and are cut to allow water drainage.Made from an aluminuim alloy, they’re durable and tough. These also were tested hard, with loads of 100 kilograms being applied 84,000 times to simulate a decade’s worth of exposure to usage. They’re powder-coated before a grit paint for extra durability is applied.

The rear bumper has been modified to include a towbar and two recovery hooks which will hold 3.8 tonnes. Parking sensors are flush in the bumper, which backs a tray of 1560mm x 1743mm. Exterior colours are: Lightning Blue, Race Red, Shadow Black, Frozen White, as well as a unique Hero color for the Ranger Raptor, Conquer Grey. Contrasting Dyno Grey accents helps to accentuate the vehicle’s look even further.Inside.
This has been overhauled with a smooth and refined look, coming under the umbrella of Ford Performance DNA. The seats are the starting point, with a redesign and change of material being tested in long distance rallies. They’re tailored for high speed work in an off-road environment. The material inside is of a dual layer hardness, providing both comfort and support in their intended environments.
The dash and steering wheel have been redesigned, with the Driver Assistance features being easily read in the binnacle and magnesium paddles for the driver’s column. There’s a touch of high speed assistance in one key area; a red stripe has been applied to the leather bound wheel, intended to confirm for the driver that the steering is “On Centre”.Underneath.
The off-road racing pedigree is evident in a chassis made from various grades of high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel and designed for that purpose. There’s coilover rear shocks, a Watt’s Link rear and solid rear axle. The chassis side rails are also HSLA. There’s a redesigned front end to deal with the strengthened higher profile shock towers. At the front, twin-piston calipers have been increased by 9.5mm in diameter, while the ventilated rotors are an impressive 332 x 32mm in size. At the rear, Ranger Raptor comes with disc brakes with a brake actuation master cylinder and booster to increase braking performance. The 332 x 24mm rear rotor is ventilated and coupled with a new 54mm caliper. These are housed inside new for Raptor BF Goodrich 285/70R17 rubber.It’s not yet known when exactly in 2018 the Ford Ranger Raptor will be available although it’s fair to surmise it’ll be within the first half of 2018.

Mazda SUVs Records More Growth.

Mazda‘s CX series had a redesign and introduced a new addition to the family with the diesel powered CX-8 in 2017. They’ve combined to give the Japanese brand some great sales figures for January 2018. The CX label has also accounted for just under 45% of Mazda sales in total.

In total 10113 variants of a CX vehicle were sold in the month. Even allowing for a public holiday or two, that’s over three hundred per day. It’s the CX-5 leading the charge, with figures of 2152, making it the number 1 SUV for the month. Nipping at its rubber heels is the CX-3, moving 1582. Respectively that’s an increase of 11.9% and 6.5%. However these are overshadowed by the 27.9% increase for the big seven seater CX-9. That sold 770 units.

Mazda Australia Managing Director, Vinesh Bhindi, said the result sets a promising outlook for the year to come. “Mazda’s class-leading SUV range continues to entice buyers and satiate their needs in a new car, offering style, performance and value. The latest VFACTS results project a great 2018 for Mazda and strong momentum for our SUV range, which will be bolstered further when we introduce the Mazda CX-8 in the second half of the year.” he said.

Contact Mazda via Mazda Australia for more details, and register your interest in the forthcoming CX-8 which is due for release in mid 2018.