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Car Review: 2018 Holden Astra LS/LT/LT-Z Sedan

It’s back to the future for Holden as the Astra nameplate on a sedan resurfaces with the sedans developed in Europe and built in Korea. The name replaces the Cruze, itself a resurrection of a previously used nomenclature. We’ve had the European sourced Astra hatch for a while and there’s also a new wagon version on the way. Private Fleet spends time with the mid-spec LT, top spec LT-Z, and entry level LS (there’s also a LS+), all fitted with the same engine and transmission combination.Up front, and the sole choice for a powerplant in the Astra sedan, is a 1.4L petrol engine, complete with turbo and good for 110 kilowatts. There’s 240 torques available between 2000 to 4000 rpm, with an extra five if you go for the six speed manual which is available in the LS only. Recommended go-go juice for the 52 litre tank is 91RON, of which it’ll drink at over eight litres per one hundred kilometres in an urban environment. On the freeway AWT saw a best of 6.3 in the LS and 7.1L/100 km in the LT-Z. Holden’s Astra sedan brochure doesn’t appear to specify weight, however elsewhere it’s quoted as being just under 1300 kilograms.The engine itself is a willing revver, especially so when the torque is on tap…for the most part. What was noticeable was the lag between a hard prod of the go-pedal, the change down a cog or two, and the resulting leap forward. In tighter Sydney traffic when a quick response was needed in changing lanes, that hesitation could potentially result in a safe move not being as safe as it should be. Also, in the LS, a noticeable whine, an unusual note at that, was audible and not found in the LT or LT-Z. Otherwise, once warmed up, the six speed auto had invisible gear changes up and down on a flat road, and downshifted nicely, holding gears, on the bigger downward slopes out west.It’s a trim, lithe, almost handsome car to look at though. It’s a longish 4665 mm in length and hides a boot of good depth and breadth at 465 litres. The rear deck lid does have old school hinges that swing down into the boot space though. The boot on the LT and LT-Z gain a small, discreet, lip spoiler as well. It’s also broad, with over 1800 mm in total width, and stands 1457 mm tall. What this gives you is 1003 mm front headroom, 1068 mm legroom, 1394 mm shoulder room, and in the rear 1350 mm shoulder room. 939 mm and 951 mm are the numbers in the rear for leg and head room.Up front, the three are virtually identical, bar chrome strips in the lower corners of the front bar for the LT/LT-Z. The headlights are LED DRL backed from the LS+ upwards and provide quite a decent spread of light. The headlight surrounds themselves gleam in the sunlight and add a solid measure of presence to the look. Wheels wise they’re all alloys, with a 16/17/18 inch and appropriate tyre size to match. There’s 205/55/16, 225/45/17, and 225/40/18s. And each of these contribute to the ride quality to the differing models…The LS is undoubtably the most plush, soft, of the three, but by no means does it lack grip when pushed. The rubber on the LS is from Hankook, the LT and LT-Z have Kumho Ecsta. Both brands provide more than enough grip and even occasionally chirp when when hard acceleration is given and both brands do provide a rumble, a somewhat intrusive rumble, on the coarser chip tarmac in Sydney. The LT and LT-Z also benefit from the fettling the Australia engineers have given, with a firmer and more sporting ride, less rebound but a small measure of more harshness.All three are brilliant freeway cruisers but it’s around town that the suspension tune really shines. In the varied road conditions that Sydney throws up, from table flat to mildly pockmarked to rutted and broken tarmac, all three dealt with them adroitly and with the words “sure footed” writ large. Only occasionally would the LT-Z, with the stiffest feel, skip and that was more so on the more ragged undulations that some corners have. There’s plenty of conversation from the steering wheel vinyl in the LS, leather in the LT/LT-Z), with an almost tactile amount of constant feedback through to the driver.Speaking of steering, the design of the wheel itself has your hands feeling as if they’re sitting between ten & two and eleven & one. The horizontal spokes sit just that little too high for a totally comfortable feel. You’ll also dip out on electric seats, even in the LT-Z, however there is more manual adjustment than in the LS. Across the range you’ll get auto headlights (which have an overly sensitive sensor), parking sensors, reverse camera, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, along with a seven inch and eight inch touchscreen for LS and the LT models.

Digital radio is also on board the LT and LT-Z to take advantage of the quite decent speakers on board. Also available in the LT and LT-Z are parking assist and with front parking sensors, Blind Spot Alert, auto headlights with tunnel detection, whilst the LS+ joins the party with Lane Keep Assist, following distance indicator, and Forward Collision Alert. However, window wise, only the LT-Z gets auto up and down for the driver’s window.Trim wise it’s cloth seats or machine made leather, soft-ish touch plastic on the dash, a grey coloured surround for the touchscreen and a frankly boring look for that in the LS, versus a higher sense of appeal and presence in the LT/LT-Z with chrome and piano black. Aircon in the LS is dialled in whereas the others get dials but with LEDs in the centre to show temperature and add more visual pizzaz. There’s a colour info screen in the LT and LT-Z’s driver binnacle which mirrors that seen in the touchscreen. Both look fantastic and appeal greatly. The LS? Standard monochrome. There’s clearly a high level of quality in the build being based on a Korean sourced sedan, but inside the Astra sedan does lack visual appeal, even though it’s not a physically unpleasant place to be.At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing, just a few days before Holden ceases manufacturing, the company had announced a seven year warranty being made available for the Astra range. However, there are terms and conditions so please speak to your local Holden dealership. Also, again at the time of writing (October 2017), the LS Astra sedan was being offered from $20990 driveaway if you choose the manual. Pick the self shifter it’s from $21990. The LS+ auto is from $23490 with the LT and LT-Z from $26290 and $30290 respectively. Again, please check with your local dealer. Those prices include stamp duty, 12 months rego and compulsory third party insurance, by the way.

All three (of the four trim levels available) cars tested did not disappoint; the LT-Z for me would be the pick, if only for the more sporting feel of the ride, the higher trim level and the fact that DAB is included, as it is below this model. But as a model range intended to effectively assist in kickstarting the importation model for Holden from October 2017 onwards, it’s somehow slipped under the radar. And that, so far, is a shame because it’s a very capable vehicle and more than worthy of continuing the legacy of the Holden Astra name.
Here’s where to go for inforamtion: 2018 Holden Astra range

Private Fleet Car Review: 2017 Great Wall Steed Diesel 4×4 Ute.

Great Wall first landed in Australia in 2009. It was a range full of petrol engines and manual transmissions and sharp pricing. However, quality was questionable and it wasn’t long before the brand was withdrawn. Fast forward a few years and the Great Wall brand features three variants in a four door crew cab design, a petrol or diesel 4×2 and a diesel 4×4, priced from $29990, driveaway. Private Fleet trials the 2017 Great Wall Steed 4×4 diesel to see if things have improved.Engines wise it’s a choice of a 2.4L petrol or 2.0L diesel, as tested. Both come with a manual, being a five cogger for the petrol and six for the oiler. The transmission itself in the Steed is typical manual; a reasonably light throw, a tad notchy, a sensible gate so you’re not hunting for the slot and there’s a simple push button based high/low range system. It is, however, mated to a living definition of time travel, backwards time travel. Great Wall quotes 110 kilowatts of power and a lowish 310 Nm of torque between 1800 to 2800 revs from the two litre engine… that’s substantially less than a good portion of its competitors.In order to get the Steed underway, a little slip of the clutch and a judicious prod of the go pedal are required, needing around 2000 revs to move it along with something approaching acceleration. It genuinely feels like an old school diesel, with nothing below 2000 and a cliff fall once you see 4000 rpm. It’s breathless, ragged, lacks urge and is defintely old school with the rattle. It also means that some uphill runs require constant downchanging, providing some good exercise for the left arm. However, on the freeway, the gearing means that it will happily pootle along right in the torque band.
It’s frighteningly thirsty though, with a final consumption figure of 9.7 litres of dinosaur juice being ingested for every 100 kilometres driven. That’s not great even allowing for the 1740 kilogram weight.The steering is also…unusual. What’s called lock to lock describes the process of winding the steering wheel from one side through to straight ahead to the other side. The Great Wall Steed is something close to five turns. What this means is a turning circle a battleship would be embarrassed to show and some serious arm work to engender directional changes. A half turn sees minimal left or right movement and you need, as a result, to wind on more lock to really see anything happen.Ride quality from the double wishbone front and leaf spring rear is also iffish. The Steed is too hard when it needs to be softer, and too soft when a firm and taut ride is needed. It’ll skip sideways too easily, thumps over the small metal speed bumps in shopping centres, crashes on the front when going over the bigger speed bumps, and just doesn’t seem to track straight and true on the freeway. In all, it’s a somewhat frustrating drive and ride experience.Outside it is handsome enough, with a number of positive comments from passers-by and colleagues. In profile it’s clear the car has been sourced from an Isuzu desgn, with the nose cone being given a thorough massage to ensure a clear GW identification. There’s a solid grille with five horizontal bars, a pair of LED driving lights inserted in each far corner of the bumper assembly, headlights not unlike that found in Holden’s Colorado, indicators in the wing mirrors and sitting in the middle of the 3200 mm wheelbase a pair of sidesteps. The rear bumper stands proud of the rear bodywork and adds a bit of extra length to the overall 5345 mm. There’s an approach angle for the alloy section in the front bumper of 25 degrees and a handy 21 degrees departure angle. Towing? 2000 kilos, braked.Tyres are 235/70/16 from Giti and are of a semi off-road capable tread design. They may also contribute to the skittishness of the Steed’s handling. What may also contribute is the one tonne cargo carrying capacity tray was unladen throughout the review period. It’s an almost square tray at 1545 mm long and 1460 mm wide and there’s 480 mm of depth. The test car came fitted with an alloy roll bar as well plus the tray was lined with a polyurethane liner and fitted with tie down points.Inside is where the Steed picks up some points. The slightly flat and slabby leather seats are heated, with the driver gaining simple electrical controls to adjust their pew. The overall presence is pleasant enough, with a basic but legible monochrome info screen between the uncomplicated dials; a touchscreen that is ssslllloooowwww to load the navigation system and looks peculiarly Asian in layout and colour scheme. Audio is standard AM/FM with Bluetooth and auxiliary inputs but you can watch DVDs….actual audio quality was ok, with a slightly boomy bass at levels that would normally sound tight and punchy. The rest of the dash and console is uncomplicated, ergonomically friendly, and of a pleasing enough quality throughout the cabin to appeal to most in the market.Safetywise the Steed features a reverse camera, which didn’t always engage, six ‘bags, pretensioning seat belts, stability control, hill start assist (which holds the brakes momentarily) and, surprisingly, tyre pressure monitoring. Blind spot monitoring, lane keeping alerts and the like aren’t available. However it still rates not terribly well for the ANCAP scoring, with a two from a possible five ponts when lasted tested. Warranty is a standard three years or one hundred thousand kilometres, and servicing starts at six months or five thousand kilometres. It’ll then move to 12 months or fifteen thousand after the first service.

At The End Of the Drive.
The 2017 Great Wall Steed, on its own, would be an ok vehicle for a private buyer or even a fleet buyer. However it needs more to really be a consideration, more as in refinement of the steering ratio, more in the torque, more in the fettling of the ride. It’s inside that the Great Wall Steed scores ponts, along with a not unattractive exterior. However, if price is a consideration, as it was in 2009 when I worked at a dealership that sold Great Wall, then 30K driveaway will dull the headache.
Here’s where you can find out more: 2017 Great Wall Steed diesel crew cab 4×4

Private Fleet Car Review: 2017 Nissan Navara Dual Cab ST-X.

It’s a hearty “welcome back” to Nissan and what a vehicle to get things up and running. The grunty and luxuriously appointed 2017 Nissan Navara ST-X dual cab ute graced the driveway for a week.The heartbeat of the Navara dual cab range is the immensely flexible and torquey 2.3 litre diesel available across the range. Depending on which specification you buy you’ll have either a 120 kW or 140 kW variant, such as the ST-X does, but you’ll also get either 403 Nm or 450 Nm between 1500-2500. It tapers off gently from that peak and acceleration in a rolling situation is stupendous. It’s geared to sit at around 1800 rpm or so for the highway and when required, will spin easily through the rev range and get you towards the horizon rapidly. You’ll never feel as if the engine is going to run out of urge and with the (optional, as fitted) seven speed auto, it’s a seamless, ongoing, never ending wave with only the flick of the tacho really giving you any indication of what’s happening underneath.What’s even more startling about the performance is the bulk the engine must pull around. Kerb weight is just thirty kilos shy of two tonnes, and Nissan quotes a gross mass of 2.9 tonnes. However, such is the all-round ability of the engine and driveline you’d not know of the weight. To top the icing with a cherry is the fuel economy from the sizable 80 litre tank. Nissan quotes 7.0L/100 kilometres on the combined cycle, AWT finished just north of that at 8.1L/100.The transmission in the ST-X is a high and low range four wheel drive capable setup, tied to the seven speed auto. Capable being the operative word here as low range mud eating is a doddle. All but one Navara dual cab variant (the RX) has a leaf spring rear, with the others being loaded up with an S-Link rear. Combined with the standard double wishbone front, the ST-X will crawl over and through just about any surface in high and low four wheel drive. The low gear ratios allow the engine to provide peak torque during the drive, ensuring the engine is on song during off road excursions.On tarmac ride quality is pretty damned good too. It’s a touch more taut at the rear but is tied down, compliant and only occasionally jiggly. Thanks to the tough suspension requirements it’s flat, composed, irons out most irregularities but there’s a dark side. At anything other than walking pace it’ll nose wide in corners. There’s no lack of grip as such, just a propensity for the front end’s steering to not be quite as tightly wound as perhaps it should be. Otherwise it’s a ride that you can live with, and enjoy. Highway and freeway dips and rises feel as if they have the ST-X as part of the surface, as there’s no discernible suspension travel, rather a sensation of following the curvatures. There’s some free play in the steering for cornering at speed, with load felt just slightly off centre.Enjoy it you can whilst sitting in the cabin. ST-X has a nickname: “ute in a suit”; there’s leather seats front and rear, with heating for the front. Great in winter but no ventilation on leather seats during an Aussie summer is not a good idea…and there are times where cloth is preferred such as a cold morning. Oddly, for a top of the range vehicle, only the driver’s window has an auto or one touch Up/Down as well. There’s a leather trimmed tiller, plenty of storage nooks including a tray in the top of the dash (with 12V socket), and chromed and bronzed silver accented highlights throughout.The dash dials are clean to read and separated by a colour info screen, the touchscreen and associated buttons are ergonomically friendly, there’s plugs for the audio and 12V accessories , and a simple to use dial for the four wheel drive system. You’ll have Bluetooth phone and streaming compatibility, a single CD player, plus cruise control. Safety comes in the form of the electronic aids such as Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, seven airbags including driver’s knee, and seatbelt pre-tensioning, making the Navara ST-X as safe as possible.There’s ample room front and rear for the family, for head and shoulders and, importantly, leg room. What you don’t get room for, which the ST-X has in common with every vehicle of its type, is room for shopping. Yes, you do have a tray that will excel at holding tools or whitegoods or hardware, but utes aren’t really ideal for family shopping…unless you’re a family of one and your shopping is tinned food and liquid refreshment.But little of that will count when you drive the ST-X. It’s an imposing beast, with an overall length of 5255 mm, stands at 1840 mm sans roof rails and will spread itself across 1850 mm. The wheelbase is a decent 3150 mm, one of the bigger wheelbases around, and contributes to the straight line stability of the vehicle. There’s decent front and rear overhangs too, allowing approach and departure angles of over 32 and 26 degrees when off roading. And underneath, the chassis is designed to work with the engine and transmission to allow up to 3500 kilograms worth of towing with a brake equipped trailer.Looks wise the Navara range for 2017 has been sharpened up a little; the front end is more angular, more asserrtive. There’s side steps on the ST-X, and meaty Toyo A25 255/60/18 rubber on either end. There’s a reverse camera integrated into the tail gate handle as well, linking to the touchscreen inside and provides a high definition image. There’s roof rails, a chromed roll bar mounted over the tray, a polyurethane tub lining, tie down points, which makes the overall presence high on the assertive “I’ll take this chair, mate”.At The End Of The Drive.
The Navara nameplate has always been a strong performer for Nissan. And even with the rise of the SUV the Navara continues to make an impact on a tough market. With competition from Volkswagen (Amarok), Mitsubishi (Triton), Ford (Ranger), Holden (Colorado), Isuzu (D-Max), just to name a few, the Navara has held onto a good market share. The ST-X especially is one that is worthy of looking at as a top of the ladder entry. As a work ute, it’s well and truly suitable, especially for areas that require a dedicated four wheel drive system. Wear a suit? Just as capable.

As a daily driver, the willing engine, smooth gearbox, and sheer driveability make it a no brainer. It’s compliant, comfortable, easy to move around despite the size and certainly has one of the more responsive throttles around. The 2017 Nissan Navara ST-X is certainly a solid contender in a very crowded market place.Check out the details of the range here: 2017 Nissan Navara dual cab range

Car Review: 2017 Kia Picanto.

There’s small cars, and there’s micro cars, and those that sort of slot in between. Kia’s Picanto is a small car that defies its external size to offer a well packaged and uncommonly roomy interior, all the while looking like it would fit into the tray of a four wheel drive ute. Private Fleet explores the funky 2017 Kia Picanto, priced at (at the time of writing), $16230 driveaway with metallic paint (Pop Orange on the test vehicle).And when PF says Picanto, it means Picanto. To paraphrase Chief Engineer Scott from Star Trek:The Next Generation’s brilliant episode “Relics”: “There’s no bloody S, no bloody Si, no bloody GT Line”. What you get is a single trim level, a 1.25 litre four, a five speed manual or archaic four speed auto, which is what the test car was fitted with. The little engine that could delivers 66 kilowatts at 6000 rpm and 122 Nm which peaks at 4000 rpm.The fuel thimble holds just 35 litres however fuel consumption for the auto is rated at 5.8L/100 km for a combined cycle. As it’s a city car in intent, figure on 7.9L/100 km around town. If you do decide to drive outside of the big city, it’s rated for 4.9L/100 km. That’s from a dry weight of five kilos under the tonne. We finished on 6.6L/100 km in a mainly city environment and generally with one aboard.

We said it was small. How does 3595 mm long, 1595 mm wide, 1485 mm tall, and a huge (relatively 2400 mm) wheelbase sound? Sounds horrible, right? But it’s that wheelbase increase (up slightly from the previous model) that provides ample legroom up front, enough for reasonable comfort for two adults in the back, and enough shoulder and head room for four without constant body contact. There’s even enough room to slide in 255L of cargo space with the comfortable rear pews up.What’s not small is the ability of the Picanto to deal with varying driving conditions, thanks to the brilliantly Australianised specification for the suspension. Kia’s engineers have tweaked the McPherson strut front and coupled torsion beam rear even further, and what is delivered is nothing short of surprising. It’s fair to expect a small car, riding on 175/65/14 rubber (wrapping steel wheels with alloy look wheel covers) from Nexen, to hop/jump/skip around on anything other than billiard table flat surfaces. Nope. You’ll get a car that’s composed, unflustered, sometimes even displaying indifference to broken or breaking up surfaces. Toss the little machine into a long flowing curve and there’s a subtle shift of balance as the car resettles. It’s nimble, adept, and sure footed.

There is a bit of crash from the front as you roll over the damnable shopping centre speed humps, but there’s no ongoing motion, simply an acknowledgement of a minor irritant. The electrically assisted steering and overall size play a major part in making this environment easy and liveable to deal with, as is moving it around on the tarmac. A smooth and fluid transition from lane to lane is also what this Picanto will deliver. Like most cars of this size, it will understeer when pushed hard, scrubbing the tyres, but really only in tightening corners and when taking advantage of the chassis dynamics.If there’s a downside to the driving experience, it’s fingers pointed at the transmission. No, not because it’s harsh, unforgiving, stuttery as it’s completely the opposite in being smooth, quiet, responsive. It’s the number four. As in ratios. As much of not being a fan of CVT as we are, the small torque output would be ideally suited to one of them. A further option to explore would be to look at what niche small car maker Suzuki has done. They’ve engineered some pokey small capacity turbo engines and have bolted them to six speed autos. Straight up it improves the driveability of the car, the usefullness of the engine and by having the extra ratios, economy hovers around the 6.0L/100 km mark.The interior is markedly improved from the previous model, with a seven inch touchscreen mounted up high in the centre console, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, reverse parking sensors and reverse camera, supportive cloth covered seats, a driving position that is comfortable enough, cruise control, and classic Kia ergonomics. Tech wise there’s auto headlights, globe lit driving lights, Bluetooth, and a USB and 12V socket in the front centre console.A noticeable feature or two of the Picanto’s interior is the resemblance to a couple of icons. One is the cluster that holds the dial based aircon controls, looking like a controller from a games console from Japan. The other is the broad sweep of the dash that terminates at either end with two air vents that bears more than a passing resemblance to a 1950s Cadillac’s tail.The trim itself is a mix of textured black plastic, alloy look highlights, and splashes of piano black around the touchscreen. The cloth trim has a subtle charcoal and light grey trim and complements the roof lining’s grey shade. The rear cargo space is trimmed with the standard hard wearing carpet and leads to a space saving spare. Storage inside is adequate with two cup holders in the centre, bottle holders for the doors, and there’s even a coat hook in the rear.The outside lifts the Picanto onto another level, with a striking sweep to the headlights, a determined and assertive font design, a pert and tight rear and in profile shows all four wheels pushed as far as practically possible to the corners. There’s potential in the exterior design, potential…..Naturally there’s six airbags, driver aids in the form of stability managements, hill start assist and the like, 2 ISOFIX child seat mounts, plus the standard seven year warranty and capped price servicing for seven years. Maximum cost is at the four year or 60000 kilometre mark, with a current scheduled price of $493.At The End Of The Drive.
We see potential above what the Picanto already delivers. It has the potential to become a cult classic car thanks to the fabulous chassis underneath, funky and eyecatching looks, and simply needs a more sporty engine and transmission combination, and a mild fettling of the body, to be a cult classic city car. Head over to Kia Australia’s Picanto to check it out for yourself.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2017 Kia Sportage Si Premium.

Kia’s Sportage is one of the brands oldest nameplates for the Australian market. From its somewhat rough and ready, if competent, beginnings in the 1990s, it’s morphed into a handsome, bluff nosed, popular machine in the mid sized SUV market.
Available in 2017 as a four trim level range, covering Si, Si Premium, SLi, and GT-Line (formerly Platinum), there’s three engines, one transmission, and two or part time all wheel drive options. Private Fleet takes the entry level but one 2017 Kia Si Premium front wheel drive home for the week. The cost is $31510 with premium paint (a grey hued colour called Mineral Silver) at $520.Sportage comes with a choice of 2.0L petrol, 2.4L petrol, or 2.0L diesel. Power outputs for the diesel and bigger petrol are just a kilowatt apart, at 136 kW and 135 kW respectively. The Si and Si Premium has the 114 kW 2.0L four (plus the diesel is an option for the Si). Torque wise it’s a steady climb, from 192 Nm, 237 Nm (both at 4000 rpm) and a handy 400 Nm (1750 – 2750 rpm) for the oiler. For the Si, Kia says economy is 10.9L/7.9L/6.1L (per 100 kilometres, urban/combined/highway) from the 62 litre tank. Our final figure was 8.4L of unleaded per 100 kilometres in a mainly urban environment. Sizewise it’s well situated in the mid sized SUV bracket, with length at 4480 mm, overall width of 1855 mm, a wheelbase of 2670 mm and a ride height of 172 mm. Spare wheel is a full sized alloy.The sole transmission available is a six speed auto. There’s no paddle shifts available in the Si or Si Premium however there’s the now almost mandatory Sports shift or manual selection via the gear lever. For the most part it’s smooth enough but did exhibit occasional jerkiness and indecision. The auto would also downshift, from sixth to fifth and sometimes fourth under light throttle on slight slopes. On bigger slopes such as the Great Western Highway’s climb up from the river plain, it’s expected it would drop back, and did so easily, plus would hold that gear with only the throttle responsible for rev changes. In normal driving upshifts were slick, quiet, however light throttle on a cold engine seemed to have the cold also annoying the transmission’s electronics, with the hesitancy and judder found in older style autos.Give the Si Premium a solid push on the go pedal and it does drop back easily, as mentioned. What you’ll also get is the mechanical keen from the 2.0L as it winds its way rapidly through the rev range. The 114 kilowatts comes in at 6200 rpm and the engine certainly gives no sign it’ll struggle to reach those numbers. Acceleration is decent enough however there’s a sense that more could be on offer but doesn’t reach the front driven 225/55/18 rubber from Nexen. The 1560 kilogram kerb weight may be one reason. Braking is good, with the 305 mm vented fronts and 302 mm solid rears responding quickly and effectively every time the beautifully balanced and communicative brake pedal is pushed.The McPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension tie the Sportage down well. Although it theoretically could do some soft roading, tarmac is its natural friend and the two go well together. There’s a sense of balance in the way the Si Premium handles itself, with the tight corners for the Old Bathurst Road that snakes its way up from Penrith in Sydney’s west despatched as easily as the dips and undulations on the freeway system that rings the western parts of Sydney. Kia’s engineers spend a lot of time refining the spring and damper settings for Australian spec roads and it shows.

The Sportage is rarely fussed about the road surface, is quiet on all but the coarsest chip surfaces, and seat of the pants feedback tells you that even in quick sideways movement that it’s as composed as if it were standing still. The steering is quick at about 3.5 turns lock to lock, light in Normal mode, not much difference noticeably in Eco and feels a bit heavier, with more feedback in Sports, to round out the driving package. It helps move the Sportage from lane to lane quickly and without a sense of mass shifting direction, making for an almost sporting car drive.Apart from the tyre and wheel size between the Si and Si Premium (225/60/17 for Si), there’s also front parking sensors and electro-chromatic rear vision mirror to differentiate. The Premium also picks up LED DRLs, rain sensing wipers, driver AND front passenger Auto up/down window switches, dual zone climate control, Auto defog system, and illuminated vanity mirrors. Seat trim is a black and charcoal grey weave for the cloth with the front pews manually adjusted for height and seat back angle via levers. The rear seats fold down flat via side mounted levers and provide up to 1455 litres of cargo space, up from 460L with the seats up.The black plastics throughout the cabin have a warm texture to them, with a sweep around the bottom of the windscreen not unlike a new Jaguar. The steering wheel hub has the same feel whilst the smoother plastics are that almost suede feel to the matt fiished buttons and suurounds. The seven inch colour touchscreen, which features satnav, another item the Si alone doesn’t get, sits between the central air vents and there’s an alloy look to the surrounds. There’s bottle holders in all doors, cup/bottle holders in the centre console and a small storage locker in the console as well. The driver’s dial binnacle houses a 3.5 inch monochrome screen with information such as trip, fuel economy, service status, accessed via tabs on the steering wheel. There’s plenty of rear seat leg room, even with the front seats pushed back and enough for most front seat passengers when that seat’s pushed forward. All over and around, it’s typically high quality Kia.The touchscreen has a pseudo radio “dial look”, good quality sound, Bluetooth and Auxiliary/USB campatible, but notably no CD slot. In place of that is voice activated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. When in Reverse, the camera provides a clear enough picture but it’s not as clear and sharply defined as others available. There’s also a pair of 12V sockets at the front of the centre console and one at the rear, allowing for extra USB ports if needed. Aircon controls are simple to use, clean to look at, and the Synch button lights up when it’s a mono zone control, meaning temperature adjustment is for both right and left seats.Outside, the Sportage is stubby tailed, long bonneted, with a steeply raked windscreenbehind Kia’s signature Schreyer grille, and rear window, with a thickish C pillar and profile that reminds one of the original Sportage. The update in 2016 lost the angular and sloped headlights, changing them to an insert style that flows from the more upright nose back along the bonnet shut line. The Sportage designers may have taken inspiration from a classic sci-fi film for the design of the inner headlights, with the look not unlike at all the tri-lensed aliens from War Of The Worlds. The front bumper also has inserts for the globe lit daytime driving lights in each corner, matching the height of the rear’s indicator cluster located low in the rear bumper, not higher up inside the rear light cluster, a staple of the Sportage design.Naturally there’s plenty of safety on board in the form of six airbags, traction control, DBC or Downhill Brake Control and HAC (Hill start Assist Control). Only the GT-Line gets Blind Spot Detection, Lane Change Assist, Forward Collision Warning System, and Lane Departure Warning System. Servicing is yearly or 15000 kilometres plus capped at a cost of around $2756 over the seven years.

At The End Of The Drive.
Kia Sportage range stands up to be counted in a very crowded market. It’s a car that’s full of class and oozes plenty of style. Consider sibling Tucson from Hyundai, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Renault’s brilliant Koleos, VW Tiguan and you get the idea of what it’s up against. With a strong list of standard equipment, a free revving petrol engine (and the diesel’s pretty damned good), a comfortable drive, and that seven year warranty, it acquits itself with dignity and poise. Kia’s 2017 Sportage range deserves to be on your radar when looking out for a new mid sized SUV.
For specifications and more, head over to :Kia Australia’s website and Sportage

Car Review: 2017 Kia Soul

Kia’s Soul is one of those cars that slips under the radar for no really good reason. Who knows if it’s the perception of the brand or of the name or the look, but it’s grossly unfair to disregard this car. Full stop.
Yes, it’s squarish. Yes, it looks somewhat odd, like the two or three other squarish designs. However, it’s roomy, effective, and a surprise. A mostly good surprise. Here’s a look at the 2017 Kia Soul, with the test vehicle fitted with a few extras.The 2017 model has undergone a mild facelift inside and out as of October 2016. It’s recognisably Kia inside, with a look familiar to anyone that has spent time in one of the brand’s car. Outside, it’s a change to the grille & air intake, front bumper, fog lamps, reflectors, and wheels. The interior gets a five inch screen for the audio system, with RDS (Radio Data Service) not included, the FlexSteer drive system with associated engine mapping and steering changes, a centre dash refresh, and changes to the seat coverings and door trims.It’s smaller outside than the design would have you believe, with an overall length of just 4140 mm and a wheelbase of 2570 mm maximises interior space. Overall width is decent at 1800 mm with shoulder room aplenty for four aboard. There’s one wheel size; 17 inches is the diameter and rubber comes from Nexus at 215/55. The spare is a spacesaver.The test car came clad in Inferno Red on the body and a Cherry Black roof, a $910 option cost over a single colour choice. Any single metallic is now just $620. A Clear White and Red roof combo will also be cost effective at $390. The review car came fitted with carpeted floor mats ($160), dash mat ($93 and superb at reducing windscreen reflection), an embossed and moulded cargo bay liner ($147), weathershields for the windows ($296) and an alloy roof rack set ($552) for a total cost of $1249 over the $24990 base cost and metallic paint. It’s a boxy shape, yes, but curvaceous enough to not be a completely hard edged look either. The window shields also aided in softening the edge plus it sits high enough in looks to almost be taken for a kind of SUV.The engine is a 112 kilowatt petrol four at two litres capacity. Peak torque of 192 Nm is available at 4000 rpm, 2200 below peak power. The sole transmission choice is a six speed auto with a decidedly dual clutch feel in change under way, yet lacks the roll forward found in DCTs. Kia rates the 2.0L engine as consuming a combined figure of 8.0L per 100 kilometres driven, 6.2L/100 km on the highway and a far too thirsty 11.0L/100 km in the suburban jungle. The tank holds just 54 litres and it’s this fuel figure that is one potential reason why the Soul hasn’t had the penetration it otherwise may deserve.Due to a last minute change of circumstances, the Soul became freed up to be taken away to Bega, the cheese capital of Australia and no doubt inspiration for many Monty Python related gags….Over a period of 54 hours, from departure to arrival back at PFCR HQ, the Soul faced strong head and cross winds, from south of Sydney on the Hume through to Canberra and the plains south of there, through to the road east from the driver’s delight of Brown Mountain. And return. After a round trip of 1111 kilometres, the final average fuel consumption was 8.4L per 100 kilometres. It wasn’t until returning the Soul that the claimed figure of 8.0L/100 km was seen, and that was on an unusually quiet freeway run.

On a similar run 12 months ago, we achieved sub 5.0L/100 km in a revamped small SUV from a niche Japanese brand. A smaller engine, turbo charged, and diesel…An 11.0L urban figure in a small SUV style vehicle just doesn’t cut it any more.
What did work, for the most part, was the six speed auto. Quiet, smooth, from stopped to go and under way. The only times it felt uncertain was in sixth at around 110 kmh on the slightest of uphill slopes, where you could feel the transmission “drag” against the spin of the engine, feeling as if it wanted to do something but didn’t know exactly what that something was. Otherwise, it’s reasonably geared, with 110 kmh seeing 2400 rpm on the tacho. But overtaking meant a solid press on the go pedal you’ll see the tacho needling zinging around well over 4000 rpm, also contributing to the fuel consumption.It’s typical Kia on the inside, meaning a well laid out dash and console, mostly matt black plastic for the dash, easy to use controls, and superbly comfortable seats (needed after a long country run). The driver sees a dash of red and black, with a centre circle, located inside the speedometer central location, showing information such as overall fuel consumption and trip meters, accessed via the standard steering wheel tabs. The speed and rev counter are analogue still, as are the temperature and fuel gauges to the right side. Cruise control and audio are also located on the tiller as are the bluetooth phone tabs. There’s a semi-circular motif embossed into the doors and some characterful designing for the airvents at each end of the dash. They sit directly underneath the horizontally located speakers and have one thinking something pagoda-like. The ovoid theme is continued with the gear selector and touchscreen both surrounded in a similar motif.As a drive, it’s engaging. The steering ratio is quick, with around 3.5 turns lock to lock and is ideal for shopping centre car parks or roadside tight parking thanks to its electronically assisted lightness. Ride quality is very good, with a slightly tighter rear than the front. The suspension is the tried and true McPherson strut/torsion beam combination and works well enough on the road. It’s nicely tied down as well, with rebound a short travel and that’s it with no pogoing. On the highways south of Canberra it was smooth sailing, even on some of the slightly unsettled and rutted surfaces, and crossing some cattle grids in Bega had plenty of rattatatta into the cabin but no body movement. On the long sweepers on the Monaro Highway it was flat and composed, with no body roll evident.Light braking of the 1375 kilogram mass plus passengers had the Soul easily controlled whilst hard braking via the progressive pedal saw little dive at the front. Hard acceleration saw no torque steer and the barest hint of a list of the nose. Slower speed corners were easily controlled either by a little less throttle in and a touch more out or a brushing of the brakes to settle the nose. The broad footprint aids in stability and the 215/55 tyres provide plenty of grip.With a cargo space (seats up) of 238 litres, there’s enough for a couple of overnight backs, until you lift the cargo space floor and see three compartments located underneath. Seats down, it increases to 878 litres. There’s bottle holders in all doors and a pair of cup holders in the centre console, plus a pair of 12V sockets bracketing a USB port and 3.5 mm socket. Standard equipment such as Auto headlights, speed related locking, rear view camera, sensors front and rear, tyre pressure monitoring and the suite of airbags and driving aids complete the picture.At The End Of The Drive.
At a tick under $27K the Soul is not expensive. Consider the seven year warranty and fixed priced servicing as well. Over seven years your service costs will be $2688.00 or $388 per year. Or, just over a dollar per day…It’s well featured, is comfortable drive and to ride in, and there’s plenty of room inside.
So why doesn’t the Soul have a better perception? You’re not spoiled for choice with just the one trim level available. It’s an unusual look in an environment populated with slick looking SUVs of various sizes and shapes or sleek European sedans. Is it the fuel economy?
Perhaps.
So it could be a combination of suburban thirst and a styling that is perhaps a little too unusual? If you were to ask the junior members of the PFCR family, it’s the latter…yet they observed that from inside you couldn’t see the outside. Sage advice for any prospective buyers that would be missing out on a thoroughly competent vehicle.
As a certain Akubra wearing former TV host used to say: “Do yourself a favour” and try the Soul. Here’s where you can go to check it out and book the test drive: 2017 Kia Soul

Car Manufacturer Global Sales Q1-17

The first half of 2017 has seen a number of new and interesting models coming onto the market by various car manufacturers.  It’s interesting to view, globally, how each car manufacturer’s sales has been tracking in the first few months of 2017.  According to JATO Dynamics figures, the big winner during the first quarter of 2017 has been the Renault-Nissan Alliance group recording huge growth in sales around the world.

It’s obvious, when you look at the results that Toyota, having sold 1.974 million car and LCV units, still remains at the top while growing at a rate of 11%.  Honda, in fifth position, also shows itself growing nicely overall.  Mercedes and Renault show the greatest growth for the quarter with 18.2% and 14.9%, respectively.  Mercedes-Benz is the fastest growing brand in the top-20 and the biggest luxury brand worldwide.  BMW and Suzuki have also gained greatly in sales over this period with 10% growth apiece.

Where there is market growth there will also be market shrinking, and for Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Audi, Peugeot, Buick and Jeep, their sales in the first quarter of 2017 have taken a dive.

In detail, according to JATO results, there are some key vehicles being sold in various segments.

City Cars

The top five city cars being sold around the world are the: Hyundai i10, Honda N-Box, Fiat 500, Fiat Panda, Suzuki Alto

Sub Compacts

The top five sub compact cars being sold around the world are the: VW Polo, Suzuki Swift, Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Toyota Yaris

Compacts

The top five compact cars being sold around the world are the: Toyota Corolla, VW Golf, Honda Civic, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra

Mid-size

The top five mid-size cars being sold around the world are the: Toyota Camry, Mercedes Benz C-Class, Honda Accord, VW Passat, BMW 3 Series

Executive

The top five executive cars being sold around the world are the: Mercedes Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Audi A6, Hyundai Grandeur, Buick Lacrosse

Luxury

The top five mid-size cars being sold around the world are the: Mercedes Benz S-Class, Cadillac XTS, BMW 7 Series, Bentley Continental, Cadillac CT6

SUV

The top five SUV vehicles being sold around the world are the: Nissan X-Trail, Honda CR-V, VW Tiguan, Toyota RAV4, Honda HR-V

MPV

The top five MPV vehicles being sold around the world are the: Hongguang, Honda Jazz, Xiaokang, Baojun 730, Nissan Note

Sport

The top five Sport vehicles being sold around the world are the: Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, Camaro, Mazda MX-5, Porsche 911

Pickup/Ute

The top five Pickup/Ute vehicles being sold around the world are the: Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram, Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara

The greatest market sector growth, unsurprisingly, has been seen in the SUV market.

BMW Goes Back To The Future With M4 CS.

BMW Australia has released details of the forthcoming M4 CS. With a whopping 338 kilowatt engine and packing a torque punch of 600 Nm, the hot two door will start from $211,610.00 with an expected release date of late 2017.
It’ll sit at the top of a refreshed M4 range, comprising the M4, M4 Pure, M4 Competition and also sources elements from the limited edition M4 GTS.The CS also harkens back to the 1960s, with the CS nomenclature first seen on the beautiful 3200 CS of 1962. It swapped to the 2000 CS in 1965, and the evocative 1971 E9 Series 3.0 CS. The current version uses BMW’s legendary straight six powerplant, with a 3.0L capacity. There’s two mono-scroll turbos strapped to the engine, which features a rigid closed-deck cylinder block, forged crankshaft and arc-sprayed cylinder walls, the six-cylinder is light and strong with minimal friction loss and outstanding high-rev capability, all the way to a 7,600rpm red-line.The turbos dump unwanted air via a dual-branch sports exhaust system with quad 80mm tailpipes which adds an aggressive acoustic while keeping back pressure as low as possible. Electronically-controlled exhaust flaps further contribute to exhaust volume and gas flow depending on the vehicle’s load state and selected drive mode.

Changes in the engine’s electronic management system leads to a 7kW power increase over the M4 Competition, with 338kW available at 6,250rpm. Vitally, peak torque is improved by 50Nm to a round 600Nm, a match for the legendary M4 GTS. According to the BMW M dynamometer charts, the M4 CS peak torque figure is generated from 4,000rpm to 5,380rpm.There’s a specific chassis tune for the M4 CS, with the aluminuim based structure allowing a driver to choose from Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. Up front is a lightweight double-joint spring strut layout, with the five-link axle featured at the rear. All suspension links and wheel carriers are made from forged aluminium. The M4 CS will ride on 10 spoke forged alloy wheels, with the front being 9 x 19 inches and weighing just 9 kilos, whilst the rears will weigh just under ten kilos and be 10 x 20 inches in size. Brakes are four piston fronts and twin pistons at the rear.The whole car weights under 1600 kilos thanks to lightweight carbon-fibre and carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP), with an exposed carbon fibre diffuser that is specific to the CS and helps to substantially reduce front axle ‘lift’. The twin headlights are LEDs, the bonnet is CFRP, as is the roof and weighs six kilos lighter than a steel roof. The rear diffuser is also CFRP and is borrowed from the M4 GTS as is the exclusive Organic LED rear lighting system.It’s more track and sports focused inside than a regular M4, but there’s still plenty of luxury, with Alcantara trim on the door armrests, passenger side dash tim which includes an etched CS designation, on the centre console and mixed in with leather on the seats. A leather wrapped tiller is available as a no-cost option.

There’ll be a Head Up Display with M specific content, BMW’s Connected Drive Services, hands free Bluetooth, digital radio and parking distance control for the front and rear sensors. Two metallic paint options – Black Sapphire and San Marino Blue – are available as standard equipment, while the non-metallic Alpine White is a no-cost option.In addition, two special BMW Individual paint finishes are available for $4,400*, the bespoke Lime Rock Grey and the Frozen Dark Blue II.

M Carbon Ceramic brakes, roller rear sunblind, sun protection glazing, a headlight washer system, TV function and Apple Car Play integration are also optionally available.

For more information head to BMW Australia and you can follow BMW here: BMW Group on Facebook

(With thanks to BMW Australia for information and images.)

Private Fleet Car Review: Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLS

It’s a hearty welcome back to Mitsubishi for Private Fleet and it was straight into the top level. The Pajero Sport, formerly known as Challenger, comes in a three trim level range. You can choose from the GLX, GLS, and Exceed. Private Fleet goes one on one with the 2017 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport GLS.Mitsubishi have loaded the Pajero Sport with a grunty 2.4L diesel and eight speed auto. Off road driving is catered for with the Super Select 2 four wheel drive system and the GLS cops a rear differential lock. Up front, that diesel delivers a handy 133 kilowatts at 3500 revs, backing up the more than decent 430 torques one thousand revs lower. Mitsubishi quote a combined fuel efficiency for the two tonne plus behemoth of 8.0L/100 km from the 68 litre tank, a figure we more or less matched.It’s a super smooth combo, the eight speeder and diesel. It’s slick, smooth to a fault, with barely perceptible changes at almost any throttle setting. Manual gear changes are available via the gear selector or metal paddles on the steering column. The diesel is a old school chatterer, however, with plenty of ratta-tatta under any form of load. It’s noisy, yes, but lends the Pajero Sport a sense of extra character.Some would say the exterior design of the Pajero Sport has character and you’d have to study their face to see if they’re serious. The front is what Mitsubishi calls its “shield” design and it’s handsome enough. Chrome plates blend with the angular headlights and it flows nicely. In profile, there’s a sense of a hunch in the windowline at the rear, combined with a deep set crease over the rear wheel arches. It’s from the rear that the Pajero Sport’s design has raised the most eyebrows since it was launched, with tail lights that look as if heat has been applied and they’ve melted from top to bottom. Beauty in the eye of the beholder and all that…There’s some big numbers for the Pajero Sport; length is 4785 mm long and it stands 1815 mm tall, taller than most. Front leg room is good at 1087 mm whilst the rear seats may seem a little tight for taller people, with 880 mm leg room on display. Towing capacity tips the three tonne mark, at 3100 kilograms, meaning caravanners will be delighted. There’s plenty of grip to do so from the Bridgestone Dueller 265/60 rubber on 18 inch 12 spoked alloys.Inside it’s typical Mitsubishi, with spot on ergonomics, leather seats in the GLS (sans heating and cooling), auto headlights, rear diff lock and towing braking package as well. Front and centre for the driver is Mitsubishi’s Eco messenger display in colour, with a five leaf clover indicating the economic efficiency (or lack there-of) of your driving skills. The display is a typical Mitsubishi highlight, with little to no eye strain and beautifully clean in layout making it easy to read at a glance.The six speaker sound system in the GLS (eight in the Exceed) comes with DAB and the digital sound is superb in the Pajero Sport. The seven inch touchscreen also allows access to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, adding some up to date technology to the field of play. The dash is a mix of glossy piano black, charcoal matt textured black and aluminuim look highlights that run down into the console and splashes on the doors As expected in a family oriented SUV there’s storage pockets aplenty and the underfloor storage provides some extra security. Although the seats aren’t heated and cooled, they’re comfortable and supportive enough, with quicker turns on road having minimal human body movement. You arrive at a distant destination feeling refreshed enough and being set high, you’ve got both great all round vision and easy entry and exiting. You need to be refreshed as the dynamics of the Pajero Sport aren’t exactly razor sharp. Although it’s got a big footprint, with a 2800 mm long wheelbase, front track of 1520 mm and rear at 1515 mm, it’s unwieldy on the road thanks largely to the perhaps too soft suspension, a mix of double wishbone & coil springs up front and 3 link coil spring & stabiliser bar rear. If you’ve never driven a vehicle such as this you feel as if you’d need to slow to a crawl to turn corners, such is the sensation of body roll.It’s not a point and shoot style car, for sure, however by sitting up high as one does in such a vehicle, anything other than a straight and flat road transmits a feeling of slight uneasiness as to whether the Pajero Sport will go where you tell it. It’ll understeer easily even at moderate speeds but that’s a handling setup issue as the tyres give no indication at all of losing grip. Eventually, and quickly, it must be pointed out, you adapt quickly to the handling and roll foibles, and start exploiting the ability, not agility, of the thing.Being fitted with a proper transfer case for high and low range driving, plus the aforementioned diff lock, is an example of that ability. Low range 4WD has the Pajero Sport head down and bum up as it crawls over rocks, through mud, over gravel and brings back the ability to instill confidence in its ability. There’s a 45 degree climb angle, approach and departure angles of 30 and 24.5 degrees, and will swim through water safely at up to 700 mm in depth. Throttle control is en pointe, with bare flexes of the ankle seeing and feeling response straight away. Unfortunately the same can’t be said of the brakes. For such a large vehicle and with the mass it has, the brakes simply aren’t good enough. There’s absolutely no feel with an initial press and a lacklustre feel when the pads start to bite from far too much pressure being required on the pedal. Too often it felt like the Pajero Sport wouldn’t pull up in time and an emergency brake press was needed in order for an appropriate bite to work.

Should something go awry, you can rely on the front/side/curtain/driver’s knee airbags to come to play, along with Active Stability and Traction Control, Emergency Brake Assist, Hill Start Assist and Smart Brake. The seatbelts have pretensioning and of course there’s Mitsubishi’s RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) body. Going backwards is covered by a reverse camera, standard across the range.

The range starts at $47500 driveaway (at the time of writing, check with your dealer for pricing) for the GLX five seater and metallic paint is a cheapish $590 option. Mitsubishi also offer an extensive range of options to help you personalise the Pajero Sport just the way you like.

At The End Of The Drive.
The Triton based Challenger/Pajero Sport has always been a solid, if not sparkling, performer on road and certainly works well enough off. It’s dynamically not as sharp as some of its competition, retains the charm of an old school oiler with the chatter, but backs up with modern tech, a great transmission, and the bulletproof reliability that Mitsubishi’s off road heritage brings to the Pajero nameplate. For now, it’s also the best five or seven seater off road capable vehicle Mitsubishi has. Head here for more information and a look at the options list as well: 2017 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport range

Mercedes-Benz Provides A Ute With The X Factor.

Mercedes-Benz Vans announced the new X-Class ute will launch in Europe in November 2017 with Australia and South Africa to follow early in 2018, as well as Argentina and Brazil at the beginning of 2019.

Diane Tarr, the Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand, said: “The high level of interest and anticipation in the lead up to revealing the new X-Class has been a reflection of just how engrained dual cab utes are in both the Australian and New Zealand culture. The fact is we love utes and we are showing a desire to incorporate this type of vehicle into our lives in more ways than we did in the past. Not just for work, but also increasingly for private use.

She also said: “The new X-Class finds the perfect balance between the stylish design expected of a Mercedes-Benz and the uncompromising robustness and functionality demanded of the category. As a result, with the X-Class, we can effectively provide a solution for trade and fleet customers, and we will find out just how far this category can evolve for private customers who need the vehicle to support their lifestyle.”

Mercedes-Benz X-Klasse – Exterieur, Kabaraschwarz metallic, Ausstattungslinie PURE // Mercedes-Benz X-Class – Exterior, kabara black metallic, design and equipment line PURE

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class has been specifically developed for the changing requirements of the ute market in mind. The demand for midsize utes with typical passenger car characteristics and comfort features has been steadily on the rise for years. At the same time, the number of utes for private use is increasing. They are no longer viewed purely as “workhorses”.

There are three design and equipment variants to choose from as well as four or six-cylinder engines, rear-wheel drive and engageable or permanent all-wheel drive, a six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed automatic transmission. It consists of a ladder-type frame, rear multi-link solid axle, front independent wheel suspension and coil springs on both axles. There’s also vented discs front and rear.

Mercedes-Benz X-Klasse – Exterieur, Limonitgelb metallic, Ausstattungslinie PROGRESSIVE // Mercedes-Benz X-Class – Exterior, limonite yellow metallic, design and equipment line PROGRESSIVE

Built on this platform, the distinctive X-Class design is available in three model variants to suit different lifestyles and work environments. Named “Pure”, “Power”, and “Progressive” The Pure is aimed at the more workhouse style environment, whilst the Progressive is more upmarket and mixes a touch of luxury and family oriented usage along with the ruggedness of the Pure. The Power will aim at the high end driver and market, where style and performance along with comfort are of high importance.

Mercedes-Benz X-Klasse – Exterieur, Beringweiß metallic, Ausstattungslinie POWER // Mercedes-Benz X-Class – Exterior, bering white metallic, design and equipment line POWER

There’ll be tech in the form of Lane Keeping Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, and Active Brake Assist, plus M-B’s me Connect which allows owners to use their smartphones to track the vehicle’s location and even measure the fuel capacity without being in the vehicle.

Engines wise, select markets will see a 122 kilowatt petrol, a 2.2L diesel with 120 kW and a 2.5L diesel with 140 kW. Mercedes-Benz says there will be a 2.5L V6 diesel available in 2018 with 190 kilowatts.

Mercedes-Benz X-Klasse – Exterieur, Beringweiß metallic, Ausstattungslinie POWER, Hardtop und Side Bar (Mercedes-Benz Zubehör) // Mercedes-Benz X-Class – Exterior, bering white metallic, design and equipment line POWER, canopy and side bar (Mercedes-Benz accessories)

Deliveries to Australia are expected to start at the beginning of 2018 and pricing is yet to be confirmed.

With thanks to Mercedes-Benz for content.