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2020 Volvo V90 CrossCountry: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The wagon or Estate or Tourer version of Volvo’s stunning S90 sedan. The CrossCountry raises the ride height from the sedan, goes all wheel drive, and adds exterior body mouldings. It’s fitted out with some lovely equipment too.How Much Does It Cost?: With no options fitted, and in metallic paint with the standard wheels & tyres, the Volvo website lists it as $91,200 driveaway.Under The Bonnet Is: A five cylinder diesel engine, with Stop/Start tech, producing 173kW and 480Nm. It’s rated as 7.2L/100km for the combined cycle. On our drive in a mainly urban setup, we averaged 7.8L/100km and it’s rated as EURO6 compliant. Tank size is 60.0L. Transmission is Volvo’s eight speed Geartronic auto driving all four paws. Volvo quotes a sub-eight second 0-100 kph time and a top whack of 235 kph from the 1,828kg (dry) machine.On The Outside It’s: Covered in a luscious Crystal White metallic, even pearlescent, paint with polycarbonate body mouldings. Rubber is 245/45/R20 with Pirelli supplying the P-Zero. The alloys are standard, with optionable 5 and 6 spoke designs on 19 inch diamond cut designs. It looks longer than the actual length of 4,939mm suggests, perhaps due to the low overall height of just 1,545mm. Wheelbase is 2,941mm. Front and rear exterior wheel to wheel is 1,879mm.The front is dominated by the glowing pair of “Thor’s Hammer” driving lights inside the slimline headlight clusters. These include the indicators as well. The bonnet is long, possibly a good third of the full length. It’s a very upright looking nose, and a pair of small aero wings sit close to the ground, just above small globes in the bottom corners of the bumper. The rear is equally dominated, this time with the signature “hockey sticks” for the lights, and here Cross Country is embossed into the upper section of the rear bumper, above an alloy look insert. The doors open wide too, making entry and exiting the V90 a painless experience.On The Inside Is: Standard sumptuous black Nappa leather pews. Two position memory for the driver’s seat. Rear seats with their own separate climate control and seat boosters for children. A powerful Bowers and Wilkins premium audio system including DAB. A powered tail gate that opens to a flat level and a capacity of 560L. It’s a long but not high cargo section though. There’s 1,026mm of head room up front, and 966mm for the rear seats. Front leg room is 1,071mm and the rear seats enjoy 911mm. What this means is that the V90 CrossCountry should fit most potential buyers. There’s certainly no shortage of a luxury feel. The Nappa leather ensures the occupants are cossetted and made to feel welcome. The aircon is touchscreen operated and is relatively simple to use. The touchscreen itself is vertically (portrait) oriented and is a swipe left or right to gain access to information on setup, apps, fuel, settings, safety features, etc. Naturally there’s Volvo’s variable LCD screen look too, with four different modes to suit the mood. For extra safety there is a 360 degree camera setup, with the only “downside” being the distortion of objects as the car gets closer to them. Drive modes are selected via the traditional knurled dial in the centre of the console. That also houses the rotate to the right Start/Stop dial. On The Road It’s: A typical diesel. Lag from a standing start before the torque explodes and launches the V90 forward easily and hurriedly. The low revving delivery of torque means that overtaking and highway acceleration is a doddle too. The eight speed self-shifter is a delight too, with a surety and confidence in its cog swapping up and down. Using manual shifting is almost redundant as a result.Handling was mostly on par, however there is understeer at low speeds and the extra ride height over the sedan and standard V90s can occasionally lend itself to a feeling of rolling slightly. However, this again appears more prominently at lower speeds. There’s plenty of grip, regardless, from the Pirelli rubber, meaning that is no issue with feeling the V90 will spear off into the undergrowth. At highway velocities, where the engine is ticking over at just 1,500rpm, the body firms and stiffens, with a very compliant ride yet feeling more tight and taut simultaneously. The steering becomes more intuitive and instinctive too, with no sense of being under or over-assisted. Whilst underway, the driver’s rear vision mirror lights up with a simple but effective compass direction. It’s placed and lit just so, with the font and brightness spot on as they’re both non-distracting yet very efficient. The Bowers & Wilkins audio system is also clear and punchy whilst underway, with bass providing a home theatre quality kick, and the dash mounted tweeter providing assistance in the changeable sound stage. The driver can select a presence where the sound is for all of the cabin or can be selected for the driver only. At any speed it’s a delight to experience.

What About Safety?: Volvo have loaded the V90 with a comprehensive safety package. Its Intellisafe System offers up Pilot Assist, a gentle lane keeping assistant. This shakes hands with the Oncoming Lane Mitigation system, that also assists in keeping the V90 in its own lane. Adaptive Cruise Control will measure the car’s distance to the one ahead and adapt to reduce or increase distance as required. Distance Alert goes hand in hand with the HUD or Head Up Display, and visually shows if the V90 has crept too close the vehicle ahead.

Airbags, naturally, abound, including one for the driver’s knees. These will come into play if the next feature isn’t successful. The Oncoming Mitigation by Braking is a Volvo safety world first that can detect if a vehicle heads straight towards your car on the wrong side of the road. If a collision can’t be avoided, it will brake your car automatically to further help reduce the effects of an impact. More about the safety features can been found here.

What About Warranty And Service?: Volvo lag here in the warranty stakes. There is a three year, not four or five or higher, warranty. That’s in comparison to the five years offered by BMW. Service costs though were slashed earlier this year, with a three year service plan for the V90 costing $3030 at the last available information.

At the End Of The Drive: Straight up, the Volvo V90 CrossCountry makes a worthy alternative to the over-saturated SUV marketplace. By offering a station wagon/tourer/estate in a luxury oriented vehicle, it provides buyers the chance to get into a vehicle that provides a more family friendly environment than a sedan yet isn’t bulky and road heavy like the bigger SUVs. It’s an easy drive, pulls like a locomotive, and is very well featured to boot. Get into your own V90 here.

Renault Adds Kadjar To The Family

Renault have added another SUV to their burgeoning range. Renault claims the Kadjar name is based on two words: Kad is inspired by quad to represent a go anywhere four wheeled vehicle, and Jar recalls the French words agile and jaillir respectively representing agility and suddenly emerging from somewhere. Okay then.Regardless, it’s based on another car with an odd name, the Qashqai from Nissan. It makes the Kadjar slightly bigger than the Captur. Pricing for the three model range (Life, Zen, Intens) starts from $29,990. Power is from a turbo 1.3L engine developed with Daimler. Peak power is 117kW (5,500rpm) and torque is a not indecent 260 torques at 1,750rpm. Economy is quoted as 6.3L/100km for the Euro6 compliant, 95RON, engine from a 50L tank. Transmission is a seven speed dual clutch auto. the Life and Zen roll on 17 inch wheels with 215/60 rubber, the Intens goes up to 19s and 225/45 tyres.

Length is 4,449mm, height is 1,607mm, and boot volume is 408L to 1,478L. The exterior is pure current Renault. C shaped LED driving lights, a fluid and organic look to the panels, and chrome highlights add bling to the front and windowline. Black urethane panels add visual appeal and a protective layer to the lower extremities. Inside is a 7.0 inch touchscreen, patterned covers for the seats, and an ergonomically focused design to the elegant sweep of the dashboard. A Bose audio system can be found in the Intens, along with electric seats. The Life and Zen are manually operated, with Zen also having manual lumbar adjustment.All three levels have a pair of 12V sockets, with the Life having a pair of USB ports up front. Zen and Intens have an extra pair for the rear. All three have voice activation, with the Life missing out on navigation. It doesn’t miss out on safety though, with front and rear sensors common across the range. However, side sensors it does miss out on. Blind Spot Warning and Lane Departure Warning are also not fitted to the Life. Intens gets hands free parking assistance as well as auto high beam. All three have auto on headlights.Renault provide a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty. Service intervals are pretty good too, just quietly, with 12 months or 30,000 kilometres. Metallic paint is a $750 option and a glass roof is $1,000.

Deposits can be taken online via the Renault website.

 

Dieselgate Over? VW To Pay Up.

Volkswagen Australia has agreed to pay up to $140,000,000 to 100,000 Australian customers after it was found to be responsible for fuel consumption figures that varied substantially from the advertised. Buyers that purchased from the Audi, Skoda, and Volkswagen stables are eligible for payments of up to $1,400. The vehicles concerned are powered by their 2.0-litre “EA189” TDI engines.

A statement released by VW Australia says: ““this is a significant step towards fully resolving the diesel lawsuits in Australia, subject to approval by the Federal Court of Australia”. A number of class actions, including one from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, were based on the consumption figures and the resultant lowering of resale values. The settlement itself, says VW Australia, will be on a no-admissions basis. Settlements are expected to be concluded by sometime in 2020.

The lead plaintiff in this case is Alister Dalton. He’s said: “it’s pleasing there will finally be some closure and a resolution for thousands of Australians. It’s important that it forces some recognition from VW that there was a serious issue they had to face up to and deal with here in Australia regarding their vehicles.”

New Model News from Land Rover and Mini.

Jaguar Land Rover has unveiled their new Defender. There’s a faint resemblance to the original with a three and five door shape, but it’s underneath and in construction that’s all new. At launch there will be a 90 Series and a 110 Series. There will be six levels of trim: Defender, S, SE, HSE, Defender X, and First Edition. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, with the 90 said to start from around $60, the 110 from around $70K. Accessory packs are grouped under four headings: Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban.

The body frame is aluminuim and rated as being three times stiffer than a body on chassis design with steel body panels. The drive system offers hybrid power, plus diesel and petrol. At launch, the petrol line-up comprises a powerful six-cylinder with 297kW, featuring efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology. The diesel options are a pair of four-cylinder diesels, at 147kW and powerful 177kW. Ground clearance will enable a wading depth of up to 900mm. Sheer vertical front and rear designs aid in the departure and approach angles and a Wade Response program automatically adjusts the suspension. Wheel choice is varied with 12 different versions, including retro look pressed steel items.

The axles are now independent, not rigid, with air suspension an option on the 90 Series. The 110 Series will have it as standard. Seating for the 90 will be up to six, with the 110 offering more flexibility with up to seven seats. Passengers can get a glimpse of what’s around via the ClearSight Ground View technology. It shows areas usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen. Along with the Wade program, a Configurable Terrain Response provides different driving abilities.

Deliveries are due to start for Australia in mid 2020. Another Iconic British nameplate, Mini, also released news of the Cooper SE. Powering this will be a 135kW electric engine. The three door machine will hit the 100km/h in around 7.3 seconds and has an estimated range of between 230km to 275km. Mini have chosen the smart floor mount route for the battery, meaning a low centre of gravity and this helps with handling. It also means that the interior packaging remains the same. MINI Australia General Manager Brett Waudby said: “The MINI Cooper SE Hatch marks a new era for our brand in providing our customers with a progressive mobility solution wrapped in a package that is unmistakably MINI in its look, feel and the way it drives.”

Bugatti’s Chiron Goes Lower For Higher.

When automotive speed records are talked about, engine power and a slippery, aerodynamically shaped, body are the first thoughts. Weight, too, is a thought. Then there is the type of vehicle and it’s fair to think of jet or rocket powered cars. Australia’s Rosco McGlashan, for example, is finalising his Aussie Invader 5 rocket car for a tilt at the outright speed record. But what about location?

Bugatti recently faced that question head on when it came to attempting and creating a supercar speed record of 304.773 miles per hour or 490.484 kilometres per hour. Although the Chiron based car, driven by British born Bugatti chief test driver Andy Wallace, had been lengthened in the body by chassis maker Dallara for a better airflow, had a modified exhaust for the otherwise standard quad-turbo 1,600hp W16 engine, and had been lowered in height, Bugatti had looked into a couple of locations for the attempt. As it turns out, there’s some “Big Bang Theory” style physics involved.

In Germany is a state known as Lower Saxony. It’s situated in the north-west of the country, and it’s home to a very special part of the automotive world. It’s the Ehra-Lessien high speed bowl. There are three lanes and the track is 21 kilometres, or 13 miles, in length. Naturally, safety is crucial, and at the northern and southern ends are high quality safety facilities should things go awry. That is a positive, straight away. However, the physics comes from the height of the location itself. Ehra-Lessien is virtually at sea-level, which means air pressure and density is higher than a location even just 1,000 metres higher. The actual molecules of air are more tightly compressed at sea level and as height increases, that density decreases as a result of the pressure falling off.

Nevada, in the west of the continental United States, plays host to many high speed attempts. Neighbouring Utah has the Bonneville salt flats, and these are 1,291 metres above sea level. This height difference has the benefit of having air pressure at around 86% to 88% lower than at sea level, such as that found at Ehra-Lessien. This effectively means that less engine effort is required to achieve, theoretically, the same speed at sea level.

There is a name for the relationship between inertial forces and frictional forces. This is called the Reynolds Number. This equation is then used with air pressure & density and a vehicle’s drag coefficient. Climb a mountain and the Reynolds Number decreases in correlation with the density of the air. To use 1,000 metres as a yardstick density has decreased by around ten percent, and the Reynolds Number also has decreased by ten percent. However it’s been calculated that the Reynolds Number is still at a level that has a vehicle’s drag coefficient virtually equaling what it would read at sea level. This became part of Bugatti’s choice in location, with the safety facilities becoming the sealer of the deal.

Although it was calculated that the Bugatti Chiron could have seen a v-Max of 329mph, possibly even 330mph, by undertaking the attempt in the U.S., the final differences were, in Bugatti’s opinion, not worth the effort needed to get to the proposed Nevada location. It was deemed that the safety factor in Germany was higher and the chance of a “mere” extra 25mph by using a higher location was outweighed in the safety stakes because of a one way track, meaning if there had been an incident, safety vehicles would take longer to reach the site.

As it is, Bugatti have created a new supercar speed record and they’re now content to leave that area of challenge to focus on further developments of their range.

Eight Is Still Not Enough For BMW

BMW has released details of the forcthcoming 8 Series coupe and convertible as the brand continues to renew its extensive range. The 8 Series features the BMW M850i xDrive Coupe with an Australian price of $272,900, and the BMW M850i xDrive Convertible, priced at $281,900. Prices include LCT but not on-road charges.
Power comes from a 4.4L twin turbo V8. 390 is the number of kilowatts, and they’re found between 5,500rpm and 6,000rpm. But it’s the impressive 750Nm of torque that tells a better story. Maximum twist is available from 1,800rpm and goes all the way through to 4,600rpm. This will launch the 850i Coupe to 100kmh in 3.7 seconds, with the slightly heavier Convertible just 0.2seconds slower. The torque comes from the inside-vee location of the twin-scroll turbos, with that location providing a better, quicker, response time. Aiding the beast up front is an eight speed auto with ratios well spaced to take advantage of the liners power and torque delivery. Matched to a manual change option of paddle shifts, BMW fits their brilliant “ConnectedShift” system which reads the road ahead and pre-empts a driver’s change of gears and adjusts the transmission automatically to suit the oncoming road.
A very tech-laden feature in the 8 series is the BMW Live Cockpit Professional. It’s a hi-res and customisable 12.3-inch instrument cluster that sits behind the steering wheel, with a 10.25-inch Control Display mounted in the centre of the vehicle.

Additional BMW Live Cockpit Professional features include adaptive navigation, a 20gb hard drive, two USB ports for type A and type C connections, Bluetooth and wireless charging. A Head Up Display is included and at 16 per cent larger than before, provides the driver with valuable feedback, enhancing safety and the driving experience.
This configurable system includes details of vehicle speed, Speed Limit Info, Check Control messages, detailed route guidance information, driving assistance information, and infotainment lists. Shifting the Drive Experience Control switch to SPORT or SPORT+ brings additional information, with engine revolutions and a shift indicator displayed.
The BMW Operating System 7.0 connects the driver’s displays with the infotainment system, enabling the overlay of information from the Control Display onto the instrument cluster.

A new feature, and one sure to make its way through to other marques, is the Digital Key. Near Field Communication (NFC) technology allows the new BMW 8 Series to be locked and unlocked from a smartphone. The smartphone simply has to be held up to the door handle to open the vehicle and, once inside, the engine can be started as soon as the phone has been placed in the Wireless Charging tray. Available via the BMW Connected App, the Digital Key also offers plenty of human flexibility, as the driver can share it with up to five other people.

Carbon fibre plays a bigger role than before in the chassis.Called “BMW Carbon Core centre transmission tunnel”, it reduces weight and adds rigidity, allowing optimised suspension geometry and improving both ride and handling characteristics. Front suspension is a double wishbone setup, and it’s specifically designed to separate the steering function from the damping force.and a five-link rear uses bi-elastic mountings and houses a load-bearing rear strut to further enhance rigidity and response.
Should one choose the soft top, the BMW 8 Series Convertible roof operates automatically via the touch of a button. It completes the opening or closing motion in only 15 seconds and can be activated at speeds of up to 50km/h.

Check with your BMW dealer for more details.
(Information courtesy of BMW Australia.)

Sleek And Sporty: Rimac Concept 1 and Rimac Concept 2.

Rimac is one of a number of new brands that is looking towards a purely electrically powered future for cars. Rimac itself has seemingly snuck under the radar, with its most notable achievement to date being the destruction of a car at the hands of a British car show host…

Rimac Automobili is based in Croatia and was founded in 2009 by Mate Rimac. He says that his original idea was to start with the proverbial blank sheet and grow an automotive design business from what started as a hobby. The dream was to build the world’s first fully eklectric sports car, and the kicker was having a petrol powered car’s engine that Rimac was racing expire, allowing he and his team to convert it to a fully battery powered system. As many components weren’t available “off the shelf” Rimac and co had to develop the parts themselves. They now hold 24 individual patents.Concept 1 was spawned from a series of cars being converted from petrol to electric. The success of the conversions had the owners of the converted cars spread the word of the company’s work. From here, Rimac was able to realise part of his dream and drew up plans for what would become the Rimac Concept 1.

Franfurt’s 2011 car show saw the first public showing of the Concept 1, and was greeted with largely positive reviews. At a cost of around USD$980,000, just 88 would be built. Rimac Concept 1 features a quartet of electric motors, with an output of 913kW/1224hp, and 1600Nm/1180lb-ft for torque. In a lightweight body of carbon fibre, the 90 kWh motors launch the Concept 1 to 100kmh/62mph in 2.6 seconds. It’ll see the double ton in 6.2 seconds and will crack the quarter mile in 9.9 seconds.

Range for the Rimac Concept 1 has also been increased as as the team further developed the car. Original range estimates hovered around the 200 mile mark, with current best world figures now around the 310 miles distance.Owners receive the Rimac All Wheel Torque Vectoring System, which distributes torque between all four paws on demand and depending on driver’s setup choices. The interior is bespoke leather and handmade trim.

The Rimac Concept 2 takes the original and expands and improves upon it in almost every area, including price. With expected first deliveries schedule for 2020 as the car undergoes testing and homologation, the current expected hit to the wallet is just under Eu1.8,000,000 or a tick over USD$2,000,000.

Rimac has really “upped the ante” for the Concept 2. Top speed? 415kmh/258mph. Power? 1408kW/1888hp. 100kmh/62mph time? 1.85 seconds. Range? 647km/402 miles. It’s been touted as being able to twice lap the fabled Nurburgring twice with no drop in overall performance. And charge time is said to be up to 80% in around a half hour.Autonomous driving is on board and is at a Level 4 standard. Eight cameras, 12 ultrasonic sensors, lidar, and six radar sensors will go a long way to ensuring Level 4 driving for the owner. Extra smart tech comes in the form of facial recognition to unlock the butterfly wing doors that form an integral part of the super slippery body. Built of carbon fibre also, the chassis and body house the battery pack, mounted low for better weight distribution, centre of gravity, and handling. Weight is estimated though to still be around 1930kg/4300lb. There’s nary a hard edge to be seen on the Rimac Concept 2’s body, with sleek lines, plenty of aero influences, and a huge rear wing, necessary if Sir is to travel at 200mph.

The drive system is similar to the Concept 1, with full torque vectoring, and the ability to switch between front wheel, rear wheel, all wheel drive modes on the fly. The driver’s display screen can overlay driving lines to show an almost arcade game like look if the system senses that the car is being driven in the appropriate environment.

Just 150 examples are to be made and it’s said that all examples have been pre-sold.

Renault Climbs the Mountain Again With The Alpine A110.

Renault and Alpine (pronounced Al-peen) go back well over a half century. Much like AMG, M, or Tickford and HSV, Alpine was an extension for the venerable French brand in regards to the sorts of vehicles manufactured and was originally its own marque. The originals stood out in the World Rally Championships and Le Mans 24 Hours, and were noted for the slimline design, grip, and extra lights up front. Renault officially bought out the name in 1973.

In the early 2010s, Renault put down the plans to revive the name and in 2018, the reborn Alpine A110 saw Australian tarmac for the first time.Power comes from a mid-mounted 1.8L four cylinder with 188kW. That’s good enough to see the 1100kg two door to 100kmh in just 4.5 seconds, on its way to a top whack of 250kmh. Peak torque from the lusty turbocharged donk is 320Nm, and those velocities come courtesy of that peak torque being available at 2000rpm, the sweet spot for overtaking when needed. Weight is saved by using aluminuim throughout.
Styling is dramatic. In profile there’s no doubt about the car’s heritage. It’s a teardrop shape, with a slimline A pillar, low roof, and easy to live with B pillar. The doors have a deep set scallop, and the rear end evokes classic European coupes. Rear lights are full LEDs. The rear glass burrows deep into the sides of the Alpine A110 and hide what would be an otherwise conventional coupe shape. Wheels are 18 inches in diameter and have different styles for the three models available, the Australian Premiere Edition, A110 Pure, and A110 Legende.. Inside it’s comfortable in a two door, two seater, kind of way. Leather and cloth seats feature a diamond quilt pattern in the material, which is also featured in the doors, and the seats themselves are fitted with strong bolsters. The centre console features three buttons for the gear selection, an unusual design choice, but they mirror the three dials in the binnacle for information. The Alpine also features a telematics screen that allows track day drivers to monitor their on-road and on-track prowess. There’s access to tyre pressures, power and torque display, and other forms of engine information. Pricing starts from $97K plus on-roads. The Australian Premiere Edition is limited to just 60 units and is priced from $106K plus on-roads.

Car Review: 2019 Renault Trafic Crew Life LCV

This Car Review Is About:
The 2019 Renault Trafic Crew Life LCV (light commercial vehicle). It’s a long wheelbase version with a dedicated passenger cabin. Renault have it, at the time of writing, at a stellar $47,990 driveaway.Under The Bonnet Is:
A surprisingly torquey twin-turbo 1.6L diesel. At just 1500rpm there is 340Nm, and peak power isn’t bad either. At 3500rpm there is 103kW, although by then it’s run out of puff. The transmission fitted to the review vehicle is a slick six speed manual, driving the front wheels, that’s geared to take advantage of the torque early on to get it under way. There is no auto option. Economy is rated as 6.2L/100km, and the final figure of over 420km for a quarter tank (80L volume) consumed speaks volumes. And that’s with a dry weight of 1,736 kilos.
On The Outside It’s:
A van. Yes, it’s stating the obvious but sometimes the obvious is all there is. From front and rear perspectives its virtually cubical. From a side profile the long wheelbase (3,498mm inside an overall 5,399mm)is readily apparent, as is the elegantly profiled nose, complete with bonnet. This makes accessing the engine easier and provides a higher measure of impact protection. Front overhang is 938mm, with a rear overhang of 968mm.

The body in white highlighted the tinted windows fitted to the left and right hand side sliding doors which aren’t remotely operable. The windows themselves house slightly tricky sliding windows, and pull down sun shades. Overall cargo is rated as six cubic metres for the standard LWB, four metres for the crew cab version.
The alloy wheels are 17 inches in diameter and are wrapped in commercial spec, yet very comfortable and grippy, rubber of 215/60 profile from Dunlop.

The non-powered tailgate is surprisingly easy to lift, with a balance point requiring little effort in order to raise it. There is also an embedded pullstrap to help lower the door.

Both driver and passenger door mirrors have a number of wide angle mirrors to back up the reverse camera and rear sensors.

On The Inside It’s:
Got seating for six. There’s adequate room up front for three, even with the protuberance for the gear selector. Underneath the centre and left seat are storage compartments which are accessed by lifting the squab. The driver’s storage has a tool kit.

The other three seats have plenty of room all around, and behind them was a bulkhead separating the passenger section from the load bay. There was just enough body flex to have the bulkhead mounts squeaking quite a bit.
Although clearly a commercial vehicle, Renault’s ergonomics cant be faulted, for the most part. The gear selector housing has some impact on the centre seat passenger, but that’s unavoidable as it’s also ideally placed to fall naturally to hand for shifting.

The starter button is quite visible, so there’s no hunting around. Switchgear is just where the body feels it needs to be, and the left mounted indicator (with auto headlights) is a fingertip away. The floor is easy to clean rubber, with driver and front passengers stepping up easily.
A handy touch or two are the inbuilt mobile phone holder and upper dash storage locker. The phone holder is engineered to twist and to extend in height with the push of a button.
The seven inch touchscreen is easy to operate and read, and there is the pleasant addition of digital radio. However, much like the Megane recently reviewed, the tuner sensitivity isn’t on par with that from other manufacturers. Having said that, overall sound quality from the door mounted speakers, partnered with a pair mounted above and behind the driver and left front passenger, delighted in their depth and clarity.

On The Road It’s:

More car like in ride and handling than it had the right to be. The front wheels are ahead of the front seats but felt as if they were directly under them. With such a long body and wheelbase there was an expectation of dragging tne rear wheels on curbs in corners. It simply didnt happen. Somehow, the knowledge of where each corner was became almost intuitive vey quickly. Not once did the length of the Trafic Life pose an issue.

Driven in the environment it was, a predominantly urban drive, and with one to four aboard, plus a week’s load of shopping, the 1.6L engine never seemed as if it would struggle in this specific kind of usage. If used in a purely commercial way, that would probably be a different story.
But that’s where the low gearing for first and second worked so well. Below 1300 or 1400 revs, the Trafic Life had little. Life, that is. But once tbe turbo spooled up there was a rapid change in tne nature of it, and the 340 torques introduced themselves with a flourish.

Further up the gears and in both town and highway driving, the Trafic Life was rarely found wanting. The engine management system has an anti-stall feature, and once or twice at traffic lights this kicked in, enabling the get-away otherwise wanted.

It’s a superb highway cruiser, and around the urban drive cycle, fourth or fifth was all that was required. Braking, too, was wonderful, with an easy to judge feel, and plenty of speed reduction quickly.
Actual ride quality was enjoyable, with a firm, but not unpleasantly so suspension setup. Matched with a quick steering rack and driven hard through the tight and twisting turns on one particular Blue Mountains thoroughfare, the Trafic Life demonstrated just how well thought out and engineered the underpinnings are.

What About Safety And Warranty?
Front and side airbags, daytime running lights, Hill Start Assist, and the mandated traction aids are standard. Renault doesn’t list AEB or distance sensing cruise control. Warranty is listed as 3 years, unlimited kilometres, with annual or 30,000 kilometre service intervals.
At The End Of The Drive.
PF handed back the 2019 Renault Trafic Life with regret. It’s a better than expected family vehicle, economic to drive, comfortable whilst doing so, and has an easy to maintain interior. In colours other than the plain white our review vehicle came in, it’d also be a reasonably handsome looker on road. And at under $50k driveaway its a screaming bargain as a people mover.

For more details on the Renault Trafic range, here is where you can find them.

Fiat Goes Rare With 500C Spiaggina ’58 Edition.

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

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