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Auto Bounce Back: Is the Slide Over?

Australia’s two and a half year run of decreasing sales has come to an end, says the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. Sales for the month of November, 2020, were recorded at 95,205, an increase of 10,497 sales or 12.4 per cent on November 2019 when 84,708 sales were recorded.

Year to date (YTD) however shows that sales are still well down on 2019, with 978,628 sales last year, whilst 2020 has recorded 821,316 so far.

Toyota continued its imperious march over its competitors, with November figures of 23,204 sales, ahead of Mazda with 9,053 sales, Hyundai with 6,903 sales which just pipped Ford with 6,613 sales and Mitsubishi with 5,488 sales.

The top five selling models for the month were the Toyota HiLux with 5,038 sales, the Ford Ranger with 4,260 sales, the Toyota RAV4 with 3,800 sales, the Toyota Landcruiser with 2,947 sales and the Toyota Corolla with 2,774 sales.
SUVs continued to outsell other vehicle types with a 52.5 per cent share of the market for a total of 50,016 sales. That’s an increase of 26.5% over November 2019. 20,711 Passenger Vehicle were sold and that’s down 10.1 per cent from November 2019, for a 21.8 per cent of the total market. Light Commercial vehicles claimed 22.3 per cent of the market with 21,252 sales, up 11.5 per cent from November 2019.

Inside the passenger vehicle segment, 94 vehicles were pure electric, 2,912 were hybrids, whilst 33 were the plug-in hybrid or PHEV type. in the SUV segment, the breakdown is 84, 3,975, and 102. All three categories in these two segments show increases varying from some to substantial.
For the Micro car segment, Kia’s Picanto (433) continues to dominate, with MG’s MG3 taking the gold in the sub-$25K light cars (632) ahead of The Toyota Yaris and Suzuki Swift (482 and 446). For the small sub-$40K, Hyundai’s i30 was 2nd on 2,047, with the Kia Cerato 3rd on 1,625.

The medium sub-$60K saw Skoda’s Octavia in 2nd, well behind the Camry (286 vs 1,283) and ahead of the Mazda6 (161). BMW’s 3 Series continued to dominate the plus-$60K sector (461) over the Mercedes-Benz C-Class (353).

People movers and the Kia Carnival more than doubled the sales of the Honda Odyssey in the sub-$60K sector (268 to 107) whilst in the Sports Car sector the Mustang sold seven per day to move 230 in November 2020.
Moving to SUVs and in the light SUV segment it’s Mazda’s CX-3 doubling the newly released Yaris Cross (1,562 to 794) whilst it’s a hard fought battle in the sub-$40K small SUV. It’s a virtual tie between the Mitsubishi ASX over the Hyundai Kona (1,465 to 1,453) with the MG ZS having a win over the Kia Seltos and Mazda CX-30 (1,133 to 1,058 and 1,038).

Things are a little more spread out in the plus-$40K, with RAV4 (3,800) over Mazda’s CX-5 (2,412) and Hyundai’s Tucson (1,995). Subaru’s soon to be updated Forester found 1,502, just ahead of Nissan’s X-Trail at 1,405.

Toyota’s aging Prado continued to find appeal with 2,602 in the sub-$70K large SUVs. It’s well ahead of the Isuzu MU-X (848) that outsold the Kia Sorento (796) and Mazda CX-9 (743). In the same size but priced at over $70K, the new Genesis GV80 moved 21 but the winners were BMW’s X5 (366) and Audi’s Q7 (229).

Information courtesy of the FCAI and VFACTS.

2020 Citroen C3 Shine: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A car from a brand with a reputation for being innovative and quirky, but not necessarily at the same time.

Citroen’s C3 has been part of the legendary French brand for some time and has morphed from a rounded hatch to a flatter looking mini-SUV. A variation on the theme is the Aircross which once had plastic panels fitted with air-filled pockets, yet no longer does. The C3 itself, though, has a set of four small panels called AirBump, one for each door. The front has five pockets, the rear just two.

The idea is to provide some sort of very low speed impact protection from marauding shopping trolleys, however if this seemingly otherwise good idea were actually that good, we would see it on every car. It’s worth noting that Citroen themselves once had these panels covering all of the door, not just a small section…How Much Does It Cost?: In real terms, it’s a bit ouchy. Call it $28,990 drive-away for a car the size of a Mini, however there is the currency exchange rate to consider. This price was, at the time of writing, available for cars delivered by November 30, 2020. In comparison, Kia’s Cerato hatch and sedan were on a drive-away offer (October 30, 2020 end date) of $23,990.
Metallic paint, such as the Platinum Grey and white roof combo fitted to our test car, is an optional cost of $590. The C3 comes with a body and roof combination range of Opal White and Red, Almond Green and Black, Perla Nera Black and Red, Ruby red and Black, and Cobalt Blue and White.

Under The Bonnet Is: Another of the back pocket sized 1.2L turbo three cylinders proliferating in smaller cars. The addition of a turbo has breathed new life into these, adding much needed torque. There is 81kW and 205Nm. The auto is the EAT6 and matches the thrummy 3 cylinder perfectly. It’s a sipper, too, with 6.1L/100km seen on our 70/30 urban/highway cycle. The official combined cycle figure is 4.9L/100km.On The Outside It’s: Soft and round, with nary a sharp crease to be found. Ovoid is the term, with the body, roof, front and rear lights, all curvy. The straightest lines, somewhat ironically, are the plastic panels containing the air pockets…unless you count the delineation in colour between roof and body. It’s designed so the LED driving lights look like the headlights, the headlights sit slap bang in the middle of the bumper, and above the halogen driving lights. The roofline slopes gently downwards from the A-pillar and slightly protuberant tail lights. 205/55/16 Michelin Premacy 3 rubber and simple eight spoke alloys finish the package. It’s compact at 3,990mm in total length but packs a very decent 2,540mm wheelbase, meaning minimal overhangs for the front and rear. Height is petite too, at just 1,470mm.

On The Inside It’s: A mirror, on the door trims and door handles, of the exterior airbumps. The dash is a flat and slabby affair, with the dash standing out from the door joins rather than flowing into them. Plastics lack that sense of tactile appeal, unfortunately. The airvents also mirror the ovoid motif. Audio is AM/FM, with no DAB. The touchscreen is a 7.0 inch affair and has both Apple and Android connectivity.For the driver’s it’s a standard dual dial design in the binnacle with a separate monochrome info screen. The tiller has the slightly squared off bottom end and is leather clad. The seats are comfy, and clad in a black, grey and orange stitched mix. Gears are selected by a “J gate” style lever with leather surrounds. The cargo section has a low floor but isn’t especially capacious at 300L. 922L is the figure with the 60/40 rear seats folded. Supplementary storage and equipment is minimal with small cup holders, slightly oversized bins for the doors, along with auto headlights and wipers but manual seat adjustment.On the Road It’s: Always fun to drive. Three cylinder engines have a massive appeal due to their aural presence. There’s an off-kilter rumble, one that never sounds rough or wrong as revs climb, rather it becomes a more sonorous sonic hello to the eardrums. Suspension tune is erring to the soft side but stopping short of bouncing the body off the bump stops. Steering feel is also slightly woolly, with no real conversation to the driver’s hands but weighted so three point turns are an easy trick.

Torque deliver brings a patient rise in speed, but also one that isn’t overly lax in performance. It’s no rocketship, true, yet there is enough verve and oomph in the engine’s mid-range delivery to provide that just-right go around town.

Stop-Start is fitted and confuses the engine sometimes coming up to a stop sign; the brake pedal has that borderline pressure required to engage it or not, and occasionally it would shut down the engine just as the foot would lift from the pedal. This leads to that hesitation that interrupts acceleration just as it’s needed. the auto also had the occasional dose of indecision, mostly at light throttle, banging between lower gears before settling on one as the speed rose.

What about Service And Warranty?: 5 Year Free Scheduled Service, 5 Year Unlimited KM Warranty & 5 Year 24/7 Roadside Assistance.

What About Safety?: Minimal, in relation to others. AEB is fitted as are six airbags, rear sensors, lane departure warning, and reverse camera, but that’s about it.

At The End Of The Drive: Citroen is up against with the C3 Shine. Price is one thing, perceived value is another. It’s a fun little car to drive, a cute little car to look at, but when put against cars such as the Picanto, Mazda’s 2, or the VW Polo, the Shine fades. The stylish quirks of the airbumps have disappeared from the C3 and C5 Aircross, and the forthcoming C3 loses four bumps, offset by a small increase in size.

If slightly oddball French chic is your thing, find out more here.

Peugeot 2008 Ready To Roll For Australia

Peugeot has released details of the soon to be released, for the Australian market, 2008. It’s the baby SUV the company has had overseas for a few months, and for Australia it will come in a two tier range, Allure and GT. A third model, presumably called GT-Line, is due in early 2021.

Engine. The Allure and GT will share a 1.2L three cylinder petrol engine with turbo. The Allure has a six speed auto to match the 96kW/230Nm spec, with the GT getting an eight speed auto and 115kW/240Nm powerplant. Economy for each will be similar, with 6.5L/100km for the Allure, and 6.1L/100km for the slightly more torquier GT. That’s important as the Allure, at 1,247kg, is 40kg lighter than the GT. Tank size is 44L. The drivetrain for the Allure is intended more for those of the “let’s have fun” group”, with the Advanced Grip Control programmed for Mud, Sand, and Snow.Body. The grilles give away which model is which. The Allure has horizontal strips, the GT has verticals. The front end has a sharper look that the previous 2008, and features redesigned headlights, with the GT notable for the three vertical strips that match the blade LED driving light as seen on the gorgeous 508. The lower air intake will house the forward facing sensor for the adaptive cruise control and AEB. Active Blind Spot Monitoring for the GT is standard, as is Adaptive Cruise. The GT also has an advantage over the Allure with the AEB being low-light capable for both pedestrian and cyclist. Eco/Normal/Sport driving modes are also GT specific.Wheel size is 215/60/17 and 215/55/18 for the Allure and GT, with inserts to provide different looks. Both cars will have a 16 inch space saver. For the sides, a pair of triangular creases joing the front and rear, and the rear lights have the familiar triple claw look now housed in a slimmer casing. Both are 4,300mm in length, and share a 2,605mm wheelbase. They stand 1,550mm tall and are 1,770mm in width.Above the rear window is a black spoiler for the GT, a body coloured unit for the Allure. the wing mirrors will be the same. For the GT, a full glass sunroof can be optioned. A small and interesting note: the 2008 badge has the 00 linked together in an infinity sign, a symbol that Peugeot embodies as never-ending development.

Equipment. 180 degree parking cameras, climate control, and heated mirrors are common to both, as are electric parking brakes. Over the Allure, the GT has front and rear sensors, semi-auto aprk assist, a different gear selector, and paddle shifters. The GT also has alloy pedals and 8 colours for the LED ambient lighting. Luxury gets a bump with full grain, perforrated, leather for the steering wheel and gear selector.

For the fronts eats the Allure has a 7.0 inch touchscreen, the GT gets a 10.0 inch unit. Wireless charging is standard for the GT and there are a pair of USB ports up front; one is the USB-A and the other the smaller USB-C. There are two USBs for the rear seats. In between the front ports is a folding cover that reveals the nook for the charge plate, with the door having a small ridge to rest the phone on for a widescreen orientation. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard for both. For the driver both have a 3D look display screen, with a unique design bringing information “forward” in the way it looks. The GT has a full Nappa leather interior.On The Road. The GT has the better feel on road, with a sense of more energy, and just that little bit more grip. That’s a seat of the pants feedback, as the footprint for both is identical, so put it down to the slightly smaller sidewall on the GT’s rubber. The steering in both is well weighted, as you’d expect. The eight speeder in the GT makes for a better overall response to the throttle, with a Sport mode adding extra pep. And of course, the brake feel is spot on.Our time with the Allure and GT was part of the media launch held in the northern area of Sydney, with drive time in each just over an hour. Depending on availability, AWT hopes to be able to spend a week with one or the other in early 2021.Pricing is currently set as $34,990 MLP for the Allure and $43,990 MLP for the GT. That price disparity accounts for the GT being fully loaded and with essentially only a glass roof and a choice of seven exterior colours including three pearlescent paints as options.

2021 Volvo XC40 R-Design PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Volvo’s SUV entry into the hybrid world and specifically the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle world. The R-Spec sits at the top of the mid-range for the XC40 and looks an ideal way to get the Swedish brand into the market for hybrid SUVs.

How Much Does It Cost?: Volvo provided, as always, an extensive information sheet. The manufacturer’s list price is $64,990. As tested, the vehicle supplied was $69,760. Metallic paint is a premium price here and double the asking cost of nearly everyone else in the segment at $1,150. A powered folding rear seat headrest and cargo protection net is $230. A Climate Pack which consists of heated wipers, heated front seats, and heated tiller is $700. A big tech item is the 360 degree camera is $990, with tinted rear windows at $700. For the heated rear seat that’s $350 with Park Assist Pilot at $650.What’s Under The Bonnet?: A combination of a three cylinder 1.5L petrol motor and battery powered engine. The petrol motor is 1.5L in capacity, and generates 132kW of peak power and 265Nm of peak torque. This is backed up by the 60kW and 160Nm from the electric motor. Consumption is quoted as 2.2L/100km for the combined cycle and that is eminently achievable. We saw nothing worse than 4.6L/100km, meaning a theoretical range of around 1,000km. It also reduces emissions, with 50g/km the quoted figure. Tank size is 48.0L. 0-100kph time is quoted as 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 205kph.On the Outside It’s: Unchanged from the “normal XC40” bar the addition of a port fitted for the battery pack on the left forward flank. To see our original review, click here for more.

On The Inside It’s: Also largely the same. The virtual dash has the addition of Hybrid in the right hand dial, and the main touchscreen, which swipes left or right for submenus, now has the addition of a “Charge” tab, to engage the engine whilst driving to add charge to the battery pack. A zipper bag is included that houses the charge cable. A simple clip ensures the bag stays in place whilst driving. The airvents have a whiff of 1950s elegance and an alloy trim plate brings class to the dash ahead of the passenger. The cargo area is of a very good size but has a flat floor, losing the more effective folding floor that opened to storage pockets underneath.On The Road It’s: An interesting drive. In our experience, hybrids start off quietly, get to around 20kph, and then, regardless if a EV Mode is selected, overrides that and kicks in the petrol engine. Here it’s the opposite, with silent electric driving UNLESS the accelerator is mashed to the floor. The three cylinder engine is isolated to the point of invisibility aurally, and is so well integrated in the drivetrain that any physical sensation is virtually free of being felt.Range on battery alone is estimated at 40 kilometres, and the dash display shows this along with the consumption. There is a regenerative change that collects kinetic energy and feeds it back to the battery. And when engaging the petrol engine to recharge that battery it’s that same seamless switch from a silky smooth electric run to a barely perceptible thrum from the three cylinder. However, it’s a two mode system and cannot be adjusted. There are drive modes, one of which is Pure. This locks the drive into only battery powered motion and when the battery runs dry, automatically switches to petrol power. Power mode hitches both electric and petrol to the drivetrain, and emulates the heavy right foot drive style needed when that just right break in the traffic comes along.It’s an ideal cruiser too, with the combined torque propelling the 1,760kg XC40 along the freeways and highways effortlessly. It’s a serene experience, with only hints of tyre and noise getting through to the cabin. That’s an impressive feat considering the 245/45/20 Pirelli P-Zero rubber. With such a sizeable footprint, more noise would be reasonably expected. They also provide, not unexpectedly, more than ample grip, with cornering a confidence-building event and with virtually zero body roll from the MacPherson strut/multi-link rear. The ride is perfect, with compliance and a sporty tautness exactly where they should be. The same applies to the steering; it’s light but not overly so. There is weight when needed but nor is it excessive or applied at the wrong time.

Braking is the area that needs work; that beautifully tactile feel has changed to a grabby and non-intuitive bite. There’s a lack now of gentle and smooth progression, it’s now a situation where it’s semi-soft before grabbing the discs and lurching the XC40 to a halt. It’s more than a niggle especially at traffic lights and stop signs where there may be a vehicle ahead, and that lurch is enough to raise the eyebrows and push the pedal harder to avoid contact.

What About Safety?: Plenty, of course. It’s what Volvo is built on. Here’s the list: City Safety: Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animals and Cyclist Detection, Intersection Collision and Oncoming Mitigation with Brake Support; Steering Support; Intellisafe Assist: Driver Alert; Lane Keeping Aid; Adjustable Speed Limiter function; Oncoming Lane Mitigation; Intellisafe Surround: Blind Spot Information (BLIS) with Cross TrafficAlert (CTA), Front and Rear Collision Warning with mitigation support; and Run-off road Mitigation. Hill start assist; Hill Descent Control; Park-assist Front and Rear; Rain Sensor; Drive mode with personal powersteering settings; Emergency Brake Assist (EBA); Emergency BrakeLight (EBL); Frontal Airbags, Side Impact Protection System (SIPS)with airbags in front seats, Inflatable Curtains and Whiplash ProtectionSystem; Driver’s knee airbag; Belt Reminder all seats; ISO-FIX outerposition rear seat; Intelligent Driver Information System (IDIS) complete what is an obviously extensive list.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres. The battery has an eight year warranty excluding expected efficiency losses. Volvo has a three year capped price service plan and for the XC40 it’s $1,595.

At The End Of the Drive. Hybrid technology for the automotive world is increasingly seen as a better option than purely electric and hydrogen. The bigger the charge from the battery the more assistance it provides to the petrol engine, and the better the range. And then the range anxiety that still worries people with a purely battery only vehicle is largely alleviated, and petrol running costs are reduced significantly.

In XC40 R-Design form, hybrid tech provides an ideal opportunity to sample it and in a car that is an award winning vehicle. There is plenty to like here, and it’s a car worthy of investigating to place in the driveway. Here is some information from Volvo.

 

2020 Peugeot 5008 GT Line: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s quite sexy 5008 mid-sized SUV. Effectively a stretched 3008, and sharing the front cabin, the 5008 grows to a seven seater.

How Much Does It Cost?: As of October 2020 its on a drive away price of $55,990 including premium paint, Nappa leather seats, and glass roof.

Under The Bonnet Is: A detuned version of the 1.6L engine found in the 508, or the same engine in the 3008. That’s 121kW and 240Nm plus the six speed, not eight speed auto. Its a frugal thing with our economy result an overall 6.7L/100km. However, freeway driving did see an on-the-fly figure of just 2.4L/100km. Tank size is a smaller than class average 56.0L.On The Outside It’s: A mid-sizer at 4,641mm in length and sits on a wheelbase of 2,840mm. That’s up from the 3008’s 4,447mm and 2,675mm. That extension is from underneath the second row seats and allows for the third row of two seats which are removable. Wheels are 19 inches in diameter and rubber is 205/55 Michelin Premacy. The spare is an 80 profile space-saver on a 18 inch wheel.Up front are the sequential indicators and the shark fin headlights. The rear has a powered tailgate with set opening level button. The rear is also more upright and boxy in comparison to the 3008 to allow for the third row seating.On The Inside It’s: The same gloriously pretty interior as seen in the 3008 and 508 with the diamond stitched and quilted black leather heated seats. Both fronts have two position memory. The second row seats are three individual units which separately slide and fold. The third are, at best, emergency seats as they don’t really offer a lot of room. Operated via the ubiquitous and simple pull strap system, both lay under a cargo floor cover of two parts, with each also moved via a small string strap.The 5008’s architecture is showing its age with no USB socket for the second row. The front seats have one only and that’s awkwardly tucked away under the lower centre section of the otherwise ergonomically spot on dash, complete with those wonderfully simple alloy look tabs for navigation, aircon, audio (including DAB) and more. That same nook houses a smartphone charge pad. As luscious to look at those tabs are, along with the wrap-around forward centre console, they’re also sun catching and tend to reflect directly into a driver’s eyes.The driver has the Peugeot family’s i-cockpit digital display with varying looks (via that same roller dial on the steering wheel’s left spoke), and the trip meter info activated, as is the Peugeot norm, via a press button on the end of the right hand, wiper activating, column stalk. Those wipers feature Peugeot’s water-saving “Magic Wash” which mists from the arms themselves and not via wasteful jets in the bonnet’s trailing edge. Auto dipping high beam is also standard as is the blue-hued mood lighting. Above the passengers is a black cloth sheet that rolls back to unveil a full glass roof.On The Road It’s: Lacking those extra two cogs and 60Nm from the 508’s 1.6L specification. The extra mass the 5008 has over the smaller and lighter 3008 also affects performance with a plus nine second run to 100kph from a standing start. However, that isn’t noticeable in the ride, with a virtually perfect mix of compliance, suppleness, and chassis control. Body roll is almost non-existent, tightening radius cornering has the nose pushing on gently and that’s controlled by a slow easing off from the accelerator.

Rolling acceleration is decent but not rapid, and when used in anger there’s little to be said aurally too, as the engine emits a restrained growl, a muted note from the exhaust, and a whole lot of otherwise, “sigh, let’s get this done”.Peugeot’s cabin design has the steering wheel sat below the driver’s display, and the size of the flat-bottomed unit brings a sense of sportiness, of engagement with the drive. Brake pedal feedback is the same high level of tactility we’ve come to expect from this underrated brand.

What About Safety?: Six airbags, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Adaptive Cruise Control, front and rear parking sensors and park assistance are standard fit. City Park (a 90 degree parallel parking system) and a 360 degree camera are standard. The Active Lane Keeping Assistance function is standard and is only mildly intrusive, as it tugs gently rather than firmly, to straighten the 5008 up. Adaptive Cruise is standard along with AEB with camera and radar assistance.What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, plus Peugeot’s capped price serving scheme. Booking services is performed online.

At The End Of The Drive. Peugeot is a brand that has an extensive history, is one of the older brands in Australia’s automotive landscape, and remains peculiarly invisible. Yes, our market is a strange one and there are plenty of choices available, yet against that Peugeot’s offerings are overlooked in comparison to the South East Asian based competitors. In our blunt opinion that’s a shame as there is class, good looks, high standard levels of safety and equipment, and at fair prices.That’s our opinion.

The 5008 is a great example of that classy film that lasted a week at the cinemas and yet those in the know, know how good it is. And with the baby of the “008” range, the 2008 due for imminent release at the time of writing, that superb choice expands. Check out the 5008 here.

2020 Peugeot 508 GT: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s super slinky, super sexy, super underrated 508 sedan/fastback/hatchback. It gets the three names because it has a powered rear hatch and has a profile that blends a sedan and fastback style. Any way you look at it, the 508 is a truly stunning vehicle to clap the optics on. There is a Sportswagon variant as well for those needing that extra cargo space.

How Much Does It Cost?: At the time of review it’s $56,990 driveaway. Peugeot’s website, at the time of writing, indicated a price of over $62K normally.Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.6L petrol engine with turbo oomph. There is 165kW and 300Nm @2,750rpm available, and drive gets through to the front wheels via a smooth-as-silk eight speed auto. Our time with the 508 coincided with a drive to Bega on the New South Wales south coast. Economy is excellent at 6.4L/100km from the 62L tank and this was with four aboard, luggage, and a pooch. Peugeot is one of the rare companies that provides a 0-100 time and for the fastback it’s 8.1 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 250kph.

On The Outside It’s: An eyecatcher, especially in the glorious Ultimate Red metallic which is one of nine external colours available as a current no-cost option. The front features blade style LED driving lights and indicators, self-leveling LED headlights, and starts the flowing look that embodies French chic. Subtle crease lines roll back from the bonnet to the windscreen base, and from the forward flanks along the frameless doors. A three claw rear light is joined to the body via a sharp crease that brings the roofline to the powered hatch.

Michelin supply the 235/45 ZR Pilot Sport4 rubber on black painted and machined 18 inch alloys. The design is based around five triangles and the combination of machined metal that stops short of the centre hubs looks fantastic against the red. The roof looks all black however it hides a sunroof.The hatch opens via a hold-and-press tab on the keyfob, a double-tap button inside, a press of the Peugeot lion emblem, or a somewhat fussy kick under the left rear section of the bumper. It’s not always successful and repeated tests saw the shin barked on the bumper more than the procedure worked.

Up front and “magic wash” wipers ooze rather than spray the cleaning fluid; it takes a moment for the nozzles to flow but they’re far more quiet and efficient. Just as efficient is the auto high-beam feature, dipping and raising the stronger light as a sensor dictates from the outside readings.

On The Inside It’s: A truly beautiful place. Pliant Nappa leather with diamond shaped stitched shaping, a floating centre console with smartphone charge pad and two USBs, and Peugeot’s cool looking 12.3 inch i-cockpit greet passengers with a warm ambience. There is two position memory seating for the driver plus eight-way adjustment and massage for both front seats, heating is standard, and the support underneath and for the sides is sportscar-like. There’s a nice touch from the frameless windows that drop slightly and raise automatically as the doors are opened and closed.Basic controls such as satnav, aircon, audio etc are activated via soft touch and classy looking alloy look tabs below the touchscreen. Under these and wrapped in piano black are the supplementary aircon controls. On top of the floating console is a rocker switch to engage different drive modes. At the end facing the rear seat passengers are another pair of USBs and airvents.There are a couple of hidden tricks for the cabin too. The child locks are disengaged via a tab on the driver’s door’s armrest, not via the setup in the 10.0 inch touchscreen. As our time with the 508 coincided with a swap to daylight saving, a change to the clock was needed. This is done not by tapping the time display itself, but using an options screen via a Settings icon.

Subtle mood lighting is seen in the dash and centre console drinks holders for a classy touch, and the classy look extends to the choice of display on the i-cockpit screen. There are Dials, Minimalist, Navigation and more to choose from, and activated via a press and roll of the selector on the left side of the steering wheel’s arm. here is also the volume control for the DAB equipped audio system, with legendary French speaker manufacturer Focal providing the outlets.It’s not all beer and skittles though. That sloping rear roofline does make it a little tight for taller passengers, with anyone knocking on six feet probably close to nudging the noggin. Rear leg room is also adequate but again verging on tight for the taller. The cargo space too feels somewhat compromised thanks to the slope of the hatch and a high floor yet offers 487L to 1,537L.On The Road It’s: An absolute delight and performance utterly belies the 1.6L’s 300Nm. Around town it’s as easy to drive as expected, with the eight speed DCT on tap at all times and mostly lacking the yawning gaps found in other similar transmissions. The gear selector is as pistol grip style with a button on the right side being pressed and a rocker forward or backwards to engage Reverse or Drive. Cog engagement is far better than that seen in other vehicles and allows forward motion to be both quick, and importantly, safer.

It’s a real cruise mobile, helped by utterly sublime suspension that has each corner rolling over its own section of road without interfering with the other three. Magic carpet in feeling, it dealt with the suburban roads just as easily as the highways, especially those south of Canberra. It’s the ideal mix of quietly wafting whilst being ready to attack like a sports machine. The steering was better when the Lane Keep Assist was disengaged, as this was a little too aggressive in re-centreing the 508 GT. Weight was virtually perfect and torque steer negligible. Braking was instinctive in feedback too.

It’s in its highway prowess that the 508 GT really sang, with that fuel economy a great starting point. However it’s the unexpected flexibility of that seemingly too small 1.6L that sold its potential and won us over. It’s unstressed as a highway goer, with the rev counter just under 2,000rpm. When needed to get angry, it launches the 508 forward with unexpected and wholly welcomed verve and vigour, allowing legal and safe passing to be safer than expected.On one long, straight, and vision perfect for overtaking road, in a line of traffic behind a few caravan-toting 4WDs, the right moment was selected to indicate after checking for rear traffic, and suddenly seeing the front of the line before indicating again and pulling in. For a car of its overall size and with the payload aboard, it’s far, far better than expected and makes long drives a safer proposition.

Easing off and going uphill, the numbers on the digital face roll back rapidly, and there’s only the gentlest of squeezes of the accelerator to settle the vehicle and have it back on the pace. Through all of this, the suspension is supple enough to be luxury when required, and can be punted with sporting intent just as easily too. Peugeot have hit the sweet spot with the 508’s ride and handling.

What About Safety?: Nothing is missing here. Active Blind Spot Detection Alert, Video Camera and Radar autonomous emergency braking, and Adaptive Cruise Control heads the list. Six airbags, ISOFIX, Highway Keeping Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are also included.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres, plus capped price servicing for five years and five years roadside assist.

At The End Of The Drive: The Peugeot 508 GT fastback is a truly underrated car. It will cosset you in silent comfort and take you to within sight of dedicated, and pricier, sports oriented vehicles. There is plenty of space, plenty of tech and safety, and plenty of that underlying, restrained performance, to not just delight, but surprise in the best way possible.

It’s the car that surprised us with its all round ability, and in a shrinking sedan market, deserves better consideration. The Peugeot 508 GT is that virtually perfect blend of a luxury car that eats up highway miles whilst offering the iron glove performance of a dedicated sports hatch. Yes please, sign me up. Get yourself into one here.

MINI Countryman Rolls Out For Oz.

MINI Australia has introduced the new Countryman to the Australian market in the first week of October 2020, with pricing starting from $44,500 (plus ORC) for the Cooper Countryman. There has been changes to the interior and exterior, upgrades mechanically, and improvements in the technological bases. Four variants will be available from the launch, with Cooper S Countryman, Hybrid Countryman, and JCW Countryman with the addition of a Pure version.Some models will have an all-wheel-drive system. The Hybrid Countryman has an increased range on battery power, with between 55km to 61km expected. This is thanks to a larger 9.6kWh battery being supplied. One exterior change is to the signature grille, with a redesign for the hexagonal look forming a centrepiece for redesigned front and rear bumpers. LEDs now form the standard lighting package, especially at the front (fog lights) and rear that highlights the Union Jack logo. These will sit behind a cargo area offering up to 1,275L of space.

A key interior change is the addition of purely digital displays for the driver at 5.5 inches. The MINI Connect service has extra functionality, and AppleCarPlay will be available via the 8.8 inch touchscreens.

Brett Wauby, MINI Australia and New Zealand General Manager said: “The arrival of the new MINI Countryman will bolster the strong momentum we’ve enjoyed in Australia thus far in 2020. We anticipate strong interest in the new Countryman, a clear favourite in the MINI range, and look forward to delivering signature British charm, go-kart thrills and value-added practicality for our MINI fans.”The Cooper Countryman starts the range, as mentioned, from $44,500 manufacturers list price. Power will be supplied from a 3 cylinder petrol engine providing 100kW and 220Nm for a 9.7 second 0-100 time. Transmission is a seven speed DCT. Economy (combined) is 6.3L/100km. 17 inch alloy wheels will be standard as will an auto tailgate. Leatherette Sports seats will support the driver and front passenger. They’ll have access to wireless smartphone charging, Apple CarPlay, and be safe with City Crash Mitigation with Pedestrian Detection plus Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop/Start. Dynamic Traction Control with Electronic Differential Lock Control and Park distance control with rear camera and reversing assistant will also be standard.

Cooper S Countryman starts from $52,990. A 4-cylinder petrol engine delivers 141kW & 280Nm for a 7.5s 0-100 time whilst providing economy of 6.7l/100 km via a 7-speed Steptronic sport dual-clutch transmission. There will be three MINI Driving Modes (Sport, Mid, Green). The exterior highlights will see a Piano Black Line Exterior (headlights surround, bezels around rear lights, front grille frame, door handles) with the radiator grille in black surround and featuring a black honeycomb insert and S designation.

18-inch light-alloy wheels with run-flat tyres will be here. Inside there is a John Cooper Works steering wheel, Leather Cross Punch Sports seats for driver and front passenger in Carbon Black that will match the piano black surfacing for the trim. An extra safety element is the Forward Collision Warning with visual and audio warning signal, plus braking pre-conditioning.Hybrid Countryman starts from $60,990. It’s the same 3 cylinder petrol plus a 65kW/165Nm electric motor and six speed auto. 0-100 is 6.8s and economy is 2.4l/100 km. There is an extra drive mode (Green+) and the All4 intelligent all-wheel drive system. The Piano Black exterior package is fitted and complements the chrome side scuttles. The 18 inch alloys and run-flats are standard as are the blackouts for the grille. The interior has the John Cooper Works steering wheel, Carbon Black Leather Cross Punch Sports seats for driver and front passenger, Piano Black interior surfaces and the Forward Collision Warning with visual and audio warning signal, plus braking pre-conditioning.

The JCW Countryman Pure kicks off from $61,915. The 4 cylinder petrol breathes via a pair of centrally mounted tailpipes and punches out 225kW and 450Nm for a 5.1s sprint time. Economy is 7.6l/100 km. The transmission is an 8 speed Steptronic sport automatic paddle shifts and launch control. The MINI Driving Modes are Sport, Mid, Green and grip is via the All4 intelligent all-wheel drive system. 18 inch alloys and run-flat tyres ride with a Sport tuned suspension. Brakes are fixed 4 piston front calipers. The grille has a red insert whilst the rear sit flat courtesy of a JCW spoiler.

Countryman’s additional specification over JCW Pure has a starting price from $67,818 and has adaptive suspension, 19-inch light-alloy wheels with run-flats. with the interior getting a HUD and sounds via a Harman Kardon HiFi Sound System with 12 speakers and eight channel digital amplifier.

Peugeot Sport Engineering: 508 Goes Hybrid.

Peugeot is undergoing a quiet evolution. Their stunning 508 sedan/coupe and wagon has been given the hybrid tick and along with the engine change comes a name change. Peugeot Sport Engineered is the monicker to be given to the range.The drivetrain that will be slotted into the Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered is a 147kW/300Nm 1.6L turbo four and a pair of electric motors. There is 81kW for the front, 83kW for the rear, making the vehicle a proper all wheel drive and being driven by 265kW and 520 Nm. Packaging sees the cargo space for both body styles unchanged. The transmission is an eight speed auto. Sink the slipper and 100kph comes up in 5.2 seconds, and the top speed is an electronically limited 250kph. Need some overtaking ability? 80kph to 120kph is seen in just three seconds.

The plug-in hybrid’s system sees an 11.5kWh battery fitted and using a standard 240V house socket should be charged in around seven hours. Factor in a 32A wallbox and that drops down to under two hours, or install a 16A plug system and that’s a good average of around 4 hours or less.Utilising the urge comes down to choosing from one of five drive modes. Sport takes a fully charged battery, and adjusts the dampers, engine, and transmission into the most energetic drive modes. Electric is a pure battery drive and offers a range of just over 40 kilometres, whilst disabling the 1.6-T at velocities of up to 140kph. Comfort is what the name suggests, with a cushy, plush ride, Hybrid uses both battery and petrol for an optimal drive, with the all-wheel drive mode more for those slipperier roads. Ride is helped by those adaptive dampers, a track change of 24mm front and 12mm rear, with 380mm font discs being slowed by four piston pads. 20 inch alloys hold on to Michelin Pilot Sport 4S rubber.

Defining the look of the 508 Sport Engineered is an upgraded interior featuring Peugeot’s ubiquitous flat-bottomed tiller, the beautiful i-cockpit with 12.3 inch LCD screen, a premium audio setup from Focal, and a 10.0 inch main touchscreen. Leather “comfort-fit” seats with a 3D looking mesh cosset the passengers and the driver keep an eye on info via a HUD. Safety will include AEB, Lane Departure Warning, and night vision cameras.There is a bespoke grille, a redesigned front bumper with new air scoops in the lower corners, blackened exhaust tips, a rear diffuser and winglets front and rear. Selenium Grey, Pearl White, and Perla Nera Black will be the colours available.

Peugeot Australia has not yet confirmed availability for Australia but a spokesman said local availability is being looked at.

2020 MG HS Essence: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The top of the range Essence from the mid-sized HS range. There are three trim levels starting with Vibe before moving to Excite. The HS is currently the biggest vehicle available from MG, with the smaller ZS (which includes an EV) and the petite MG3 filling out the range.

What Does It Cost?: In 2020 spec the range starts from $30,990 for the Vibe, $34,990 for the Excite, and $38,990 for the Essence. As of September 2020 there was a special edition Essence Anfield available at $40,690. Metallic paint is a $700 option.

Under The Bonnet Is: A turbocharged 1.5L four banger powering the front wheels via a seven speed dual-clutch transmission. Peak power of 119kW comes in at 5,600rpm, however peak toque of 250Nm arrives at a high 4,400rpm. That poses some drive problems. Economy isn’t horrible but could be better from the 55L tank. We finished on 8.6L/100km, with MG’s figures quoting 7.3L/100km for the combined and a rather high 9.2L/100km for the urban. Get out onto the highway and that drops, says MG, to 6.2L/100km.On The Outside It’s: Quite a looker with flowing lines, a curvaceous body, and Euro style blinkers. It’s a bluff nose yet not so that it’s unappealing. Overall it’s an appealing and attractive package. Wheels and tyres are appropriately sized at 235/50/18s with Michelin supplying the grippy Premacy 3ST rubber.

MG gave the HS a makeover earlier this year. Its given the whole vehicle a more 8ntegratwd appearance and one that somehow ties it in with its competitors. For example, front bumper mounted driving lights are fitted and more noticeable, the bluntness of the front end has been lessened, and those aforementioned curves really do bring visual goodness.On The Inside It’s: Very well specced in Essence trim. Both front seats are power operated, a true rarity. There is heating but no ventilation however for them. The driver’s display is a clever mix of analogue and LCD screen, with all four main information sources, being fuel, speed, rev counter, and temperature looking as if two integrated dials thanks to the smart design.

Mood lighting greets the passengers and this can be changed via the 10.1 inch touchscreen for a choice of 64 hues. The lights themselves appear in a strip across the dash and in the door handle recesses.The centre console houses a sliding vent switch that can provide, or not, cooling air for a small drink container. The gear selector is ergonomically placed however it’s a long travel from Park to Drive, a small but noticeable issue not found in most cars.

The touchscreen defaults to Audio, Navigation, and Climate Control sectors. There seems to be a trend against DAB as the Essence, the top of the line, doesn’t have it. That’s a shame as the overall sound presentation is very good.A niggle is the screen showing the current air-conditioning status in its own small sector at the top of screen. Touching this elicits zero response, with a push of the Home button, one of a half dozen or so located underneath and of a chromed hard plastic, required to show the default screens then select the climate control. However, a step or two can be saved as there are two temperature tabs which bypass the need for a Home button press, but tapping the screen’s own separate sector would be quicker.

Fit, finish, and the actual look are of an overall high standard with pleasing lines and soft touch materials. for convenience there are a pair of USBs for the rear seats, and a pair plus a 12V socket up front under a sliding cover.For the cargo area, access is via a powered tailgate that reveals a lip level floor. This is, unfortunately, at a fair height meaning a little more effort is required to load a weekly shop. Total capacity starts at 463L and tops out at 1,287L.

On The Road It’s: Where the MG HS Essence loses its lustre. Dual clutch transmissions work best with engines that have a broad torque spread. 250Nm from a 1.5L engine isn’t unreasonable but arriving at a high rev point, coupled with a large turbo, had the HS Essence confounded and out of sorts more often than not.

There’s the typical gap between Reverse and Drive as the cogs audibly move, and coming to a Stop sign has the gap between stopping and re-engaging Drive blow out to a sizeable and at times unsafe timespan. Hit the accelerator hard and then lift, and the transmission doesn’t change gear in response. It hangs on to the first or second ratio, and then when using the accelerator again, the transmission lost its nerve and simply didn’t know which ratio to look for.

The package is then at its best at highway and freely speeds. Noise insulation is high, with only the tyres noticeable in the audio sense. Overtaking acceleration isn’t fantastic and again its that ramp up to 4,400rpm for peak torque that intrudes. Having said that, it is a smooth and linear progression, its just not a rapid one. A dry weight of around 1,520kg also tips its hat to the cause.The brakes are the same; there’s bite but not quite as much as expected, with a need to press the pedal earlier than in other cars. That’s not to say they don’t work, there isn’t the sense of as much retardation for the same amount of pressure.

The steering, in a way, can also be held up to the same level. It’s very well weighted, there is the appropriate amount of heft and response yet there were times the front tyres gave the impression of scrubbing, or tucking under the wheels, in some conditions.

Freeway ride quality is great, but slow speed ride was 180 degrees from the expectation. Over smaller road bumps such as shopping centre speed restrictions, there was too much stiffness, and in the polar opposite, too much softness and wallowing when a more taut setup would have been expected.An interesting addition is the Super Sport button, a bright red look-at-me button located in the inner five o-clock part of the steering wheel.

What About Safety?: MG fits the HS Essence with a good safety package including one that more or less failed. There is Lane Keep Assist and a Lane Centre function. Day two and the HS flashed up on the dash a warning that it had failed. Yet, manual activation had the steering wheel vibrating as it should but the centreing facility was AWOL. Extra safet in the Essence is a 360 degree camera that activates when the brakes come into play and speed drops to around 20kph. The screen then shows two different views and these can be changed, whilst stopped, via the screen.Adaptive Cruise Control is standard across the range, as is Forward Collision Warning and AEB. Airbags number six and should the Essence get involved in a scrape, there is auto door unlock. Intelligent Headlamp Control reads the lights at night and will auto high beam if required.

What About Warranty And Service?: It’s good. Seven years warranty, with unlimited kilometres. That’s a rarity still in the marketplace. The MG website doesn’t indicate the service interval or costs think yearly or 10,000 kilometres. Capped price servicing doesn’t appear, yet, to be the sweetener.

At The End Of The Drive. In a way, the MG HS Essence is somewhat the antithesis of the porridge for Goldilocks. It’s not “just right”. The good news is that it’s not far from it. It’s not badly priced, for starters. It’s certainly not unattractive. It’s a good looker inside, and is well featured to a point. But to use that terribly well worn phrase: “at the end of the day”, it’s a car that gets driven and that’s the weak point. The suspension is arse about, and the way the driveline works wasn’t, for us, something we could live with.

Yet, for all that, the driveline isn’t far from being where it needs to be, and that’s good news for the brand. More on the HS range can be found here.

2020 Peugeot Expert SWB Diesel Auto: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s short wheelbase Expert van, also known as Standard. There is a long wheelbase version too. Diesel is the sole fuel source and the long wheelbase is auto only. Other than the basic white, there are four other exterior colours including Platinum Grey, Aluminuim Grey, Perla Nera Black, and Flame Red.

How Much Does It Cost?: Peugeot list this at $50,490 driveaway right now, but it’s worth checking the website and using your postcode to ensure your locality gives you the right price.

Under The Bonnet Is: A EURO5 2.0L diesel for the automatic SWB Expert. Peak power and torque are 110kW and a very handy 370Nm which is on tap from 2,000rpm. The auto is Peugeot’s EAT6 however we did see in the driver’s binnacle display a D7…There is a 1.6L and manual combination also available for the Standard. The auto is smooth and at times the only notice of change in ratio is the flicker of the tachometer’s needle.

Economy was 7.8L/100km from the 69L tank, with the Expert being driven unladen, and with under 1,000 kilometres on the clock. That’s not far from Peugeot’s own 7.3L/100km official figures. We should also point out that the naming system Peugeot uses (115, 150 etc) is for the horsepower, not kiloWatts.

On The Outside It’s: White, for the most part, and boxy, for the most part. Should one opt for the other colours, it’s a $690 option. The front is Peugeot’s family look including the fin insert in the headlight clusters, and it’s that nose that saves the Expert from being a box on wheels. There is also a solid black bumper with driving lights, with the rear sporting a small black bumper. Small black strips fit into creases on the flanks of the doors. Each end has parking sensors.

Wheels are steel and at 16 inches in diameter not as big as expected. Rubber is from Michelin’s Agilis range at 215/65 in profile. Each side has a lightweight feeling sliding door, and the rear doors are barn-doors. In profile it looks much shorter than its 4,959mm overall length.On The Inside It’s: More car-like than van-like bar a couple of van necessities. There is a storage nook up on the top of the dash, and a pair in the front of it. Dials are analogue, the touchscreen features Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as there is no DAB, and it’s all rather quite nice to engage with.For the driver there is an unexpected feature: paddle shifts. Drive is engaged via a dial, not a lever, and a small button marked M allows for the paddle shifts to be used. Yes, they’re effective. Seating is for three, and comfortable with cloth coverings. The plastics are an easy on the eye mix of greys and blacks. Inside the cargo area is enough space for 5.8 cubic metres of cargo, with a height of 1,640mm, a length of 2,512mm, and width of 1,636mm. Peugeot says overall cargo weight is 1,300 kilograms. There is also what Peugeot calls a Moduwork module that’s located under the passenger’s seat, with an insulated storage box. Tiedown hooks aplenty are available including in the footwell for the passengers. For convenience there are also three 12V sockets. The spare is a full sized unit also. On The Road It’s: Also very car-like in ride and handling. The steering has a variable ratio for easy parking and enough heft for highway driving to feel cruising is its nature rather than a commercial vehicle. Although the rubber is specified for the type of vehicle the Expert is, there’s no shortage of grip and plenty of compliance across the varying road services. Getting into undercover parking is also easy thanks to the height overall and that superb steering feedback at most speeds, however it can feel a little twitchy at times. With 3.5 turns lock to lock it can be lived with.Getting underway is quick, with a twist of the key seeing the 2.0L diesel spring into life almost instantly. There’s plenty of go from there, and interestingly the diesel doesn’t exhibit any noticeable turbo lag. From a standing start or on the highway, the right foot is totally in command. Rolling acceleration is smooth in a linear fashion without being shove in the back in nature. It makes for a lovely driving style and of course would ease that potential for seeing cargo being suddenly shoved backwards.Actual ride quality is tuned, naturally, towards the commercial side of things but it really is surprisingly car-like in nature. McPherson struts are up front, and oblique wishbones hold up the rear, with absorption and rebound very quick in response and disappearing.What About Safety?: Again, it’s heading towards a passenger car with Video enable Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, and Blind Spot Alert. Driver Attention Warning and Speed Recognition are standard also. Airbags cover driver, passenger, side, and curtain areas.

What About Service And Warranty?: A very good five years or 200,000 kilometres for warranty of light commercial vehicles. Capped price servicing applies and is distance dependent.

At The End of the Drive. Peugeot, like many of its competitors, has cottoned onto the fact that endowing a van with car-like qualities is a good thing. This shows with the slowly increasing number of LCVs that can be purchased as a passenger van in some way.

The Expert is a very good ride in any case, with the tractability of the engine, that super slick auto, passenger car ride quality, and a non-van look to the dashboard itself. For those that like their vanilla with a bit of spice, the Peugeot Expert should be om the list. Check out the 2020 Peugeot Expert for yourself.