As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

European cars

BMW Has Competition For The M2.

BMW Australia has announced another model for their brilliant M2. Powered by a 302kW/550Nm straight six, the BMW M2 Competition starts at $99,900 (plus on-roads) with a M2 Competition Pure starting from $104,900 (plus on-roads). There’s a seven speed DCT, or dual clutch transmission that will take the M2 to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds. For those that prefer an old style manual, a six speed manual is offered as a no-cost option.That peak power is from 5,250 to 7000 rpm, with that V8 eating torque across nearly three thousand revs, at 2,350 to 5,200 rpm. This backs up the M2’s intent to be a track day weapon, as there is a 1.5 kilogram strut brace and it’s a similar design to that seen in the M3 and M4. The suspension has ball joints that are engineered to have zero excess movement, and elastomer bands that transmit lateral movement to the torque struts in the suspension.

BMW’s M-differential is on board, with the design and engineering allowing a “lock-up” with an amount of zero to one hundred percent allowing precise control through virtually every driving condition. Strength and rigidity comes from a new forged alloy which is employed for suspension components and parts of the five link suspension. Stopping isn’t an issue thanks to the 400mm front and 380mm rears with six pot callipers that are an option. Standard stoppers are 380mm and 370mm.

Rolling stock are 19 inches in diameter and are 9×19 up front, 10×19 for the rear. Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber wraps these, with 245/35/19 and 265/35/19 front and rear. These are super lightweight alloys and feature a Y shaped design coated in a light sheen or black. To take advantage of these there are three driving modes, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+, operated via a dial in the cabin. There’s settings available via a toggle switch on the leather bound steering wheel.An exterior update has been fitted with a deeper front skirt for better cooling and airflow. High gloss black coats the grilles and the quad exhaust is also painted black. Wing mirrors are a double arm design that aids in airflow, a M hallmark. And specifically for the Australian market the Competition Pure also gains M Sports seats with Illuminated Headrests and Lumbar Support, front Park Distance Control and the M Seatbelts over the predecessor model.

Compared to the M2 Competition, the Competition Pure rides on the 19-inch light alloy wheels familiar to the outgoing M2, though the Michelin Pilot Super Sports retain the same dimensions as the M2 Competition specification (245/35 R 19 front, 265/35 R 19 rear). The new design wheels are optionally available.Other specification adjustments include a HiFi Loudspeaker system, manually-adjustable M Sport Seats, Bi-LED Headlights and remote central locking (in place of Comfort Access).

BMW says the cars should be available from early 2019.

Mercedes A-Class Arrives For August

Mercedes-Benz have updated their A-Class range and they go on sale here in Australia in August. There’s been quite a few technical additions, a change to the motorvation, and repackaging to provide more room inside. The first model to be released will be the A200, with the A180 and A250 to come before Christmas.

Perhaps, however, the prime attraction is what’s called MBUX. The Mercedes-Benz User Experience is a voice activated and controlled natural language recognition system. The words “Hey Mercedes” are the starting point, and this will allow a driver to speak and enter a navigation destination, select music types or stations, make end end phone calls on the go, send texts, and operate vehicle functions. An AI system will modify the MBUX as it learns the vocal styles of the user/s. You can find out more about it hereA new engine foe the A-Class is the 1.33L, 120kW, 250Nm petrol fed four. That’s mated to a new seven speed auto which is good for a 5.7L/100 kilometre fuel economy (claimed,combined). This is inside a 4419mm length, up from 4299mm. The wheelbase goes to 2729mm, an increase of 30mm from the previous model. Extra width of 16mm and internal repackaging has 9mm and 22mm extra shoulder room front and rear, with 7mm and 8mm extra headroom as well.There’s been a twenty kilo weight reduction, part of which comes from a reduction of the window trimming. This aids visibility all around. Even the boot has been increased, with a new 370L capacity, up 29L.There’s new 18 inch “Aero” alloys, a pair of10.25 inch digital screens that tie in with the MBUX system, keyless start, wireless smartphone charging for compatible handsets, LED headlights, and NTG 6 MB Navigation. Safety levels are huge, with nine airbags on board (front, pelvis side and window bags for driver and front passenger, side bags for rear occupants and knee bag for driver. Mercedes-Benz also add in as standard Active Brake Assist with a semi-autonomous brake function. Active Lane Keep Assist, Active Park Assist with M-B’s Parktronic, and Blind Spot Assist, Traffic Sign Assist, and high quality reversing camera.

Mercedes-Benz are quoting $47,200 plus on roads and dealer delivery, with an expected on-sale date of August 10.

German Odds And Ends: VW Crafter Van & Audi TT

They’re the lifeblood of the small courier driver business, of the larger postal delivery services. LCVs or Light Commercial Vehicles come in various shapes and forms, including the van. There’s plenty to choose from and Volkswagen has just made that choice even more difficult.

The Crafter range offers a more car-like experience both inside and out. There’s the Medium wheelbase, Long wheelbase, Long wheelbase with Overhang, the cab chassis versions in both single and dual cab options and with single and dual rear wheel designs. All up a new Crafter comes in a minimum of 36 versions but with 4 body styles, 3 lengths, 3 heights there’s a total of 59 derivatives including front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and 4MOTION all wheel drive. The starting price for the immense range is for the Crafter 35 TDI340 LWB (Long wheelbase) SCC (single cab chassis) 8 Speed with auto and FWD at $48,290. Just two hundred more sees you in the Crafter 35 TDI340 MWB (Medium Wheelbase) Van 6 Speed Man ‘RUNNER’ front wheel drive.

There’s different load capacities that are dependent on which drive configuration is chosen. Tick the front-wheel drive option and there’s a cargo capacity of up to 18.4 cubic metres and a maximum cargo space height of 2196 mm. Total permitted weight is between 3.55 to 4.0 tonnes. Load width between the wheel arches is 1380 mm and cargo space length is 4855 mm. Have the driven wheels at the other end and the permitted total weight ranges from 3.55 to 5.5 tonnes. The load width on the heavy vehicles with dual rear wheels has been increased in comparison to the previous model by 402mm, thus allowing it to be loaded using a wider range of standard carriers.Inside it’s a more comfortable workspace. LED lighting has been fitted, the base model has four way electric adjustment and there’s a higher level of comfort available. Called ergoActive, it’s part of a German health and safety campaign to help drivers look after their postures and driving positions. Central locking is standard, dual zone climate control is available, and the Trendline package offers extra features such as a second 12V socket, chromed highlights, and front fog and cornering lights.

Dimensions wise there’s the medium wheelbase 5986mm, a long wheelbase at 6386mm, and the overhang version with 7391mm. Engine wise there’s a 2.0L diesel that offers either 340Nm or 410Nm. More features and details will be released in coming months. Head to Volkswagen Australia for more information and to register for updates.

Audi‘s iconic TT coupe made its world debut in 1995 and was available for sale in 1998. The 2018/2019 update brings exterior and interior changes, and updates to the drivetrain. There’s a six speed manual, and a new seven speed DCT or dual clutch auto. The S Line package or magnetic ride drop the ride height by 10 millimetres and work with the progressive steering and four link rear suspension to further enhance the already fluid handling.Standard wheels are 17 inches in diameter, with 18, 19, and 20 as options. These complement the redesigned front and rear, with interior features accessing the Audi drive select dynamic handling system that’s available from the base model, a rain and light sensor, heated exterior mirrors, and the multi-function steering wheel plus This allows the infotainment and voice control system to be controlled entirely using the steering wheel. Also standard are the illuminated USB ports as well as Bluetooth for wireless pairing of devices. The front has a more assertive grille and is flanked by stylish air vents with the rear featuring a subtle work-over to the classic lines.The new TT is due for Australia in the first six months of 2019. Head to Audi Australia to register your interest.

A Lotto Win Away: Aston Martin DBS Superleggera.

Iconic British car maker Aston Martin has unveiled their hotly anticipated Ferrari 812 competitor. It’s called the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera. Priced at US$305,995 it packs a supercharged 5.2 litre V12, punching out 533kW and a tree-stump pulling 900 Nm of torque across a mesa flat rev range of 1800 to 5000 rpm. Based on the DB11 AMR, that’s 63kW and 200Nm more than the donor block.
The car has a dry weight of 1693 kilograms and rolls on gorgeous black paint alloys at 21 inches of diameter. Pirelli P-Zero tires are the chosen rubber. The drivetrain has been uprated and provides a 0-100kph time of 3.4 seconds and will see the ton three seconds later.
Aston Martin has delved into the books of history with the name. DBS hasn’t been used since 2012 and Superleggera, Italian for “light weight”, goes back to the 1960s. To that end, Aston Martin have eradicated  121 kilograms of mass. It also, until 2012, sidelines the evocative Vanquish nameplate.
One of the design briefs was to visually spread the gap between AM’s model range. To that end, the DBS Superleggera has a more assertive grille and angrier looking headlights complete with angular LED driving lights. The grille is in a nosecone designed to increase down-force before combining with an extensively modified floorpan and rear diffuser to add up to a total of 180 kilos of down-force. Drag wasn’t sacrificed, with the same drag coefficient as the lesser down-force endowed DB11. There’s just 70kg here.
The profile is low, sensual, and definably Aston Martin is some elements. What’s new are the airvents leading from behind the trailing edge of the front wheels and edging back into the leading edge of the doors. The bootlid no longer displays the iconic Aston Martin emblem, it now proudly says the company name and sits between super slimline LED tail lights. This sits above a retuned exhaust, said to offer an extra ten decibels of what chief engineer Matt Becker says is “quality noise”.
There’ll be plenty of that on demand, with the traction control system being reprogrammed to cope with the extra torque and its delivery to the tarmac. Becker says of the reprogramming: “If you slide the car and you know how to drive, it gives you all of the information you’ll need about when to put your foot on or lift from the throttle.”
Aston Martin is targeting both its own existing Vanquish customers, but more specifically owners of the Prancing Horse. This car is part of Aston Martin’s “Second Century” plan, where a new model per year for seven years is released. This includes a convertible version of the DBS Superleggera due for 2019. Aston Martin expects to start deliveries before Christmas of 2018.

Aston Martin Rapide AMR

Aston Martin is perhaps best known for a glittering range of two door hard top and convertible cars. Under the radar is the four door contribution to the super saloon family. The Rapide is a subtle four door design and has recently been upgraded to AMR (Aston Martin Racing) specifications. Powered by a naturally aspirated V12 with 433kW and 630Nm and transmitting that to the tarmac via an eight speed auto, the AMR will come with three trim levels. Standard, Silhouette, and Signature will roll on 21 inch diameter wheels clad in Michelin Super Sport rubber, a first for the iconic brand. Tyre sizes are 245/35 up front and 295/ at the rear.
The five metre long Rapide AMR asserts itself with a large grille that evokes the track weapon Vantage AMR-Pro. Subtle aero hints come courtesy of the carbon fibre tail spoiler, front splitter, sill panels, and rear diffuser. Weight reduction is also further enhanced by fitting a carbon fibre bonnet, complete with engine bay exhaust vents.

The engine has been massaged by fitting larger inlet manifolds that pack tuned length intake runners, with the kilowatts breathing out via a new quad exhaust system. Stopping efficiency is enhanced by modified brake ducts, dust shields, and utilise the spoked design of the 21 inch alloys to funnel cooling air onto the 400mm six piston carbon ceramic front brakes. These are backed up by 360mm four piston rears.
Being based on a racing design, the AMR Rapide sits 10mm lower courtesy of reworked suspension components. Aston Martin have gone over the front and rear double wishbones, fitted with stage three adaptive dampers, with plenty of Nurburgring evaluative work. To make sure the AMR looks the goods there’s a choice of four colours for the Standard and Silhouette. Mariana Blue, Scintilla Silver, Lightning Silver, and Onyx Black are complemented by AMR Lime Green highlights on the Standard’s sills, splitter, and diffuser, with the other gaining a China Grey or Clubsport White stripe.

The Signature goes one step closer to a racing look with Stirling Green paint, Lime accents and stripe, backed by a combination of AMR Lime or Galena Silver stitching for all three versions. Driver, front passenger, and each rear seat passenger are cossetted in Alcantara seats which will have discrete AMR logos in Galena Silver stitched in, and there’s extra glamour with a full length carbon fibre centre console. Apart from visiting Aston Martin’s bespoke “Q Store” a buyer can specify the optional One-77 steering wheel as well. Digital radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto will be standard, as will 700 watts of audio power.

Deliveries are scheduled to start from October 2018 worldwide. Contact Aston Martin Australia for details including pricing.

Build Your Own Bentley.

Wander into a car dealership and you’re presented with a range of automobiles that are an example of what is available. Mostly they’ll cover colors, perhaps some seat trims, and some options like roof racks, or wheels.
Iconic British car maker, Bentley, are at the other end of the spectrum. Their large limousine, the Mulsanne, offers via their Car Configurator, an almost endless list of combinations to ensure that Sir and Madam have a car tailored to their own exquisite tastes. There’s three versions of the Mulsanne: the Extended Wheelbase, Mulsanne Speed, and the Mulsanne itself.
The exterior has a basic choice of five single colors and one two-tone black and aqua-marine known as Velvetine. Click the “Colors” tab and this opens up an eight further options covering Blacks, Greens, Golds/Oranges/Browns, Blues, Reds & Purples, Silvers, Yellows and Whites, and Duo-Tones. A click on Silvers alone brought up a choice of thirteen distinct shades. Bentley’s own “Mulliner” branding is applied here and through the other very comprehensive options list.The choice of wheels is somewhat more restrained, with five available. There’s one twenty inch, two twenty one inch, and two Mulliner Specification.
Heading inside, the Hide tab has Colour Split and then Main Hide and Secondary Hide. Sixteen Main Hide and fifteen Secondary Hide options are listed including Highland Hare and Fireglow. Naturally these coverings are sourced from the most pristine of donors, especially checked for markings and flaws before Bentley takes delivery, where they’re further rechecked.
A standout of any classic British brand has been the wood veneer fitted. Bentley has a list of ten utterly gorgeous real wood veneers, including the classic Dark Stained Burr Walnut. Naturally there’s a choice of location for these veneers. Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus for the Gear Lever? Of course, Sir.Which sort of stitching would Sir like to complement that? Contrast, Contrast Hand Stitching, or perhaps Contrast Piping? If a subtle look is being aimed for, there is non-contrast stitching and piping as well.
Of course the fabulous Bentley logo is included, with Blind and Contrast stitching. The steering wheel is given a choice of five coverings, and both the seat belts and carpets can be tailored to match the hides selected.
But of course Mulsanne owners like to let the world know that it’s their car they’re driving. Or more likely being chauffeured in. That’s why Bentley’s Car Configurator has grille options, glass tint options, and yes, even options for the famous “Flying Spur.”
Cost, as the saying goes, is “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

Rolls-Royce Cullinan: One For The (Rich) Masses.

As often happens in Hollywood, two movies are released that have similar themes. And it is in the uber-luxury world with Mercedes-Maybach releasing a high end SUV, and now the British icon of Rolls-Royce has countered with the Cullinan.Immediately there’s a special kind of appeal for the Rolls-Royce Cullinan compared to the Maybach. It LOOKS like an SUV and ones with hints of historic British marques. A rear quarter view evokes Range Rover, for example, the front is pure “Roller”, whilst others have said there’s flashes of the iconic London taxi.

However it’s seen, it’s the first Rolls-Royce car of its type and nothing has been overlooked to ensure it embodies what R-R stands for. A clue to this can be picked from the name. In January of 1905 a diamond was mined in Cullinan, South Africa. At just under 3107 carats before being cut and polished, it’s still the largest gem quality rough diamond ever found. The two main Cullinan diamonds, incidentally, are part of the British Crown Jewels.

Motorvation is the famous 6.75 litre V12 which delivers 563 bhp (420 kW) and a orbit stopping 627 lb-ft (850Nm at just 1650 rpm) that’s connected to all four corners. Said four corners are also steerable. The drivetrain was engineered and refined through thousands of miles worth of testing in terrain as diverse as the sandy deserts of Arabia to the chill of the Scottish Highlands. Top speed is an electronically governed 155 mph or 250 km/h.

A key design feature that stands out in this Cullinan is the inclusion of “suicide doors” as seen in the sedan range. And being a Rolls-Royce, inside is a three box design, being front seats, rear seats, and rear cargo section that can be separated from the rest of the interior via a partition wall made of glass.Being the company’s first SUV, there’s the first opening tailgate and has its own name. “The Clasp” opens up to display a cargo space not unlike the style seen when luggage was carried on the exterior of cars.
Forward of this is perhaps the signature Roll-Royce seating layout. Sir and Madam can choose either Lounge Seats or Individual Seats which when fitted are located higher in what R-R calls Pavilion Seating. The Lounge will seat three and in yet another first for the iconic brand, the seats will fold at the touch of a button. Rolls-Royce don’t overlook detail here either with the headrests set to fold as well. Why? To avoid a headrest imprint on the seat’s leather. Full loading length is 2245 mm and offers 1930L of space.

Should the Individual option be ticked, a Fixed Rear Seat Console is installed and features bespoke whisky glasses and decanter. The glass wall has an extra benefit here. Should the rear seat passengers wish to be travelling in isolated comfort after raising the partition, when the cargo area is opened the interior temperature stays as chosen.The airbag suspension enables the Cullinan to not only waft along, it will lower the car by 40 mm and with the wide aperture doors open enables unparalleled entry and egress. Once inside there’s access to high tech features such as Night Vision and Vision Assist including daytime and night-time Wildlife & Pedestrian warning; Alertness Assistant; a 4-Camera system with Panoramic View, all-round visibility and helicopter view. Camera users can recharge from the five USB ports installed and smartphones are wirelessly charged.

Aluminuim was extensively employed in the sub-frame to ensure both lightness and rigidity met the standards expected by Rolls-Royce customers. It brings along future proofing as well as part of the proprietary “Architecture of Luxury”. There’s a new double wishbone front suspension and five link rear that holds the four wheel drive and suspension system which is in constant contact with a drive monitoring computer that calculates millions of times per seconds.

Cullinan brings with it one final surprise. The key fob has a button that when pressed accesses what R-R calls “The Everywhere Button”. It activates the Cullinan’s drive system and allows peerless finessing of the suspension for the drive ahead.The Cullinan. “Effortless, Everywhere”.

BMW’s EV Wireless Charging

BMW’s Wireless Charging

The new BMW 5-Series iPerformance models boast some very cool ‘world-first’ technology.  Available factory-fitted with a fully integrated inductive charging facility means that you can arrive home, park over a ground pad (the inductive charging facility/station) and hey-presto your car charges up, ready for your next trip away.

BMW’s Wireless Charging consists of the GroundPad (an inductive charging station), that can be installed either in a garage or outdoors, and the CarPad, which is fixed to the underside of the vehicle will connect to the GroundPad once parked appropriately.  This technology is available as an option on the new BMW 530e iPerformance model.  The GroundPad generates a magnetic field that induces an electric current in the CarPad, which then charges the battery in the car.

BMW’s 530e iPerformance model has the parking systems that help the driver to manoeuvre into the correct parking position over the GroundPad using a WiFi connection between the charging station and the vehicle.  Once the connection has been made, an overhead view of the car and its surroundings then appears in the car’s display screen with coloured lines that help guide the driver into position.  An icon shows up on the screen when the correct parking position is reached for the process of inductive charging.  BMW say the position for parking over the top of the GroundPad isn’t difficult to locate as the position can deviate by up to 7 cm longitudinally and up to 14 cm laterally – so it has plenty of buffering for getting a good connection.  To easy!

We already are becoming familiar with the wireless charging systems inside many new cars from different manufacturers where mobile phones and electric toothbrushes can be wirelessly charged inside the car.  BMW says its wireless charging uses the same inductive charging technology already widely used for supplying power to devices such as these.

BMW has unveiled a wireless charging system that will be available in Germany, followed shortly by the UK, the US, Japan and China.  It’s nice to be able to boast this technology and do away with cords and manual contraptions for charging your hybrid.  Germany and Europe seem to be leading the way with cutting edge EV technology, and this inductive charging system, created by BMW, will set the ball rolling for other manufacturers to follow suit.

I can imagine, like BMW, a world where you just pull up to your car park in the city, and the wireless inductive charging facility that’s set in place, in the road, underneath your EV will charge up your car while you duck into the café for a coffee or buy the necessary office equipment for your business.  This is all pretty cool technology!

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Holden Calais V V6 AWD.

It’s a market that is seemingly on the nose with the Australian buyer yet there really is no truly good reason for it to be so. It’s the large sedan segment, made famous in Oz by the Kingswood, the Falcon, the Valiant. Australia went mid-sized with the VB Commodore in 1978 and 40 years later closed manufacturing, released the ZB Commodore and…..it’s been pretty quiet on the sales charts. Drive around and try and spot one. And yet, to deny it’s a bloody good car is to do yourself a disservice.I had a week with the near top of the range Calais V6. Any V6 Commodore in the ZB range comes with All Wheel Drive (AWD) as standard. Piled on top are 20 inch diameter alloys, Adaptive LED headlights and LED tail lights, a punchy Bose audio sound system via an eight inch touchscreen, powered front seats, a massage function for the driver’s, twin USB outlets for the rear seats, paddle shifts, remote engine start, and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay via the understated looking touchscreen interface.The 1700 plus kilo machine is powered by a 3.6L V6 with no turbos. Peak power is 235kW at 6200rpm, peak torque is 381Nm at a highish 5200rpm. It’s this second figure that has some reviewers suggesting it’s sluggish compared to the perky 2.0L turbo petrol four. However, buried in the touchscreen menu is a couple of settings that adjust the car for Auto or Sports. And there’s an appreciable difference between the two.The Calais V6 AWD is a docile machine when required. It’ll simply purr along, unfussed and stress free, with the nine speed auto quietly and unobtrusively slurring through the gears. The exhaust is barely audible and there’s a faint whirr from up front. Crack the whip and the Calais V6 AWD goes from a sleeping kitten to a provoked tiger. There’s a real anger to the noise from the exhaust, a feral whine from the engine bay, no torque steer as the AWD system simply spanks the Calais on the arse and sends it flying forward. 0-100 time is quoted as 6.5 seconds and that’s pretty much what the seat of the pants says too. Overtaking is done with relative ease, and the whole package instills confidence. Along the way it’ll slurp a bit, with 12.1L/100km quoted for the city cycle. AWT bettered that in a mainly suburban drive at 10.6L/100km.

The steering is weighted like Goldilocks’ porridge. It’s just right. There’s no torque steer tug to unsettle, there’s weight enough to feel like you’re connected, and it’s not too light as to feel over assisted. There’s a sense of balance in the force for turns from lock to lock with the front pointing exactly where the mind has told the hands where it wants to go.Ride quality matches the pace, with the Sports suspension ironing out float, niggles, irregularities, with equal disdain. There’s something that only a real anorak would call harshness to the damping otherwise it’s fluid, compliant, comfortable even but leaving you in no doubt it’s in a sporting mode. Naturally there’s plenty of grip from the Continental Sports Contact 6 rubber, with plenty of footprint from the 245/35/20 rubber. And whilst you’re out and about, the nine speed auto is noticeable largely for one thing. That you don’t notice the gear changes. It’s smoother than Elvis crooning Love Me Tender, as slick as James Bond in a tux, and as enjoyable as sipping on your favourite single malt at the end of a hard day at the coalface.The Calais V6 AWD test car came clad in metallic silver paint. There’s more of a benefit in this than first meets the eye, as it emphasises the sleekness of the profile of the 4986mm long machine, the breadth of the lower set nose compared to the VF, the coupe styling at the rear where the hatch and non-powered liftback section (which is kept for the Tourer whereas here it would be a nice addition) reside. There’s a decent 560L cargo space which goes to 1665L with the rear seats down. It also highlights, as a downside in styling, the Ford Cougar line to the tail light section and the somewhat overdone scallop in the doors.There’s an odd design to the driver’s display, with an LCD screen overlaid by two chromed dials, meaning there’s a section of LCD and a section of mechanical dial. Inside the Calais suffers from black upon black. AWT has sandwiched the Calais with the Alfa Romeo Giulia Super and the Toyota Camry V6. Both feature a two tone colour scheme from the options list, with a beige that tended towards bone contrasting with the black otherwise built in. Although the cabin is comfortable and spacious enough, and features a HUD that has switchable information screens, it’s let down by a frankly boring interior colour scheme and the generic GM switch gear. In short, it lacks classiness.Where it doesn’t lack is in safety features. Blind Spot Sensor, Brake Assist, Camera Rear & Side Vision, ESC, Front Collision Mitigation at Low Speed, and Front Collision Warning, Lane Departure Alert, Lane Keeping with Active Assist (where the steering gently tugs the tiller to keep you between the whitelines), Parking Distance alerts, Pedestrian Avoidance, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert, plus a full suite of airbags sans kneebag. Holden’s offering a seven year warranty to sweeten the deal as well.

At The End Of The Drive.
Priced in the region of $60K plus on road costs the Holden Calais V V6 AWD is a natural successor to the beloved Australian VF Commodore. Yes there’s no ute or V8. Yes there’s now a diesel and turbo four. Yes the lower levels are powered through the front wheels. So what? Genuinely. So what? This car and the rest of the Commodore family are part of the evolution of matters automotive. What this car delivers is what the VF did, and then some. The design may not appeal to everyone and that’s fine. Not everyone thinks Monty Python are funny or that the earth is round. That’s fine, if somewhat odd.

Holden conducted numerous clinics before releasing this car and the consensus was to leave the name where it was. In a way, Commodore has come full circle over forty years, with the naming a clear link. 1978 = VB. 2017 = ZB.

What’s inside the ZB is currently amongst the best tech for the level of car it is. It’s safer, too. However it’s still too generically GM inside and for a Calais to be a Calais it NEEDS to say so. This doesn’t, and therein lies the rub. For a DRIVER it answers the call. For the fashion conscious they’ll look elsewhere. Check it out for yourself here: 2018 Holden Calais V V6 AWD

 

2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Diesel

It’s been a long time “between drinks” for this scribe and Alfa Romeo. In a previous life one of the car brands sold was Alfa Romeo and a highlight was piloting the gorgeous 159.Sadly, Alfa ceased building that slinky temptress. Thankfully, a new car has come along to replace it and it’s the Giulia. With Sophia Loren looks, and Gina Lollobrigida curves, the Giulia’s Italian heritage is like a siren call to the eyeballs. Powered by a torquey diesel the review car came clad in a beautiful blue and certainly gave hints of another Italian beauty. Did someone say Maserati Quattroporte?In Super trim, there’s a choice of petrol or the diesel as tested. The classic 2.2L capacity has 132kW and a welcome 450Nm of twist at 1750 rpm. An eight speed auto with paddle shifters is fitted and will take the 1410 kg (dry) beauty to one hundred in a breath over seven seconds. Alfa Romeo’s official figures for consumption is 4.2L of dinosaur juice per 100 km from the 52L tank. Highway driving range is rated as 3.5L/100km and therefore theoretically capable of Sydney/Melbourne and a good portion of return.Outside the car was clad in metallic Montecarlo Blue. The hawklike LED headlights, matching LED tail lights, the traditional Alfa Romeo Vee grille, are beautifully proportioned and as curvaceous as a supermodel. It’s a beautiful colour and one of 14 possible choices. Inside it was full leather beige and black. Although a worry with two kids it held up just fine. But if you’re a dog owner, some towels would be highly recommended.It’s a push button start and one of the most sensible locations for it is on the steering wheel. One of the most ridiculously non-sensible locations for a bonnet opener is in the foot well above the driver’s left foot. In a right hand car it’s perhaps the silliest place such a device can be placed.Another oddity that the Giulia has is the design of the gear selector. With an Audi-esque design to that section, with Menu button, jog dial, and so on, one would think a trigger on the front of the selector and Park button on top would be ergonomically friendly. Somehow it wasn’t. Too many times whilst wrapping the hand around the lever to select Drive (a pull back to engage, forward for Reverse), the palm would flatten the Park. Then the softness of the trigger didn’t register so thinking it was in drive or Reverse had the diesel revving and no progress in either direction.Thankfully, the interior class overcomes this and in spades. The information screen with high quality DAB audio is not a touchscreen and is part of a beautifully integrated sweep from the passenger side to the driver’s left knee section. There’s a Walnut woodgrain trim there and if it’s not real wood it’s the best imitation of that natural product out there.

The seats are luxurious to the point of bed-like yet are bolstered so there is no lack of side support. There’s adjustable settings electronically for the seats all around including lumbar. They’re heated, naturally, however take far too long to get to a decent temperature unless it’s deliberately calculated to do so to prolong the seat material’s life.Interior specs are high: the Super gets dual zone climate control, rear seat ducting from this, heated steering wheel, a cooling breeze for the dash’s storage, rain sensing wipers, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, and huge paddle shifters. Safety is looked after with Autonomous Emergency Braking and alerts via a musical tone. Reverse camera with guidelines, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Alert, and front & rear sensors are standard. Cargo capacity is 480L for the 4643mm long Giulia.It’s on the road that the Super delivers. In the centre console is a dial with three settings, D N A. A is….uninspiring, N is relatively driveable but to extract the best out of the engine and transmission, D is definitely the driver’s choice. It’s spritely, athletic, energetic, and is what brings the Giulia Super diesel alive. There’s barely a momentary hesitation off the line before the eight speed auto simply launches the car away. Drive in D and then swap back to N or A and the result is instantly noticeable. The revs drop, the shifts slow, and driver’s experience of enjoyment drops away. Leave it in D and enjoy.The Pirelli 225/45 and 245/40 rubber wrap 18 inch alloys and house twin and single pot brakes. These react to a bare brush of the foot on the pedal and haul up the Giulia time and again without fade.Road holding is magic; think of sitting in a bed with each corner moving without affecting the centre. Think holding something that communicates every ripple to the hands yet does so without overwhelming them or becoming tiresome. Think silence and forward motion combining. Think turns that have lesser chassis’ cringing in fear, and grip that is velcro & super glue & limpet in one. Confidence inspiring is a serious understatement. A 2820mm wheelbase helps in stability, as does the double wishbone front and Alfa link rear. However, something else happens with the car’s handling at very low speeds. When maneuvering for street parking, the front end would “scrub”, with the tyres feeling as if they’re were on edge, not flat.Service intervals are 20,000km or twelve months, with a three year/150,000 warranty currently as standard according to the downloadable brochure.At The End Of The Drive.
At the time of writing The Giulia Super had a starting driveaway price of $64,900 plus a complementary three year service package and five year warranty with roadside assistance for the same period. Being the Drive 2017 Car Of The Year means that the Giulia Super is a pretty special machine. Oh, yes indeedy. Quirks aside, and let’s face it, without quirks it wouldn’t be an Alfa, left in D and driven the way a sports saloon should be driven, it appeals deeply.
Find out more here: 2018 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super