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2021 Kia Picanto S Manual: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The baby of the current Kia range, Picanto. A pert five door hatch, Picanto is available in either S or GT-Line specification. It’s also one of the cheapest new cars currently available to buy in Australia.How Much Does It Cost?: Kia has the Picanto S, in manual transmission and 1.2L engine spec, at $16,990 and in non-metallic Clear White. The specification sheet supplied by Kia says there are no options available aside from the exterior colours such as Sparkling Silver, Honey Bee Yellow, or Aurora Black Pearl at $595.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.25L petrol four and a five speed manual in the review vehicle. There is an auto available with just four ratios available. That engine is the only option with the turbo 3 cylinder reserved for the Rio GT-Line. Peak power is 62kW (6,000rpm) and peak torque is 122Nm at 4,000rpm. Economy is a strong part of the Picanto’s appeal, with a combined figure of 5.0L/100km (manual) from the 35.0L fuel thimble. Our final overall average was a very creditable 6.0L/100km with a best of 4.4L/100km seen.On The Outside It’s: Not as visually appealing as the GT-Line. The Picanto S has a wheel and tyre package of 175/65/16 with steel wheels and plastic covers. The front bumper has halogen driving lights that come on with the ignition, with the bumper jutting forward from the headlights and tiger nose grille. There are no LEDs here, it’s pure old-tech front and rear on the slightly boxy body. The Clear White emphasises the more cubic shape of the Picanto when it’s sans GT-Line enhancements.On The Inside It’s: Dominated by the now ubiquitous stand alone touchscreen. At 8.0 inches in size it’s well amongst the standard sizes and features smartapp compatibility. Both Apple and Android are wireless and have voice recognition. Sound is good without being muddy. There is also a USB and 3.5mm socket in the lower front centre console.

The driver’s display is also familiar with a 4.2 inch colour display and analogue dials. An intriguing feature is the screen rolls lines upwards as the vehicle moves along and the driver changes gears.

Plastics throughout tend to the hard side; there is no soft touch on the binnacle, console, door tops, to add a touch of comfort. The upper section of the cabin is trimmed in a light grey material to counterbalance the largely black lower section.Seats are cloth covered, manually operated, and comfortable enough for the Picanto’s natural home, short suburban runs. Front seat leg and head room is adequate, as is rears eat head room, but taller people will find the rear pew a little claustrophobic. And nominally a five seater, the rear seat is not suitable for three adults. Luggage space echoes this at 255L (seats up) with 1,010L available with seats folded.On The Road It’s: Suitable for purpose. The 1.2L engine is by no means a firecracker, with alacrity not a word in its dictionary. That may sound harsh as even with four aboard, it pulls well enough although noticeably blunted compared to having just the driver aboard. Even with the free-spinning engine being wound up, it’s enough for moderate acceleration only. It also makes it a questionable choice as being the only engine option for the GT-Line version.

We’ve noted previously the soft springing for the clutch and gear selector; there is little to no weight in the lever and a very gentle one finger movement is enough to see the first to second to third and so on happen. The clutch is the same, there is no real pressure here at all. However, there is an upside to this and it’s that the Picanto S manual slots into the space needed for a learner driver.

It’s ideal for a new driver because that combination of soft clutch and lever won’t be intimidating and the pairing make for the ideal training mechanism. This applies to the somewhat woolly steering and soft suspension setup. The Picanto S bottoms out easily to the bumpstops, meaning some serious speed reduction or driver planning is required to lessen the bang thump. The miniscule disc and drum brake combo do a decent job of hauling up the petite Picanto, and work great with the down-changing of the gears coming to a set of lights or a stop sign.What About Safety?: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning is standard, however there is no Blind Spot Warning, Lane Keep Assist, or Rear Cross Traffic Alert. These may seem a major omission however it brings back to the driver their responsibility to not be trained to rely on electronic aids.

What About Warranty And Service?: The standard seven years warranty and capped price servicing applies. Total cost over the seven years is $2,806, for an average cost of $400 per year or just $7.70 per week. Years two, four, and six are where the costs climb higher than the others.At The End Of The Drive. For less than $18K (with metallic paint) the Picanto S manual is ideally priced to be a first new car or a supplementary car. It’s a city car, a suburban car, and fulfills this design brief perfectly. It’s comfortable enough for the city environment, has the basics at a suitable level for tech and entertainment, and provides a reasonable ride and handling package. It’s the sort of vehicle that, when expectations aren’t of a super level, it meets those expectations perfectly.

2020 Kia Rio GT-Line: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Kia’s second smallest car, complete with attitude and spunk. It’s a bit like “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. Complete with a three cylinder engine and DCT, plus some body add-ons, and in the review car’s case, an eye-catching Mighty Yellow paint, how much fight is in this pint size warrior wannabe?How Much Does It Cost?: $24,490 drive-away plus $520 for premium paint.

Under The Bonnet Is: A relatively tiny 1.0L three cylinder with the Hyundai/Kia Smartstream label. But don’t think it’s too small for the Rio. 74kW and 172Nm (1,500 to 4,000rpm) combine to foist upon the 1,197kg (dry) machine enough pizzazz and spriteliness to provide enough of a grin factor when the car is driven…ahem…appropriately.It’s cheap to run as well; our worst was 7.0L/100km, with a best of 4.1L/100, with a final average of 6.2L/100km. Tank size is 45L worth for regular unleaded. None of those figures are far from Kia’s official figures of 5.3L/6.3L/4.8L per 100km on the combined/urban, and highway drives. And not that many would, but towing is rated as 1,000kg. Transmission is a seven ratio Dual Clutch Transmission.

On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged for the past couple of years. It sits nicely in the compact class at 4,070mm in length although it looks smaller. It’s 1,450mm high, and 1,725mm wide, sitting on a wheelbase of 2,580mm.

That means it’s a stubby little thing with short overhangs, and slightly cubical when seen from either end directly. In profile the A-pillars have a slope that matches the rear pillar, bringing some visual balance to the main body.

Driving lights are the four-cube set, cast to either end of the front bar and in an enclosure limned in black that reaches out but doesn’t quite meet a slim air intake sitting under the main slimline tiger-nose. This is echoed with a mirror set in the rear bumper that has a pair of reflectors.

Wheels are 16 spoke 17 inch alloys with dark grey highlights, shod in Continental Contisport Contact rubber at 205/45.On The Inside It’s: Quite sparsely trimmed. The seats are a black cloth with white stitched leather bolstering, white piping, and fully manually adjustable. No electronics at all. Pedals are alloy, and a carbon-fibre look inlay runs full length across the dash. Otherwise, plastics are a bit low-rent to look at and touch aside from the piano black for the air vent, touchscreen, and drive selector surrounds.

Driver’s dials are analogue with the familiar 4.2 inch info cluster. Here is where a digital screen would have been a nice step up. Aircon controls are basic yet idiot-proof dials and push-buttons, sitting over a 12V & USB port. A sole USB port sits at the end of the small centre console. The main touchscreen is an 8.0 inch unit in glorious monochrome, featuring AM, FM, and Bluetooth along with Android and Apple compatibility.Convenience features run to bottle holders in each door, a pair of console cup holders, and rain sensing wipers. No airvents for the rear seaters though… Luggage space is 325L to 980L, with the second row seats folding but not level with the boot floor. That’s not quite enough for a weekly shop for a family of four, but then, the Rio GT-Line probably wouldn’t be in a driveway for that demographic.

Solar or UV blocking glass is standard for the GT’s front three windows, with privacy glass for the rears. A drive mode tab is placed up towards the drive selector, with Eco, Normal, and Sport the choices. There’s a sporting hint with the now familiar flat bottomed tiller. Packaging overall is good thanks to the slightly boxy body shape.

On The Road It’s: Much better in Normal mode than Eco. There’s more life, lighter steering, whereas Eco drags the Rio GT-Line into the mud and everything feels heavier and slower. Sport mode adds extra zip and especially in the mid-range of the engine’s torque delivery. In Eco, the steering has a feel of the front tyres being deflated. Switch to Normal and it lightens up just enough to feel…well…normal.

The seven speed DCT isn’t one of the better of its type, nor is it one of the worst. The clutch gaps aren’t as bad as it has been, with stop then start driving feeling more intuitive and natural. And safer. It also makes for normal and sportier driving a much more enjoyable experience, as changes are sharper, crisper, and more efficiently translating into getting the Rio percolating.

Engage Sport and it’s even swifter, however switching to manual changing (no paddle shifters either, by the way) and there’s a hint more speed in the cogs swapping. Under a gentle foot there is also the audible changes for the gears, with the three cylinder thrum that is so characteristic of these engines running up and down in the revs as the clutch disengages and re-engages for the next ratio. Some DCTs take time to warm up and perform at their best, Kia’s is somewhere between that and being ready to go from the get-go.Ride quality is where the Rio GT-Line varies. It’s too hard sometimes, with little travel and tyre absorption. There’s just that little bit too much bang-crash on some road surfaces, but in contrast nicely dials out any float, with zero rebound on those wallowy surfaces. There is ample grip from the Continental rubber too, making cornering at increasing speed a simple proposition, alongside easy lane changing.

Hit a flat road and it’s ideal, feeling tied to the tarmac, and it’s on this kind of surface where the GT part of GT-Line pays off. Ditto for the engine as that broad swathe of torque effortlessly pulls the GT-Line along. The steering is almost ideally weighted, with little effort needed to switch lanes. Road noise is noticeable but not to the point that cabin conversations feel intruded upon.

What was apparent, too, was the rate of rolling acceleration. Where a merge road goes from 80 to 100 or 110, a change of pace, rapidly, is needed. Here the Rio GT-Line shows appreciable agility without being a neck-snapper, with decent forward progress. It’s perhaps where the 1.2L three with more torque would be a better fit for the name GT-Line.What About Safety?: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Following and Lane Keeping Assist. Six airbags, and the mandated assorted electronic driver aids are standard.

What About Warranty And Service?: Kia’s standard seven year warranty applies. Total service costs across the seven years is $3,299. That’s an average cost per year of $471 or just nine dollars per week. As is the norm, it’s service four for the big ticket cost at $704, with year five under half that at $319. Year six and seven see $602 and $569.

At The End Of The Drive. Kia’s Rio GT-Line isn’t aimed at the hot hatch market. It’s not aimed at the warm hatch market. It’s aimed at those that want a semblance of performance combined with user friendly economy figures and no need for anything bigger. It’s an ideal first car for the new driver as it’s not excessively endowed with snap/crackle/pop BUT there is enough to provide the appropriate grin factor.

As such, the Kia Rio GT-Line offers up a decent amount of fight however those looking for something with more spice will look elsewhere. That’s no shade on the GT-Line, by the way. It’s intended to be what it is and it fulfills that particular brief perfectly. Check it out, here.

Mini’s Hot Secret!

MINI JCW GP

There is one other Mini that might have flown in under your radar.  It is the wildest Mini hot hatch yet, and it’s called the Mini John Cooper Works GP.  The car looks really cool and boasts the highest price tag of any Mini yet – but for good reason.

It was built as a JCW GP 60th year birthday present for Mini, and it sits low down on a 40 mm wider track.  The massive grille, bold GP badge, massive front spoiler and two large air foiling scoops just give the car a special presence that is brutal and focused.  The air intake slot in the bonnet is large and ready to suck in gallons of air to help spool the turbo.

Look at the Mini JCW GP hot-hatch side on, and the chunky styling looks awesome, mean and racy.  It features huge wheel arches, massive side skirts and an enormous spoiler.  The car is also lower than standard JCW cars.

Head around the back, and you note that the spoiler has also been skilfully incorporated into the roof guttering showing a nice level of attention to detail.  The taillights have been darkened and the twin exhaust outlets poke aggressively out from the centre of the rear skirt.  These crackle and pop with full throttle and under serious braking.  What a car!

Inside, the racy Mini JCW GP is fairly simple.  It boasts nice leather bucket seats, a digital dash, 3-D printed panels with an array of options for logos and displays.  A special ‘GP pack’ adds all the comfort and bells and whistles like heated seats and dual zone climate control, but remember this is a stripped out limited edition racer that comes standard with just the two seats.  A horizontal strut brace takes up where the rear seats would normally sit.

So just 3000 units will be made worldwide, and 65 of those will make the journey to Australia – and they have almost certainly already been sold to their lucky owners.  They are around $12,500 more expensive than a ‘regular’ John Cooper Works, so I’d imagine if you did own one and tried to sell it now, you could fetch even more than the original price.

The Mini JCW GP is significantly more expensive than more generously equipped hot hatch rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf R ($56,990); but who cares – the car is a phenomenal performer and it is a limited edition.  The new John Cooper Works GP is driven by a special version of BMW’s 2.0-litre turbo engine with an output of 225 kW of power and 450 Nm of torque available.  Just the eight-speed automatic with paddle shifters is available, however this set-up ensures that the power is delivered precisely on time – every time.  Mini has developed a unique suspension for the GP, designed to make it even faster around a racetrack than the standard JCW Hatch.  Mini claims the FWD JCW GP hot-hatch will do the 0-100 km/h dash in just 5.2 seconds.  This is just the start of the rush of power and acceleration that goes on to a governed top speed of 265 km/h.  This is very quick indeed!  The FWD power is controlled with a limited slip-diff.

You’ll want to keep your ear to the ground and see if you can find a seller of the wonderful little Mini JCW GP ‘hottie’.  It’s distinctively different and extremely aggressive, and you’re in for a thrilling and wild ride.

Mini’s Hottest Hatch

Big Boots Matter

Luggage Space

If size matters to you when it comes to what you can (or can’t) fit in your boot, then how much space is commonly available in popular new car buys?  The chances are you’ll want to know, so first are some of the most popular vehicles bought in Australia and their boot volume (litres).  All the vehicles listed have their rear seats in place, because we all know the greatest vehicles carry a decent amount of luggage without having to flip their rear seats flat.  There’s nothing worse than telling little Johnny that he can’t travel with his mates because the split folding rear seats have been split folded to take the school camp food!

At the end is a list of the best picks for carrying 550 litres or more behind the rear seats.  You might be surprised, or not…

Supermini

Average boot space: 340.88 litres

1/ Renault Clio – 395 litres

2/ Honda Jazz – 354 litres

3/ Volkswagen Polo – 351 litres

Audi A1 – 335 litres

Skoda Fabia – 330 litres

Hyundai i20 – 326 litres

Kia Rio – 325 litres

Peugeot 208 – 311 litres

 

Hatchbacks

Average boot space: 479.40 litres

1/ Skoda Octavia 590 litres

2/ Peugeot 308 501 litres

3/ Honda Civic 492 litres

Renault Megane 434

VW Golf 380 litres

 

Small 4-door sedan

Average boot space: 464.75 litres

1/ Honda City | 536 litres

2/ Honda Civic | 519 litres

3/ Renault Megane | 503 litres

Kia Cerato | 502 litres

Toyota Corolla | 470 litres

Hyundai Accent Sport | 465 litres

Hyundai Elantra | 458 litres

Holden Astra | 445 litres

Mazda 3 444 litres

Audi A3 | 425 litres

Mazda 2 410 litres

Mitsubishi Lancer | 400 litres

 

Medium 4-Door Sedan

Average boot space: 501.82 litres

1/ Volkswagen Passat | 586 litres

2/ Skoda Octavia | 568 litres

3/ Toyota Camry | 524 litres

Kia Optima | 510 litres

Hyundai Sonata | 510 litres

Subaru Liberty | 493 litres

BMW 3 Series | 480 litres

Mazda 6 | 474 litres

Subaru Impreza | 460 litres

Ford Mondeo | 458 litres

Honda Accord | 457 litres

 

Large 4-Door Sedan

Average boot space: 509.2 litres

1/ Skoda Superb | 625 litres

2/ Volkswagen Arteon | 563 litres

3/ Holden Commodore | 490 litres

Chrysler 300 | 462 litres

Kia Stinger | 406 litres

 

Station wagons

Average boot space: 560.9 litres

1/ Holden Sportwagon 895 litres

2/ Skoda Superb 660 litres

3/ Peugeot 308 SW 660 litres

Ford Focus SW 608 litres

VW Golf SW 605 litres

Hyundai i30 SW 602 litres

Audi A6 SW 586 litres

Volvo V70 575 litres

BMW 5-Series SW 570 litres

Jaguar XF SW 565 litres

Kia Optima SW 552 litres

Ford Mondeo 541 litres

Mercedes Benz E-Class 540 litres

Subaru Levorg 522 litres

Mazda 6 SW 522 litres

Renault Megane SW 521 litres

Subaru Outback 512 litres

Peugeot 407 430 litres

Toyota Corolla SW 392 litres

Mini Clubman SW 360 litres

 

SUVs

LIGHT SUVs

Average boot space: 346.2 litres

1/ Citroen C3 Aircross – 410 litres

2/ Holden Trax – 356 litres

3/ Hyundai Venue 355 litres

Ford EcoSport – 346 litres

Mazda CX-3 264 litres

 

SMALL SUVs

Average boot space: 385.91 litres

1/ Jeep Compass 438 litres

2/ Honda HR-V 437 litres

3/ Kia Seltos 433 litres

Nissan Qashqai 430 litres

Renault Kadjar 408 litres

Mitsubishi ASX 393 litres

Toyota C-HR 377 litres

Hyundai Kona 361 litres

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross 341 litres

Mazda CX-30 317 litres

Subaru XV 310 litres

 

MEDIUM SUVs

Average boot space: 496.67 litres

1/ Volkswagen Tiguan 615 litres

2/ Toyota RAV4 580 litres

3/ Nissan X-Trail 565 litres

Honda CR-V 522 litres

Subaru Forester 498 litres

Hyundai Tucson 488 litres

Mitsubishi Outlander 477 litres

MG HS 463 litres

Renault Koleos 458 litres

Kia Sportage 446 litres

Mazda CX-5 442 litres

Ford Escape 406 litres

 

LARGE SUVs

Average boot space: 669.50 litres

1/ Holden Acadia 1042 litres

2/ Holden Equinox 846 litres

3/ Mazda CX-9 810 litres

Toyota LandCruiser Prado 620 litres

Hyundai Santa Fe 547 litres

Toyota Kluger 529 litres

Subaru Outback 512 litres

Ford Everest 450 litres

 

Keep in mind that most vehicles we buy now do have split folding rear seats, so when we don’t have to carry passengers we can make use of the rear seat space in exchange for carrying cargo/luggage.  Many of us don’t want to have to use the rear seat space for luggage; often the back seats are occupied with passengers anyway, so the vehicles that provide over 500 litres behind the back seats are going to be the ones that offer excellent luggage space.

If we look at averages alone, the Large SUV is easily king for luggage carrying duties. Most are seven-seater SUVs, too; but make it just the 5 seats, and they can only be a win/win combination.  The next step up would be a van!

However, both the Station Wagon and Large sedan are other excellent options for you to go to for decent luggage carrying ability.  Even the Medium Sedan offers some cars that provide excellent big boots: the Volkswagen Passat (586 litres), Skoda Octavia (568 litres) and the Toyota Camry (524 litres) are the best examples.

One thing that did surprise me was that the boot space in a small SUV isn’t much to write home about; its average for the class being a dismal 385.91 litres.  This dropped to an abysmal 346.2 litres for light SUVs.  These vehicles, and smaller are best avoided if decent boot space is what you need.

Any vehicle that can offer at least 550 litres of luggage space in the boot without having to fold down any of the rear seats is a winner for cargo carriers.  If you are looking for a vehicle (that isn’t a van) that will deliver good boot space (550 litres or more) for things like: school bags, computer equipment, sport gear, holiday luggage etc., then you’ll probably need one of the following vehicles:

Hatchback:

Skoda Octavia Hatchback

Skoda Octavia Hatchback 590 litres

Medium 4-dr Sedan:

VW Passat Sedan

Volkswagen Passat  586 litres

Skoda Octavia 568 litres

Large 4-dr Sedan

Skoda Superb Sedan/Hatch

Skoda Superb  625 litres

Volkswagen Arteon 563 litres

Station Wagon

Holden Commodore Sportwagon

Holden Sportwagon 895 litres

Skoda Superb 660 litres

Peugeot 308 660 litres

Ford Focus 608 litres

VW Golf 605 litres

Hyundai i30 602 litres

Audi A6 586 litres

Volvo V70 575 litres

BMW 5-Series 570 litres

Jaguar XF 565 litres

Kia Optima 552 litres

Medium SUV

VW Tiguan SUV

Volkswagen Tiguan 615 litres

Toyota RAV4 580 litres

Nissan X-Trail 565 litres

Large SUV

Holden Acadia 7-seater

Holden Acadia 1042 litres

Holden Equinox 846 litres

Mazda CX-9 810 litres

Toyota LandCruiser Prado 620 litres

Hyundai Santa Fe 547 litres

 

2020 Suzuki Ignis GLX: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Suzuki’s ultra-cool micro SUV, the Ignis. Reborn in 2016 from the original model of the early noughties, the sub-compact machine with hints of Swift has been given a minor visual tickle for its 2020 iteration. It’s a two trim machine with GL and GLX specifications.

How Much Does It Cost?: In Pure Pearl White, on the manual GL, it’s $18,990. The GL Auto is $19,990 in the same colour, with the GLX an auto only at $20,990. Metallics add $595 to the GL and GLX. Prices are driveaway.

Under The Bonnet Is:
Suzuki’s willing 1.2L Dualjet four potter. The 16V donk offers up 66kW at 6,000rpm and torque of120Nm at 4,400rpm. The auto is a CVT with a button activated Sport mode on the selector and a Low range fixed gear that’s ideal for hauling the 865kg (dry) machine up hill and down dale. Well, more up hill than anything. Economy from the teacup sized 32L tank is rated as 4.9L/100km on the combined cycle for the auto. On a very easy highway run, we got a best of 5.5L/100km.

It’s here we need to point out that our review car had just 26 kilometres under the tyres, so no doubt figures would look better as the drivetrain loosens up.On the Outside Is: A choice of the new additions to colour palette, with Ivory, Khaki (as seen on the review vehicle supplied by Suzuki Australia), and Black, alongside the existing Red, Grey, and White. The external amendments see a restyle front and rear bumper, and the blacked out grille has chrome limned inserts for a fresh look. The GLX has driving lights in the lower quarters of the front bar sitting under cheeky looking LED limned headlights. Wheels and tyres are 175/60/16 Bridgestone Ecopia for the GLX, 175/65/15s on the GX. The rear flanks have defining strakes, the wheel arches have a good flare (which makes us wonder if some bigger wheels would look even better) and have polyurethane black linings for contrast.

Length is just 3,700mm, with a boxy 1,660mm x 1,595mm width and height riding on a wheelbase of 2,435mm that enables a turning circle of just 9.4 metres. The SUV-like stance comes from a ride height of 180mm. The petite five door machine has an approach angle of 20 degrees and departure of 38 degrees.On The Inside Is: A basic yet tidy layout and one that admirably suits purpose. Manually operated seats, a single push for down for the driver’s window, plain but not untasteful plastic trim, and Suzuki’s nicely laid out touchscreen greet the passengers. For the driver is a simple but cool looking dual dial display and a monochrome info screen on the right. Access to this is via a tab underneath or a steering wheel button on the tilt only column. This shows consumption, clock, fuel level remaining, and also provides access to some of the basic car settings.

Audio, like the Swift Sport, is AM/FM only, however the GLX has a pair of tweeters over the GL’s rather pauper like door-only drivers.

The main seat padding is a pleasant black and white stitch with a charcoal bolstering. They’re supportive enough and on a round trip of close to 200km didn’t leave the driver feeling physically worn. The colour matches the plastics, with the lower half of the cabin in black with light gunmetal grey door grips. The dash has a bone coloured strip which complements the light grey cloth for the pillars and roof lining. Auxiliary ports sit underneath the touchscreen for 12V and USB. It’s a clean look here and mirrors what the Ignis is all about.Each door has a bottle holder, cup holders are two up front and one in the rear of the centre console, between the front seats. The rear seat folds easily to increase the cargo pocket from 264L to 516L (measured to the window) or a full 1104L if packing to the roof.On The Road It’s: A shining example of expectations being met. The Ignis is not intended to be anything other than a very good city car and it meets that purpose head on. The CVT is, for want of a better few words, not the best in smoothness, with whines, clunks, indecisive movement but it works for the Ignis. It harnesses what torque there is and uses it effectively enough. No, acceleration isn’t rapid, with a 0-100kmh time measured in days but it runs along just fine, at just under 2,000rpm, at the highway limit. There’s the initial grab at a gear, as such, with the accompanying whine and a long sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide into the next ratio, such as there is.

There’s a subtle but noticeable clunk as that change happens, and a less prolonged whine this time around. A sensation of a third change and the CVT has done its job. A flattening of the right foot has a hesitation whilst the CVT thinks momentarily, then it’s noticeable change in harmonics, a slight clunk, and the Ignis sees some extra pace. It’s the same with the Sport mode; a gentle press has the S in the digital screen light up, and there’s a noticeable change in the tone of the engine and the transmission. The feeling in the drive is slightly smoother and it’s a semblance of increase in speed in the context of what the Ignis delivers otherwise.

There’s not a lot in the brakes, primarily because the Ignis doesn’t need it thanks to being so light. Vented discs up front are supported by drums with front and rear pads inside. the pedal has decent feel and it takes no time at all for a driver to get the feel of just how much pressure is needed. The steering is the same. It’s not the last word in conversational yet there’s still enough for a driver to get some good feedback from the front driven wheels.Ditto the suspension. It’s compliant enough for most road surfaces but on one particular section of road, noted for testing the absorption rates thanks to a rise in the tarmac that descends into a paved section momentarily, virtually every car will crash to the bumpstops and the Ignis is no orphan here. However it recovers quickly and doesn’t deviate from the straight-ahead, indicating that the suspension is sorted well enough.

Perhaps where a small improvement could be made is to remove the Jatz cracker thick rubber and bolt on some wider treads. There are times that the sidewalls were noticeably flexing and the chassis would squirm in sympathy as a result. It’s not an indication of the car doing anything wrong, simply dealing with physics and a tiny pawprint on the road.

What About Safety?: There are the basics here: six airbags, electronic aids such as ABS, and pretensioning seatbelts. That’s it. No autonomous emergency braking or rear cross traffic alerts etc.

What About Warranty?: Suzuki will warrant the new Ignis for five years and unlimited kilometres. Servicing costs are capped for five years or 100,000km, with year 1 at $239, years 2/3/4 at $329, then back to $239. That’s on a 12 month/15,000km cycle.At The End Of the Drive. It’s hard to quantify one key element of the Ignis GLX. As basic as it is, with a small engine, sappy CVT, and boxy looks, you’d be forgiven for overlooking it. You’d also be overlooking a car with an indefinable yet easily understood factor: it’s a fun car. Once the Ignis is up and humming it’s simple to drive, can be hustled relatively, and it feels more alive in what it’s doing than cars three times the price. One J. Clarkson, known for his opinions on matters machinery, is all for the “alive” factor of what is otherwise electricity, wires, fuel, and metal. For us, the Ignis is that and then some.

There’s no doubt some extra work would give it more life but would it dull the character? Make up your own mind by checking out the funky Ignis here.

2020 Suzuki Swift Sport Manual: Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The latest in the long running Swift line from Suzuki. The Sport has been placed as the crowning part of the range and for the 2020 version, has received some minor updates. They’re safety features only so the mechanical package remains untouched. That’s both a minor pity and not a bad thing.

How Much Does It Cost?: In plain Pure White Pearl, it’s $29,990 for the Manual. Metallics are $595, and the optionable two-tone scheme, as fitted to our review car, is $1,095. These are drive-away prices.

Under The Bonnet Is: Suzuki’s quite decent 1.4L Boosterjet turbo four. 103kW (5,500rpm) and 230 torques (2,500rpm to 3,000rpm) drive the front wheels through a well sorted six speed manual. There is an auto available for those bereft of enjoyment in their life. For the hybrid followers, the European spec model has been given a 48V system, and it’s possible that variant will make its way to Australia in 2021.The manual itself is a down and to the right lockout for Reverse, with perhaps a little more notchiness in the way it moves through the gate needed. Otherwise it’s an easy shifter and well paired with the light clutch mechanism. There’s a centimetre or so of initial movement before the pickup point engages, and once in the driving mind, the shifter can be moved rapidly and with confidence. get the pickup point just right and the engine’s rev drop off is minimised, making for less of that manual “lurch” and more for a smooth progression in forward motion.

Being a small car, it gets a small tank at just 37.0L. Suzuki quotes a combined consumption figure of 6.1L/100km. It would be nice if somehow Suzuki could engineer in a change to allow for a larger tank though, as our around town cycle was close to 7.0L/100km. The dash display allows for kilometres per litre or the more common litres per 100km. The car had its setting as the former and lead to momentary consumption confusion, with the gauge showing 14.5km/L. This translates to 6.9L/100km but for the unaware it could bring in a question about the engine’s performance in that area.On The Outside It’s: Unchanged from the previous model yet there is one area that could do with a change. There is a reverse camera fitted and it’s awkwardly placed in the niche where the rear number plate is located. As such, when Reverse is engaged and the camera switches in, the top section of the view is truncated, almost like watching a movie at home and laying a towel over the top quarter.

Otherwise it’s a smart, almost handsome looking beastie, especially with the 17 inch alloys fitted and clad in grippy 195/45 rubber. The front has an assertive look with the flared housings for the driving lights, and the touches of faux carbon fibre on the chin and door sills hint visually at the sporting intent. There’s some at the rear as well, adding a nice finish to the profile.

The review car is in the optionable two-tone, with a black roof and Flame Orange main body. It’s a good looking combo and not one likely to age as quickly as other colours and combinations have.On The Inside It’s: Got a new display screen for the driver. It’s a 4.3 inch LCD and shows speed, G-force, turbo pressure, torque and power, amongst others. It’s operated via a tab on the left of the steering wheel, with the phone tabs on a separate outrigger below that. The seats were manually operated and don’t have heating or cooling. Support is good and the actually comfort level is high. Power windows have just the driver’s as a one touch up/down and this makes sense, given such a car is likely to be more occupied by just one or two.

Audio is AM/FM only though, a truly odd oversight in a vehicle set as the lead of its range. Although the Swift Sport is Bluetooth equipped, along with auxiliary inputs and smart-apps, DAB nowadays in a top ladder vehicle is expected to be a normal feature.265L is the count for the cargo space, whilst 579L is the count when the rear seats are folded. It’s not a great deal of space by any measure however the Swift has never been intended to be used as a family car. The Baleno or Vitara from Suzuki is where families would look.On The Road It’s: Widely regarded as a bundle of fun. Lightweight, low centre of gravity, a short rectangle wheelbase and track (1,510mm track front and rear, with a 2,450mm wheelbase) endow the Swift Sport with a tenacious amount of grip. As mentioned earlier, it’s also fun due to the transmission and shifter, plus the close set ratios mean the Swift Sport manual can really be rowed along with a quick dip of the left foot and wave of the left arm.

The pickup point of the clutch is towards the top of travel, and there’s only a slight amount of sponginess before the pedal takes up pressure. With a little bit of practice, getting the synchronisation of gear selection and pedal travel right means a more progressive and linear acceleration when required, less lurchiness and more utilisation of the torque also.

That torque figure is also why the economy could improve, in our opinion. The transmission is geared so 100kmh is spinning the Boosterjet at around 3,000 to 3,100rpm. Not only is it somewhat noisy, it’s above the peak torque figure and having the engine require a bigger need for fuel. A set of longer ratios from 4th to 6th, to drop 6th down to 2,500 or so, would make for a more flexible drivetrain and better economy. However, there’s no lack of poke, with a drop to 5th bringing in the torque, or simply an extension of the right foot that has noticeable if not rapid acceleration from 6th.Suspension wise it’s mixed, with a bang crash at slow speeds over some items, a measure of suppleness elsewhere, and a well tied down set at speed. The ups and downs of freeways are quietly absorbed, whereas there were times at suburban velocities a simple road marking had the Swift Sport feel as if a flat tyre had occurred and it was banging on the rim. Steering wise it’s spot on, with that just right feel and a a little extra weight as the wheel loads up left and right. Naturally braking is spot on, with minimal travel before the pads bite and a message of just how much pressure is needed for the required stopping distance.

What About Safety?: Rear parking sensors, that partially blanked off reverse camera, and the new Blind Spot and Rear Cross Traffic alerts bring the Swift Sport’s safety level up a notch. Six airbags still and there is no hill start assist for the manual. That may seem a bad thing however Suzuki’s appeal is in making cars that are ideal for new drivers, and learning a hill start with no assistance is or should still be mandatory in driving lessons. There is a Forward Collision Alert system too, and it’s pernickety at times. It would beep at teh driver as a warning (great) for a vehicle at a driver determined safe distance (not great).What About Warranty And Service?: the Suzuki website has a page where an owner can submit their car’s build details. the Swift Sport comes with a five tear warranty, and with unlimited kilometres. They’ll cover commercial applications such as ride share for up to 160,000 kilometres. Sericing is 12 monthly or 10,000 kilometres for turbo cars such as the Swift Sport, and have capped price servicing for five years or 100,000 kilometres. The first service is $239, followed by $329, $239, $429 then $239.

At The End Of the Drive: As a former car sales employee, Suzuki was a brand that AWT was heavily involved in, and alongside another Japanese brand at the particular dealership, the Swift was the preferred choice of Mums and Dads that were looking for Junior’s first car. Some migrated to the manual versions that were available after finding their feet with the auto. With the 2020 Suzuki Swift Sport now available in dealerships and available in both manual and autos, the brand continues to deliver a car with genuine appeal, good looks, a decent level of features, and good enough economy. Book your test drive here.

Hot Hatch Heaven

Behind the thriving popularity of buying SUVs, there is a lesser but feistier group of people who love buying and driving a Hot Hatch.  They are a loyal group of drivers who love the raw speed and excitement that a Hot Hatch drive provides – along with a bit of practicality on the side mind you.  The mind-set of a Hot Hatcher is that ‘if my need is to own a hatchback, then let me get a hot one’.

Honda Civic Type R

In Australia one of the most popular Hot Hatch cars of recent times has been the super little Honda Civic Type R.  It has even been given a Performance Car of the Year award, while also making a great argument for itself as being one of the best ‘Bang For Your Bucks’ experiences you can buy on four wheels.  With 228 kW and 400 Nm the latest Type R Civic is very quick and makes short work of most of its rivals.  It constantly feels quicker than anything, except maybe an AMG or Audi RS equivalent, on a backroad or windy race track.  Boot space is also 420 litres, which is more than enough for most people’s shopping trip.

Renault Megane RS

Renault has sold plenty of new RS Megane Hot Hatchbacks, and at times more than the Type R.  The Renault Megane RS offers a range that includes the availability of both manual and automatic transmissions, along with two chassis options.  Good on road comfort, the power from the 205 kW/390 Nm 1.8-litre turbo four is strong, and with launch control it keeps running quick naught-to-naughty times.  Brembo brakes work marvellously to haul in crazy speeds, and the four-wheel steering has immense grip and control.  With all this performance you still get great practicality.

Hyundai i30N

More popular among Australian Hot Hatch buyers has been the potent and very well sorted Hyundai i30N.  You’ve got to love the i30N’s fun factor bolstered by the banging and popping exhaust notes!

Volkswagen Golf GTi

But, arguably, the most preferred Hot Hatch to buy, at least in Australia, has been the immensely satisfying VW Golf GTi.  The thing is just so quick, it’s engaging and easy to drive, and it also has a real luxurious feel to the quality interior.  For those that can afford it, the VW GTi still delivers a comprehensive package.

I could add that Peugeot has a GTi Hot Hatch, so too Ford in the form of its Focus ST and Subaru in its WRX, and the…..  But you might like to add your few cents to the conversation or even disagree with my overall jurisdiction on the matter.

However, if you are thinking about owning a new performance hot hatch in 2020, then the afore mentioned ones are a few of the best you can buy that are cheaper than a real quick Mercedes Benz A45 AMG, or Audi RS3.

Audi RS3

 

Mercedes Benz A45 AMG