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Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Kia Cerato GT Sedan & Cerato Sport Hatch

This Car Review Is About: The latest offerings from the long running Cerato range, specifically the restyled sedan and hatch bodies, in GT and Sport trim. There is the S, Sport, Sport Plus, and GT. The S and Sport can be optioned with a Safety Pack.Under The Bonnet Is: A choice of a turbocharged 1.6L driving a seven speed dual clutch auto in the GT, against a 2.0L non-turbo and six speed standard auto for the Sport and S. The GT gets the powerhouse 150kW turbo which delivers 265Nm of twist across a flat 1,500rpm to 4,500rpm “torque curve”. The Sport has a very good 2.0L, with 112kW and 192Nm at 4,000rpm. The S is the only version with a manual six speed available.Economy for the pair is tight; the bigger engine is quoted as 7.4L/100km for the combined cycle, with the turbo 1.6L at 6.8L/100km. Our highway drives saw 5.8L/100km for the 1.6L Cerato GT sedan, the Cerato Sport hatch clocked a 6.9L/100km. Overall activity saw 7.4L/100 for the hatch as a final average on its return, with the sedan at 7.1L/100km. That’s running regular unleaded from a 50L tank.

What Do They Cost?: Kia says $32,990 plus on-roads for the GT sedan, $25,790 plus ORC for the Sport hatch, and if you opt for the Sport+, that’s $28,840 plus ORC. There are ten colours available, with the GT getting its own Sunset Orange shade. Paints classified as Metallic or Pearl are a $520 option.On The Outside Is: A choice of a sleek sedan or a sleek hatch. They’re essentially the same until the rear of the rear doors, and the hatch has a manual tail gate, a more pronounced taper to the rear roof line, and BMW-esque LED tail lights. Essentially, as the GT has a full suite of LEDs for both headlights and DRLs, whereas the Cerato Sport Plus has normal headlights and LEDs for the daytime running lights. Both ends, though, have the indicator lamps set below a driver’s line of sight, rather than being up in the head and tail light clusters.

The GT also has specific wheels and tyres. 225/40/18s with Michelin rubber wrap ten dual-spoke design alloys. The Sport has 225/45/17 alloys of a similar yet different design. The spare is a temporary sized one with a steel rim.Overall dimensions show just how big a modern small/medium sedan is. At 4,640mm in length, they’re bigger than the legendary EH Holden, which was 4,511mm. The Cerato’s height is 1,440mm except for the GT which is 5mm lower. The blocky EH stood 1,478mm. Where the classic Holden won was on weight. At 1,118kg it’s 200kg to 250kg lighter than the Ceratos.

There’s a couple of other minor differences too; the Sport Plus gets body coloured wing mirror covers, whilst the GT has high gloss black covers. Both have heating for the mirrors. The GT has twin chrome tipped exhausts, and the Sport Plus a single well pipe. There’s also a slight difference between the sedan and the hatch when it comes to opening the boot lid. There is a release button on the key fob, and a lever inside. But there is not a tab on the bootlid to open the boot. Once open there’s another design hiccup. The rear seats don’t have a shoulder mounted seat release mechanism. To flip the seats in the sedan the boot must be opened, a boot mounted lever puller for either the left or right hand seat, then it’s back to the rear seats to actually fold them down. The hatch does away with this ridiculous idea by having a boot-lid mounted tab. On the Inside Is: A surprisingly low toned interior. The GT is black upon black, having only subtle red piping on the seats and alloy look plastics around the gear selector, air vents and dash strip, central steering wheel spoke, and door handles, to break up the black. Under the driver’s foot is alloy pedals in the GT. The Sport Plus as tested had a similar look to the dash but had a lighter shade of material from the doors upwards and a charcoal/grey cloth trim to the seats. The GT’s driver holds a flat bottomed steering wheel.

Actual plastics look and feel is cheapish. There’s little, if anything, to differentiate the upper echelon cars from the base model S in this respect, plus there’s a distractingly high level of upper dash reflectivity into the windscreen. The driver’s binnacle display is fully analogue and has a monochrome display screen, not colour. Sound comes from a six speaker system in the Sport Plus, an eight speaker setup in the GT, with DAB tuners across the range plus the now almost seemingly mandatory Android Auto and Apple CarPlay plus Bluetooth.There are four cup, and four bottle, holders in the cabin. Just the driver gets a one touch up/down window switch. The GT gets a wireless smartphone charging pad and it’s a slightly tricky design. A small bump in the plastic on the left hand side will stop a phone from being charged properly if it’s not placed in the holder correctly. There’s a pair of USB ports and a single 12V socket up front as well.

As is the norm now, a touchscreen of 8.0 inches in measurement, and a simple one to use at that, is mounted up high on the dash. Default look is map and audio side by side. As is Kia’s wont, the interface is intuitive and makes using the various functions, and changing settings, fuss free.

On The Road It’s: Not quite chalk and cheese. The turbo in the GT is a firecracker, with verve, fizz, fire and brimstone, belying the 265Nm, as it feels as if there are more. The dual clutch transmission is beautifully matched and the performance potential is huge. Surprisingly, the 2.0L seemed not far off the pace in regards to response and driveability. The smaller engine is a free spirited and easily spun unit however the 2.0L in the Sport was nearly as easy going in how it moved the analogue needle around the dial. The more traditionally oriented six speed auto was nearly as slick and smooth, but simply couldn’t match the bang-bang nature of the dual-clutch in cog swapping.Get and go in both is very good, with the torque spread of the GT’s engine making for a harder run from a standing start. There’s real excitement from the driveline as a straight line run sees the freeway limit reached in what feels like just a breath. The Sport’s 2.0L pulled hard too but in a side by side comparison would be noticeably behind. The dual-clutch also exhibited a trait peculiar to this kind of transmission. Anything from a mild press of the go pedal upwards has the brains of the ‘box working fine, go a little softer, or change from Reverse to Drive, and there’s that customary pause as the brains figure out exactly what the transmission is supposed to do before actually doing so.Handling on both was neutral; the weight of the steering in both was excellent and allowed for a clean judgement of how much input was required to have the nose go where it was desired. On one particular corner the front end would run wide but only at a certain speed and was easily brought back to a controllable level with a back-off and a brush of the brakes. Highway driving has the pair change directions nimbly and the steering & engine choices, left in the default Eco mode, was never needed to be in anything other than that. The GT has a Smart mode which runs between Sport/Eco/Comfort, and effectively learns on the fly as well, helping the on board computers to adapt to an individual driving style.

Ride quality definitely tends towards the harder style yet the GT’s 18 inch rubber doesn’t crash through to the cabin at all. The Australian fettled suspension is well sorted, with work performed on the sophisticated multi-link independent system going to a specific sports tune all-round Braking is superb with the front brake discs growing in size from 280mm to 305mm, making braking a sensory experience and providing millimetre perfect judgement. The Sport lacked little here too, with its braking setup virtually on par. The Sport also has a softer ride setup, and perhaps one that more buyers would choose over the tauter GT for around-town driving.

GT stands for Grand Tourer and so it is with the sedan really showing its mettle on longer runs. The very nature of the torque deliver and the responsiveness of the seven speed DCT suits a good punt and taken westwards along the Great Western Highway, and eastwards on the freeways towards Sydney show what a beautifully setup long distance driver it is. In seventh geqar and barely off idle in cruise mode, the GT is a delight. The Sport’s sixth gear takes the rev point higher and it’s here that the slight coarseness of the 2.0L becomes apparent. It’s not harsh, just noticeable that it’s not quite as turbine smooth or quiet.Of a final note is the aural extension of the engine note into the cabin for the GT. It’s a throaty and rorty sound, not unlike a worked over flat four. But it’s a generated sound, and played via the sound system. It’s a matter of personal taste and unfortunately not one that can be deactivated.

Safety Features Are: strong, naturally. AEB or Autonomous Emergency Braking, with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Keep Assist are standard. Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Driver Attention Alert Warning, front and rear parking sensors, are also standard.

What About Warranty and Service?: Standard seven years, unlimited kilometres, and capped priced servicing, as per the information here.

At The End of the Drive. Kia has come a HELLUVA long way in the twelve years since AWT was selling cars alongside the brand’s then new cars. The level of technology, safety, the designs, and the change from a non-turbo range to the inclusion of a genuine sports oriented range, such as the Cerato GT, put Kia into a stronger position in the marketplace than it was a decade ago. In an increasingly competitive sales area, the Cerato GT stands out as one to choose from a drivers’ perspective. The Sport is the one for an around town lifestyle. The sedan and hatch have further information available.

 

 

Tesla Model 3 Pricing Confirmed For Australia.

Tesla Australia has confirmed the range and pricing structure for the forthcoming Model 3.Built upon a two model range to start, the Standard Plus and Performance, the new entry level range for the electric car makers starts at $66,000 plus on-road costs and government charges. Expected 0-100 time is 5.6 seconds, and expected range from the supercharger capable Model 3 Standard Plus is 460 km. The Performance is listed as $85,000 plus charges. 0 100 is 3.4 seconds and a range of 560km. 20 inch wheels roll around red alloy calipers, with a subtle carbon fibre spoiler providing extra stability when driving in Track Mode.Five colours will be made available for the expected August launch timeframe; Solid Black, Midnight Silver Metallic, Deep Blue Metallic, Pearl White and Metallic Red multicoats. The metallics are $1,400 and the multicoats $2,100 and $2,800 respectively.

The Model 3 will also receive the over-the-air software updates. A major update is the Autopilot facility, which enables the Model 3 to effectively drive itself albeit still under active human supervision. It enables the Model 3 to to steer, accelerate and brake for other vehicles and pedestrians within its lane. The Standard Plus also gets a 12-way 12-way power adjustable, heated, front pair of seats, with premium seat material and trim, an upgraded audio system, plus standard maps & navigation. There is also centre console with storage, 4 USB ports, and docking for 2 smartphones. Entry is via the Tesla keyfob or a new smartcard system.LED fog lamps, Automatic Emergency Braking, Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning and Side Collision Warning will be standard. Buyers of the Model 3 Performance will receive what Tesla denote as the Premium Interior Package. Live traffic notifications with satnav maps, a 14 speaker audio system with music streaming, heated rear seats complement the standard equipment in the Standard Plus. Both cars will allow for customisable driver profiles, and everything is set up from a spare looking dashboard, dominated by a solitary touchscreen in landscape orientation.An extra feature to be released later in the year is traffic light and stop sign recognition. This will enable the Model 3 to further enhance its autonomous driving ability, and it’s forecast that the Model 3 will be able to do so in a full city environment. The Autopilot feature is also intended to allow autonomous driving in situations such as vehicle overtaking and on/off-ramp driving.

The exterior design is one familiar to anyone with a Model S. The headlights are subtly redesigned for a more wrap-around look, the roof is a solidly tinted glass item, and the rear is a more traditional boot, rather than liftback, styling.Orders for the Tesla Model 3 are now open and available via the Tesla Australia website.

 

Niki Lauda.

Speed, we are told, is a dangerous thing to deal with. It is, therefore, a true oddity that so few Formula 1 drivers, people that are amongst the fastest drivers in the world, die. It then makes the passing of a driver, current or past, all the more poignant and tragic.Just days before the 2019 F1 race at Monaco, possibly the most picturesque location in the F1 calendar, Niki Lauda, well up there with Brabham, Schumacher, Fangio, and of course Hunt, passed away from complications following lung surgery in 2018, the flu earlier this year, and kidney dialysis. The Austrian born Lauda was, tragically, best known for his unexpected survival from a crash at the 1976 German F1 Grand Prix. His car exploded, trapping him in the cockpit, with rescuers taking close to a minute to extricate the badly burned driver from the cabin. Lauda said of the crash that it ripped his helmet from his head, leading to the horrific scars he bore. Taken to hospital he was not expected to survive, with last rites performed. Somehow, he was out out of bed and competing just 42 days later and would go on to win again.Lauda celebrated his 70th birthday in February of 2019. Born in Vienna, Austria, Lauda found his calling in motorsport and by 1971 was racing in Formula 2. Sadly, his family, a wealthy one with his grandfather being a Viennese industrialist, saw his racing as unworthy of the name, leaving Lauda with little option but to cease contact with them. Progress came in the form of bank loans and willing assistance from The March team in 1972, before a change to the BRM team in 1973. This team was also in the doldrums, looking at collapse.

His then co-driver at BRM, Clay Regazzoni, left BRM to join Ferrari for 1974. This would prove fateful for Lauda. The great Enzo Ferrari had asked Regazzoni of his opinion of Lauda. The response was so favourable that Ferrari hired the Austrian. He quickly found form with a second place in his debut race. He would win the Spanish GP a few races later but reliability issues aw Ferrari’s lightning start fizzle.  1975 started slowly with no wins for the first four races then it all clicked for Lauda and the team. Driving the Ferrari 312T Lauda would win four of the next five GPs. he would also bag his first world championship after a win at Monza and Ferrari would also take out the constructors championship that year.

His rivalry and friendship with other drivers was growing, particularly with James Hunt. The pair had raced each other from 1973 and although their seemed a fractious relationship, there was strong mutual respect. That respect would be shown by Lauda after his Nurburgring crash, with Hunt winning the 1976 championship by a solitary point. Lauda had receovered to a point where he was able to race again, however his burns had left him with surgery required to rebuild his eyelids. The final race of the season, in Japan, was beset by heavy rain. Lauda had declared, just as he had before his Nurburgring crash, that safety should be the number one proviso. He raced just one lap before retiring, which gave his friend and rival Hunt the chance to win, which he did. Hunt’s energetic lifestyle was at odds with Lauda’s way of life, yet their respect was such that when Hunt passed away, Lauda said: “When I heard he’d died age 45 of a heart attack I wasn’t surprised, I was just sad.”

Lauda would go on to be a successful businessman, founding an airline, plus he was called upon by the Ferrari F1 team to be a consultant. In 2012 he would be employed by Mercedes F1 as a non-executive chairman and would be involved in having the team sign Lewis Hamilton. At the 2019 Monaco F1 GP, he was remembered in various ways.Rest In Peace, Niki Lauda.

Getting It Right In A Roundabout Way.

Using an indicator seems to be the ONE major issue that the overwhelming majority of Australian drivers have. Pulling away from a curb, merging lanes, entering and exiting roundabouts, the little bit of flash seems to elude drivers on Aussie roads.
From the NSW Roads and Maritime Services website are the following regulations for indicating at a traditional four point roundabout.
Turning left: On your approach to a roundabout you must select the left lane, signal left, stay in the left lane to exit.

Going straight ahead: Do not signal when approaching the roundabout but always signal left before exiting a roundabout.
You may approach the roundabout from either left or right lanes (unless there are road markings with other instructions), drive in the same lane through the roundabout and exit in the same lane.

Turning right: On your approach, to a roundabout you must select the right lane, signal right, stay in the right lane and signal left before exiting into the right lane.

Making a U-turn: When you use the roundabout to make a U-turn on your approach signal right from the right lane, stay in the right lane, but signal left before exiting into the right lane.

Exiting a roundabout: If practical, you must always signal left when exiting a roundabout.

In many areas of Australia a three point roundabout can be found. It’s here that one part of the where to indicate equation isn’t really pushed as a safety measure. Once listed as a “complex roundabout” the regulations are to indicate in which direction you wish to go to then indicate left to exit, especially if making a major direction change as per the design.  Here, though, the overwhelming majority of drivers coming into the roundabout from the right hand side and wish to continue to the left, do NOT, as per the regulations signal their intentions. Quite a few do not indicate from the lower left to the top left, nor from the lower left to the right hand side.

From the W.A Government’s site when it comes to merging: Always use your indicator to signal your intentions to other drivers when merging; Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you and take turns to merge if there are long lines of merging traffic; You need to match the legal speed of the road you’re merging into. Again this part of the road safety argument is forgotten.  Finally, when parents that have themselves not had a driving lesson in ten twenty, thirty or more years and have accumulated a lifetime of bad driving habits are in a car with a L plater, and fail to have them adhere to the same basic laws, then our roads will continue to not see the zero level our governments purport to seek.

Isn’t It Ioniq, Part 2.

Hyundai recently released details of upgrades to its electric and hybrid small car, the Ioniq. It’s available as a hybrid, a plug in hybrid, and full battery pack power system.
The fully electric version has had the battery capacity upgraded, which brings with it a range increase. It’s up from 28.0kWh to 38.3kWh, with a new mooted top range of 294km. Power and torque are rated as 100kW and 294Nm. The on-board charger has also been uprated, with an increase to 7.2kW from 6.6kW. This enable a charge to 80% from empty in approximately 54 minutes.

Ioniq Hybrid has been given a 32kW/170Nm permanent magnet motor for the rear axle, with partial power from a 1.56kWh made from a lithium-ion-polymer battery. The PHEV delivers 44.5kW, with peak torque of 170Nm. The battery pack is a 8.9kWh lithium-ion-polymer battery and backs up the 1.6L direct injection petrol engine. 103.6kW and 265Nm are the combined capacities, says Hyundai. Pure electric mode allows a top speed of 120kmh and up to 52km of battery only range. Transmission is a single speed for the Electric, a six speed dual clutch for the other two.

They also receive a regenerative energy system, and a new Eco DAS, or Eco Driving Assist System, which lowers energy usage and fuel consumption when areas such as intersections are being approached and speed is reduced. This works alongside PEMS, the Predictive Energy Management System, that oversees the battery recharge and discharge rates. This is specific to up and down hill roads, and adjusts the drive system on the fly, integrating the petrol engine and recharge system as required.
Safety has been uprated too. Pedestrian Detection and Cyclist Detection is standard now and packaged with Front Collision Warning and Avoidance Assist. Lane Keep Assist and High Beam Assist are also standard. A cool option is Lane Following Assist; this keeps the Ioniq in the centre of a lane in just about all forms of traffic situations, plus partners with Intelligent Speed Limit Warning to read street signs.

For the tech-heads, Hyundai have their Hyundai Blue Link, a connected to car system which uses smart device technology to allow remote access, check charge levels, and set air-conditioning. An update adds eCall, an emergency backup system that will contact emergency services if airbags have been set off or a specific emergency button inside the cabin has been pressed.

Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are on-board as standard, and accessed via a 10.25 inch display screen. An extra and welcome piece of tech is the ability to connect two Bluetooth enabled devices for music streaming. This sits above a redesigned centre console stack, with a redesigned aircon panel and upgraded finish. The IONIQ Electric’s standard high-resolution 7-inch LCD console display (optional for hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions) has been improved with mood lighting to visualise the different drive mode themes. To round off the improved modern interior design, blue ambient lighting has been applied across the passenger-side lower dashboard and the centre console.
Outside the Ioniq has also been freshened. A refurbished grille design with a mesh-type look starts the party for the Hybrid and PHEV. The electric version has a closed grille and this has an updated pattern. The bumper up front and rear panels have been updated as well, with new running lights, colours, and LED powered front and rear lights. Wheels are 16 inch for PHEV and Electric, 15 or 17 for the hybrid.

With thanks to Trevor and Chris at eftm.com.au, here’s their long-term review of the current Ioniq: Hyundai Ioniq at EFTM

Hyundai says the updated Ioniq range will be available in the second half of 2019.

Eight Is Still Not Enough For BMW

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

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

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

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

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

2020 RAV4 Ready To Roar.

If you’re not a fan of SUV style vehicles, best you stop and look away now. The Toyota RAV4, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is widely regarded as the original SUV. 2019 has the release of a vastly updated car and range to continue the legend.

The range will include, for the RAV4’s first time, a hybrid. There will be two petrol engines, four trim levels, and 2WD or AWD variants.
The Gx range is the entry level, with GXL, Cruiser, and a solitary, and new Edge trim spec.. Here’s how the pricing structure shakes down.

GX Petrol 2WD manual: $30,640, GX Petrol 2WD CVT $32,640, GX Hybrid 2WD CVT $35,140, GX Hybrid AWD CVT $38,140;
GXL Petrol 2WD CVT $35,640, GXL Hybrid 2WD CVT $38,140, GXL Hybrid AWD CVT $41,140;
Cruiser Petrol 2WD CVT $39,140, Cruiser Hybrid 2WD CVT $41,640, Cruiser Hybrid AWD CVT $44,640 &
Edge Petrol AWD Auto $47,140The base petrol engine is a new 127kW/203Nm 2.0-litre, direct injection, four-cylinder engine that drives through Toyota’s now well-proven continuously variable transmission (CVT) with a launch gear mechanism. The GX also gets a manual with a rev-matching program. The hybrid goes a step further, with a 2.5L Atkinson Cycle powerplant. Peak oomph depends on the driven wheels. There are combined maximum outputs of 160kW for 2WD variants and 163kW for AWD versions. This also continues Toyota’s fuel efficiency drive, with just 4.7 litres/100km2 for 2WD variants and 4.8 litres/100km2 for AWD versions.There is also a nifty rear axle mounted drive system. Toyota fits an additional rear motor generator to provide power to the rear axle for the electric AWD system. Complete with a Trail mode, it enables up to 80 per cent of the total drive torque to be delivered through the rear wheels.

A new model reaches the RAV4 family. The Edge trim level also has a 2.5L petrol four, and there’s 152kW of peak power, with 243Nm of peak torque available, reaching the ground via an eight speed auto. A mechanical AWD system can split torque at up to 50:50 front to rear from a 100% front driven only delivery. The Edge trim level will also feature off-rad drive modes, being Mud and Sand, Rock and Dirt, and Snow.RAV4 has also been given an extensive makeover outside, with a stronger resemblance to the HiLux family. The exterior redesign brings a sharper look, a bolder look by moving away from the curvier outgoing model, and 17-inch,18-inch and 19-inch alloy wheels which add a visually solid and planted presence on the road. The GX starts the party with LED headlights, auto wipers, and dual exhaust pipes. Inside there’s a 4.2 inch driver’s display, 8.0 inch touchscreen with DAB audio and voice recognition, higher grade trim feel and quality than before, and improved safety features including AEB as standard.The GXL has 18 inch alloys, up from the 17s on GX, and adds privacy glass for the rear windows. A rear camera with guidance lines is added. Wireless charging up front and rear airvents get a nod as well, plus there’s five USB ports, with three for the front seat passengers. The Cruiser trim level goes to 19 inch wheels, heated front seats and a powered driver’s seat. The driver’s display gets bumped up to a 7.0 inch screen. The Edge gets more cosmetics, venting for the front seats, and a leather look material for the pews.Underpinning the slightly shorter (5mm), lower (30mm), and wider (10mm) body is the Toyota New Global Architecture (TNGA) platform that features a 30mm longer wheelbase and wider track, that has been extended by between 25mm and 55mm. This, together with a revised front MacPherson strut and new multi-link rear suspension, gives the new RAV4 substantially improved driving dynamics, superb ride comfort, and improved handling.Safety is raised, as expected. Seven airbags including driver’s kneebag, with the Toyota Safety Sense package including AEB with pedestrian detection for day and night conditions, and daytime cyclist detection, active cruise control for the autos, lane trace assist and lane centreing, plus lane departure alert with lane keep assist.

Check with your local Toyota dealership for availability and to book a test drive.

Upgrades and Updates Makes Tesla Longer Lasting.

Tesla has revealed details on an update to their drive systems. Further development of their latest generation of drive unit technology raises the efficiency level to 93% which improves overall range by over 10%. Part of this comes from pairing a permanent magnet motor in the front with an induction motor in the rear.

In addition to adding range, power and torque increases significantly across all Model S and Model X variants, improving 0-100 kmh times for the Long Range and Standard Range models.

Paired with the new more efficient drivetrain design, V3 Superchargers have improved on power delivery. Model S and Model X are now capable of achieving 200 kW on V3 Superchargers, and 145 kW on V2 Superchargers. Together, these improvements enable our customers to recharge their expected range by up to 50% faster.

The air suspension system has been updated for Model S and Model X with fully-adaptive damping, giving it an ultra-cushioned feel when cruising on the highway. It also applies when using Autopilot. It’s an in-house software package  using a predictive model to anticipate how the damping will need to be adjusted based on the road, speed, and other vehicle and driver inputs. The system is fluid in its ability to adapt the suspension for the road conditions, automatically softening for more pronounced road inputs and firming for aggressive driving.

Another improvement is the leveling of the suspension system while cruising, keeping the car low to optimize aerodynamic drag. As with all of Tesla’s in-house software, the adaptive suspension can receive over-the-air updates. This ensures the latest information can be made available as soon as possible.

Wheel bearings and new tyre tread designs are being added to the range to improve range, ride, and steering.

Rivian Electric Ute Confirmed For Down Under.

As companies move to battery powered vehicles, questions are coming out about the recreational side. As most are looking at cars or passenger style SUV body types, it’s a fair question.

United States company Rivian is one that is going outside the standard passenger car box. A dual cab ute, the R1T is the start, with a seven seater Range Rover looking SUV, R1S, are both currently slated for full production in 2020. Brian Gase, the chief engineer for Rivian and a visitor to Australia on a regular basis, says that the brand wants to get these cars to Australia as soon as possible. “Yes we will have an Australian launch,” Gase said. “And I can’t wait to come back to Australia and show this to all of those beautiful people.” The company itself must be doing something right, as there is a US$700 million investment from Amazon, and a recently announced US$500 million injection from Ford.Like Tesla’s Model S and Model X, the pair will share the same underpinnings. Unlike Tesla, they’ll have an engine for each wheel. Rivian quotes 560kW and 1120Nm of torque. A common floorpan also allows simultaneous development of right and left hand drive models. Gase says: “The truck makes sense in the Australian market. We see significant value, particularly with the SUV in right-hand drive markets. And we’ve commonised everything on the vehicles forward of the B-pillar, so by default, getting a right-hand-drive truck is a low barrier, because I’ve got a right-hand-drive SUV.”

The actual timing for release depends on the production schedule at the Illinois factory. Gase says: “The ‘when’ is a tough question. How do you pick the right strategic markets on what’s core to your brand, where you’re going to see sales? And that’s why Australia is so exciting to us because you guys share a lot of the off-road and nature values that I think we have as a company. And you’re not on Italian narrow roads where this vehicle is a harder footprint to fit in.”

Payload is expected to be 800kg for the four door ute, and should pack a 350mm ride height. All wheel drive means fantastic grip and Gase says 45 degree slops should be driveable. 0 to 100kmh times should be around the 3.0 second bracket. Expected range is currently around 640km. Prices for Australia are yet to be set, however US pricing starts at $69K for the R1T, and US$74K for the R1S.

 

 

Jeep Readies For Battle With The Gladiator.

Jeep has unveiled its four door ute. Named Gladiator, it’s a Wrangler clone from the front until the beginning of the tray. From here it gets big. 5.5 metres big. The tray itself has a unique imprint which is part of the aim to have it seen as a lifestyle vehicle, not a “tradie’s ute”. For the family oriented, a dirt bike imprint in the front of the tray says straight away it’s for fun, not work. Backing that up is the set of four tie down points to help strap in the two wheelers.

Jeep have also ensured that when the going gets tough, it’s up to the task. The body underneath is steel, ensuring there is plenty of strength. The lower sides of the Gladiator are alloy.

Power will come from the 3.6L V6 petrol, and eventually a 3.0L diesel. Drive to the ground will pass through an eight speed auto with six speed manuals available overseas. Both engines will have ESS, Engine Stop Start, and the petrol engine will pump out 212kW. Peak torque should be around 350Nm. The diesel’s peak torque should be nudging 600Nm. Grunt gets to the dirt or tarmac via front and rear lockable diffs and sway bars with electronic disengagement. These go with a design line from Jeep: fit a 1.5m long tub, serious off-road chops, and carry a full sized spare wheel underneath the tray. That’s a hefty part of the brief, that last part, as in Rubicon spec the wheel’s overall diameter is 35 inches. And being Wrangler based, a removeable roof and doors, along with a folding forward front screen comes as part of the package.

Inside it’s standard Jeep, with a squared, blocky, design ethos. An infotainment screen of 7.0 inches or 8.4 inches will provide smartphone access and mirroring, and in the Rubicon will show pitch angles, plus a front facing camera shows the driver the forthcoming trail. This can be of importance as the length of the Gladiator means that agility may not be up to the standard shorter vehicles have. However, the Gladiator will have a ride setup at the rear that’s been adapted from the even bigger RAM1500, meaning that the jiggly ride a shorter wheelbase car may exhibit should be pretty much dialled out. Want to go “swimming”? The Gladiator will ford up to 30 inches.

The Gladiator is expected to have Autonomous Emergency Braking and adaptive cruise control, along with blind spot and rear cross traffic alerts. Warranty should be five years

Estimated prices are somewhere around $55K as a starter with a current estimated top whack of around $80k. Naturally these are subject to change. Register at Jeep Australia’s website for upcoming information.