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Holden: The Day For Closing Is Coming. Part Two.

This is part two of an interview conducted with Holden’s PR guru, Sean Poppitt, before the closure of Holden as a manufacturer of cars and engines in Australia.

Speaking of local products…Keeping the Commodore nameplate has seen plenty of discussion as to whether it should stay or not. What has been Holden’s reason for doing so?
There wasn’t one single thing that drove that decision…there’s a number of different factors we considered…one of the first ones was this: we went out and talked to Commodore owners. We went and talked to non-Commodore owners, and we did a really extensive market research piece, sitting down with customers and non-customers and asking that question. The overwhelming response we got was to keep the name. Of course that doesn’t take anything away from people’s right to have an opinion on this, I would wonder how many of those with a negative opinion are Holden or Commodore owners.

Two, we made sure that we were comfortable that the car did everything a Commodore should do. (It’s here that Sean’s tone changed and he became very thoughtful.) What defines a Commodore? Is it local manufacturing? You could argue that it’s that as every Commodore from the start has been manufactured here. Let’s not forget that the first ever Commodore was…an Australian modified Opel Rekord…which we built…and we’ve come full circle…taking an Opel car and making it a Commodore.One of the great things about keeping our Lang Lang proving grounds is it’s allowed us to have our engineers embedded in that program for six years. There’s been well over one hundred and sixty thousand kilometres of local testing, which has given us a unique suspension tune for every single model, a unique engine and gearbox combination which isn’t available anywhere else in the world. We’re talking the V6 and nine speed auto, the advanced all wheel drive system, the adaptive chassis. If it’s going to be a Commodore we NEED it to be able to do X, Y, and Z. This car has everything the last car did and more, but there isn’t the obvious emotional attachment and nostalgic element to it not being built here.

I don’t want at all to make light or not give the gravity that it’s due to the local manufacturing people and the passion the people had for that, and what it’s meant for this country and this brand…by every conceivable measure, the new car is a better car than the old one.
(Sean’s tone becomes lighter here). We always knew that a front wheel drive four cylinder Commodore was going to raise some eyebrows, we knew that, but the four cylinder turbo is the fastest, most fuel efficient, most powerful base engine we’ve ever had in a Commodore, so by every single possible measure that car will be better than the base Commodore we have here.Outside of your preference for front drive or rear wheel drive, for the diehard performance enthusiast we’re going to have a sports car, or, potentially, sports cars in the not so distant future. It’s important to note that it’s really only in the last eighteen months that the sales of V8s in a Commodore has lifted up so high. Over the last ten years 88% of Commodore sales have been V6s, and of that a vast majority have been SV6s.
With Opel now under the PSA umbrella, does this open up the model range available for Australian buyers?
There’s certainly opportunities. We’ve been very clear that the current Opel products that we’re taking, which includes the next gen Commodore and the current Astra hatch, there will be no change to them over the course of their projected model life. Dan Amman, who’s our global president, said, when we were in Geneva recently that there’s more opportunity for Holden, not less.

At the current time, where does Holden see itself in five years time, especially with the new SUVs and Camaro in the frame?
We made a commitment back in, I believe, 2015, that we would launch 24 new models by 2020, which effectively means we’re revamping or replacing every single vehicle in the Holden line-up. I’d also say that right now we have the best “pound for pound” showroom we’ve ever had. And it’s only going to get better; we’ve got Equinoxe coming in mid November, the next gen Commodore of course, next year there’s the Acadia, which gives us this really filled out SUV portfolio, which is obviously great for us as that’s where the market is going.

Our strength, for a long time, has been in large sedans, which is a shrinking part of the market. The growth in SUVs, we’ve been really well represented there in the past, and we’ve got Trax, we’ve got Trailblazer, and Equinoxe and Acadia to come. Even Colorado, that continues to grow, with every month the figures show an increase in sales. It’s about going where the market goes rather than hanging onto a sector of the market where clearly people have voted with their feet and wallets to not be a part of.

When we made this announcement four years ago, back in 2013 (about ceasing manufacturing), which really raised questions about what does Holden stand for, which did have a shadow hanging over the business in a way, we want to stay and remain a clear and solid number four in the market and stay on track to sell one in ten vehicles sold in this country. I think it’s remarkable, too, that in such a tough period we’re still one of the top players in this country. I also think we’ve got a rare and unique opportunity to honour one hundred and sixty years of history and heritage and make sure that Holden means as much to our grandkids as it did to our grandfathers.(It’s a huge thanks to Sean Poppitt for his time and his candid responses, and since this interview Holden has confirmed the Camaro SS will come to Australia as the “halo” car. It also officially unveiled the 2018 Commodore which, effectively, confirms for Commodore the SS badging is no longer…)

Hyundai Kona Hits Aussie Roads.

Hyundai has joined the burgeoning small SUV family with the addition of the Kona, a sharp looking machine with a front end that is sure to raise eyebrows. New Kona will be available in three trim levels, Kona Active, Kona Elite and Kona Highlander, with an optional safety pack for Active (‘Active with Safety Pack’).

Engine.
You’ll have a choice of a 2.0-litre, 110 kilowatt/180 Nm naturally-aspirated, four-cylinder engine with conventional six-speed automatic and front-wheel-drive, or a 1.6-litre Turbo-GDI with 130 kW/265 Nm between 1500 to 4500 rpm with seven-speed dual-cutch transmission (DCT) and all-wheel-drive.

The 2.0L engine accelerates the front-wheel-drive Kona from standstill to 100km/h in 10 seconds flat. The ‘Gamma’ 1.6 T-GDi has 18% more power and 47% more torque than the 2.0 litre MPi engine, giving a 7.9 second 0-100km/h time.
The turbo engine is mated to Hyundai’s efficient and responsive seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission (DCT) which combines the fuel efficiency of a manual transmission with the ease and convenience of an automatic. Economy is quoted as 7.2L and 6.7L per 100 kilometres.

Body.
Kona will offer nine body colour choices and two roof colours. The rear echoes the Tucson and Santa Fe (and the front of the Kona) whilst the front has hints of Jeep Cherokee thanks to LED driving lights at the bonnet line, headlines in a slightly unusually shaped cluster at mid grille and globe driving lights centrally located at the bottom of the front bar. Profile wise it’s a long bonneted look, flared guards, a curved rear, with the driver pretty much centrally located. Hyundai have used an innovative manufacturing process, with AHSS or Advanced High Strength Steel, making the body more rigid yet 10 perent light than using conventional steel panels. There’s also metal adhesive, 114 metres of it, to supplement conventional building processes.

Dimensions.
It’s compact, for sure, at 4165 mm in length, 1800 mm in width, 1565 mm in height, and rides on a wheelbase of 2600 mm. Ground clearance is a minimum of 170 mm. Although it’s smallish, Hyundai have put some TARDIS inside, with front shoulder room of 1410 mm, leg room of 1054 mm, and head room of 1005 mm. Rear seat passengers will have no issues either. Boot space is a minimum of 361 litres.

Equipment and Suspension.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on board, Forward Collision-Avoidance Assist (FCA) with Pedestrian Detection, plus Drive Mode Select is available on both automatic and DCT variants, the function letting drivers choose between ‘Comfort’, ‘Eco’ and ‘Sport’ modes. Blind Spot Colliosion Warning is active up to thirty kph, and there’s Rear Cross Traffic Collision Warning. On board will also be a Lane Keeping Assist package with Departure Warning.
Underneath there’s the tried and proven MacPherson strut front suspension, and a torsion beam or multi-link rear depending on using front wheel or all awheel drive. There’s also a variety of suspension tunes depending on which variant you buy. During testing, 13 and 29 front and rear shock absorbers for the all wheel drive system, and 13 & 29 for the front wheel drive, two different stabiliser bars, and three & two spring sets were trialled to provide the best balanced deemed suitable for both country and city driving.

Pricing.
Current pricing is set to start at $27000.

 

 

Saudi Women Get The Right To Drive

 

 

The really big news in the motoring world of the past week or so isn’t GM’s plans for electric vehicles or the plans afoot for a Rolls-Royce SUV (although these are both hot issues).  It’s the fact that at long last, the Saudi ban on women getting their drivers’ license has been lifted.

Up until now, Saudi Arabia has been alone in not permitting women to drive legally – even other countries operating under Shariah (Muslim or Islamic) law such as Qatar, Iran and Iraq let women drive legally (the only other country that prohibited women from driving was Afghanistan under the Taliban).  Some of the reasons given included the possibility of women mixing with unrelated males (which goes against the cultural/religious norms) in the case of a traffic accident and the fact that driving can’t be done in a full burqa (although it can be done in a headscarf that’s pulled back where it doesn’t block peripheral vision much – as Western women in the 1920s knew well). 

The ban was lifted after a very long and determined campaign, mostly conducted via social media, by a group of Saudi women, who faced all sorts of possible penalties and repercussions for doing so, including one who was sentenced to a flogging for trying to drive until the King stepped in and overturned the sentence.

The ban was finally lifted on the grounds that constantly paying for taxis was putting a huge drain on the resources of many families; the rule about gender segregation was being broken left, right and centre because all the taxi drivers were men not related to their passengers; and women were finding it hard to get jobs and education, in spite of the Saudi government wanting to push tertiary education.  As of September 26, Saudi women can now get their licenses.

OK, so what’s the big deal?  Well, for one thing, female tourists can drive themselves around. Previously, if you had got your license overseas, you could still only drive in Saudi Arabia if you were issued with a local license… and they didn’t hand these out to women. A good chunk of us don’t have Saudi Arabia on our list of holiday destinations (barring those of us who want to make pilgrimages to Mecca for religious reasons), so why should we care over here in Australia?

We should care because it should make us stop and think for a moment about the freedoms we have here, and be grateful that we are allowed to get our drivers’ licences so easily (comparatively easily anyway!).

Do you remember the feeling of finally being grown up when you first got your L-plates, to say nothing of the feeling of independence and freedom when you got your P-plates and finally your full licence? You could go anywhere and do anything (almost) without having to sit down and negotiate timetables and the intricacies of working out who had to do what, where and when to ensure that Mum’s Taxi Service ran smoothly. You could also do your bit like a real adult when you could drive yourself to a proper job, and you felt like something of a hero/heroine who saved the day when you got a text from Dad saying that he had locked his keys in the car and needed you to drive over with the spares, or when you were able to drive your little brothers and sisters to school when Mum was sick and couldn’t do it.

Now imagine that you weren’t able do all that.  And that you still couldn’t do it, even if you were an educated and intelligent capable adult with kids of your own and a proper job.  Your choice of “proper jobs” would be really limited to what was within walking distance of the nearest bus stop, because if you had to pay for a taxi twice a day every day, the drain on your wallet would just about make it not worth working. And all this time, half of the members of your family do have the freedom to drive anywhere at any time, and you have to depend on their goodwill to go where you want or need to go.  This situation will go on all your life.

You also have to depend on this small handful of other family members if your children need to be picked up after school, have got sports practice or if they need to get to the dentist… or the doctor. Keep your fingers crossed that your kids never need a trip to the emergency room with something that isn’t life threatening enough to warrant calling an ambulance (e.g. broken arms, saucepans wedged onto heads, sprained ankles, etc.) during the daytime when the family members with the licenses are away on business or out doing their own thing.  Any doctor’s appointments, shopping trips even for basic groceries and visits to the dental clinic have to fit in with other people’s work schedules as well as your own. It’s Dad’s Taxi every time, with Mum’s Taxi not existing, which is annoying and stressful for Dad as well as for Mum.

Take a few moments right now to think about how your life would be different if your mum couldn’t drive, or your sister, or your wife (or yourself, if you’re a woman).

To take things to real extremes, if women didn’t or couldn’t drive cars, then the automotive industry might never have got off the ground in the first place. Karl Benz was on the point of giving up his experiment with the horseless carriage and was despairing that it would ever catch on, but then Bertha Benz loaded the kids into the new car and drove off to visit her mum as a publicity stunt to show that this new-fangled invention was so simple that even a woman could drive it with ease.

It’s also a good to take time to appreciate the fact that we can get licenses. Even if you live in the city and can commute by foot, bike or public transport, or if you work from home in a telecommute, be sure to get your licence, because you never know what the future might hold or when you’ll need to drive. Learn to drive and get that licence, and encourage your daughters to enjoy cars and driving just as much as you teach your sons.

Indicate, Mate. That’d Be Great.

In surveys of the things that annoy drivers, it’s always in the order of over eighty percent that respondents say people nott indicating that rates as an annoyance. Yet, in any city or town, in any Australian state or territory, you’ll find people that either use their indicators or use them correctly as being of the minority.

In NSW a very common transgression is not indicating when crossing a merge lane, along with non indicating when pulling away from the roadside. Here’s the legislation in NSW:

(2)  The driver must give the change of direction signal for long enough to give sufficient warning to other drivers and pedestrians.

(3)  If the driver is about to change direction by moving from a stationary position at the side of the road or in a median strip parking area, the driver must give the change of direction signal for at least 5 seconds before the driver changes direction.

In fact, the legislation even specifies what needs to be done: “How to give a left change of direction signal. The driver of a vehicle must give a left change of direction signal by operating the vehicle’s left direction indicator lights.” Naturally this applies for the right hand side of the car too. Note also the time requirement: at LEAST five seconds. Even more confusing is when to use an indicator if a road curves and also has an exit at the apex. Far too many DON’T indicate at the apex or actually indicate as they follow the road….and don’t need to indicate.

Complicated stuff, right? So why are there so many drivers that don’t indicate? Don’t indicate for more than one or two blinks? This also coincides with drivers wrestling their cars from lane to lane almost as if they’re being blown around like a leaf in the wind. Is there something wrong with a gentle, easy, merge along with enough indication?

Roundabouts are another bugbear and these, too, are easy to deal with.

  Giving a left change of direction signal when entering a roundabout

(1)  This rule applies to a driver entering a roundabout if:

(a)  the driver is to leave the roundabout at the first exit after entering the roundabout, and

(b)  the exit is less than halfway around the roundabout.

(2)  Before entering the roundabout, the driver must give a left change of direction signal for long enough to give sufficient warning to other drivers and pedestrians.

(3)  The driver must continue to give the change of direction signal until the driver has left the roundabout.

And:

Giving a right change of direction signal when entering a roundabout;

(1)  This rule applies to a driver entering a roundabout if the driver is to leave the roundabout more than halfway around it.

(2)  Before entering the roundabout, the driver must give a right change of direction signal for long enough to give sufficient warning to other drivers and pedestrians.

(3)  The driver must continue to give the change of direction signal while the driver is driving in the roundabout, unless:

(a)  the driver is changing marked lanes, or entering another line of traffic, or

(b)  the driver’s vehicle is not fitted with direction indicator lights, or

(c)  the driver is about to leave the roundabout.

Note 2.

Rule 117 deals with giving change of direction signals before changing marked lanes, or entering another line of traffic, in a roundabout.

Note 3. Rule 118 requires a driver, if practicable, to give a left change of direction signal when leaving a roundabout.
What’s important here is the last comment: indicate left when leaving a roundabout. I could count on one finger the amount of times this is seen on our our roads. What’s more troubling about the lack of indication Aussie drivers do is just how SIMPLE it is to indicate. Cars are designed, engineered, and built with many factors of safety, including how easy it is to access the indicator stalk. They’re literally at your finger tips. So what causes drivers to not uses them? Pride? Arrogance? Stupidity? Laziness? Distracted whilst wearing earbuds (a stupidly non-illegal rule!)?
Non indicating means no involvement in your driving, and having no involvement in driving heightens the risk factor, increases the danger factor. This is also exacerbated by the somewhat myopic focus our police and governments have on speeding as being the allegedly sole cause of crashing. Perhaps if more effort was expended on policing non indicators, not only would the revenue come but the message about being involved as a driver (as ANY worthwhile driver trainer and educator will insist upon) as a high point for safety may start seeing better examples of driving.
Be a safe driver. Indicate, mate. That’d be great.

Holden: The Day For Closing Is Coming.

Holden, along with Toyota, will cease to manufacture cars in Australia. But how has the process leading up to that day been handled, what about the people involved? Private Fleet‘s Dave Conole had a one on one interview with the head of PR for Holden, Sean Poppit. This is part one of a two part story.

With Holden stopping manufacturing in Australia, what has been the process to wind down making cars up to the final day?
October 20 is the final day of production and we’ll continue building cars up until the final day and it will be full speed up until that point. Let’s say we’re doing 170 cars per day, we’ll stay at that figure right until the final day. Obviously that day won’t be a full production day and we’ll hold a private employee only ceremony at the plant to mark and honour our heritage and our people.
What is being done to support the workers across the factories?
At the plant in Adelaide we’ve got just under a thousand workers there. One of the things that has been ABSOLUTELY non-negotiable from us, right from the outset, have been what we call the transition services and the transition centres. Our HR and manufacturing teams have won several national, and in fact, global awards for the quality of that work.
We’ve got a full time transition centre set up at the Holden Vehicle Operations which is at our plant in Adelaide. We’ve fully decked out the bottom floor of one wing and that’s a dedicated, permanent , centre to assist people in getting new jobs or be retrained. We have independent people from many industries, government support including the military, people from the private sector like engineering groups…it’s been a benchmark piece of work and it’s something we’re justifiably and extremely proud of in the way it’s helped and continues to help people transition.
Up until this chat we’ve had an eighty percent success rate, meaning eighty percent of those that have left Holden since 2013 have found or gone onto new work, while that other twenty percent have either gone into full time study or chosen to retire. So it’s been an amazing success rate which I think is a testament to what we have in place to helping our people transition AND how eminently employable our people are.
That’s some really good news for the people involved, yes?
Absolutely. Not just in the north of Adelaide but in Adelaide itself Holden was seen as a job for life. It’s a great place to work, really fair pay, you get to work with a brand you are passionate about and get opportunities to move around the plant and do different roles. There’s lots of long term employees and we know it (the change) can be daunting to re-skill and re-train which really is the reason for being, these transition centres.
However there will still be roles for current employees, right, in places and roles such as Lang Lang or in research and development?
True. We’ll become a vehicle importer, engineering, and design centre and we’ll still have the second largest dealer network in the country. Our corporate HQ will remain here at Port Melbourne and there’ll still be our team of 150 designers as part of the international design studios and yes we’ll retain the Lang Lang proving ground (south east of Melbourne) and the 150 engineers on site there. What that means is there will be somewhere between 350 to 400 designers and engineers working on local and international products as well as the hundreds of people in the corporate side, sales, marketing etc.
With the new Commodore on the way, how does Holden see the vehicle being received?
We ran a drive day at the proving grounds earlier this year, with the next gen Commodore. We had the V6 and four cylinder version. We had a dozen Commodore customers there. I’ll be up front, we had a couple of them come up and question why they were there, saying yes they were keen to see the proving ground but didn’t have a lot of interest in a front drive Commodore.
(It’s here that Sean shared some quotes from those that attended.)
“I wouldn’t have considered this car, now I’d even consider the two litre, never mind the V6.”
“ I’m really surprised at how well it gets the power down, it feels quicker through the corners than expected.”
“The new Commodore is really impressive, I particularly like the V6 model with the all wheel drive, even the two wheel drive model is not bad and very quick with the turbo.”
It’s going to be on us to present the car in the right way, we don’t imagine for one second it’s going to have the same emotional and nostalgic appeal. Our sales numbers, we don’t expect it’ll sell in the same numbers the locally built car did. But what’s critical, and what was reinforced to us in a pilot program we ran recently…. what we want is for people to drive the car and understand that Holden magic, what made the Commodore so great, there’s a very, very big streak of it in this new car. Rob Tribbiani (Holden’s legendary chassis engineer and the driver of the Holden ute that set a record at the famed Nurburgring) is super excited about the all wheel drive V6 with the adaptive dampers and tricky real differential system, is a real belter. We just want the car to be driven and judged on its own merits.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Peugeot 3008 GT.

There have been times when a car maker undertakes a wholesale change to a vehicle and receives deafening silence. This is certainly not the case with Peugeot’s revamped 3008 range. How’s winning the European Car of the Year Award for 2017 sound? To find out if it is worth the fuss, Private Fleet goes one on one with the range topping Peugeot 3008 GT diesel.Clad in a pearl paint called Ultimate Red (a $1050 option), the 3008 GT comes with a 2.0L diesel and EAT6 (Efficient Automatic Transmission six speed) gearbox. The test vehicle starts at $49490 and was fitted with a strongly patterned leather seat trim ($2700), Electronic Tailgate (with foot operation) plus Panoramic Sunroof ($2500) for a RRP of $55740.

Sizewise it fits nicely into the mid sized SUV family. It’s a compact 4447 mm long, rides on a 2675 mm wheelbase, and has an overall width of just under 1900 mm. What this buys you is over 1450 mm of hip and shoulder room for the front seat passengers, and just a few mm less for the rear seats. There’s also plenty of leg room as well; what this all means for a buyer is an astonishing amount of comfort and freedom whilst being cosseted by the superbly padded and supportive seats. The pattern is, as one wag mentioned, the same as what you’d find being worn by a Game of Thrones character…not that that’s a bad thing.The front seats are heated and warm up quickly, but not quickly enough on a cold Sydney day. However, like so many leather seats, they’re not ventilated for cooling, and get somewhat sticky and uncomfortable on a warm day. That’s about the only negative on the seats as they look absolutely sensational with the thick quilted weave pattern and stitching. The front seats are, as you’d expect for a top of the tree model, electrically operated and have thigh extensions, and the second row seats are 60/40 split fold for the 591L/1670L rear cargo section.The office space is a wonderful place to be when it comes to driving the 3008 GT. The diesel pumps out a handy peak of 133 kilowatts at 3750 and an immensely useable 400 Nm of peak torque at 2000 rpm. Peugeot quotes a 0-100 kph time of 8.9 seconds, but the pucker-metre says quicker. Economy is quoted as 7.0L/100 km combined, with PF seeing closer to 8.0L/100 km in an urban oriented drive. The dry weight of the 3008 GT helps, being 1371 kilos. Compare that to a couple of direct competitors such as the CX-5 2.5L at 1565 kg or Hyundai’s Tucson 1.6L turbo, with 1683 kilos…There’s enough on tap to have, in spite of the electronic nanny systems cars have nowadays, a chirp from the front driven Continental ContiSportContact 235/50/19 rubber. Rolling acceleration is truly an experience and that 400 Nm really shows its mettle plus you’ll find yourself quickly on the high side of the legal limit if you’re not watching the numbers. The transmission, once it hooks up, is superb. It’ll grab the torque and power and shove that through the ratios to the driven wheels without a hiccup.

Note the caveat there: “once it hooks up”. The EAT6 gearbox exhibits the worst characteristics of a DCT (Dual Clutch Transmission) when cold and at idling speeds. There’s gaps between selecting Drive and Reverse when barely rolling, and a gap in actually engaging Drive from Reverse whilst in Reverse. It’s possibly the only part of the 3008, however, that doesn’t work that well. The gear selection lever itself is fighter jet inspired as there’s an electronic tab on the top to select Park and a separate tab for Reverse/Neutral/Drive via the right hand side of the lever.

Also noteworthy is that there was no AWD option available for the GT. The reason for this is surprisingly simple: market research indicated that the higher echelon models such as the GT would rarely, if ever, see anything other than tarmac, in opposition to the entry level models, which research indicated would be more likely for some soft-roading.It’s appropriate that Peugeot have used a jet style like gear selector, as the cabin itself for the front seat duo is deliberate in having a cockpit like feel (and it’s literally called the i-Cockpit) for the driver and a clear delineation between that and the passenger seat. The centre console rises nicely on the passenger side and sweeps upwards and around to the right towards the steering column. Along the way it houses a number of switches in two horizontal rows, marking one line out for the heated seats and front & rear window defrosting and the other specifically for the audio, navigation, Blutooth, apps and such.

The trim itself is a beautiful mix of alloy look plastic, subtly textured matt black plastic, and alcantara splitting the dash horizontally. The upper section has a leather like material and houses both the touchscreen and the driver’s display, a wonderfully engineered full colour LCD screen. There’s a roller dial on the steering wheel, (itself a work of art) which is set BELOW the screen and works well ergonomically by the way, that allows you to choose different preprogrammed looks to the screen. It’s elegant, classy, and simply gorgeous to look at. As is, by the way, the LED mood lighting and the wing mirror puddle lamp.There is a slight downside to all of this and unfortunately it’s front and centre visually. Where the touchscreen sits in the dash it looks rather like a super sharp knife has been used to cut out a slot and the screen’s been dropped in. No it doesn’t look all that good and detracts somewhat from the otherwise gentleman’s club atmosphere the cabin has. The touchscreen has a hidden attraction though. Poke it (gently) with three fingers and the embedded programming reads that as a “page back”. Another delight was the inclusion of digital radio, and it is a punchy, clear, well setup sound system.However, there’s plenty of other tech to play with such as the wireless charging plate in its own little nook directly underneath the tabs. You’ll also have lane departure warning, a 360 degree camera setup on board as well, providing an extra peace of mind and safety element, plus Active Safety Brake and Distance Alert System when using cruise control (and it flashes up on the driver’s screen when nosing up towards traffic ahead of you). The foot operrated tailgate is simple in concept. The idea is to wave your foot (either one, it’s not fussy) underneath the rear bumper where a sensor reads the movement and pops the door upwards. In practice it was finicky and not always successful.Transmission hiccups aside, the 3008 GT is, perhaps, the best riding mid sized SUV you can get. Imagine, if you will, those nineteen inch wheels and 50 series rubber being able to follow every bump and lump, every ripple and corrugation, every undulation, and transmit those through to you in the cabin BUT not make that ride unduly harsh or painful but rather a fluid, almost liquid, experience. The light weight helps in the agility stakes too, meaning there’s less mass to move in directional changes (and haul up under brakes). There’s little to no road noise transmitted to the passengers, but the feeling of control, of comfort, of being swept along on a magic carpet. The steering ratio is spot on, meaning there’s no wasted movement in the way the wheel turns and relates to the front wheels. It’s beautifully weighted and is neither over or under assisted.

Outside the 3008 has been given a complete makeover from the 3007. It’s still rounded and ovoid but now with a more angular, edgy appearance, especially at the front and in profile around the C pillar. There’s even subtle differences between the GT and the others in the range. Here you get a more prominent “claw” motif in the tail lights, which themselves stand proud of the sheetmetal. The rear quarter is now a slightly busy looking mix of lines and angles, with the D pillar or tail gate blacked out between the chrome hip line and alloy look roof like (part of the paint option pack).There’s a solid line of black polyurethane from the rear to front, wrapping the wheel arches but doesn’t cover the seam line of the body underneath the doors. The front is assertive, bluff and upright, with the “chin” an alloy look and the lower right extremity open to cool the radiators fitted behind. Even the LED headlights are angular with a strongly defined “shark fin” design element to broaden the visual appeal.Warranty wise Peugeot offers three years or 100000 kilometres which does lag behind competitors now offering five or even seven years. However the included roadside assist is ahead of the game by offering that as three years, not one. There’s even a specialised capped price servicing program in place here:Peugeot Capped Price Service Program

At The End Of The Drive.
There are those, unfortunately, that will swear on the grave of their grandmother’s budgie’s second cousin that SUVs still have no right to be on our roads and we should go back to station wagons if we want to move people around. The 3008 GT and its brethren stand up for those that say the SUV has a worthy place in the automotive market. Winning a COTY award and being the first ever SUV to do speaks volumes for what really is a sensational car. It’s a cracker drive, a great handler, and a bucketload of fun. Check it out for yourself here: 2018 Peugeot 3008

ACCC Industry Findings: A World of Shared Data

The ACCC recently released a series of findings pertaining to the Australian automotive industry. Among these findings were observations concerning the resolution of new car buyers’ complaints, fuel efficiency and emissions tests, as well as sharing manufacturer data with independent mechanics and body shops. While each of these topics is contentious in its own right, the last of these, shared vehicle data, should have relevance to just about every stakeholder in the industry.

Looking at the ACCC’s observations more closely, the consumer watchdog is advocating for repair and body shop members of the Motor Trades Association of Australia to receive current vehicle data from all manufacturers, so that they may also carry out work on vehicles.

These changes would obviously open up repair and services work to a wider market, thus reducing business for dealerships. Currently there is a voluntary arrangement in place, which has been limited in its success due to a lack of consistency and timeliness in sharing such info. As such, the ACCC is pushing for a mandatory arrangement. The provision of this digital data on a compulsory basis would not be without costs however, as receiving parties would be expected to pay for access to this information.

There is also scope in the recommendations for independent repair businesses to receive faster access to OEM parts. Again, on a commercial basis but with some provisions for restrictions based on security. The price of said parts is also flagged as an issue, with prices said to be rising and dealers able to leverage discounts. Although policy on all of the issues has not been addressed, public consultation has been earmarked as necessary.

Naturally, while public consultation is a fair and transparent process, the ACCC should be forthright in pushing what is a much needed agenda for change. For too long now new car buyers have been confined in their choices as a consumer with respect to servicing or repairing their vehicle. Even if there hasn’t been a formal restriction in place, motorists have felt compelled to take their vehicle back to a dealer for servicing.

In turn, this has led to motorists forking out a considerably greater deal to maintain their car than would otherwise be the case. They are in part wearing the cost of a lack of competition, while ultimately, dealerships have been able to recoup significant margins that were otherwise diminishing by way of lower retail car prices and record low interest rates. Also, what cannot be overlooked is the impact, from a safety perspective, this has had when consumers opt instead to refrain from repairing or servicing their vehicles as would be necessary.

On the other side of the equation, the consumer watchdog also views customer loyalty as hindered and points to the lack of a “level playing field” caused by the current state of affairs. For a healthy market to exist, it’s important that participants are all afforded opportunities to access the same customers. Of course, barring patents, IP or legal restrictions. These changes are just the beginning of facilitating reforms that will restore balance within the industry and better serve customers and mechanics.

 

Road Rage.

Road rage. Two words guaranteed to trigger responses, raise hackles, flush cheeks, cause divisions and have opinions. But what is road rage? Wikipedia provided a simple, unambiguous meaning: “Road rage is aggressive or angry behavior by a driver of an automobile or other road vehicle which includes rude gestures, verbal insults, physical threats or dangerous driving methods targeted toward another driver in an effort to intimidate or release frustration.”

In NSW we have seen a couple of high profile examples of road rage recently, however it’s a daily occurence for unknown numbers. What do we see? People speeding past; changing lanes with no signal; weaving dangerously across three and four lanes; passing too closely on either side of your car; speeding up to block you out; not allowing you to change lanes or merge on or off the highway; racing other drivers (i.e., two maniacs who think car-handling skills are better than they actually are); roaring up behind as if they might intentionally rear-end you; constant tailgating; horn honking; flashing high beams at your mirror when you are in “their” fast lane; finger flipping; screaming out the window; causing or creating accidents; pulling over to fight; or worse, kill the other driver.

Whom do we see doing it? Frankly, just about anyone. However it’s also no longer a gender specific issue, as Psychology Today (USA based) says: Women may not get into roadside fistfights or point guns at each other like men, but they can drive just as aggressively, rudely, and even dangerously.

Personal experience from my point of view does, sadly, back up the validity of the comment. Even more sadly, a good proportion of the drivers one could describe as driving badly are P platers, those that would have finished their training anywhere between a few days to three years before, with a slight leaning towards males being “assertive” on their driving styles.

But there’s so many things that constitute bad driving that inflame and raise the ire of other drivers. A number of surveys point, somewhat oddly, to drivers failing to indicate as a major heart rate raiser. I say oddly given the sheer amount of vehicles with “broken indicators”….There’s little doubt a favourite is the slow lane speeders, those that hold up other drivers at a velocity below the speed limit on a single lane yet somehow find the extra effort to keep pace or move forward of you when a lane for overtaking becomes available.

Another seeming favourite is the tailgater, with “braketesting” a close follower. Driver’s that’ll sit right on the rear of your car for no apparent reason, and especially when there’s no possibility of them overtaking on either side due to traffic numbers. The braketesters, the ones that slow suddenly and again for no apparent reason, are in there as a road rager.

A comment from a follower of a road safety and driver education social media page was: “Those that drive at night with just their DRLs (daytime driving lights) and forget that the tail lights don’t come on so you can’t see them. And when you flash your lights at them to try and get them to turn theirs on they become aggressive.”

But what of the reactions? One response was: “people are genuinely sick and tired of bad drivers when there’s no need for bad driving.” Is there a level of impatience with people that simply don’t seem to be able to do something that genuinely isn’t that hard?

We’d like to hear from you. Tell us your experiences of road rage and why you think it exists.

Jaguar Electrifies London With E-Pace.

Jaguar’s relentless onslaught with new models continues, with the forthcoming E-Pace giving an electrifying performance during its world premiere unveiling. Driven by professional stunt driver Terry Grant, the car was driven inside London’s ExCel building, one of a handful of venues big enough to accomodate the run up and structure that lead to the E-Pace being driven through a barrel roll. The incredible vision can be found here: Jaguar E-Pace barrel roll

E-Pace takes the Jaguar design philosophy of the “Art of Performance” to the next level with this world record setting drive. It also finalised over two years of testing across four continents to ensure the E-Pace would fit snugly into the Jaguar family.Powered almost exclusively by 2.0L diesels, with two different power outputs available at the top end from the 2.0L petrol engine, the E-Pace slots into the growing small SUV with an overall length of 4395 mm, stands 1649 mm tall, and will have a total width (including mirrors) of 2088 mm. The wheelbase will be 2681 mm, maximising interior room for the five seater vehicle. The differing power outputs will have the variants see 0-100 kph times from 10.1 seconds down to sub six seconds.

Jaguar’s also added some pretty handy tech. A 4G wireless system allows up to eight devices to connect, the TouchPro system on the 12.3 inch screen is packed with apps,  a Heads Up Display provides info and safety, torque vectoring and all wheel drive make for a great driving experience.

Jaguar also says: “Configurable Dynamics gives the driver even more control with individual settings for the throttle, automatic transmission, steering, and, where fitted, the Adaptive Dynamics suspension system. Adaptive Dynamics senses driver input, body and wheel movements and pre-emptively loads the suspension and chassis and adjusts the damping for improved roll control and agility in all conditions.

Pricing is currently slated to start from just under $50K plus on roads. Jaguar Australia will confirm pricing and specifications closer to launch.

Ford Mondeo Gets Freshened Up For 2017.

Ford Australia‘s large mid sizer, the Mondeo, gets a tickle for 2017, bringing fresh looks including a funky new colour, improved safety, and more tech. Let’s take a look at the car that saw a sales increase, year upon year, of 47% in 2016.

Profile.
The top of the ladder Titanium will be fitted with nineteen inch alloys, up from the eighteens fitted previously. They’ll be shod with Continental 235/40 rubber, providing a more sporting and assertive look to go along with the increaed ride and handling capabilities.
“An increase in wheel size provides Mondeo a sure-footed dynamic stance that matches the chassis’ outstanding roadholding,” said Todd Willing, the Ford Asia-Pacific Design Director. “The new wheels not only help the visual balance of Mondeo, but work in conjunction with the body’s elegant lines for a premium yet sporty appearance. It’s a slick combination.”

The Mondeo Trend also receives its own bold new five-spoke alloy, tuned to compliment the Mondeo’s highly praised dynamics. These fresh alloys are 18-inches in diameter, replacing the Mondeo Trend’s previous 17-inch versions, and are fitted with a lower profile tyre measuring 235/45 on 8.0-inch wide wheels.

Buyers of the Mondeo Ambiente aren’t left out of the Mondeo makeover, with the Ambiente hatch now fitted with 17-inch alloy wheels as standard, to match the Ambiente wagon. Previously, the Ambiente hatch used 16-inch alloy wheels, an inch smaller in diameter than the Ambiente wagon, and with the upgrade for the hatch comes with the benefit of a 20mm-wider tyre, measuring 235mm, for a greater overall footprint. Said Willing: “This means that the Ambiente hatch hits that sweet-spot of being even better looking, yet with a wider tread area, sees an increase in roadholding for improved safety and drivability. It’s win-win.”

Colour my world: Mondeo’s new hue
The 2017 Ford Mondeo also brings consumers a new colour choice, Metalicious. Bolstering the bold new alloy wheel combinations, the expansion of the Mondeo’s colour palette underlines the premium design language that envelops the craftsmanship and practicality for Australian consumers.

“The new shade, ‘Metalicious,’ is a warm tinted clear-coat silver with a high degree of colour flip and sophistication that accentuates the beautiful forms of Mondeo,” said Willing. It brings the array of Mondeo colours available to consumers to nine, providing a strong spectrum from athletic to elegant, flattering the Mondeo’s lines while matching individual lifestyles and tastes of Australian consumers.

SYNC® 3is standard across the 2017 Ford Mondeo range. “Our customers are connected outside their vehicles, and Ford SYNC® 3will help them stay better connected while continuing to drive with their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road,” said Graeme Whickman Ford Australia’s President and CEO, . “Our leading local R&D investment also helps us stay better connected to Australian consumer needs, including SYNC® 3’s voice-recognition technology that understands Australian accents.”

SYNC® 3– Ford’s communications and entertainment system – features faster performance, conversational voice recognition with Australian accent-specific calibration, intuitive smartphone-like touchscreen and easier-to-understand graphical interface.

With a focus on technology, safety, craftsmanship and design, the 2017 Ford Mondeo uses sophisticated materials and production techniques to deliver greater strength and improved safety with reduced weight and enhanced sustainability.

An industry-first application of hydro-formed High Strength Steel is used to produce the A-pillars, B-pillars, and roof rails. A magnesium inner tailgate structure for the four- and five-door models delivers a weight-saving of approximately 40 percent compared to a traditional steel equivalent.

The Mondeo body structure features 61 percent high strength steel. Bake-hardened steel is used in the roof structure to reduce weight by a further 0.5kg. Further structural developments include:

  • An anti-roll bar uniquely designed to limit transmission travel in a frontal impact, minimising steering rack movement
  • Sill rocker panels made of martensitic boron steel for improved side impact protection
  • Bumper crash cans optimised for energy absorption and harmonised with chassis rail characteristics
  • A flanged front cowl design that allows for flex under impact to increase energy absorption
  • An integrated rear underbody wheel-arch-to-rail connector that increases torsional stiffness by up to 25 percent compared with a traditional design.

Keep an eye on Ford Australia’s website