As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Japanese cars

2020 Nissan X-Trail Ti AWD: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s competent mid-sized entry, the X-Trail, into a very crowded SUV sector. It’s a six model range, with ST, ST-L, TS, N-Sport, Ti, and TL…which makes for a slightly confusing way of naming your product from bottom to top. We drive the second from the top Ti.
How Much Does It Cost?: As of mid September 2020 Nissan lists the ST as $28,990, the ST-L from $28,490, and the TS from $40,357. N-Sport starts from $42,876, Ti from $44,490 before topping out at $52,456 for the TL. These prices are drive-away. Premium paints are a $695 option.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 2.5L petrol engine for the Ti and TL. Otherwise, for models below, it’s a 2.0L petrol for the manual 2WD ST & TS or 2.0L diesel for all models bar ST-L. Power for the petrol 2.5L is 126kW and maximum torque is 226Nm and at 4,400rpm. Nissan quotes economy as 8.3L per 100 kilometres on a combined cycle. Fuel tank size is a standard 60L.
On the Outside It’s: A distinctively styled Nissan family SUV. Grab a picture of both the Qashqai and Pathfinder, enlarge and shrink to the same size as that of a X-Trail, and you’d be genuinely hard pressed at first glance to tell the difference. There’s that signature V grille and LED driving light design up front, the sine wave line from bow to stern, the nicely balanced proportions of bonnet to body, and the arrow-head line for the leading edge of the rear lights. Ti runs 225/55/19 alloys and rubber, with the tyres an all-weather pattern from Bridgestone’s Ecopia range.One of the issues we have with the X-Trail, and it’s by no means alone in this, is the location and size of the headlight indicator lamps. They’re tiny, and buried deep within the middle of the join between the lights and the running lights. There are flashing LEDs in the wing mirror covers however they’re not terribly bright nor easily seen from some angles.

Another niggle is the placement of the button to open the powered tailgate. Most companies logically and sensibly have a tab in the same recess as the number plate. Nissan opted for a separate, and lower in the door, placement. It means a person needs to bend more but also, because it’s not the logical place, more often than not the numberplate recess was reached for first.

On The Inside It’s: A tidier look than the very busy Pathfinder. The centre stack immediately pulls attention due to the far cleaner layout. Nissan include a CD player here and in the X-Trail it sits above the 8.0 inch touchscreen. There are tabs around the outside but underneath is only the aircon control cluster. Tidier it is but still perhaps a little fussy when looking for something quickly. The screen’s layout is dated, terribly dated, and needs an overhaul ASAP.

In contrast, the dash design is a gentle curve and separates driver from passenger nicely as each end runs smoothly into the door trims. The whole cabin ambience is cool without being understated.Audio is DAB equipped, and the usual smartapps apply. Oddly, Nissan have also included links to Google and facebook, and although we didn’t connect to them, we’d hope these only activate when parked. A nice touch in counterpoint was the separate heating circuit for the rear seat, a rare and welcome addition.Leg, head, and shoulder room is better than adequate for four, even with the full length glass roof, but typically a bit squeezy for the second row if looking to get five aboard. Behind the second row is a decent cargo bay with 565L available and increasing to 945L with the second row flattened.There’s are rain-sensing wipers, second row air vents and USBs, plus a 12V socket for the second row passengers.

On The Road It’s: Good enough for most people and this comes from a well sorted driveline combination. Although CVTs do feel as if they sap power and torque, the X-Trail’s pairing is one that doesn’t feel as draining as others. There’s plenty of get up and go, mid-range acceleration is quick enough, and unlike the Pathfinder, when the console mounted drive dial selects 4WD, there’s both a noticeable change and an indicator light on the dash shows 4WD is engaged. There’s the barest hint of torque steer in 2WD but in all wheel drive mode that disappears and there’s a proper sense of weight attached to the rear wheels.It’s a push button Start/Stop system in the Ti. Once the 2.5L is up and spinning, Drive is engaged by a short throw lever, there’s the faintest of clunks, and the accelerator sees the 1,562kg (dry) Ti get underway smoothly. The transmission has the typical CVT wavering at times and is at its best at freeway speeds. That goes for the suspension which is beautifully tuned for more comfort that sporting in the handling, yet and be driven hard without qualms. It damps nicely, initial compliance runs into somewhere between taut and giving, and rarely felt unsettled. Speed-sensitive steering worked the same; there’s lightness when needed, heft when required, and made parking a doddle.

An unexpected feature is the Intelligent Engine Braking system. Downhill runs and the CVT acts as a brake, finding a gear and holding it to ensure no unwanted acceleration. A blip of the throttle overcomes it easily however it mostly needs no human intervention.

What About Safety?: Plenty to like, as expected. Forward Collision Warning and AEB with pedestrian detection but not cyclist. Blind Spot Alert, Rear Cross Traffic, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Park Assist sensors make the Ti a pretty safe bet.

What About Warranty And Service?: Standard five years and unlimited ks, roadside assist for 24/7 for5 years. Servicing is capped price for the first six and prices can be found by using your vehicle’s VIN.

At The End Of the Drive. The 2020 Nissan X-Trail Ti delivers by doing exactly what is asked of it and doing so without raising an eyebrow. It drives well enough, handles well enough, it’s not unattractive and has a high level of safety. Downlights are the tawdry touchscreen look and those almost invisible indicator flashers in the front. And in Ti spec, it’s not an outrageous hit to the bank balance for what is delivered. Head here to find out more.

 

2020 Nissan Juke ST: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: A substantially changed Nissan Juke. It’s the second model Australia has seen and the first wasn’t received with open arms due to its controversial styling. It’s still not pretty but in the greater context, it is a far better looking vehicle. There are four trim levels: ST (tested), ST+, ST-L, and the top of the range Ti.How Much Does It Cost?: Nissan’s website lists the range as starting from $30,490 drive-away for the ST. The range tops out at $39,490 drive-away.

Under The Bonnet Is: A three cylinder petrol engine with a turbo. Thankfully. Peak torque of 180Nm comes in at 2,400rpm and that’s barely enough to spin the seven speed dual clutch transmission. peak power is double figures at 84kW. In comparison Kia’s Picanto GT-Line has 172Nm but that’s available from 1,500rpm to 4,000rpm. The fuel tank is a decent 46.0L and economy, says Nissan, is 5.8L/100km on the combined cycle and given we’ve been seeing 6.8L/100km on our 70/30 urban/highway sprint, that seems spot on. Dry weight is 1,251kg.On The Outside It’s: A distinctively different vehicle for the second time round compared to version 1. The profile has a similar stance, with a steeply raked rear window line and hidden rear door handles, but it’s the front that has copped the biggest makeover. The distinctive mid-set headlights have been revised to reduce their prominence, and the formerly high-set driving lights that rode the fender’s ridge have been brought down to engage the top of the V grille for a far better integrated look. The rear loses the ovoid and bloated V shaped lights and now have a slimmer, more integrated, look. They’re sharper, have restyled interior designs, and go closer to matching the restyled front.On The Inside It’s: A comfortable place to be for an entry level vehicle. It’s a key start, for, umm, starters, with manual seats and no heating or venting naturally. They do have a surprising amount of lateral support and have adjustable lumbar support too. There is no DAB audio via the 8.0 inch touchscreen which again doesn’t default from the warning screen at all. It does have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.The aircon is a bit off, as the lowest fan speed is sometimes too much in flowing air, and sometimes the coolest setting of the rotary dial is warm air, even when using the slightly redundant non-recirculating air tab. By slightly redundant, one tab to have recirculate on or off should suffice. The centre vents are three, a little unusual in count, and sit in a nicely hued grey plastic. This extends to the storage locker free centre console, which does, at least, house a pair of cup holders. At the dashboard end is a USB and 12V port pairing.

For the driver there is a colour info screen, accessed via tabs on the tiller’s left spoke. It’s friendly to both use and look at. Either side are standard looking analogue dials. It’s the same for the central dash controls; radio and aircon are dials and aside from the airflow, work as they should.Cargo space is decent enough with a lowish lip and a floor that’s under the lip itself. This isn’t terribly common for the class of vehicle as most have either a floor close to the load lip or level with it, so here it’s a pleasant change to be able to drop things down.

It’s the same with the seating and room. There’s good head, shoulder, and leg room for pretty much anyone that doesn’t play football or basketball. Leaving aside the lack of a centre console bin, there was rarely any sense of the front passengers rubbing elbows, and the rear pews, suitable for two people really, delivered no sounds of protest in regards to feeling cramped.On The Road It’s: Jeckyll and Hyde. The engine and DCT combination is abysmal. The DCT is problematic at best, with gaps that the Grand Canyon would think are huge when it comes to swapping between park, Drive, reverse. The time to re-engage is measured by calendars, not seconds. the problem is exacerbated by the time it takes for any torque to arrive on the scene when the accelerator is pressed at a Stop sign, for example. A driver could say “Beetlejuice Beetlejuice Beetlejuice” quicker than it takes for forward momentum to commence.

Once the Juke is underway and there is that characteristic three cylinder thrum, a wonderfully benign chassis is displayed. There’s a proper heft to the steering, good communication from the front wheels, almost agreeable braking feedback as well. It’s almost as if there were two different personalities for the Juke… The chassis dynamics aren’t the best in class but there isn’t a lot to dislike either. It’s decently composed in normal driving situations, with only the bigger and closer irregularities making the Juke feel uncertain on all four corners. Bump thump on speed reducers were noticeable more for the upper end of the suspension feeling softer otherwise the ride quality is of a pleasing enough level.

The best way to get the Juke rolling is with a egg-sensitive squeeze of the throttle. This tends to clamp the clutches together in a smoother manner and allows the progression of the go-pedal to engage the engine in a quicker manner. Coming into traffic from an intersection is where this method worked best, as once the car had some forward movement a harder press saw revs climb and take hold of those 180 torques. Rolling acceleration was much the same. There are two paddle son the steering column and these made a marginal improvement to how the driveline did its thing.The brakes are drum and disc, however the benefit of the Juke’s comparatively light-weight mass overcomes the ancient design of the drums. There was noticeable hints of the system feeling overwhelmed at times, with the ABS on the verge of intruding before deciding to sit back down.

A minor niggle was the Auto Stop/Start. On pickup, a fault light was displayed and using the tab to engage & disengage the feature did not remove it. However, later in the day, the system appeared to have reset as it didn’t show again.

What About Safety?: Juke in ST trim has six airbags, plus what Nissan term “Intelligent Emergency Braking” with Pedestrian and Cyclist detection. That’s elsewhere known as Autonomous Emergency Braking….Forward Collision Alert, reverse camera, Lane Departure and Blind Spot warnings are standard, as is Rear Cross Traffic Alert and rear parking sensors.

What About Warranty And Service?: Nissan offer all vehicle five years worth of 24/7 roadside assistance. That’s a good sweetener to start with. Then five years and unlimited kilometres carry the nice further. servicing costs will vary depending on vehicle however Nissan’s website has a link to allow owners to enter their VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to provide a more concise pricing idea for the six capped price services.

At The End Of The Drive. The Juke ST suffers mostly from an under-torque delivering engine and a gearbox better suited elsewhere. Our final economy figure was still 6.8L/100km and we couldn’t help but feel that a more conventional transmission or, lawd help us, a CVT, would be better suited for the tiny 1.0L. Aside form that, it’s a decently enjoyable drive, with good handling and ride. It’s roomy enough inside for four and has the features the “younger people” would enjoy with the apps for connectivity.

Check out the Juke ST from Nissan for yourself here.

2020 Nissan Pathfinder ST-L N-Trek: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Nissan’s Pathfinder with the extra N-Trek equipment list. It adds some visual pizazz to the ST and ST-L specification which are two or all-wheel drive, with ours being the AWD ST-L version.

What Does It Cost?: In standard trim, and in V6 all wheel drive form, the Nissan website lists the standard ST-L V6 AWD spec at $64,111 drive-away. Nissan confirms the price as of September as $59,140 (recommended retail plus on road costs) and the N-Trek as $60,640 (recommended retail plus ORC) for the AWD. Opt for the 2WD version and it’s $55,640 (RRP plus ORC) for the standard and $57,140 (RRP plus ORC) for the N-Trek spec. Check with your dealer for your prices due to differing state charges.Under The Bonnet Is: Nissan’s well proven 3.5L V6 that drinks petrol at a quoted figure of 10.1L/100km on the combined cycle. With 202kW (6,400rpm) and 340Nm of torque on tap at 4,800 driving a CVT and an on-demand AWD system, we saw 12.3L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway drive cycle. The drive system is selectable too, with Auto, a lock for 4×4, or 2WD. Left in Auto it drives the front wheels and splits to the rear as required.On The Outside It’s: Here that the N-Trek specification lies. Our vehicle was in Ivory Pearl, with Caspian Blue, Gun Metallic, Redstone, Brilliant Silver, and Diamond Black the colour options at no extra cost. N-Spec adds blackouts to the body, with a black V-grille, roof rails, door handles, mirror covers, and front and rear garnishes. The alloys are machined and black painted, and 18 inches in diameter. Continental supplies the 255/60 rubber from their CrossContact LX Sport range.

Nissan changed the exterior look some years ago, moving to a more organic looking style, which does a great job of visually minimising the big 5,042mm length. It’s tall and broad too, at 1,793mm and 1,963mm. The rear lights have a hint of Subaru’s older Liberty/Outback wagon, with a distinctive forward pointing V. Up front there’s a somewhat heavy look, with a alloy hued chin splitting the black plastic that runs from front to rear.On The Inside It’s: Showing its age in a couple of key areas. The dash colours and button layouts, plus a smallish 8.0 inch touchscreen look with no visual engagement. There is no DAB, no Android Auto, no Apple CarPlay, no smartphone charge pad. The touchscreen has the standard driver alert safety message but requires a press of the OK section to access the audio or map etc. It doesn’t automatically disengage at all, irrespective of how long it’s left.However, standard leather seats with two-step heating up front, multi-position and lumbar support electrically for the driver, tilt & fold and slide centre row, and pull-strap third row seats go someway to redressing those missing features. Centre row aircon helps for those behind the front seats, and plenty of glass to the sides plus two separate glass roof inserts provide plenty of airy sensation. The second row seats have two levers to provide a fold and slide for a completely flat load area of 2,260 litres from a start point of 461L. That centre row also feels higher than the front.The main control section on the dash is where the Pathfinder’s age is apparent; it’s busy with far too many buttons to take in at a glance. When the Pathfinder powers up and the OK button is pressed, the touchscreen’s default look is a map, and it’s something probably once seen in road map books.

The driver’s info screen is better, if not quite intuitively linked to the tabs on the steering wheel. A small recessed and not especially colourful screen shows the drive mode, economy, driver and car settings etc, but a rocker tab on the tiller that one would reasonably expect to move info around is actually the station selector for the radio.Nissan, though, have hidden away a surprise or two. The touchscreen has an apps button, and this takes you through to driver oriented info such as a G-meter, fuel flow and consumption, compass and steering orientation. It’s an odd thing given what is missing, but no less odd than having a 13 speaker premium soundsystem but no digital audio…

A CD player is fitted for those that do like their digital sounds and Bluetooth phone connection with voice recognition add some extra tech. Four 12V sockets are onboard, with three up front. The centre row faces the third zone aircon controls and a pair of USB ports.Forward vision is very good except for the 10 and 2 from the driver’s seat. The A-pillars are on the thick side and provide a blind spot that on some intersections blanked off traffic.

On The Road It’s: A rolling definition of a mixed bag. The V6 is a free revver and when spun in anger emits a decently rorty tune. The CVT is never truly terrible but there’s a sense it holds back the engine’s willingness. Off the line acceleration is ok in the sense that ok is quick enough but could be better. Underway it purrs along quietly and the CVT is geared to see under 2,000rpm at highway speeds. The ratio changes are noticeable but not excessive in their obtrusiveness to the way the Pathfinder feels whilst underway, and the CVT kicks down readily when required. There’s no manual shift option but a Sport mode, via a press button on the drive lever, is available. For the most part it’s superfluous.There’s a truly odd sense to the way the steering feels too. There’s an underlying sense of weight from torque steer, especially at parking speeds, but the steering is in need of constant attention, requiring hands-on 100% of the time. This brings, then, a sense of lightness in a truly odd contrast to that torque-steer heft. For all that, it’s by no means a hard car to steer.

Ride quality hovers somewhere around good; it’s supple enough, reasonably well tied down, but does exhibit some float at the top end of the suspension travel. It stands out by doing what it’s supposed to do but it does lack that sharpness, that crispness, as found in its competition.Most road surfaces are levelled out, sketchy surfaces tend not to duly trouble it. Perhaps some of that lack of sharpness is down to the near two tonnes (dry) mass the multi-link rear and strut front suspension deals with. By the way, it’s not intended to be anything other than a gentle soft-roader, with just 180mm of clearance underneath.

What About Safety?: There is a 360 degree camera system, for starters, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Cruise Control, and six airbags. Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Tyre Pressure Monitoring are also standard. Just in case, there is also second and third row occupant warnings and reminders. Rear sensors are standard, yet no front sensors are fitted.

What About Service And Warranty?: Five years, unlimited kilometres, and capped price servicing. It’s a 12 month or 10,000 kilometre cycle, with costs being $290 for the first service, $309 for the next, $458 for the third, $367 for the fourth, $314 for the fifth and $502 for the sixth.

At The End Of The Drive. The extra visuals from adding N-Trek aren’t quite enough to overcome the age of the Pathfinder, with the cluttered dash and lack of now commonly accepted features (smartapps, front sensors, for example) adding to the ticks lost collection. On the plus side is the reasonably neutral ride, the flexibility of the seating, and the seven seats themselves. It’s absolutely a family oriented, and family friendly, machine, but an update to bring it closer to its immediate competition. That’s longhand for “needs to get closer to the Koreans”.

Otherwise there are a few from Europe and a couple from Japan that can be compared, both favourably and non. From our point of view, the Pathfinder isn’t quite the winner but it’s not quite the loser. Drive one yourself at your Nissan dealership and check out the ST-L here.

October Releases For Mazda BT-50 & BMW 4 Series.

Mazda’s completely overhauled their BT-50 ute and announced that sales will commence from October of 2020. Gone is the sharp and angular nose that featured and replaced with the family look that covers the brand’s SUVs. Mazda’s designers embody their vehicles with a language they call “Kodo” and this is now on the BT-50.

This features a three dimensional wing styling when viewed from the front, and there are striking

crease lines that sweep from the grille and headlights through to the wing mirrors. From the top, a line runs directly through the centre from nose to tail. The restyled bonnet covers a 3.0L diesel with 140kW and 450Nm of torque. Better economy comes from a weight reduction regime, whilst that torque enables a 3.5 tonne towing capacity and a payload of over a tonne.

Head inside and the cabin also has been refreshed, with a more family oriented feel for this commercially aimed vehicle. The seats have a higher level of support, crucial given the 4×4 capability of the BT-50, and the steering column is now telescopic as well for extra versatility. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now feature in the enlarged touchscreen. Safety features have improved too, with Adaptive Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert as standard.

Colour choices now include Gunblue Mica and Concrete Grey Mica. The blue has a deep lustre in some areas that contrast with lighter shades in the light, with the grey giving an industrial feel.

Pricing has yet to be confirmed.

October also sees BMW’s new 4 Series coupe ready for showrooms. It’s been stretched in three dimensions, had the suspension reviewed and revised, and is also slipperier through the air than the previous model.

Behind the restyled nostril grilles lie a pair of torquey 2.0L four cylinder petrol engines for the 420i and 430i models, delivering 135kW/300Nm and 190kW/400Nm respectively, and a six cylinder unit for the M440i xDrive that develops 285kW/500Nm. Transmission is an eight speed Steptronic.

Dimensional changes see the 4 Series Coupe lengthen by 130 millimetres and width increase by 27mm, and wheelbase has gone out to 41mm, to see a total length of 4,768mm, width of 1,852mm and a wheelbase of 2,851mm.

The interior has been revamped with a M-Leather steering wheel, acoustic glass for the windscreen, and a twin-screen layout for the driver and infotainment. This is the BMW Live Cockpit Professional, with a 10.25 inch control screen and a 12.3 inch driver’s display screen. A 4G SIM card allows for on-the-go access to the BMW Connected Package Professional. This allows the usage of digital services such as the BMW TeleServices and Intelligent Emergency Call,plus provides Real Time Traffic Information with hazard warning, Remote Services and Concierge Services. BMW have engineered in genuine flexibility here, with controls for the information activated via (and depending on the respective content) the iDrive controller, steering wheel buttons, voice control or BMW’s innovative gesture control.

Underneath the 4 Series lies, as standard, the standard M Sport suspension. Specifically for the 4 Series their is specially tuned lift related dampers. The Adaptive M Suspension can specified as part of an option pack.

Pricing starts from $70,900 (manufacturer’s recommended list price) for the 420i, $88,900 for the 430i, and a hefty $116,900 for the top of the range M440i xDrive

Honda CR-V Gets Ready For 2021.

Honda Australia is set to give their popular CR-V SUV range a major boost. The 2021 MY is on the way and has new styling, upgraded equipment, and extra features including Honda Sensing as standard on all variants powered by the 1.5-litre VTEC Turbo engine. The range will be mainly a five seater with two seven seaters available.The range will see upgrades such as a hands-free tailgate, wireless smartphone charge pads in some models, whilst dual zone aircon and smart-apps inside a 7.0 inch touchscreen will be standard.

Honda Sensing is the name given to the safety and driver-assist package, and it will be standard for all but the Vi, covering the two seven seat versions as well. “The inclusion of Honda Sensing as standard equipment on all CR-V grades with the 1.5-litre turbo engine, represents another step in our plan to introduce the latest intelligent driver-assist and active safety technologies right across the Honda vehicle range,” said Honda Australia Director, Mr. Stephen Collins. “By early next year, almost 70 per cent of our vehicles will feature Honda Sensing, reflecting our ongoing commitment to support the safe and comfortable driving of our customers.”Thew forthcoming CR-V brings a new method of naming the range. Honda says it will help new customers and returning clients follow the differences in model trim. The T denotes the model with a turbo engine (in essence, all but the entry level) with the new grade names for the updated CR-V range are based around the “V”: Vi, VTi, VTi X, VTi L AWD, and VTi LX AWD. These will be in a five seater configuration, with two seven seaters named VTi 7 and VTi L7.

The changes outside bring, says Honda, “a more upscale and distinctive presence”. The bumpers have been redesigned and have different accents in silver or grey depending on the model. The grille is blacked out, and the rear light lenses have been tinted for a classier look. VTi X, VTi L AWD and VTi 7 seater will have a new 18 inch alloy and the VTi LX AWD has a bespoke 19 inch in a light grey. Colourwise two new paints have been added, with a metallic Cosmic Blue and the hero colour Ignite Red. These are in addition to the existing Platinum White pearlescent, Lunar Silver metallic, Brilliant Sporty Blue metallic, Modern Steel metallic and Crystal Black pearlescent with all pearl and metallics available as a no-cost option.

For the organic components of the CR-V, they’ll have a redesigned centre console with better storage capacity and easier access to the USB ports. The VTi L7 and LX AWD will receive the charge pads. Leather trimmed seats will grace the VTi L AWD and will also be heated and power adjustable.Pricing is competitive considering the range of models. The Vi starts off at $30,490 and has a 2.0L VTEC non-turbo engine. The VTi starts the 1.5L VTEC turbo availability and has a MLP (Manufacturer’s List Price) of $33,490. The VTi 7 starts from $35,490, with the VTi X just $500 more. VTi L AWD starts from $40,490, and the VTiL 7 $43,490. The AWD VTi LX starts from $47,490.

The ETA for the 2021 CR-V is from September onwards.

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.

Nissan Ariya: A New Charge For 2021

Nissan is on the move, charging forward. They’ve unveiled a new electric SUV and a new logo. The sleek looking Ariya is a completely electric vehicle and Nissan says the release is part of the brand’s change: enriching people’s lives. There is a renewed vigour in the Japanese company, one that recognises that the stagnation it experienced needs to go, so a second look at the company and its strengths has been performed and both battery and SUV will be part of the language.Nissan’s CEO, Makoto Uchida confirms, with: “Combining our strengths in EVs and crossovers, it’s a showcase for Nissan’s new era of excitement and design. “We created the Nissan Ariya as an answer to the aspirations and practical needs of today’s customers.” The plan is to roll out in the next 18 months a dozen new models, and aim for a mix of EV and “e-Power” models to hit one million sales by 2023, plus bring in Nissan’s own autonomous driving tech throughout 20 countries. This backs up part of the company’s renewed look at servicing its customer base by providing the new technology in areas such as electrified cars and self-driving vehicles.Launched as a centrepiece of a digital presentation from Yokohama, the Ariya will put front and forward the restyled Nissan logo. It’s a not quite subtle yet not quite extravagant change, with links to the now former circle and cross centre label brought into a future focused design. Uchida-san said: “It defines what matters to Nissan, represents what we stand for, and embodies the essence of who we are: a passionate, innovative challenger.”With a key characteristic of fully electric vehicles being that instantaneous delivery of torque, the Ariya instantly promises easy driveability, sporting manners, and a choice for the budget. Both two and all wheel drive, called e-4orce in Nissan’s terminology, will be available, along with a pair of battery sizes at 65kWh and 90kWh. In the Ariya e-4orce, each end will have its own separate motor, a configuration that’s becoming more and more common for EVs. By providing twin motors, an EV can be better balanced for driving in areas such as torque vectoring, and handle more driving conditions such as heavily wet tarmac.

Power as such is rated as 160kW and 178kW for the Ariya 2WD’s battery pairs, with the e-4orce proffering 250kW and 290kW. the 2WD torque figures level at 300Nm whilst the all wheel drive will have 560Nm and 600NM. This will enable the two drivetrains to see 100kmh in 7.5 seconds or either 5.4 or 5.1 seconds. Top speed will see a v-max of 160kmh or 200kmh. The range expectations are currently seen as “up to” 450km or 600km for the 2WD, and 430km or 580km for the e-4orce. These are subject to verification and Japanese government sign off.And by placing the battery into the floor structure, more space is unlocked, adding even more comfort for passengers. Electric tech has extra advantages for the driver. Nissan’s ProPILOT 2.0 is their proprietary advanced driver assistance system, and brings in the ProPILOT Remote Park and e-Pedal features. Ariya will feature as standard the Safety Shield system that includes Intelligent Emergency Park, Intelligent All Around View Monitor, and Intelligent Forawrd Collision Warning. There will also be Rear Automatic Emergency Braking technology.

A form of AI in the human-machine interface allows for passengers to use a natural speaking voice for interaction with the Ariya’s on-board settings change facilities, whilst updates for software will be the ever increasing “over the air” service. Nissan’s also signed an agreement with Amazon for the Alexa voice interface to be used.The Ariya is a proper mid-sizer at 4,595mm in length and packing a wheelbase of 2,775mm. Width is 1,850mm and height a trim 1,655mm. Depending on model weight is said to be either 1,900kg or 2,200kg. Aero alloy wheels will be wrapped in 235/55/19 rubber as standard or can be optioned to be 255/45/20.

At the time of the release news, the Ariya will only be available in Europe, North America and China by the end of 2021.

Nissan Pioneers Alternate Charging With EVs In Australia.

In an Australian first, road to vehicle charging for electric vehicles (EV) has arrived and it’s courtesy of Nissan. The shorthand is V2G, or Vehicle 2 Grid, and it’s a project that Nissan’s support of the Realising Electric Vehicle Services (REVS) project has helped bring to realisation. The project is built around 51 vehicles to be based in the Australian Capital Territory, and they’ll be part of the territory’s government fleet in a trial to measure the Leaf’s bi-directional charging ability by providing power back to an energy grid.

This will bring an energy measurement system to the fore. Known as Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS), it refers to the level of energy that’s required to optimise a power grid when demand fluctuates. The Leaf comes into play, as the world’s only factory built V2G vehicle which makes the car a potential total energy solution, by ensuring the batteries don’t just store power for driving, but can also use that energy to run a home or commercial site, or to feed power back to the grid. The trial will also evaluate the ability of the Leaf to work with the base load stabilisation in both off-peak and peak. By reducing or negating that instability, it could lead to a process to eradicate blackouts from that instability.

This trial has also been backed by ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) as part of its Advancing Renewables Program. with battery technology for high load applications improving constantly, this forward looking trial envisions a future where the battery in an EV can become a household energy solution. Like a household oriented battery, the Leaf’s 40kWh battery could assist a house by storing solar provided energy during the day and release that at night, bringing the focus to an eye on zero-cost mobility and zero-cost home energy. In that same focus is remote power access at work or elsewhere that can then be transferred to a household when the vehicle returns to a home environment. It’s then theoretically possible to have a positive offset to a household energy bill.

“As the brand with the only V2G-capable vehicle from factory on the Australian market today, we are exceptionally proud to support this project, and to introduce this technology to Australia,” says Nissan Australia Managing Director, Stephen Lester. “The Nissan LEAF not only offers an exciting EV driving experience, it goes so much further by integrating into the energy system. Nissan has been a global leader in this space, with several successful trials conducted in overseas markets, realizing it in Australia is an important milestone.”The REVS project brings together a consortium of academic, transport and electricity-system partners to deploy the V2G service, including ActewAGL, the Australian National University (ANU), JET Charge, Evoenergy, SG Fleet and Nissan.

 

(Pictures and info courtesy of Nissan Australia.)

Mazda Launches Their First Hybrids

Mazda Australia has recently provided details of their new Skyactiv-X M-Hybrid powertrain. It will be available in August with the Mazda3 (the 2020 World Design Car of the Year) and in the CX-30 from September, with that car also a finalist in the WCOTY. It will, for the moment, be available only in the top of the range Astina, dubbed X20, for each trim level. Pricing for the Mazda3 X20 Astina starts from $40,590 with it being available in both manual and auto, and the CX-30 X20 Astina starts from $46,490. Both are before dealer delivery and government charges at the time of writing.

SkyActiv hybrid 1

The powerplant is a continuation of Mazda’s search to improve power, torque, and fuel consumption. The new engine is the world’s first mass production unit that combines compression ignition like a diesel, the torque of a diesel, and the free revving ability of a petrol nature.

Mazda has developed a proprietary ignition system. It’s called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition, or SPCCI. The engine can fire via a compression or traditional spark ignition. This is how Mazda says it works: “In SPCCI mode, a split injection process creates separate zones of fuel-air mixture inside the combustion chamber. First, a very lean fuel to air mixture is injected into the combustion chamber during the intake stroke, then a zone of atomised fuel is precisely injected directly around the spark plug during the compression stroke. The small injection of atomised fuel directly around the spark plug builds a richer core. When the spark fires, it ignites this core of fuel and air. This increases pressure in the combustion chamber to the point where the lean mixture rapidly combusts.”

SkyActiv Hybrid 2

Vinesh Bhindi, the managing director of Mazda Australia is excited by the new engine. “With every customer’s circumstances being unique, we need to offer a variety of ways to reduce vehicle emissions to suit individual needs and lifestyles. Skyactiv-X offers customers a lower emission engine option, while retaining the same joy of driving that Mazda vehicles have always offered.”

Contact your local Mazda dealer for more details.

(Pictures courtesy of Mazda)