As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Japanese cars

2020 Toyota Kluger Revealed.

Toyota has released details of the forthcoming Kluger. It stays with a petrol engine, doesn’t add a diesel, but does go to a hybrid drivetrain. The petrol V6 engine, at 3.5L and recently updated to provide 220kW, will be bolted to an eight-speed auto while the hybrid benefits from a new generation 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine matched to a hybrid powertrain.

This is shared with the current Camry range. A torque split system in the all wheel drive versions will have a mainly front drive bias, but can send up to 50% of torque to the rear as required. A torque vectoring system will add extra agility, with splits between left and right as well as front to rear.Overall, the Kluger looks familiar but is virtually a new design from the ground up. It’s slipperier which means wind and road noise should be lowered, plus a more aerodynamic shape should add extra kilometres of range per litre of fuel. The design is part of the Toyota New Generation global Architecture, or TNGA.

It will be longer by 60mm than the soon to be superseded model, allowing better access to the second and third row seats, and increasing room all around. This includes an extra 30mm slide length for the second row seats. There will be plenty of safety tech on board to protect the occupants as well.Autonomous emergency braking, radar cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, blind spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert and speed-sign recognition are expected to be standard equipment. Also expected is a 12.3 inch touchscreen, and it’s fair to expect that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay will be embedded. Outside is a slimmer, more streamlined body and will roll on 20 inch wheels for the first time.

Released at the 2019 New York Motor Show, details of on-sale date and price for Australia are yet to be confirmed.

 

 

Car Review: 2019 Suzuki Vitara AllGrip Turbo

This Car Review Is About: The revamped for 2019 Suzuki Vitara range, specifically the 1.4L Boosterjet AllGrip. It sits at the top of a tidied up three tier range. There is a choice of a 1.6L normally aspirated engine, a 1.4L 2WD, or the AllGrip as tested. The range starts at a decent $22,490 plus ORC, the turbo 2WD is $29,990, and the AllGrip is $33,990. Options and metallic paint are separate costs items, at $500 for metallic and $1,250 for the two tone choice. There are eight choices available and the test car was in Atlantis Turquoise Pearl with Metallic Black roof. The naming structure has also been revamped to reflect, simply, that it’s a Vitara, Vitara Turbo, and Vitara AllGrip.Under The Bonnet Is: 103kW and 220Nm. The torque is available from 1500rpm through to 4000rpm. Transmission in the AllGrip is a six speed auto only. A slightly different version is available for the 2WD and you can spec a five speed manual for the 1.6L. The turbo drinks 95RON from a 47L tank and is rated as 6.2L/100km on a combined cycle. It’s attached to a dial that brings up Auto, Snow, Sport, and Lock, for those times where more torque for the rear wheels is required. And there is no longer a diesel. Suzuki rates the gross vehicle mass, GVM, as 1,730kg.

On The Inside Is: A slightly made over interior. The most notable change is to the driver’s display. There is a full colour 4.3 inch screen, and this shows the drive modes in high definition. It’s beautiful to read and very easy on the eye. The AllGrip gets a G-force meter, a kilowatt and Nm pair of of circular graphs, a bar graph for brake and accelerator. The drive modes themselves are available via a centre mounted dial. The newly recovered for a soft touch binnacle itself has two push stalks, located at the ten and two o’clock positions on the silvery toned dials and a little hard to find otherwise. Aircon is dial controlled and Suzuki looks towards Lexus by adding a small but classy looking analogue clock that sits between the two centre mounted vents.Seats are manually operated in the AllGrip, and really should be powered here. Trim was a black diamond cloth with leather bolstered sides, and were super comfortable. The normal plastics on the dash and doors didn’t appeal or seem as being of the quality to look at and touch in a top level vehicle but a light gunmetal insert that runs full width does add a splash of colour.Front leg room for the driver and passenger were more than adequate, rear seats had plenty for people to a certain (teenaged) size and have privacy glass too. ISOFIX child seat mounts are standard, and the cargo area is adequate without being overwhelming in a small SUV. It starts at 375L, and maxes at 1,120L. The tail gate is manually operated. The roof in the review car had a full glass roof and light coloured cloth sun shield, however there was still plenty of heat getting through to the cabin.

Although a top line vehicle, only the driver’s window gets Auto up/down, however it does get auto wipers and auto headlights over the 1.6L model. Cruise control, Bluetooth streaming, satnav, paddle shifts for the auto, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard via Suzuki’s cool looking seven inch display touchscreen and there is a USB/12V socket up front. However there is no DAB tuner.On The Outside Is: A lightly revamped body. The main external change has been to the tail lights. They now have a three bar LED lit interior. 17 inch graphite coloured alloys are standard across the range, and rubber is again from Continental at 215/55. The lower front bar has been lightly reprofiled and has the addition of chrome blades around the driving lights and running horizontally across the lower part of the air intake. LEDs now power the headlights in the AllGrip. The former horizontal bars in the grille have been ditched and now refelct the five bar verticals Suzuki is known for. Parking sensors front and rear plus a reverse camera finish off the externals.

On The Road It’s: A little twitchy in the steering. The weight tends towards the light side and took a day or so to come to grips with the feedback level. Ride quality was also a touch twitchy, with the rebound rates on rougher tarmac quicker than expected. The compact size of the Vitara contributes somewhat to the edgy feel; at 4,175mm in length it packs a 2,500mm wheelbase and and rides on a 1,535mm track. This means irregular surfaces will impact more on a compact footprint than bigger vehicles.

The turbo’s torque spread is the standout here. Although the auto was occasionally indecisive when cold, better when warmed up, the engine was on song from the press of the Start/Stop button. It’s better than flexible for the size of the Vitara but would struggle in anything bigger. Acceleration is around eight seconds to see the century mark and is flexible enough to deal with around town without a quibble.Highway manners are acceptable. It rolls along quietly and without fuss, but when required will spring out of its torpor and boot the AllGrip past slower traffic without question. We also had a chance to test the Vitara at the Werribee 4×4 proving grounds, and its soft-road credibility remains untarnished. The 4×4 mode works in pulling the pugnacious little machine through a flowing creek, through and over mud and muddy puddles, and up and down slopes of up to thirty degrees without a blink.

The Safety Systems Are: The safety package for the 1.4L Boosterjet Vitara is comprehensive too. On top of a seven airbag system which includes the driver getting a kneebag, there is Lane Departure Warning, Hill Descent Control, High Beam Assist, Weaving Alert, Blind Spot Monitor, and Autonomous Emergency Braking. This couples with the Adaptive Cruise Control and Stop/Go function as required. It receives an ANCAP five star safety rating.And The Warranty Is: Five years/140,000 kilometres and comes with a five year capped price service package. The provisio is that the five year warranty is if serviced via the five year plan. Roadside assist is three years but will extend to five is serviced through Suzuki. The service schedule may raise an eyebrow as it’s six months or ten thousand kilometres. The first three services, according to Suzuki’s website are $175 with a maximum cost of $300 at the end of the fourth year.

At The End Of The Drive. The Vitara has always been a fun, small, soft-road capable vehicle. The decision to drop the diesel is a bit odd, but as that fuel seems to be on the nose and petrol/hybrids are on the up in respect to economy…The size of the Vitara is fine, but mainly for single/couples/small kids. The safety package in the AllGrip for a mid $30K or so driveaway price (check with your local dealer) is impressive and the overall driveability also impresses. That service impost though….well…

Suzuki can tell you more, here.

Car Review: 2019 Lexus UX 2.0L & 2.0L Hybrid.

This Car Review Is About:
The “baby” Lexus UX (Urban cross-over)SUV. It slots into a small to mid-sized SUV bracket. There are two engine choices and three trim levels in the range; a 2.0L, and two hybrids designated 250h. There is Luxury, F-Sport, and Sports Luxury, and the hybrids have two different drive-trains. One is front wheel drive, the other is all wheel drive. Both have a 2.0L petrol engine alongside the hybrid system with the AWD having a small, separate, motor for the rear wheels, called the E-Four system. Peak power is rated as 126kW in the non-hybrid, and 107kW in the hybrid according to the brochure, but the website says 131kW for the hybrids as a combined figure. Torque is 205Nm for the non-hybrid, the hybrid 202Nm, with the hybrid’s torque said to be on tap between 4400rpm to 5200rpm for the petrol engine. Economy is rated as 5.8L/100km for the standard version, and 4.5L or 4.7L per 100km for the 2WD and AWD, from the 47L or 43L tanks. Transmissions are the new D-CVT, with a fixed first gear for better acceleration for the non-hybrid and a ten speed CVT for the hybrids. Prices are a little complicated:

Both the UX 200 and hybrid 2WD can be specced in Luxury, Sports Luxury, and F Sport form. The aforementioned AWD is not available in Luxury spec.

According to the Lexus website the driveaway starting prices are around $50,900 for the entry level, $54,600 for the 2WD, and $68,300 for the all wheel drive but the various trim levels don’t seem to be able to be factored in. But…without driveaway pricing the list looks like this. UX 200 Luxury kicks off at $44,450, $53,000 for the Sports Luxury, then $53,450 for the Sports Luxury. Then in the hybrid engine family it starts at $47,950 for the 2WD Luxury, $56,500 for the Sports Luxury and $56,950 for F Sport. Go nuts for the AWD pair and it’s $61,000 for the Sports Luxury and $61,450 for the F Sports.

There there are the option packs. Luxury Pack 1 is $1,550 which includes Hands-free power tailgate, wireless charger, alloy scuff plates, headlamp washer, rear privacy glass, cornering lamp. Pack 2 is $4,050 which is Pack 1 plus a moonroof. The F Sport moonroof is $2500. Then there is the $5600 F Sport Enhancement Pack. This lobs in the moonroof, a punchy 13-speaker Mark Levinson hifi (with all models having a built in DVD player), head-up display, panoramic view monitor and smart key card. THEN there is the $3500 Sports Luxury enhancement pack which adds moonroof, head-up display and smart key card. Got all that? Good.

On The Inside Is:
A car built on the Lexus Global Architecture C platform, which includes the Corolla hybrid and C-HR. It’s a mostly well packaged setup. Front seat leg/head/shoulder room is fine. However rear seat leg room can potentially be compromised. The UX has memory seating and the driver’s seat automatically slides back, and at full stretch is pretty close to the rear seat. Once moved forward, rear seat leg room becomes ok, but not fantastic. Both front seats are heated and vented. The seats front and rear sit inside a 2640mm wheelbase, and that’s inside the overall 4495mm length.Lexus offers a range of interior colours for the materials, with the two cars tested coming with F-Sport White with black accents, and F-Sport Flared Red. The actual materials depend on which trim level has been specified. There is a heightened sense of quality and appeal to the hybrid’s interior trim, with the standard version looking plain and cheap in some areas of the dash.It’s largely a standard Lexus look, with the widescreen information display, analogue dial clock, and console mounted trackpad. It’s still never fully intuitive even with settings to adjust the sensitivity. The UX features a slightly different look to the section south of the trackpad, with four separate tabs to access the radio, stations, and more. The driver’s display has the moving dial that slides left and right, and depending on which orientation it’s in, allows different sporting information such as tyre pressures or a “g-sensor” to show how the UX is moved around. Sports Drive modes are accessed from the binnacle mounted rotary dial. The drive selector is a traditional T-bar style. Wireless smartphone charging is standard also as is a powered steering column.

At the rear is a kick activated tailgate. This reveals a high cargo floor, meaning a little extra work is required to place luggage or shopping. As a result of the height, overall capacity is moderate, with 330L an average between the variations. Only the entry level gets a spare, and it’s a space saver at that.Audio comes from a Lexus bespoke system or Mark Levinson system, with DAB, Bluetooth, and an in-dash DVD player. Punchy, clear, beautiful.

On The Outside Is:An edgy, angular mix, with the Lexus spindle grille front and centre. A striking feature of the UX’s rear is the mix of full body width tail light and aerodynamically positive light clusters. In fact, the whole body is edgy to assist air flow up and over, and along the sculpted sides. However, the rear indicators aren’t what we’ve seen on other Lexus vehicles, with a broad sweep from inside to out. These are normal flashers and small to the eye at that. Front lights are self-levelling LEDs, and have the eponymous L shaped LED driving lights.In profile a low roof line emphasises the height of the nose section and not quite semi-circle wheel arches that flow gracefully into the wing mirrors up front and mirror the aero of the tail light cluster. 17 and 18 inch alloys with dark gunmetal paint contrasted with the Celestial Blue and White Nova colours as supplied. Rubber is from Dunlop, 225/50 on 18s for the F-Sport and Sports Luxury, and 215/60/17s for the Luxury.On The Road It’s:
Two different kinds of cheeses, as opposed to chalk and cheese. The standard 2.0L launches hard, the hybrid launches harder. Considering kerb weights starting at 1490kg through to just under 1700kg, the feel is good. Both CVTs act like CVTs on a light throttle, and move towards more traditional auto changes with a heavier foot. The steering is a variable ratio setup and works best at slow speeds such as parking in carparks. Oddly, it also feels as if the turning centrepoint is almost underneath the driver’s seat.

The standard UX is softer in the rear than the hybrid provided, and both exhibited the same rear end lateral skip on the sweeping right hnader that has an expansion joint running across. Call it bump steer for the rear. It’s a MacPherson strut front and trailing wishbone rear, by the way. On the flat roads it’s stable, comfortable, well damped in both, and only on the worst of the coarse chip covered tarmacs did tyre noise make its way through.

Brakes felt marginally better in the hybrid, not unexpectedly, and the dash in the hybrid has the traditional energy expenditure/recovery display to give the driver an idea.

The Safety Systems Are:
Lacking for nothing. AEB, Forward Collision Alert, Blind Sport Alert, Parking Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Radar Active Cruise Control, Substantial. Lexus call the umbrella package Lexus Safety System +. Items like auto headlights, wipers, and tyre pressure warning are also standard.And The Warranty Is:
Starting to fall behind. Standard warranty is just four years, and considering Toyota recently moved to five it’s not unreasonable to presume Lexus will do the same…eventually.

At The End Of The Drive.
They make for a nice pair of cars but even with a pair of ISOFIX child seat mounts, AWT can’t shake the niggling feeling that Lexus has set the UX to be the entry level to the Lexus SUV range. There is barely enough room for older primary school aged children in the rear seats and the layout of the cargo space speaks the same story.

Car Review: 2018MY Toyota Prado GXL

This Car Review Is About:
A vehicle from Toyota that I had not driven before. With such an extensive range of vehicles from Toyota, the Prado was the one that has eluded the review section. Unless if you count the FJ Cruiser, which was loosely based on the Prado. We tested the GXL spec Prado, the second level of four, with the model receiving a light freshen up in mid 2018 that changed one key feature….Under The Bonnet Is:
A diesel engine of 2.8L capacity. The 4.0L petrol V6 is long gone. Transmission is a choice of six speeds, with a manual or self shifter. It’s a permanent four wheel drive, with a simple choice of high or low range. The test vehicle has the auto, making great use of the 450Nm and 130kW. Toyota quotes a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.0L per 100 kilometres. Our mainly urban cycle finished on a reasonable 10.8L/100km. That’s from a 2,325kg plus fuel and cargo machine. Towing for the auto is rated up to 3,000kg braked, 2,500kg braked for the manual.On The Inside Is:
Clear evidence of a design that is some years old now. Seven seats aside, it’s the look and feel from the driver’s seat that tells the story of how easy it is to update an exterior, and not so for the inside.Plastics have a slightly tired look and feel, the centre dash stack has an outdated silver hue, and the overall design is a number of squares and rectangles, lacking the wraparound style now more commonly seen. The seats are of a smooth vinyl/leather look in the test car, with leather accented seats listed as optional for the GXL. Also optional (and fitted to the test car) are heated and vented facilities. These are operated via dials in the centre console.The centre stack is, aside from the silver hue, ergonomic in layout. The lower section has a soft touch lid that sits above the 4WD high and low range dial and the tabs for the centre and rear locking differentials. Up top is an eight inch touchscreen with AM/FM, no DAB for the GXL, and Bluetooth streaming. Satnav is standard. The driver’s dash dials are analogue in the GXL, and the centre 3.5 inch screen is typical Toyota.Centre and rear seats are comfortable enough and easily moved when required. Toyota goes with the best way to move the rear seats and that’s with the tried and proven pull strap system. The right hand side vertically hinged door provides easy access to the rear section but it’s also here that Prado suffers by not being a dedicated people mover. With the third row up storage is just 120L. With them folded it’s a more reasonable 480L, then 1833L with the centre row down. The rears eats also have their own aircon controls, making for a three zone system.On The Outside Is:
A strong family resemblance to the Land Cruiser is engineered in thanks to a smoother look. The front and rear design do away with the edges and, as a result, with a more smoother and rounded look, looks more like the Land Cruiser than before. The LED driving lights and slimline headlights also bring more of the family look.The biggest change to the design, one that seems almost invisible before the head slap is the removal of the tail gate mounted spare wheel. It’s now located under the rear seats, underneath the car itself. Aesthetically it looks better but it reduces the mass on the door and makes it easier to operate. The door itself has a horizontally hinged glass door for access if required.The overall Prado design hasn’t changed since the very first model. High riding, a blunt & bluff nose, a solid looking glasshouse, and a kink to the rear window & door line. Rubber is big as well, with Dunlop AT20 Grand Trek 265/60 tyres on classic 6 spoke 17 inch alloys.On The Road It’s:
Somewhat rubbery in the steering, but that seems to be more along the lines of allowing for off-road action. That 450Nm is between 1600 to 2400rpm for the auto, and makes for effortless driving in virtually all conditions. Off the line is a moment of hesitation, then the turbo kicks in and the torque does its job.Braking is responsive and needs to be with the bulk of the Prado. The pedal bites easily and is delicious in its feedback through the travel, amuch needed sensation and again related to the mass. There is some body roll at highway speeds and moving lane to lane, otherwise it’s minimal.Off road the Prado got to show off its much vaunted ability. And in no way did it develop in a driver any sense of disappointment thanks to the double wishbone front/4 link rear suspension. Up and down rocky, gravelly, muddy roads, though deep washaways and soft surfaces, the Prado’s legendary prowess was well and truly displayed. Put into low range, with diff locks and hill descent control engaged, it crawled liked a seasoned soldier through a tactical course. Grip was confident, assured, composed, with the slightly soft steering now showing why. With the front wheels moving around, it allows a more intuitive control when off road. And when engaging low range, it brings up on the driver’s dash a clinometer, showing side and fore and aft angles. Approach angles of 30.4 and 23.5 degrees make for largely easy access in and out.The Safety Systems Are:
Substantial. The automatic gets a hefty dose of safety. Under the name of Toyota Safety Sense the GXL has Lane Departure Alert, Pre-Collision Warning with pedestrian alert, auto high beam, and Active Cruise Control. The GXL has rear sensors but dips out on front sensors as standard. Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Monitor are also not on the GXL, but standard on VX and Kakadu.

And The Warranty Is:
Very good. Every new Toyota bought after January 1, 2019, has a standard five year warranty. Unlimited kilometres is part of the package and Toyota ups the ante by offering a full seven years if the Prado is serviced as per the vehicle’s logbook requirements. Servicing is $240 including GST for the first six services for three years or 60,000 kilometres.At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Toyota Prado GXL is a Toyota four wheel drive through and through. The off-road ability is undoubted, and on road it’s decent enough. Outside it’s benefiting from a stronger family resemblance to the 200 Series Land Cruiser but it’s inside that the packaging will benefit from an update.

Regardless, after AWT’s first drive, it didn’t disappoint. Go and find your inner Prado here.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Suzuki Jimny

This Car Review Is About:
The new and reborn fourth version 2019 Suzuki Jimny. It’s a cubical machine, with styling hints aplenty from Jimnys before, comes with a reasonable range of tech, and a pile of charm that’ll fit in your pocket.Under The Bonnet Is:
A 1.5L petrol engine with variable valve timing. It gets grip through to the ground via a four speed auto with overdrive or a five speed manual. With peak power of 75kW @ 6,000rpm and peak torque of 130Nm @ 4,000rpm, the manual is the preferred transmission.

Fuel is fed to the small engine via a fuel thimble of 40-L. Consumption for the 1075kg/1090kg (tare weight) machine is rated, on the combined cycle, 6.4L/100km for the manual and 6.9L/100km for the self shifter.

There is a proper four wheel drive system, with 2WD and 4WD high range, and a transfer case for 4WD low range. It’s a simple push and pull design, and works well. Select Neutral, slide the somewhat notchy lever back for 4WD High, press down and slide for 4WD Low, and that’s it.On The Outside It’s:
Two cubes joined together. One small one, and one larger. That’s the engine bay and the cabin. It is a three door, with the rear door swinging out to a full ninety degree fold from a driver’s side hinge pairing and holds the spare wheel hidden under a black plastic case. The styling cues are plentiful with nods towards history coming from the twin slots embossed into the sheetmetal at the base of the A pillar. Round headlights (with new LED inserts) and separate indicators, combination rear lamps, and a five slot grille complete the history lesson.Paintwork is a choice of six with the test machine clad in a Chiffon Ivory Metallic. Other colours are Kinetic Yellow, Brisk Blue Metallic, Jungle Green, Medium grey, and Superior White, with a Bluish-Black Pearl roof, with the ceiling itself having longitudinal strakes. Black polyurethane wheel arches sit over a broad space between the body and the 195/80/15 rubber.It’s not the biggest thing on the road, with a total length of 3,645mm and that’s the front to the wheel cover. It stands 1,720mm high and is 1,645mm wide. There is plenty of all round vision through the broad glasshouse, and the front screen has a pair of simple looking wipers. The washer jets are powerful but waste water because of the power, with the fluid bouncing off the screen.The grille itself is the same black material as the arch covers and the front bumper, which houses standard globe lit driving lights, doesn’t stand that far out from the grille itself. The short overhangs allow an approach angle of 37 degrees, departure of 49 degrees, and the breakover angle is 28 degrees.The body itself is built on a ladder chassis that incorporates a structure strengthening “x” member, plus an extra pair of cross members to ensure a stiff body. Adding to the strength is a rear axle housing that is bigger than the previous model, adding up to 30% extra rigidity.

On The Inside Is:
A cabin that has largely black overtones. The cloth seats are black, the dash is black, the floor is black, most of the door trim is black. There is a splash of body colour in the doors and around the rear seats, a light grey material covers the upper section of the cabin. The dash itself is old school and not necessarily all in a good way.The good is Suzuki’s elegant seven inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satnav and Bluetooth connectivity. The aircon vents at either end of the dash are the simple push and twirl for direction style, but the centre ones are a rectangular style and don’t feel as if they flow air terribly well.The centre stack holds dials for the aircon controls and it’s a twist for the fan speed and temperature. The design has push buttons for the mode (air flow direction), fresh or recirculating, A/C on and an off tab. The size of the dials makes the information screen in the centre dial hard to read clearly.

The dials sit over four tabs for the power windows, Hill Descent Control, and traction control on/off selector. Underneath them is a 12V socket and USB port. On the passenger side is a grip handle, whilst the driver gets red back-lit analogue dials bracketing a monochrome information screen. The leather bound tiller holds cruise control and audio controls.There are plastic sheets on the back of the folding rear seats which allow wet or dirty items to be placed in the 377L cargo area. That’s a whopping 53L larger than the previous Jimny. The packaging overall is better than before, with the seat hip points increased by 40mm. The seat frames themselves have increased by 70mm in width, and there is a sense of sitting high up in the Jimny for a sense of control and the all round vision.

The plastics themselves look old school but Suzuki says that they’ve been engineered to allow bare or gloved hands to operate the tabs and switches, and the vertical lines of the cabin provide a visual reference point when off-roading.

Info for the driver is from a monochrome screen between two somewhat archaic looking red dials, housed inside a cubical block of plastic. It’s a retro look, yes, but it goes too far in the history lesson.

What About Safety?
It’s been rated by Australia’s car safety body, ANCAP, as three stars. Part of that was to do with its Autonomous Emergency Braking system, with ANCAP scoring it down believing it’s not as effective as it should be. The biggest low point was in respect to pedestrian safety. It does have six airbags, Hill Descent Control, Hill Hold Control, and flashing emergency stop signals. Lane Departure Alert and Driver Waeving Alert are also standard.

On The Road It’s:
Lacking in urge, has a spongy ride (which was partly due to 28PSI in the tyres), has vague steering, and soft brakes. The torque is enough for something resembling acceleration but by no means can the word rapid be included. Bearing in mind the size of the engine versus the Jimny auto’s weight, it should feel more lively. And then factor in the transfer case for low range, and a need for more torque suddenly becomes apparent. There’s enough in the Suzuki parts bin to make this a possibility.

The chassis and suspension don’t feel as well sorted as expected. Even with the tyres bumped to 34PSI it was crabby, squirrelly, in its handling. There was more than expected body roll, squeals from the tyres even in gentle cornering, and no real feeling of the steering being connected to the front. Push on understeer was easily achieved at low (20, 30 km/h). The brakes lack bite and the pedal has perhaps not enough feedback.Off road it’s a different animal. That soft ride tightens up, eating dirt for breakfast, and on AWT’s favoured test track, showed the manners expected. It flattens most of the gravel and rock surfaces with a less intrusive body roll, and ploughed through the deeper puddles in the test track with a mostly confident attitude. The narrow rubber was prone to tramlining though, tugging the tiller left and right with ease.There is one particular section that can be a nuisance for larger off-roaders due to overhangs reducing approach and departure. In 4WD Low, the Jimny was judiciously entered into the dip, and simply crawled out at the other end without a blink. Hill Descent Control was engaged for some downhill testing and although perhaps descending a little too quickly it did at least engage.And The Warranty Is:
Three years or 100,000 kilometres. Have your Suzuki serviced on a capped price program every six months at a dealership over five years and Suzuki offers a five year warranty or 140,000 kilometre warranty.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Suzuki Jimny is a curious mix of wannabe and nothing to prove. Sure, there’s that safety rating but part of that is due to the exterior design, meaning the pedestrian impact safety rating is down. It’s painfully soft and wafty on tarmac, but has enough goods to delight on gravel and rock and mud. It’s a “proper” four wheel drive thanks to the transfer case but really needs a dose of torque. It’s a car, frankly, that will appeal to those under thirty or to those that wish to relive their late ’80s youth. Neither is a bad thing. Here is where you can find out more.

Mazda3 Hatch And Sedan Go Uncluttered For 2019.

Mazda has gone deep into its Kodo: Soul of Motion design language for its forthcoming Next-Gen Mazda3. For sedan and hatch, Mazda3 has been given a complete reskin and separately. There are just two panels that are shared between them. A standout in the hatch design is the striking and solid C pillar that wraps around from the lowest section of the rear bumper to form a seamless curve through to the A pillar.The sedan is a beautifully sculpted exhibition of smooth, flowing, almost waterfall like, sheetmetal in contrast and perhaps does a better job of defining Kodo. Low slung, it empahasises muscular haunches and wide, sporty profile.

Mazda have given the hatch a little extra to help it stand out further. It’s coated in a unique body colour offering called Polymetal Grey Metallic. This gives glossy smoothness over the hard appearance of metal.

Mazda calls the connection between car and driver Jinba-Ittai. It’s a “less is more” mantra from the Japanese company, with a simple and elegantly laid out cabin that “centres” the driver.The instrument cluster has three meters, and along with the angle of the steering wheel and aircon vents, create a symmetry for the driver’s location. The redesigned dash also repositions the climate control panel, passenger vents, and ancilliary controls for a better, more efficient, usage pattern.Information pertinent to driving is now more clearly displayed, thanks to a redesign of Mazda’s Human Machine Interface (HMI). Now standard equipment, the newly added TFT LCD meter, windscreen projected Active Driving Display and the larger 8.8-inch infotainment display are streamlined in their presentation of information and fonts are unified, effectively reducing driver distraction by ease of comprehension.Mazda call their entertainment system Mazda Connect, and it’s been improved for faster performance, and smoother, more human friendly, operation. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have been added as standard equipment.

More human centric focus has been put upon the centre console, with a redesign making for more room, and by placing the gear selector forward and higher, that becomes a more natural “fall to hand” item. Sounds comes from either an eight speaker or Bose twelve speaker system.Mazda went hard on improving the ambience of the Mazda3, with a new process for the laying of gloss black lacquer for the gear selector surround adding extra depth, and even a new weave for the cloth, plus a new styling for the leather seats.Safety goes to a new level with Front Cross Traffic Alert, a driver monitoring camera, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, Smart Brake Support, Lane Keep Assist, and Lane Departure Warning, plus a driver’s knee airbag as standard. Higher tensile strength steel is used in the chassis manufacturing, with an increase of 27% of what’s called 980MPa steel.

Ride quality will improved from a rejigged suspension. Overall weight has been reduced, with a lighter sprung mass meaning sharper response in handling. Improved MacPherson struts and a new torsion beam rear add to the package.

The 2.0L and 2.5L engines have been massaged, with optimised intake ports and piston shape, split fuel injection, a coolant control valve and cylinder deactivation for the 2.5L to deliver higher levels of dynamic performance, fuel economy and environmental friendliness.The 2.0L engine offers 114kW at 6,000rpm and 200Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. The 2.5L has a maximum power output of 139kW at 6,000rpm and 252Nm of torque at 4,000rpm. The Skyactiv-X system features a world first. It’s the usage of a new combustion method. It’s called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI) and which gives the superior initial response and powerful torque of a diesel engine, combined with the faithful linear response to rapid accelerator pedal action and free-revving performance of a petrol engine.

Available in the second quarter of 2019 the pricing starts from $24,990 for the G20 Pure with manual transmission. The top-grade G25 Astina now starts at $36,990 for the manual variant. The Polymetal Grey Metallic is an option at $495. Contact your Mazda dealer for more information.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Lexus LC 500

This Car Review Is About:
The 2019 Lexus LC 500. It’s a big, luxury oriented, coupe with stand out styling, a brawny 5.0L V8, and a fair bit of heft. There’s heft to the price too: $189,629 plus on road costs as of February 2019.Under The Bonnet Is:
A V8 of five litres capacity. It’s the same one as found in the GS F, which produces 351kW and 530 Nm. Consumption on the combined cycle is rated as 11.6L/100km. There’s a ten speed auto that hooks up to the rear wheels via a Torsen limited slip diff, and if you’re a touch green around the gills, a hybrid version is available. Transmission changes are made via paddle shifts on the steering column, and the gear selector is atypical in that it’s a rocker movement towards the right, forward for reverse, back for Drive, and Park is a P button. Back to the left where M is listed gives Manual control.On The Inside Is:
A stupidly small amount of room. It’s a BIG looking car, with 4770mm overall length, a wheelbase of 2870mm, and 1630mm track. The driver sits just aft of the mid point and has plenty of leg room forward. So does the passenger. But it’s here that the good news ends. The rear seats are great for a suitcase or a bag or two of shopping. With the front seats in a suitable position up front, the gap between rear of seat and squab is minimal. Minimal. The up side is that the powered seats self adjust for fore & aft movement when the lever to flip them forward for rear seat access is pulled up.The seats themselves are low set, meaning anyone with muscle issues may struggle to lever themselves up and out. And with a low roof height, raising the seats may compromise the noggin of taller drivers.

Then there’s the passenger section. It’s quite aligned with a single seat fighter jet in concept, with a tub and grab handles on either side. Then there’s the dash. The passenger gets little to look at directly ahead apart from a sheet of faux carbon fibre style material, and Lexus have left the LC 500 with the multi-fold design. The air-con vents are squirreled away in a niche line with just a single vent in direct centre. Sometimes it felt as if the air flow isn’t happening.Up top and centre is the Lexus display screen. It’s wide, in full colour high definition, and operated via a track pad (no mouse) in the centre console. In full daylight it’s still clearly visible. Unfortunately, in a well meant effort to add extra visual splash, there is a aluminuim strip just below it and sitting on top of the centre airvent. It catches sunlight really well, and spreads it around the cabin really well. That includes straight back into the driver’s eyes.

Drive mode selectors have been relocated from here and are on dials on the left and right of the driver binnacle. The binnacle houses a full colour LCD screen that has a sliding circle that activates different looks to the screen. Yes, it might be somewhat gimmicky but it also allows a driver to choose some or all info at will. A super clear HUD is also fitted and again, it’s excellent in its instinctiveness.

The rear seat, what there is of it, is largely hampered by the exterior design. And there’s some interior fitment that is part of it. Lexus have moved the battery to under a boot floor cover to help with weight distribution. But the slope of the rear window line means head room is compromised, and the boot itself is two overnight bags in capacity.There is a very good range of interior trim colour combinations, with a total of eight coverings and shades available. They’re all a great place to sit and listen to the excellent Mark Levinson audio system which is DAB compatible, plus allows DVD playback. Speaker count? 13, sir.

The Outside Is:
Eyecatching. The low height, 1345mm from tyre bottom to carbon fibre roof top, makes the car look lithe, svelte, and a set of coke bottle hips add a measure of sensuality to the lines. A slim, broad, front houses a beautifully sculpted triangular design that has LED headlights, driving lights, and indicators in a vertical strip. Huge 21 inch polished alloys are clad in 245/45 rubber from Michelin, bookending that pinched in waist and airvents to reduce wheel well pressure.The boot really is tiny, at something like 195L of capacity. There also doesn’t appear to be an external button to open it either, with the key fob and interior tabs the seemingly only method. The bootlid also holds the wing, activated via a centre console mounted tab. Rear lights are wrapped in a chrome housing and their sharp edged look complements the nose. Exhaust pipes are buried in an elegant looking rear valance.The test car came in White Nova, a semi pearlescent shade. There are ten (yes, ten) other colours such as Zinnia Yellow and Garnet to choose from. All colours do a great job of highlighting the LC’s distinctive lines, and complement the somewhat restrained look the spindle grille has. Yes, you read that right. The grille is not the stand out part of the car’s look.

On The Road It’s:
Hobbled by its heft. Although looking like a relative lightweight, thanks to its low height and slim lines, there’s over 1900kg hiding under the skin. And with the engine producing peak torque at over 4000rpm, acceleration is quick, changes are quick, but everything feels dulled off slightly. It lacks the rawness, the sharpness, the knife edged attitude of the GS F, and in reality it’s more of a Grand Tourer in nature. It doesn’t provoke the same visceral response that the GS F provided. The Torsen differential is noticeable, too, in slow speed tight corners as found in Sydney’s north shore, and there’s a rear end skip on certain long sweepers that have road expansion joints built in, momentarily unsettling the LC’s broad rear end. Launch hard in a straight line and there’s a squirm from the rear as the meaty rubber grabs hold.Actual ride quality is tending towards the jiggly side when driving in the normal mode. Although there is an active suspension on board, it really doesn’t come into play until Sport/Sport+ is engaged. Suddenly the road feels smoother, handling sharpens up, and the engine note seems more brusque, with an added bite. And it is perhaps the engine that is, in an audible sense, the highlight of the whole package. Press the start button and there’s a quick whirr before a guttural growl comes from the pipes. It’s a higher pitch in tone compared to the more subterranean note from the GS F on idle, and there’s a real edge of anger to it when seriously under way. And thankfully there’s a real sense of the fire and brimstone being thrown around thanks to the snarl, and the crackle & pop of the engine on upshifts and backing off the throttle.The transmission is a gem however not always seamless in changes. When easing the LC around the exhaust note is comparatively subdued, but get in on the freeway and stand on the go pedal to fully appreciate the ferocity of the engine and sound. It does take some time, relatively speaking, for the urge the engine has to kick in, but when it does overtaking numbers are stellar. And so is the exhaust; it doesn’t caress the ears, it grabs them and pounds the angry notes down into them. That’s thanks to what Lexus call “sound control valves” that open and close on demand to offer the changing soundscape. That’s aided and abetted by an Active Noise Control system that cancels out extraneous noise, not unlike noise cancelling headphones.And The Safety Factor Is:
Naturally very, very high. The brakes, like the whole LC, don’t have the instantaneous response from breathing upon the pedal that the GS F has, but there’s no doubting the stopping power regardless. Six pistons up front and four at the rear haul up the LC confidently every time. Partnered with the full suite of active and passive safety systems, such as Lane Keep Assist, Radar Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, and a pedestrian safety bonnet, it’s well up there on the safety ladder.The Warranty Is:
Four years or 100,000 kilometres, with the additional benefit of Lexus Drive Care. That covers items such as a up to $150 one way taxi fares, a courier service for small parcels, even personal and clothing costs up to $250. Contact Lexus for servicing costs, though.

At The End Of The Drive.
After an engaging week with the LC 500, we came away with the strong feeling that it’s a definite GT, a Grand Tourer. It’s a relaxed and comfortable highway & freeway machine, but suffers in comparison in tight inner city and suburbia. The aural appeal is huge on start up, but the limited room inside and in the boot really count it out of being anything other than a single or couple’s car. For a more multi-purpose and/or family oriented performance car from Lexus, the GS F fits the bill far better.

Get a start on comparing your desires for grand touring inside the 2019 Lexus LC 500 here.

 

 

Private Fleet Car Review: 2019 Lexus GS F 10 Anniversary

This Car Review Is About:
An absolute pearler of a car. The 2019 Lexus GS F is a pocket rocket and in 10th anniversary guise looks the part even more. Clad in one colour only, a matte-satin finish grey, and packing a set of blue painted brake callipers outside, backed by patches of blue suede inside, The GS F 10th Anniversary Edition has plenty of brawn to back up the looks. Price for the sleek four door starts at $155,940 plus on roads. GS stands for Grand Sedan or Grand Sport.Under The Bonnet Is:
Some serious numbers. 32 valves, four camshafts, 7100 rpm for the peak power of 351kW, and 530Nm between 4800rpm and 5600rpm. This sits inside a front track of 1555mm, with the rear almost the same at 1560mm. The overall length is hidden by the styling, with 4915mm looking less than the numbers suggest, with the wheelbase of 2850mm leaving some decent overhang.Fuel capacity is about average at 66L, with a rated combined fuel consumption figure of 11.3L for every one hundred kilometres driven. For a kerb weight of around 1865 kilograms, that’s a set of figures than can be lived with. Our real world testing in an urban environment saw figures closer to 10.0L/100km. And before you ask, no, there are no official figures for towing…

However, for a driver, and that’s exactly where this car is aimed, a DRIVER, the allure of those numbers, from a free spinning V8, with an exhaust note to die for, plus a simply stunning eight speed auto with two sports modes, means the wallet could take a thumping. Not just from the distinct possibility of a set of blue lights in the rear vision mirror, but in visiting the bowser.

On The Inside Is:
A mix of “standard” GS trim and a 10th Anniversary specific splash of blue. It contrasts vibrantly and perhaps not entirely harmoniously with the black. There’s blue suede on the upper dash and enough of it to make Elvis envious. There are blue hues on the powered, vented and heated, front seats with a white strip at the 12 o-clock, matching a similar strip in the driver’s pew. The rear seats and tiller also get swathes of blue. The engine bay doesn’t miss out, with the intake runners also copping the blues. The front seats have vents at the top, allowing a driver to fit proper race harnesses should track days be the choice.The dash is, finally, a normal looking design, not the multiple “mountain fold” look that Lexus has favoured. As a result there looks like more space, a clearer ergonomic layout, and a balanced look with the dials and analogue clock. The upper dash is dominated by the non-touch info screen, and controller aside, the depth of colour and clarity make it an excellent unit. That’s the same description that can be applied to the HUD, or Head Up Display. When properly positioned it becomes subliminally useful, there and knowing about it without consciously thinking of it.The steering wheel has the traditional Lexus layout for buttons to access info on the mostly full colour LCD screen and again the ergonomics is spot on. Said screen changes look and colour depending on which driving mode you select, however there’s a slight oddity. Semi-tucked away to the bottom right is the speedo. It’s an analogue dial, not digital. At the bottom left is a LCD display that shows lap times, torque split, and G-Force readings. As usual there is apps aplenty for the front seats, including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Audio is courtesy of Mark Levinson and it’s beautiful to listen to. The DAB tuner is better than some, but still suffers from the same drop-out points. When tuned in, the system provides plenty of low end punch without distortion, and staging is quite impressive.On The Road It’s:
Every rude word kind of fun.

The GS F is an absolute delight to drive. It is a mechanical metaphor for strapping on your favourite gloves or boots, and knowing that a mere thought will yield a result. Throttle response is instant, a change of forward motion is instant, and at any speed. The brakes are divine too. Brush the pedal with the lightest caress and there’s feedback straight away. That goes for the steering. It’s brain quick in how it responds with even the barest touch seeing the nose track left or right. Uprated dampers add extra stiffness and improve the already excellent handling.

For lovers of sound there’s little better than the beautiful noise from front and rear of the GS F. On a push of the starter, there’s a momentary whirr before a basso profundo grumble from the four rear exhaust tips. Slot the gear selector into drive and the rumble drops in tone. Gently squeeze the accelerator and the GS F moves away with the docility of a sleepy kitten. Belt the living daylights out of the same pedal and you unleash a sleep deprived, very hungry, and very angry big cat.

The exhaust note will vary from a gentle burble to a vicious, snarling, ear ripping roar.The superbly sorted eight speed is a gem and helps with the exhaust note. Run up through the rev range and there’s a change in snarl as the ratios go up the ladder. Changes are invisible, and the eight ratios shake hands with the engine’s revs across the numbers. Manual shifting is on offer via the steering column mounted paddle shift, but they’re effectively pointless, such is the crispness of the transmission naturally. Flip the centre console mounted mode selector to Sports or Sports + and the response is incrementally even more rapid. Sports was the best compromise with defineably better off the line, and rolling gear, acceleration, with down-changes on Sports+ too long for true usability in a normal urban drive.

The centre console houses a button to adjust the torque at the driven end. Torque Vectoring Differential is the fancy name for it. It gives Standard, Slalom, and Track, with the second two best used in a race track driving day environment. And with the 50/50 weight distribution, land changes are instant.Naturally there is plenty of safety equipment. Packaged under the name of Lexus Safety System+, it incorporates rear cross-traffic alert and blind-spot monitor among its suite of technologies.

The Outside Is:
Pretty damned good to look at. That aforementioned grey coats the slinky and sinuous curves of the GS sedan perfectly. There is a carbon-fibre rear lip spoiler sitting atop a 520L boot, some subtle plastic add-ons for extra aero streamlining. The pernicious grip levels of the GS F comes from the Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber at 275/35/19 that wrap black painted alloys, slotted discs, and those blue painted callipers.The “spindle grille” seems restrained on the GS F 10th Anniversary, blending nicely with the dark grey matte paint. It splits LED gead- and running-lights, and huge air intakes big enough to swallow a small car. A restrained use of chrome adds some visual contrasts.The Warranty Is:
Four years or 100,000 kilometres, with the additional benefit of Lexus Drive Care. That covers items such as a up to $150 one way taxi fares, a courier service for small parcels, even personal and clothing costs up to $250. Contact Lexus for servicing costs, though.

At The End Of The Drive.
The 2019 Lexus GS F 10th Anniversary is an absolute weapon. It’s tractable enough to be gently driven to the proverbial corner shop, and brutal enough to pick a fight with a great white shark, armed with a .50 cal, and win.

And why a 10th anniversary edition? Simple. Lexus has ten years of the F Sport range under its belt, and this is one excellent way to celebrate.

Info on the 2019 Lexus GS F is here.

 

Honda Goes Seven Up For CR-V

It’s a segment that continues to grow and is becoming hotly contested. Car makers aren’t satisfied with just five seats any more, and the seven seater SUV is taking the people mover segment head on. Honda has joined the fray and now has a seven seater. It’s a somewhat clumsy name but the 2019 Honda CR-V VTi-E7 is reasonably priced at $34, 490 plus on roads. There is a more upmarket version, called CR-V VTi-L7. That empties the bank balance to the tune of $38, 990.Motorvation is from a 1.5L turbocharged petrol fed powerplant. Peak power is 140kW, and peak torque is 240Nm, on tap from 2000rpm through to 5000rpm. That’s a crucial figure considering both the transmission is a CVT driving the front wheels only, and lugging seven people requires a hefty torque figure. Fuel economy is quoted as 7.3L/100km for the combined cycle, and 9.2L/100km for the urban cycle, its most likely home on road. However, there is an extensive features list to sweeten the appeal.There is: leather appointed seating, 2nd and 3rd row aircon outlets, and dual zone climate control to suit. Rear seat passengers get dual USB ports, and audio & apps have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The driver has an eight way powered seat and gets to check out the outside via a three mode reversing camera on a seven inch display screen. The CR-V seven seater rolls on 18 inch alloys and has, thankfully, a full sized alloy spare. Just in case, Honda have opted for a tyre pressure monitoring system.Honda has an extensive range of vehicles, including the re-release of the legendary NSX, and all can be found here.

Return Of The Icon: Suzuki Jimny Is Back!

Suzuki Australia has released details of the hotly anticipated 2019 Suzuki Jimny. Packed with proper off-road cred, historic styling cues, and some good looking new cues, the fourth gen Jimny goes on sale in the final days of January.  Pricing is $23, 990 and $25, 990, with both the manual and auto on a drive-away price. Unveiled to members of the Australian motoring press at the Melbourne 4×4 training grounds, near Werribee, west of Melbourne, the Jimny was put through its paces alongside its more soft road oriented sibling, the Vitara. That car has also been given a freshen up.

Jimny will come with a five speed manual or (disappointingly, just a four speed) auto, but, pleasantly, comes with a low range transfer case. This was put to the test across a variety of surfaces, slopes, (which included a thirty degree incline), and river fording.

Power is courtesy of a single engine choice. A seemingly small 1.5L petrol engine, (there’s no diesel) proved more than adequate in motivating the Jimny through these test sections. Peak power of 75kW and peak torque of 130Nm propelled the 1435kg (GVM) machine without issue.

Driven initially on dried and compact mud, the Jimny immediately impressed with its neutral handling and ready willingness to absorb the variance in the dirt. Given a short run-up to the concrete ramp, with first gear and low range four wheel drive selected, around 3000 revs were dialed up before the ascent of the ten metre plus incline. Straight away a downhill run was proffered, and Hill Descent Control showed its mettle.A gentle nudge over the edge, the leap of faith by keeping the foot off the brake to let the Jimmy do its thing, and seconds later back to the horizontal. Jimny is helped in its dexterity thanks to a departure angle of a staggering 49 degrees, with an almost equally short overhang providing a nearly as staggering 37 up front. Ramp or breakover angle is also impressive at 28 degrees and this also was tested without fuss.

Driven through some river crossings, the 210mm wading depth and 195/80/15 rubber gave ample traction for the Jimny, with the the comparatively lightweight machine feeling planted and stable.

Jimny rides on a ladder chassis that’s had an extra “x-member” and two cross members fitted for superb lateral and linear strength. Coupled with rigid axles front and rear, coil springs, and eight rubber body mounts, overall car control and feedback is superb inside the 2250mm wheelbase. That’s mightily impressive considering the 3480mm bumper to bumper length. Left in two wheel drive for normal performance, the turning circle is 4.9m but in 4×4 mode that increases.The aforementioned external styling cues come with the low set rear tail lights, distinctively circular front lights, five slot front grille and shallow angled bonnet with flutes in the bottom of the “A-pillar”. The indicators are separate to the headlights as well, as per the heritage ethic. A few extra touches come from the drip rails over the doors, solid and assertive black polyurethane body guards, and those low set tail lights allow a wider rear door opening to the plastic coated backs of the rear seats.

Modernity hits the Jimny with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, satnav, a touchscreen of seven inches, and Bluetooth. Autonomous Emergency Braking, Hill Hold Control, Hill Descent Control, Lane Departure Warning, and auto headlight dipping, along with six airbags round out a well rounded safety package. However, the doors don’t have bottle holders, the seatbelts are well behind the driver and passenger shoulder, and the passenger’s grab bar looks as if reinforcing is needed.Pricing for the spunky and funky 2019 Suzuki Jimny, with a range of six colours, will be released later this week.

(David was given the opportunity to drive the new Jimny courtesy of Suzuki Australia.)