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Light Commercial

2021 Mercedes-Benz Vito and Valente Released

Mercedes-Benz have been known for producing some quality Light Commercial Vehicles, and the Vito van has been at the forefront of that particular section of their markets. The latest version has been released to the Aussie market.

There will be three engines: The Vito 111 CDI with 84kW and 270 Nm torque, the Vito 116 CDI with 120 kW and 380 Nm torque, and the Vito 119 CDI with 140 kW and 440 Nm torque with a combined fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km plus CO2 combined emissions 176 g/km. The Vito 111 has a combined fuel consumption of 6.2-6.3 l/100 km with CO2 combined emissions 163-166 g/km whilst the 116 has combined fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km and CO2 combined emissions 176-178 g/km.

The range has been simplified and extra features added. The rear view mirror is now a digital item, whilst the reverse camera has been upgraded to suit. The interior has been enhanced as has safety with DISTRONIC and Active Brake Assist. Up front, the grille has been restyled. The Mercedes star plate is centrally positioned in the radiator grille and has three black louvres on all but the 111 where they are chromed.

Diane Tarr, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: “The versatility of Vito really sets it apart. In Australia, examples of its use include an RACV home and roadside assist vehicle, an Australian Post delivery van, an Optus technical service vehicle and as a trusted tool for many smaller business operations like florists or even mobile fitness instructors. It is a genuine trade specialist and fleet all-rounder for a wide range of different customers.

The Vito’s look and style is often symbolic of the business it supports. The newly designed radiator grill now makes it an even more attractive representation, and with more standard safety, new assistance systems and an upgraded infotainment offering, it will continue to meet the demands of our customers.”

The Vito 111 packs a 1.6L engine and six speed manual driving the front wheels. There is also a 2.1L engine and seven speed auto for the rear wheel drive versions. The Vito 116 has a 120kW/380Nm diesel as the spearhead and moves to a medium length wheelbase as the starting point. This, says M-B, provides an optimal carry capacity as a new starting point. Proven engine and transmission line up continues with reduced complexity, and emphasis on power and carrying capacity.

Active Brake Assist starts with an audible warning tone and a visual alert. If sensors read the driver has applied the brakes, ABA adds extra braking assistance, but if there is no response from the driver the system takes over and performs active braking manoeuvres. The sensors also alert to stationary objects and pedestrians. DISTRONIC is also available with Vito for the first time and standard on the 119. Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keep Assist, formerly options, are now standard.

The digital inside rearview mirror takes a feed from the high definition camera mounted in the rear window section and transmits to a 1600 x 320 screen. There is image processing to ensure that light balance is even and displaying as clear an image as possible. It also provides a wider view than a traditional rear-view mirror.

An updated infotainment system sees a 7.0 inch touchscreen with smartphone app compatibility. The screen is also the default viewer for the reverse camera. Bluetooth is also standard and has audio streaming and hands-free calling.

ILS, or Intelligent Light System, is standard on the 119. It’s a full LED system, covering the indicators, DRLs, low, high, and cornering lights. The spread is speed dependent also, and with Highbeam Assist Plus adjusts to suit speed and the lighting conditions. It does this by actuating the dipped-beam, partial main-beam and main-beam headlamps as required.

The exterior now has new colours including Graphite Grey and Selenite Grey, along with Steel Blue and Hyacinth Red metallic. There are two 18 inch alloy wheels, one with a 5-twin-spoke design in Tremolite Grey with a high sheen finish, and one with a 5-spoke design in black also with a burnished finish. There are also 17 inch black painted alloy wheels available.

The Vito Crew Cab dual purpose vehicle, which can carry up to six passengers, is available with the 116 or 119 CDI engine. The Valente 8 seater people mover is available with the 116 CDI engine. this highlights the flexibility of the Vito range, with body lengths, the engine choices, and styles.

Speak to your local Mercedes-Benz dealership for a test drive.

FCAI Releases December & 2020 Vehicle Sales Figures.

Australia’s FCAI, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, has provided the final vehicle sales figures for 2020 and for December of 2020.

Covid-19’s effects were obvious, as the final figure for 2020 was 916,968, down from 2019’s 1,062,867. That’s a reduction of 13.7%. However, December 2020 saw an increase from December of 2019, with 95,652 sales. That’s up by 13.5% with 84,239 sold in December 2019. It rolls on from the previous month, with 95,205 and that’s up by 12.4% from November 2019.

FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said signs of the recovery of the new vehicle market were welcomed by automotive brands. “COVID-19 has brought a health crisis and a corresponding economic crisis to the world during 2020. And along with the rest of Australia, automotive brands and their dealer networks have found the last twelve months an extremely challenging period. The automotive industry in Australia accounts for more than 60,000 employees, with over 4,000 dealerships across the country. The contribution made by these businesses is critically important to the economic wellbeing of communities across Australia. It is therefore with great relief that the industry, along with the general economy, is finally noting some positive signs within the market.”

As has been the norm for the past few years, SUVs and utility vehicles made up the lion’s share of the sales. For 2020, SUVs finished with 49.6% of the market, up from 45.5% of overall market share from 2019, with sales figures of 454,701 in 2020. That’s still down by 5.9% from 2019.

Toyota continued its number one positioning, with 204,801 vehicles sold and resulting in 22.3 market share for 2020. Mazda took second, with 9.3% and 85,640 sales. Hyundai took the bronze with 64,807 and 7.1%. Ford was nipping at their heels with 59,601 sales and and 6.5%, followed by Mitsubishi on 6.4% and 58,335 sales.

Light Commercial Vehicles finished with 22.4% market share in 2020, with 205,597 and down by 8.9% on 2019. Passenger vehicles had a 24.2% market share, with 222,103, and down by 29.7% in total from 2019.

It’s interesting to note that seven of the top ten vehicles for the year were either SUVs or LCVs. Toyota’s HiLux moved 45,176 units, Ford Ranger was a close second with 40,973 sales, whilst Toyota RAV4 had 38,537 sales. Toyota’s Corolla finished on 25,882 sales and their Landcruiser rolled out 25,142 sales.

Mazda CX-5 saw 2020 out with 21,979 sales, whilst Hyundai’s i30 finished with 20,734 sales. Mitsubishi’s Triton had 18,136 sales, just ahead of the Toyota Prado with 18,034 sales and Kia Cerato’s 17,559 sales.

In an overall market and sales figures context, the pickup/cab chassis market had 32,783 units in the 4×2 sector, 168,869 units in the 4×4 for 2020, down by 9.5% from 2019. PHEV SUVs had a small increase both for December and the year, with a monthly figure of 183, up from 110 the year before, and 1,282 for the year, up from 1,178 for 2019. Hybrid SUVs saw a bigger jump, with December 2020 seeing 3,470 from 1,333 for December 2019, and 34,933 for the year, up from 9,732 for 2019.

Hybrid and PHEV passenger cars also saw small increases, with fully electric cars moving 66 in December 2020, up by just six from the same month of 2019. The year’s figures had 939, up from 2019’s 831.

2020 Peugeot Partner 130 LCV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: One of the three variants of Peugeot’s “little” Light Commercial Vehicle range. There are a diesel four or petrol three cylinder with differing torque & power, and two body sizes to look at. Oh, the petrol comes with manual or auto.

How Much Does It Cost?: $31,490 in basic white plus on road costs is what the 130 version we tested starts at. The lower power output 110 starts from $25,990 plus ORC. The diesel, exclusively a long body, starts from $30,490 plus ORC.

Under The Bonnet Is: 96kW and 230 torques for the higher spec, 1.2L, three cylinder petrol. The other offers 81kW and 205Nm, with the 1.6L diesel churning out 68kW and restricted to the same torque figure as the 130. Peugeot’s spec sheet says 7.3L/100km for the urban, 5.7L and 6.3L for the highway and combined cycles. We finished on an overall 8.2L/100km with our best seen as 5.2L/100km on a good freeway run.On The Outside It’s: Well, a small, light commercial vehicle. Fridge white in colour, there are strong familial hints, such as the bluff nose, fin shaped headlight insert, and smooth, ovoid shapes in the sheetmetal. The vehicle supplied has the long body, with dual sliding doors, one per side. The rear door is split vertically and at a 60/40 percentage. The left side opens first, with a small lever mid-height for the second door. There are bump strips spread over each door and sit under a matching in shape crease-line in the metal.

At the top of the rear doors is a plastic housing that holds a digital camera. This works for both the reverse drive and supplies the image to the rear vision display. Yup. The doors are solid metal, therefore a camera is needed to show rear vision. It’s slightly painful to use as it must be engaged every time the ignition is switched on.Wheels are steel, and measure 15 inches in diameter. Michelin supply the commercial style 205/60 Energy Saver rubber.

Dimensions vary from 4,403mm to 4,753mm for the overall length, with 2,785mm to 2,975mm in wheelbase. Overall height sees the Partner stand at 1,880mm.

On The Inside It’s: A typical commercial vehicle with hard plastics, nooks and crannies, and one key difference. The rear vision mirror isn’t a mirror, as mentioned. It’s a low-res LCD screen that displays the image the camera, located above the sheet-metal clad rear doors, shows both rearward and to the left. It’s not an auto-on item either, requiring manual activation every time the ignition is switched on.

There are two buttons, one to show the rear view, the other to show just the left hand view. This is more for reversing in areas where a kerb would be. It’s not great in usage, and blurry in just about every detail with the lack of resolution making a vehicle even a few metres behind indistinctive.The seats are cloth covered and it’s a hard wearing material with a nice feel and two tone look. The passengers seats are a 1.5 split, not really suitable for two but bigger than normal for one. Peugeot says the design has a lifting outbound passenger seat folding middle with mobile office table and storage. The tiller is akin to the sporting style seen in other Peugeot vehicles, with a flat bottom and contoured for better grip.

A pair of glove boxes sit in front of the passenger, and above both is a mesh look to a cabin wide cargo shelf. Cargo itself behind the seats is separated by a solid barrier of black plastic with a small window at the top. There is a capacity of a tonne, and the rear doors are wide enough to slide in a pallet. If required, the lower section of the barrier can be detached to allow a slightly longer load to creep through and under the seats.

Between the wheel arches is 1,229mm of space, with a total load height of 1,243mm. Actual capacity maxes at 3.8 cubic metres, and maximum length on the long wheelbase is 3,090mm with the cabin extension. Otherwise, it’s 1,817mm for the cargo section, complete with black cladding. Six tie-down points are standard.Convenience wise the audio and touchscreen system is basic in look, however does feature Apple and Android apps, but no digital radio. A single USB port is located to the bottom right. The upper console has a pair of cupholders.

On The Road It’s: A lot of fun to drive. Yes, that shouldn’t be said in the same sentence as light commercial vehicle, however there is something ethereally charming about these little three cylinder engines. Ignition is key operated, drive is selected via a dial in the console, situated below the cup holders. It initially seemed a bit more miss than hit, yet quickly became intuitive. The Partner features an electronic parking brake and this is less intuitive in disengaging.

It feels quick to get underway, however the speedo dial disagrees to a point. It’s reasonably flexible, this three cylinder and eight speed auto, with the gears changing swiftly and smoothly as required, whilst the peak torque taps out at 1,750rpm, making around town and highway driving as easily employed as possible. There is that typical three cylinder thrum underway, that slightly off-kilter but not unpleasant engine note as revs rise and fall. It pulls well from idle, spins easily to over 4,000rpm, and occasionally would chirp the front tyres from a hard launch.

Suspension wise it’s also quite decent, providing ample backup to the relatively narrow Michelin rubber. Quick steering also chimes in, with only minor effort required in lane changing to three point turns. Discs front and rear haul up the 1,366kg (kerb weight) van easily.Naturally, though, it’s a drum when it comes to road noise. The tyres don’t dial out much of the tarmac surface rumble, and it’s readily transmitted to the cargo area when empty. We did get a chance to load it up at one point, and road noise was noticeably reduced.

What About Safety?: It’s basic. There is Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, and Video Autonomous Emergency Braking. Airbags are driver, passenger, and front side curtain airbags. Interestingly but smartly, Peugeot also package in road traffic sign recognition.What About Warranty And Service?: It’s 5 years or 200,000 kilometres for their light commercials. First service is $441, second jumps to $685, with third dropping to $517. Fourth jumps to $698, with fifth service down to $454. Intervals are yearly, or more likely, every 15,000 kilometres.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s a more than adequate light commercial van and ideally suited for local courier style runs, flower or cake deliveries, and the like. The ample cargo capacity for its size, the dual opening doors on the sides, and the wide opening rears also bring plenty of flexibility.

The drivetrain is sprightly and usable across all driving situations, and certainly economic enough for most daily drivers. Ride quality unladen is ok, and improves both in handling and road noise with a bit of weight inside. It’s well priced, but the downside of that low-res rear vision counts against it. Check it out here.

 

2021 Isuzu D-Max X-Terrain: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Isuzu’s substantially overhauled D-Max, specifically the 4×4 capable and top of the range X-Terrain. It heads a solid list of 4×2, 4×4, cab chassis, extended cab, and four door utes, all with the same 3.0L diesel and six cogger manual or autos. Info on the range and engine updates can be found here.How Much Does It Cost?: At the time of writing, Isuzu have a drive-away price tag of $58,990. Then there is the extensive list, over fifty, of options available.

Under The Bonnet Is: A revamped 3.0L diesel and six speed auto, driving a switchable two or four wheel drive system, with low range and a locking rear differential. Peak power is 140kW, but it’s the peak torque of 450Nm from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm that does the important stuff.

Economy was good with our final figure of 9.7L/100km on our 70/30 urban to highway split close to the quoted figures from Isuzu, as the pure urban figure is 9.8L/100km, and highway 6.9L/100km. Isuzu’s combined figure is 8.0L/100km from a 76.0L tank. Towing capacity, by the way, is 3.5 tonnes. Dry weight is 2,30kg with a payload of 970kg.On The Inside It’s: A considerable step up from the previous model. There’s a more luxurious feel, a better look, yet some noticeable omissions.

Our time with the X-Terrain coincided with Sydney’s notoriously fickle late spring weather. Temperatures varied by twenty degrees Celsius, so the absence of heating and venting for the leather appointed seats was striking. However, they’ve been redesigned so there’s more sense of sitting in, not on, and the support level laterally goes up as a result. However, only the driver’s seat is powered for adjustability.

There is also no smartphone charge pad, only the driver’s windows switch is one touch, and the DAB tuner’s sensitivity isn’t the best going, with dropouts in areas no other vehicle we’ve tested and packing a DAB tuner having similar issues. Touchscreen size is 9.0 inches and Isuzu say it’s a pixel heavy count, at 144 pixels per square inch. The touchscreen interface for the audio needs polishing, as does the home screen look. It’s somewhat irksome that Isuzu has gone to a lot of trouble to “rebuild” the D-Max yet some basics have been overlooked. This is a top of the range vehicle, but yet…On the upside is the app connectivity and dash display design. It’s unlike virtually everyone else in look, yet it’s easy to read, and easy to use thanks to the steering wheel tabs that scroll information on a full colour LCD screen. The analogue dials are also clearly read, as are the no-nonsense tabs in a strip below the touchscreen. An added pair of pluses are the rain sensing wipers and auto headlights.

The dash itself has angles built into the soft-touch plastics that evoke the angles of the exterior of the D-Max. This includes the creaseline from the left air vent down and across the double glovebox design, with an upper and lower split. There’s a lidded storage locker on the upper dash that has been improved, in the sense the locker mechanism works all the time, every time. The very handy cup holders that pop out from under the left and right air vents remain.Drive is selected via a basic looking pistol grip lever, surrounded by piano black that echoes the material surrounding the touchscreen. The steering column is rake and reach adjustable. Leg room for the front seats is 1,075mm, with the rear seats in the four door ute at 905mm. 1,460mm shoulder room is what is found up front, meaning comfort levels in this aspect are high. Having rear seat air vents and a USB socket, plus a coat or shopping bag hook on the back of the front passenger seat raises the ante too.On The Outside It’s: Clad in a brilliant Cobalt Blue (on the test car), and there are three bespoke colours (two shared with the LS-U) including Volcanic Amber specifically for the X-Terrain. The most noticeable change from the previous model has been the enlargement of the grille which now extends further downwards, and the horizontals which have been flipped 180 degrees. The end plates now look more like teeth, adding an aggressive look.

Headlight design sees a slimming down of the design, and it brings a more assertive look, somehow evoking an eagle or a hawk. The rear lights also have been reprofiled, with a sharper overall look. The aggressive styling continues with strakes in the housing for the driving lights. On the test car was a lockable and rolling tray cover with the rear bumper, fitted with a towbar, having three steps to access the tray.

A stylish rollbar flows back from the roofline, and in a graphite grey plastic (with red highlights) it matches the roofrails and a pair of lower rear quarter aero-foils. Sidesteps and and wheel arch flares finish the package.Rolling stock sees black painted alloys wrapped in Bridgestone Dueller H/T rubber. They’re a good size at 265/60/18. The X-Terrain itself is a good size, measuring a full 5,365mm in total length, 1,785mm in height, and a broad 1,870mm on a 1,570mm track. Wheelbase is up too, from 3,095mm to 3,125mm. Wading depth is now up to 800mm thanks to a redesigned engine bay air intake.

On The Road It’s: A little underwhelming in one respect. There’s noticeable understeer in 2WD, the Duellers lose just enough grip to squeal as they push wide too. The auto suits the engine’s characteristics much better than the six speed manual we tested in the SX recently.

Being a diesel, it does mean that the torque delivery at low revs means it’s an unstressed, easy going, highway spinner. That breathlessness comes in more for suburban driving, especially when pulling away from a set of traffic lights and trying to clear traffic. It’s not the zippiest of engine and gearbox combinations, nor is it the quietest, feeling a little lacklustre in comparison to, say, a Kia Sorento 2.2L and eight speed, which has a similar overall weight. Move away from a suburban stop sign and it pulls cleanly and effortlessly away for the speed zone as the throttle sensor keeps revs lower than accelerating from the aforementioned lights..

The auto is smooth, with up and downshifts mostly invisible. Downhill runs had the transmission holding gear, and again mostly worked well enough, changing up when a human also would have made the change.

Ride quality, considering it’s a commercial oriented vehicle, isn’t horrible. It’s well tied down for the most part, with nicely controlled rebound from the rear leaf sprung suspension, and a well balanced, tauter, double wishbone front end, in comparison. Steering weight is well matched to the ride too, with enough effort required to move the new electronically assisted steering to not feel over-light and thus lose steering feel.

Being four wheel drive capable, there are some big numbers for the angles. Get off road and an approach angle of 30.5 degrees, a departure of 24.2 degrees, and a breakover of 23.8 degrees make for some exceptionally capable dirt eating.Something that stood out, and not entirely in a positive way, was the determination of what the Forward Collision Warning system felt to be a dangerous situation. There’s some recalibration to be done ans it would alert the driver to an object ahead however the brake was already being employed. At other times it would read an object that was turning left or right and therefore no longer a potential issue.

What About Safety?: There are now eight airbags throughout the cabin. In between the front pews is a centre mounted airbag, a segment first. A reverse camera is standard, along with parking sensors at either end. AEB is programmed for speeds above 10kph and has pedestrian & cyclist detection. Lane Keep Assist is standard and works best for speeds between 60 to 130. Forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assistance, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are also fitted.

What About Warranty And Service?: Isuzu’s warranty offers six years or 150,000km, plus they’ll lob in seven years of roadside assistance provided services are done at the dealerships. Service intervals on the new D-Max remain 15,000km or 12 months, covered initially by a seven-year capped-price servicing program. This totals $3374 over that period, with the most expensive service (at 90,000km) costing $749.

At The End Of The Drive. It’s a much improved machine that Isuzu has given the marketplace, and the results are already flowing, with sales of the 4×4 version over 1,500 in November 2020. It takes on the HiLux and Ranger, and outsold the Triton too.

It’s a better looker, the interior has a more upmarket feel, but it still needs some more polishing in a couple of areas for features seen in other marques but not here, such as heating/venting for the seats, or perhaps offering electrical adjustment for the front passenger seat, not just the driver’s. As an overall package, it’s a better option that before, and the coming months will tell the tale sales wise. It looks the part, and pricewise it is poised to take aim at the two above it quite nicely.

2021 Isuzu D-Max SX 4×2 Cab Chassis: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The starting point to the revamped (finally) Isuzu D-Max range. There is a bewildering choice: five two wheel drive vehicles in two or four door versions, and eight 4WD including the top of the ladder X-Terrain (coming to AWT very soon).

How Much Does It Cost?: As of November 2020, Isuzu had the SX 4×2 cab chassis on a stunning drive-away deal of $29,990. A quote built on the Isuzu sire has a retail price of around $8,400 more, representing a huge saving for new buyers. The colour on our review was basic Mineral White as a no cost option. There are, of course, plenty of additions such as a nudge or bull bar at $1,000 or $2,999, a slide out step at $370.70, or, as fitted, an under tray water tank ($360.80) or lockable undertray tool box at $437.80. A welded wire mesh window protector was fitted and that’s $193.60.Under The Bonnet Is: A six speed manual gearbox and a 3.0L diesel. A six speed auto is optionable for the SX, standard in the 4x2s after the SX, and in the 4x4s only the LS-U and X-Terrain have auto only. The donk is common for all variants and produces 140kW and 450Nm. A worrying number though is what comes next. Urban economy is quoted as 10.2L/100km (9.8L/100km for the auto) for the SX 4×2 cab chassis. Then there is the weight: 1,695kg (dry) is a substantial figure for a vehicle that doesn’t look as half as heavy. Payload is listed as 1,305kg or 1,300kg depending on manual or auto fitted.Combined economy is listed as 8.0L/100km with the highway figure 6.7L or 6.9L/100km. We saw a best of 8.8L/100km and a worst of 10.1L/100km, with a final average of 9.7L/100km. Frankly, we expected a better return. Tank size, by the way, is 76L.

On The Outside It’s: Got some big numbers. Length overall: 5,325mm. Wheelbase: 3,125mm. 1,310mm for the rear overhang depending on the body fitted. 235mm for the body ground clearance. Inside the tray is 1,777mm of space, with a length of 2,550mm.

The main visible changes from the outgoing models are in the headlight design, the grille, and the bumper. The SX misses out on the LED driving lights, staying with a full halogen setup. The nose is a more upright style, the strakes in the grille have been turned upside down so the end points point downwards. It’s also bigger than before, extending downward to include, as a one piece item, a separate air intake. The surrounds for the driving lights in the far ends of the bumper has also been restyled.As mentioned, our review vehicle had some options fitted and these add some genuine flexibility to the overall usage. What was noticed though, was the somewhat ridiculous placing of the rear bumper, complete with step, underneath and inside the length of the tray. In essence, one could place a foot on the step but would have their leg at a 45 degree angle away from the step, rendering that particular feature unusable.We also noticed that the inside of the tray had a pair of ridges, one each side and a few centimetres from the outer wall. These have a series of holes drilled through from front to back, presumably to be used as tie down points.On The Inside It’s: Pretty good considering it’s the entry level model. Good looking plastics, comfortable and supportive cloth-trimmed pews, a dash display that’s slightly manga for our tastes, and simple to use & operate dials for the aircon. However, when the AC button is on, it’s only a too faint white light to show, rather than the more logical and visible blue light as seen virtually everywhere else.

A nice surprise was digital audio however the Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatible 7.0 inch touchscreen has a home screen that is frankly terrible. There is a compass and a clock; the compass shows, when tapped, GPS coordinates only, rather than a far more usable navigation system. Once through to the audio screen (a tap of the piano black music symbol at bottom right) it brings up a screen that is mostly ok but not intuitive for scrolling through or setting stations as a favourite. As updated compared to the previous model, at this level, it may be it needs more polish.

It’s a key start and we found that on nearly every twist, it would act as if the battery was dead. A second twist and the engine fired up with no indication anything was amiss.Convenience features come in the form of a 12V socket, a USB port, a pair of cup holders and a small console bin. The tiller is reach and rake adjustable, and there is voice recognition software for the audio system. Headlights are auto-on and thick, easy to clean, rubber mates were fitted.

On The Road It’s: A typical light commercial in being a very bouncy ride without a load. We did get a chance to put in around 100kg of load and there was a small but noticeable improvement in the ride quality. The front suspension is coil springs on double wishbones, the rear is semi-elliptic leaf springs with gas shockers.

The redline on the 3.0 diesel is around 4,200rpm, but it runs out of puff well before that. Call it 3,000rpm and you’d be on the money. That peak torque, mind, is from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm, so it’s entirely a bad think. Peak power is reached at 3,600rpm.It pulls nicely, and as expected, through to that 3,000rpm and this makes general driving a fair proposition. The gearing, however, is commercial (natch!) so 1st gets to maybe 25kph before a change up. 2nd runs to 40, 45kph. 6th sees around 2,000rpm at freeway velocities.Steering is heavy but not excessively so, and lightens up gradually as the numbers look north to 110kph. On the freeway it’s weighted just heavily enough to get the driver thinking, and light enough so extra effort to haul the SX 4×2 from lane to lane isn’t required. Changing down the gears is good enough too, with a heavy-ish clutch and notchy selector ensuring that driver involvement is a little less intuitive, a little more think about where things are.

The weighting of the selector is just about right though, and the lever height has the top fall to hand perfectly. This make the actual gear change on the go spot on, and combined with the notchy change, makes this manual transmission the right choice for the Isuzu SX 4×2.What About Safety?: Blind Spot Monitoring is standard, as is Rear Cross Traffic Alert and AEB. That’s across the range. Lane Departure Warning and Emergency Lane Assist are standard. A somewhat touchy Forward Collision Warning threw a few falsies our way but it too is standard across the range. Airbags? Eight, thank you very much, making the SX 4×2 better equipped in this respect that many passenger oriented vehicles. There are dual front, curtain, side, driver’s knee and far side airbags.

What About Warranty And Service?: It’s impressive. There is a six year warranty, seven years capped price servicing and roadside assist. First service is $389, fourth is $509, and seventh is $409. Intervals are 12 monthly or 15,000 kilometres.

At The End Of The Drive. As an entry level machine, the Isuzu D-Max SX 4×2 stacks up well. Pricing is sharp, engineering is sorted bar the surprisingly breathless engine, safety levels are high, and the cabin is decent enough. The touchscreen interface is a bit “how’s yer father” though and lowers the otherwise welcoming ambience of the cabin. The reskin has given the D-Max a more purposeful look and for the tradie, a huge range of options bring massive flexibility.

An overview of the D-Max range is available online.

2021 Mitsubishi Express SWB LCV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: A return of the Express nameplate for Mitsubishi. Except, in a way, it isn’t. You see, if you lined up the Express alongside the Renault Traffic and removed the grilles, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Its a joint project and comes from an alliance between Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi. There are already plans to release more products wearing the three diamond badge that come from the other two. There are two engines, 1.6L and 2.0L, a manual for the smaller engine, an auto for the larger, and a choice of short wheelbase (SWB) or long wheelbase (LWB). We drove the 2.0L auto SWB.

How Much Does It Cost?: As of October 2020, the manufacturer’s list price is $42,490 plus ORC. The Mitsubishi website has it at and if you have an ABN, which is most likely, chat to your Mitsubishi dealer. For the manual, the website has an ABN drive-away price of $40,890. These prices aren’t hugely different to the equivalents from Renault.

Under The Bonnet Is: One very well sorted and torquey diesel. At 2.0L capacity and driving a slick six speed auto, it delivers 125kW and a very healthy 380Nm at 1.500rpm. Economy on the combined cycle is quoted as 7.3L/100km from an 80.0L tank. We finished our drive at 9.4L/100km on our typical 70/30 urban to highway mix.On The Outside It’s: White, and black, and boxy. Renault’s basic design is more focused on the front and rear, and it kind of works. It’s certainly far less of a box than the original Express. Strong vertical lines make up the tail light structure, matching the barn doors. The headlights are teardrop in flavour, flowing upwards to the end of the bonnet line and just under the A-pillar, with the base running in a line alongside the top of the black bumper. Light commercial spec tyres are steel wheels are standard, and are 215/65/16s. a whip antenna stands above the cabin.Overall sizes have the Express SWB one millimetre shy of 5,000mm in length, rolling on a wheelbase of 3.098mm, and a shoulder room liking 1,956mm. Body height is 1,976mm, just low enough for most shopping centre carparks, but the antenna will bang against some sections. Kerb weight is 1,870kg and there is a maximum payload of 1,115kg. Cargo space is 1,652mm except for the wheel arches at 1,268. Interior height is 1,387mm and length inside is 2,537mm.On The Inside It’s: A typical light commercial vehicle. There is a lining for the floor, a cage between the driver & passengers section, and the seating is a two plus one setup. Each side has an easy to move sliding door. The seats are covered in a basic hard wearing charcoal coloured cloth. There is no console between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, however there are nooks and spaces in the dash itself, along with a factory fitted phone holder and passenger seat undertray. Rubber mats were also fitted to our test vehicle.The tilt and telescopic steering wheel is devoid of most familiar controls, with the audio selection relegated to a tab hiding behind the right steering wheel spoke. the wheel itself has four tabs, all for cruise control operation. Audi was in a basic looking head unit, akin to the style found in cars of the 1980s yet there was a nice surprise: digital audio. However that did seem to fail halfway through our review cycle. To back it up is Bluetooth streaming and voice activation however there is only one pair of speakers.On The Road It’s: Very carlike to drive, Bear in mind it wasn’t loaded with the cargo one would normally tip in, but with a light load on board, it was settled and comfortable. The torque of the engine arrives in a rush in the first gear, and becomes exceedingly usable from there on. Overtaking and highway cruising is easy, however an eight speed auto would add more flexibility and aid economy. Steering is on the light side of just right and ratioed for easy parking at slow speeds, heavier for the highway. Braking, too, is well weighted and enables consistent judging of just how much is required to pull up at the right spot.What About Safety?: Driver and passenger front airbags, side airbag for the driver, and curtain airbags for both. A rear view camera shows in the rear vision mirror as well. Autonomous emergency braking, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings are not to be found here although rear sensors are.

What About Warranty And Service?: Although Mitsubishi have recently introduced a ten year warranty and service plan, conditions will apply. Speak to your local dealer to confirm for your circumstances.At The End of The Drive. From a business point of view having Mitsubishi back in the mix isn’t a bad thing. Keeping the range to a choice of short or long wheelbase, and consequently auto or manual as well, simplifies things. Sharing the platform with Renault isn’t a bad thing when it comes to spare parts however the question will be how much Mitsubishi is in the Mitsubishi Express?

Specifications and links to more information is here.

Sonata N-Line Unveiled, Mazda Locks Down BT-50 Pricing.

Proving that sedans are still available and there for those that don’t want or need an SUV, Hyundai Motor Company recently revealed the racy design of its highly anticipated 2021 Sonata N Line. It’s a good looking machine and in N-Line specification it ups the appearance ante.Hyundai have a term for their design identity: Sensuous Sportiness. N-Line looks such as the signature grille and bold front fascia, three air intakes and N Line badging, N-Line side skirts, and 19 inch alloys define the N-Line itself. A bespoke N-Line rear diffuser is fitted that houses a pair of exhaust tips underneath a blacked-out bumper.

SangYup Lee, Head of the Hyundai Global Design Centre, said: “The 2021 Sonata N Line will attract more customers to both the rock solid Sonata lineup and our increasingly popular N Line sub-brand. Sonata N Line will appeal to customers who desire sporty styling in a sedan package.”The new Sonata N Line expands Hyundai’s midsize sedan lineup following the launch of Sonata in 2019. N Line provides an attractive entry point to N Brand and gives the new Sonata nameplate a high-performance look, broadening its appeal.Mazda, meanwhile, have provided confirmation of Australian pricing for the recently released and updated BT-50. Not sporting the Mazda corporate look, the BT-50 starts at $44,090 plus On Road Costs (ORC) for the 4×2 XT dual-cab chassis. All versions are a dual-cab design, with the XTR and GT the other two trim models. There are combinations of manual and auto, with the 4×2 available in the XT as mentioned plus the dual-cab pickup for the XT and XTR. These price at $45,490 and $49,470.The 4×4 models start with the BT-50 XT dual-cab chassis manual. $49,360 plus ORC is the starting rate before moving to the auto version at $51,860 plus ORC. From here it’s pickups with the XT manual and auto from $50,760 and $53,260. The XTR starts from $54,710 and $57,210 before topping out with the GT at $56,990 and $59,990 and again all with ORC to be added.

Brand-New Mazda BT-50 customers benefit from a comprehensive five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty plus complimentary roadside assist for the warranty’s duration whilst servicing is at 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.

The new BT-50 has a 450Nm/140kW turbo-diesel four of 3.0L capacity, with the torque on tap from 1,600rpm to 2,600rpm. Consumption is rated as 7.7L/100km (combined) for the six speed auto 4×2 dual-cab pickups and 4×4 manuals. 4×4 Dual Cab Pickup and 4X2 Dual Cab Chassis models with the six speed autos will see slightly more consumption at 8.0L/100km.

Safety and basic equipment are of a high standard in the XT, with 17 inch alloys, LED headlights, Cruise and Adaptive Cruise for the manual and auto versions, DAB with Android and Apple apps, and a rear seat USB. Safety has Autonomous Emergency Braking, Emergency Lane Keeping – Overtaking, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Departure Prevention, as standard. XTR has 18 inch alloys, self leveling LEDs, leather seats and gearknob, and satnav via the 9.0 inch touchscreen. GT has 19 inch alloys, heated wing mirrors, heated front seats, and a powered driver’s seat. Front parking sensors and an engine remote start feature add to the value. All are rated as 3.5 tonnes towing and over 1,000kg payload.

 

2020 Peugeot Expert SWB Diesel Auto: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s short wheelbase Expert van, also known as Standard. There is a long wheelbase version too. Diesel is the sole fuel source and the long wheelbase is auto only. Other than the basic white, there are four other exterior colours including Platinum Grey, Aluminuim Grey, Perla Nera Black, and Flame Red.

How Much Does It Cost?: Peugeot list this at $50,490 driveaway right now, but it’s worth checking the website and using your postcode to ensure your locality gives you the right price.

Under The Bonnet Is: A EURO5 2.0L diesel for the automatic SWB Expert. Peak power and torque are 110kW and a very handy 370Nm which is on tap from 2,000rpm. The auto is Peugeot’s EAT6 however we did see in the driver’s binnacle display a D7…There is a 1.6L and manual combination also available for the Standard. The auto is smooth and at times the only notice of change in ratio is the flicker of the tachometer’s needle.

Economy was 7.8L/100km from the 69L tank, with the Expert being driven unladen, and with under 1,000 kilometres on the clock. That’s not far from Peugeot’s own 7.3L/100km official figures. We should also point out that the naming system Peugeot uses (115, 150 etc) is for the horsepower, not kiloWatts.

On The Outside It’s: White, for the most part, and boxy, for the most part. Should one opt for the other colours, it’s a $690 option. The front is Peugeot’s family look including the fin insert in the headlight clusters, and it’s that nose that saves the Expert from being a box on wheels. There is also a solid black bumper with driving lights, with the rear sporting a small black bumper. Small black strips fit into creases on the flanks of the doors. Each end has parking sensors.

Wheels are steel and at 16 inches in diameter not as big as expected. Rubber is from Michelin’s Agilis range at 215/65 in profile. Each side has a lightweight feeling sliding door, and the rear doors are barn-doors. In profile it looks much shorter than its 4,959mm overall length.On The Inside It’s: More car-like than van-like bar a couple of van necessities. There is a storage nook up on the top of the dash, and a pair in the front of it. Dials are analogue, the touchscreen features Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as there is no DAB, and it’s all rather quite nice to engage with.For the driver there is an unexpected feature: paddle shifts. Drive is engaged via a dial, not a lever, and a small button marked M allows for the paddle shifts to be used. Yes, they’re effective. Seating is for three, and comfortable with cloth coverings. The plastics are an easy on the eye mix of greys and blacks. Inside the cargo area is enough space for 5.8 cubic metres of cargo, with a height of 1,640mm, a length of 2,512mm, and width of 1,636mm. Peugeot says overall cargo weight is 1,300 kilograms. There is also what Peugeot calls a Moduwork module that’s located under the passenger’s seat, with an insulated storage box. Tiedown hooks aplenty are available including in the footwell for the passengers. For convenience there are also three 12V sockets. The spare is a full sized unit also. On The Road It’s: Also very car-like in ride and handling. The steering has a variable ratio for easy parking and enough heft for highway driving to feel cruising is its nature rather than a commercial vehicle. Although the rubber is specified for the type of vehicle the Expert is, there’s no shortage of grip and plenty of compliance across the varying road services. Getting into undercover parking is also easy thanks to the height overall and that superb steering feedback at most speeds, however it can feel a little twitchy at times. With 3.5 turns lock to lock it can be lived with.Getting underway is quick, with a twist of the key seeing the 2.0L diesel spring into life almost instantly. There’s plenty of go from there, and interestingly the diesel doesn’t exhibit any noticeable turbo lag. From a standing start or on the highway, the right foot is totally in command. Rolling acceleration is smooth in a linear fashion without being shove in the back in nature. It makes for a lovely driving style and of course would ease that potential for seeing cargo being suddenly shoved backwards.Actual ride quality is tuned, naturally, towards the commercial side of things but it really is surprisingly car-like in nature. McPherson struts are up front, and oblique wishbones hold up the rear, with absorption and rebound very quick in response and disappearing.What About Safety?: Again, it’s heading towards a passenger car with Video enable Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, and Blind Spot Alert. Driver Attention Warning and Speed Recognition are standard also. Airbags cover driver, passenger, side, and curtain areas.

What About Service And Warranty?: A very good five years or 200,000 kilometres for warranty of light commercial vehicles. Capped price servicing applies and is distance dependent.

At The End of the Drive. Peugeot, like many of its competitors, has cottoned onto the fact that endowing a van with car-like qualities is a good thing. This shows with the slowly increasing number of LCVs that can be purchased as a passenger van in some way.

The Expert is a very good ride in any case, with the tractability of the engine, that super slick auto, passenger car ride quality, and a non-van look to the dashboard itself. For those that like their vanilla with a bit of spice, the Peugeot Expert should be om the list. Check out the 2020 Peugeot Expert for yourself.

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

‘Automotive Mana’ and 2020 Dual-Cab Utes

The rise of the SUV is a noted phenomenon, but an equal marvel is the greater numbers of large dual-cab utes on our roads.  The popularity of the dual-cab ute in Australia shows a trend that ain’t about to end just yet.  On any given day if you take a drive down a popular road in Australia you’re sure to come across some pretty awesome super-size pick-ups.  So what makes these vehicles so attractive? And what are the better dual-cab utes one can buy?  Let’s have a look.

Let’s ‘cut to the chase’ and quickly realise that a large number of the dual-cab utes we see are driven by people with bigger egos.  To use the Maori definition ‘Mana’ offers a politer label to go with the big ute ego.  ‘Mana” means to have great authority, presence or prestige, and so if you are seen driving these massive utes, you’re likely to satisfy your larger ego with some real ‘Automotive Mana’ and add mud plugging tyres, a raised suspension, tinted windows, a snorkel and spot lights, too.  Any big ute name like Toyota Hilux, Mazda BT-50, Nissan Navara, Ford Ranger or Mitsubishi Triton can have their utes equipped with these big ticket items.

Of course, if your work requires your need to own a big, beefy dual cab ute, then all the showy looks can be forgiven. Builders, landscapers, boat builders, contractors, farmers, engineers, they all need one!  But hey, we’d all love one!

This leads me on to what makes these road behemoths so nice to own and drive.  Here’s a short list of their great traits:

  • Load carrying ability
  • Towing ability
  • Space
  • Comfort
  • Off-roading ability
  • They’re built tough
  • They’re safe
  • Automotive Mana

Here are the best new Dual-Cab utes you can buy in 2020 that offer all the bells and whistles (Note there are other models in their line-up, but these would generally be more Spartan).  All of the following models come with premium safety, 4WD capability, big towing prowess and premium luxury:

Ford Ranger: XLT, Wildtrak, Raptor, ($57–$77k)

  • 3.2 litre TurboDiesel with 147 kW and 470 Nm, 6-speed manual and 6-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 10 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 9 litres/100 km
  • 2.0 litre TurboDiesel with 157 kW and 500 Nm, 10-speed automatic, 0-100 km/h approx. 10 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 8 litres/100 km

SsangYong Musso: Ultimate XLV, Ultimate Plus XLV, ($40-$44k)

  • 2.0 litre TurboDiesel with 133 kW and 420 Nm, 6-speed manual and 6-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 10 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 9 litres/100 km

Toyota Hilux: SR5, Rugged, Rugged X, Rogue, ($56–$63k)

  • 2.8 litre TurboDiesel with 130 kW and 420 Nm with the 6-speed manual and 450 Nm with the 6-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 11 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 8 litres/100 km

Nissan Navara: ST-X, N-Trek, N-Trek Warrior, ($54–$66k)

  • 2.3 litre TurboDiesel with 140 kW and 450 Nm, 6-speed manual and 7-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 10 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 6.5–7.0 litres/100 km

Ram 1500: Express, Laramie, ($90–$100k)

  • 5.7 litre Petrol V8 with 291 kW and 556 Nm, 8-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 7 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 10–13 litres/100 km

Ram 2500: ($140k)

  • 6.7 litre TurboDiesel with 276 kW and 1084 Nm, 6-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 8 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 15 litres/100 km

VW Amarok: TDI420 Core Plus, Highline 550, Ultimate 580, ($52–$73k)

  • 2.0 litre TurboDiesel with 132 kW and 400 Nm with the 6-speed manual and 420 Nm with the 8-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 10.5 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 7.5 litres/100 km
  • 3.0 litre TurboDiesel with 165 kW and 500 Nm, 8-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 8 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 9 litres/100 km
  • 3.0 litre TurboDiesel with 190 kW and 580 Nm, 8-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 8 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 9 litres/100 km

Mitsubishi Triton: GLX+, GLS, GLS Premium, GSR, ($41–$52k)

  • 2.4 litre TurboDiesel with 133 kW and 430 Nm, 6-speed manual and 6-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 10 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 8 litres/100 km

Mazda BT-50: XTR, GT, Boss, ($53–$64k)

  • 3.2 litre TurboDiesel with 147 kW and 470 Nm, 6-speed manual and 6-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 10 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 10 litres/100 km

Holden Colorado: LSX, LTZ, LTZ+, Z71, ($50–$58k)

  • 2.8-litre TurboDiesel with 147 kW and 440 Nm with the 5-speed manual, with 147 kW and 500 Nm with the 6-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 9.5 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 9 litres/100 km

HSV Silverado: 1500 LTZ Premium Ed. ($114k)

  • 6.2 litre Petrol V8 with 313 kW and 624 Nm, 10-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 5.6 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 12.5 litres/100 km

Isuzu D-Max: LSU, LST, ($49–$55k)

  • 3.0 litre TurboDiesel with 130 kW and 430 Nm, 6-speed manual and 6-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 8 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 8 litres/100 km

Jeep Gladiator: Overland, Rubicon, ($76–$77k)

  • 3.6 litre Petrol V6 with 209 kW and 347 Nm, 8-speed auto, 0-100 km/h approx. 9 seconds, fuel consumption approx. 12 litres/100 km

Just for complete ‘Automotive Mana’ status, top honours would have to go to the Ram, HSV or Jeep Gladiator.